|Many, many kisses for his sister.|
|They take their jobs as siblings very seriously.|
|He likes to just sit next to her in her swing, if I'm looking the other way. It. Is. SO. Sweet!!! (and only slightly dangerous). |
(Love too that his head is the size of her body. We measured and his head is only 2 inches smaller than Mark's!)
Early last week I accomplished something I really wasn't sure I would: I went downtown Boston to the Museum of Science with my 2 year old - who is prone to throwing MAJOR **MAJOR** tantrums when I try to get him to leave exciting places - and my 6 week old. I was armed with two dum-dum lollipops and a pouch of fruit snacks, because I'm not above bribery. And also because, even if I somehow did manage to haul my flailing, squirming, screaming toddler over my shoulder all the time when I was 8 and 9 months pregnant, I'll be out of luck if it ever happens when we're out with the baby.
Luckily it hasn't. So far... But here's a great snippit from our museum time:
Woman standing next to me, to her friend: "That's totally going to be us when we have our next kids - did you see that there's a newborn over there totally unattended?"
Me to Woman: "Yeah, that newborn is mine - and yes, this is going to be you."
And of course, I'm writing this on stolen time - 11:40 pm and I really should be in bed. Having two is crazy-busy and also just... crazy, but for those of you who still have just one and are living in fear like I did, there's good news: It's actually not that bad. At least, it's not as bad as I feared. Here's why:
- There's relief in finally doing it, rather than just fearing it. That feeling of "okay, this is as hard as it gets" goes a long way.
- Crazy-busy is kind of nice. Honest! I once read a blog post by a mom of many - she was sympathizing and reminiscing about the difficulties of having just one. Difficulties like ... inventing errands to go on just to fill up the time, because you're *not* crazy busy. Anyone without a spouse walking in the door by 6:00 to break up that post-nap time period can surely relate. I'd been dreading this winter, imaging days where Matthew would wake up by 3:00 and it would be dark by 4, and bitter cold - and rush hour. Where would we go? What would we do?? While I still try to get him out as much as possible, it's no longer such a big deal to spend half a day at home. Somehow it's less lame with the 3 of us. Matthew is already very interested in his baby sister - kind of like getting him a really high-end interactive toy. And it works both ways - often when she fusses for attention and I'm trying to make dinner, he'll go over and snuggle her or turn her swing on. Or try to put his trains in her hands. It usually buys me another 5-10 minutes.
- I really do believe that Matthew is getting better with transitions *because* we have Claire. In addition to his epic leaving-an-exciting-place tantrums, he spent the summer fighting me every time we left the house - both going down the stairs, AND getting in the car. Repeat process upon arrival home. It really made late-pregnancy a nightmare. But now that I have Claire, I just start carrying her wherever and he follows suit - doesn't want to be left behind. WHAT a relief! Suddenly our narrow, multi-door walk-up that was such a pain with one toddler feels like a breeze with TWO babies!
- Um yes. He does love his sister and that's been sooOOooo sweet to see. My parents swear that I didn't love my brother so I've got to marvel at this sweet boy I have. Hearing him say "Claire!!! Hi, Claire!!!!" whenever he sees her melts my heart every time.
- Parenting a newborn is so much easier the second time around. I remember the few times infant-Matthew cried inconsolably... I felt like SUCH a horrible failure, and my heart ACHED for parents of colicky babies who had to feel that soul-crushing despair 24/7. But now I know I'm doing it right, so if she's fussy she's just fussy. Such a relief!
- The sleepless nights are soooooooo much easier when you're not going into it already having been awake for (in my case) 39 hours in labor & delivery and with an utterly broken body. They're seriously no big deal, and Claire is a much worse sleeper than Matthew was! Update: When she turned 6 weeks she passed him up and now sleeps until 3 or even 5 am. WOOT!
- Is it "more than twice the work"? Not for me, for the above-mentioned reasons. And to my immense relief, Matthew's tantrums have decreased dramatically now that he's finally able to verbally express himself (and now that we've instituted "1-2-3 Magic" which I cannot recommend more if you've got a stubborn toddler). But even if it was more than twice the work, it's more than twice the reward. My heart feels so full with these two beautiful children in my life, growing every day. Our family feels very complete, and that gives me a huge sense of accomplishment.
- Frankly, being done with two pregnancies is also a huge accomplishment to me, and a major relief. I love that I now feel like I never have to be pregnant again, unless I go temporarily insane. As moms I think we feel so blessed to have our children (especially if they are healthy) that we don't ever want to complain about anything related to them. Well let me be honest with you: Wanting to throw up most of the day for 2-3 months is no joke. And spending your final trimester huge and uncomfortable while you wrangle constantly with a just-turned-2-year-old-boy is nothing rose-colored glasses can fix either.
- If nothing else, at least you're not pregnant. Seriously. I'll take a 2 year old and a 6 week old over a 2 year old and a big, tired, pregnant body any day.
Now lest I paint too sweet a picture, I've definitely still had my struggles these first 6 weeks. The nights that Mark doesn't come home until they're both in bed can be total insanity, with me running back and forth between a fussy baby and a toddler who's suddenly making a major mess of his dinner and running naked and wet from the bathtub all over the apartment. It's exhausting. Plus, cramming all 4 of us into our 2-bedroom apartment with our TINY bathroom feels super cluttered almost all of the time. Somehow the floors and bathroom get dirty as soon as I clean them these days, even though Claire isn't using them yet. Hmm.
