Before having kids, everyone is filled with all of these wonderful ideas. You already know how you are going to be as a parent. In the back of your mind, you have a plan for exactly what you are and are not going to do with this tiny human, and everything will be perfect. Everything is so simple, and you aren’t exactly sure why all your friends who are parents are so stressed out. It’s all about time management, and you got that down. Before I had Adelyn, I was one of those people. Hell, even before Adelyn, with my now stepson, I was one of those people.
Well, you learn quickly that 90% of those ideas go out the window, and you have to wing it. Every time you think you’ve got that tiny wonder figured out, she changes on you, keeping you on your toes and exhausting you in the most loving ways possible. I was adamant about not having kids in my bedroom, let alone sleeping in my bed. My room was my private place, where I had the freedom to decompress and escape.
I don’t know why I didn’t realize there was no such thing as an escape when it came to the tiny humans, no matter the size. With Mark, I stuck to my guns of, “No tiny humans in bed,” but he wasn’t an infant and could be soothed with a nightlight if he ever woke up during the night. With Adelyn, it has been a whole other story.
In truth, we have been lucky. Nearly every night, she sleeps through until morning no problem, but there are some nights that she wakes up, and nothing but cuddles can make the tiny tears stop. My husband is the master of getting her back to sleep using the holding cuddles method. He is also much larger than I am. With ease, he can wrap her up with one arm as she snuggles onto his chest and dozes off. It doesn’t work that efficiently for me. She throws herself all over me and can’t stay still on my small, bony shoulder. I have to lay down and have her rest on my chest until she’s fully asleep.
God help me if I mistake twilight sleep for REM sleep and have to start the whole process all over again. One thing that I didn’t think would be a point of contention–T.V. and electronics. With my stepson, it has been a struggle to find a happy medium. He used to have meltdowns when we were out, and we didn’t let him play games on our phones. It didn’t matter how many times we told him we didn’t even have games on our phones. He’d still lose his mind. Teaching him that it was okay to be bored and bringing his activity back up was one of the hardest but best things we have worked on with him. Now when we run errands or go to a restaurant, he brings books and reads or draws crazy creatures in his sketchbook. Seeing how much he had changed by being unplugged compared to when I first met him has been rewarding. Now when he does get to play Minecraft, he appreciates it. It’s not something that he expects and has meltdowns over anymore. Yes, some of his home activities give us more work when it comes to setting up and cleaning up, but it’s worth it. He has started using his imagination more, and his conversation skills have improved drastically. I hope we can continue this with Adelyn.
But we kind of fail with her at night when she’s being a crazy, sleepy, unruly baby. After reading her multiple books, especially her favorite touch and feel, That’s not my Unicorn, countless times, producing the opposite of the calm lulling effect that reading has also done to me. I’d break and turn on the T.V. Our go-to baby tranquilizers are Disney movies. And boy does this little Minky Mouse watch them. She settles down and smiles as the characters sing and gets so angry when a song stops. So far, her favorites are Lion King, Moana, Tangled, and Princess and the Frog.
My initial worry about her watching T.V. came from reading countless articles that said watching T.V. supposedly stunts their language development, but nothing has stopped this babble queen. She has been trying to talk and figuring out her tongue and the sounds her mouth makes since she was 4 months old. In the past few weeks, she has been chatting with us and giving her opinion in baby talk. Mixed in with her abundant dadas, rare mamas, and the new Lilos, she has also said:
I love you (once while cuddling in bed)
And then there was one word that reminded me that my adorable little girl is a sponge. She said, terrorist.
But in full context, she answered with this after we questioned if she was done eating and the wall, floor, table, and myself was covered with her dinner. More than once, we’ve called her a tiny terror or terrorist because of the path of destruction she leaves in her wake.
Not only is she thriving and trying to expand her vocabulary, but she is also showing how well she is processing words we say to her. While at Target, Tyler and I pointed out a Minnie Mouse outfit, and I asked her if that was a Minky mouse? Adelyn not only shook her head no, she firmly said, “NO.” I asked her, “Are you the Minky mouse?” and she nodded, saying, “Yeeees!” with a giant smile.
Adelyn has always been a very attentive baby, which is probably why I completely threw my no babies and strollers at Disney rule out the window. I can’t tell you how many times I told my friends, family, and husband that I would never ever, ever bring an infant to Disney. That lasted until September when she was about five months old. I completely justified bringing this tiny human with us because her older brother was there. I’m not going to lie. September was rough. It was hot, and she was still purely on the bottle. When we went back with friends in December, it was easier. She was really starting to be more aware of the world around her and was fascinated with the constant change of her surroundings. The best thing about that day was seeing her face lite up while watching the 3pm parade. Now, for those keeping count, Adelyn is under the age of one, and this past March, she had already been to Disney three times.
My little giggle queen had a blast, and I was totally surprised when she started to hum too. I mean, I call it humming, but it was more like Adelyn flicking her tongue out and blowing raspberries to the music. Trekking all the baby gear around still sucks, but it’s getting easier since she can eat regular food now and soon will be completely off of formula. I still wonder about those who bring newborns, but I can’t judge them anymore. I know the memories I have created, and I would never change the difficulties of lugging her stuff around for a single one of them.
Besides swearing I would never bring a baby to Disney, I thought I would never give my baby flour until she could talk. With all my digestive issues, I was terrified I would make her sick. I didn’t want to put her through that. But no one ever explained to me the power of a puff. Man, do those little rice/wheat snack foods help Adelyn’s hangry moments when I’m dicing up her food. Thankfully, introducing wheat has shown no signs of celiac, and the strawberry allergy I had developed while pregnant with her turned out to only affect me. Aside from not sharing my bed, watching T.V., regulating her diet, and believing I’d never take an infant to Disney, I didn’t have that many plans for how I would raise my kids. I just knew I didn’t, and still don’t, want to raise assholes. I never intended to raise them in the church, but somehow it’s become a thing for me. On Sundays, I drag both my kids to mass. My stepson has fun in Sunday school, even on the days that he has to do Catholic calisthenics. When we have Adelyn, we stay in the cry room. She doesn’t cry, but the little beast has wanted to explore ever since she has become mobile. I never thought I’d allow my kid to crawl around everywhere, but I’d much rather chase her than hear her cry and scream. Happy baby, happy mommy.
And what makes a happy baby isn’t always what you plan it to be. Sometimes when they are little, you just have to wing it and slowly learn what works for your baby and your sanity. Like nightly cuddles when she wakes up from a nightmare or when she can’t find her pacifier, and you’re too slow to pop it back in. As they grow, so do you. You can change how things work and adjust with your child. All you can hope is that once your child is out of your house and out in the world, they aren’t a jerk, a bully, or an ass. As parents, we can only do so much without a guidebook, and, let’s be honest, if there was a guide book it would be out of date before it ever lands in your hands.