Saturday, February 05, 2005
Just When I Think it Can't Get Any Better...
Anyone who tells you that being a Mommy is easy is either lying or delusional. This Mommy thing is, in fact, the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It's much much harder than graduate school was. Many people told me in the beginning to enjoy these early years because they go by so fast. Indeed, I have treasured every moment (well, except for some of those moments when I had to fight Dear Daughter over naptime...and discovered that Dear Daughter inherited Dear Mommy's stubbornness).
From the very beginning (or at least from the point that the initial shock of the whole birth ordeal wore off) I was aware that the time was going fast. I cried when Dear Daughter, not yet three months old, had outgrown her bassinet by my bedside. As I put her to bed in her crib for the first time, I secretly hoped she would not tolerate it and would insist on sleeping at my bedside a little longer. She did just fine, however, and even slept through the night. I, on the other hand, was up every hour on the hour making the trek to her bedroom to check on her. Each time I discovered she was doing just fine, and I was both relieved and sad at the same time. I left the bassinet by my bedside for another three weeks before moving it to the foot of the bed for another three weeks. Eventually I conceded and packed it away in the closet, painfully aware that this meant that Dear Daughter would never again sleep in it and at three months of age was already "growing up."
By the time Dear Daughter was four months old I was fantasizing about a day when I might again get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep, yet at the same time I treasured those four o'clock feedings and the moments sitting in the dark alone with my tiny daughter. Soon enough, I knew, they too would be gone forever like the bassinet to the back of the closet. During those quiet moments in the wee hours, cuddling my daughter close, I thought to myself "It just doesn't get any better than this!"
By the time Dear Daughter reached six months of age and was becoming quite interactive, giggling frequently, and bouncing wildly in her excersaucer, I said to anyone who would listen (and many people who weren't listening), "This is the best age!" A friend told me "Just wait; it gets better!" I wondered if it really could, but of course I also secretly hoped that we hadn't indeed hit the apex of the best of times at the six month mark and that it would all be down hill from here. I proudly admitted that I was thoroughly enmeshed with my daughter, and that I was enjoying every moment of this amazing love affiar.
Then one day Dear Daughter looked at me with her big blue eyes and, for the first time, called me "Mama." At that moment I realized that my friend was right; it does get better. And months later when Dear Daughter began the games of hide and seek, ducking behind the couch, squealing excitedly, daring me to come find her, it got even better again.
Recently, when I thought that her bursting vocabularly of words like "precia" (precious) and "kisses" simply HAD to be the epitomy of as good as it gets, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that yet again I was wrong. I had begun referring to her impending nap as "snuggle time." It is a time that we read some books before snuggling up together with her taggie book and her blankie and rock to sleep. A couple weeks ago I made my usual reference to "snuggle time" and Dear Daughter (who had never yet uttered the word "snuggle") looked up at me with those big blue eyes, grinned, clasped her hands under her chin, and charmingly inquired, "'Nuggle?" Of course, I melted into a sappy puddle as I thought to myself, "There is just absolutely NO WAY it can get better than THIS!"
Yes, Mommyhood is the hardest job I think I'll ever have. Much tougher than my part time job of teaching college coursework. Much tougher than my other part time job doing therapy with angry, oppositional, sometimes physically violent teenagers. I've turned down half a dozen potentially great career moves since Dear Daughter was born because I recognize that being a Mommy is the best job in the world. I know I can never put my Mommyhood experience on my resume (and have anyone take me seriously). And that doctorate I would love to earn...well, that will have to wait. In spite of the fact that our culture will never recognize it as such, I know without a doubt, that spending my days singing nursery rhymes and playing hide and seek around the couch with my little girl is the best investment of my time. And as I snuggle up with my daughter everyday, rocking her to sleep, I just can't help thinking to myself, "It just can't get any better than this!"