What a difference six years make. When I last had a newborn, I couldn't wait until he was sleeping through the night, because I was certain there was nothing worse than extended, indefinite, severe sleep deprivation. Then he got older and started sleeping (kinda) and I looked forward to his being old enough to play games with his big brother so they could enjoy each other's company and I could get something done around the house. This was at a time when I was sure there was nothing worse than playing with a preschooler while trying to entertain, feed and change a toddler from sun-up to sundown. When he reached that milestone, I was excited for my oldest to start school so I could spend some one-on-one time with my youngest, because I just knew there was nothing worse than shortchanging one child because of the needs of the other. When both boys were in school full time, I counted the days until summer when I could have them both home with me to read, play, go on adventures and enjoy some unstructured time together.
Well. Both boys have been home now for three full weeks. They fight, yell, cry, hit each other and generally can't wait until school starts. I'm trying to make the last days of summer fun, but it's hard. They're bored. And when they do spend time playing, there is one thing that puts me on edge: they are LOUD. Yes, I know, it's a surprise only to me. Did I mention I grew up under a rock? Boys are loud. Really frickin' loud. And they're loud all the time. Whether they're fighting, playing, laughing or just burning energy, they are CONSTANTLY, CONSISTENTLY, RELENTLESSLY, DEAFENINGLY L-O-U-D. For a writer, this is not a good thing. And when school doesn't start for another week, this is not a good thing for any of us. They're sick of each other. They're sick of me. And I'm sick of summer vacation. But mostly, I'm sick of the noise.
What brought this incredible realization into stark relief was spending a day with my cousin and her newborn. I should mention the newborn is a girl. She's very quiet. I realize this isn't only because she's a girl. But even when she cries, she's quiet. And she sleeps. A lot. As newborns tend to do. But of course, she does wake up every two hours or so to eat and change her clothes and diaper (as girls are also apt to do). All day and all night. And as a result, my cousin is constantly, completely, unendingly sleep deprived. The funny thing is, I am SO ENVIOUS of her that it makes me laugh.
I suppose what this whole experience has taught me is to enjoy the moment. Don't wallow in the negative, praying for the current situation to end so that things will get better. They will change, and some things will improve, but other things will go downhill. This is not unfair, nor does it mean we are doing something wrong as parents. This is life. Change is the only thing we can count on, and there will always be a mix of joy and frustration. Until, I suppose, the teen years when it's just a long, slow ride through hell.
I have a pen pal who ends every email with the line, "Cherish the now." I finally understand how right he is. And I'm glad I got it before it was too late.