21 Months

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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

I always knew children grew fast. I just never knew how fast until I had my own child blossoming every which way before my eyes. Lately I’ve been scurrying to find the words to describe Josephine’s developmental leaps and bounds before I forget. And that’s exactly it — words, so many words. Her constant chattering and singing is captivating; my parents and older siblings tell me she’s every ounce of gab and song as I was at her age. It’s as if she sees the words stringing out of everyone’s mouths, and she catches them and stores them in her memory without hesitation.

She says, “Mommy fix it!” “Mommy, help!” “Mommy, read it!” and “What are you doing?” every morning before I can pour coffee into my mug.

Her memory is pin sharp, admittedly sharper than my own at times. She’ll recount recent events with great detail, such as the time that “Jojo went to Disney store. Jojo want Elsa doll. Jojo stop crying. Auntie Erin buy it!”; or when she went to “Elmo beach. Jojo saw a big Elmo. Lots of people there.” (And yes, there was indeed a tall man dressed in a bright red Elmo costume at the beach.)

Even her ability to express her emotions through words takes me by surprise. Just the other night, she squealed halfway through dinner and began to cry unexpectedly. After shedding a few tears, she meekly confessed, “Jojo saw bug. Jojo got scared.” I am afraid she gets that from me.

I see many verbal compromising sessions in our future. As she grows, I grow too — hopefully a very strong backbone. Happy 21 months to us.

If Motherhood Were on My Resume…

Photo From StockSnap.io
Photo From StockSnap.io

EDUCATION

Some prestigious 4-year University that remains irrelevant for the job, 2008-2012 (GPA also irrelevant)

EXPERIENCE

Motherhood, August 2013-present

  • Demonstrate the ability to work under extremely stressful and time sensitive situations  with ease, including emergency diaper explosions and temperamental public outbursts
  • Orchestrate weekly grocery trips, restocking inventory in a timely manner while keeping client in a manageable disposition
  • Outpace erratic client behavior and make well-calculated maneuvers in order to ensure client safety
  • Redesign playroom space on a daily basis to maintain a pleasing aesthetic and enhance optimal performance
  • Supervise client in completing daily tasks, including meal consumption, hygiene maintenance, educational activities, and bedtime routine
  • Diagnose unpredictable illnesses and treat them according to their unique symptoms, successfully dispensing prescribed medications to client despite outright reluctance and frenzied limb jerking
  • Partner with a diverse group of caregivers in a collaborative effort to ensure client growth, execute milestone goals, and accident prevention
  • Resolve unexpected conflicts among other toddlers with minimal to no damage, avoiding toddler inflicted cat scratches due to unwillingness to share toys
  • Sustain an overall positive disposition despite chronic sleep deprivation, unreasonably high-pitched demands, and lack of privacy

SKILLS

Fluent in incomprehensible fragmented babbling; Single handedness (including but not limited to single handed cooking, butt wiping, and carrying up to 7 grocery bags);  Wildly entertaining storytelling ability


What skills would you put on your resume?

When you accidentally lock your baby in the car…

I’m not gonna say whether or not this happened. But let’s just say if it did, it was a complete and utter accident, never in my life would I have thought that this could happen to me and I would do anything in my power so that it never happens again. Lo and behold…

THERE’S A SOLUTION!:

Key Holder
Image Source: Magnetic Key- Holder, amazon.com

Place a spare key in this magnetic key holder and hide it somewhere underneath your car, an accessible location only you would know. It costs less than $5 and will save you an afternoon worth of stress.

That way, in the event that you lock yourself out of the car, with all your precious belongings inside (*cough*including your own offspring*cough*), you know how to get back in without calling AAA or panicking and breaking the window open with a gigantic rock.

Again, I’m not saying this actually happened.

Any other life hacks you know about? 

She’ll Potty When She’s Ready

Potty

Parenting through milestones as a first-time mother has been this wild process that always goes something like this: 1) Reach milestone age and set a goal 2) Try to execute milestone flawlessly 3) Fail miserably, panic, compare my parenting methods to others, and mope about how bad of a mother/teacher I am, shaming myself into getting better 4) Drink a glass of wine, or two (optional, but never disappointing) 5) Realize that everything happens on my daughter’s time, not mine.

