Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Taking the first steps into toddlerhood

Just days before his first birthday a few weeks ago, my son began taking his first tentative steps. Although I’m proud and excited, I have to admit, it wasn’t the big momentous occasion that I had expected, which once again led me to realize that I watch too many movies. Like most things, he built up to walking very slowly. Two steps one day, then five steps a few days later, and now a few weeks later, he can toddle his way across a room. But now that he’s getting the hang of it, he’s bobbing and weaving around the house on his little unstable feet like the town drunk at 3 am. It’s hilarious and heart-warming all at the same time.

This big “step” led me to realize that, holy smokes, he’s not a baby anymore! He’s officially a toddler! Lord help us all, we have a toddler in the house. It’s not just the walking that has made me realize that he’s crossed over into toddlerhood... there are many other signs that the time has come. Here are a few observations that made me realize that a new era has dawned in my home:

· There are Cheerios everywhere. I’m constantly stepping on them, finding them stuck in my hair, sweeping them out of corners and emptying them out of the dust buster. The little buggers are more insidious than bed bugs! When you think you’ve rounded them all up, more pop up out of nowhere. Makes me wonder how many actually end up in my son’s mouth.

· Temper tantrums have begun. In true mini-drama queen fashion, the littlest things will set off a full-on tantrum, complete with tears and a theatrical scene in which my son throws his head back on to the floor, kicking and screaming.

· On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, he can now perform cute tricks on demand: blowing kisses, giving hugs, clapping his hands, waving bye-bye, hiding his face behind his hands until we say “peek-a-boo.” In an attempt to turn him into the ultimate flirt, I’m trying to teach him to bat his eyelashes. I know, maybe I should start working on teaching him to count or learn the alphabet. Maybe my priorities are a little off...

· Food has become much more interesting and my son always wants to eat what we’re eating and to feed himself (or to feed us). I’m happy to encourage his independence at the table but when he’s watching us eat French fries and refusing his own mushy peas and carrots because he wants a fry, I don’t love it as much.... does this mean we have to start eating mushy peas too? Ugh.

· Similarly, he is very decisive about what he likes and doesn’t like. And when he doesn’t like something, he flings it onto the floor. Which somehow always makes my husband and I launch into a diatribe about how there are starving children in Africa who would be happy to eat this food. As if he understands. And when did we turn into our grandparents? I’m pretty sure the “starving children in Africa” argument pre-dates our own parents.

Do you have a toddler in your house? What are some of the classic toddler behaviours that you’ve seen?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Eight things I learned in one year

Last week, my son turned one year old. I can’t believe it. The passage of time is so much more striking when you’re watching a child grow. As fully-grown adults, we could go years without really noticing ourselves age. I know I’ve looked at pictures of myself from ten years ago and passively thought “Huh, I looked younger then.”  But babies grow so fast that it’s astonishing how much they change from one month to the next, let alone in a year!

Celebrating my son’s birthday really got me thinking about how much I’ve learned this past year. If there was one year in which I’ve learned a lot, it’s this one! Here’s a very short list of my key learnings in the first year of being a mom:
1.   No matter how many books you read, nothing can truly prepare you for the journey of parenthood. The Baby Whisperer can tell you What to Expect and how to have the Happiest Baby on the Block with the No-Cry Sleep Solution but your baby’s the boss. It is entirely possible that at 3 am, you will be sitting in the dark, mentally composing hate mail to the Baby Whisperer because your baby just doesn’t want to do what she thinks is right.

2.   All babies are different... and yet, they are all the same. File this one under the WTF file. This is the reason that mothers sit around and compare notes on what their babies did that week. This is what sends us into paroxysms of anxiety when our five month-old still hasn’t rolled over but our neighbour’s six month-old is playing pat-a-cake.

3.   Everyone has an opinion about everything. If only I had a dollar for every time someone said “Maybe he’s hungry,” or “He looks ready for a nap,” or my all-time favourite: “If you put him to bed later, maybe he would wake up later/sleep through the night.” But hey, many’s the time I caught myself giving the same kind of advice to others, so as frustrating as it is, I have learned to accept it.

