Why full-time motherhood's not for me

I had some feedback on my superwoman post that hinted about Henry’s days being too much for a two-year-old. So today, a “Mommy-Henry” Sunday (Cory’s working 12-hour day shifts this weekend), we just stayed in and hung out.

It reminded me of why I like to get out and about with him. Staying in should feel refreshing; a chance to spend some lazy time together and catch up on what needs to be done at home. As it turns out, I really don’t like doing what needs to be done at home. I’d rather be working.

I mopped the floors. I’m ashamed to admit this, but it’s a super rare thing that our floors ever get mopped. Cory’s obsessive with the vacuum and we take our shoes off when we come inside so it seems all right, but it has definitely been a long, long while since the last mopping in the Austin-Avon household.

Well, that was an ordeal. In my head, it would go a lot like the scene from the Pippi Longstocking movie where everyone’s having a blast.

I gave Henry a spray bottle with water and vinegar and told him he could spray the floors as much as he wanted. Of course, he sprayed the carpeted stairs, the wall, and just about everything but the floor and quickly lost interest. The floors were mopped anyway, not that they look any better for it, and we moved on.

I made fudge for a friend, which seemed like a good idea until I was stuck at the oven stirring for the better part of an hour and the only thing that seemed to hold Henry’s interest was playing in the sink.

I told myself that all the water we save by being vegans (On average, a vegan, a person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet. — National Geographic) is at least somewhat offsetting all the water that is wasted when Henry demands some sink play time.

It was difficult not knowing what demanded more immediate action, stirring the fudge so it didn’t boil over and coat the entire stovetop in a sticky mess, or Henry dumping water everywhere and being precariously balanced on a chair to do so. I wish I had extra hands.

The hilarious quips that should be the stuff of family legends for years to come just spout from him so quickly that I can’t write everything down, much less remember it to write down. We visited BobbyDeeDee a couple of times throughout the day and Mimi and Poppy came to say hello on their way to Florida.

He fell asleep in my arms at nap time, and I held him for a good twenty minutes just taking it all in, remembering that time is fleeting, and we are never promised any kind of tomorrow that will be exactly like today. I kissed his cheek over and over. He’s still so baby soft. (I also licked my thumb to scrub off some gunk on his face and flicked boogers out of his nose. It’s hard to fawn over your baby when they have a booger staring you square in the face.)

I found myself constantly wandering back in time, missing my little baby. Kissing his soft hair; the softest, sleekest dark stuff he had when he was born, before the light hair he has now grew in. The way he would rest his head against my chest and I could hold his whole body in my arms. But then I try to shake it off.

Because I’m not so far in that I shouldn’t be in the moment — toddlerhood is going to be fleeting too, just as his short time as a baby was. So I tried to take a mental snapshot of his tousled hair, his baby teeth, the way he murmured “Song,” a command to sing him to sleep, right before he drifted off. I had just read him “The Giving Tree.” He likes when I have a happy kind of cry.

Already he’s saying his words more precisely. He can say “Jingle Bells” instead of “Dingle Bells,” “Oh what fun” instead of “Oh what bun,” and has started to say I instead of Henry, as in “I’m stuck!” instead of “Henry stuck” and even “That’s MINE.” But still, there’s the way he says sea anenanenome, and omanent. Every time I teach him proper pronunciation, I mourn the loss of his adorable Henryspeak.

Back to my original topic, though. I came downstairs to a living room full of blocks on the floor, lunch not yet cleaned up, remembering that there’s laundry in the dryer and so much to do that hasn’t been done. The immediate tasks are tedious, but it’s the other stuff that overwhelms me.

Mopping the floor this morning opened a can of worms. Suddenly I notice the pictures I haven’t framed, the broken glass in the other picture frame, the desk I need to get rid of that’s been in our living room for months now, and I think about the fans that should be dusted and the fridge that should be cleaned out and my stuff all over my dresser that needs a home and how my closet’s full of clothes just thrown around and I just want to quit.

