Aspen Princess: It’s time to mom up
So the babe is 18 months old today.
Already it’s hard to remember what my life was like before him, in case you haven’t noticed. Where my mind was once filled with thoughts about ways to reach my ideal weight or how to come up with the cash for a pair of pretty shoes I couldn’t afford, it is now occupied by Levi.
I literally have these endlessly tedious dreams about cutting food into tiny little squares so that a person with only seven teeth could feasibly chew and swallow it without choking. I spend half my day looking at photos of him, even when he’s 5 feet away from me. I find myself humming the tune of “Elmo’s Got the Moves” and know “The Sesame Street Alphabet Song” by heart. I watch recent videos of him every night before I go to sleep, and by “recent” I mean it was most likely shot that day. I have no idea how parents functioned before smartphones.
I have turned into one of those women I used to despise, one who posts 8 million photos of the same kid on Facebook. I remember thinking, “Dude, we know what he looks like already,” but now I am eating those words. I try to use restraint, I really do. But what is Facebook for other than spying on ex-boyfriends and/or gloating?
I promise you I will never use the hashtag “blessed,” and I do try to limit baby pics to one post a week. But if you thought the incessant posts of my pug were annoying, the baby and puppy show will for sure make you want to barf.
But like I was telling my friend Kate, the photos on Facebook only tell half the story.
Like the day I posted a super-cute pic of me and the babe at Mesa Verde. I liked it because we both looked good, and it was a cool image with the ruins in the background. I’m wearing my sunglasses and a baseball hat, so I actually look young enough to be cruising around with a toddler in my arms.
But here’s the real story.
It was June in Mesa Verde, which meant it was just shy of 100 degrees. My darling little boy was acting like a little monster on account of getting spoiled by his grandparents. So during the time they were here, he really wanted nothing to do with me. Why would he want his mother, the woman who wipes the snot from his nose, changes his diapers, wrestles him into his shoes and car seat and all the other unpleasantries of having a 1-year-old? Oh, no. He would much prefer the sing-song tone of his Mimi’s Minnesota accent, the way she makes everything into a super fun game, not to mention her ability to turn almost anything into a new toy.
Therefore, whenever I went to pick him up he would scream and cry and writhe around in my arms like I was trying to torture him. I’d come home from someplace and kneel down for a hug and he’d run right past me, turning his head away and making this horrible grunting sound like if he could speak he would go, “take a hike, lady.”
He was also in a phase of hitting me in the face pretty frequently. I have been reassured by various people in-the-know that this is totally normal behavior and very age-appropriate. The head of his school advised me to say things like “gentle hands” and “owie” to try to teach him not to do it anymore, but nothing worked. Instead, I found myself wincing and bracing myself only to have him slap me when I least expected it.
It was, quite literally, a slap in the face.
Ryan would see all this go down and be like, “I can’t believe you didn’t anticipate that,” which only made me more pissed off.
You can imagine my satisfaction when Babe slapped Ryan right between the eyes and I mocked, “I can’t believe you couldn’t anticipate that,” and was a little reassured to share the abuse to boot.
That was all pleasant compared to the tantrums, throwing himself on the ground when he didn’t’ get his way and slamming his head against the floor with the aplomb of an Oscar-winning performance, like in the checkout line where there is no escape.
Don’t get me wrong, for the most part he’s a dream baby. He sleeps 12 hours every night, he would put himself to bed if he could, climbing up the stairs when he’s ready for bed. He’s stoked almost all the time and thankfully doesn’t display these behaviors with anyone else but me.
But still, it was the first time he’d ever pulled away from me. “He doesn’t even want me,” I sobbed to Ryan. “You wouldn’t even know that I’m his mother.”
That’s when I learned the biggest lesson of parenting so far: You can’t take this stuff personally or you’re screwed. You gotta man up — or better yet, mom up.
So when my friend Kate commented, “Best friends!” on the Mesa Verde photo, I felt obligated to call her and tell her the whole story. Then I texted her a photo Mimi accidentally got of Levi’s open hand on my face and wrote, “Meanwhile, in real life,” resisting the urge to use the acronym “IRL” because I’m too old for that noise.
Anyhoo, I guess the old cliche, “the toughest job you’ll ever love” is true about being a mom. But just like the struggle it takes to climb a mountain, that’s what makes it so damn sweet.
And as social media continues to take over our lives, and this child continues to take over mine, the least I can do for you, dear reader, is to tell you the whole story, and the whole truth.
The Princess is way too hot down here in Basalt. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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