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The Joy is Louder Too

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Yesterday I asked you what you’d like to see more of on this site and many of you replied with “more personal essays!” And it’s true, I haven’t been writing as much personal stuff lately. Part of that is because the personal stuff takes a bit more time and focus — two things I often feel short on these days. And the other reason I haven’t shared as much is because my life now feels awfully narrow, as much as it feels full. I am still many things — a wife, a daughter, a friend, a writer, a champagne-drinker, even a “runner” if short, slow jogs count for that. But mostly, I am a mom because parenting a 2-year-old is so all-encompassing, especially if you are a stay-at-home parent (even a stay-at-home parent who works part-time).

And so, my life is narrow; there are play dates and tantrums and messes and crafty things and silly songs and always looking for a missing mitten. And while I don’t usually struggle with the narrowness on a personal level — I appreciate that this time is but a blink on the radar, and in five or ten years, I will look back and wonder how it went by so quickly — when it comes to writing about it, I worry that: a) it’s boring for people not actively IN it; and b) I don’t want to exploit my son or my family or share anything I may regret later when Jackson is older. I want so much to tell you all how incredible he is — how wicked smart and funny and full of joy he is (when he’s not being a Terrible Two) — but I don’t want to invade his privacy and I don’t want to sound like that asshole parent who can’t stop bragging about her child.

I am a proud mom though. And these last few months as Jackson’s vocabulary explodes and he finally has language to express his many, MANY different thoughts, feelings, and opinions, I am getting to know him in a whole new way. It’s pretty great. Here is this little boy who is part of me and part of Drew and part of our parents and families and yet he is so entirely himself in a way I knew, intellectually, that he would be, but am seeing now right in front of me and it kind of blows my mind.

The rewards of parenting are becoming better. Jackson can tell us he loves us, for one thing. And he tells jokes! Ok, so his “jokes” are basically just saying “fart!” as many different ways as he can, but, come on, that’s funny. I mean, clearly, we are raising a mini Louis C.K. here.

It’s not all laughs though. Parenting a 2-year-old boy is the hardest thing I’ve done. Sorry, brand new parents, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it gets A LOT harder. Yes, you do sleep though the night again eventually (sort of) and that’s fantastic, but the time when the kid is awake gets much more challenging — physically, emotionally, and mentally. Every day, I question whether I’m really cut out for this. Every day, I hope I am not messing it up too much. And every day, even two years and two months after becoming a mom, there are moments — sometimes hours — when I still long for the freedom of my old life.

And I think about that road not taken — the path of the child-free life — and I wonder where it would have led me. Surely, there would be more travel. More spontaneity. I wouldn’t feel so tired. I’d probably look different — thinner, fewer wrinkles, better rested. I’d have more time to see friends — to nurture old relationships and foster new ones. I’d have more time for hobbies and interests and work that fulfills me. And in not taking that child free path, there is some sadness. But less, I know, than if parenthood were the path I hadn’t decided to pursue.

There are never entire days that are perfect, but there are days with many perfect moments. And even in those moments are the tiniest hints of longing — not for a life before, but for this life, or this moment at least, to last a little longer. On days when the three of us are all home together, Jackson says happily, “It’s Mommy, Daddy, Jackson day!!” and I wish I could bottle that — the expression, the joy, the utter contentment in simply spending time together — because I know in a flash, his world, like mine, will widen. And that flash can come literally in the next moment, because with a 2-year-old, emotions are in constant flux and what is contentment now is utter chaos thirty seconds later.

I am learning to weather the constant sea change as best I can — to handle the epic — EPIC — tantrums with all the patience I can muster. But it’s hard. It’s exhausting. And I find myself wondering when it will get a little bit easier — when I’ll have a chance to catch my breath. When he starts school maybe? Hopefully? And then I think back to the newborn days and at how much I’ve learned and grown and I start thinking, “Babies are a freakin’ cake walk compared to this.” And then I think about the potential to really actually enjoy another baby because I would know so much more the second time around. I would know to savor it all a little better, I think, and not get so worked up over insignificant stuff like how much breast milk I could manage to squeeze out if I pumped six times a day, for example.

