One of the things about being in a family where both parents are not genetically related to our kids is the fascinating way people struggle, or don’t, to identify us as mamas. It has become more pronounced since Linnea was born, where there have been comments about Leah being ‘a mom now’, or Linnea ‘looking like her mama!’ As opposed to looking like her MamaLee.
Some of this may be just that I notice it now more as the non-gestational parent. Some may be borne of the fact that, at least for now, the maternal genes run strongly in each of our daughters. I’m sure there’s a factor of carelessness – the assumption that either a) we would know that people ‘didn’t mean’ that one of us was less of a parent to either of our kids, or b) it never crossed their mind that calling a gestational parent ‘mama’ would be an exclusionary act. Whatever the root, however, these off hand or pointed comments all leave me feeling somewhat bemused by the clues as to how others actually see our family, and sad that anything about our daughter’s parentage is a question mark.
So far I have mostly made gentle prods. When someone says ‘she looks like her mama!’ I respond with ‘which one?’ I am not looking to start a Thing. But especially as our children become old enough to hear these questions I feel like I need to have clear and calm corrections to provide, if not for the benefit of the recipients, then for my daughters.
Today the Bee turned six weeks old. Her MamaLee is doing regular monthly updates, but I thought I’d throw one in here and there too. The best part about the first 6 weeks is definitely watching your child “wake-up” to the world. I remember thinking that over and over again with Darwin, although big sister was always very alert for her age (maybe this explains the still-awake child at 9:15 pm as I write this from the bed next to her…). With Linnea I think it’s a more pronounced change. She makes eye contact in long stretches now. She has begun to make little cooing noises. She tracks us as we move, as long as we’re close to her.
Here she is, being cute for the world. So far her eyes remain mostly blue, but I see a hint of hazel every once in a while. We shall see! She has a 50% chance of brown, 25% of blue, and 25% of hazel/green, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Things that I have learned are not true for all infants: not all infants hate having things put on over their heads; not all infants regularly pee through a disposable diaper at night; not all infants have to be bounced incessantly to get to sleep at night; not all infants melt into little limp balls when swaddled…
Here we are, the last monthly update post. They haven’t always been on time, but I’ve managed one for Darwin every month of the first two years of her life. That blows me away. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’ve managed to do this thing every single month for two years, or if it’s the fact that we have a nearly 2 year old child, but either way, I’m feeling pretty darn proud. So here we go!
What does 23 months look like at our house? Overall, it’s pretty darn cute. Except when it’s really not. When is it really not? Well, usually this involves either the toddler intimating her sister’s wailing in the car, or the toddler planting her feet and screaming until she’s red in the face and shaking. Currently, this happens about two to three times a day, and involves being required to do, or not do, something. It is nice to know that our kid is confident in her ability to say no.
- “Imma BIG SISTER!” This is a phrase the comes out of Darwin’s mouth throughout the day. She currently loves her role as a big sister, which includes holding Linnea’s hand, singing to her in the car (when she’s not crying along with her), and kissing her.
- Full names are now “in”. She wants to know everyone’s full name, including mamas, grandparents, sisters, aunts, dog, cats, and anyone else she meets. If we could get her to say anything to people she didn’t know, I’d say we’re set if she ever gets lost.
- Bedtimes are hit or miss, mostly because when I miss bedtime (“wouldn’t it be fun to take an evening walk and stay up an hour past regular bedtime?”) I pay for it with an extra hour of Darwin’s singing and requests for icies, snuggles, kisses, tuck-tucks, and more. When we have consistency, bedtime takes about a half hour, which is better than I could have dreamed.
- The first nighttime nurse has been dropped successfully. Yes, Darwin still nurses overnight. She was nursing between 11 and 12, 2 and 3, and 5 and 6. We have officially dropped the early nurse, which means I actually get a few good hours in every night. This took about three nights and involved very little crying. Mostly Darwin was confused, but readily took to a snuggle and crawling back into bed within a few minutes. Clearly she was ready. So was I!
- Shyness continues. Clearly this kid takes after her mamas. She is a watcher. When a new person enters the scene, she goes silent for a minimum of 15 minutes. If the person has not tried to engage her, she may test the waters, but most people have spent that time trying to get a game of peek, or just a smile, going. Once she’s comfortable, she will chatter away and bring toys and food, or try to entice them to take her outside.
- The joys of being out in the sunshine are incredible! At this point, Darwin has decided that bare feet are best at most times. She loves to play with water and has become distraught on a regular basis when I tell her I need to actually get the plants in the garden watered with “her” hose.
- Speaking of, “mine” has become a regular fixture in our lives this month. Ownership of everything. Anything that Darwin does not claim, she assigns an owner. ‘That’s MamaRae’s shoe. That’s Linnea’s blanket’ and on and on. This idea that things belong with people or animals has fascinated her.
- ABC’s are the current favorite song to sing. We use them to get through hair and teeth brushing. If Darwin is whiney, she’ll often belt out the whole song, complete with ‘next time won’t you sing with ME!’ upon request.
- The question “where are you going?” now has the consistent response “to the library!” Parenting win.
- Favorite book: Extra Yarn.
- Using the potty has increased in the last few weeks. I can see the day when we will only have one in diapers again.
- Snuggles are now requested regularly and are often deep. Darwin hugs her friends. She gives kisses and high fives.
- Darwin loves to go play with her friends that church every Sunday. I think she would move into the play room if she could. She no longer clings to my leg, and will even sometimes be difficult to extricate at the end of the morning. It’s lovely to have a space where she’s so comfortable.
- Favorite foods: beans and watermelon (not together). She had me open a can of kidney beans the other day and she ate a significant portion.
- Other favorite food: bunnies. As in, Annie’s mac and cheese. I’m less proud of this one! But boy, when I need a quick meal that I know the kids will eat, it’s brilliant.
- Any time we need to do something like go shopping, we tell Darwin we’re going on an adventure. She thinks that’s pretty much the best.
- Popsicles are a sometimes food that Darwin thinks should be an all the time food. Along with ice cubes. Kid loves cold things. I’ve wondered if we might see her 2 year molars soon, but as early as all her other teeth were, these haven’t yet shown up.
- Darwin has mastered the two feet off the ground hop. She would like to do it all the time. She is my little bunny.
- ‘Let it go’ is still the most asked-for song.
- Our friends got a new kitten. Darwin is smitten. The kitten would like nothing more than to play with the babies all day long, until she’s done and ready to move on to the next game. The babies would like her to never stop sitting in their laps.
- Darwin loves to ride in anything – for a time. She has a wagon, stroller, and Tula, between which she switches her preference. With Linnea in a Tula though, Darwin currently favors it as well.
- When I get home from work, Darwin does a happy little dance and practically sings ‘MamaRae’s home!’ Over and over. I adore her.
- Everything is very even right now. Darwin always makes sure to share with mamas who don’t have the food she thinks we should have, or toys that need playing with. The world isn’t equitable, but equal in her eyes. It’s quite endearing.
So this is 23 months at our house. I’m looking forward to all the sibling firsts in the coming year. Maybe Leah will let me do a few of Linnea’s monthly posts too. Otherwise I’ll have to come up with something new…until then though, some ultra-cuteness for y’all.