How did that happen?
Wasn't it just yesterday I was at the perinatologist's office, incredibly pregnant, hooked up to the baby monitor while watching "Shark Week" and eating my weight in Whoopers? It certainly feels that way.
But it wasn't. It's been three years since that, and we've gone through so much in that time. Bed rest, jaundice, CatheterGate, SwaddleGate, PoopGate, EarGate, and just about any other -Gate you can tack on a word. We've watched as a our tiny, helpless infant has slowly but surely transformed into a sturdy toddler with a mouth like a sailor and grin that melts your heart.
(Please, please, please don't let him get kicked out of preschool when he starts yelling, "Dammit Jesus! Dammit!")
(No, I'm not joking. If anyone has any suggestions on how to stop him from swearing, I'm all ears).
Anyways, looking back at the Bear's development made me think about those first three years. If Motherhood came with a written description, what would the job look like on paper? What titles do we, as moms, hold? What are the requirements?
YEAR ONE: Orifice Manager
To sum up Year One in a nutshell, it's all about body fluids. From your first day on the job (water breaks! Push that babe out!) to post-pregnancy recovery, you are surrounded by fluids. Hormone levels plummet, you sweat through your sheets at night, and your boobs start leaking. If your body functions weren't enough, you have your new baby's to contend with as well. Food needs to go in through the mouth and come out the other end. This sounds incredibly basic and simple, but when it involves a newborn, all bets are off. Is the baby getting enough to eat? Did his poop transition? Why is he spitting up? Why does he only spit up on you when you forgot the burp cloth? Does he have another ear infection? Why do his eyes look swollen? Is he pooping enough?
Mothers of little boys will find extra joy in spending the first few months covered in urine as well, since the minute air hits the wee-wee, pee-pee comes out. It's messy, it's hectic, and you, New Mom, are officially in charge of every orifice on or connected to your baby. The child doesn't give a whole lot back to the new mom in terms of interaction, but that's not a bad thing, since you will be doing too much laundry to think about it.
YEAR TWO: Chief Safety Operations Coordinator
Ah, mobility. Your loving bundle of joy will eventually stop puking on you and begin exploring the house. It's right around this time you start wondering why you did not purchase a ranch-style home with padded walls, as everything - and I mean everything - suddenly becomes a danger to the little muffin. Cabinets need to be locked shut, drawers sealed off, stairs gated, dogs muzzled, and shelving bracketed to the walls. That helpless little infant is now a crawling/cruising/walking nightmare that can and will get into whatever you haven't bolted down. You realize your floors are extremely dirty. You vow to wash them more often but realize in your battle against the Cheerios on your floor, you are losing.
Sleep is better during year two, but food suddenly because yet another unexpected element of terror. Does your child understand how to chew? How small do I need to cut this grape? Is he choking or just giggling? Meals become not only incredibly messy but also a giant source of stress. Because if the little tyke isn't choking, there's a good chance he's tossing food around the kitchen in large, happy handfuls. This is the time to either invest in a really good cleaning service or a dog. You figure out which one is cheaper.
YEAR THREE: Socialization Engineer
So you've kept the kid alive this long. Congratulations! Now the stakes are going to be raised. Not only do you need to feed/bathe/sleep the child, but you need to somehow mold them in a mostly-functional member of society. Short of releasing your child to go live with a pack of wolves, this burden falls on you. For this year, you will need an enormous amount of patience, several bottles of wine, good friends, and the direct number to an excellent nanny.
Among the challenges of Year Three are:
-- hosting a successful playdate whereas your child doesn't beat the crap out of other children
-- teaching them successfully to use the potty
-- developing clear language skills so when they yell, 'Dammit, Jesus!' everyone knows exactly what they just said
-- promoting good manners, which includes (but is not limited to) saying please/thank you, asking permission, and not biting their friends
-- encouraging them to use that opposable thumb by writing with objects, eating with utensils, and giving you very adorable "thumbs-up!" when they are happy
"Sharing" becomes a dirty word, and if you had a nickle every time someone under the age of three yelled, 'Mine!' you'd be in the 1%. Seriously. When you watch how toddlers fight over toys, you wonder how modern society was ever built in the first place. So. Much. Yelling.
Of course, Year Three is capped off with the momentous event called PRESCHOOL. This is the moment when all of your hard comes together. It's a combination of all of the skills you've been working on for the last three years wrapped up into one giant stress-inducing package. Will they meltdown? Will they follow directions? Will they eat paste or make new friends? And most importantly, how many times will they swear and take the Lord's name in vain on their first day of school?
Scotty is 34 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days old. He starts preschool in 47 days, and I'm praying he doesn't set the landspeed record for getting kicked out of school.