Life with Baby

I should probably just warn you. I am writing this from the back seat of our (leased, dear God) Corolla, having just caught with both hands a post-swim-class vomit that was impressive in both volume and velocity. I am running on three hours sleep, so my reflexes are a little slow, but it's ok... I will be able to get the flecks of-- what is that,  rice? When did she have rice?! -- out of my hair before my noon client meeting. And she's not repeating me verbatim yet so that string of profanity I let fly probably won't do (much) lasting damage. 

It's 10:23 a.m. I accidentally wore my pajamas to swim class because apparently I am incapable of dressing two people today and Tiny Human took priority. She looks adorable, or she did... Until the puking. 

As I sit here, stroking her hair and telling her she's brave and making sure she doesn't choke (have you ever tried to be carsick in a five-point harness? It takes a special set of skills to full-body convulse while completely immobilized, folks) , I am left to reflect on the question I have most been asked as a new mom these last 13 months: So, how's motherhood? Is it just magical? Is it everything you imagined? 

We all know I am very much of the rose-colored glasses school of motherhood. I love my kid. I think she's smart and hilarious and I have learned more about faith and gratitude and love from her than from anyone and anything else in my three decades of life before her. But let's do one another the courtesy of being honest, OK? Being a mother is magical and rewarding and a riot. But it also pushes you to the very edge of patience and sanity and love.

Sure she gives kisses and high fives and laughs at my jokes now-- really, her timing is impressive. But mostly... Mostly having a baby / toddler / small tornado living in the house is like living with a perpetually drunk frat boy.

She wakes up and yells for me to take my top off so she can get at my goodies. She drinks straight from the tap, and it's a sloppy affair because sometimes she tries to practice her ninja moves at the same time. At this point she usually lets out a big, wet, slapping belch before licking my face and then sliding off my lap, only to take three crooked steps before soiling her diaper. She wiggles and giggles and flails helpfully as I try to change her, she immediately wants her sippy cup, slapping her empty, greedy palm at me, barking in her baby voice a sound that we both know means, "THAT! WANT! NOW!" 

But like any good drunk frat guy her attention span sputters out as quickly as the water dribbles down her chubby baby chin. She runs around knocking everything off the end tables and snatching handfuls of snacks that she redistributes across the living room floor, coated in varying concentrations of drool. Bogart joins the party delightedly at this point, and between the two of them I am now the cop who's stuck dealing with the damn youths.

It doesn't last long, though. Her teeth are bothering her, and her mood takes a slump toward the weepy end of the bar shelf-- like a broken heart over-saturated with tequila. She clumsily crawls into my lap and tugs mercilessly at the neck of my shirt, yelling at me to let her nurse. And I do, because her nails are sharp-- a battle I was too tired to fight that morning-- and because it's the most direct route to quiet and because dare I dream it, maybe she'll take a nap. 

She nurses until she passes out, and the cycle repeats itself. But for those moments, those brief moments when her big, heavy lashes rest gently against her soft cheeks, she's perfect. She's my heart, beating wildly outside my body. She's my chance to put something powerful and beautiful into the world. 

Until I strap her into the car and her stomach turns and then I'm catching baby vomit with both hands. It's up and it's down and it's hilarious and tedious. It happens that fast. And it happens in slow motion.

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One of the first things my father told me about being a parent is that the days are long and the years are short. It's the most accurate description of motherhood I've found so far, perfect and simple and comprehensive in summing it up: the days are long and full and chaotic and spent at the mercy of a mercurial little Goldfish cracker-obsessed tyrant. But they're brimming with magic and laughter and happiness. And yes sometimes vomit and frustration and ninja kicks to the throat. 

Motherhood is an adventure. Stay-at-home-motherhood is something else entirely, but that's another post. Today ended up being one of those days where the puke smell takes several washes before its off my skin and the exhaustion is wrapping around my body in achy tendrils. It's time to snuggle up with my Little and let the sweet, heavy pull of sleep roll over me. Time to press kisses into her sleeping fingertips and trace the way the gentle light of night time curves across her face into my forever memory. I'll nod off acutely aware of how blessed I am for having had this day. How lucky I am to wake up to a tomorrow when I still get to be her mother. 

Any day I get to wake up and be her mother is a good day.

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