Timing is Everything

Posted by: , April 27, 2009 in 5:07 pm

I remember standing at my kitchen sink swirling a Gerber bottle brush around and around, bottle after bottle, night after night.  I smile when I think about measuring out formula mix, making six 8 oz. bottles every night before I went to bed–knowing I would be awake in less than an hour to dispense the first of two nightly feedings.  There was a time when I felt like sobbing because it seemed like I would be cleaning and mixing and feeding forever.  And just as quickly…it ended.  I have been a mother for only four short years but I feel like I’ve witnessed a full lifetime of development.  When well-wishers declare, “Enjoy it now, they grow up so fast,” I don’t think any new parent can possibly comprehend the weight behind that statement.

The same month Michael and I decided to start our family, my corporation announced a merger.  They called it a merger, but we were in fact consumed by a larger company–this resulted in a mass layoff of 600 employees (including me!)  At the time of the announcement nothing was finalized.  But, we all pretty much knew we would lose our jobs.  I was wary of going ahead with our baby-making plan–we had just bought a house and with this news, we would now earn half the monthly income.  Nonetheless…we forged on!

I became pregnant within a month and despite all the stress at work, I could not have been happier.  I did all my mommy-to-be homework concerning maternity leave, FMLA leave, my pending unemployment compensation benefits and my severance package.  By the time Benjamin arrived (two weeks early), I was able to ride my maternity leave right into full-time, stay-at-home motherhood.  Those first few weeks at home proved to be far more work than sitting in a cubicle all day, deciding when it might be a good time to sneak to the vending machines for a chocolate-frosted cupcake and a Coke.

I believed the first few weeks were the hardest part of motherhood:  Diapers.  Bottles.  Diapers.  Bottles.  Diapers.  Bottles.  That damn Pack-N-Play.  Diapers.  Bottles.  Then, Benjamin began to walk.  Despite myriad safety warnings against their use, we were one of the few couples who registered for a walker (rather than a stationary entertainment center).  When I see video of 8-month-old Benjamin whizzing around in his teddy bear-themed walker it seems like a decade has passed.  He is a round-faced, chubby armed little baby boy.  When I look at him now, he seems so tall.  Tall and thin–like a big kid.  When I think back to him bouncing in his bouncy swing, I wonder how he could have ever been so small.  Even in the walker he was a mere baby–a chubby little baby pushing himself around on his tiptoes, chasing the cat with glee.

By one year old, he was talking.  And then, within what seemed like only months, he was amassing vocabulary at a disturbing rate.  I still have the unfinished “Word Book” I started, to be filled with all the words he could say along with corresponding photographs.  He started acquiring vocabulary so voluminously, I could not keep up–I think the book consists of only 20-30 pictures/words.  At the same time he was also perfecting walking and running. 

By age two he already seemed like a “big kid.”  He walked and ran and climbed.  He was able to utilize playground equipment and handle paper and crayons.  His fine and gross motor skills were developing by the second.  If I had been stuck in a cubicle all day, I wonder if I would have noticed those minuscule week-to-week developments like gaining balance on the rope bridge or learning to climb the sliding board steps.  Some things happened even from day-to-day. 

We’ve been through potty training, the conversion to a “big boy bed” and learning to ride a tricycle.  He has mastered writing his name (among other words), counting to 20, doing simple math problems, and even on occasion…if given a few practice rounds, he can “read” a short book to you.  Okay, okay, he reads from memory mostly–just give me my shining parental moment.

Being laid off was truly a blessing in disguise.  There are many times when I think I might have placed Benjamin into daycare because it never would have occured to me that we could afford to live on only one income.  I would have been afraid to try it–to gamble.  I probably would’ve enrolled him in one of the daycare centers my friends’ kids attended and from there, registered him for kindergarten with the rest of the masses.  Because of a corporate merger I was able to stay at home with him, research homeschool options and now…realize despite the fact he is no longer my chubby armed little baby, I am incredibly fortunate.  I was here–every single day–to witness every exciting aspect of his development. 

Perhaps I should pen a letter of thanks to the CEO of the corporation that consumed my company?  Nah.


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