Last night during the second of four times that I was in baby D’s room between 6pm and 6am (it was a rough, uncharacteristic night – darn teeth!), I was impressed by the weight of his body as he lay in my lap. I remember this moment with little J too, perhaps it was around the same age. There is little I can write to accurately describe it, but essentially its a realization that he’s no longer a wee-little one. Though I’ve held him every single day since June 9th, his weigh gain has obviously been gradual but last night he was all of a sudden big and my brain and my heart knew it. His fingers are no longer slender instead, they like his feet and wrists are bulging with chub and though I can see it in pictures and my eyes have beheld the changes once again, last night, my arms finally felt it too.
As I sat there in his dark room and pondered the moment, my thoughts were drawn once again to a conversation I had a few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who has three girls about my particular season of life. She made a comment that has been stuck in my mind about how I only have 5 years or so of each of these precious boys lives where I am “the woman” in their lives. The one who gets their cuddles and their requests, the one who is their everything…their mama. She meant in contrast to what she sees as her relationship with her children as they grown, anticipating lunch dates and mall dates and a deep friendship with each of them. And though as it write it sounds harsh, it’s still likely true. A boys relationship with his mom is sweet and unmatched in it’s early years but it changes as they grow-up. So I recognize (with a few stinging tears in my eyes) that it’s true, but it’s weighty. Weighty in the same way that little J’s questions about life and death and Jesus and church and marriage and love are. And so if you can’t tell, lately my heart has become burdened. Burdened for my children in a new way. For their safety, for their character, for their salvation. Because I have so much to accomplish in a day that isn’t really at all about them (I mean directly, they need a clean place to live and we need clothes and food and such) and I am so incapable left to myself to do anything right or worthy. How thankful I am that I have Psalm 37:4 is true. O my soul…Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
I was struck this week by how many different attitudes toward school I saw on my Facebook feed as Virginia officially started back to school this week and decided to write down my own thoughts.
Little J’s start to preschool isn’t all that emotional for me as he’s been in daycare two mornings a week since he was 18 months so that I could work. I believe that the time was valuable for him as it provided socialization and helped reinforce many of the things we were learning at home (colors, numbers, etc.). I also very much enjoyed the assessments from the teachers and that he learned to be disciplined and respectful there as well as in the home. I see preschool as the continuation of what we started at daycare just with a Christian component. Instead of teaching just “Wheels on the Bus” I expect he’ll also learn the “Fruits of the Spirit” song and be challenged with some scripture memory as well.
We took the summer off from daycare (between Alex finishing school, my maternity leave, and family in town it made sense) and I think little J is genuinely excited to be in school – he certainly loves wearing his R2-D2 backpack! He’s going only two days a week in the mornings but after being home with him all summer, I miss him! It’s a delight to pick him up and now that he’s communicating extremely well, I look forward to picking him up and hearing about his day. I feel good about the arrangement for both of us and am delighted that though we’re moving toward a full week of school for him in a few years he still has lots of time to play outside and be a little boy this in his week.
I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks and finally decided this afternoon to give up trying to make it gel and instead decided to just get the thoughts down and the memories recorded before I lose them. So here’s a very stream of consciousness post of the handful of fully formed thoughts that I’ve had in the first 3.5 weeks of baby D’s life.
My two year old is huge. Everything about him, his legs, his feet, the sheer weight of his body, his head. Everything that seemed so small about him before baby D are now gargantuan in comparison. And though little J is a huge cuddle-er and I love him for it, I’ve determined that baby cuddles are sweeter in round two because its nice to sit quietly with someone who doesn’t squirm and weighs so little!
Those little legs and hands that I could feel in my belly are amazing. I’m more enamored with them this time with baby D’s features perhaps because I know that in two years, they’ll be gone. I remember feeling very overwhelmed in the first few days of his life every time I held him by the miracle of conception and the growth of a baby in the womb. Psalm 139 was frequently on my mind.
These first few weeks where I’ve had to rely on help from others to watch little J have been hard. I was so present in his life a month ago and now I feel like I barely see him. The care that my parents and Alex have provided for him over the last three weeks has been immeasurably valuable but it breaks my heart a little that I’m not able to do more for him right now.
I can’t imagine doing this alone. Being able to tag team parent with Alex right now because he’s done with school and in transition mode has been an HUGE blessing. We’re getting closer to having bed time and nap time routines that work for everyone’s needs but we’ve had some off days and its been wonderful to know that he’s got my back so that I can deal with whichever kid needs me more at the present moment.
