Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Katie, Age 2

After tomorrow my daughter will be a third grader. How did that happen? She insists on growing up far faster than I'd like. I know it's a mother-bird's job to teach her chicks how to fly off and find their own worms. I know it's in Katie's best interest that I not coddle her, that I not complain that she's not my baby anymore. I won't always be around to take care of her. I gave birth to her. I must prepare her for life outside the womb, off the breast, and out of my arms, on her own, fending for herself and passing her survival skills onto youngsters who need care. That's the cycle of life. And it's beautiful. 

And it's bullshit too. It's so unfair that our babies have to grow up. We spend so much of our energy taking care of them. Giving up our independence, our sanity, and our self-worth. Instead of having fun, partying til 2AM with our beer bottle buddies, we're up til 2AM with another asshole who's screaming for one more bottle. And we give it to them just to shut them up, even though we know we'll be woken up again in an hour to the sound of their puking. On us. Warm and stinky.

How dare babies do this to us? After all we've given up to take care of them--dry clothes, our dignity--when they're helpless and vulnerable, they have the audacity to grow big and strong and smart. To not need us for everything anymore. After we've given up so much just to give to them.

I once read in a book by Dr. Harriet Lerner that the reason babies are so cute is so that we don't chuck them out the window when they start crying. Babies are so needy. So demanding and clingy. Such an energy suck. Why on earth would anyone want to have a baby? And yet, in my experience, there in nothing on this earth more profound. They have to be cute or we'd kill them. On some wide-awake nights as I'd try to rock Katie back to sleep, I'd find myself empathizing with species who eat their young.

But we learn to care for them despite the difficulty of it. And just when we start to feel like we know what we're doing, like our job is pretty easy--bing--job change! Yeah, you're still a parent. You're still needed a little bit. But nothing like when your baby was an actual baby. Parenting a seven-year-old is much easier than parenting a seven-week-old. 

And thank God. All parents need a break. 

I love being a mother. It's the best job I've ever had.  And I understand that even though right now my daughter is pretty easy to parent, the teen years are approaching, so it's not time to rest on my laurels just yet. But as much as I love being a mother, I love being other things too. I love being a wife. I love being a writer. I love being a librarian. I love being a friend. I love being a citizen. I love being an Earthling. And no matter what, whenever Katie needs me, I'll drop whatever I'm doing and help her if I can. But when she's got it, when she's good, when she doesn't need me to hold her hand, that's my cue to take my bow. To pursue my art elsewhere.

Today is my favorite day in social media: Throwback Thursday (#tbt). People share old photos so we can all look back on a time in our life we've outgrown, and yet it's still a part of us. I love looking at old photos. They're good for a laugh, with their dorky haircuts and unforgettable fashions, but Throwback Thursday is also quite meaningful. It's a great day to look back and reflect, to see how much we've grown. 

Here are some good ones from when Katie was two:

Katie with pants on her head

"Don't mind me, I'm just pushing along my Dora chair with my baby doll stroller." 

Pillowcases and empty boxes are the best toys for two year olds.

How do you make a two year old smile for a photo shoot? Fart noises.

"What? You don't carry around your slice of American cheese on your chest? Hmm. That's odd."

Candycane!

Reading the masterpiece, "Everyone Poops" by Taro Gomi

Now do you see my dilemma? Adorable. Thank God I have these photos to look back on when she's a teenager and she's locked me out of her bedroom.