Baby Bowie, as many affectionately call you,
As I grew into myself in my mid-twenties, I began to examine the childhood I encountered. I was the youngest of four children, my mother was single for the first ten years of my life, and we were quite poor. I don't mean poor in the middle-class we can't afford four-ply toilet paper poor, but poor in that we received food on our doorstep frequently, poor in that my mother had to shop on Christmas Eve for our gifts because that is when any extra money came in (usually from her folks. Her Christmas money was spent on us). Poor in that I can only remember a few times where I had clothes that were not previously worn. I got a job at age 13, working so I could buy mascara and anything I wanted outside of food, some clothing, and certain feminine products. Despite knowing there was a ton of love in my mother's heart for me, the fact remains that she alone simply did not possess the emotional resources necessary to meet all of her children's needs. She knew this, and therefore entrenched us in a community that could potentially meet those needs, the church. For all she endured, I can't imagine doing a better job. As I look back, I have come to appreciate the grit of my early years, despite their varied and lasting negative effects. Being poor engendered me with compassion and the requirement to work hard for unnecessary items saved me from feelings of entitlement. Learning the important lesson between what I needed and what I wanted will forever be a part of who I am. Working and paying my own way through college bequeathed me a strong sense of personal responsibility to extract all I could from my education, and that if I didn't, I alone would pay for it. These lessons made me independent and self-motivated. So you see, the rough beginning birthed an adult I have come to respect.
Here's my conundrum.
As I watch your life unfold, secure and happy with more than enough emotional resources and more than enough physical comforts, I wonder how you will learn these same lessons. Since I cannot teach them to you the same way they were taught to me, by the school of hard knocks, if you will, who will be your teacher? I can use my words to teach them, and then use my own actions to show you work ethic and personal responsibility but will it be enough to get to the core of you? Joel had a very stable childhood, and he still possesses these things, only with an even greater bonus of relational resources. Perhaps I forget that life is hard enough, even in an ideal child-rearing environment and it will teach you the lessons it has for you. I forget that perhaps they won't be the same lessons, and perhaps then you can teach me what you know.
A mutually beneficial exchange, our existences.
You are a smiley baby, generally happy and easy to read. These last few weeks have given me the first inclinations that you might be introverted. You take your time in new situations, clinging to Mom and Dad, wide-eyed and content to just watch. You seem easily stimulated by a lot of noise or new situations, and your time capacity for these things is very small. Did I make you this way? We are not often very busy and don't really leave the house a lot compared to some, so it's hard to know. Either way, I am just fine with you needing peace and quiet.
You have become more and more capable with your hands, though you are getting very frustrated at things you want to grab but cannot. You rolled over from back to belly for the first time last week, but it was during a nap, so I didn't get to see. I went in to get you and there you were, as shocked as I was to be on your stomach and distressed that you didn't seem to remember how to get out of the situation! You then rolled over for all to see on Christmas Eve at Gma Jean's house, 5 times in a row. You've yet to do it since, but I am just fine with that, since you being mobile will certainly change my life, and for now - I'm happy that you stay where I put you. Once you are on your belly, you are quite sturdy! You'll be crawling soon, no doubt.
You like to sit up and are getting better at it. You love to sit in your high-chair, and you certainly love putting all manner of toys in your mouth. You also like to stand, and have recently enjoyed your jump-a-roo, though you can handle it for only so long.
You continually coo and belly-laugh and smile at us. You've begun to feel anxiety when I leave the room, and have continued to show preference to me and your father. When I pick you up from your nap, you have started to grab my face and chew on my chin. You newly like your swing, but only if I turn it on high and your play mat, which you used to love, is now a source of frustration for you. A combination of the teething, separation anxiety, frustrations at immobility, and as of yesterday, a cold, has made for a challenging time for mamma. I am looking for more and new creative solutions to keep us both happy.
Solids, in order of trying, so far:
Bananas - meh.
Carrots - yes!
Applesauce - yes!
Bananas - yes!
Green beans - yes!
Though you still have the tongue push reflex that inhibits your eating abilities, you seem to adjust after a few bites. You get so jolly during feeds...perhaps a combination of face time with me and the delight of new foods, but you laugh so readily and heartily at the words I say and expressions I make. It's really quite entertaining.
We are still nursing as your main source of nutrition, with supplemental formula here and there. You seem to be doing well with both. I thought I would be weaning you by now, but things seem to be working well and you and I both still enjoy it. You are an efficient nurser, often finished with your feedings in 5-7min, but goodness you are easily distracted. If I start talking to you out of silence, you will startle and pull off suddenly then stare at me in wonder. It's actually quite a magical moment.
Though I had hoped we would be back to sleeping through the night, it appears that you only wanted to do that for one month, oh blessed October month that it was. For some reason, naps have become challenging for you, as you will now need more coaxing and settle down time before you'll suck your thumb and put yourself to sleep. Now, Dad and I will stand in your room with the lights off and walk with you, singing or humming gently. This transition really seems to help. You go down at night easily and sleep for 6-7 hours, but always you wake for that early morning feed, then again 3 hours later. After the new year, I think I'll start doing some research on helping you sleep through the night better, because you and I both know you don't need the calories.
You still take several naps, and are not awake more than 1.5 hours. I am starting to stretch this time out, but that last 30min is torturous for us both as you are cranky and I am at my wits end.
OUTINGS AND EVENTS
This month you spent two nights at Grandma's without us. You really do well there, and it's so helpful to have that option. We just had Christmas at Grandma's and you got to play with Olive and Cal, and tomorrow we leave for L.A. where you will meet many more of your cousins. I have been anxious for the last month about this trip, so we will see how you like it. I admit, I am dubious.
I am more and more aware that this year of your life will be like none other, and that it is going by so quickly. I cherish each laugh, each smile, each sweet tear, and each chin chomping.
Merry Christmas, cherub lumps.