A few weeks ago I happily agreed to watch my girlfriend’s one year old son for about two days so she could take a work trip.
"I got this", I thought. Auntie Kim is on it! After all, it was only four years ago that I had a one year old. I figured getting back into the baby mode would be like riding a bike. It was more like getting hit by a bus!
Apparently four years is more than enough time to fall off your mommy game. It’s amazing how quickly we can forget the work, the juggling (literally), the organization, the patience, the lack of sleep and all the "stuff" that baby’s actually require. Because every phase of childhood brings its own stresses, I had nearly forgotten about this phase.
I didn’t even mention that my girlfriend still breastfeeds him (Whoo Hoo!), so putting him to bed was going to require some serious creativity and a lot of patience. I haven’t rocked and walked and sang that much in years!
Truth be told, on one of the days, I had a little help. My girlfriend from London was in town–and though childless, she is a highly capable Auntie to even my own kids. As two highly educated, savvy women we set out to run errands and take care of some business with my two kids and the baby in tow.
This was my moment to shine. I felt like I was back in the zone. I dutifully packed the diaper bag, refilling his water cup, adding snacks and checking for diapers and wipes. Meanwhile, my girlfriend got my children out the door and into the car. Everybody was belted, buckled and ready to go.
We pulled out the driveway proudly, slapping high fives at our teamwork!
We were halfway to our destination before I realized I left the superbly packed diaper bag in the house!
So there we were out for a long day with a one year old, with no diapers, no snacks, no nothing! Oy!
Watching (and laughing at) my own mommy blunders reminded me how tough parenting can be in the early years. Now I remember why we rejoice at the end of our diaper days, the end of our dependence on wipes, butt creams, changing pads and more baby gear than one human being can manage. I am very happy to be past those years.
On the other hand, there’s a specialness of those early years that can never be duplicated. I miss the amazing bond and comfort I enjoyed while breastfeeding–I could totally understand why that little man did not want to go to sleep without it.
But when he did finally doze off, and I watched him sleeping peacefully, I was reminded of the calm that only a baby can bring over you. The joy of motherhood. I saw my own son, little Michael, just four years ago, when I used to stare in wonderment as he slept. I saw this baby as a future strong black man, and myself as part of his "village" that will help mold and shape him. (His mom is certainly part of the village that raises my children).
I saw everything that is beautiful about motherhood.
And endless possibilities.