This essay was written in partnership with my friends at WeeSchool! Download the WeeSchool App here by June 1, and you can register for free, lifetime access to all premium WeeSchool content and features.
On any given morning, wearing tangled hair and Ken’s old college t-shirt, Bee stumbles out of bed to find me in the kitchen, a barrage of questions ripe on her tongue:
What are we going to go do today? Is anyone coming over? Did I grow bigger? Are we going somewhere? How do you know I growed bigger? Can we go to Grandma’s?
I’ve come to expect these, as they’re the same each morning, sometimes with a slight-but-rare variance or an animal fact thrown in for good measure. The script continues as I pour the coffee, crack the egg shell, slice the avocado.
And yet, always, the unofficial Q&A portion of our morning ends with some version of the answerless. Today, it is this:
When will my brother learn to swim?
I’ve heard it said that if you thought baby #1 is easy, baby #2 will be hard. And if you thought baby #1 is hard, baby #2 will be easy.
Baby #1 was hard.
It wasn’t that she was hard, not entirely. It was that motherhood was hard, the learning of it all, and she just happened to be the only teacher around to slap me on the wrist a time or two (or eighty).
But by now I’ve found my footing, and my smile. And even with the very nuanced nature of adoption – the attachment and the bonding and the many emotional complexities – I’ve found the old adage to be true.
Baby #2 has been easy.
Raising Scout has been a classic chicken vs. egg scenario: Is he more relaxed because we’re more relaxed? Or are we more relaxed because he is?
Perhaps our own carefree attitudes, our tried-and-true parenting tricks, our “It’s only for a season!” mantras produced this sweet, happy-go-lucky baby.
Or perhaps it’s just inherent, an easy charm hand-sewn into his very nature. Perhaps we’ve been given a surfer dude to call a son.
(Oh, let it be so, if only for the hair.)
But probably, like most things, it’s both.
Scout decided to roll from back to front on the same day he decided to roll from front to back. He waited over six months until he could adequately master both in one efficient fell swoop, and in a single afternoon, he wowed Bee and me with a show on the living room rug. Front-back-back-front-front-back-back-almost, almost, almo — front.
I sent Ken a text:
We’ve got a roller-over! Both sides!
Our response to the Great Rolling Over of 2017 was the same response we’ve given every milestone yet – the retiring of the swaddle blanket, the sizing up of the diapers, the introduction of pureed fruit:
We’ve forgotten to keep track.
(We’ve forgotten we never really needed to.)
When Bee was a baby, I was a serial Googler. Everything from poop texture to nursing positions, from sleep habits to BPA-free outlet covers. I spent the bulk of nap time typing into a search bar, hoping for answers – a timeline, a roadmap, a guarantee that we’d make it to the finish line (what finish line?) altogether and still in tact.
I confused milestones with stepping stones. Always peeking ahead, lifting the curtain to see what’s next, when it might come, what would happen then? Can we handle it then?
When does it get easier?
A few weeks ago, an email came through about WeeSchool, the all-in-one smart parenting app. (You can download here until June 1st for a free lifetime premium upgrade!) A brainchild of the creators of Baby Einstein, it’s equal parts education for babies and parents alike, providing research-based insights and Play Plans so you’re not just tracking the milestones – you’re guiding your baby through them.
It boasts original videos, classic musical tunes, ebooks. Soundtracks for play time, bath time, bed time. It recommends age-appropriate toys and captures your baby’s favorite memories and photos in a handy, shareable journal.
It’s positive and uplifting (sure beats Google) with a lighthearted touch, and I’ve found it to be the second-best resource for daily life with a baby in tow.
Daily life with a baby in tow.
I know now what WeeSchool knows instinctively — it doesn’t get easier, we simply get better at it all. We get better by learning alongside our kids, by swapping advice from the mom at the playgrounds, by yelling in the minivan, by apologizing in the garage, by downloading an app or two, by Googling if we must.
We get better by gathering information, by educating ourselves, by brushing up on wise counsel and parenting hacks, and then we get better by chucking it all out the window the moment our gut tells us otherwise.
Last week, with Ken out of town, Scout stopped sleeping. He’s never been a great sleeper (understatement font), and I’ve never been a great sleep-trainer (understatement font in bold), and somehow we landed ourselves in the harried vortex of mixed-up days and nights, of twenty-minute power naps.
My girlfriend brings coffee, mentions it’s probably the 7-month separation anxiety, that all will be well soon enough.
7-month separation anxiety.
I check my app after she leaves to see that, yes, with object permanence comes separation anxiety. Scout’s learning time and space and distance.
Sometimes, you don’t notice a milestone until you trip over it.
And so, I do what I always do. I call my mother-in-law, I take a nap, I stock up on coffee, I survive. I swap advice from the mom at the playgrounds, I yell in the minivan, I apologize in the garage.
I remind myself that milestones aren’t stepping stones, and somewhere along the way I come to realize that they’re not even stones at all.
They’re waves, aren’t they?
Fluid, changing, rhythmic.
They come and they go, and we learn to ride them out as best we can.
(Sometimes, we get a surfer babe to teach us.)
This morning, in the kitchen, then.
Mom! Bee says, biting into her avocado toast, crumbs littering the kitchen counter, floor. When will my brother learn to swim?
And I realize as I hand her a paper towel, as she sweeps up her crumbs, as the dogs bark at the neighbors and Scout grows fussy and the eggs begin to burn:
He’s already learned to swim, hasn’t he?
He’s already navigating the waters, charting his course, riding the waves as best he can.
We all are.
Here’s to the milestones, and every wave between.