Monday, October 8, 2012

Avoiding Survival Mode

Best friends!  For now... :)
With every week that passes, I'm a little more joyful, but also a little bit more sad. I love the way babies smell. I've been smelling poor Juliette's head non-stop; she must be totally weirded out by me, the baby head sniffer.  I know it sounds a little strange, but something about the oil they produce is just so yummy.  Before I know it, that baby smell will be gone.  I still hold Mirabel close and try to take in as much of her baby fragrance as I can, but it's not nearly as strong as Juliette's.  Yes, this is turning into a very odd post...
I remember reading Mirabel books when she was Juliette's age, hoping she would look at the pages in anticipation of what was going to happen next.  (Maybe even secretly hoping she'd learn how to read before age 1, because you always think your baby is a genius.) Now she won't sit still long enough for me to finish half of a book ;).  I couldn't wait until she enjoyed playing with toys.  I couldn't wait until she rolled over, or even crawled (which she never really did :).  Now I'm just trying to savor every one of Juliette's baby moments.  
Both my babies really like(d) to be held.  Mirabel, not so much anymore, as she's quite active and independent.  Juliette still loves it, though.  I can't remember the exact day Mirabel stopped cuddling with me for longer than 5 minutes, but I can remember things like when she took her first step or stopped having diaper blow-outs (best day ever!).  The sweetest moments pass by ever so quickly, and without notice, it seems.
This is why I'm enjoying every minute I spend on the couch, inhaling my tiny one's baby smell from head to toe, while safely avoiding the cottage-cheese smelling area around her chubby neck.  It takes a lot to slow me down.  The day Juliette was born (Mirabel too, actually), I was still doing laundry!  I don't know if it has as much to do with being proactive as it has to do with being hyper (I never took naps as a kid; Mirabel inherited her crazy sleeping patterns from me). 
But now that I know what it feels like to watch a baby grow into an independent little girl in the blink of an eye, I'm enjoying the slower moments.  I don't rush things any more.  So when Juliette wants to be carried, I let everything else wait because I know she won't wait for me to grow-up.  I'm still living life in fast forward it seems, as she's growing up too quickly already, but I'm happy to let the more insignificant things go.
I try to apply this same way of thinking on the really hard days.  Like when you're in the toy aisles at the store and your toddler is screaming, begging to stay, while your infant is insisting (quite loudly) that they need to be fed right then and there.  Oh, those are fun moments, too!  But they won't last either.  One day, I'll wish Mirabel was more interested in toys sold at full price.  And I'll certainly be wishing Juliette still had a tiny newborn cry once she enters the terrible 2s, blood-curdling screams and all.  That's if I still have my hearing at that point ;).
When I look at these two girls, I feel like everything is in its right place.  Not literally, of course, as there are probably toys in the refrigerator (there's one in the fridge right now, folks!).  I guess it's safe to say that I'M in the right place right now, emotionally speaking.  I can't tell you how many awful things I've heard about transitioning from one kid to two.  I'm here to tell you it really isn't that bad.  I was warned about "survival mode" and we've been able to avoid it, particularly that mindset. Yes, there are days you'll ask yourself why there's a cute guy with a curdled milk stain on his pajama sleeve sleeping on the floor of your toddler's nesting doll-themed bedroom... And there are days you'll look in the mirror and wonder how you managed to leave the house looking like THAT without accepting the pocket change or stale granola bar offered by the kind stranger that crossed your path this morning (...on your way to the park down the street, carrying more bags than you really need, because it never fits in the diaper bag despite the supposed million and one secret compartments...).  You define the bag lady, but you're okay with it.  That's what it means to emotionally be in the right place, as a mom at least.  
But there's a difference between bags and baggage, whoever you are, don't forget that or you'll lose yourself.  How to avoid the confusion, you ask?  Well, this is how I try to do it.  Can't go back to sleep after being woken up 30 minutes after your head hits the pillow?  Now's the time to enjoy the silence with a prayer, and you'll need plenty of it.  If it turns out I get woken up at 4:15 AM (after a long sleep stretch that is truly worth celebrating) and the little one goes to sleep but I can't, sometimes I use that time for... ME.  
Like the Dos Equis guy might say, I don't alway make dinner at 4:30 AM (and sometimes I do, honestly) but when I don't, I try to spend some time doing other productive thing like putting on make up, even if I have forgotten how to apply eye shadow (which will lead to my husband asking why there's pollen on my eyelids--true story).  And even if your husband thinks you look like a clown, he will still appreciate your efforts.  WHY?! Because you ARE married; don't forget that either!  Remember that love has many languages.  You may have enjoyed poetry pre-babies, but nothing says "I love you" quite like changing a diaper does.  In fact, the heavier the load, the more he/she loves you. Really.  
Ah, love.  That's what this is.  From the baby head sniffing to the diaper changing and sleeping on your toddler's bedroom floor.  Real love. Learning to recognize and savor it in every moment is what helps create the foundation for a family and a solid life, whether you have kids or not. (The ending of this post may or may not reflect a tad bit too much OWN TV watching - aka the Oprah channel...)  
Now I'm sure we're all in agreement that baby head sniffing should be banned in all 50 states...

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