Holy smokes y’all. If I hadn’t been getting baby fever before now…on Monday, am inlaw 60 minutes south of us had her baby. On Wednesday, a good friend who has a farm 45 minutes away had her baby. This morning at 12:45 am, a local friend had her baby.
And my sister is pregnant, due on Darwin’s due date (!) with her first.
I’m not allowed to hold babies. At least it’s not contagious when you’re in a monogamous lesbian marriage? Send help.
Thank goodness this title is not in reference to a real fever. We have had enough illness in the past six months to last the next year (although I know better than to think that will change, what with Darwin starting pre-school in the fall). But no, this is in reference to the fact that we are currently sliding, head-first, into the end of the spring term, towards a mini-respite of Leah being home with the girls *full time* this summer. No childcare worries, no stress about getting out of the house with a cranky toddler who just *won’t put her socks on*, no miserable dog who is home alone all day every day. I am so, so excited.
The caveat is, of course, that we have to get through the next 3 weeks. I have an overnight work trip, including a 25 minute presentation on some really neat research I’m doing related to long-term landscape responses to fire and fuel treatments that is sort of almost but not quite ready (my amazing mother is coming along so Darwin can come too, thank goodness, because Leah would have her hands FULL with the two girls who are still needy overnight). Leah has numerous assignments to complete before the end of the term. I’m working Saturdays to make up for the loss of our nanny. Then Thursday I discovered a nest of ants in our coffee maker’s reservoir. Thankfully before I drank the coffee. Leah saved the day by making a coffee run down the street, and I spent much of the day clearing ants and eggs out of our coffee maker. Things are a little hectic right now.
So I am doing what I always do when I get stressed: trying not to pay attention to the hard parts and focus instead on the prize. In this case, actual work time and actual down time. Three weeks. We can do it.
Sleep is a funny thing. I’m home Tuesday and Thursday mornings now through the end of the school term in 4 weeks, since our nanny didn’t work out (another, longer post). Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I don’t have work to do. So this morning I was sitting at the desk in our living room researching “how to save images to disk in R” with Linnea in my lap, and this happened:
No bouncing, no jiggling, no singing or rocking or begging or coddling. Literally, the kid fell asleep on me while I was completely ignoring her trying to work. And then she transferred seamlessly to the bed.
I never, ever expect this to happen again in my life, but what a beautiful gift in a stressful few weeks.
Yesterday, friends invited us to go out to the aquarium on the coast, about 45 minutes from our house. They have a little fellow, O, who is three months younger than Darwin, and they get along pretty well, and we have a good time with them, so we jumped on the chance, in spite of both being desperately far behind in our professional work. The drive over was rainy and gray, but the day shifted slowly and by early afternoon it was sunny and warm.
Darwin loves the aquarium. She talks about it regularly. For Christmas, Leah’s dad got us a family membership and we’ve been there three times this year. She knows where the eels and shrimp are, will spend as long as we will let her standing in front of the clown fish tank, and would never leave the octopus if she had a choice. She talks about the puffins in a vaguely Irish accent, thanks to Puffin Rock and the highlight of this trip was decidedly feeding time in the aviary.
Linnea also enjoys watching the fish – the walk-through tunnels are clearly her favorite. She is mesmerized by the snappers and other large fish than hang suspended inches from her face. This was our first visit in which she was highly mobile, and by the end she was mostly interested in crawling as far and fast as possible in whatever direction she could.
After the fun, we headed home with two tired kids. Linnea fell asleep before we were out of the parking lot. Darwin managed to talk the entire way home. Leah fell asleep after about twenty minutes. It was nice.
We got home around 5, tired and ready to get some easy food together, and were shocked to find my parents hard at work in our yard. It’s been raining a lot over the last few weeks (read: since October), and it’s been hard to keep up with the lawn. My dad mowed. My mother weed-wacked and weeded some of our garden beds. It’s so, so hard to keep up with our yard, working full-time, taking care of two small kids, the list goes on. Everyone reading this knows. Having a chance to run away with friends and relax and have fun with the girls was going to mean I tried to fit in a mow some evening this week, and that the house remain a mess. Coming home to a yard that didn’t need to be mowed definitely made me cry after they left. Sometimes it’s hard to accept help. But if you can. If it’s there. Do it. Someday we’ll all be the people who help out the family down the street that just can’t get everything done and needs a hand. For now, I’m going to work on accepting support that comes so that I can focus on my kids while they’re little.
It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by issues like sleep struggles, clinging infants, and potty training, and yet our life is so much fuller and brighter and bigger than these (not inconsequential) hurdles.
This morning, Darwin stood at the edge of the bed and said “MamaRae, come stand next to the bed and pick me up so you can snuggle me! I love your snuggles!”
Yesterday I basked in Linnea’s shrieking laughter as she crawled after the big kids in our childcare swap.
Tonight after I got home late from a church meeting, Darwin was so full of joy to see me. We all wandered into the backyard in the evening light. Linnea ate kale flowers and watched the mourning dove fly through a hawthorn and Oregon ash thicket. Darwin ran around the yard yelling “MamaRae watch this!” After Leah took Linnea in to nurse, Darwin helped me clear some weeds from around our garden boxes. The air is full of spring promises right now.
In this moment, I’m laying in news next to a sleeping two year old. A quiet lullaby is playing on the sound machine. The wash is filling and spinning in the laundry closet. These are the sounds of home that center me. I am grateful for this moment.
Our sweet little Bee is nine months old! Linnea has now been out longer than in, and is growing into herself faster each day. She crawls, pulls herself onto her knees (and balances like that) with ease. She says ‘mama’, ‘GaGar’ (DarDar), “kaah” (cat), and ‘gog’ (dog). She’ll eat anything you offer her at least once, and rarely refuses things after a first taste.
Linnea started out none months in a horrid mood that we have been blaming on suspicion of ear infection brought on by a cold. Without a fever, and with an improved attitude, we’re taking a watch and see mentality, since we don’t want to use antibiotics unless there’s a real need and benefit expected.
Happy baby returned today though. She spent much of the afternoon (I got to work from our friend’s house while she had the kids) crawling after the big kids, shrieking with laughter. She’s into everything now, with a particular affinity for cords and paper, and she’s so fast you wouldn’t believe it!
This month I started doing bedtimes with Linnea, much to her dismay it seems. Some nights involve 45 minutes of inconsolable screaming, and others she’s out in a few minutes. I’m sure there is some difference between nights, but I’ve yet to figure it out. For now I’ll pick up ear plugs!
Nothing like sitting in the sun. Linnea LOVES to be outside. I think she would live in the backyard if we would let her.
Leah and I have been very deliberate in teaching the girls about the importance of consent. Other than health and safety concerns from specific people (mamas, grandparents, other care givers) their bodies are theirs to allow others to touch or not. They get to decide if they will allow someone to hug them, high five them, or provide any other contact. They also must respect that others can choose the same. Darwin may want to hug a friend, but must ask first, for example.
As you might expect, this is a long game kind of teaching. We’ve been working on it (both with her and those she interacts with on her behalf) for over two years. This week, we began to see the fruits of this labor.
“You’re supposed to ask before you rub my back MamaRae.”
I have rarely been prouder in my life. Now we get to see if she enforces her bodily autonomy outside of the mamas. Our toddler is becoming her own little person who can stand up for herself. This week has been rough, but that made everything else worth it.