The other day I felt a sore spot brushing my teeth and when I shone my iPhone’s flashlight in my mouth I was horrified. My teeth look like the sink that hasn’t been scrubbed in a long time. I brush and floss, but these things are just getting old and worn out. Whenever I catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror and look for longer than it takes to swipe on eyeliner or squeeze something, I have the same impression of myself. I’m so far from being new and it’s so hard to fix what’s wrong.

I have romantic thoughts about an au pair or personal assistant who will just take care of all the things that aren’t being taken care of. Repot the plants, vacuum the insides of closets, go and cash that old savings bond I’ve been carrying around and do something with it. Form an LLC for Advokate, figure out how to do the woman-owned-business certification, figure out why my checking account never balances and give my desk a good wipe down. Do something about my bushy eyebrows, exercise, drink more water, get more sleep. But it’s really me that needs to do all that.

It’s just overwhelming. Right in the middle of picking up blocks, I came and wrote this instead of doing it. I’m just not cut out for housewifery. I’d rather be chipping away at a tangible task list that I know is going to pay off instead of trying to weigh out what’s important on the homefront.

It really comes down to this: I’m so much better at triage with urgent things than with non-urgent things. The non-urgent things freak me out because there are way too many of them. I don’t actually even know what to do with down time.

Now, when I finish writing this, I know that I need to fold laundry, pick up blocks and do the dishes from lunch. Urgent things. Then… do I wash the sheets, mop the kitchen floor, take a shower (with Henry all day it’s not easy to find a minute), clean the upstairs bathroom, deal with the pile of mail on the kitchen counter, go through my closet and straighten things up and get rid of stuff, make dinner, make future dinners to put in the freezer, brush the cats, tidy my dresser, go through my 15-year-old makeup in the drawer, find the plant food and give the plants a pick-me-up?

I could refill the pellet stove, or see about a more thorough shoveling or salting of the walkway, or dust some surfaces. I should look up what to do about lint in your dryer, we’ve been cleaning the screen but I think we need some kind of a bottlebrush thing to clean it out better so it doesn’t catch fire. And I think I have gift certificates I should use but I can’t remember what they are. I could call a friend to see what they’re doing, but Cory will be home at 7 and probably just want to eat dinner and get Henry to bed so there’s not really time. I could paint my toenails, or do something with the eight inches of hair I cut off in August that’s just been in our bedroom lurking around, or figure out what I’m doing with that Adirondack chair I said I’d paint, or figure out what to do for the Small Works show or for the show I have in July. I could draw, I haven’t drawn anything in a long time. But I really should clean up the desktop on the computer and figure out why it’s running slow.

The possibilities are endless. And this tiny bit of down time has me incredibly overwhelmed just thinking about all the things that I’ve never done that I should have done and that are probably too far gone now, or just the sheer number of things there are to get to when I have down time. There’s no way to do it all.

Maybe I’ll just go see if Henry’s up yet. Or I’ll get a little work done, maybe.

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My SuperWoman Day (a not-so-humblebrag)

So there are definitely days where I feel like I’m failing at everything because I’m trying to do too much. But there are other days where I’m all “I got this” and while it’s far from easy, I’m really freaking proud of all that I’m juggling. This is going to be one of those snapshots of my days and of course it’s because it’s a killer wham-bam kind of a day. I don’t tend to snapshot the stupid days where everything goes wrong.

So. Early 2015 has been INSANE for business. Everyone is following through on their New Year’s Resolutions at the same time, and I’m right at the verge of having to turn away new business because my cup is brimming with work. I’m NOT complaining. (And I’m not turning people away. Yet.)

Henry on his first day at Early Learners
Henry on his first day at Early Learners

A few months ago when I left the Shirt Factory job I had this really foreign feeling of actually being able to get to the stuff on my to-do list that wasn’t urgent. As in, for a really long time it only got done if it was pressing. I had a refreshing couple of months in November and December and opened a boutique. And now, BAM! It’s back to where I’m spinning plates — Now this one! Now this one! Like waiting tables. Rushing from one thing to the next, but I think I’m okay. I’m handling it, and I’ve hired some help.