I also don't currently have any free time other than what I carve into time I should already be sleeping. I check my email and Facebook sporadically at lightening speed during the day and then I spend an hour or two on them at night, trying to catch up ... but that's usually 11:00 - 1:00 when I should be in bed. I don't watch any TV shows or take any other sort of break. And I'm very lucky that they usually nap at the same time for at least a little bit - but I need that time to sleep! (Why does my free time start at 11? Claire goes down late and I have plenty of cleaning up to do).
And I'm still terrified for the day when Matthew does have another epic meltdown as we're leaving a place he likes. I won't be able to transport both of them - so what will I do?? So far I continue to risk it since we can't just sit at home. I stopped one grocery trip in the parking lot before it even started because I could tell it wouldn't end well - and because I wanted to show Matthew I meant business (the next trip WAS successful!). But basically I'm hoping and praying that Matthew just sort of won't DO that anymore, since the frequency has gone from all-the-time to hardly-ever. I'm sure my Moment of Darkness is coming... I'm just hoping to only have a few of them as Matthew gets older and more verbal and (so far) these craaaaaazy tantrums happen less frequently.
I have so many other tidbits I want to blog about, but I don't have time. Our highlights lately include:
- We had some very fun visits from Adora ("Ah-Doh-Doh") and Grandma Murakami ("Mo"). Pics at the bottom!
- Matthew is nothing short of transfixed when Mark plays classical music for him on youtube. The other day, Mark saw him moving his hands and arms with the music as if dramatically conducting an orchestra. LOL!!!
- Since about 25 months, Matthew has been able to identify all of his letters except X, Q and V. He even knows W from M, C from G, and N from M (most of the time). When he sees store signs like Macy's we'll hear from the back seat: "M!!! A!!!!! C!!!!! ..." He also knows and will point out when he sees various colors. And sometimes he'll take blocks or even food on his plate and make the letters C, T, or M and then announce it proudly (the C's and T's turn out better than the M's). This has all been a huge relief to me since he was such a slow talker. Not many kids can say all their letters and many colors before they can call their mom "Mommy" but that's him! I read in "Nurture Shock" that children learn how to talk by hearing and watching different people say the same word. Since Matthew's first two years were spent in the dark days of residency, and he really only ever heard me talking, I'm chalking the delay up to that.
- Claire has stolen all our hearts. She loves to have huuuuge nightly spit-ups on difficult-to-wash things, like our bedspread and her car seat, but we've still decided to keep her ;) I literally feel like I could stare at either one of them all day long, marveling over how beautiful they are to me. So staring at both is a real treat.
- Matthew's language really exploded this past week, with my dad visiting. "Sit down, Papa!" he'd say to get my dad to sit on the couch with him. And "Dada make... Dada make..." when touching the futon Mark put together. Update: One day later it's "Dada make a bed!"
- I have to brag a little on my very good sharer, because I don't want to forget these stories. (1) At the "pirate park" an older boy tried to take one of the two toys Matthew had been carrying around since we got there - Matthew gets VERY attached to toys and they are often the cause of the tantrums we have when he leaves a place. Matthew refused and ran away, and the boy started wailing. Matthew watched the boy crying and went over and offered him the toy. The boy took the toy and then tried to take the other toy too - Matthew drew the line at that. This same thing just happened at the science museum last week - Matthew, on his own, went and shared a toy with a child who had unsuccessfully tried to take it from him. I'm biased as his mom but watching these things and watching how sweet he is with his sister *almost* all of the time have me convinced my baby boy has a heart of gold :)
- I also never want to forget how helpful my dad has been to me over the past four days he visited. I don't think he ever stopped helping me for a second he was here, seriously - he worked just as hard as I did, *constantly*. He did my floors, washed Matthew's bedding, cleaned our bathroom, went to the hardware store and got salt for the winter and floor pads for the couch, changed almost all of Matthew's diapers all week, did all of his baths and book times, helped with plenty of laundry, woke up early with Matthew every day and fed him breakfast, got him dressed, and unloaded the dishwasher, helped me cook some, and more. All of his help enabled me to do many errands (and write this blog entry!) and to bond with and enjoy Claire much more than I'd otherwise been able to. And we got in some wonderful chats about life, reminiscing about my grandmother - whose funeral was just three days before he arrived. I was so, *so* sad that it was logistically not possible for us to make it (plane tickets over $600 each and Mark had to work - and Claire had just turned 6 weeks). This past week with my dad and the time he spent taking me around to visit colleges are two of the memories I will cherish the most throughout my lifetime. I am so, so lucky to have such an amazing father.
- Other good news includes Mark often being able to help out with bath time in the evening, and usually being able to spend at least one weekend day with us. I cannot tell you the difference this makes for me as a mom. It's a big reason why for me, having 2 doesn't feel much harder than having 1 - and feels easier in some ways. Hooray for fellowship (or, more accurately, the end of residency)! And for just 1 more year until he can hopefully spend *both* weekend days and real evenings with us!!
- Last, but not least, my favorite story as of late: As we were leaving church one Sunday, Matthew was throwing one of his epic tantrums. He'd been throwing it since we left the toys in the kids' area and was writhing on the ground, refusing to be picked up and put in the car. He got up again at some point and was trying to run off when he saw Claire in her car seat. He went over to it and everyone watching sort of gasped and I leapt to the spot to prevent him from taking his anger out on her. But to my total shock, he went up and saw her and sort of held his breath and his anger melted away. He then snuggled her, as if for comfort. A woman watching said to me, "Wow, he must REALLY love her!" Best. Story. EVER. (Claire 6 weeks, Matthew 26 months).