A short list of the things that surprise me the most about my life as a mom at the moment.
- We're still nursing. Seems like eons ago I was throwing myself extravagant pity parties and thinking about how I couldn't wait to wean. Ha. I've since learned that nothing else soothes Bug off to sleep like a little "mumma time", especially when he's teething. Now I'm wondering how on earth I could ever give up this powerful weapon in my mommy arsenal.
- That he sleeps through the night. I'm still scarred by our first five months where it was not uncommon for him to wake up every hour and a half. Every morning we wake up without having to tend to him several times in the middle of the night I'm still somewhat astounded. It took me awhile to get over my fear that he'd succumbed to SIDS. Sometimes when he naps longer than an hour (which isn't often) I still worry.
- How much joy I get just looking at him. Ok, the first few months were rough and there wasn't as much joy as stress for a long while. But now I get the hugest high just watching him look at things, watching him think and examine a toy thoughtfully. Every new thing he learns just makes me bust with pride.
- How funny he is. Maybe it's just my mommy goggles, but this kid is a real hoot sometimes. Nothing in this world has ever made me laugh the way he can. A fit of giggles from him can lift me out of the worst funk.
- How dealing with tragedy and stressful situations is so different now. We've had a couple of scary things happen recently. It never dawned on me before how tough it is on parents. You don't have the luxury of falling onto the couch and crying or rushing out the door to go save the day. There's this little person here who doesn't understand or know what's going on; all he knows is he needs lunch, or his diaper's wet, or it's his bedtime. Having children means you have to keep pushing through everything that comes your way, be it tragedy, calamity, or conundrum. Even if you understand that in theory before you have kids, living through it is a whole other ball of wax. Having been the type of person to drop everything to go put out fires in other peoples' lives, this has been a big-time adjustment. Bug comes first, then I do what I can for everyone else. Big change for me.
- I become physically sick when I hear about terrible things happening to children. It is a real, visceral thing. Even before Bug I was the type to cry watching the news - I've always been a bit of a sensitive soul, I guess. But now - now I find myself stopping people mid-conversation when they start relating the details of some terrible incident that resulted in the death of a child. I can't handle it. Maybe I'll get tougher again when Bug grows up, but right now I can't bear to hear it. Only just recently I stopped crying every time I remembered this poor little girl and her mommy. Even now I can't think on it too much. Actually I just realized Bug is almost the same age she was when she was shot dead, allegedly by her own father. I can't take it.
- And, on a related note: how much more protective I am of all children. Recently someone told me about a study where a fake child abduction was staged in a public place. The child was instructed to scream and yell and fight off a man who would come and try to take him away (the child was prepped for this ahead of time). A man came, took the kid by the hand and the kid threw a fit as the man whisked him away. The frightening thing was that no one did anything. Plenty of people saw it happening, but no one intervened. (This made me physically sick too).
I was at the supermarket recently and watched in horror as a mother left her two month old infant in the carseat on top of her carriage and walked away up several aisles to go get something she forgot. My first instinct was to go watch over the little boy until she returned. I swore that if anyone tried to lay a finger on that little guy I was going to body slam the person into the floor. The intensity of these feelings is really quite something. I've never engaged in a physical fight with anyone in my life, but I'd beat the stuffing out of anyone who tried to take a kid. No doubt about it.