So we enrolled Henry in the Early Learners program at the YMCA — pre-preschool. We also have him going to It’s A Kidz World three days a week, and we also signed him up for swim class.

This morning it was my first time solo with him for this wild routine. I woke up with him, fed him breakfast, and armed with three bags (swim stuff, backpack with extra clothes and snack for Early Learners, my work clothes) we made it to the Y for Early Learners. I dropped him off and worked out to my sister’s “Disaster Mix” — Britney Spears, punk rock, 80’s dance hits. It felt great. I picked him up at 10:45 and we changed into swim gear for 11 a.m. swim class — with a LOT of crying because he is TERRIFIED of noisy potties, and there’s one with an automatic flush in the family change room.

We do swim class and somehow I manage to get us both showered and into clothes. It’s not a quick process. We drive to Kidz World and he sits down for his lunch while all the kids are sleeping and proceeds to fall asleep while eating, I’m told.

Oh yeah, and I made a homeopathic herbal decoction of elderberry last night while I was working from home after Henry went to bed. No big deal or anything.
Oh yeah, and I made a homeopathic herbal decoction of elderberry last night while I was working from home after Henry went to bed. No big deal or anything. Also, I went to yoga class yesterday and worked my butt off doing ten zillion things and then took my kid to the library’s play group. NO BIG DEAL OR ANYTHING, I SAID.

I head to work and get there about 12:30, scarf a frozen Veggie Loaf TV dinner, meet with the President of the Glens Falls Collaborative and get paid for a big project with them, reply to emails, get two projects done for clients, bang out a couple of pages on a major website I’m building, meet with a prospective client and have an Amity meeting with one of my regulars and then it’s time to go.

Cory’s picked Henry up and has dinner on the table. He cleans up Henry and dinner while I email the director of an arts organization back about this super duper major grant project with the City. The Mayor is apparently going to announce our project tonight and the media’s been alerted, and I need to send her an image. So I’m doing that while dinner’s being cleaned up (Thanks, honey!) and then Cory has to leave for work. But not before he makes a joke about how my iPhone is like a Bat signal — THE MAYOR IS CONTACTING US! WE NEED ADVOKATE!

Then Henry’s got to go to the bathroom. And there I am, wiping my toddler’s butt with one hand and texting the media my statements which might be put in print with the other hand. And that sums it up right there, really. Also, then he said he needed a Band-Aid on his butt. I had to hold him up in the mirror so he could see it. All in the middle of talking about this project.

Thank Jesus for texting. That wouldn’t work via phone. Can you imagine it? “So yeah, there’s a match and the grant is due in two days. Bend over, honey! And there are 13 organizations partnering on it. No, I’m not done yet – That’s a lot of poop! And we’re getting in-kind donations from the City. DON’T TOUCH IT! STOP TOUCHING IT!!!”

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. Practice for my a cappella band The Skirts is canceled, so instead, Henry and I then go to the inaugural meeting of the Glens Falls Chapter of Holistic Moms at the library.

I felt so dumb not bringing something to keep Henry entertained. We sat on the floor with some coloring books but instead of chatting with the other moms, I mostly chased Henry around shushing him while people were talking. I felt at home with my mason jar of cereal for snacks, and Henry was even wearing a tie-dye shirt. I think we fit in okay, except for where it seemed like a number of the moms were working part-time or were full time moms so they could home school. It made me think that maybe I actually am trying to do too much. How possible is it to be this career-oriented and ALSO be really family-oriented? More likely, how sustainable is it? I really want both.

Anyway, we left early because Henry was being a rascal and I couldn’t blame him because he was clearly bored. I will probably join the group, but I did feel a little out of place as a vegan amidst farmers. I think we all have the same basic values, though, about living naturally and researching all of our choices to make the best decisions for our families.

We came home for bath and bedtime, and Henry’s still nursing. I’ve been feeling more and more like our days are numbered with that, but hanging with those other moms tonight made me feel more like I ought to just keep going with the flow and let Henry make the choice to quit when he’s ready.

