I just put Johnny down for his afternoon nap and he actually fell asleep on me. While he curled up in "stink bug" position on my chest and stomach, I just rocked with him and thought about how far we have come in the last 15 months.
I don't think it's a secret that I'm not a baby person. Or if it is... surprise! I'm not a baby person. Do I think they are adorable? Yes. Do I love holding a freshly baked newborn? Totally. But being the mother of an infant was/is not my thing.
I started out as a mother very short on both patience and experience; I had never even held a baby before (well, I guess I held my brothers, but I was way too young to learn from that) and didn't have any close friends or relatives with children. I thought that being a teacher would help me in the patience arena and it may have, but it certainly wasn't enough to keep me sane and level-headed most of the time. The times that Johnny was fussy, I would get frustrated pretty quickly if I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Then I didn't appreciate the times when he was "quiet alert" because I was bored out of my mind with a newborn who just wanted to look at colors and patterns. I'm not trying to be hard on myself for how I acted when Johnny was new, I'm just looking back on what I remember and most of what I remember is being either frustrated, tired, or bored... and guilty for feeling any of that.
Now? A complete 180. I LOVE being the mom of a toddler. Do I have to chase Johnny around a lot? Yes. Do I have to protect him from himself and then endure the ensuing tantrum? Of course. But I love it. Most of it is that I have finally gotten to know my child and figure out what he wants most of the time. Many times that means having to be the "mean mommy" and keep that glass bottle/sharp knife/dog poop away from him. I like being able to take him to the zoo or the park and have him explore new places by himself (supervised, of course). I like watching him interact with other kids and adults. I like watching his mind work when he's trying to figure something out.
Granted, it's not all warm and fuzzy all the time. When he fights a nap or when he throws a tantrum because I won't let him bring his prized mop upstairs, it gets a little rough, but now I can handle it. He's finally instilled me with lots of patience and given me many experiences to make me the mom I am now. I'm more able to go with the flow and not resent the fact that my life has been taken over by a 25-lb human. I'm not jealous of John "getting" to go to work every day and escape the house. I feel like I can (usually) fill our days with meaningful and somewhat productive activities and not just kill time until I get to go to bed. There are still days when I long for a classroom, to teach a subject that I love, and to eat lunch in peace, but I think that's part of being a stay-at-home-mom.
For the first time ever, while I rocked my sleeping toddler, I came to terms with being a full-time mom and was actually happy about it.