Anyway, my point is: I’m still here. I’m happy. A friend of mine — another mom of a 2-year-old — commented the other day that it seems like I am finding my pre-jackson self again, but that isn’t really true. My pre-Jackson self is gone. But so is the nervous brand new mother who took her place in the early months of Jackson’s life. Now, I am a more confident mom who is finding a little more balance. I am not my pre-jackson self and won’t ever be again. But I am a better me, I think — more patient, less critical, more accepting of people’s limitations because I simply have more of my own now. There are more headaches now and more arguments with Drew and more moments I want to scream. But the joy is louder, too. And that’s a pretty wonderful thing to experience.

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{ 83 comments… add one }

  • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 9:57 am

    I love this and am happy you are coming into your own as a mom. I love how you describe this “new” you.

    “Every day, I question whether I’m really cut out for this. Every day, I hope I am not messing it up too much.” Me too. Some days it feels like it only gets harder. She still has that contentment in just being together though at least.

  • avatar bethany December 12, 2013, 10:04 am

    That was really nice, Wendy. For the record, I think you’re doing a great job. And that goes out to all the DW moms, too. You guys all love your kids and want the best for them, and try to be the best parents you can be, and that’s awesome.

    I’ve recently started listening to a podcast called One Bad Mother (despite not actually being a mother), and I highly recommend it! They talk a lot about the “narrowness” you describe, and they’re funny :)

    • avatar csp December 12, 2013, 10:58 am

      In the book freakanomics, it talks about being a good parent. And good parents buy baby books. It isn’t the books that matter, it is being the type of person that would want to be better and therefore buys a book. Wendy, because you want to be a good mom and you are trying to be, it means you are.

      • avatar lemongrass December 12, 2013, 11:04 am

        Guess I’m a bad mom! I don’t own any baby books. But that’s because I believe that every child and every parent is different so i should adjust my parenting accordingly. I also believe that my instincts are key to parenting but that’s not what sells books!

        • Dear Wendy Wendy December 12, 2013, 11:17 am

          At first, I thought by “baby books,” she meant books for baby to read. I own a couple of parenting books that I haven’t bothered to read, and we own a shit ton of books for Jackson. I actually am looking for an additional book shelf now to store all of them. I don’t really believe in parenting books, but, of course, I am all for books for kids!

          • avatar lemongrass December 12, 2013, 11:23 am

            Oh we own tons of children’s books and they are mostly scattered on my living room floor.

            • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 11:24 am

              Haha, I read it wrong too. I thought you were saying you have no books for E and I was like ‘hmm, that’s a little odd, but she’s right, to each their own I guess.’

              • avatar lemongrass December 12, 2013, 11:26 am

                Haha that would be borderline bad parenting. I read to E multiple times a day, mostly because it is the only time he ever stops squirming. But only board books, that paper shit is NOT okay.

                • avatar MissDre December 12, 2013, 11:29 am

                  My best friend’s son used to SHRED paper books when he was a baby. I tried getting him the cardboard books and he’d just suck on the pages til they were soaked in enough drool to be soft enough to tear. LoL!

          • avatar Wendys Dad December 13, 2013, 12:20 pm

            OMG! Just wait until after Christmas, Wendy. Your mom’s purchases alone will require another bookshelf for your apartment. We’re almost on a first-name basis with the UPS and FEDEX delivery people.

            • avatar Wendys Dad December 13, 2013, 12:22 pm

              Hmm, that was supposed to be a reply to Wendy’s post above. Oh well!

      • avatar Christy December 12, 2013, 11:20 am

        Yeah, just by critically thinking about how you want to parent (whether that’s by reading parenting books or blogs or just thinking about it), you’re already a good parent.

        • avatar bethany December 12, 2013, 11:45 am

          So long as you don’t neglect your kid while you’re doing all the critical thinking!

        • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 11:49 am

          I don’t know if I totally agree with this. Sure, in theory if you are thinking about being a good parent, you will try to be a good one, but I’m sure there are tons of shitty parents out there who think about being better but never actually get better. I mean, I could be drunk off my ass alone with an infant thinking about what a wonderful mom I want to be :)

      • avatar something random December 12, 2013, 12:58 pm

        I think I hate the phrase “good parent”. I understand the point you are trying to make and acknowledge the good intention; I just think it is dangerous to take a somewhat loose correlation and draw a large cause and effect conclusion, especially of such a loaded construct as quality of parent.

        • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 1:10 pm

          In CSP’s defense, she isn’t making the generalization. It’s in a well regarded book about statistics. So, IDK if I’d call their research a “loose correlation”.

          • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 1:16 pm

            But it IS a correlation. The logic they use to “prove” causation (“if you buy a book you care, which means you’re already a good parent”) kind of depends on reading the study subject’s mind, don’t you think? That’s hardly scientific. So is the idea of claiming to quantify the meaning of “good parent.” Just because it appears in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.

            • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 1:18 pm

              I don’t have the book in front of me, so I’m not 100% sure what they say in it. I’m just saying CSP isn’t pulling things out of the air. It’s a researched and respected book. I don’t disagree that all books are the absolute truth.

              • avatar something random December 12, 2013, 1:41 pm

                I haven’t read the book and I wasn’t trying to criticize CSP. But what is a “good parent”? How does one assess success? Is success the absence of negligence and abuse? Is it measured by children’s grades? Or adult children’s levels of economic success? Is it determined by a child’s mental facility? By reported feelings of safety and well-being? What are the implications for parents with differently-abled children? Or mentally and emotionally challenged or mentally ill children? What are the implications for economically challenged families they may not be able to afford books? Or working parents that don’t have the time they would like with their kids but know they are providing financial security for their kids? What about less scholarly educated parents? Or illiterate parents? Are they unable to be “good” parents?

                I know how I feel about a lot these questions and I’m still puzzled by others. I read this site and lots of parent books. But the closer I come to conclusions for myself, the less sure I am about the applicability of these conclusions to others.

                There are two common sayings: “The more you learn the less you know” and “don’t keep your mind so open that your brain falls out”. I’m swing back and forth between these ideas :).

                • avatar csp December 12, 2013, 4:05 pm

                  It is a great book, highly recommend it if you want your mind bent. The argument takes pages but comes down to if your mom wanted to be a mom and wanted to be a good parent. These are cultural statistics and trends. Just because of one or two examples to the contrary, the hypothesis can still be valid. This is saying that just the attempt to take action is enough to prove you will statistically raise a well adjusted child.

                  • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 4:13 pm

                    Yes, that’s what I was trying to say! haha.

            • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 1:19 pm

              Yea, like I said above, I could buy the book and go home and beat my children or whatever. Still a good parent just because I bought a book?
              There’s something to be said for effort and wanting to make an effort, but this is stretching it.

              • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 1:26 pm

                I think the theory goes something along the lines of, if you’re the kind of person who would go out and buy books on a subject, research a topic before diving into it, ask extra questions etc that as a generalization, you’re going to put more effort into the task (the baby having). I don’t have the book in front of me, so I don’t know exactly what they wrote. I was just trying to say, don’t jump on CSP because she isn’t the one who made that assumption.

                I don’t actually have the energy to debate this today.

                • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 1:34 pm

                  haha, me neither.
                  I’d also assume that’s the point the book is trying to make, which I totally get and makes sense most of the time probably. I guess the “problem” with it is that they say its backed up by research, which, eh.
                  My guess is people had an issue with csp’s comment because it basically said if you aren’t the type to buy a book, you are the type to be a bad parent, which is obviously just silly (I assume csp didn’t mean it that way at all though).

                  • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 2:11 pm

                    Yeah, it could have been worded better. I also think some of the people who’ve bought the most books and done the most research aren’t being the best parent so.

                    I really just want to crawl in a hole and cry. My bad week is still bad.

                    • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 2:17 pm

                      Aw, I’m sorry GG. There’s something in the air I think! That or just holiday stress :(

                    • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 2:18 pm

                      IDK what it is. It annoying though. Also not having my car (since some jerkoff hit me and left) it making me stressed. As is work. And life. And I just want to get drunk and do nothing but I can’t. blah blah. I’m just wallowing.

                    • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 2:25 pm

                      Why can’t you? If you were sick, you’d take the day. I say do it. You are never like this, so I think you need the break!

                    • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 2:33 pm

                      I can’t tonight because I have the car and have to pick him up for work late night. Plus I have to get cat food and our CSA share. Tomorrow maybe. (Also part of my stress is because I’ve been avoiding my to do list, so I need to just man up and get it done.)