And then after he fell asleep, I went downstairs and had a cup of coffee and proofed the grant for this major citywide project. And here I am writing about it.

Maybe I can’t balance the ultra-career-woman thing with the most-present-and-all-natural-mom-in-the-world thing forever, but today I did it LIKE A BOSS and I feel really proud of it.

Jackie, Thor and Henry on the steps at the library tonight.
Jackie, Thor and Henry on the steps at the library tonight.

I’ve definitely had people tell me that I can’t have it all. And some days it feels like a major relief to actually admit that I can’t be a perfect ethical vegan AND run my own wildly successful business AND take my kid to art shows AND make food from scratch AND run a boutique AND buy everything organic and local AND avoid chain restaurants AND not shop at Wal-mart AND work out AND do extended breastfeeding AND find time to relax AND do yoga AND do everything in the most ecofriendly and waste-free way possible AND be a total attachment-style parent AND keep everyone in the world’s feelings in mind AND make time for my husband AND keep the house clean AND… so on.

But today I feel like, while there were certainly moments of frustration, I pulled it all off. So there. I wrote it down for posterity. My one day that I did it all! Yes I CAN do it all! YES I CAN, YES I CAN, YES I CAN…

Now I’ve got to choose whether I fold the laundry or get more work done. Maybe I’ll do both! It’s my one day to be awesome at everything!

Snapshot of the day

6:00 a.m.
Woke up and had coffee in bed thanks to my wonderful husband. Henry was the perfect boy and read books in his crib while I showered and got ready in my businesslady outfit and darker lipstick than made sense in daylight. Then I brought him to his grandparents BobbyDeeDee in his jammies for breakfast. They were kind enough to get him ready and drop him off at daycare for the day.

6:45 a.m.
Leave in plenty of time to get to my speaking engagement and set up.

7:00 a.m.
Realize I actually have no idea where the thing is and GPS it. I was at the wrong exit.

Photo credit Pam Fisher of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce
Photo credit Pam Fisher of the Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

7:05 a.m.
Arrive and set up, despite some technical glitches.

7:30 a.m.
Awkwardly “network” by clinging to the people I know at the networking event preceding my presentation on branding. Eat dry toast and fruit because I don’t want to be a vegan pain in the a.

8:05 a.m.
Branding presentation. I think it went well. People had nice things to say and I had some good conversations. Pam Fisher from the Chamber is awesome. I have nice friends (Janet Nolin and Shari Olson, while I’m naming names.)

9:30 a.m.
Arrive at the Advokate office. Check email, talk up Matt Funiciello for Congress on Facebook, futz around tidying up.

10:00 a.m.
Artists drop off their work for the shop. Check email and get a few work things done. Appointment with Amity Farm Batik in which we work together creating graphics from her batik to make into scarves.

2:00 p.m.

The Advokate Boutique, now open Tuesday to Friday, 12-5 p.m.
The Advokate Boutique, now open Tuesday to Friday, 12-5 p.m.

Realize I can’t stand it any more and rearrange the shop. Hang shelves, arrange things in baskets, dust, arrange things in different baskets. Put jewelry here. Put jewelry there.

3:30 p.m.
More work. Fast, now. Time’s running out. Work on the Vegan Outdoor Adventures business card and website, and Glens Falls Arts’ November Arts Bulletin, and answer emails.

5:05 p.m.
Pick Henry up. He runs to me with a big smile on his face. It’s the best part of my day, seeing him do his thing in the daycare environment and then have that bright flash of recognition spread over his face like sunshine. I love when he runs to me.

5:15 p.m.
Vote. I teach Henry in the car to say “Vote Green! Vote Matt!” He says it to folks on our way out. While we’re there I bump into Patree, who I used to work with at The Chronicle. She says she just proofed my next article about trying to get pregnant and I ask her what she thinks. She says it will be interesting to people who have had similar experiences, which is my hope.

