Monthly Archives: January 2014

Time

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When Robbie was first born, the days seemed interminable.  I would get to the end, proud of myself for surviving, only to realize that no one was coming home to relieve me and that I’d have to do it all again the next day.  And the next.  And the next.  When I communicated this realization to my mom, she imparted some wisdom.  “The days are long,” she told me, “but the years are short.”  I had no idea how right she was.

All of a sudden, with two boys, time seems to be passing twice as fast.  Robbie has gone from a baby to a grown-up little boy over night, even more so since Alex was born.  He has intense conversations, offering insight I’m not even sure I possess.  He does big kids things – skate boarding, playing basketball, walking the dog.  And he drinks tea.  How in the world can I get him to slow down?

With Alex, I have time to enjoy a baby again, time to revel in the things that I forgot or didn’t take the time to truly enjoy.  Even so, I can’t grasp the time; I can’t hold on to him being a baby as much as I would like.  It’s all slipping through my fingers.  Before I realized it, he was to old to say how many days he was; we were onto weeks.  And shortly, I’ll be forced to say how many months he is because I will have lost count of the weeks.

I suppose I’ll just breathe in the baby scent and soak in all the cooing and toothless smiles I can.  Because, my mom was right.

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Happy and Healthy

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Ask any expectant parent whether they are hoping for a boy or a girl, and you will probably hear the same stock response: “Oh, we don’t care.  Just so long as it’s happy and healthy.”  I was a little more selfish than that; I wanted happy, healthy, and male.  Both times.

Growing up, I always wanted an older brother.  It just seems like everyone needs an older brother.  Of course, I say this never having had an older brother.  The second time around, I still wanted a boy.  I was getting pretty good at raising a boy, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up my status as the only girl in the house.  Sure, I was a little disappointed when I realized that we weren’t having a girl and that I’d never get to buy hair bows and cute dressed.  But I was even more relieved to realize I’d never have to learn to do hair or deal with spilled nail polish or have my own shoes and clothes stolen out of my closet.

What’s interesting about having two children of the same sex is that everyone assumes you aren’t satisfied.  No sooner had we found out that we were having an Alexander and not an Alexandra, then people began asking when we would try for a third.  It surprised me – no one started asking when we would try for a second while I was pregnant with Robbie.  However, I soon realized the deeper meaning in the question when my response was not what people expected.  The conversations (all of them) went a little something like this:

“So, will you and Justin try for a third right away?”

“No, we’re stopping with just two.  No more room at the house!”

“Oh.”  There was usually a pause here, since no one expected me to say we were done.  “So, you’re not going to try for a girl?”

That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.  I love my two boys, and, from the time I found out I was pregnant with Alex, I felt like our family was complete.  There has never been a need for another child (plus, in all honesty, now that Alex is here, the idea of really being outnumbered sounds terrifying – and expensive!).  It took me awhile to come up with the proper response.  Finally, I found the one that stopped the conversation.

“No.  In fact, we’re not having a third because it might be a girl.”

Conversation.  Over.

Yours, Mine, and Ours

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Justin and I spent four-and-a-half years sharing the responsibility of one child.  It was, for all intents and purposes, easy.  Now?  We’re playing man-to-man.  There is no break, unless one of us decides to take on both children.  And so, without even realizing it, we have divided the boys as a matter of necessity.

Robbie has become Justin’s child, particularly at bedtime, and Alex has become mine.  We divide and conquer almost everything: mornings, meals, car rides, baths.  We just aren’t good enough at two kids to try to take both of them on at once – except, of course, for the fact that Justin starts traveling again tomorrow.

Part of me is jealous of Justin and his time with Robbie, especially at night.  I miss reading books with Robbie and talking about the best part of his day right before he falls asleep. I got a little bit of that tonight.  After Alex was asleep, I noticed that Justin had fallen asleep in Robbie’s room and that Robbie had not.  So, like any good mother, I climbed in bed with the two of them for a little snuggling time with my favorite four-year-old.  

I know we’ll get it figured out with a little more finesse.  Hopefully by tomorrow, when I have my first solo attempt with the kids.  It probably won’t go smoothly, but it’ll happen.  Eventually.

Grumpy Perspective

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I am totally head-over-heels in love with Alex Manna.  I think he is adorable – his cheeks are the most kissable I’ve ever seen and he smells just like a baby should.  He cuddles with me, falling asleep on my chest.  He makes faces that melt my heart – the surprised look when he realizes he’s going to get to eat, the look as he tries to register what he’s seeing.  And he smiles, although probably not at me, right before he falls asleep.

Justin, however, sees a very different baby – The Grump.  He sees the face of an angry old man, a constant scowl.  He focuses on how Alex really is a Manna, preferring to pace and unable to be still for any prolonged period unless he’s asleep.  And maybe he’s a little accurate, but who wouldn’t be a little grumpy after being born?

