There has been a shift in our family this summer; things are feeling easier. Not exactly easy, but easier. Long road trips are surprisingly smooth We can go on outdoor adventures that would have been more stress than fun just a few months ago. Getting out the door is not quite the ordeal it used to be. The end of diapers is not here, but it is in sight. HP has largely moved past tantrums and shows great self-control.
A recent trip to the farmers' market and grocery store highlighted how different life is now compared to last year. I took both kids there by myself while Neil stayed home to work on a house project. Partway there I realized that I forgot the carrier E uses at the market. Not long ago, I would have turned around to retrieve it. Instead, I shrugged my shoulders and kept going. Amazingly, it didn't feel daunting to walk through a busy market holding our bags with both kids walking beside me. A trip like that used to be a feat. Now it is everyday life--not much more stressful or time-consuming than going on my own.
I noticed this newfound ease again on our trips to visit family this summer. I was continually impressed with how well the kids did with new faces, new places, and very little sleep. (Why? Why can no one sleep on vacation?!) In Virginia there were several moments when I thought, "If this same situation had happened six months ago HP would not be okay." But now, he can roll with it. Or if he can't, he can articulate the problem to us in a (relatively) reasoned way. Please don't misunderstand: there were many, many hard moments on both trips as it is a lot of work to travel with two young children. But it is less work now than this time last year, and this time next year it will be even easier.
I love to see and cuddle my friends' infants (I'm looking at you, Plum), but I am happy to be entering new territory as a family. We are still in the "families with young children" stage, but now they are "ever-so-slightly-more-independent children." The difference between that and life with a child under the age of one cannot be overstated.
A month after HP turned one, I wrote about entering toddlerhood. Passing the 18 month mark with E elicits those same feelings--excitement for the future coupled with appreciation for the moment we're in. I can't say it better than I said it then: It no longer feels like we're struggling to keep our heads above water; we're able to enjoy the swim.