Maybe I knew this when Felicity was an infant and just forgot, but I really struggle with the baby stage. I enjoy toddlers so much more. I can somewhat reason with them, or at least distract them with a snack or tv show. Their personalities really shine, and it's fun watching them take their own interest in things. On the other hand, you can do every single trick in your book with a baby and still not come close to figuring out what it is that they want or need.... multiple times a day. Felicity was a pretty difficult baby, and Clare has turned out to be harder than I thought she would be based on her super easy first few months, but part of me wonders how much of that is me and not them. I know my anxiety and lack of patience plays a big part.
Parenthood is a constant lesson in patience for me. I pray ALL the time for God to make me more patient, and I'm pretty sure he just chuckles and gives me more opportunities to practice. Clare cries a lot these days. Crying is supposed to bother us as a survival technique for our babies; I get that. But it revs up my anxiety and then I find myself doubting everything I'm doing and being so short with Felicity when she probably needs even more grace because she's stressed by the crying, too. Once Clare is over it? We're all fine again. I feel completely different within minutes. Constant work in progress, I tell you. I have to work on not letting it overshadow an entire good day, because I do that. We can have a really wonderful, or at least ordinary, day together and then Clare cries from 5-6 and I find myself thinking all kinds of spiraly towards self doubt thoughts, and texting Steven to complain about how hard it is and how horrific the day is.
I guess the progress is that lately I've been able to say "wait a minute... what about the nap they took at the same time, the quiet time I had, the laundry I got put away, and the fun play date we went on? This sucks but it will be ok". Sometimes I find myself wishing away babyhood to get to toddlerhood, and then I feel horrifically guilty because it's going entirely too fast (Clare will be 9 months next week!!!), and I already have an awful memory so add that to how fast it's gone and OH MY GOSH I WON'T REMEMBER HER BABY DAYS AT ALL. And then I spend 30 minutes going through her birth photos and feeling sappy. Hormones, man. Babies. All of it. I remind myself that these are the best days of my life. Everyone may not feel that way and that's totally fine. But this is what I've waited my whole life for and I'm living it right this very second! How incredibly lucky and blessed am I to have these two, precious baby girls to love, form, protect, raise, and influence? It's ok for them to not always feel like the best days of my life, but I'm practicing being still in them, absorbing them, and not wishing for any next experience. So quickly these baby days, and toddler days, will be gone and I will miss them so so much. So much that it aches even just thinking about it!
Clare is already thinning out and so physically active. There's not a shred of baby-baby left. No stillness in her, no laying and looking around the room. She is full on headed towards toddler. I have just a few months to relish holding her everywhere we go, who knows how long to snuggle her against my skin to feed her, and not that long before she runs off to play with the big kids (she already crawls off to play with them!). I'm going to continue to work on being still in these days, even the hard parts, and enjoying being the majority of her life while it lasts. Her day starts and ends around me right now, and what a privilege!! Felicity is at the point now where she is imagining things and will run off with friends to play instead of staying near me, and is totally happy to be dropped off with friends. That is beautiful, my friends, and I've been waiting for that. There is a joy, but also a sadness, in knowing that her sun doesn't rise and set around me anymore... that she can have experience outside of me now! And Clare is headed that way so quickly.
There is a lady at church who takes care of her husband and it floors me to watch her. He needs probably 90% of his care provided for him and she does it lovingly, willingly, never seems exasperated or put out. I get pissy when my husband has a man cold. And short with my children when they're having a hard day. I am now working on reminding myself that these hard days of motherhood are building my patience, tearing apart my selfishness, and building perseverance, so that I can one day have the honor of providing care to someone outside of my children, whether that be a parent or my spouse. What love it must take to give of yourself day in and day out like that, and these precious babies are giving me the chance to practice that. As maddening and as exhausting as it can be, it's also really beautiful. I love these girls so much.