Monday, March 28, 2011

Half a Year

Dear L. on your half birthday,

I can hardly stand to think that half a year of your babyhood is already behind us. (Of course, you are always going to be my baby, sorry to tell you, my little man.)

But not so long from now, it will be three kids around here, not two kids and a baby. Not too long from now, we're going to have to respond "five," not "four and a baby" or even "four and a high chair" when the hostess asks 'how many' on a Friday evening.

When N. was a baby, people were already always asking us "so, are you having another?" (I was always a little surprised by this, given we had a boy and a girl, a natural pausing point, if not an end altogether.) I was never quite sure what to say. I hadn't ever imagined having three children, and our life was plenty full and busy. But our family didn't necessarily feel complete either. Other friends of mine would say, "Oh yes. So done. No more for us. Plenty." I didn't quite have that feeling, and I was a tiny bit jealous that I was lacking that sort of awareness in myself.

We'd get to a point where N. would be through with something, and I would put yet another piece of baby equipment in the basement. I felt no need to get it ready for a garage sale. When I'd realize N. had passed another baby milestone: no more bottles, no more rocking before sleep, no morning nap, I never felt that pang of "oh, that was the last time for that." I started to panic a little that I hadn't savored these little baby moments as I should have, and that they might be gone for good.

But then there was you. It turns out that not quite done feeling meant that we still needed to meet you. And now, I hold you up against my shoulder and you turn your head to gaze back at me with those eyes of yours.

Oh those eyes. So full of the world already. Taking it in with wide eyed wonderment and joy. Oh, such joy.

I hold you close, and I breathe in your baby scent, warm and sour and sweet all at once. I'm fully enjoying it now, this babyhood of yours, and through it, am learning to enjoy the babyhood of your brother and sister as well.

All those times that I said "I'd have a third, if I could have him come out six months old already"? I'm so thankful that advance in medicine has yet to be made. Now I know all that I would have been missing. Not only the smiles and snuggles, but the raspberry blowing, the grabbing of my cheeks for the first time, and the deep belly button laugh at a pretend sneeze. The smooth roundness of a thigh just getting plump, the first notice of a dimple, and the satisfying act of working flaky skin off of a bald baby scalp.

I grow tired of waking in the middle of the night, of the tide of toys and equipment that seems to ebb and flow but never fully recedes. I grow tired of the everpresent living weight attached to my hip, my knee, my breast, of always completing tasks one handed. I get frustrated when I cannot leave the house for longer than a couple hours because you scream, and refuse to take a bottle.

But I am aware this time of how quickly it will pass. It's been so wonderful getting to know you, to feel comfortable in my own skin as a mother, to appreciate all the ways I've gotten the opportunity to experience motherhood, with each of my children. I've taken a moment to say goodbye to each milestone as we pass it, because we won't be by this way again.

There were so many of those this month. You learned to sit up for real on your own, though you'd still rather roll around or throw yourself backwards to see what's out of your reach.

You became a pro at rolling, from both back to stomach,and stomach to back. Now you pitch your head into it with spirit, using that weight to propel you towards whatever goal you seek.

We tried rice cereal, and you actually liked it: whimpering for more when I finished your first bowl. We have had mixed success with other foods. The oranges (squash, sweet potato) seem to have produced rashes and night waking, so we're holding off on those and sticking to fruit for a bit, and holding out hope you're not as full of the allergy genes as I suspect.

See what I mean about those eyes?

Last week, you officially started to crawl wormlike and with all kinds of experimentation towards toys just out of your reach. This afternoon you had scooted yourself from one end of a room into another before any of us were even really aware of it.

You love to crinkle paper, shove things into your mouth, and grab whatever is in reach with enthusiasm and power. We're working on easing you out of your swaddling blanket at night, finally, because I'll come in to find you face down with arms pinned to your side, unhappy. You still seem safest wrapped all up and cozy when it is bedtime, though.

Each new milestone, I compare our family to where it was the last time we passed this point in the road. It's never the same: there are times when your brother and sister were quicker or slower, more easy or more difficult at any one of them. O. took to bottles like a champ where you and N. struggle and spit them out. N. always took stellar naps during the day, while O. seemed destined to stay awake until kindergarten, and you have yet to establish any sort of pattern, you toted-around third child, you. N. and O. were suspect and screamy of strangers who wanted to cuddle them, while you will go to just about anyone with a smile (though you and I both know you save the best ones for me).

You are for sure the closest thing I've ever had to a "good baby," I'm almost positive that has more to do with who I am than who you, your brother, or your sister are or were. I'm so glad you've given me this opportunity to reflect on all the ways it's okay to be a baby.

I'm so glad I have at least another six months to enjoy and remember them all.

Your Mommy

Thursday, March 24, 2011


My boy is getting so big. He's grown visibly taller in the last couple of months, and now has a clear sign of how much older he's become before my very eyes.

He's old enough to say "On it!" when I ask him to help get the supplies for L.'s bath. Old enough to get invited to a laser tag birthday party, go on a field trip at school, and have very clear opinions about the kind of shoes he wants to replace his worn out sneakers. Young enough to still want a ride in the stroller on a trip to the zoo. And still young enough to tell me that while he didn't get a great view of the Tooth Fairy, he kept his eyes open a little while he was sleeping and saw some yellow dust.

O. has had a loose tooth for about a month now, and everyone has been a little too queasy to actually yank it out. O. was a little horrified by the story J. told him about Papa tying a string to his aunt's tooth when she was little and slamming the door to have it yanked out, and wouldn't let J. anywhere near it for a while.

