Posted by Fitz

When I was in the throes of newborn reflux and some pretty serious baby blues (self-diagnosed by hindsight), everyone kept telling me that it was going to get easier.  Always looking for reassurance, I remember asking a friend of mine if this was true.  His son was a whopping six months older than Beanie, and I considered him as much of an expert as anyone else I knew at the time.  His response still gives me shivers: “It doesn’t really get easier, it just gets…different.”

I feel it’s necessary to say out loud that this man truly loves his child (actually children, since he now has 3-month old twins to accompany his 19-month old son).  And when he said it doesn’t get better, he wasn’t talking about the joy that comes with the experience of watching a child grow.  He was referring to the frustrating, awkward parts of parenting – sleeping through the night, dealing with breastfeeding issues, managing the behavior of a little person that no one really knows yet.  I admit that he was horrified when he initially told me this – in effect, he smashed the light at the end of  my tunnel with a baseball bat.  Now that I have some perspective, though, I realized that he’s right.

When The Bean was three months old, she was still waking up a couple of times each night and refused any and all attempts that I made to breastfeed her.  She was on her schedule, all the time, but napped quite a bit during the day.  The naps made up for the fussiness and night wakings, and I used that time for myself: to shower, watch The Real Housewives of the OC, waste time on the Internet, clean the bathroom…you know, the important stuff.  I could also tote her around anytime, anywhere, with minimal fuss.

Today, The Bean is just shy of fifteen months old.  She sleeps 10-12 hours a night, can tell me what she wants (or at least point to it), and only takes one nap a day.  My nights are filled with dreamless slumber, and I have a little partner in crime to make me laugh all day.  The downside, however, is that I can’t go to the bathroom without taking her in with me.  I chase her around her playroom for hours, and have to hide the Trader Joe’s Cinnamon School House Cookies to avoid potential pointing-and-screaming fits.  We can leave the house with a well-behaved child if said outing is carefully timed and includes many snacks, but when The Bean wants to go…it’s time to go.

Keeping this in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how 2009 will be filled with parenting challenges that are new, exciting, and still damn hard.  While some aspects of raising our girl are infinitely easier today than they were at this time last year, some are harder.  It’s not easier to parent a fifteen month old than it is a newborn, but it’s…different.  I imagine that this pattern will continue throughout The Bean’s childhood, for better or for worse, and that my husband and I should invest in large quantities of wine and start saving hotel points for weekends away NOW.

“Different” is as “easy” as we’re going to get.  It’s a hard truth to swallow, but it’s worth it.