Tuesday, June 9, 2009

APing Older Children: I'm Always behind the Curve

When I had my first baby, I had a tough time transitioning from being a non-mom to being a mom. Thrust into a role that I had no idea how to play, I had to wing it. I was given a grace period of sorts because G was 14 weeks premature and was in the NICU for 8 weeks. Those two months gave me time to get my bearings.

Then, just as I was getting used to having one boy, baby #2 showed up (a girl!), so my world shifted again. I remember sitting on the couch with a tiny infant latched onto a breast, while my year-and-a-half-old sat by me sucking on his pacifier. I looked forlornly at my mom, who had come to help out until I got my feet back under me. She was getting ready to go back home, after staying with us for a much longer time than any of us expected. We'd been through extensive nursing problems coupled with toddler tantrums, and she'd helped me get through it. Now she needed to leave. With tears streaming down my face, I told her how afraid I was with being left with two babies all alone. I cried, "You always told me that two kids were as easy as one!" (a refrain I'd heard her mention on more than one occasion). She looked at me with helplessness and said, "I had GIRLS!"

But I figured it out, little by little, making lots of mistakes along the way. So when baby #3 showed up, I thought I had it all under control. NOT! Again, my mom came to my rescue and stayed with us for more weeks, until the nursing shields were done and the sleep routine - such as it was - settled out (not solved, mind you ... just settled a bit).

So three babies, all in cloth diapers, all with pacifiers. The oldest had just started talking a few months before the last one arrived. Whew! I could relax.

But then, just about the time I had become comfortable with babies, my kids suddenly turned into toddlers. Once again, it took me a while to think of myself of a mom of toddlers instead of infants. Instead of taking naps and being nursed to sleep, they stayed up all day until the witching hour - that time when toddlers turn into monsters, too late for naps but too early for dinner. Instead of nursing or eating what was put in front of them, they demanded certain types of food and drink. Instead of cooing while I dressed them in a onesie, they wanted to know where "the red shirt is, not the blue one" or wanted to wear their pink plastic princess high heels with the marabou fluff on the toes to (and during) gymnastics class.

Then the preschooler years happened, and I was again slammed into a new role. The endless questions of "why" and "why not" echoed through our rooms daily. But I answered those questions and got pretty good at it.

Next was school-aged children. They started asking their teachers the "why" questions instead of me, and I adjusted to that too, but it took a while. Seeing those eager round faces look to other adults for inspiration was difficult to swallow. But I got used to it, and just as I did ...

My kids became tweens and pre-teens. What the heck do I do now? Ask me when they're in the middle of their teen years, and I'll have all the tween and pre-teen stuff figured out. Oh, wait - I won't have any more pre-teens by that time. 

Dang it. Foiled again.
If you liked this post, you might enjoy Great Expectations.

Photo of Baby Cup by Andrew Mason from here.


  1. Camille, I do happen to benefit from all your wisdom acquired with G and S (altho T is only a year okder than A, i think). So your mastery dos help the world. Tremendously! I find myself thinking "WHat would Camille do?" quite often!

  2. That's funny, and it reminds me of the five minutes I saw of Regis and Kelly this morning in the hospital while I gave my friend and her husband some personal time before her labor started. Kelly was talking about she's been on page 3 of a book called "How to Have a Healthy Two Year Old" or something like that for YEARS now, and her youngest child is six, but dadgumit, by the time he's eighteen, she's determined to know how to have a healthy two year old!

  3. Those early days are simply a merciful blur to me.

  4. Think of what a wonderful grandmother you'll be. Oh, am I projecting too far into the future? How can we be thinking about grand kids when we're only 25, Right?! (I didn't say how many times I've celebrated 25).

  5. When S was 5, she decided she would move to Colorado when she was 16, change her name to Lucy, and have a baby. I sure hope that doesn't mean I'll be a grandmother in 5 years! Yikes!