I was going to write a 19 month update today but this post seemed to morph into a post that signifies a momentous moment for me as a parent so I’ll be back later with a 19 month post but this may help you understand why, in his 19 month post, I will be gushing over him. A lot.
I just don’t even know where to start with this little guy. Something amazing has happened over this past month that I think needs some explaining. The second weekend of November my parents took Emmett for a long weekend so that Chad and I could have some much needed alone time away from from the responsibilities of caring for another human being. Around that time I was still taking my Zofran and getting fairly gaggy after 6pm so this break was very welcomed. I dropped Emmett off with my mom around 6pm on Friday evening and met Chad for dinner down in the art district. After that we met up with friends of ours who were also childless for the evening and enjoyed another friend’s art show reception complete with more friends (some who brought their kids and some who didn’t). We stayed out way too late and had amazing conversations. It was so nice coming home and just putting ourselves to bed that night without the added chore of putting a little one down as well. The next morning was filled with TV watching, working out, house projects, cleaning, naps and trips to such places as the movies (to see Thor), walks in at the indoor mall, and eating out at an Ethiopian restaurant (specifically chosen because these places are notorious for being slow and a 1 year old would never sit through the entire dinner). We stuffed ourselves silly and came home and watched a movie and fell asleep. The next day we woke up and did similar stuff with the added bonus of going and picking up our guy. Neither of us were at all ready to go get him and both agreed that we needed maybe 2 more weeks of just “me” time. Ha! It was a glance back into our single lives before a baby and we both remembered it very fondly. Of course it was great to see E man when we arrived later that night at my parents house to get him but then it was back to the daily grind with a toddler.
That next week through me for a loop and was so challenging. Chad was gone 3 out of the 5 nights which made for very long days for both Emmett and myself. Not a great way to “ease” back into care for a toddler. I was worn down, grumpy, not feeling well, and on top of that, Emmett decided to only take maybe an hour nap each day (and that’s actually being generous). Naps are key in taking care of children. They give the caretaker a much needed break for the day and they give the child a chance to recharge so that they wake up in a good mood. Because Emmett wasn’t really napping, I was miserable because the only thing I’d get done during that time was a shower or a lunch break and he was miserable because he’d wake up grumpy and cranky and there was nothing I could do but hold him to get him to calm down. Needless to say it was a disaster of a week and the first time I can honestly look back and say that I was over being a parent. Ok, ok, enough complaining right? What? I’m allowed to do that every once in a while. Luckily it gets better…Way better. By that Friday I was done. BUT I still had an entire day with Emmett because Chad was going to be out yet again and it was up to me to entertain Emmett from wake up to bed time. That day was again another challenge as he woke up from his nap around 2pm that day and we still had to fill 5 hours before bedtime. We played at the house, went to the park, took the dog for a walk in our old neighborhood and here’s the best part, we had a mommy/son date to Panera for dinner. I had actually been looking forward to this date for a few days because 1) I didn’t have to think about what I was going to make him for dinner, 2) it would give us another activity to do that would lead right up to bedtime and 3) I was really craving some creamy broccoli cheddar soup. I like Panera because it’s kid friendly and if your kid has a meltdown or throws his food no one cares. So I was prepared for anything to happen.
We got there and I ordered Emmett a kids meal complete with a turkey and cheese sandwich with tomatoes, mayonnaise and mustard, a yogurt, apple and a milk to drink. I got a nice bowl of broccoli cheddar soup and we scoped out our post, sat and started to dig in. As we were about 1/4 way through our meal a family sat down next to us, the entire family, not just the mom and her kids. There were 2 boys, about 5 and 3, and a baby girl, maybe 9 months or so. The boys were dressed in super hero jammies and weren’t touching their mac and cheese and the little girl was in a highchair sucking down a puree pack. The mom and dad looked tired and worn down and didn’t say one word to each other the entire meal. The only phrases that did come out of their mouths were phrases of reprimand and discipline to the two boys. Meanwhile I was having the BEST time with Emmett, a first in over a week. He was quiet, actually eating his food, sitting still, saying “hi” to everyone who walked by us, and smiling at me non stop. I was able to eat my food as well with minimal distractions. I just kept thinking how incredibly sad it was to watch this family, as if child raising was some sort of punishment or something. I felt as though if somebody had seen me earlier in the week they would have though similar thoughts while watching my interaction with my own child. I decided right then and there this behavior had to stop, at least in my own day to day life with my own toddler. I immediately looked at Emmett and began having a conversation with him. I took him out of his highchair and had him sit in my lap for the rest of his meal which I hugged him and kissed him on his cheeks and praised him for being the “best boy”. We laughed, we sang songs, we hugged multiple times, I tickled him, we played peek-a-boo, and we finished our entire meal together, leaving nothing behind (this was quite the accomplishment because on top of everything else that had happened that week Emmett wasn’t eating any food and it was discouraging for me because as his mama, I worried that he wasn’t’ getting enough food in his tiny belly). We had so much fun together that night and I woke up. I wanted to start being present again. I wanted to enjoy all the things that Emmett enjoyed and to understand why he was upset and comfort him when he needed me, not just act burdened. I wanted him to have a mama who was fun, smiled at him, interacted with him and only disciplined him when he did things that were mean, not irritating to me. I’m so grateful for that evening and for running into that family because they’ve given me a new perspective on parenting.
Since that evening at Panera I’ve learned to become more patient with Emmett. I’ve learned to be present because these moments are fleeting. I’ve learned to smile more, I’ve learned to embrace the mess when he dumps an entire box of Cheerios out on the couch (because he’s 1 and a half and is just exploring). I’ve learned that being a good parent takes more than just getting through the day. It takes being in the moment and learning to love each and every thing your child does because most of the time they just don’t know any better. Truth be told I also feel better so that makes a tremendous difference. My first 20ish weeks of pregnancy have been rough on everyone in our little family. Now that I’m finally feeling more “normal”, it is easier to live day to day life a little happier than before. But it’s also a nice reminder to see miserable parents and think, “I refuse to be one of them. My child is a blessing and it’s up to me to prove that to him”. Thankfully we’re back on track and each and every day since that evening at Panera has been filled with activities, smiles and lots of hugs and kisses.
Each and every night Emmett and I say prayers together and at the end of our prayers I always thank God for my Emmett. He makes me laugh more than anyone I know and he brings more joy into my life than I ever thought possible. My little guy is my world and I just couldn’t imagine life without him. I’m so incredibly lucky to have such an easy going, funny, outgoing and carefree little guy. Emmett, you mean more to me than you will ever know. I love you so so so much little buddy.