What I've Learned About Parenting in the Last 5 Years

In a couple of hours, my little baby girl will be officially 5 years old. Every year, each number feels like such a big leap. Last year she was 4 and I was all like OMG MY BABY IS 4! Now she’s turning 5 and, well… it’s the oldest she’s ever been!

I look back at the photos and the memories of the last 5 years with this little stinker by my side and I am filled with so many feelings. Ones of the smiling kind, ones of the crying kind, and even ones of the steam coming out your ears kind.

So many lessons have been taught along the way. Lessons in how to clean a poop explosion from a high chair in hyper speed because we had a date in 10 minutes. Lessons about how to say “No,” and mean it. Lessons concerning feeding myself and someone else simultaneously. Lessons on the greatest love a human can have coupled with the greatest frustration.

In honor of her 5 years, I’m going with 5 of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over these years. Fasten your carseats.

5. How to clean and when to clean
Poop explosions are no joke. Neither is projectile vomit, glitter glue, or milk spilled under the seat that starts to sour. I’m naturally a messy person but the level of mess infused by a tiny permanent house guest quadruples any mess I could be capable of on my own. I’ve learned how to disinfect toys and sheets and that sometimes it’s okay to cry over spilled anything. I’ve also learned that sometimes it’s okay to say screw it. Sometimes, there will be dishes piled high and that’s okay. Never try to clean in the middle of a craft because you’ll just be doing double duty. And there’s always the “right before company comes” quick clean to save from looking like a total animal.

4. I’m still amazed by all of this tiny person
Everything she does and is amazes me. It amazes me how funny she can be and how loud she can scream. How smart she is and how stubborn. Every time she spells a new word or counts to a higher number, I am blown away. Her big brown eyes still amaze me how much they resemble her dad’s. The hair that reaches down to her butt amazes me considering she was such a bald baby. The things she says that remind her so much of me. I am in constant awe of this person and I doubt that will ever end.

3. Getting to re-do kid stuff is super fun
One of the biggest perks of parenting is getting to play again. Going to bounce houses, playing the games at Chuck E Cheese, seeing the animals at a petting zoo, riding rides at carnivals and theme parks. Not only do I get to do it all again (except for the stuff I’m too tall for and to that I say – LAME) I get to see her enjoyment in it. There is nothing more fun than seeing your kid have fun at something you used to have fun at and getting to have fun with them. Fun, fun, fun, fun!
2. No one can make me angrier
Having a little miniature version of myself (in personality if not in looks) can be exhausting. I’m a whole lot of person with a huge personality. My kid, like her momma, has a huge personality. She knows exactly which buttons to press and how to press them. She knows just what sets me off. I have a feeling this will only get worse as she gets older. Oh boy, what a ride we’re in for. Even when she’s making me mad though, sometimes it’s hard not to laugh. She was sitting on the floor eating cereal from the box not too long ago. I told her not to eat anymore, she was done. She holds up one piece of cereal. “It’s just one,” she declared. I knew it was just one and that really what could one more do BUT I had said no more and I reminded her that. She looked at me, looked at the cereal, and reminded me it was just one. No. Pop, in the cereal goes into her mouth. What a little turd! I couldn’t help but turn away laughing. She had won this one. Just a few nights ago she asked if she could spend the next night at grandma’s. I told her I wasn’t sure, that we’d have to see, but probably not. Not even ten minutes later her sentence began, “On our way to grandma’s tomorrow…” I said, “Wait, why are we going to grandma’s tomorrow?” “Because. I’m spending the night there.” Wait. What?! With a stubborn streak and a mind all her own, this child can be infuriating and entertaining all at once. This was another time I couldn’t help but laugh. For someone who knows how to get to me, I sure do love her a lot, which brings me to…

1. I never expected to love a person this much
I knew that motherhood would change me. The physical changes were immediate. I am still blaming “baby weight” even on the eve of her fifth birthday, she’s stretched my hoo a thousand times it’s size and made me forget about it, and there’s nothing like the tiger stripes to declare my motherhood, but the biggest changes were inside. I loved her father with all I was and all I had. Until she came along. The love a mother has for her child is indescribable. The pride, the joy, the fear all of it encapsulating this love for a person you literally created that just continues to grow. Feeling any injustice served to her times at least a hundred (WHY isn’t she getting the same attention in gymnastics class?! What do you mean that kid took your swing at the playground?!) while trying to reign it in to teach her to be a strong and independent person. Creeping in her room at night just to watch her sleep, a look of complete peace on her face, her long eyelashes resting on her cheeks. Constantly thinking of her, no matter what I'm doing. Hearing, “I just want to get super close to you. Because you’re my favorite,” and being able to only reply, “You’re my favorite, too,” while choking back a sob. I never expected any of this.

Happy birthday my precious girl. I hope I am enough mom for you, that you always know how much you mean to me and the love I have for you is endless and unconditional. May we learn many, many more lessons together and may you one day learn these beautiful lessons from your own children.

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