This brings me back to a year ago, when my daughter, Josephine, was quickly approaching six months, yet still waking up several times at night to nurse. All the websites and books on parenting indicated that babies no longer need the nighttime meals and will therefore sleep until morning, but that was far from the case with us. So I went into mommy panic mode. Desperate to get her sleep “corrected,” I started asking other moms what I should do. On one end of the spectrum, a some moms resorted to the cry-it-out method, in which they leave the house so they wouldn’t be tempted to break into the room and console their baby. On the other end, other moms co-slept in every position imaginable with their kids until they grew up and asked for their own space.

While I knew neither option was wrong, they left us shuddering between a rock and a hard place. Josephine’s cries were capable of ripping me to shreds from the inside out, so I fought hard against the cry-it-out method (in which, let’s be real, I’d be doing most of the crying.) However, our queen bed was getting smaller with the three of us crammed from edge to edge, sometimes forcing my partner to concede and sleep on the couch in the living room, so I knew I couldn’t keep her there forever. The best decision my partner and I could make was the age-old solution to simply play it by ear, gently remind Josephine that she has her own little bed, and allow her to tell us when she was ready to sleep in it. Yes, it seemed counterintuitive to let our baby, who’s only been on earth for a whopping six months, call the shots, but it felt like the only option we could agree on. So I continued to nurse Josephine at her will throughout the night, trusting that Josephine’s sleep habits at six months weren’t going to ruin her chances of becoming a fully functioning, respectable human adult.

Flash forward to Josephine at 14 months. She took partial naps in her crib and still awoke in the middle of the night rooting for the breast. At this point, my body had gotten accustomed to the excessive night awakenings and delirious exhaustion. I quietly accepted the fact that I was going to nurse her until she left for college. But one ordinary day, quicker than I could say “attachment parenting,” Josephine suddenly stopped nursing. Boom. Just stopped, cold turkey. She shook her head every time I signed “milk” and preferred a sippy cup of cow’s milk instead of my liquid gold. I pumped for a few days in case she decided to change her mind, but her nursing strike led her to do the unthinkable: sleep straight through the night in her very own crib. There was no apparent reason behind her sudden change of routine, no new detectable teeth or fever. The only explanation I can think of is that she was ready to wean and sleep peacefully. I was floored at how unbelievably easy the transition was.

Nowadays, while I stare at the “18+ months” label in big, bright yellow letters across the box that came with Josephine’s first potty set, I have to pause and tell myself it will happen on her time. I think about how delighted I am to get a full night’s sleep, and how I’m even happier it didn’t take a traumatizing, drawn out battle to get here. I’ll admit – it takes every ounce of resistance to keep from googling when and how other parents got their children to poop on the can. Perhaps I’ve learned to preemptively skip the panic step and go straight to the wine drinking, but so far I’ve made it without being overtaken by shame. Besides, learning how to be a patient, gentle and encouraging parent all at the same time is our biggest milestone — one that takes us much longer to accomplish than all the milestones in our children’s early, tender years.

 

19 Months

She’s a California girl with an undeniable love for snowmen despite having never seen snow.

She never walks. She runs. If she could, she would take off sprinting toward the sun, her bare feet making shallow imprints on the warm grainy sands. Her petite frame houses a dynamite personality that bursts in volumes that can be heard across a crowded room. Exuberant, to say the least, she lights up every time a stranger walks into the room, demanding their attention so she can put a smile on their face. She is assertive, asking for “more” and telling us “no” as she pleases. When happiness overtakes her, she tries to hide it by pursing her lips to conceal an unquestionable grin. She likes to sit at the sink and stick her toes under the cold running water, carefully examining where each drop lands. She’s endlessly curious about how things sound; from the sirens of an ambulance to the gobbling of a turkey, she echoes the noises of the world as if they all played crucial roles in an orchestral masterpiece. She has an insatiable desire to try on every single pair of shoes that appears in her line of sight.

Our Josephine, to think how terrified we were at the thought of her coming so soon into our lives. To know how lost we would be without her now.

