The 52 Project, photos 14/52:
Beany: Beany with her beloved Bunny. She’s certainly an attentive mother. I also like to think she rules her imaginary kingdom with the noblest intentions, but recent conversations have me wondering.
Beany: “Mommy, what does a queen do?”
Me: “A queen is kind and helpful and takes care of everyone in her kingdom.”
Beany: “And she tells people what to do, right?”
Me: “I guess so, sometimes.”
Beany: “Mommy, I want to be a queen when I grow up.”
Bear: So much personality in this guy lately. I snapped this right before his shirt lifted up all the way. “Tummy!” he yells, then laughs and laughs and laughs.
Sometimes I take pictures of these kids of mine and almost can’t believe the images that stare back at me. They’re growing bigger, smarter and more independent all the time. They tell jokes, they make us laugh, they say “I love you” about a thousand times a day and want to be with us and with each other as much as they can, which is something I hope I can always say. Lucky is such an understatement, but considering that parenting comes with such a gigantic learning curve, and no one really knows what they’re doing when they get started with this business, we really are so, so lucky.
When Beany was a newborn, as much as I don’t like to admit it, I was completely overwhelmed. Here was this little perfect being whom I loved so much and so instantly. But man oh man, was she messy. And she came with so much stuff. And she wanted to be held all the time, which was simultaneously wonderful and exhausting. Suddenly skills that used to be second nature felt alien to me — a baby sleeping on your chest will do that.
Things, of course, got easier with time. I learned to love the baby carrier. I learned to type one-handed. I learned that baskets work wonders for toys and clutter. I eventually climbed out from the cloud of new motherhood and found myself again. Of course, my life became infinitely better the moment that blue-eyed baby landed in our lives. But my life was not my own anymore, and I think it takes time to process that, accept that, and joyfully begin building a life that’s even fuller than the one you had before.
The funny thing to me is that I didn’t realize how much I struggled in the beginning until we had Bear two years later. I certainly knew more of what I was getting into the second time around, but more than that, I had a very real understanding of how quickly it all goes by. Nothing makes that clearer than setting a newborn down next to your toddler. Your first baby will look gigantic. That means your kids are growing, which is so wonderful, but it breaks your heart a little, too.
Motherhood — parenthood — is funny, isn’t it? Is there anything else that can be so tiring, stressful and hard but bring you enough joy that you’d do every ounce of it all over again?
We’re flying by the seat of our pants here. But I’m pretty sure everyone else is, too.