The first three days of this week have taught me that nothing is the same after a year. Last year, I had a six month old. I spent my summer working around nap schedules, nursing schedules, Texas heat, teething, all the fun infant stuff. This summer, some of that hasn’t changed. However, what needs to be done to work around it has.
Last year, I would not take Wren out of the house if we were near a nap, near a feeding, teething, or showing the slightest signs of sleepiness. Couple her hate for the car seat and any of those other factors, and taking her outside of the house felt like child abuse. She didn’t enjoy the outing, screamed the whole way there or back or both, and I ended up feeling like I had left the house for my benefit, not hers.
I knew things were different this year, but I didn’t understand to what extent until today. Comparing my today and my yesterday revealed the truth. First of all, my child is a social butterfly. She needs kids her age. She loves me, but after a few hours, I am not enough to keep her completely entertained. This is probably a good development, but it’s a little difficult because I could just sit around and play blocks with her all day. She’s the one who bails on that plan. My first attempts to enhance her social life minus daycare failed miserably. Apparently we are the only people at the park or the play area in the mall before nine am. Maybe this is not a shocker to anyone else, but I was sure other people had kids who woke at 6 or 7 am, ate breakfast and were ready to head out the door. It’s possible that our school year schedule has programmed her for this, but if we are not in the car heading somewhere engaging by 8 am, then I have a cranky pants on my hands who only wants to nurse. Since we’re weaning, that’s not good.
Dennis and I decided last weekend when planning my first week home with Wren minus tons of nursing that after our morning outing it would be good to have something for her to do until her naptime near noon. That way she didn’t fall asleep too early, take a wimpy nap and wake up cranky, or just beg for breastmilk all day out of boredom. Tuesday, however, I forgot we were dealing with an 18 month old who likes constant stimulation and regressed back to how I would have treated my six month old. When we got back from the park around 9:30, I decided not to take her to the library at 10 for story time. I justified it by saying it was too much, she wouldn’t want to be in the car again, and she would be cranky because she hadn’t had time to wind down. This would have been true for a six month old. But she’s not anymore, and my refusal to acknowledge this change caused suffering for everyone for the rest of the day. Home with no distractions, my daughter remembered that she loved nursing. In fact, she fixated on it for the rest of the day. I went ahead and nursed her down for her nap, but when she woke up, that wasn’t enough. When I wouldn’t give in, Wren was not happy, and the child can hold a grudge. For the rest of the day we played the all the reasons I do not like mom game. Being the mom, this was not a fun game for me. Wren cried, gave me pouty lips, and ultimately I felt like in her mind she thought that daycare was much better than mommy time because mommy had something she wanted(milk) and refused to share. At least the kids at daycare share.
Today, we started over. Obviously, thinking of my child as she was last summer instead of how she is today failed. So, we went to the store first thing this morning, then we hit the mall to watch the girls ice skate, then we came home and had a wonderful play date with our friend in the inflatable kiddie pool. At one, having had absolutely no break or I-want-booby breakdowns, she crashed for almost three hours. The rest of the day was cake. This is what my child now considers a good day. I had a great time too because she was happy. Everybody wins. So why didn’t I do this Tuesday?
There’s no excuse really. Dennis and I had a plan. If I had stuck with it, the disaster we will call Tuesday never would have happened. And the thing is, I really have no issues with change. Sure, I like it better if I initiate the change, but I’m fairly adaptable. Why I regressed to my old way of thinking is beyond me. I wonder if subconsciously it really is hard for me to see her grow up so fast. Do I crave the days when she just laid in the floor and cooed at me and that was enough? Yes and no. I love the age she is now. I will have another cooing in the floor at me soon. I wouldn’t change anything about who she is and where she is in her life. But I have noticed this need for independence in every area of her life except for nursing, and it makes me proud and sad all at once. She wants to be her own person and she is. She wants to be engaged by other people and things other than mom. We can’t go back to the days of sitting in the recliner, breastfeeding and smiling at each other all day. It’s not the same, and that’s okay. Each day with her just gets better. Even if we’re playing all the reasons I don’t like mom game, I’m still glad to be a part of the game.