We were up at 6 am, but really at 2 am, with a teething but playful baby who really really didn’t want to sleep. Coffee didn’t help – brewed, creatively, through a paper towel, since both coffee presses were in the dishwasher, and drunk black because both the cream and the milk went sour in the fridge two days ago. We dragged ourselves through the first hour or so of the day, lazily making plans for the hours ahead of us.
And then, we leapt into chaos.
Isabel has been difficult lately. Her incisors are breaking through, months ahead of schedule, and the pressure of teeth descending out of her gums has stolen away my happy baby and left behind this shrieky thing. I find myself moving through each moment with her just waiting for the next one, willing nap time to come soon, begging her to play by herself, just for five minutes. It feels terrible, this waiting. No stage of this parenting thing lasts for long and sometimes I fear that I’m allowing it all to slip through my fingers. Every so often, I find myself standing in Isabel’s nursery, rocking her growing body back and forth, wondering how I go here, how I landed in the world of motherhood. The baby she was has slipped out of my memory, but this toddler in my arms? I hardly recognize her and it terrifies me that I am letting any moment go for the sake of survival.
But survival it is. I try to be easy on myself. Motherhood is hard. Day in, day out, my life is governed by a toddler’s moods. I steal moments of rest from time I’m meant to be doing dishes. I fold laundry between redirecting little feet and knees and hands away from the stairs. I try – and usually fail – to block out tired, teething squeals. Annoyance creeps into my voice more often than I wish it did.
This Saturday was productive. All those clothes got put away. We did our groceries and made a trip to Home Depot. We got a few fun projects done. And yet. I sit here with my feet up and my baby finally sleeping and I can’t help but worry that this was just another day I moved through, passing Isabel off to Mark as frequently as I could, ignoring the fussiness, but also not slowing down so I can catch the giggles, few though they may have been.
Toddlerhood is short. A lot of toddlerhood – so far – doesn’t seem particularly fun. I’m ok with that and, most days, I’m ok with resorting to survival mode. But, I need to make sure I break out of it every so often to sit on the floor with her and flip through her favourite books, to build duplo buildings so she can take them apart, to take her outside and let her splash around in the kiddie pool. In those moments, I know I will find the energy to hold on, to survive the next difficult night, the next inexplicable fit of crying and clinging.
And soon, we’ll be on to the next thing, a better thing, maybe and I’ll be wondering, nostalgically, where my toddler went.