Ok, I confess - I stole the title of this post from an article I saw on Yahoo. I was hoping for a light article about the little things that make us mommies happy, but it turned out to be more serious things about being happy for a husband whose cancer is in remission and coming to terms with/loving your postpartum body.
So I thought I would take it upon myself to write about the more trivial things that makes this mommy of a one year old (!!!) and a half-baked bun in the oven happy.
Toddler-safe items that keep your kid occupied for longer than 30 seconds - Up until very recently, this item for L was an empty Quaker Oats container. L looooved that thing. He would put anything that would fit into it (including but not limited to: my cell phone, my shoe and the remote to the tv), then try to put the lid back on.
He also loved to chew on the lid, which is what ultimately what led to the demise of the good old Quaker Oats container. Though sturdier than I initially thought, the cardboard in it was not designed to withstand hours of baby gumming. And once the lid was gone, L was no longer interested. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like we'll be able to replace it any time soon because I'm pretty sure I could eat oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for two weeks and still not finish an entire container of Quaker Oats.
Diaper/clothing changes that don't require the SWAT team - I'm not talking about the contents of the diapers (since I'm pretty sure we'd need a HazMat team instead of the SWAT team for that). I'm talking about the physical process of changing my child. It has quickly and easily become one of my least favorite things ever. Despite any and all attempts to distract L with toys, songs, games, whatever I can think of, he hates being pinned down. And he protests by screaming as if being tarred and feathered, in addition to flopping all over the place and acquiring Hulk-like strength out of nowhere. So when I can change his diaper and/or clothes without having to call for back-up, it's that kind of simple pleasure that can completely turn around a bad day.
The random sleep-in - This is especially glorious when it falls on a weekend day (read: almost never). That Saturday morning when I wake up with the sun streaming through my window, listening to the sound of silence. I roll over to peer at the clock and see that it's 8:15. The angels burst into a joyful chorus as my well-rested head flops back on my pillow and I bask in the peaceful world of half-sleeping/half-awake until I hear L start to stir in his crib. And then I just lay there and listen to him babble and play, seeing how long I can wait him out until he starts crying. That, my friends, is the dream.
The reality: The random sleep-in occurs on a Tuesday morning. I've slept through both my alarms and I wake with a jolt to see that I should be arriving at daycare to drop L off at that very minute. L, my alarm who will not be ignored, is passed out cold in his crib, and I curse the fact that I have a job that requires me to arrive at a certain time, thus further requiring me to go against old wives everywhere and wake a sleeping baby. These are the days that I'm not so thankful for the random sleep-in. But we'll file it under the thankful category anyway.
The smiles and good mood when there should be a melt-down - This happened to us recently, at L's birthday party. I had been running around like a bat out of hell for two days trying to get everything ready for the party that I promised I wouldn't stress about. I had reached and surpassed my breaking point and was snapping at everyone in sight (and maybe picked a humongous fight with D, which possibly was so loud that my mom and brother turned on the football game at top volume so they wouldn't hear us). L had only napped for 45 minutes, and even though he was in an ok mood, it looked like all systems were gearing up for Mr. Cranky-Pants who cries and fusses whenever the slightest thing does not go his way.
But it turns out, my kid loves attention. I already kind-of knew this, but I don't think I knew the extent. Once everyone arrived, he was in his element - smiling, waving, clapping, dancing. I'm sure it didn't hurt that we let him eat his weight in cake. It was an enormously pleasant surprise, because I'd already been mentally preparing the apologetic way I'd say to our guests, "I'm so sorry for the tantrums. Someone didn't get a good nap today. And neither did L."
Note: This scenario especially applies for places like church and restaurants. When your kid is on his best behavior in these kinds of settings, it's nothing short of awesome.
When all the socks from the dryer have a mate - I'm sure people other than moms enjoy when this happens. Socks have got to be the most annoying piece of clothing in the world to wash, especially baby socks. They are tiny and seem to get lost far more frequently than adult socks. I hate them. So it's no small thing for me when I am folding a load of laundry and do not have a single baby sock unmatched. I think this has happened a total of one time so far. No small thing, indeed.
Offering new food and having it be accepted - In the latest "my kid is my husband's clone" news, L is turning out to be a rather picky eater. Just like D, he has a limited repertoire of preferred foods, and he seems to be hellbent on sticking to them. It's actually really easy to remember: if it's a carb or if it's cheese, it's all good. Bonus points if it's a cheesy carb, a la mac and cheese. Also accepted are sweets, but that is so obvious that I almost didn't put it here, and it doesn't count because we don't give him much in the way of sweets anyway.
This kid confuses the heck out of me. He literally one day ate almost an entire can of spaghetti-o's on his own, then the next day took one bite of spaghetti-o's and gave me the "OHMYGAWD WHAT IS THIS CRAP?" face. Color me confounded.
So when I can get him to eat something outside his norm, it's a feeling of victory that is hard to describe. This past weekend, I offered him chicken at dinner. And this was some good chicken. Like, the best. Juicy and grilled to perfection. Yum. I pretty much proposed to the grill master on the spot, but since he's my bff's husband, it just wasn't meant to be. But since it did not pass the checklist of approved foods (the opposite of a carb, nary a speck of cheese to be found, and no sugar in sight), L wouldn't even touch it. So mama started wrapping his chicken in garlic bread. And wouldn't you know, it is possible to outsmart that kid every once in a while. He ate like 10 bites of chicken. Score one for the good guys.
Figuring out how some crazy baby gear contraption works - Parenthood in general comes with a huge array of crap that needs to be unfolded, folded down, put together, taken apart, etc. ad nauseum. And every single thing claims to be "easy". You know what I did this weekend? I had to put L's high chair in the van fully upright because I could not figure out how to fold it down. Even though I've folded it down before, more than once. Even though I'm the one who successfully assembled it in the first place. And my friend couldn't figure it out either. So we just loaded it up as it was. And when my friend's husband was able to fold it down for us before we left their house, it was disproportionately exciting for me. I shouldn't have been so happy that we were able to get that highchair folded down, but I was.
So really, with parenthood, it's the little things that we are thankful for. The small victories and sloppy graham cracker kisses and hysterical baby laughter are what gets us through the public meltdowns and tantrums in church. Sure, there's the deeper stuff to be thankful for too, but that stuff happens less frequently. My day-to-day energy tank is filled up by the little things.