Things you know now

One of the only things that comes even nearly close to being as wonderful as being a mom myself has been getting to be an aunt to my nephew.  Even though I’m very far away, and I’ve only ever spent a few days with him, I love him and miss him in a way that is quite unique.  Being an aunt is pretty fantastic.  I get to watch in awe as this little person grows and learns and changes and becomes more and more himself every day, but I don’t have any of the responsibility of actually raising him.  It’s a pretty sweet deal, actually, and I get now what everyone has meant all these years when they talk about their nieces and nephews.

In honor of his (not so recent) arrival, I wanted to share with his amazing parents some of the things that, being a parent myself, I know that they know now.  (Welcome to the club, guys!)

  • Your parents were really serious all those times they said that you didn’t really understand the way that they loved you.  But now you do.
  • You have a whole new appreciation for how well your parents really did all those years, especially given that you know now that they really didn’t have any idea what they were doing a lot of the time.
  • Now you get why all of your parent-friends and parent-relatives are sometimes unexpectedly late or absent from social events.  Because: baby.
  • Most likely, you know more now about prayer than you ever have before in your life.
  • You now know that for reasons that no one will ever understand, babies always wake up early on days you could possibly sleep in, and sleep in on days you have to be somewhere early.
  • You know now that all parents are profoundly insecure.  None of us actually knows what we’re doing, and we all make (sometimes massive) mistakes.
  • You know now that your nose will always be itchiest in the middle of the worst diaper changes.
  • You know now that you absolutely could and would harm anyone who tried to hurt your child.
  • You know now that the fantasy and the reality of curling up for a nap with your little one are completely different.
  • You know now how terrified you can be because of a little fever in the middle of the night.
  • You now wish you could kick yourself for all the times you wanted to skip a nap as a child.
  • You now know that the cards you made with macaroni and glitter really WERE your parents’ favorite gifts.
  • You know now that the world is full of people who feel all these same things about their children . . . and that changes your view of the world quite a bit.

I love you guys, and I love my wonderful little nephew.  Welcome to the big, wonderful, terrifying world of parenting.  It’s a gigantic adventure!

The privilege of parenting

One day, my boys will be grown up — they will be men.  They’ll have jobs, hobbies and friends.  They’ll have neighbors and coworkers.  They may also be fathers and/or husbands.  Wherever life takes them, they’ll grow up, and be out in the world, and everyone will interact with them as the adults they will be.

But right now, they’re my little boys, and I have the privilege of seeing them as children.  I get to celebrate their milestones and victories.  I get to look at drawings, hear about their dreams, kiss their boo-boos and guide them through their first, tentative steps towards independence.  There will be a time when snuggles and kisses from Mommy are embarrassing and unwelcome (at least in front of their friends), but, for now, I get to cuddle up with them every day.

No matter what the future holds for them, I will always have the honor of having witnessed these precious moments.  I feel so lucky to be their mom.

Off the leash

Today, I was doing some online birthday shopping for Liam.  Down at the bottom of the page, they have those “you might also be interested in” links, and I saw something that I had completely forgotten about:  leashes for children.

I used to be judgemental about people who leash their children . . . until Benjamin started running away from us, giggling madly, when we were walking outside with him — a behavior which peaked (not coincidentally, I’m sure) when I was about 8 months pregnant with Liam and incapable of keeping up with him.  After a few heart-stopping incidents, I completely rethought my no-leashes-on-kids philosophy.  This is just one of those things that you can’t understand until you have a child that might require one.  I didn’t give in to my passing desire to tether my child whenever we were outside, but I definitely stopped judging people who do.  (I do, however, still question the sense of those who leash their child and carry their dog . . . )

But, I had honestly completely forgotten about kid leashes until today.  For one, Benjamin’s temporary need for one has long since passed, but more so, because I just don’t see them here.  I literally have not seen one since before we got on our plane at Dulles.

I wonder what an Austrian would say about a leashed child.  The kids here, some barely older than Liam, rocket down the sidewalk on bikes and scooters.  They seem very aware of the dangers in the street, and, as a whole, extremely well behaved in this regard.  As a point of consideration, the culture with dogs and leashes here is subtle — it’s required that dogs be leashed nearly everywhere, but most people ignore the law most of the time . . . except in very specific situations (in stores, in restaurants, on public transportation) where there is near 100% adherence.  The Austrians speak their minds when they see something they don’t agree with, so I imagine that anyone trying to walk their child on a leash in Vienna would get a stern German lecture — even in a restaurant or on the subway.