5:30 p.m.
Henry and I, side by side, make vegan chili and cornbread. He takes a break to poop on the big potty and (after washing his hands) he adds spices, stirs, throws the veggies into measuring cups, pours in all the cornbread ingredients and pours. He helps me do the dishes, too (by pouring water from measuring cup to measuring cup). I put beans in the fridge to soak overnight.

6:30 p.m.

A toast to Matt Funiciello!
A toast to Matt Funiciello!

He decides he is done with dishes and ready to eat dinner and goes and sits in his own chair. I remember that we have Skirts practice tonight and text that I’ll be late. Henry and I raise a Pane Bello toast (because the cornbread is not finished cooking yet) to Matt Funiciello. The chili is really good.

7:10 p.m.
Cory arrives home after voting and we kiss and Henry decides he wants to come to Skirts so we hop in the car and drive. I warm up by singing on the way. Henry just looks at the moon. It glowed tonight.

7:20 p.m.
Chatting in Laura Lightfoote’s kitchen with her and Stefanie O’Brien and Janelle Hammond. I have a Sierra Nevada.

7:30 p.m.
We move downstairs to practice. We’re working on Holding Out For A Hero, which I try not to get too excited about. I’m really excited about it. Henry plays with Laura’s son Mason, who is the same age. They’re adorable. Henry’s a good boy. Henry dumps his snacks in their play kitchen’s sink. It’s funny because Bobby DeeDee started that — they used to keep his snacks in his play kitchen’s sink, and we then followed their habit.

8:30 p.m.
Henry looks at the moon on the way home. We talk about it. I tell him the moon loves him.

8:50 p.m. 
We skip bath tonight because it’s so late and go straight to books and bub. I read Henry a book of poems from the library and he falls asleep on my lap. I can tell it’s coming and intentionally quiet my voice and make the poems into a quiet chant to lull him to sleep. He goes heavy in my arms. I ask if he wants me to finish reading and he says yes through his sleep so I do. It’s precious.

9:00 p.m.
I decide to write my day down while Cory reads The Chronicle and listens to NCPR about the results for the NY-21 Congressional Race. We sit on the couch together.

Terrible Two

photoMy son Henry turned two on August 22.

On the eve of his first birthday, I went through his tiny baby clothes and heaved profound guttural sobs over the loss of my little newborn son.

I remember him seeming so big compared to his first onesies, and how tragic I felt that I’d never get to hold my snorgly sweet-smelling wee little bundle of joy again.

I thought I’d have a similar experience this year for his birthday, but it must be that the bright light of what’s to come vanquishes the sadness about what’s gone.

For sure, there are moments like the maple syrup incident, the nightly meltdowns about going upstairs to bed, and the roadside pants-pooping. It’s not like parenting is for the weak of heart — or stomach.

There are the days where I’ve been yelled at, peed on, and am on my hands and knees picking rice off the floor while dinner-covered hands are still smearing everything in sight.

If I’m out and about with him and try to carry on a conversation with an adult at the same time, I’m fairly certain I don’t say anything intelligent because I’m trying to mentally stay one step ahead of him so he doesn’t hurt himself, hurt someone else, break something, make a mess, blow something up, and so on.

But all that means that he and I are interacting more than when he was just a drooling hip accessory, and the most notorious “incidents” are lifelong stories we’ll tell; juicy family lore in the making.

Besides, they’re balanced out by other moments.

Moments like him singing happy birthday, one of his favorite songs, to anyone he feels affectionate toward. Like how much he loved the “up high” Ferris Wheel at Magic Forest. Like how he takes his time and says “excuse me” on slides when older, bolder kids barrel past him.

The squinting, showing-the-teeth smile he discovered when Auntie Erika asked him to grin for a photo. Him kissing my parents’ dog Heidi on the nose and sharing his spaghetti with her.

Moments like him chasing ducks at Crandall Park, asking Daddy to play blocks with him, and walking his dolly down Morgan Avenue in a pink stroller. Him yelling “DarkStar!” (the name of his Uncle Andrew’s hot air balloon, which he loves dearly) at an empty blue sky, willing it to appear.

