When I wrote what I thought about being pregnant, I mentioned that everyone is nice to you. I've discovered, though, that as the mother of a newborn (or nearly newborn), people are still really nice to you. Or, I should say, they are nice to your baby. People see our charming little baby and say things like, "Oh look, how sweet/precious/adorable/awesome (we did actually have someone tell us she was awesome)," and I have to remember to be polite and say, "Thank you," and not, "I know," which is what I'm thinking.
Women dragging toddlers and preschool children look at me pushing little Abby Bear, and they aren't thinking, "Gosh, I sure am glad my child can walk and feed himself and use the potty and sleep for six hours in a row." No, they are thinking, "Gosh, I miss when he was that small." I can see the wistfulness in their eyes. And I think, "Do you really? Do you really miss planning your day around feedings that are two hours apart? Getting no more than 2.5 hours of sleep in a row? Not being able to figure out why your precious little one is screaming her head off and not knowing what to do about it?" However, I'm sure there are a thousand challenges that toddlers and preschool children present that I have no idea about, that when I have children that age, I might shrug and say, "Maybe I do miss it."
Therein lies what I am realizing is a paradox of parenthood. For every hour of sleep I long for is someone saying "It gets easier." And, although I still wonder WHEN, I can still see that it already has. Kevin and I say things like, "We can't wait until Abby ________." Sleeps more than three hours, laughs, is more interactive, can tell us what's wrong. We can't wait to take her to the playground, have tickle fights, go swimming, try "grown up foods," etc. But I am keenly aware that for every "can't wait until" that comes to pass, we lose something.
A couple of times a week, Abby and I go to a breastfeeding support group that we affectionately refer to as "Baby Breakfast." This week, at one of them, I realized that Abby is no longer the tiny baby there. We first went when she was only five days old, and I looked at several month-old babies like they were giants. But now, I see babies who are even three weeks old, and born weighing more than Abby, and think they look so tiny. And while Abby is certainly still small enough for snuggles, and will be for awhile, she's already gotten so much bigger. The tiny baby phase is fleeting, and I try so hard to be conscious of that. I don't want to spend so much energy "waiting until" that I don't appreciate how precious she is now, and at every stage, and how she will only pass through each for a short time.
"The days are long, but the years are short." I try to remind myself of that during every long day.