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.