I never, ever dreamed that being a parent could be so all-consuming, and by all-consuming, I mean we have a child who never, ever wants to be left alone, even across the room, but also does not usually want to be carried or held because there's too much wiggling and toddling to be done, and isn't really old enough to "help" with all the chores around the house.
Although he's thinking of taking up golfing.
I am mostly okay with all of this, even though it's been a very difficult adjustment for me to have so little time to draw, paint, read or even clean the house. He needs us. I do not believe we are spoiling him by holding him, cuddling him to sleep, or by co-sleeping until very recently (in fact, co-sleeping was an amazing discovery that made night nursing vastly easier on the whole family. We gradually stopped, not because I wanted to, but because Connor wasn't getting enough sleep, partly because our bed is too small, and partly because he's an extremely light sleeper and my husband and I both thrash a lot in our sleep), by still nursing occasionally for comfort, or by playing with him a lot instead of Getting Things Done (and our house is small with distinct rooms and no line of sight from room to room, so to wash the dishes means to be out of sight to someone in the living room, which is unbearable for him, and that's okay, because he's 15 months old).
Learning about attachment parenting and high-needs children through Dr. Sears and other parenting sources has helped a lot. I'm not the type to subscribe wholeheartedly to any philosophy, parenting or otherwise, and I have a lot to learn, but I have found much reassurance and inspiration from the these communities of parents.
We've also been getting out a lot more. The first year, we were very housebound. I have what I have renamed Attention Disparity Syndrome and on top of that, I am easily overwhelmed, and far more so when I'm sleep-deprived. Some days, just getting the diaper bag together while getting Connor ready to go out the door just as he had a blowout left me nearly in tears. I canceled a lot of appointments over the past year. This past year has been an intense course in just coping with daily life, but I am very proud of how far I've come in being able to plan ahead, anticipate problems, and keep my cool.
I've also - and this is even more important - learned to be gentle with myself, and that helps me be gentle with my son.
I've purchased memberships to the Norfolk Botanical Garden (which has a great kids' play/fountain area called the World of Wonder), the Virginia Children's Museum (which is like a much smaller, calmer version of Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum, where I went as a kid), and the Virginia Aquarium, and I signed up for a local Mom's group. Connor is so busy looking at things when we are out and about when we are out and about that he is much, much mellower than he is at home, and even though keeping an eye on him in the midst of clamor and distractions is harder for me out and about, the overall benefits for both of us make it more than worth it. (One of these days, I might get the take-picture-transfer-to-computer-post-to-blog process streamlined enough to actually blog about these adventures!)
What he doesn't do well yet is play by himself or entertain himself at home. I have just recently started bringing my books or my sketchbook into the living room, and gently encouraging him to play while I draw or read, with mixed results (that usually involve him throwing a ball at me as an invitation to play).
We did move the safety gates in our living room recently to allow him access to the piano (this is not our piano. This is), and that has been AWESOME, even if the piano bench did suffer from an encounter with a harmonica last week. Sometimes we play together and improvise duets, but he loves to go over on his own, and play around on it for a while, and frankly, he's far better than I thought a 15-month-old could be.
When my husband is home, we are busy trying to clean the house, eat dinner, bathe C., and fit in time together. My husband is pretty good about giving me an hour or two most days when he gets home, but I rush to spend that time in the studio, because, after all, I'm trying to be a work-at-home Mom!
I also try to avoid watching any television with him, unless we are both having a melt-down-ish day, and I restrict any computer time in his presence to when he's sitting at his high chair eating. I don't want him to think that's what people do all day, even if someday he has a job where that is what he does all day.
So all of this is to say, I have read VERY few of my favorite blogs in the past 14 months. I've spent most of my online time trying to share my artwork and sharing pictures of C. with friends and family on Facebook. But today, in anticipation of a two-week-trip with Connor which my husband will have to miss, he gave me the day to myself, and I've spent a nice chunk of it browsing Google Reader and Pinterest, which I just joined this week (find me here!).
I am sad to see that a lot of my favorite bloggers have disappeared - even their blogs are just gone - but happy to see that many are still around and sharing their lives. So, I'd like to say:
Get well soon! to Corey...
Congratulations to Melissa and Sara...
Merisi, you are always an inspiration...
Hi, Tinker! ...
... and Bonjour to Anne, who has moved 3,000 miles from Baltimore to Paris!
And hello to all of you who read this blog. I can't promise any sort of regular blog reading or posting from here in the near future, but I will try.