Moments like when he puts his head on my shoulder — albeit a tactic he knows to use when he doesn’t want me to put him down for bed, because I love head-on-the-shoulder so much I’ll just hold him that way forever.

While I do feel wistful about the first days I held my tiny little boy in my arms, I am inspired daily. It’s all I can do to outwit him, outrun him and stay up later than him. Motherhood is great fun, despite its challenges.

I can’t imagine an age less terrible than two.

This Family Time column originally ran in the Glens Falls Chronicle‘s Adirondack Family Magazine in Autumn 2014.
Click here to download “Terrible Two” as it ran in The Chronicle.

Nothing like a baby laugh

There’s nothing like a baby laugh to melt away the day’s stress.

Today was one hell of a day. Just non-stop juggling at work. I got home at 7:30 and was still working via text and email, during dinner; hardly a minute to look the kid in the eye and say, “How was your day?”

Finally I put down my phone and nuzzled, bounced and nibbled the little guy, though. It was cathartic. He’s my therapy. He’s wonderful. Laughing, and laughing. Cory saying, “That’s no way to calm him down before bed!” We played the “I love you… So so much… I love you… So so much… So so much SO SO MUCH SOSOMUCHSOSOMUCHSOSOMUCH!!!” that always gets him going. Baby laughs to the rescue. The day dissolved with squeals of joy.

And then a little cuddle time. I curled him up in a ball in my arms, smelled his coconut oil after-bath smell, kissed him on his wispy blonde hair and said, “Oh, Henry. I just really love you.”

He stuck his fingers in my nose, put a fistful of my hair in his mouth, and said “Burgle bah.”

(Which I think means, “I love you back.”)

Parenting is just a bunch of letting go

Kid Henry
Kid Henry

Tonight Henry fell asleep in my arms, nursing before bed in the rocking chair in his bedroom. There’s nothing unusual about that. It happens most every night. But tonight.

Tonight I looked down at my sleeping baby in my arms and realized how big he was. His body’s bigger than my torso, now. His baby hands are kid hands. His baby butt’s a kid butt. Kid legs. Kid face. He’s not my little newborn Henry Austin-Avon any more. He’s crossing the baby line into kidville.

I’ve been so busy counting milestones, looking into the future. Excited that he’s sitting up. Excited that he can play on his own. Excited that he can hold my hands, stand up and walk across a room. Excited that he can put a carrot in his own mouth and eat it. That’s a good thing, probably.

Because the sadness, pain and loss in looking backward is almost unbearable.

Never again will I have to hold his floppy head to my breast to teach him to nurse. Never again will I cup his tiny little body close to mine to calm him, hoping he remembers the sound of my heartbeat. Never again will I have a six-month-old Henry. Or a five-month-old, four-month-old, three-month-old, two-month-old, one-month-old, three-weeks-old, two-days-old, newborn baby Henry.

Feeding himself.
Feeding himself.

The thought’s occurred to me before that it’s okay that time’s passing, because I want to have another baby. That I’ll be able to do it again; to hold my own little newborn baby, to be the only one to calm them down, to be so close.

But I realized tonight that it won’t be the same. I’ll have a two- or three-year-old son running around as a distraction. I’ll be worn out. And it won’t be Henry. It won’t be the first time; like watching a movie the second time or reading a book the second time. The surprises don’t hit you the same way.

I worry that I’ve missed it. I was on my phone, or talking to someone, and I missed it. Henry will never be seven months, two weeks and five days old again. That was just for today, and I was working, Facebooking, sending a press release, designing a postcard, chatting, hanging laundry, driving, in a meeting. I missed it. I missed him today.

Sleeping on Daddy.
Sleeping on Daddy.

Every day is letting go. Every day he is further from me. No longer a part of me. When he doesn’t want to breastfeed any more, our bond will just be a token. I won’t need a babysitter to bring him to me every two hours. We could go our lifetimes apart and he would probably be okay. Someone else can comfort him, after that’s gone.

