Last weekend my husband, my youngest son who is four years old and I drove 5 hours to pick up my oldest son, who is 8 years old, from camp. He had been there for two weeks and we were missing him something fierce. After we picked him up and all got back into the car for the long drive home, we were all chatting, telling stories, laughing, telling more stories, and laughing some more when all of a sudden I had this feeling wash over me.
We had made it.
We had reached the light at the end of the long tunnel of baby jail.
Let me back up for a minute and explain just exactly what “baby jail” is in my terms. Baby jail means, you are locked into some sort of a schedule. Someone always needs a nap, is about to take a nap, or just woke up from a nap. Same thing with eating. Someone is hungry, is about to be hungry, or did not eat enough at the last meal.
Baby jail means that even though you may have a babysitter lined up for a night out with your spouse, you better watch your wine intake because when you get home, the baby will still wake up at the crack of dawn, or most likely an hour after you have gotten home from your wine infused date and you have just started your REM sleep.
And how about going out to restaurants or venturing out for a family outing? Probably not going to happen. And it always goes back to the sleeping or the eating that the baby has or has not done. Hence, baby jail.
Now, baby jail is not always a bad thing. So, if you are in the throws of baby jail, please know that it is just a term of endearment that I coined to make myself feel better at times when I was fully enthralled into baby jail. :)
Circling back to the infamous car ride I wrote of earlier…both my kids had actually eaten dinner when we stopped to get it, no one takes a nap anymore so no one needed a nap, and both kids can hold intelligent and decent conversations with themselves and others. You could not wipe the smile off of my face.
We did it. We made it!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love babies. I always have. But man. Babies are hard.
I will be the first to admit that the newborn phase of babydom is NOT my favorite. I recognize my weakness at this stage and I’m ok with that. I’m much better when the baby can communicate a bit with you, or at least flash a smile at you every once in a while to let you know that you are not a mutant.
I will never forget when my oldest son was about 12 days old and my husband mentioned he was going to be going back to work the next day. I looked at him like he had 7 heads.
“What???!” I shrieked. “You are going to leave me home alone with him? How can you do that? I'm just a kid! (I was 27 mind you) What if he is hungry? What will I do? What if he cries? How do I make him stop? I’m not sure if that is a good idea.”
My sweet husband looked me in the eye and said, “Pull it together lady. You’ve got this.” (He then called my grandma to come watch over the crazy lady who was now his wife).
And he was right. I did have it. But I realized as the months went on in that newborn phase that I was not a good newborn baby mom. Homegirl needs her sleep. Or I actually do turn into a mutant as mentioned above.
I don’t miss the baby stage. And I’m ok with that.
What I do love is watching my kiddos learn and thrive with each age and succeed (and sometimes fail!) at whatever it is they choose to engage in these days.
I love watching my four year old learn his letters and squeal with delight when he recognizes a letter and its sound correctly. I love watching him navigate friendships in school and finding what teamwork means on a soccer or basketball team. Watching him be frustrated and work through his frustrations makes my heart feel prideful.
I love watching my eight year old work on his basketball shots out in our front driveway until he perfects it. Then watching what he has learned from a camp or a coach take place during a game is like winning the lottery for me. I love watching him figure out the joys of reading. Watching him bring a book in the car with us, or find out that he woke up early to finish a book actually brings me to tears of joy.
Watching him navigate through what is right and what is wrong makes me proud. Even when he sometimes chooses the wrong way-I know he is growing and learning and that makes me feel like he can conquer things in life that will be tough with thoughtful consideration.
You see the light at the end of the tunnel will come. Even if you are in the throws of baby jail, I promise you the light will come.
But what happens when you reach the light at the end of the tunnel? Does that mean "it's over?"
No, dear one, that light....
It’s only just begun to shine.
I have found you have to embrace the place and the light you are currently in-be it a crazy place, a chaotic place or be it calm place.
Embrace the place in life you are in and the light will continue to shine at the end of the tunnel always.
And standing in that light feels amazeballs.
Oh...And the number one bonus to not being in baby jail anymore?
Poopy Diapers? Bye Felicia.