It’s a phase, a phase, a phase, a phase. During the hard parts of parenting – the tantrums, the swatting, the throwing food on the floor, the defiance, the ear infections, and on and on – I use this mantra as a reminder. Because it’s true. Everything about parenting is a phase, even the good stuff.
There will be many confusing, frustrating, trying times as Gabe grows up. There will be times where I just don’t get him. There will be many times where he just doesn’t get himself. But I’m writing this to remind myself that there are also really amazing times and this happens to be one of them.
So far the most trying time I have experienced in Gabe’s development was between about 11 months to 16 months old. It was hard. Really hard. He wasn’t always nice, he was sometimes very frustrated. He had no words or just a few words, and sometimes I don’t think even he knew what he needed/wanted. He was relatively mobile, but still so much a baby. He was swatting, slapping, clawing, fighting us. He had a lot of ear infections and several whopper colds. He was never content playing alone and wanted constant attention at the most difficult times (while making dinner, while going to the bathroom, while doing anything other than being completely devoted to him).
I thought, Oh God This Sucks.
The baby thing, I could handle, the newborn stage was fine, but toddlerness? How long was it going to be like this? I didn’t know that the answer to that was: until about 17-ish months.
I remember realizing that things were really NICE when we were in Maine. Vacations with kids are not exactly relaxing. They can be super fun and awesome family adventures/memory makers. But so far, the relaxing vacations of child-free bliss are but a memory. In Maine, though, things were … better. Gabe was almost flexible? He ate well, he slept well, he was charming during the day and was easily placated by some Nemo on the iPad in the evenings so Kamel and I could have a drink and some snacks in the lobby. I thought, Oh man… this is… nice.
And then it just got better. It continues to get better.
There was a time, not too long ago, where we were ordering our food in restaurants and then also ordering the check, because we had about 20 minutes until meltdown-o-clock. There is nothing worse than dealing with a child who is throwing every utensil and crayon and napkin he can find on the floor while crying, all while you are waiting for the fucking check. There were times where I left a half eaten meal on the table because abort! abort!
In Vancouver Gabe was so pleasant at meals, happily playing with the dinosaurs we keep in the diaper bag, smiling at pretty young 20-somethings, playing peek-a-boo with menus. I never felt rushed. We left when we were done, not because our child-timer went off.
At the park he is mobile, and less and less in a scary way. He can go up and down stairs almost perfectly. He asks for help when he needs it. He is funny and chatty and has real, genuine interests.
And this is a phase. The good parts and the bad parts, remember? But it’s so lovely to be reminded that the bad parts can blossom into these really great, really enjoyable parts. My kid is no longer exhausting. I miss him when I am at work and I miss him when a social event pulls me away. A few months ago I was begging for a night away because I needed a break to be a good mom. It was a phase. It happens. And for anyone in the thick of it, they come out of it. It will be ok. It’s a phase. A phase, a phase, a phase.