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My Un-favorite Age

We're two hours into the putting-Jack-to-bed process, and it's still not over, as evidenced Phillip's grim expression and the angry flashing lights on the baby monitor. But I am the Picture of Nonchalance, Internet. I am cool. I am calm. And over the past two hours I've had plenty of time to think about how NOT calm I was only a few months ago.

I'll just say it: months eight through twelve kicked my butt. Those were the hardest most frustrating months of my fifteenish months of parenting. Now that I have a bit of perspective, I can see that getting surprise-pregnant had a lot to do with my attitude, what with the nausea and barfing and first trimester exhaustion. It was also wintertime, which, in Seattle, is when your light box starts to break down from overuse.

So perhaps the conditions weren't prime, but still, months eight through twelve did a number on me. It was embarrassing. Humbling. Here I was, the obnoxious woman who loved early infancy, who continually wrote on her sappy blog how much she loved two months and three months and four months and waaaahhh her baby is getting BIGGER. How DREADFUL. I fully expected to love each month more than the last. Then eight and nine months hit and I thought, "I? Am going to die."

For one thing, the baby is trying out this mobility thing. Crawling. Pulling up. Reaching for things. All sorts of fun stuff, except for the fact that he can't quite do it on his own. He sees his potential. He knows he just has to fling his arm right THERE, but his body isn't cooperating and he's not sure what to do and finally he says, "Mama, could you please help me out?" But to Mama it sounds like WHINEWHINEWHINEWHINE.

Then there's the food thing. OH MY GOD, THE FOOD. Suddenly your baby is old enough to eat more than cereal and strained pears, but not quite old enough to order a grilled cheese sandwich at a restaurant. You're in this horrible transition period when your entire day consists of "What is the baby going to eat?" You can choose from the jars of mystery fruits and veggies and meats stored in your cupboard, or, if you are insane like me, the frozen cubes of mystery foods stored in your freezer. Goaded by those irritating baby development emails that encourage you to be your baby's "nutritionist," you are constantly trying to concoct a balanced meal from your jars and cubes. What did he eat for lunch? What did he eat for dinner last night? Can you give him peas AGAIN? And if you want to take him to a restaurant, you must first spend an hour deciding what he's going to eat, how to transport it, what accessories to pack and how you'll warm up these frozen cubes. By that time, you've made yourself a peanut butter sandwich and given up on restaurants entirely.

Jack's eight to twelve month period also included experimentation with not sleeping during the day, the stomach flu, and the introduction of a phase I'll call If My Mother Forgets To Bring Treats To Church She'll Be Very Sorry.

But sometime after his first birthday, things started looking up. Was it the onset of spring? The second trimester? I don't really know. He started walking, which has made my life easier in a multitude of ways. He started eating big people food, with modifications of course, and that's definitely less stressful for me. When we went out for breakfast the other day he shared my French toast. (Yeah, I gave up on that whole nutritionist thing.) He's also pretending he doesn't understand the word "no" and resisting bedtime with all of his tiny being, but I'm in a better place. I'm really enjoying this toddler thing, with its delight in doggies and watering cans and that long stick thing Mommy uses to gather up the crumbs under the high chair.

He finally went to sleep at the two-and-a-half-hour mark. Maybe tomorrow we'll just wait till, oh, I don't know, MIDNIGHT to put him down and skip the whole crying thing. See? NONCHALANT, I tell you. SO CALM.

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