“I feel like I’ve been let out of jail.” I can’t even count how many times I’ve said this to JB lately. It’s not quite the right sentiment, but it’s as close as I can get: I feel like the world has opened up lately. After over five years of parenting very young children, everything has just sort of . . . widened. Jesus, there’s air in here now.

I don’t mean to imply that six and three are the cakewalk ages or that we don’t have plenty of challenges ahead, but it’s only now that we have a little distance beyond the baby years that I am really understanding just how stifling and challenging that was. In all the obvious ways, but also in all the million little daily compromises that have to happen when you’re caring for little kids. How incredibly difficult it was on our marriage to have to shelve most of the things we liked to do together, to negotiate over who got some time to ourselves, to deal with all the inevitable resentments and pent-up frustrations and feelings of being trapped and occasional helpless thoughts of WHY DID WE DO THIS WHYYYYYY.

This summer has opened all kinds of doors for us, particularly in our travels together as a family, but also just in the relative ease of our day to day lives. It is not exactly a peaceful full-body massage accompanied by a soothing Enya soundtrack to be around our kids these days, but my god, it is NOTHING like it used to be.

Duh, right? Babies are, like, hard and stuff. I don’t know why I keep marveling over such an obvious sentiment, but every time we do something that used to be exhausting or impossible, I think about how lucky we are to have made it through those tough years. This is the good stuff right now. I could stay here for a long, long time.

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Comments

81 Responses to “Work release”

  1. Nik-Nak on July 26th, 2011 7:02 am

    How is your hair always so perfectly coiffed when you are doing outside activities? I’m not going to lie, this makes me ANGRY.

    If I go outside for more than five minutes my hair either finds it’s way into a ponytail holder or frizzes up. What is the DEAL here??

  2. Amy on July 26th, 2011 7:14 am

    My daughter is just over two and I have been saying the exact same thing for a few months now. I’m not saying it’s a halcyon house of mani-pedis and completely devoured Us magazines but it’s JUST SO MUCH BETTER THAN THAT MOTHER EFFING INFANT STAGE oh my god. And I think almost daily, if don’t don’t do number two now we never will because goddamn if life didn’t get a whole lot easier. Car trips to New York? Not the absolute most fun thing ever, but with enough food and books and toys and the occasional allowed 7 minutes of Angelina Balleria we can, like, actually do it in the expected time frame of a few hours instead of, I don’t know, perishing on the side of the interstate like the goddamn Donner party being held at gun poiny by a nursing 12 pound human.

    I have no idea why the myth persists that the infant stage is the cruise control bunny slope of parenting and the toddler stage is where shit really ramps up. Or, maybe it’s just that my kid was so fucking bad that I called her Infant Dick Cheney for the first 12 months of her life and so anything in comparison is, like, I don’t know, not being buried alive.

    Oh and the marriage? Forget about it. All I heard about was how “this will bring you so close to each other”. If by close you mean looking over at your partner and thinking I WILL SEE YOU IN COURT IF YOU EVER DO [THAT] AGAIN.

  3. Redbecca on July 26th, 2011 7:55 am

    Very inspiring post, and adorable pictures. That first one of Dylan melted my heart. We’re trying for #2 right now (BODY NOT COOPERATING, DAMMIT) and that picture of your two in their tent is the brass ring. Totally.

  4. Alyssa on July 26th, 2011 8:10 am

    I am so close to this, and I love it! My boys are 4.5 and almost 2. The little one is still pretty challenging, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I love these pics of your boys!

  5. Erin on July 26th, 2011 8:21 am

    Something definitely liberating about graduating babyhood. We’re there too. Pregnant baby belly envy now replaced with “Holy sh*t I’m never gonna be that tired again.”

  6. Melissa on July 26th, 2011 8:35 am

    My favorite part about finding myself in this stage also is my complete and sheer panic when I see people with new babies. My friends or people on TV. My ridiculous relief that OMG I don’t have to do that ever again. Such huge relief.

  7. Melissa A. on July 26th, 2011 9:15 am

    Amen! I have a wonderful 5 year old and I have often thought that life has gotten easier the older he gets and we are able to actually enjoy him more. I treasure the memories of him when he was a baby/toddler but it was so friggin’ hard that I will NEVER do it again. Thank you for your insights into my soul.
    PS. How many plaid shirts does your husband own?

  8. Gretchen in The HB on July 26th, 2011 9:39 am

    Holy. Freaking. Crap. Strength Training? PHENOMENAL. I could kiss you for writing that!

    Thank you for showing the light at the end of the tunnel for Mamas with Littles! Mine are 14, 3 and 9 months and it kicks my ASS. Such a humbling experience!

  9. HollyLynne on July 26th, 2011 10:10 am

    Thanks for the light at the end of the tunnel. I love my toddler, but MAN, if he doesn’t kick my ass sometimes.

  10. KarinNH on July 26th, 2011 10:38 am

    Totally not a baby person here. Loved my own, but other people’s? Eh, give them a couple years.

    And all the time you put in doing things with them at these ages is likely to pay itself back in the teen years.

    I think teens often get a really bad rap. Parents don’t get to hear that the teen years can be awesome. Teens can be funny, smart, interesting, look at the world in unique ways, and great company. With both my sons, we had even more fun than when they were younger.

  11. gillian on July 26th, 2011 11:44 am

    these are the posts that get me through having an near 18th month old and the thought of adding # 2 in a couple years. especially what you said about how it affects a marriage – i get SO TIRED of negotiating the ‘who gets time away’. thank you for your (always.continuing.brutal) honesty.

