Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The joys of parenting...

I've been writing a lot about Hank lately, and it's true that he's been on my mind quite a bit. And not just because my home life is currently dominated by his bathroom trips :) We've reached a point in our parenting journey that I'm really, really enjoying. I know that we have a lifetime ahead of us, but even in just 3 and a half years, we've come a long way. I've been feeling philosophical about it, and thought I'd ramble a bit :)

I have to be honest. When Hank was first born, my hormones went through the roof in a way I never thought possible, and I was insecure, uncertain, and overall very depressed. I loved my son, would die for him in an instant - from the moment I first found out I was carrying him until the day I do finally leave this life. But I was unhappy. My identity was centered around myself in a way that I had never realized before. I am: a Catholic, a librarian, a family-oriented person, a happy wife, a book lover. Being a parent made me realize pretty quickly that I'm very, very selfish. Suddenly, taking a solo trip to another part of the house for even 5 minutes was an impossibility. Unless you wanted to listen to that little newborn wail of: "WAH! WAH! WAH! WAH!" the entire time. I walked around all day in a daze, bereft without the comfort of my usual daily routine and happy conversations with my librarian colleagues. I regularly had spit-up on my shirt for an entire day without even realizing it, and my blouse was constantly unbuttoned from nursing demands. I'm certain I gave the UPS guy a free show unwittingly a few times. The baby was always fussy, didn't sleep at night for more than an hour or two at a time, and I cried I mourned the loss of my old carefree life, wherein I could read a book chapter or watch a 30 minute television program uninterrupted. Or, even more of a pipe dream, sleep an entire night without 4 plus disturbances. It was a dark time. My memory of that period is clouded by the fragility of my mental state and my fears that I was an unnaturally terrible mother.

And then...the cloud started to lift. Gradually, things got a little better. Mike and I started to relax more, and be able to handle things a bit better. There were a lot of setbacks along the way (hello mobility! teething: for the love of GOD, why won't he stop crying?! did I mention mobility? "He's got the Windex AGAIN! Get him!! He's crawling away!!") but overall, it gets better and better. The kids get slightly lower maintenance, but more importantly, the parents get more secure and adept at handling the myriad of mini disasters and delights that children bring to our lives. And suddenly, having a huge part of your identity be as a mother or father isn't so jarringly taxing all the time.

Hank is now three and a half, and he's really on this precipice between being a toddler and being a preschooler (my baby!). And of course, there's all kinds of temper tantrums and other toddler annoyances that he still brings ("mommy, I press this button, make the light on and off, look!" "Honey, it's *raining*! Please just" "But moommmyyy..."). But overall, for the first time, I'm truly enjoying being a parent. I've always known that it's a privilege to be a parent, and that God blessed us with Hank. Now, finally, I'm cherishing it fully.

Suddenly, Hank has this wonderfully creative imagination. Last night, he told me a full five minute story involving pirates, and Scooby Doo:

"And the pirates went swish, swish with their swords!! And then, the pirate moved over there, and he had on different pants! And then Scooby Doo rushed in, and he, he...ran by them! And they chase him! And then..."

This morning, he wanted to "play ambubance" with me on the floor before we left for daycare. I asked him how one did this.

"ok mommy, I sit here, you sit over there. I push the ambubance on the floor, and I say WHOO, WHOO, WHOO...EEEEEEHHHHHHHHHHH."

He's a wonderful, wonderful little boy. It's an honor to be his mother. I hope that I'm the mother to him that God wants me to be, and that I make Him proud with my efforts.

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