Written by ERICA
I will never forget when Owen was born, he wiggled out of me all covered in goop and with a weirdly shaped cone head that no one warned me might happen, and he just slept and pooped for about 3 weeks straight. There might have been a little bit of eating and burping in there too, I can’t really be sure since I was sleep-deprived and slowly losing my mind after 10 days trapped inside my New York City apartment thanks to a particularly snowy winter.
Anyway, point is he didn’t do much for a while and the little that he did do, he needed us to do for him. AJ looked at me during week 2 into Owen’s life and goes “so, um, when does he start to get fun?” or something to that effect. And that’s when I realized, AJ was expecting me to give birth to a 2-year-old. He was half-hoping a soccer-loving toddler would come bursting out of my vagina, ready for action and pumped to play with his daddy. Not so much. And might I add, THANK GOD.
But here we are, 3+ years later, and Owen is exactly what you would expect a super-energized toddler to be. He’s fun and funny and always ready to play and always excited to explore and run around and just generally act like a total nut.
And lately it’s even more than that…he’s currently on this kick where he wants to do everything BY. HIM. SELF.
"No mommy don’t help me!"
"I want to cut my own chicken I need the knife!"
"Don’t open it, I can open it myself. Stop helping me!"
"I don’t need you to do it! Watch me! ALONE. You stay over there."
"I can do this BY MYSELLLLFFFF.”
You get the drift. Everything is an act of independence. A chance to show off that he’s a big boy and can do everything without any assistance. Like, for example, when he says he has to go to the bathroom and he wants to go by himself (aka don’t follow me, don’t help me, don’t unbutton my shorts and don’t watch me). He wants to stand on his own 2 feet with no step stool and no boost from mommy and no one in the bathroom with him. He wants to be independent. I get it. But then when I sneak around the corner to make sure he’s actually peeing in the bowl and not in my sink, I see him looking anywhere BUT at the toilet and there is urine flying everywhere. But in fairness, he is going to the bathroom and he is doing it by himself, so I can’t exactly get mad. Ugh what’s up Clorox, nice to see you again.
Anyway, I should be happy that Owen is suddenly so interested in being a big boy and operating without my help. He’s growing up. He can do so many more things than ever before. He can actually have intelligent conversations with us. He can tell us about his day at school and seriously inform us about some key information rather than just shout out random things he saw like "train!" or "snack!"
And especially with miss Maggie needing more and more of our attention, it’s amazing that Owen can a) help out and b) tend to himself. Maggie is 6 months old and crawling—yes, I know, my life as I know it is over—and I have to keep one eye on her at all times. Today I found her trapped under a chair. I used to plop her on the floor when Owen had to pee or needed a snack. Now, not so much. I plop her down and 2 seconds later she’s in the corner with one of Owen’s dirty shoes in her mouth. Or worse, she’s about to grab our dog’s face and we all know how that’s going to end. Anyway, it’s awesome to say "hey Owen, can you go grab Maggie’s toy for her?" or "hey Owen, go pee pee and then come meet me back at the couch in 5." And he actually does it. Brilliant.
But it’s also frustrating because half of the things he wants to do alone, he can’t really do alone. Like cut meat or wipe his butt. And believe you me, I WISH he could clean his own ass. The day he does I am throwing a party and you’re all invited. But currently that’s still a mom’s job, and if I’m being totally honest, I’m kinda happy there are a few tasks that he does still need me for. He’s growing up too fast, and I feel like I might wake up one day and Owen will be 15 and will shrug off my kisses and only want to hang out with his friends or (shudder) his girlfriend.
Yes, there are still (lots of) moments when he begs for hugs and only wants mommy to hold him and he cries for me until he’s wrapped up in my arms and all is right with the world once again. But those moments are fleeting and are intertwined with a whole lot of power struggles and negotiations. Mostly it’s me trying desperately to teach Owen how to do things alone without him actually realizing that I am helping him in any way. Turns out it’s way more complicated than it should be to trick a 3-year-old…but then again, 99% of parenting is more complicated than it should be. And we can add that to the long list of parental truths that no one EVER TELLS YOU until it’s too late. Also on the list: the fact that your first post-baby poop is more painful than childbirth, your boobs will never look the same and you will never truly sleep soundly until your kids grow up and have a family of their own.