  12. Susie on July 26th, 2011 11:51 am

    You mean…there’s hope? Thank jeebus because my 16-month-old kicks my ASS.

  13. Val on July 26th, 2011 12:12 pm

    I totally had the same thought recently, Linda. My son is just 2 1/2 but even over the last few days it’s like a switch flipped and he’s become so much more independent. Things like climbing into his car seat on his own, putting his clothes in the hamper, putting his dishes in the sink — such a difference!

  14. Rachel on July 26th, 2011 2:41 pm

    Wow. I had caused a disturbance in the fabric of the universe the other day by pissing off the MIL and upsetting the husband. After explaining The Event to the coworker, she said ‘That sounds like typical behavior of parents of a 1-year-old.’ It was so nice to read this.

  15. BabyMacBeth on July 26th, 2011 6:25 pm

    Oh dear GOD did I need to read this today. Thank you Linda. I know in theory that the good times are ahead but shit is it nice to be reminded by someone who really knows, who is there. Your posts of rocking Dylan to sleep, of cough vomits, of the sheer mindlessness of it all have been so comforting to me over the years as I’ve been right there with you, and now this? JUST what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  16. bigwords on July 26th, 2011 6:33 pm

    With three children under five we often wonder when things will get easier. We think once at least one is in school it will free up our time a bit. Man parenting is hard. The most amazing and rewarding thing we’ve ever done, but hard. So glad to hear you’re seeing the light! Enjoy. lovely to meet your blog x

  17. melanie on July 26th, 2011 6:58 pm

    so stinking cute….. my kids are also 6 and 3, a boy and then a girl… and Mike and I were saying the same thing the other day…. last year the 9 day camping trip with a 2 yr old resulted in me crying nearly as often as she did, and this year…. completely delightful… A-MAZ-ING

  18. Jen on July 26th, 2011 7:47 pm

    God I needed this today. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  19. sal on July 26th, 2011 8:08 pm

    Love this post. Also, your arms — DANG.

  20. sal on July 26th, 2011 8:16 pm

    Hmmm…that sounded vaguely creepy, yes? Unintentional! Just stuck in upper arm cellulite-ville over here during my last few weeks of pregnancy, that’s all.

  21. Pamela Brookins on July 27th, 2011 5:37 am

    These photos are so wonderful. I REALLY love the one of the boys sitting near the fire at dusk. It is sheer contentement. Happy you made it through!

  22. K on July 27th, 2011 6:38 am

    I am starting to see the glimmerest of glimmers of what you’ve got going on there (my children are 3 and 1.5) in that they’re mobile can kind of be rationalized with and only take one nap.

    Babies hold you hostage, man, and I have often thought what you said above, “WHAT THE HELLLLL WERE WE THINKING?”

    Family vacations start to seem possible, our marriage seems to be perking up a bit, my waistline is no longer taking a hit and, son of a biscuit, if it seems like I might be able to entertain those things referred to as hobbies.

  23. Sarah on July 27th, 2011 6:59 am

    This is good. We have a 4 and 1 year old, and 1 is definitely easier than ‘teeny baby’ but to think it’ll get easier still, it’s good. I worry about missing the baby phase though….you guys look like you have a lot of fun!

  24. Britta on July 27th, 2011 7:38 am

    Love the picture of your boys in the tent! Soooo cute…!

  25. Sarah on July 27th, 2011 9:42 am

    Oh, thank you for this. We have an 18-month old and are expecting our second this coming February. I felt like I saw a little light now that we’re in the toddler stage, but know we’re going right back down the newborn rabbit hole this winter. I can’t wait for the days when my husband and I can enjoy what we enjoy again and when we can all go traveling without worrying about massive plane meltdowns. Thank you!

  26. Erin@MommyontheSpot on July 27th, 2011 5:26 pm

    As a mother of a 2 and 5 years old, I could not agree with you more! Babies are really cute, but man, are they hard work!! I can’t wait to see what happens when they are 3 and 6.

  27. Kate on July 27th, 2011 11:42 pm

    Well I can only empathize with you for now! Parenting young kids is no as easy as eating man! I’m happy that now things have become little ok for you.:)
    What’s Your Parenting Style?
    Check out what your parenting quotient is.
    http://3smartcubes.com/pages/tests/parentingstyle/parentingstyle_instructions.asp

  28. guy who lifts things on July 28th, 2011 1:44 pm

    Every year at my son’s birthday I turn to my wife and say “it’s been a great run, and I’m willing to accept the fact that this next year won’t be as fun/amazing/thrilling”. And it just gets better and better every year.

    He’s 12 now. I promise you have a lot of even better things in store. Glad to see you’re appreciating it along the way!

  29. Margaret on July 28th, 2011 6:54 pm

    Your boys are absolutely adorable.

  30. Laura on July 29th, 2011 7:20 am

    And it gets even better! That’s the good news. We’re going to attempt a family game of tennis this fall. I haven’t played tennis since the oldest (13 yrs) was born. I can’t wait. For me, the middle years have been so so so much better than the baby stretch (other two kids are 8 and 3 yrs). The balance between woman and mother is being restored now that the last one is out of diapers.

  31. Erica on July 29th, 2011 6:15 pm

    Love the rocks photo. How gorg are you? I bought the Champion bra last month and am trying to follow in your workout footsteps…

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