Sunday, September 2, 2012

6,419 obnoxiously orange cones

I have a friend who has a theory that the city has a limited number of construction cones with nowhere to store them, and so the solution is to simply move them around major roadways at regular intervals. Myself, I've noticed whatever I eat or don't eat at breakfast, I'm going to make it up calorically by the end of the day. And regardless of how carefully I plan ahead, I will be exactly three minutes late getting out the door. Without fail.

What I mean to say is, the law of averages rules, and those averages - whether it's the existence of traffic-inducing construction cones, a certain number that just stays put, or the panic I feel every damn day as I frantically search for an outfit that doesn't have spitup on it - those averages just 'aint changing.

I find this holds true in parenting, as well. Having two kids? Well, it seems like there are a gazillion fewer seconds in my day, and there are, there really are, but my response to that reality - i.e., the stress I feel? Yeah, that's pretty much the same.

When I was pregnant I flipped out about what the pregnancy would do to my ability to support my family (i.e., my career). When I wasn't thinking about that, I was concerned about my blood sugar, financial stuff, and plenty of other issues that can only be described as having debatable worthiness for my rapidly diminishing emotional energy. Now that the baby is here, I'm not perseverating on those "silly" topics anymore: I've got bigger fish to fry. I spend a lot of time feeling anxious that I'm spending enough time bonding with little Wes. And then when I feel good about that, I worry that I don't have enough time for Jack. Once I've decided that's all set, it's an existential crisis that my own person (the creative / interesting / diverse person I used to know) has simply ceased to exist. And then I notice that I'm spending a lot of time worrying about all of this crap I can't change, when instead I ought to be soaking up my newborn baby and appreciating that my life is pretty good - shame on me.

Once I settle on the idea that life is good, I realize that nothing stays that good for very long, and I start feeling anxious that I'm not appreciating what I've already got.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Anxiety isn't necessary, but it's there. Every day.

So when I have to get two kids out of the door instead of one? Yes. Difficult. Very difficult and will only get more difficult when kid #2 turns from a lumpy potato to something slightly more mobile. But the anxiety I feel in the moment with two kids is roughly the same as it was with one (and I mean come ON that was so freaking EASY with one!). That sensation? Yeah, it can be summed up by a single word: "PANIC". And when Greg and I are trying to eat dinner out at a restaurant with our children and without disturbing the other diners? Yup, much knee bouncing, I-spy pointing and flashing my boobs to the world (nursing in public). That particular sensation can be summed up by a different word: "HUNGRY".  

So whether it's two or one, it's all Panic, Hungry, Worried, and Tired. And when it was none, I'm pretty sure it was Panic, Infertile, Worried, and Tired. 

Don't get me wrong: I don't have a moment to spare most days (literally I don't have time to pee, and you think I'm joking). I'll post about that sometime, too. But what's amazing about having two kids is realizing that even though I had it really good - and really easy - before, the things that are stressing me out feel more or less the same... stressful.

So that's just it: whether I have two kids or one, the cortisol spike is just the same. After all, those orange traffic cones are going to have to end up somewhere.

Happy Two-Month Day, Wesley!

Dear Wesley,

You are two months old today! My, how time is flying*.

It simply amazes me how focused you are. You like to gaze at things for long periods of time. Sometimes you'll pick out a pattern or a texture and just look... and look... and look. This reminds me of myself a bit. It makes sense to me now that I did not feel much kicking when I was pregnant with you: you do like to be stationary. Sometimes when I hold you, I pretend I am you for a moment, and I just focus on a single spot in my field of vision. I like staying still, too. I can easily see how you are fascinated by even the smallest details around you - a fold of the blanket, the light bouncing off the back of the leather couch, or the smooth surface of the skin on the arm that holds you. The world, even a single still image of it, is a miraculous place, baby boy, and I never tire of it myself. I think you are observant, Wesley.

One thing that is very endearing is how much you like to look at our faces. You will stare right into my eyes for a long time. You especially like to watch my face when you are calm and falling asleep. I wonder what you are thinking. I wonder how you are thinking. Do the emotions simply pass in and out of your consciousness with no warning? Do you feel love yet? When I see your eyes focus so contentedly like that, I feel so sure that you do. I certainly love you. I hope you know that already.

You have many different moods; with the exception of "tummy troubles" and "tired", they are all various iterations of "generally content". You are getting more active, though, and spend some time every day kicking your legs and swinging at toys. Your brother was a very fast kicker and never stopped moving. You strike me as more of the intermittently determined: left, right, left right, stop. Sometimes you stop kicking for no reason at all, and then you lie perfectly still, gazing up at the toys on your mat or our faces as we hold you.

You are held so much, little one. You are almost always in someone's arms. You taught us that early on - that being held really is the best - and now I suppose we're so in the habit of having you in our arms that we've forgotten to ever put you down. 

You are still a very sleepy guy... but you have a more predictable schedule with long awake periods in the morning and evening and a few long naps in between. Sometimes you'll sleep for three hours in one go, during the day. (This is amazing to me, because I am used to a baby who got up after 40 minutes... every single time). I know so clearly when it is your bedtime - there is a very specific shout you give every night, and it is even different than how you ask for a nap. It seems crazy of me to say that I understand you so well, but I just do. I know what you are saying when you start that little special cry: "It's too bright and loud! Holding me is not enough. I need to be wrapped in a blanket". And then I go in the bedroom, dim the light, and swaddle and rock you, and you are so happy with that. I think you are pretty smart, because you calm down as soon as I turn the lights low. Once you are swaddled up, you lie perfectly still and gaze up at me as your eyes begin to blink and get heavy. I never knew a baby could be so quiet and calm at bedtime.

You are smiling more, but we have to work a bit to get the smiles out of you. Your brother liked to be surprised and have big, loud things happen. You seem to like gentle tickles and familiar faces. You definitely like big smiles, though, and happy sounds repeated over and over. Your dad is the best at that. We can tell when you are getting ready to give us some smiles, and it is so much fun to try to work one out of you. My favorite, even more than the smiles I think, is the cooing. I thought because you are so calm that you might not be very chatty as you got bigger, but that does not seem to be the case. You have a great repotoire of lovely baby sounds, and we have conversations every day. "Arrooo!" "What's up?" "Eh!" "Oh yeah? "Rrrrppp" "Uh-huh". And so forth. I am convinced you are giggling already, as you make this cute little in and out breath when you get very excited. I can't wait for the real laughs and giggles.

Time is passing so quickly these days, and I am doing my best to soak up every single minute I can with you. Just so you know, even though I am back at work, we are velcroed together when I am home. I wish I could take you everywhere with me, but I know your dad is holding you during the day, and those are some good hands.

Love, mama

*Sorry for the lack of pictures - really - and the ones that are here are pretty bad (my fault). I went back to work full time a few weeks ago so it's been a little hectic. But things are settling down and I am determined to get more photos of you in the next month!