It has to be hard for Justin, though.  Or for any dad, really.  I spent nine months with this child growing inside me; I knew him before anyone else did. I felt his first movements long before Justin was able to.  Alex was physically attached to me, dependent on me for survival.  And the most Justin could do was put a hand on my belly, hoping to be graced with a kick.

Even now, three-and-a-half weeks later, I am still the most important person in Alex’s world: I provide the food.  Sure, Justin gives Alex bottles of pumped milk and changes diapers and gives baths and paces the floor to keep him happy between naps.  But it’s not the same – there are no googlie eyes for Justin like there are for me.  Alex doesn’t get excited to see Justin because, well, Justin has nothing to offer him.  Yet.

There is going to come a time when Justin is Alex’s hero, when he is the fun one.  For now, though, I’m going to relish my sweet baby and my opportunity to be his most important person.

Project 2014

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Almost 24 hours into the new year, the clean slate we’ve all been waiting for.  A chance to change ourselves – even if most of us forget what we actually wanted to change sometime in mid-February or, if we’re really lucky, late March.  Sure, there are things I’d like to do.  Lose weight (half of the baby weight is gone but the rest is not going to lose itself).  Be more organized.  Stay on top of the laundry.  But is any of that really going to change who I am?  Maybe I simply need to look to my children to see what it is that I really need to change about myself.

Let every morning be a fresh start.  I mess up.  Every single day.  I yell at Robbie when I really shouldn’t have (like maybe when he sticks my pearl necklace down the barrel of his Nerf gun, even when I’ve asked him three times to please stop but can’t get up because I’m nursing Alex and it’s really just too much to handle at the moment).  Or I forget to make him the hot tea I promised to make for him to drink during story time – even though it really just sits on his dresser and is never touched.  Or I couldn’t get his shoes tight enough or made him wear long sleeves or told him he absolutely, positively had to sleep in his bed.  He doesn’t always react well to these things.  Sure, sometimes he tells me it’s OK because we all make mistakes.  But, more often than not, he cries right along with me when I realize I’ve been too harsh and hurt his feelings or yells because I’m just not being fair.  In the morning, though, all is forgiven and forgotten (if we’re being honest, it’s usually taken care of by bedtime).  I’m back to being his “best mom”, worthy of hugs and an extra kiss before he hops in the car to go to school.  It doesn’t matter how badly I messed up the day before; Robbie gives me a whole new opportunity to be the best mom I can be.  If he can do that, why can’t I?

Playing is fun.  We have work.  And family.  And a house to clean.  Where in the world is there time to have fun?  Everywhere.  Being off work for the past three weeks – and spending two of them with a four-and-a-half-year-old at home – I’ve had to do some serious looking for the fun.  It’s making cookies, even when there’s no special occasion.  Or racing from one corner to the next in an effort to actually complete a two-mile run with a small child.  Some days, the laundry can wait.  Dinner doesn’t have to be spectacular – especially if you’re making it together.  It’s OK if the house is a mess.  Robbie and Alex aren’t going to remember that they had to wear the same socks two days in a row because you took an hour to go to the playground instead of doing laundry (that’s actually a true story – don’t judge; their feet don’t smell too horrible at this age).

Naps are good.  This kind of follows the previous paragraph.  Cuddling up with a sleeping baby, relishing that you can take a nap while the rest of the world is at work (which, by the way, is exactly what I plan to do tomorrow when everyone goes back to school) is empowering.  OK, maybe not empowering, but it sure does make you feel awesome.  Leave the dishes in the sink, slide under the covers, close your eyes, and enjoy the moments of nothing.

Listening is important – even more important than talking.  Robbie talks.  A lot.  About everything that passes through his brain.  I don’t always follow it.  In fact, there are times that I really want to tune it all out, but I can’t because he expects me to respond to what he’s saying.  We’ve done a lot of walking in the past week – close to ten miles, which is a lot of time for talking.  Robbie has showed me all the houses where his imaginary friend, Jack’s, family lives.  We’ve talked about what living organisms have brains (trees don’t), which led to commentary on Robbie’s brain deciding to order pizza.  We’ve looked at cloud shapes and held hands.  It’s the little things that I would miss if I didn’t listen carefully.  How much do we miss around us because we are too busy on our cell phones or thinking about everything else we have to do?  Slow down – it’ll be OK if you don’t respond to that text for the next five minutes.

Hugs fix a lot of things.  It’s true.  They just do.  Skinned knees, hurt feelings, bad dreams.  This applies in real life, too.  Don’t be afraid to give a hug to someone who needs one – or to ask for one when it’s really just too much to take.

People are good and really just want to be friends.  People hurt Robbie’s feelings (and I’m pretty sure he hurts theirs, too), but he’s always the first to remind me that they are his friends.  Tonight, he told me that most people are on Santa’s nice list – only bad guys (like witches, ghosts, and zombies) are on the naughty list.  It’s easy to forget – everyone is a person, with a heart.  Treat people that way.  Assume they are on the nice list.

Will I remember all of this every day?  Absolutely not.  But that’s OK, as long as I remember the first rule of 2014 and start every morning fresh.  The rest will fall into place.