Monday, October 17, 2011

Things Have Changed, But Not Really

She's more fun every day. Except for the full-body-plank tantrums.
(Nice photo, huh?)
I know I've spoken a lot about how my life has changed since becoming a parent. It may seem like overkill to write about it yet again but I think my soul is having this huge growth spurt and I want to get this out. Bear with me. If you're bored already, here's a funny video* to occupy your time.
I think what's strange right now is that I've had a few friends become parents in the last few weeks and they're looking to me (ME?) for advice.
How did I become such an expert? I guess if you use my logic, anyone who has been a parent a day longer than you have is someone whose brain needs picked. It's funny what I get asked, too. Nothing profound like what sleep-training method I used (the one where your own crying drowns out the sound of your baby's.)  Mostly, what restaurants are the most baby-friendly on a Friday night (any Mexican or pizza place, non-chain) and how quickly do the regular Gymboree clothes make it to the outlet (a full year) and where would you recommend for take-out (Miguels, Bangkok Thai, Clary's, Joe Bob's Chicken Palace, PF Changs, Kebab and Curry.) I still get appalled looks when I talk about L.E.'s TV watching (it's like an hour a day but she knows her favorite shows by name) and when she yells "Touchdown" even though there isn't a football game in sight. So it's not like I'm being held in uber-high-regard. I'm just a realist and I think my close friends know this and know they can rely on me to be honest about my experiences.
I'm not a perfect parent by any means. But I've reached the point where I know what my daughter needs and more often than not can meet those needs. There's not much I don't have in my trendy Coach diaper bag. Food, diapers, wipes snacks, stuffed Olivia the pig, books, extra clothes, bibs, spoons, etc etc. I used to be able to carry the smallest purse imaginable but now I'm practically armed with her royal highness' matched luggage when I leave the house. I always have exactly what she needs, including a steady supply of cheddar cheese Goldfish. (OK, those are for me.) It's crazy how at-the-ready I am now when I've left the house wearing two different shoes before and didn't realize it till lunchtime.
I've found myself between these two worlds of being completely mature and responsible while acting like a total kid again. I'm drawn to news headlines about horrible things happening to kids and families instead of reading celebrity gossip and horoscopes. I sometimes cry while I read, even when the stories have happy outcomes.
My diet more closely resembles that of a toddler than a grown woman. Salad? No, thank you. Chicken fingers? Yes, please.
My DVR is loaded with episodes of Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba and whatever the latest Pixar movie is. I watch them even when L.E. isn't in the room. (Toy Story 3 is one of the best movies I've ever seen.)
I borrow L.E.'s hair clips because she just pulls them out anyway. How often do you see a 35 29-year-old woman wear a cupcake barrette? I mean one who doesn't work in childcare? I've fully immersed myself in the world of mommy-hood and it's still something I can't believe I've actually done.
I'm raising a pretty sweet little kid. L.E. may not speak full sentences yet but she knows "Please" and "Thank You," which I think are the most important words to know. She's been on-track developmentally in all aspects. But she decided to go ahead-of-the-curve on something: The Terrible Twos. Let me be the first to tell you that they don't start at two. It's more like 15 months. One day my sweet adorable baby girl who was the epitome of giggly-ness threw herself on the floor in a rage when I wouldn't give her more fruit snacks (OK, fine they were gummy bunnies) after the three packages she ate. As I picked her up, she partook in the craze that swept the nation and internet this summer: planking. Yes, holding a 23-lb screeching, planking, kicking toddler has become the workout-du-jour. My arms are nicely developing some definition among the bruises. Fortunately, she is easily distracted so the tantrums aren't lasting too long. Heaven help me if I don't have a book of animals in my pocket at all times.
So the best advice I can give to new parents is just roll with the punches, both the figurative and literal. Being a parent is the best thing and the hardest thing ever all tied up in an adorable little bundle of coos and screeches. Once that kid knows who you are and looks at you like you just won the Super Bowl for them, it makes the sleepless nights and bodily-fluid explosions so worthwhile.

Oh, and I know I have managed to complete this entire post without mentioning T once. He has been right there beside me every step of the way on this parenting journey. So if you could go back and read this again,  anywhere I say "I", just substitute a "we"so he doesn't feel badly. Maybe except for the part about the cupcake barrette...

*I've loved this video since it came out. I recommend watching the full length version if you can. I admire the filmmaker's uncanny ability to exploit his child so well, cigarettes, booze and all!

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