It breaks my heart. Seriously makes me well up with tears to think about.

From birth, parenting is just a bunch of letting go. First he’s no longer a part of me. Then as he can hold his own head up, feed himself, eat food other than my milk, no longer needs to be carried around. Parents of teenagers, I don’t envy you.

I’m starting to realize why everyone glows at you when you’re pregnant or carrying a newborn.

It’s the best. It’s all ahead of you.

A fleeting moment.
A fleeting moment.

It’s the very very best. The closest. The part where your child needs you the most. The road into the unknown stretches out ahead, all sunshine and blank canvas.

My baby is growing up. He’s still so new, but no longer a newborn. This is so painful. I miss my newborn Henry so badly. It hurts, makes my chest cave in, to think that I will never hold my newborn Henry again.

He doesn’t exist.

My newborn Henry doesn’t exist any more.

I can’t think of anything more awful than that. I mourn for my son. He’s gone; the little curled frog legs, the long wispy brown hair, the twitchy breathing and high-pitched sleep squeaks. I wish I took more video. But it’s just not the same.

I console myself knowing that newborn Henry has grown into infant Henry, and infant Henry is the most beautiful, bright, happy, funny boy in the history of children. He’s amazing. He’s perfect. He’s a shining star, radiating joy and love.

And when he doesn’t exist any more, I’ll have toddler Henry to keep me busy. And then little boy Henry, and older boy Henry, preteen Henry, teen Henry, young adult Henry, adult Henry and beyond — all wonderful people I look forward to meeting.

… If I can just try to let go of his past selves.

Chasing the train

Parenting feels like a train I just can’t catch. The familiar scene where the hero races up on his horse and stre-e-e-etches out for the railing on the caboose to grab hold and triumphantly board the train. It’s going so fast, cacti whooshing by in the background scenery, hearts pounding, blood rushing, the horse’s hooves pounding as its mane whips in the wind and its muscles strain to go faster, then even faster – but that moment of triumph and relief where you hop on and can breathe for a split-second before saving the day just never comes for me.

Chasing the train

That second I think I’m finally up to speed and am reaching for the train, it speeds up again and eludes my outstretched fingers, again and again. Times I try to swerve and head it off at the pass, it takes a different direction, or just races by before I can grab hold. It’s impossible to stay ahead of, and impossible to catch. I just keep running.

But, you know… I get tired.

Henry will be six months old on Friday.

Suddenly he can sit up on his own, kind of. We should probably start to give him foods to try. He can wriggle around and end up feet away from where you put him down. He reaches for things he wants and grunts and pouts if he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t want to cuddle as often as he wants to stand. He picks things up off the floor. I haven’t seen it for sure yet myself, but babysitters swear he’s mimicking their sounds and facial expressions. He’s getting a tooth. He’s just so much more alert.

I feel like I missed something. Maybe I had my nose glued to my iPhone or sometime during my workday while he was with a sitter, he grew right up. It feels like I’ve missed weeks of development. Months, even. He’s not the same baby I knew.

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Sitting up already

I mean, he is. He smiles when he catches your eye. He loves getting his neck gobbled or legs nibbled (I’ve decided to call it “monstering”). He holds onto my necklaces or my ponytail. He tickles my side while he’s nursing. But there’s something new every day. I was shocked when I went to carefully prop him up in a sitting position on Saturday and he held it for so much longer than I expected. When did he learn that? Where was I? Have I been ignoring him?

He’s growing and learning so quickly. He’s a new baby every day. Before I know it, he’ll be a boy and not a baby. And then a man and not a boy. The train’s going faster and faster and faster. I’m never gonna catch this thing.

While I thought I was doing a good job of cherishing the moment, instead it passed me by. He’s so big already. Not a floppy baby any more. I’m not ready for this.

Not that it matters. The train rushes on.

And here we go. I thought he was down for a nap, but he’s up and noisy. Still haven’t caught my breath.

…But I’ve gotta keep running.