Enjoy every moment. Enjoy this time, it goes so fast. Appreciate every little thing.
As a relatively new mother, I hear this a lot. Often a version is said to me in response to evidence that I am sleepy from being a five-star concierge to a demanding baby rock star. He wants his milk at just the right warm temperature. He only wants to put blue circles and green squares in the shape-sorter. Frequently, a witness to a particularly stressful moment will proclaim those statements to me. Like during a restaurant meltdown or on the third day of a stomach virus.
Things to know before you read any further:
- I unconditionally love and adore my son. Etymology has not yet invented a word to describe how I feel about him.
- He is that urban legend easy baby usually found in textbooks only. I hesitate to put that in print because I don’t want to jinx how lucky and blessed I’ve been with my regular, sleeper, eater, and smiler.
There are countless things that I enjoy and appreciate. I marvel at so many moments. They are memorialized in multiple modes: photography, videography, repeated bragging to others. Merely a few:
- Waking up to his smile. It doesn’t even matter if it’s accompanied by the stench of a large poop. In fact, sometimes that even enhances it if I’ve been waiting for one!
- His adorable – and many – baby teeth. He is 13 months and we are at 9 right now.
- His laughs. He has different ones for different occasions. There is the uncontrollable belly laugh for tickles and peekaboo-type surprises. There is the delighted little giggle when he sees puffs are on the way to his bowl. He even has a polite chuckle. That is for when he knows you are trying to make him laugh and he’s just not into it but doesn’t want to disappoint you. It’s the baby equivalent of making a joke and having someone say, “That’s funny,” instead of outright laughing.
- His wonder at new things, like the first time he saw and touched mylar balloons. Now I find excuses to buy them. I’m pretty sure they make Flag Day balloons, right?
But…there are plenty of things that I do not enjoy and will not miss:
- Diaper changes on a child older than 6 months who no longer lays passively on the table. My friends with older children warned me about this. But I didn’t understand for myself until my son was trying to breakdance and using the changing pad as his piece of cardboard for his popping and locking routine.
- Baby vaccinations.
- The application and removal of winter outerwear, especially in relation to carseat safety.
- The application and removal of sunscreen.
- Discovering a new part of our house needs babyproofing.
- Nap-free days
Baby sleepaway camp
And here’s another moment that I doubt other moms enjoy: Packing for a trip. Like so many pre-parenting things, I wish I had appreciated only having to pack for myself when I traveled. Packing to take a toddler on vacation is daunting. Plus, you never really know if you got it right until the trip is over. And you never get it 100% right.
Recently, we were finally ready to take our son on his first extended vacation, including his first plane ride. Compiling enough diapers, wipes, cups, sunscreen, tiny bathing suits, and too many other items to type resulted in three large duffel bags, one pack and play, one stroller, and one massive convertible car seat. It was as if I had packed him for baby sleepaway camp for 8 weeks.
Once I was finished gathering together every possible sound machine to help him sleep in a strange crib in a strange room, I had very little mental bandwidth to pack my own things. After my son went to bed one night close to our departure, I had laid out a bikini, a phone charger, and some shorts. And I couldn’t conjure my mental list of what else I needed. I just thought, “Well as long as he has the right hat with built-in sunscreen and 243 diapers, it doesn’t matter if I’m wearing one black flip-flop and one brown one. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have bras.”
What makes it all worth it
Being on vacation with this packed-for child and seeing his face the first time he looked out the window of an airplane at the clouds was certainly on the “enjoyable moments” list. And I have 11 photos and 4 videos of that moment alone to prove it!