Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What Stage is Best?

Sometimes I am amazed that I have only been a mother for 10 months. Other times, I feel like I am a complete and total hack and Sam would be luckier if she were raised by a family of donkeys. Often I feel both of those things within the same hour.

As Sam has grown, I have started to notice a funny thing. When she was two months, my friend M, whose daughter is four months older told me, "I LOVED four to six months. It is the BEST STAGE." When she was six months, my friend Elizabeth called and asked us to brunch. "I just love seven to nine months," she said. "It is the BEST STAGE." Last month when we went to the pediatrician for Sam's check-up, she said, "oh, this is the BEST STAGE. It is just my favorite." Um, hello. I am new at this, so give me a breal, please. If there is a best stage, can someone please tell me what it REALLY is?

It seems a matter of personal preference. In my limited experience, having Sam become mobile has made things siginificantly more difficult than they were. I preferred her when she was four to six months, when she learned to sit up, but stayed stationary and was content to entertain herself. In fact, I have found months eight, nine and (so far) ten to be as challenging, if not more, than the newborn stage. It seems Sam's "golden period" was four to six months. And while, I do not love her any less, I find her increasingly trying on my patience. She's up, she's down. She's into everything. She never wants to sit still. She screams when she wants something and usually she wants a dangling cord, a piece of broken glass or a plastic bag. Then she screams when I take it away. I adore the kid, but each day is an exercise in patience and meditative breathing.

I remember my mother telling me that she preferred her children older, when they could converse. And the other day at lunch, my friend Kristen told me that she loved her 2.5 year old daughter now more than ever. "But each stage has had its own joys," she added.

When Sam was first born, I cried so much realizing that the newborn stage was entirely fleeting, that this tiny person would grow and grow and I would never get her back that small again. And while I still can get myself worked up when I think about it too much, watching her grow has been worth the loss that goes with it. She blows my mind everyday.

But it is hard--harder than I ever thought it would be at one month, four months or six. It seems just as I get used to one Sam, I have to meet another. This may be the most challenging part of motherhood, loving children for where they are, but also recognizing that they will be somewhere new within weeks.


Melissa R. Garrett said...

There is joy and heartache in every age and stage.

While my eight-year-old daughter is witty and creative, she's also mouthy and opinionated.

My six-year-old son, though charming and intelligent, is LOUD and manipulative.

My two-year-old daughter, a natural comedian, is trouble personified.

Get all three together, are there is never a shortage of pure disaster entertwined with a lot of fun. I do a fair amount of yelling and cajoling, begging and pleading, asking and demanding. I give even more hugs, kisses, and praise.

On the worst of days, my husband and I agree that the BEST stage was the stage before children! Most days, however, we couldn't imagine life without them. I agree that going through the transition from infant to toddler is HARD. So is having to call Poison Control, potty-training, battling irrational fears, sex talks, nightly homework, yada yada yada.

Like my aunt once told me, "It doesn't ever become any easier; it just becomes different."

Kristi said...

I went back and read my blog entry from when Isabella was 10 months old to refresh my memory about what you're going through right now. 10 months is very hard. Babies are on the cusp of extreme mobility, and at 10 months, Isabella was into everything as well.

You are so right in that once you become accustomed to one stage, another takes its place. I've found myself writing down every little thing Isabella does now, so as to remember, later on, what I fear I might forget because she's growing so quickly.