                    • avatar something random December 12, 2013, 3:14 pm

                      GG,
                      I’m sorry to hear about your bad week and hit and run. I hope you have a chance to rest up and feel better.

                      FWIW I do think that desiring to do well and trying to educate yourself on a strategy are admirable qualities. I guess I was a bit sensitive to this thread because of my own issues.

                      I’m out of DW time but I’m really don’t feel like debating either, anyway.

          • avatar csp December 12, 2013, 4:00 pm

            I had no idea this was going to be such a hot comment. Thanks for articulating much better what I was saying.

        • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 1:11 pm

          That was my reaction too. Actually, that’s why I’m wary of the whole Freakanomics approach in general — applying economic principles to non-economic things can be really misleading if there’s no real way to quantify what you’re talking about. I mean, it’s a neat and fun way to learn more about the world and economics, but I think that a lot of the conclusions they draw are a little whiffy. How exactly did they define “good parent” for that study, and how did they collect their data? That just sounds a little weird. Sort of like the joke, “5 out of 3 statistics found on the internet are made up.”

          • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 1:20 pm

            My favorite is “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet” – Abe Lincoln

            • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 1:27 pm

              Well, he was a very prescient man.

              • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 1:35 pm

                I definitely didn’t have to look that word up fancypants.

                • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 1:40 pm

                  Don’t you go calling my pants fancy!

  • avatar Taylor December 12, 2013, 10:14 am

    Lovely Wendy!

  • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 10:19 am

    Do you think every path in life involves some narrowness? Maybe as you go along, further in life, and your choices from earlier on have that butterfly effect, magnifying with time? I’m not saying this to minimize what Wendy’s going through — I’m legitimately curious. In one way, could it be comforting — that the narrow feeling isn’t just because of the specific choice you made (parenthood), but because that’s the way life goes? My mom said that when she turned fifty, she had a feeling that she summed up by saying, “Well, I’ll never be a ballerina.” In other words, which each phase of life our options narrow — but if you look closely enough, pretty cool new ones open up, too. Maybe I’m getting to philosophical for 10:30am. But this was beautiful, Wendy — thanks for sharing!

    • avatar _s_ December 12, 2013, 12:50 pm

      I think you are correct – all paths narrow, but people’s narrowness differs. If you marry/commit to a partner, that narrows your path from all those potential partners/adventures to “the one.” If you buy a home instead of renting, that narrows your path in that you are now less mobile. If you have a kid, that narrows your path because your focus/attention MUST be on them. If you choose a particular course of study/career path, than can be narrowing. And so on with many different life decisions. You can only do the best you can to make sure your narrow path is one that brings you joy, because the narrower it gets, the harder it gets to burst out of its confines and start a new path. (Not impossible, but more difficult.)

    • avatar something random December 12, 2013, 12:53 pm

      I think some path’s are narrower than others. I think, for many, parenthood greatly narrows the time you have to pursue a relationship with yourself and your interests. There are many jobs that are like this but parenthood, especially for a SAHM of a young child, has no start or stop time and is not easily compartmentalized. Not to sound like a martyr or anything :)

      • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 12:58 pm

        No, I definitely get that there are different types and degrees of narrowness, and that parenthood can be one of the most stark. I guess I’m just saying that when a parent looks at her choices and thinks about what life would be like without a child, it’s important to remember that being childless doesn’t mean you get to escape the inevitable narrowing that life brings. It might actually be comforting to look at it that way — it’s not that you chose a path that led you down a narrower road, but that all roads narrow eventually, and you chose the one that you wanted with open eyes.

      • avatar jlyfsh December 12, 2013, 5:02 pm

        yeah i agree that a sahm mom of small kids may have a more narrow path in a lot of ways! but i also agree with banana. all decisions you make lead to what often feels like a narrow life. and i think we all second guess our life decisions and dream about what might have been. me in the now daydreams about what my life would have been like if i had stayed at one job or another. what if i had gone to another college, etc. i think we all glamorize the other side of the fence. sure a non parent may have certain luxuries involving time and potentially no one depending on them (at least no children), but they also are narrowed out of other things because they don’t have kids.

        i think my friends with parents think my life is way more exciting than it really is. the most exciting thing that happened to me this week so far was a belated birthday gift!

        • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 5:06 pm

          Hmm, I don’t see why being a sahm would be result in more narrowing that any other choice. Why do you think so?

          • avatar jlyfsh December 12, 2013, 5:10 pm

            that was just agreeing with somethingrandom that being a sahm of a small child, just in that time of their life, can be more narrowing than other times. the focus is different than from what friends have said (so i don’t know first hand) than say the sahm of teenagers. although they all also say it’s still hard just different hard. but, they’re lives at least seem to be far different (from their descriptions) than they were when parenting their children as babies/small kids.

            • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 5:12 pm

              Good points. I get what you mean.

          • Dear Wendy Wendy December 12, 2013, 6:19 pm

            Because there’s no separation between home and work. Home IS work. It’s all the same, day in and day out. At least for working parents, there’s a separation. You see other people. You work your brain. You use other skills. The world is still wide. Or, wider than for parents who stay home full time.

    • avatar AliceInDairyland December 12, 2013, 2:22 pm

      Banana, I LOVE what your mother said. It totally sums up the feeling in one simple sentence.

    • Roxy_84 Roxy_84 December 12, 2013, 2:25 pm

      Your first sentence here made me picture life as a decision tree. You start out with infinite possible paths, but each decision makes certain paths unavailable. It would not be binomial though, so that could reflect the fact that certain decisions cut off more paths than others.

  • avatar lemongrass December 12, 2013, 10:38 am

    I really liked this. I’m finding that being a parent has slower gotten harder, like the hour arm on a clock I can’t quite see it but looking back it is obvious. But like you I am much more confident and balanced than I was in the beginning. I feel lucky to have a easygoing baby but also surprised at how much more work it is than I thought. I didn’t know I would be teaching him already or that babies have tantrums (although I’m sure later on I will laugh at how minor these tantrums are) or how frustrating it can be when he just won’t let me dress him. But I’m also surprised at how good it feels when he does something to make me laugh or kisses another baby or looks at my husband and says “dada.”

  • avatar rachel December 12, 2013, 10:47 am

    This is lovely Wendy. As someone who is choosing the child-free path, I love that you offer this window into another world.

    • Fabelle Fabelle December 12, 2013, 11:25 am

      That’s how I feel when I read this— it’s so much more relateable to me than other kinds of mom-related stuff I read? because Wendy is badass, & I feel like the way she’s describing parenthood IS actually how parenthood might be, for me, if I choose that path? I don’t know if that makes sense, but Wendy, I really like reading these.

      • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 11:34 am

        Because she’s not glamorizing it. I don’t think there are a lot of mom bloggers out there (not that I ever really think of Wendy as a mom blogger…) who have the courage to admit they sometimes wonder what life would be like if they were child-free or think back on that time with longing. But that’s what make this so human — Wendy actually fesses up to that sort of thing, instead of hyperventilating about striving to be The Most Perfect Mommy Ever. The post isn’t just about how it feels to be a mom — it’s about how it feels to be a woman who became a mom. I think that’s why us kid-free people might feel it?

        • avatar starpattern December 12, 2013, 12:25 pm

          Yes, yes, yes. This is why I love reading what Wendy writes about parenting – she tells us about the good AND the bad, and the feelings and worries that go with it. It really does make it relatable (is that a word?) from a human perspective, and not just a mom one.

        • iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson December 12, 2013, 12:41 pm

          YES. That’s exactly it. She is so relatable when she discusses motherhood. She makes me (an on the fencer) feel like it’s okay if I have a kid and it doesn’t become my whole world. Sometimes it’s the standards put on moms that scares me out of thinking I can do it.

          • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 12:51 pm

            My mom didn’t do half the stuff that it seems current moms are pressured into doing — signing up for fifty billion activities, participating in the PTA, cooking every meal from scratch, chaperoning school trips — and it was clear that being a mom was not her whole world. That didn’t mess me up at all. In fact, it was an inspiration, when I look back on my childhood. One of the reasons she didn’t do all that extra mom stuff is because she was starting her writing career, and working on her first novels (and, later, promoting them when they were published). She showed me, by example, that you can be a mom and also follow your own individual dreams as well. And I find that very heartening because sometimes the idea of being a Super Excellent Mom to the exclusion of all else seems really hollow…not just for the mom but for the kids. What is that teaching the kids? That once you become a mom, all your individual ambitions and desires are over? I get that some people’s biggest ambition and desire is to be a Super Excellent Mom, which is fine, but even then you gotta have something going for yourself, you know? Not just for you, but to be an example to your kids of what a well-rounded adult looks like.

            • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 12:59 pm

              good reminder, Banana. thx

              • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 1:32 pm

                By contrast, my boyfriend’s mom threw herself totally into being a mom, to the exclusion of all else. Being a mom means sacrificing things, but I almost get the impression she sacrificed even more than she really had to? Or that she simply chose the path of being All Mom All the Time. And I think it actually left my boyfriend thinking (as an adult) a little warily about parenthood. He’s interested in kids, but I think he’s skittish about it a little bit because he identifies parenthood, in his mind, with his mom who built her entire identity about being a mom and mom-related activities. So he looks at his own life and thinks, “So, does that mean I have to give up ALL my passions and pursuits too, to be a parent? I have to stop living for me and live ONLY for the kids?” There’s no balance. And I think that can affect the kids as well as the parents. Being All Mom All The Time isn’t necessarily better for the kids. (And no, this is not a judgement of SAHMs. Both our moms stayed at home. But mine did her own thing, where as his was totally absorbed all the time in mom-stuff.)

                • avatar something random December 12, 2013, 3:34 pm

                  I agree, I think kids deserve more than to be the means by which their parents evaluate their own self-worth. That being said, it is personally hard for me as a mother of a toddler who is like a walking “id” and needs a lot of time and attention to balance time for myself. Maybe it would come easier if I was better at multitasking or more intuitive with my toddler. Maybe if I didn’t have conflicting feelings about my own childhood I would feel more confident and less analytical. Maybe I would be less insecure. Or maybe not.

                  Sometimes you have five balls coming at you but only two hands to catch. So you have to evaluate what you can let drop and what will end up pelting you and when the pressure in your head is worse than the blow of failing at something.

                  I really do think most parents are well-intentioned. The strategy they take is often a shifting one. Most of us in general, parents or not are like this.

                  I’m not sure where I’m going with this. But my DW time really is up now.

                  • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 3:42 pm

                    Eeek, FWIW I tried deleting the comment you’re replying to, because I immediately regretting comparing two moms — that’s just low and I wasn’t proud of it. But yeah, I agree with you — everyone handles the balance differently.

            • Roxy_84 Roxy_84 December 12, 2013, 2:37 pm

              My mom was similar. She worked the entire time my siblings and I were growing up, but never made a big deal out of it. To me it was like “of course Moms can work”. There were no homemade cakes for birthdays, and she never came on school field trips. But I don’t remember missing any of that. DQ ice cream cakes are where it’s at anyway.

              I look at one of my coworkers who makes these elaborate cakes for her daughter’s bday, or homemade cupcakes for her to take to school, even when it means staying up hours later on a weeknight. And maybe I should be impressed by her dedication, but really all I feel like is saying “you know spending $30 would have bought you 2 hours more sleep, right?”

              • GatorGirl GatorGirl December 12, 2013, 2:44 pm

                DQ Ice Cream cakes are the shit. Parenting win. (I haven’t had a birthday in like 16 years where I haven’t had a DQ cake.)

              • avatar lemongrass December 12, 2013, 2:48 pm

                I think people forget that parents have different ways of showing their love just as partners do. And that is okay. Apply the love language logic. My mother, for example, isn’t very affectionate but our birthday parties rocked and she made amazing cakes for us. She spend hours decorating a gorgeous cake for my baby shower and when I saw it and knew all the work that went in, I felt loved more than if she bought me a fancy present or told me she loved me.

              • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 2:48 pm

                In her defense, maybe that’s her “real mom” thing. Please everyone don’t yell at me for saying “real mom” in quotes. As a younger kid, my mom was very much the PTA mom type who would cook every night, etc. (that’s what I refer to as “real mom traits” jokingly). Then after her divorce, she was always out of the house. Anyway, sometimes I wish I were more like her when I was little. I worry what Lil might be missing out on by me not being like that. All this to say…my “real mom trait” is making halloween costumes. Its literally the only thing I do as a mom that I think is typical mom stuff. So it makes me feel a little balanced, a little more like my mom, and I go over the top with it. I take a bizarre amount of pride in doing that every year. So maybe that’s your co-workers thing too?

