My baby is already six-months-old. I’m trying hard not to resort to tropes of “Stay Small!” and “Stop Growing!” because, obviously, a growing and thriving infant is a healthy happy baby; but, in truth, my mind is boggled when I really think about how fast time has gone by. Not that I want it to slow down, but, it is causing a bit of mental whiplash to me.
H and E are bookends to each other. My two boys, six years apart, and in between I have changed so much as a person, and especially as a mother. At night, when my older two kids are slumbering away and I’m curled on the couch with H nestled in my arms, I wish the me-seven-years-ago could witness the happiness, the ease one can have taking care of a new baby.
Because MeBefore parented the exact opposite from MeNow.
MeBefore parented nervously. MeBefore worried incessantly about ‘bad habits’, especially in regards to sleep behavior. MeBefore slept trained baby E at four-months-old and sobbed in my husband’s arms as I listened to him wail, thinking “this is what’s best for him”.
MeBefore googled everything, from poop color to rashes to the best toys. I knew E’s age down to the week number and day- I remember in group discussion boards writing, “Ok, so E is 16 weeks and 3 days old, is it too early to start solid foods?”
Above all, MeBefore worried way too much about what other people thought, their opinions, and how my mothering would stack up compared to anyone else.
MeNow, with the experiences of raising both E and L, knows you can’t spoil a newborn. And it’s pretty hard to spoil a baby under the age of one, too. MeNow follows my instincts, not what I read online or what other people tell me. This confidence allows me to enjoy the small moments, the snuggles and cuddles and just being with H so much more. In turn, H is an easy, happy, flexible baby.
On the flip side of this bookend, some of the obsessions I had with parenting the “right way” with E have slacked in regards to H. For example, a few weeks ago I read a book exclusively to H. He was awake and the other kids were out of the room, so I picked up a baby board book, and started reading. The poor kid’s eyes bulged with joy. He kicked and cooed and reacted as if the book were a dose of Molly and he was raving at a cool Brooklyn dance club.
I realized at that moment, I’d rarely read just to him. Like, ever. Sure, he’s there when I read to L or E, but he’s sort of just in the room or environment. Basically all I did with baby E was read to him. Poor H obviously loved and appreciated me reading solely to him. I regret the reality that H is often toted around as a baby accessory as I chase the older kids around, and since I wear him in a carrier or wrap he literally becomes an accessory on my person. I know his big baby brain is absorbing all the stimulus and he’s learning just by being with us, but that one on one attention is something I need to strive to give him.
Also, I have a hard time remembering how many months old he is, let alone the week number.
I think I’m getting all introspective because H is the last baby. I look at him, trying to remember to savor every moment, but then L starts screaming from the other room or E demands a snack and before I know it I have to put H down on the ground to go solve the crises of the older kids. I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though I’m a better mother now than before, I also am aware H is facing a much more distracted and harried mother so maybe I shouldn’t feel too sorry for E and his clueless mother of MeBefore.
This six-month milestone is a big one, and I know six months from now I’ll have a walking toddler in H, who will throw fits and have opinions and my baby will no longer be a baby anymore.