These are words that every parent who has a child older than yours will assure you with. Heck, I’ve said it to new parents. We’ve been told it gets easier at 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, 8 months, one year, and three years. And while he does improve with time, e.g. he doesn’t cry all day long like he did as a newborn, I’m not sure if it’s gotten wildly easier, and life has definitely not returned to the normal I’ve been used to.
Let me begin with ways that it’s gotten easier. In the first few weeks, there was no way I would be on the computer typing away, or reading a book, or running errands. He’s also playful now, with people, his books and toys, and even by himself. He takes a bottle, which he didn’t do the first three weeks (couple that with feedings every 1.5 to 2 hours, I pretty much felt like a cow on constant tap). And of course, he’s sleeping loads better than he did the first few months. As in, he can sleep for 6 and sometimes 8 hour stretches.
But I guess this is where they say the job of parenting is never easy, no matter what age. Because despite all those milestones and so much more that has made life smoother, life still isn’t that much easier than when it was just me and my husband. He still demands a lot of our time putting him to sleep. We still feed him every 3 hours during the day. We can’t just tell him to please wait patiently while mommy or daddy finishes a chore.
We’ve become masters of thinking three steps ahead and of eliminating things we don’t have to do. For instance, when I get ready the nights before I have to go in to the office, I run through my head: 1) Do I have my lunch packed in the fridge? 2) Do I have my pump and bottles ready to go? 3) Do I have my clothes out in the living room because I can’t disturb him sleeping in our room in the early hours? 4) Do I have my shower and sleeping clothes ready for tonight because I need to shower once I finish feeding him and again can’t disturb him once he’s asleep? 5) Do we have his diaper bag packed and ready to go?
We’ve also acquiesced that some former necessities are no longer on the priority list. Prior to him, his dad and I had a weekly chore list that included vacuuming, sweeping and mopping, cleaning the bathtub and shower stall, and other dusting and wiping that kept our apartment nice and clean. Now chores are done when the dust has gotten on our nerves and when the hard water is getting too thick on the shower stall. We also used to recycle every week; now it’s whenever there’s space to put recyclables in. And gone are the days when our grocery list would feature one recipe a night and perhaps a little treat to bake in the oven. Now I aim for at least 4 recipes a week, with the remaining days a mixture of delivery, take-out, and whatever-you-can-find-in-the-kitchen meals.
Yet we’ve also been forewarned to enjoy him as he is now: a non-crawling baby who still wants his mommy and daddy and hasn’t learned about tantrums yet. So when does it get easier? I’m sure when he’s older and able to communicate, it’ll get easier. And when he doesn’t need to eat or nap as frequently, and when we can incorporate him into our daily activities, it’ll get easier. But right now it’s just a waiting game as to when we’ll start to have some semblance of normalcy. In the meantime, we’ll just have to believe everyone when they say “It gets easier.”