As you’re walking through the grocery store with your newborn, blinking to stay awake, an older woman stops. Cooing over your baby, she exclaims, “This is the best part!” Watching her stroll away, you wonder if that’s true, how the hell you’re going to survive this thing called parenthood.
I’m here to tell you that her statement is bullshit.
Every stage has its ups and downs. Some parts of childhood are easier to handle than babyhood, while others are definitely harder. As the mom of two kids, what I can promise is that while it won’t always be easier, it definitely gets more fun.
The Newborn Snooze
Newborns are a lot of things: beautiful, cranky, sleepy, adorable, poopy. And boring. Definitely boring.
While some moms claim they peacefully gazed at their newborn for hours, I was never able to accomplish that. After a couple of minutes, I was literally falling asleep. As my son napped in my arms, I would smile, kiss him, and then pull out my phone. Even when he was awake, I longed for when he could start talking. Dr. Harvey Karp says the first three months are as if the baby is still in the womb. Honestly, it felt about the same amount of communication.
Personally, I felt trapped those first few weeks. I knew there was more to motherhood than this small being’s constant need. But I couldn’t help but have tunnel vision.
Thankfully, things only got more exciting from then onward.
At six months, the world of motherhood opened up for me.
Around this time, you delight in watching your child rack up the milestones. My older son went from rolling over to crawling faster than I could keep up with. Then he came to a hilariously abrupt halt as he did nothing but crawl backwards. He’d get stuck under the couch, frown, and cry for us to rescue him.
Seeing them figure out their world is fascinating; you can almost see the million neural connections per second clicking in their brains. Their smiles come more frequently, big and toothless. Looking back at photos, my younger son has an open-mouthed look of wonder in every one of them. Around now, they start to clap their hands to music, beginning to understand what they’re hearing. Peek-a-boo becomes hysterically funny for both of you.
A year is where it gets really fun.
Suddenly, kids are aware of the world, looking and pointing and yelping. Everything is a new discovery, from the fan in the living room to the birds on the front lawn. I had to start deep-breathing once my younger son started climbing everything, but I love his enthusiasm.
This also when they start going from simply needing you to loving you. My younger son, who is one, wraps his arms around my neck and squeezes. It’s the cutest hug in history. That’s simply something he couldn’t do as a newborn.
Even Three-Year-Olds Can Be Awesome
Two and three are known as difficult years, and yet they have their own special beauty. This when you can actually have meaningful conversations with kids, about everything from the placement of the toilet flusher to why things die. They start asking questions – endless questions – about things that you just take for granted. “What is the science behind a thunderstorm anyway?” you think. “Why?” becomes a way of life.
Even their most infuriating, two and three-year olds are often deeply funny. As one woman wrote to the Washington Post, her three-year-old goes on “cartoonish evil villain rants.” In his endless quest to delay bedtime, my older son claims he just needs to play “one more song” on his “phone” (which is imaginary). He then loudly sings a made-up ditty to himself. I’m often simultaneously annoyed and trying not to laugh. In contrast, there’s nothing funny about a baby with colic.
As kindergarten and elementary school come along, kids’ personalities continue to emerge.
You watch them become their own distinct people. Now instead of just sharing the things you love with them, they share the things they love with you. They form relationships apart from you, friendships full of their own drama and joys.
And on and on and on
At each stage, you may miss the one before. But there’s so much to look forward to. Sure, having a baby is a grand adventure, but raising a kid is an amazing journey. Don’t let the grocery store ladies get you down.
Related: The New Baby Milestones