And lastly, of course, I can’t help but compare baby D to little J when he was a baby. Some of this things are easy comparisons – physical features for instance. Baby D has much darker and longer hair and longer, more slender fingers. His birthmark is over his lip where little J’s was on his nose. They have the same chin, but I think that’s the extent of their shared facial features as newborns but judge for yourself from the pictures below (D is first).
Pictures are worth a thousand words they say. And although I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with the one above, it’s been on my mind constantly lately.
Alex and I have discussed at length recently with each other and with friends that we are fully cognizant that little J has entered what I like to call the “sponge stage”. He’s got enough language to at least an attempt a repeat of anything we say and enough mobility and curiosity to mimic us all day long. It’s terrifying.
And yet, the picture above speaks to me and challenges me all at once. I switched to Method dish soap this fall and love that I can picture it with my sponge. Because despite the sponge’s qualities, we’re trying to have a method to our days. A method that includes routine and fun and specifically chosen words and phrases that are repeated through the day in the midst of the other inane and silly things we say. Heart training words like “that’s not kind” and “get self-control” and “be patient”, hoping that one day these will lead naturally into discussions of the fruit of the Spirit. And of course, there will be mistakes and mis-steps and things that come out of his mouth or things he does that we will slap ourselves for mentally…but we’ll wipe them up and move on by the grace of God.
A few months ago I shared about how sweet it was to hear little J’s first utterances of “mommy”. As everything does, its become commonplace now and thus lost its charm most times. I do however get random hugs accompanied by “Hi Mommy” that melt my heart and ring in ears that are mostly deaf to the tenderness that no doubt still flows from his heart when he says my name the seemingly thousands of times a day that he does.
All that to say that it has been sweeter still to hear another word come from his mouth these last few days. He is a point where his vocabulary is growing daily and as the Christmas season is now upon us, “tree” and “light” are now a part of his parlance. I’m also trying to introduce him subtly to the Christmas story through a handful of board books and discussions about our Nativity set. That other word you ask? Jesus, the baby in Mary’s arms, the holy child of Bethlehem, the reason for the season. I love asking him “What’s the baby’s name?” and hearing his sweet little voice respond “Jesus”.
And I pray that he will come to know Him as the one who casts out sin and enters in as his Lord, Emanuel.
My favorite word mis-pronunciation of little J’s these days is “mancake”. He uses this word for pancakes and blankets. I giggle everytime. He asks for a “mancake” muliple times a day because when he’s not asking for baseball and “arf-arf’s” (his word for dog despite our prompting and encouragement to use the real word) books are his favorite occupation and blankets are an essential part of enjoying books in his mind. I haven’t read a whole book on my own in a number of months now but I’ve read plenty of his plenty of times. Here’s a favorites for the record book:
A Great Day for Up (part of little J’s Christmas present last year)
Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site
Little Blue Truck
…And his. Though he can’t read he’s got a word or a sound effect for every page of the first two and for whatever reason he stares and stares at the third. He loves it.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Mr. Brown Can Moo
We’re Going on A Bear Hunt
Love my little J and his love for books and “mancakes”. Reading and cuddling never gets old.
Little J finally started saying ma-ma with regularity this week. It’s still sweet to my ears every time. He points to pictures of me and says it and points to women holding a babies in books and says it then and he says things like “ma-ma up”. My heart is melting thinking of it as write.
Interestingly, this week I feel like I’ve earned another stripe in mothering. One that makes me a little more worthy to be in the ranks of so many ma-ma’s out there. A nasty cold (maybe a flu bug?) rocked our house this week. J came down with it after Alex and we spent Friday night more awake then asleep and in fits of tears. The subsequent nights weren’t much better and needless to say, we haven’t left the house much the last few days as I’ve now (of course) also contracted said bug. I’m thankful that my parents are here to led extra hands but sad that they’ve had to have a visit plagued with sickness and nighttime tears.
On an ironic note, in addition to ma-ma, little J has added bug to his vocabulary this week. Though he of course means the kind that one finds on the ground. He’s also become a really good hugger. Much like his first kisses (which have sense gone by the way-side) each hug is special and tender. He throws his arms around me with intensity and hangs on tight. He’s a lover this one is.