Josephine 19 months

“You Make Motherhood Look Easy”

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“You make motherhood look so easy!”

Said a friend one day. A very kind and well-meaning friend. His statement took me aback and overwhelmed me with this odd mixture of guilt and gratification. I plopped my 14-month-old down to eat in the middle of a lively party. She calmly picked her black beans, one by one, and shoved them hungrily into her mouth without a fuss.

Frankly, I don’t remember how I responded. I don’t recall if I said thank you, or told him truthfully that motherhood simply wasn’t easy. I might have not said anything at all. I do remember, for a split second, trying to see myself from his point of view. There I was in my nicest jersey knit dress, makeup on my face, my hair actually done in gentle soft waves, toting around a baby/toddler creature and peacefully watching her eat. The truth was I was blessed with a good eater. The truth was that I locked myself in the bathroom for 30 minutes while I told Chris, the birthday celebrant, to watch our daughter so I could make myself look decent for his party. The truth was, I have never washed that nice jersey knit dress and if my friend were to look close enough he would see coffee stains on it. The truth was, I hadn’t washed my hair in three days and that’s why it was mysteriously wavy maybe thanks to the avocado and banana caked between my strands. The truth was, and is, and will always be, that motherhood/parenthood is just not that easy. It’s pretty, boringly, disgustingly, sleeplessly, insanely, loudly, stinkily, randomly, colorfully, outright difficult.

My dear friend doesn’t see the times I spend grumpily wiping the fruit stained handprints off the “stainless steel” refrigerator while Josephine sits in front of the TV to watch her second episode of Sesame Street. He doesn’t see the naptime battles, or the grocery store tantrums, or the times Josephine picked up or landed on dog poop in the backyard because for a moment I didn’t have my eyes on her and my reflexes weren’t quick enough. Sometimes I secretly let her eat cheerios off the floor. One time, she rolled off our bed and fell, with a loud and scary thud, onto the hardwood floor. We were both there, and we both regret not being fast enough to catch her. I’m sure had someone seen those moments, they would have thought, man — they are lousy parents.

But my friend paid me a very high compliment, and I knew that by his choice of words in saying that I make motherhood “look easy” implied that he knew it wasn’t easy, but in that moment I appeared to be a Happy Domestic Goddess Supermom who hopped gracefully off the cover of the front page of a Superb Parenting magazine. (side note: I really hate those magazines.)

So I guess my response to his rather far-reaching compliment is a simple thank you. Mothers (parents and caregivers in general) are far too often left unrecognized and under-appreciated for the multitude of roles and odd jobs they take on. As difficult as it is for me to receive such a compliment, I will take it, because it won’t get any easier. It gets harder. But we get better at this parenting gig. And the baby will grow up to be an adult one day, and she still might accidentally land in dog poop. (I mean, even I still do.) It’ll all be okay, because I’m confident we’re doing our best.

So, dear compliment-paying friend, one day when you plop your toddler down to eat and he miraculously obliges with minimal mess in front of a dozen or so people, and someone nearby watching says, “Dude, you make fatherhood look easy,” pat yourself on the back, because you’ll finally understand the weight of such a compliment.

We made it through the first year!

There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the fascinating and tumultuous first year of parenting. It’s a twilight zone of bliss and exhaustion, a time paradox of long days and fast years, a balancing act of efficiency and predicting the unpredictable.

But lo and behold, we made it! Josephine’s incessant crying gave way to playful growls, and the time we spent worrying about her motor development due to her disdain for tummy time proved to be futile when she took her first steps at a mere 10 months old.


 What a privilege to care for and watch a human being develop at such a rapid pace. I’m simply astonished at how her personality is shaping, apart from my influence. Between her infatuation with Elmo and water cups, her generosity with kisses and waves, and her insistence when it comes to marching up and down stairs despite her tiny little legs, I know my days are just going to get busier. And more fun.


 And with one year of parenthood under our belts, I think it’s safe to say that we are terrified of what toddlerhood brings. But that’s absolutely normal. I don’t think parenting gets any easier, but I do think parents get better at what they do. 

Cheers to another year!