Do I really want to go back?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

During the course of the last 3 years, I have easily lamented a good 50 times that I want to go back to toddlers and babies.  Parenting teenagers has made me regularly long for "the good old days."  The days when my children napped every day, required nothing more than food, diapers and baths, and it never occurred to them that I was nothing short of the smartest, most beautiful woman on the planet.  Well, last week I had the opportunity to return to "a day in the life" of my 30-something self.  Was it really as romantic and perfect as my memory continues to tell me?

Just before Christmas, my cousin, Natalie--who is more like a sister--had her second baby: a sweet little girl.  After giving her some time to get settled into her new routine and let the holidays pass, I finally got to catch up and hear all about life with a toddler and a newborn.  Seems her firstborn was really struggling with the addition of his little sister and I could tell in her voice that she needed her mama.  The only problem is her mother disappeared from her life when she was 14 and her stepmother.........well, I'll refrain from commenting.  The other problem is that she lives 1500 miles away in Colorado.  After we ended our conversation, I told Trey, "I want to see that baby."  I instantly could picture her daily life and all the memories came flooding back.  Like her, I didn't live near any family when my kids were young.  I didn't have a mother, or mother-in-law in town who would just stop by to give me a break.  Like her, my husband was at a point in his career that required long working days.  Like her, I knew very few stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood so the days were often long and lonely.  When I was living out that season that felt like it would last forever, I promised myself that when my kids were older, I would do do for young moms what I wish someone had done for me.  Little did I know that the young mom I would get to help would be my own family.

Three weeks into this quarter, I knew I needed to get out of dodge.  My class schedule was beyond challenging, I was struggling with burn out and my heart was running on empty.  One Friday night, I got a wild hare and jumped online to peruse tickets to Denver.  The fares were too good to be true.  Even though it was the middle of the night, I decided to go for it and book a flight for two weeks later.  I sent Natalie an email that she would find in the morning (I learned that she actually saw it during her daughter's 3 a.m. feeding.)  I figured if it didn't work for them, there were other friends I could stay with and help her out during the day. I didn't want to assume they wanted company while they were still in the newborn phase. When I woke up, there was her response begging me to stay longer than 3 days.  Two weeks later, I was in her living room with the baby in my arms and the toddler at my feet.  It was just what the doctor ordered--for both of us.

That night, at their insistence, we went to a neighborhood pub for happy hour.  Boy was I out of practice.  I had forgotten how much stuff you need to pack in that diaper bag in order to leave for a quick meal.  The kids were great while we munched on appetizers and enjoyed a cold one but toward the meal's end, poor little Ty spilled water all over himself.  Check please.  

The next morning, I meandered up the stairs at 8:00 to find everyone in the kitchen having breakfast.  Poor mama hadn't even had a chance to consider a shower.  I watched with awe as she fed Ty, changed Phoebe, cleaned up the kitchen, fed the dog, nursed the baby, etc.  I had also forgotten how your life is not your own and there is NO downtime.  After the baby went down, I insisted she go to the grocery store by herself.  I saw that spring in her step as she headed to the garage and smiled to myself.  Such simple pleasures.  Ty and I played with everything in the basement family room at least 10 different times in 90 minutes.  My memory purged the fact that toddlers have no attention span whatsoever.  Natalie came back gushing about her solo supermarket experience.  After Ty's one hour nap, I grabbed him and the dog and off we went to the park so Mommy could get a short nap between feedings.  My goal was to keep him occupied for a good hour.  After 30 minutes, he was pointing back the house and saying, "mom, mom, mom."  By the time we walked back in, she had been sleeping since we left but the stinkin dog ran in her room and woke her up.  Ugh!  After Todd got home from work, we ate dinner, had a little dance party in the living room and Ty went down for the night.  Mommy & Daddy had a date night while I tried to console a very hungry baby.  I told her I would not be calling her parents and she calmed down.  There was no way I was going to interrupt their precious couple time.  Two hours later, they walked in looking tired but relaxed.  Natalie said, "the time went so fast."  Now that I DO remember.  

The next morning, Todd had to go pick up a bike in Breckenridge and would be gone for most of the day.  I planned to stay until lunch and then head to my friend's in Littleton for the next 3 days of my visit.  Natalie asked me to hang with the kids while she took a shower.  I felt awful that I didn't suggest it.  She must have stayed in there for a half hour until her terrible babysitter turned around and Ty was running into her bathroom.  As we were saying goodbye, she broke down and expressed how much it meant to have support from family.  I could hardly bear to leave.  

Those three days took me right back to a place I thought I wanted to time warp back to.  As much as I loved taking care of little ones, I see how I have romanticized that season.  It is constant.  You are overworked and under appreciated.  The hours feel like years and you wonder if you will ever be your own person again.  There is a reason why 45-year-olds have teenagers and not babies.  And it usually takes going back to the past to appreciate where you are in the present. I have to laugh when I think about the difference a decade makes.  I used to cry "please leave me alone" and since coming back home  I wonder "did anyone notice I was gone?"

Are these two precious or what??