There are the clichés I loathe, such as:
-“You can have your cake and eat it, too” (if I have cake, what else would I do with it? Finger paint?)
-“It is what it is” (great, you spoke 5 words and said nothing…congratulations)

And then there are the clichés I loathe, but use anyway, like: “When it rains, it pours.” As it turns out, when it rains in Phoenix, it usually does pour. For like 5 minutes. And the local TV stations go to code red and drivers forget how to drive and then our apartment parking lot floods and they have to bring out a pump to get rid of the water and I’m like, why not just fix the drain that’s causing the flooding in the first place (?!) because the same thing has been happening for the past 4 years every $&@#* time it rains, so maybe the problem is you, Arcadia Cove. Maybe the problem is you. And then I take my car to get washed and the line is, like, 10 miles long and everyone in front of me has a luxury car and a vanity license plate (I actually saw one yesterday that said MRE XMAS which caused my head to asplode because I’m thinking: does she love Christmas that much all year? Does she only drive that car in December? Does she really believe that’s how to spell “merry”?). So I guess what I’m saying is: when it rains, a little part of me dies inside.

But I digress. The rain/pour cliché seems to gel with our human need to seek out patterns, and our tendency to be self-centered and mopey and feel like the world is maybe out to get us when one little thing doesn’t go exactly as we planned it.

Which brings me to Declan. For the past few weeks, it’s been pouring it terms of his development. He has rolled over (tummy to back) a handful of times. He is constantly running his mouth (and the types of noises he makes are getting more diverse, from long babbles to staccato chirps to gleeful squeals). He is moving his head more smoothly, following us as we walk across the room, following his toys as we dangle them over his head. His arms and legs move more deliberately, and sometimes, they even appear to work as a team! He’s able to control his hands enough to get them in his mouth pretty much whenever he wants. And the other day, he found a grip that allowed him to put in and take out the pacifier by himself several times. He also, I must brag, has now peed on his own face three out of the last four days. So there’s that.

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But the storm clouds, as they say, have been gathering. Colleen has an app that tracks baby development based on age. Some weeks have sunny skies, which means you can expect your baby to be relatively calm and happy. Other weeks have dark clouds and those are “leap” times…periods of intense growth and development that also tend to make for a crabby child. Declan, for example, is becoming increasingly frustrated with his hands. Because there’s so much they can do, he gets mad when he can’t maneuver them the way he wants. The pacifier still defies him, more often than not. He’s also more clingy during these leaps. He doesn’t want us to leave the room. He wants to be held. He fusses for no real reason. And his sleep schedule might also be in flux. I hear horrible rumors of a 4-month regression. And, sure enough, this past week his sleep has been a little screwy. Weird nap times. More resistance.

Around 1 this morning, he woke up for a feeding and then decided that instead of going back to sleep, he would start performing schtick. Smiling, grunting, babbling, pleased as punch to be awake and caring not for our feelings. I found myself surprised and annoyed as I tried to put him back down. For the past few weeks, it has been so easy. He eats, he’s handed to me, and within minutes, he’s asleep in his bed and I’m asleep in mine. I guess I got spoiled even though I knew Colleen’s app was predicting storms ahead. I wanted to believe we’d turned a corner. But I should have known better. As I stood there at 2 a.m., looking into his wide-open eyes, patting and rocking him, bidding farewell yet again to the possibility of a full night’s sleep… it really did start raining in Phoenix. And yes, it poured. And yes, it was in the forecast. But… but… it was so sunny earlier…

Since Declan was born, I’ve heard people say parenting is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I’ve heard people say the time goes so quickly, so enjoy it. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. About my 30’s, I’ve heard people talk about random aches and pains that just happen…for no apparent reason. I’ve heard I’ll be tired more, lean more heavily on caffeine, struggle to eat as well or exercise as often. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. But as all these things slowly come to pass, I realize my life is one big cliché. I am not a unique and special flower.

There’s another way to look at it, of course. That is, whatever divides us–whatever petty drama is being stirred up, whatever fake outrage and trumped up controversy is being thrust upon us, however loud the people are who tell us we’re more polarized than we’ve ever been–whatever that is, clearly is no match for the 99% of human experience that is shared. We have shorthand for it. Expressions, sayings, turns of phrase that are both overly simplistic and true. They are the patterns and insights we’ve found throughout time. I may try my best not to use to them. But resistance is futile. Declan will continue to change, and as soon as I adjust to the new normal, he will change again. It’s not personal. It’s not the end of the world. It is what it is.

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