4.   It’s amazing how much time mothers spend thinking about, analyzing, and discussing poop. As one of the only indicators of health in a child who can’t speak, poop is the thing to watch. And sniff. And scrutinize.

5.   The human body has an amazing capacity to function on very little sleep. It doesn’t mean we’ll be nice about it, but we can make it by fairly well on just a few broken hours of shut-eye. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should!

6.   Anyone who is able to “sleep when the baby sleeps” should be given an award. As the mother of a really lousy sleeper, I barely had time to pee when my baby slept, let alone try to squeeze in a nap. I admire those who are able to do it.

7.   You can really only TRULY appreciate your own mother when you become a mother yourself.  Not only do you gain a newfound respect for everything your mother has done, but grandmothers are an amazing source of help and support. They are a shoulder to cry on when you’ve had a rough day and if you’re lucky, they’ll fold your laundry so you can take a nap. And of course, not many other people will happily spend time sitting and listening to you go on about how amazing your child is. My mother and I shamelessly go on to each other about how wonderful and adorable my son is because, quite frankly, we can. And we know that we can’t do it with anyone else so it’s our own little guilty pleasure.

8.   All things pass in time. Take the most horrible, sleep-deprived, spit-up covered, poop exploding diaper day and file it away in the banks of your memory because those days will be gone before you can say “Pampers.” When you’re cursing your decision to become a parent, and you’re looking up the phone number of the nearest orphanage, just remember that whatever terrible phase you’re going through will pass. You will forget until your children are 30 years old with children of their own. And when they ask you “Was I like this as a baby?” you have two choices. You can rub it in their face that yes, they were indeed terrible children who never let you sleep. Or you can claim selective memory and let the past become a blur while you tell them, “You know, I just don’t remember having any sleepless nights with you.” I know I intend to remind my son of every torturous thing he did to me as a baby.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. The one thing that I can honestly say is that my life feels so much more complete now that my son is in it. I’m also more exhausted than I’ve ever been, with more gray hair and some stretch marks that will never go away. But it’s worth it because there is no feeling in the world like the love you feel for your child. And even though I have no idea what the heck I’m doing, he seems to be growing up just fine! Here’s to another great year filled with more amazing experiences...  

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Diary of a working mom

This week, I joined the ranks of millions of working moms. It was so strange to think that when I left work a year ago, I was a different person. Not officially a mother yet, I could take my sweet time arriving at work in the mornings and if I had to work late, I didn't think twice about it. But at least now I no longer have to fight with my enormous belly and pregnant swollen feet to get my winter boots on when I leave the office!

Now that I have a child to care for every morning and come home to every evening, life has really changed. As a colleague said to me this morning "You work two shifts now."

Being a mother who works outside the home requires serious organization and can be exhausting - but those aren't the hardest parts.

For me, starting this new phase in life, the hardest part has been leaving my son for 8 hours a day. I'm not gonna lie, when my mother arrived to start her new job babysitting my son, I was mid-cry. My eyes were red and puffy and my son was looking at me like I was a crazy person. He may be onto something.

Going from spending 24/7 with your child to spending four (awake) hours with them is a big change! I miss the little guy - his chubby hands, mischievous smile and his constant babbling...

Once I arrived at the office, it wasn't so bad. My colleagues made me feel great - it was like being the popular girl in school! Who knew I had so many friends at work?! And I must admit that it was nice to drink a nice hot cup of coffee in the privacy of my cubicle. And have lunch with other adults... And go to the bathroom when I wanted to, without an audience....

A few days in, I think I'm getting my work groove back. The routine is starting to fall into place and things are feeling somewhat normal.

But that doesn't stop from pulling out my blackberry every five minutes to look at a slideshow of pictures of my son. And the odd coworker walking by has occasionally gotten sucked into viewing the aforementioned slideshow. Hey, cut me some slack - I'm new at this!