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Originally published Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 6:15 AM

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Baby and toddler stages: These, too, will pass

Being the parent your kid needs can have a surprisingly steep learning curve.


Syndicated columnist

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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion, and continued from Monday.

DEAR CAROLYN: For Blindsided (the unhappy new mother from Monday): I know exactly how you feel. When I was pregnant I really looked forward to snuggling our babies (we had twins); once those babies were available for snuggling, yeah, that was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it, but it was just. so. much. work. And when you’re down in the weeds like that, it’s really hard to see that you won’t be on the feeding/changing/laundry/naptime/tummy time/feeding/changing treadmill for the rest of your life.

Our kids are 3 now and it is so different and so much better it’s unreal. I always thought I would love wee little infants and would be at a loss with active preschoolers; it actually turned out to be the opposite, which was a huge surprise and a delight. Hang in there. It gets so so much better.

– Anonymous

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Useful, thank you. There can also be variations from child to child: You can love snuggling babies, for example, but have a baby who squirms away from snuggles. Then you not only have to do the child-care grunt work, but also recalibrate your expectations and seek a different kind of reward.

This is why the nudges and corrections from well-meaning bystanders — friends, family, strangers — can be unbearable. Being the parent your kid needs can have a surprisingly steep learning curve, and the experiences of others too often don’t apply.

Re: Blindsided:

My mom blessed me by always being quite honest about how she felt about babies and children. She always said she liked to cuddle with babies but didn’t like playing with toddlers. I really appreciate it now because it’s nice to know that I won’t like every stage of the future child.

– Anonymous 2

DEAR ANONYMOUS 2: Toddlers. (shudder)

DEAR CAROLYN: My significant other is chronically late; it’s a running joke among his family, who are also very lax about time.

It irritates me to no end. I have tried talking to him about it from every angle, and his answer is to avoid committing to specific plans with me because he doesn’t want to make me angry by being late. We’ve been together two and a half years, so this has been a source of mounting frustration for quite a long time.

Any thoughts or suggestions? It’s the main (only) thing we fight about, and I want to focus on fixing it as soon as possible.

– On Time

DEAR ON TIME: I’m sure you do.

But you’re up to your neck in proof that he won’t change a thing and doesn’t want to.

That means the onus is on you to change in some way — by breaking up, or adjusting the way you deal with him, or accepting him as-is.

By as-is, I mean getting to the point where you no longer wish he were different or respond to his tardiness with anger. How you get there can be about creative planning, leaving without him when he’s late, going Zen, whatever else — as long as it isn’t standing there steaming till he shows up.

So — do you want him as-is or not at all? Those are your two choices. I’m sorry. Angry at someone for being exactly who he has always been is no way to go through life.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax. Find her columns daily at www.seattletimes.com/living



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