Thursday, December 15, 2011

8 Month Attitude

December 15 and my 1st post all month? Not to mention 6 days after the actual event I am blogging about. Wow, I think this is my worst case of blog procrastination yet! In my defense though I also haven't been brushing my hair or wearing make-up quite as often these days. You see I am now the mother of an 8 month old. And what I didn't fully realize, is that a baby this age is almost nothing like the one that came before it.

When you're embarking on parenthood you brace yourself for all the typical new baby stuff everyone is obsessed with warning you about: sleepless nights, spit up, colic, and I felt ready. I knew what to expect and I lucked out with a baby that slept relatively well, didn't scream or cry too often and virtually never regurgitated her meals. And as she grew she just got more fun, more sweet. My absolute favorite thing in the world has been her covering my cheek in slobbery kisses right before she goes to bed and sleeps for an uninterrupted 12 hours. Or at least it used to be. Because that is not my baby anymore. Now she has attitude, and plenty of it!

I have always been a teeny bit anxious about what parenting will be like as my kids grow up. There are so many obstacles to face and guide them through. Raising kids isn't easy and there are bound to be moments when my kids don't like me, when they don't want to give me a kiss goodbye or eat the dinner I spent all night making them. I knew it would come one day but I had years until I really had to worry about that, right? WRONG. The only thing my once sweet, happy baby seems to have done for the past week is whine, scream and yell.

Now that she is 8 months old and more aware of the world around and all that it has to offer, she is constantly bored. The things that used to make her laugh for an hour, are now old news after 2 minutes. I used to get a ok amount of items crossed off my to-do list each day, but now I feel like a circus performer frantically attempting to entertain my daughter before she has yet another nuclear meltdown. And boredom isn't the only thing that invokes her wrath. If she's hungry, she will yell and whine until food is produced and if it's not food she likes, she doesn't stop at spitting it out, she screams and blows 'raspberries', spraying the broccoli and carrots I spent an afternoon steaming and pureeing for her all over my face. She does have exceptionally good fine motor skills which she has further honed by eating cheerios, picking them up one at a time with her fingers. But you can't give her one unless you're prepared to give her an entire box, because if they're gone, it's DEFCON 1 and screams are imminent.

And it's not just daytime that's reserved for hysterical screaming. Oh no, now 2am has become a popular time for all-out, scream at the top you lungs cry-fests. The night before last our entire household probably slept 3 hours in between all the tears. I got better night's sleep when she was just a few weeks old and waking to nurse all night. At least then she could eat and drift back off for another solid 3 hours until it was time to eat again. She hasn't been nursing in the middle of the night for a while now, but it's not surprising that she's suddenly waking up hungry again, considering she sprays more of her dinner on to my shirt than ever makes it into her mouth the past few days.

Before you ask, yes we have thought about teething. We're keeping an eye on her gums and I think that it does have some part to play since she has yet to sprout any teeth, but it doesn't seem to be the only reason for her personality changes. Some of it, I think, is just her growing up. And that is so much more difficult for me than being able to blame it on teeth. I'm just not ready for this! She gets annoyed at me now. My sweet, easygoing baby gets mad and whines if she doesn't get her way. And most heartbreaking of all, she stopped giving me kisses. She used to get so excited to plant her mouth on my cheek, she'd smile and giggle and reach for my face over and over again. Now she not only refuses to give me even a single non-smiley kiss, she shrieks and turns her head if my face gets too near hers. It's killing me! I thought this wasn't supposed to happen until they were older and didn't want to look un-cool in front of their friends. It takes all of my strength not to take it personally and cry when I ask for a kiss and she growls and pushes me away. I know it's part of her development and that these things will ebb and flow, but still, it stings.

To be fair, attitude, opinions and independence aren't the only milestones she's achieving at 8 months. She has also mastered the art of clapping! When she started waving just before turning 7 months, I predicted that clapping would soon follow and sure enough it did! Her first real clap was during the 20 minute snippet of The Muppet Movie she saw with us. She was absolutely enthralled by it dancing and bouncing in my lap and then all of the sudden clapping out loud to express her joy. Now she does it to show her appreciation for good book, a nice rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" or the hilarity that is Mommy putting anything on her head that shouldn't be there (Silly Mommy! Blocks don't go on your head but I applaud the effort you're making to keep me entertained.) It isn't kisses but it is incredibly cute and I have to admit love the sound of her tiny hands smacking together. It is one of my greatest joys lately.

And speaking of greatest joys, even at her whiniest, Eliana is still mine. Earlier this week, Chad and I were out to dinner with his colleagues. They were nice enough to move the reservation early in the evening so that we could bring the baby before her bedtime. Eating out with an 8 month old is no easy feat. As we took her turns trying to feed her, change her diaper in tiny bathroom stalls and digging through her diaper bag for any object that might somehow appease her for more than a second, I thought to myself how much easier this dinner would be if it were just me and Chad and how happier I am eating cold food so that I can take care of my amazing daughter than I ever could have dreamed. Yes, I get annoyed at her screams but my very next thought is always how incredibly grateful I am to be hearing them. After years of hearing people complain about their cranky babies and thinking to myself how incredibly thrilled I'd be to have a cranky baby of my own, I'm lucky enough to finally be proving myself right. I seriously love her more than I could ever express. And it doesn't make sense considering everything I just said but I love her crankiness too. I love that it gives me an opportunity to get to know new parts of her personality, I love that mid-cry, I can still trick her into a smile if I time my peekaboo just right. At least once a day I get overwhelmed with love and have to scoop her up and smother her in hugs and cuddles, telling I love her over and over again and lately it's when she's in a whiny mood that my love comes gushing out. She doesn't want to kiss me, that's ok. It breaks my heart a little but it's ok, because she can't stop me from kissing her double to make up for it!