I’d like to think I was a pretty laid back mom the first time around, 22-years-old, and absolutely sure I was going to be the coolest mom ever. It was only after I wrote two pages of instructions for my mom’s friend who was taking Addie for two hours that I realized, “Huh, perhaps I’m a little more uptight that previously believed.”
I learned to relax and go with the flow a little bit more as Addie got older, and before long I was letting her make mud pies and digging her toes in the sand — as soon as she turned five.
Last week, I was at an outdoor mall with my mom and sister when I let Vivi wander into a fountain meant for playing in, fully clothed. As the first big splash of water hit her, I turned to my sister and said “I would have NEVER let Addie do this when she was a baby.”
My sister had her own 3-month-old baby and I could see so much first-time mom in her. I suppose it’s a right of passage, attempting to balance what feels completely natural when it comes to parenting with the absolute unpredictability that babies can bring. I can remember my sister sobbing into the phone when my nephew was only a few months old, saying, “This is nothing like my animals! I’ve never had to do anything this hard for any of my dogs!” My sister has never had less than four animals at a time (she works in a high-risk animal hospital) and one might think that having 4 animals for at least 10 years would prepare you at least a little bit for a baby, but nope. Not at all.
I didn’t have a change of clothes for Vivi or even a towel to dry her off, but I knew it would all be okay. I let her have her fun and enjoyed watching her chase the water and get splashed in the face every so often.
One of the things parenthood has taught me better than anything else is to roll with what life hands you and make the very best of it. Life hands you a soggy wet baby? Babies dry out, so you eat lunch in the sunshine as their clothes dry. I’ve said before that I believe parenthood comes with unspoken superpowers, and being able to recognize and use them is one of the best feelings of all.