When we brought Lila home from the hospital over three years ago, I remember how the first two weeks felt like an eternity. What do I do? How do I know what she needs? Will she ever stop crying? Will we ever sleep again? I can’t believe my house looks like the show ‘Hoarders’ and I’m letting people see it this way. When will life feel normal? When will I cease to crave peanut butter and Nutella?
Then we quickly entered a new phase which I’ll adequately title “Figuring This S*** Out.” Followed up by the “Figuring Out Which Solid Food Doesn’t Cause Diarhea” and “When Will I Shower More Frequently?” phases. Every phase felt like a LIFETIME. It felt like a bottomless pit of love, adoration, exhaustion and spit up. Then just as suddenly, we were out of it and into a new one. I don’t think I even remember realizing we were out of any one phase. I just knew we were in a different, much more advanced one.
As a parent you learn to accept that everything is a phase. So I’m trying to accept this new phase because it’s proving to be a real doozy. Right now we are in a “Let’s Tear Stuff Up” and a “Let Me Tell You About Every Little Thing” phase. Are you familiar with these? My guess is, if you have or have had two kids under 3 years old, you’re well aware. But if you do not or have not, let me explain.
In these phases, your mornings may look like this:
Your 3-year-old plods into the living room rubbing her eyes and orders you to shut off all the lights even though it’s 6:30 am and dark outside. “It’s too bwiiiight!” Apparently she has been up drinking all night. Meanwhile you hear your 19-month-old stirring in his crib so you go to get him and he’s sitting up, smiling at you sweetly and grunting something that you trust means, “Good morning Mom, I love you!” You approach your adorable boy with morning hair and are greeted by a punch in the face. But in case there is any confusion as to why you were suddenly assaulted, he’s smiling at you and holding out his arms. That should clear it up.
Breakfast happens. Actually, breakfast happens when your 3-year-old says it will and your 19-month-old spends ten minutes eating and twenty minutes throwing everything he did not eat. Since he’s a fan of food, he decides that when he’s out of arsenal to fling he will simply take out whatever is currently in his mouth. Your daughter eats her cereal or yogurt or toast or peanut butter and makes sure she tells you fifteen times that she has brown cereal NOT black and she does NOT need more milk yet because she wants to get it herself and when she’s done eating she will go potty and dress herself in the pink shirt NOT the red one because she is wearing shorts today. Shorts and red shirts are not complimentary. Understand that now and you will get 14 minutes of your morning back.
In these phases, your car rides may go like this:
Your toddler manages to peel off his shoes and socks. You don’t know this because you actually see him do it (because you’re attempting to be responsible and look at the road instead of your kids), you know this because you see one shoe hit the windshield. He’s screaming but not because he’s mad or sad or uncomfortable. He’s screaming because he’s happy and it sounds funny. Meanwhile, you and your daughter sing nursery rhymes and she’s getting frustrated with you because you don’t sing the song right. You know, the one about Mary having a little tree, little tree, little tree? Never mind that you grew up singing the same nursery rhymes and at no point did anyone ever inform you that Mary’s lamb was indeed a tree. So you sing the tree song but you don’t sing it loud or quiet enough. At this point you’re thinking Mary is about to get a spanking.
In these phases, your kids may wake up from their naps in this fashion:
Your 19-month-old is awake (you know this because he was screaming at you from across the house) and thinks his sister should be too so he takes it upon himself to smack her in the face. When you tell him to stop being naughty and to tell his (hysterical) sister he’s sorry, he gives her a hug and promptly spins around and throws her Elsa doll across the room, where it strategically lands in the garbage disposal.
In these phases, dinner time may go like this:
You and your spouse get dinner on the table and you both finally sit down to eat when you are interrupted by your 3-year-old loudly announcing she has to go potty. After you tell her to excuse herself and you start to eat your dinner, you are in mid-chew when you hear “Mommmm! Come wiiiipe meeee!” If that doesn’t cheer you up, when you open the bathroom door to help her she immediately asks you why her poop hurts and what color it is.
In these phases, the bed-time routine may go like this:
You get both kids in the bathtub with their bubble bath and dissolving bath colors and assorted bath toys. You wash their hair and bodies and let them play. While you are taking a moment to somewhat relax for 30 seconds, you are brought to your senses by the feeling of a wet towel slapping you across the face. By the time they are out of the bath, your entire bathroom is under flood watch.
You and your spouse manage to get everyone ready for bed. You let both kids watch a show together for 15 minutes while you clean up. All seems peaceful and you are actually getting a chance or two to take a couple swigs from your wine glass. You walk into the bedroom to check on the kids and your 3-year-old tells you she wants to kiss you like princesses and princes do it. You are afraid to ask her what she means and how she knows how they “do it.” You obviously have not had enough wine. So you simply freeze and let her make out with you while your 19-month-old kicks you in the solar plexus.
After everyone is in bed, you lay awake for an hour contemplating how you’ll answer the question you know is coming next – the “where do babies come from” question. Which isn’t so bad in and of itself but you know it will soon be followed up by “how are babies made” and then birds and bees and all the in-between. You quietly check in on both sleeping little people and they look so sweet and angelic, so you forget about all that crazy stuff for now. Until tomorrow morning, anyway. When you know you’ll be accosted for no reason and get asked at least twice why butts get itchy.
You do this until the next phase comes and silently you kind of want to relish this phase because you’re not convinced the next one will be as comical. But hey, at least you’re not inhaling Nutella anymore.