On Wednesday, O. could not keep his tongue off of it, and it was almost popping out on its own. I was hoping we might make it until J. came back in town on Thursday. O. was hoping to lose it at school, where you get a special holder and sticker from the nurse.

But lo and behold, halfway through Wednesday's bedtime routine, it fell out while O. was brushing his teeth. "And it didn't even hurt!" he was glad to announce.

The tooth fairy brought O. a gold dollar coin and a very nice note complimenting him on his dental hygiene, all rolled up and tied with dental floss.

O. says he misses having a tooth to wiggle. I have an idea there are some more that will be ready soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

In order to move that other post down the page: some O and N Speak.

O.: "Mom, how is it possible for something to go on forever?"
"I think I know why there is nothing outside of outer space. Because what would it be? There's just space."
"Or maybe there's an area on the other side that's full of suitcases. It's called outer scace."

O. to N., who dreams of getting married so she can wear a beautiful dress and dance all day.: "No, N. I'm not allowed to marry you, because you're not allowed to marry your family."

N., looking at a photo of J. and I at our wedding:
"Why wasn't I at your marry? I wanted to be there! Was I in your tummy? Was O. there? Why did he get to be borned afore me???" (Just to be clear, O. was not there.)

After a discussion of wedding vows (my attempt to convince N. that weddings are about more than the dress and the dancing):
O: "I'm going to ask the girl that I marry to do all the cooking so I don't have to."

O, riding his bike on a brief hint of spring day:
"My bell sounds like a sick duck."

O., wielding the pooper-scooper in the front yard:
"I am a giant poop eating monster!"

O., with a mischievous laugh after I tell him to stop picking his nose.
"But Mom, I always have a snack with me!"

N., seeing Jennifer Lopez on a taped episode of American Idol:
"Mommy, that girl is beautiful. She is wearing jewels."

N. to me on our way out the door to preschool. I am carrying my purse, a bag of library books, and L. in his car seat.
"Mommy, you carry my backpack, because you're the strongest in the world."
(I have to admit to a strong sense of pride at this title)

O., pulling my leg:
"Just kitten, Mom."

N. talks me into buying a striped knit dress, marked down to three dollars at Kohl's and then insists I must try it on the moment we get home. I put in on over my sweater and jeans.
O.: "You look like a house cleaner."

N., wearing her baby doll in her own front pack, attempts to entertain L. in his play yard while I make breakfast. He keeps crying.
N. "I have nuffing more to do for you, L.! Mommy, I can only take care of one baby!"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get Lost

I'd like you to meet the newest member of our family. He's moody, disagreeable, and sometimes downright mean. He also appears to suffer from hormonal surges and an apparent loss of hearing. Is this what almost six looks like these days??

Okay, so this photo isn't playing fair. He was pretending to be a cat. But still, he makes this face at me at least twice a day when I say something he doesn't quite like.

I'm not sure when we started fighting about homework, but it's gotten to be painful. Some days we just don't do it because I don't want to have a battle. And hey, it's kindergarten.

It's a good thing we have a whole month to do each homework packet; we can always catch up. But I've come to dread the days when he brings a new independent reading book home because of the drama that we'll have to suffer through trying to figure out the words in it for the first time. He cries, says nonsense words instead of those on the page, rolls around and refuses to look at the book, and begs to do it later. Of course 'later' he does not want to do it either. I struggle with not wanting to push him too hard, yet not letting him be in control.

He changes his mind from one week to the next about what sport he might like to play this spring, and then occasionally throws a massive fit about playing any at all. I know he is too young to be in charge of these decisions, but it would be nice for him to be consistently enthusiastic about something.

This afternoon, he hid underneath the dining room table for at least ten minutes crying because his sister said she didn't want to play with him. When I got down on the floor to talk to him, he screamed "Leave me alone!!!"

Then, he spent an hour using his Leapster's drawing game to write messages.
"Gt Lost."

"No Pbl Ulawd" (no people allowed)

And then a large cartoon drawing of a mouth with the tongue sticking out, and a nose with snot coming out.

When N. asked him what he was doing, he said "I'm doing something bad. I'll tell you in your ear. Don't ever do this."

So. I guess I should be glad he's working on his writing. And he obviously knows what's right. Doesn't want to set a bad example.

But what I want to know is, when did a thirteen year old take over my son's body, and when is he going to leave??

I feel the need to say here that this boy of mine, my sensitive, bright and wonderful first born son, only acts this way at home. Oh, and at the doctor's office. The pediatrician (one in my large practice I'd never been a big fan of, and whom I will never see again, after this incident) told me in a very condescending tone that he would blame his attitude on too many video games when O. refused to put down his Leapster and immediately hop up onto the examining table.

At school, he is the sweet happy boy I miss so dearly when that other kid shows up. He runs to hug me when I come to volunteer, gets along with other children, and pays attention well enough to repeat whole lessons back to me.

He's doing fine. He's an excellent big brother to both his sister and his brother, plays imaginatively and enthusiastically. (He does make an excellent cat, or cheetah, or polar bear, or any animal you happen to name) He's occasionally super super helpful, like the time a week ago when he volunteered to help me with the laundry and sorted three baskets full of clothes by color. He ate most of his dinner two nights in a row this week.

But, he knows where every single one of my buttons resides, and lots of days, it's his job to push them.