Trying to live in the moment isn’t so easy when you have a newborn.
In my day-to-day life I attempt to focus on the present as much as possible (taking a lesson from Buddhism). But when my 2-month-old son is on his third or fourth hour of pre-bedtime kvetching and we’re walking him up and down our building’s hallway in an attempt to get him to sleep, it can be a little difficult to live in—and enjoy—the moment. Instead, I’m usually wishing we could just fast-forward through this phase.
My son has generally been more difficult than my now 4-year-old daughter was as a newborn (unless, of course, that’s just the amnesia talking—the amnesia that’s necessary for us to procreate more than once).
Unlike his older sister, Reuben needs a lot of shushing/rocking to get to sleep (on Rosh Hashanah night, when we were hosting a dozen people, it took 4 full hours. Five is the record so far). And once he’s asleep, he tends to wake up more than Scarlett did.
Had my firstborn been like this, I would have immediately thought the world was ending and that I’d never enjoy an evening to myself again. But one of the nicest things about second-time parenthood is knowing that habits don’t last forever and that when it comes to a baby’s behavior, everything—both good and bad—will pass.
But since I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I often just want to get there already. I frequently find myself wishing away the present, and daydreaming about how great things will be in a few months, when we’re clear of some of these really challenging (and sleepless) parts.
I can’t wait until Reuben is 6 months old—a pudgy little guy who sits up, sleeps through the night (or at least sleeps better), giggles, rolls over, but doesn’t yet move enough to cause serious damage—all in all, the perfect age. I also can’t wait to hear what his voice sounds like, learn what he likes to play, what his favorite foods are…to get to know him as he grows into a real person.
Then, of course, my guilt sets in…almost immediately. As everyone with older kids tells you (often unsolicited), time flies when you’re raising children and they get big in what feels like the blink of an eye. I know Reuben won’t be this tiny forever. So, at the same time as I’m wishing this difficult stage away, part of me is also wishing my little guy could stay teeny tiny for a while longer.
I also understand that every stage has its challenges—and that even at the romanticized 6 months, Reuben may not sleep consistently, he’ll require more entertaining, and he’ll probably be cranky from teething.
That’s the thing about parenting—it’s full of contradictions. As a mom, I sometimes find myself wanting my kids to stay exactly where they are forever, but other times I’m hoping they’ll just hurry up and grow out of whatever difficult phase they’re in.
I don’t want to wish my kids’ childhoods away, of course, but I could really use some uninterrupted sleep…because that’s a stage worth holding onto.