Big baby, very small boy

 

 

Some of the supermarkets here leave out kid-sized baskets for the children to use. This is very evil of them.

My son is nearly 20 months old now and recently, I’ve started having startled moments where I look at him and no longer see a big baby but a very little boy. It’s not a huge change and he doesn’t metamorphose into something else overnight.

 

And yet he does too. All the time. Little changes and then they’re big changes after all and time goes so quickly really.

Mother’s Day 2017

Yesterday, I successfully navigated my second Mother’s Day. My own mother is lovely and R, despite not even noticing the occasion until a morning radio segment brought it to his attention, came through in the end and picked up some flowers and chocolates for me on Mr K’s behalf. 


I’m always a bit baffled by people who get pissy about these as a present choice. No, it doesn’t require much thought or effort. But flowers and chocolates are two of my favourite things!

I feel like I’m reading a lot more analysis of the whole Mother’s Day phenomenon this year, in defense of it and criticizing it. I suppose that’s unsurprising, given society tells us that mothering is the bestest, most important job in the whole world while simultaneously devaluing it at every turn. I wonder the whole working/stay at home thing is such a mindfuck. 

A lot of it has been frustrating to read, on both sides. I wish we could all just accept that parenthood is a big deal but not the only, all-defining deal. That mothers are people, no more and my God, no less. That working rights and sensible hours would be good for everyone, parents or not. That Mother’s Day is hard for some people and the reasons for that might vary greatly and be intensely private. That most of us know that it’s an overcommercialised load of bullshit, deviating far from its humble origins and that an epilator or – I’m looking at you, department stores of Japan – an apron are not the greatest gift ideas. 

I know.

But I’ve had only a handful of good nights of sleep in the last two years, wiped up a lot of body fluids and juggled a whole brunch of things that become a lot harder when you constantly have to work out what to do with a very small, dependent person in the mix. I just want to enjoy my cheap flowers and nice chocolates.

1 year old

On Saturday (29/10), Mr K finally turned one.

I seemed to run the full gamut of emotions in the lead-up to the big milestone, golden fuzzy warm nostalgia all the way down to bleak, dissolve-into-tears mess with no idea how the hell I’d made it this far and certain that I couldn’t manage it for much longer. Extreme, yes, but the year has encompassed both those feelings and all that lies between, so why not?

And here we are. 

Mr K is 12 months old, but we should really say one year now. I don’t know if I can still call him a baby? He still acts very much like a baby, though. He babbles at length, crawls everywhere, and finds inane objects utterly interesting. He stands up a lot but only when holding something, and he has taken a strong liking to opening and closing things, pulling things out and putting them in different places entirely. He doesn’t walk yet, but he is determined to skip that and climb on things instead. 

The time has been, and still is, so very distorted. How can one year have passed already, yet how can it have been only one? The days are long but the year(s) are short indeed.

I have an “older baby”?!

011

Yesterday, I was wandering around one of the large secondhand stores with Mr K when I saw a heavily pregnant woman buying a bunch of baby toys and was consequently hit by a wave of nostalgia.She could have been me nine months ago, albeit a small Japanese version, preparing anxiously for a baby that could arrive at any minute.

Sometimes, I still feel disbelief that this is where I am in my life, a nanosecond of shock as I remember that yes, I actually have a baby. A baby that is hurtling towards being eight months old, no less, officially an “older” baby. It is downright strange to visit baby goods stores and see the little newborn clothes and be reminded, with a start, that this is actually behind us.

We’re here and, somehow, incredibly, we’re keeping on going.

Babies and work

working_mom_with_baby_h

Not what things really look like for us, but hey…

I don’t think I was ever going to be a stay-at-home mother for that long after Mr. K was born. I know some women do, and that’s fine. Some do it for a long time, or even indefinitely, and that’s also completely fine.

It wasn’t for me, though. There was a brief period in my mid-20s where I wondered if this was something I should aspire to and even daydreamed a bit about it, but I recognise now that this had everything to do with how much I hated my job at the time and little to do with how well suited I might or might not be to it.

Much as I love Mr. K, I wanted to return to work. My job is reasonably enjoyable, as jobs go, and I liked the balance that it brought to my life. Having a variety of things to do in a variety of places for a variety of purposes works well for me so far.

While I’m at work, Mr. K is at childcare. I do not think this is a bad thing. It gives him a chance to interact with other people outside of the family, to socialise and play in a different environment. It’s also a good chance to build up his Japanese skills, since English is what he hears most of the time when he’s here. As I outlined here, I work part-time, and this keeps a good balance between time at home and time out and about, and my husband typically has at least one day off per week as well so they can spend time together then.

Despite all of the above, though, the main reason that I returned to work is financial. We need money. I sometimes find myself wondering if I should be working full-time, imagining how much better off we would be, but I do think we’re doing the best we can for Mr. K just now and that’s what’s important.

If I had some trust fund coming in from elsewhere, I might not be working, it’s true. Still, I imagine I would probably have some other side project happening. Maybe alternative-universe-rich-me might be working on a masters degree for the hell of it, or pretending to write a novel (N.B. I do this anyhow) or an important work, or mastering Japanese to some level that is currently relegated to pipe-dream status. Maybe Mr. K would be getting the social experiences I’ve described through a private nanny, niche playgroups, and extracurricular activities instead. I don’t know.

As nice as that reality sounds, this world is the one I live in, and this is the one R and I have to work within the limitations we have, balancing the needs we have to meet with what we want and what we can manage. It’s not easy. Alternatives sometimes look better. For now, though, I work, and it’s actually not that bad.

(Image source)