Captain Jelly Belly turned 10 years old this week, the big 1-0, a whole decade, double digits. I tried really hard to get myself all worked up about it – my baby! getting big! getting old! – but I was strangely sanguine about it all. He is who he is, and I really, really like him just the way he is now, which I guess was the beginning and the end of it. Ten is pretty good, actually.
Especially when held in relief to my four-month-old nephew, who has been visiting this week, along with his three-year-old brother, and oh boy, am I ever out of practice at:
a) holding the dead weight of a sleeping baby while making dinner with the other hand;
b) engaging in an philosophical battle with a three-year-old about why he has to wear socks to go outside;
c) dealing with two crying children at the same time, and
d) just about everything else associated with babies and toddlers and preschoolers, EVER.
So yes, 10, with its ability to dress itself and feed itself and every carry the groceries for me on occasion, when guilted into it, is pretty good.
Instead, I find myself reflecting more on the changes in myself in the past decade. Sure, the Captain was a wee squawking baby a decade ago. But wasn’t I, as well? I was green. I was young. I had a head full of non-grey hairs and a face that was relatively wrinkle-free.
Everything seemed so dire back then. Every baby cry, the end of the world. Every poop, the biggest ever. Every trip, the most epic journey ever undertaken. Now I’m so much more casual about things – even the visiting baby and preschooler are no trouble, we just mop it up, nap it up, kiss it up, and it’s back to business as usual. TCB, baby, TCB.
I’ve learned so much about how to feed a family, how to comfort another person, how to share, how to grow. I’ve learned about my own strengths and weaknesses, I’ve learned what I’ll stand for, and what is off the table. I’ve learned the exact point where my patience ends and the exact reasons I’ll break into laughter.
I’ve figured out who I am and what I want, and you know what? It’s this, right here, right now.
That’s a pretty good decade, I figure.