When I found myself pregnant at 37, I was at once elated and apprehensive.
I mean, come on people, I'm getting old.
On more than one occasion, I've rejoiced in the fact that my kids were out of diapers, could be trusted to not put childproof outlet plugs in their mouths and had stopped eating bits of carpet fuzz.
I remember when the twins had been fully, reliably diaper trained, telling my then-sister-in-law that I was through with the baby stage. Forever.
Then along came Crowbar.
And so it began. Again.
Back to diapers. Back to spending dinnertime picking up the baby's cup.
Then the spoon.
Then a plate.
Then the cup again.
Back to blowing on (and cursing at) baby's food to cool it down while he howled in ravenous desperation -- and while inexplicably, my own plate was already ice cold. Back to scraping dried bits of macaroni off my kitchen floor.
And, thankfully, he graduated from that frustrating, socially isolating, house-destroying phase. And again I rejoiced and swore my baby years were behind me. For good.
And then came Sweet Pea.
Although, I knew things would be different this time.
For one, I wasn't entering the baby stage alone. My current husband -- he loves it when I call him that -- is able to help me much more than my ex ever was. (I never will take for granted working the same shift as my husband. I can think of no greater stress on a marriage.)
Plus, Mark's entering the game fresh. He's enthusiastic and energetic -- a perfect match to my grizzled, worn-out veteran self. Hell, he still thinks it's cute when Sweet Pea pulls every pot, pan and dish out onto the kitchen floor. While I have a tough time not just seeing more dishes to wash.
And knowing Sweet Pea is my last baby, I find I'm more forgiving of frustrating toddler behavior. The meltdowns, the sticky hands, the failure to respond to the word, "No!"
Honestly, as tough as the early years can be, I can think of nothing cuter than a baby -- my baby -- in footie pajamas, toddling over and lifting her arms up to me looking for a snuggle. Or a dance in the kitchen. Or to lay her head on my shoulder for a quick siesta.
It's rewarding and exhausting all together. And despite shooing my baby girl away from the dog's dish and the kitchen garbage 1,000 times a day, I'm right where I belong.
I knew what I was getting into. And I love it.