One day I will turn around and you won't be sitting in the car seat behind me; you will be the one driving. That day is still far away, but this new path you are on is another step in that direction. Part of me wants to keep you close forever. I know this can't happen, but I feel the urge all the same.
I've experienced different kinds of neediness in my life: My professional contacts have reminded me since you were 6 months old how badly I'm wanted back at work. Your father has patiently waited for me to become a friend and a wife to him again. Your grandparents have always missed spending time with their only child. But nothing like this.
Extending maternity/parental leave to 18 months doesn't actually solve the problem. It's a ninja turtle Band-Aid that looks cool and will make us feel better until it's peeled off and we are faced with the same bloody daycare crisis. In 2008 UNICEF declared Canada tied for the worst child care out of the world's 25 richest countries. Since then costs have only gone up and access has only gone down. There are available spaces for only one out of every five Canadian kids. It's clearly high time for Canada to build on Quebec's lead and develop a universal child care program that extends across the country just like universal health care, social security and education already do.
As you gain distance from the early days of babies and toddlers, preschool and elementary school, from this place above the trees you can finally see. Like that mama bird sitting up high in the tree, you stand now as a humble mom of 17 years, better able to discern where you've been and where you're going.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out. The word "no" is powerful. Though it is contrary to the people-pleasing nature that is innate in all of us, the word "no" sets clear boundaries. Boundaries that I want my daughter to be confident in setting for herself as she grows older, goes to school, and eventually moves away from our ever-watchful eyes.
You wonder if it will ever get better. Wonder, too, if there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Wonder incessantly if you will ever have energy again. All while you also wonder if you ever will see a semblance of your former self again. I hear you, friend, and I truly feel for you. I remember those days.
Have you heard this before? Are you a dedicated breast-feeder to a toddler or older child? If so, you are not alone. I see many women in my office each week who continue to breastfeed their toddlers, sometimes while also nursing younger babies. Women who breastfeed "older" children are often stigmatized and looked at as strange.
So come this past January, our family of five started a mission to live with less (minimalism for rookies). I know it's not for everyone, but it is for us. Our first long drawn-out step is to "remove the excess" of belongings. Since January we have done two toy purges and reduced the kids toys by over half.