                • Roxy_84 Roxy_84 December 12, 2013, 3:01 pm

                  I totally shouldn’t snark about it….I’m sure what she does makes her feel really good to do it and is just as much for her as it is for her daughter. But I just think she puts a lot more pressure on herself than she needs to and it would completely exhaust me.

                  • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 3:05 pm

                    No, I think you raised an awesome point in your snarking :)
                    No one NEEDS to put so much pressure on themselves over such a little thing that is only super significant to you and not to your kid probably. I mean, I’m sure the kid appreciates the special cake, but in reality, the mom is getting more out of making it–its making her feel like that “typical” mom. At least that’s how it is with my costume making if we’re all being honest here.

      • CatsMeow CatsMeow December 12, 2013, 11:43 am

        I agree. Wendy’s motherhood essays are awesome and! they don’t annoy me at all, haha. They’re so real, whereas other mothers who write about mothering tend to sugarcoat it a bit.

  • BriarRose BriarRose December 12, 2013, 11:36 am

    I remember thinking when my daughter was little that the hours passed so slowly, but the weeks seemed to whiz by. Caring for a toddler is exhausting, and there were plenty of times I counted the minutes until bedtime, or wanted to lock myself in my room to escape her, which I did once (she found me). Yet here I am, so far removed from the toddler years that I practically feel like it never even happened, and I find myself so achingly sad that those days are gone. I relish these pre-teen years, but it truly is bittersweet to know that time is marching on and sweeping my daughter right along with it.

    Thank you Wendy, for your beautiful insight.

  • avatar something random December 12, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Amazing, Wendy. This was so beautiful and touched on so many universal themes of motherhood and family. I appreciate the line you walk between privacy and poignancy. Thank you for sharing a glimpse of your narrow ocean of a daily life. As a stay-at-home it is affirming to be able to relate to such an intelligent and successful writer.

  • findingtheearth findingtheearth December 12, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Thank you for this insight. I often wonder how it goes as they get older, and I glad to hear that it is challenging and wonderful. I honestly don’t think it is ever “easy” I just think your ability to adapt and respond changes. This morning, I got puked on at 5:45, and just kept snuggling. I could not have handled that 18 months ago, or even a year ago.

  • avatar Lisbet December 12, 2013, 2:15 pm

    Your words touched my heart! As challenging as it can be, I am still in awe of my little man’s beauty every single second I look at him, even if it’s pushed behind layers of other emotions. I hope that never fades. Enjoy every moment.

  • avatar AliceInDairyland December 12, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Ooh, this gave me chills because I have been thinking a lot about how narrow my life seems at the moment. (I am NOT equating professional school with being a parent. Please don’t take it that way, a lot of your feelings about narrowness just resonated with me a lot). I am not a big fan of making decisive, irreversible choices. I have spent a lot of my life running around in the waiting room pushing open all the various doors so that I knew they wouldn’t shut and lock.

    But you can’t sit in the wide valley of the waiting room forever, and you gotta go through one door. And you don’t know if you are going to get to see any of those other doors again. You probably will with some of them, but certainly not all of them. And that sucks, and it’s scary and I hate it. But I also know that there are doors in the next room that I hadn’t even considered, and maybe those doors lead to other doors with more opportunities. So you just have to have faith in your choices and enjoy the room that you are in.

    I feel that way about my relationship sometimes, not in an anxiety-inducing way but more of a looking through a telescope way. I stepped through a certain door in order to meet him, and love him, and now hopefully we will step through some new doors together and have adventures I can’t even imagine. But it is kind of sad to look through the narrow hallway of your current life back into the waiting room of opportunity you were in.

    (Holy metaphor!)

    • avatar lets_be_honest December 12, 2013, 2:33 pm

      Decisions are the WORST. If I never had to make another, I am sure my life would be better. I’ve gone from hating those big, irreversible ones to hating even the little ones. So now I just sit around thinking of all the options and never making any decisions, so that’s stressful. When does this day end??

    • Fabelle Fabelle December 12, 2013, 2:36 pm

      I LOVE this metaphor, it’s how I feel a lot of the time.

    • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 3:01 pm

      Very true. It’s also important to remember that making no decision IS a decision — and often one that closes as many doors as it leaves open. That waiting room seems like the place where anything is possible, when really if you linger there too long, you’re actually losing opportunities to experience things that you could only experience IF you chose a path and followed it long enough. Indecisiveness rarely wins anyone additional options.

      • avatar Banana December 12, 2013, 3:06 pm

        Actually, this reminds me of a convo I had with my boyfriend this week. We were talking about how teens are so angsty because they’ve finally reached the point of self-awareness where they start trying to figure out “who they are.” I think a lot of twenty-somethings get angsty because they thought they would have figured out who they are by now — that the teen years were supposed to “take care” of all that — and they are confused and angry to discover that life is actually a continually unfolding process of discovering who you are, what makes you happy, and what you’ve been put here to do. He asked me if I felt like I knew who I was and I said yes, in a way — in that I know that I want to be kinder, more generous, a nurturing person who is a force for good in the lives I encounter — but I don’t know what the best way for me to do that is, or even what the definitions of a “kind” person are, and these are all things I’ll be figuring out my whole life. So I know, and I don’t know, at the same time. But I wouldn’t be getting anywhere if I were sitting in one phase of my life, too scared to choose, too scared to try or experiment — that wouldn’t actually get me any closer to figuring any of it out.

  • avatar DesiDad December 12, 2013, 2:31 pm

    Wendy, I may be repeating above comments, but this is your “blog” too, so feel free to post about your life. Those who do not enjoy that should and, probably, will skip the articles!

  • avatar sarahhhh December 12, 2013, 3:02 pm

    I love this. This was so beautiful. It’s funny, even now that my oldest is approaching 6 I am still continually amazed at her personality as it develops, her vocabulary as it expands. It’s so mind blowing to see her be her own little person and have her own thoughts and opinions even now that I’ve seen it for all this time. I now have a 6 month old and I will say that while I can appreciate it more in some ways (being more sure of myself and knowing to savor the moments before they are gone) I also have accumulated more guilt. More quilt for the time that my oldest takes away from my youngest and vice versa. I know every parent goes through that but I can’t help but feel like I could be doing it better. You’re right though, the moments of joy that are so full of perfection they want to break your heart- they make it ok.

  • avatar Sue Jones December 12, 2013, 3:09 pm

    Awwwwww! LOVE it! I remember when my little boo boo was 2! It seems like just last week or last year that he was 2 and learning how to use the potty and my job was to keep him from hurting himself, but my little guy and I have been busy this past week looking at middle schools (Middle School!) for next year. And if he eats sugar and gluten his nose breaks out a teensy tiny little bit (!!!!) and so he uses a special face cleanser when he showers (all by himself) and he has his own deodorant! And he is obsessed with Rubik’s cubes! It goes by so fast. I still think of him as so little and young, but when I see the younger kids at his elementary school I know that he is past that stage and when he graduates and starts middle school next year he’ll be ready! Not so sure that I will be, though I am working on it!

  • avatar bethany December 12, 2013, 4:43 pm

    Wendy, you’ve prompted me to have the “I think we should think about having kids soon” talk with my husband TONIGHT.

    • Fabelle Fabelle December 12, 2013, 4:45 pm

      yayy, let us know how it goes!!

  • avatar fast eddie December 13, 2013, 7:32 am

    The wonderful things that have come into the DW community with Jackson’s arrival have changed to dialogue and drama. Sometimes I miss the old “He cheated on me with my sister” kind of stuff that we got to mull over in days of yore. My wife and I have no children of our own and I use other people’s kids to imagine that I have grandchildren. It’s a wonderful feeling and I thank you Wendy dearest for sharing the slices of the ups and downs to remind me that it was in fact a good idea to not take on that monumental task. When I hold one of our foster kittens while it’s napping and purring the understanding of why people have kids soaks in. Bottom line here is that Wendy is dear to us because she’s honest and real. What more could we want in a friend.

  • avatar d2 December 13, 2013, 8:20 am

    I am not a parent (and don’t expect to be), but I enjoy these essays and like your honest discussion of your child-raising experiences. Besides my secret enjoyment of being a creepy voyeur into your life, I feel like I learn things that make me more appreciative and understanding of the people in my life.

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