"I often wonder how you can find time for what you do, in addition to the care of the house; and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard works, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment. Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb."~Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 1816

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Last Weeks of Babyhood

Since I found out I was pregnant for a third time, I’ve been anxious to appreciate Toddler in the last months of his babyhood, before he gets shuffled into the middle spot among the children. He has bloomed into the role of second child.

He greets me standing in his crib with a big smile every morning requesting his sister and Daddy. Once he realizes they are not yet available for play, Toddler and I have a few precious snuggles on the couch before he is off to retrieve his trains from where Daddy carefully replaced them the night before, in one of the bright colored bins housed in a rack in a corner of our living room. Shortly he will struggle to bring me the hard plastic case of Matchbox cars that were Daddy’s when he was little so I can open it. Flexing his growing muscles, Toddler grips onto each side of the box, as if hoisting a loaded suitcase, and waddles over to wear I am pouring water in a pot to boil for oatmeal, imploring me as he makes his way across the room with “Car, car!” He exaggerates the hard “c” sound: “C-C-C car!”

Toddler’s favorite companion is his talkative, imaginative, chummy older sister who has graciously incorporated him into her play, adopting him as her apprentice. From her he has learned how to feed the dollies and play electric guitar. He also is appreciative of his sister’s instructions on how to jump off the fireplace and bounce on the couch cushions. He will ask for “EEE! E-E-EEE!” in the afternoon, after he has had his snack and played with Girlie in the backyard for a while because he knows that is when I will allow them to watch a TV program, while I try to focus on making dinner. He and Girlie sidle up to each other on the couch, plug their thumbs in, and space out for 25 minutes together. At least they are together.

Once the new baby arrives, in less than seven weeks, I’m sure Toddler will relish having a protégé, his own apprentice, to show how to get the cars to roll across the kitchen tiles, demonstrate all the play instruments, balance on the truck push toy, feed the “Bish!” Toddler is magnanimous and happiest in the rare times when we are all together. He will love having another paisano.

I’m the one who will miss his babyhood, the boy who hasn’t really given me a lick of difficulty. The boy who nursed early and easily, settled down quickly into his sleep routine, and was determined to walk as soon as his shaky legs could manage to hold up his top-heavy body at 11 months. I will miss how he places his cheek next to mine when he wants a kiss, thinks the baby toothpaste is a treat, and circles back to me regularly during his play to show me yet again with incredible wonder one of his Matchbox cars: “door!!”

I regret that, for reasons I can’t explain, I haven’t journalled my motherhood. Sheer exhaustion? Inability to boil down into words these golden days? I wrote a little paragraph describing my daughter when she was nine months old. That’s all I had until I took Kate Hopper’s wonderful Mother Words online class this spring. It has gotten me thinking and writing about my children, who have been my complete occupation these past four years. In writing them I am writing myself, recording for myself my motherhood.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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