September 19, 2013

To Hold


Each afternoon, when he is fresh from his nap, I scoop Little Smith from his crib and he lies wrapped in my arms. This started long before his baby sister's arrival, preschool, or any of the recent changes rocking his 33 month old world, but these days the ritual has become more critical than ever.

He needs me, me and only me to get him out of the crib each morning, to change his diapers, to help put his shoes on, brush his teeth and tuck him into bed. Even daddy won't do, and although it makes complete sense that in the midst of so many shifts he is holding even tighter to his one constant, fulfilling that role is also draining. It's such an honor to be the anchor for this sweetest of little people, an honor and utterly depleting.


At just six weeks old, my baby girl already seems so different from her big brother. Of course she's a tiny infant and her temperament is far from established, but I'm sensing a strong independent streak in her. When she's fussy, I juggle her in my arms attempting to soothe her, only to discover that what calms her best is stretching out in bed all on her own. I watch as she aimlessly flaps her baby arms and legs in total happiness, but I feel guilty not carrying her around the house at every moment the way I did with her brother. Putting him down as a baby was an invitation for disaster, so I never did. We slept with him, I held him close and wore him in a sling nearly every waking moment. It never occurred to me that he might be a difficult baby because he was always happy, so long as he was never put down. Ever.


I'm certain that these two little personalities will evolve and change endlessly before they reach adulthood, but I'd also be pleased to see the traits carry through.This world could probably use a couple more focused, sensitive men who know exactly what they want, and a few more independent women flapping away wildly might be good too. In the weeks since we brought home our second child, I am already realizing that my job is to listen to each of them separately, to work to understand their challenges and to help them discover their own strengths, as individuals.


So I stare at the ceiling during our post nap snuggles, Little Smith tucked into one arm while the other arm works to soothe the baby, trying not to watch the clock, trying not to rush him... Because that moment always arrives;  the groggy crankiness passes and he suddenly hops up to tackle his next project of arranging cars or blocks. And as soon as that little body has left the bed, all my exhaustion fades away, and I just miss him.

*all pictures from halibut state park

19 comments:

  1. what lovely words and such beautiful pictures. I can't imagine juggling two little ones right now, as I have my 13 month old curled up next to me sleeping right now (she sounds a lot like your Little Smith). It sounds like you are finding the balance very well though. Such a lovely post!

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    1. Thank you Summer! I know those snuggly moments will be one of the things we miss most when they're grown (even if they're sometimes tough right now :)

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  2. it's so amazing that our personalities are really already formed in some ways as babies. my husband and i are in negotiations for our second child now(!), and i find your accounts of parenting so relevant and special. hope you're getting in some time for you mixed in there, a few pages of a good book or at least an iced coffee and a cookie.

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    1. That's so sweet Jesse, thank you. I'm finding an occasional minute to myself, I'm sure that will improve with time ;) And congratulations on working towards your second, how exciting!

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  3. Wow! So interesting, isn't it, how different siblings can be?!!

    I'm so glad you are still indulging W in some extra cuddles. I'll tell you the truth: I've always been closest to my oldest, I think because we had so much one-on-one time for two years before his little brother came along. And we are still close- my younger two are pretty back and forth- they equally want time with me and with Andrew. But Milo definitely gravitates toward his mama. I'll bet W always will with you too!

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    1. That's so interesting Lauren, I do keep thinking about how different W's first three years were with sooo much time one-on-one. I was an only child so all of these obvious things are somehow surprising to me... lots more surprises ahead, I know :)

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  4. Love the pictures! You are doing so well. I found it hard to balance a 2 year old and a baby. I feel now that I expected too much of the "eldest."

    It's amazing watching children's personalities unfold. I think I still always expect my children to be like me, but my daughter is really so different.

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    1. I'm trying to balance it all... and sort of succeeding so far :) It is good to remember that even if he's a big boy now, W is still really little.

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  5. I love this! We are expecting our second in April and our oldest will be four. I love the honesty throughout this whole post - where being his anchor is an honor but can also feel at the time depleting.

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    1. Congratulations! I always think the spring seems like a wonderful time to have a baby... August was a little rough ;)

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  6. What beautiful pictures! You definitely just described the difference between my littles, too. Funny how the boys need their mama's love so much!!

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    1. I know, I keep wondering if it's a boy think or a first child thing. We'll see if it lasts but it's really interesting.

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  7. How familiar this all sounds to me. While I had to hold my boy in my arms all the time, he only wanted to nap in my arms, and I had to breastfeed him for hours my girl was independent from the moment she was born. She never wanted to sleep or even rest in my arms after breastfeeding which only took her 10 minutes. This allowed me to continue to give a lot of my attention to my boy. At 2.5 now my girl has not lost this independence although she has periods where she is very much (physically) attached to me.
    And be sure that they will be "fighting" for your one-to-one attention very soon, sometimes only to ensure that the other does not get it ;-). My girl now says once in a while to my boy: this is my mama, your mama is somewhere else. Can you imagine that ?!

    Good luck and enjoy these moments fully - it looks like you are.
    Natalie

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    1. That's so funny Nathalie! I'm going to struggle when those days arrive that everyone is competing for my attention, I always want to please them both... impossible! And my little girl is a quick nurser too so far. I remember it's all I did for months last time around... so I guess it's lucky that she's efficient.

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  8. sounds so familiar...my two girls, independent, running away never holding hands...my little boy sleeping with me wrapped in my arms and now struggling and sobbing at pre-school wanting mama...just mama! xxx

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    1. Aw, those tears are just heartbreaking too. I'm going to have to work on having thick skin because whenever he cries I want to give in right away... but they always get through it and get into the routine-right? I hope so!

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  9. Lovely photos, the nature is so grand! :-)

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  10. You said it so beautifully, "the exhaustion leaves and I just miss him." That about sums it up for me as a mother. I feel like I'm either surviving them or longing for them. It's enough to make a person feel cuckoo. But of course if I'm truly objective I know there are lots of times when everything seems balanced and all is right with the world.

    xo
    cortnie

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