Davy took his first steps last weekend—I only saw him take a single step before falling down, but Sam says he saw three. Won’t be long now before the baby is a toddler…
(Photo by Amy Gehlert Kidwell)
So I discovered the down side to my nifty “birthday on a train!” plan…it is possible to miss the train.
We didn’t, but it was a near thing. The train was fully boarded when we pulled up to the station, and literally three minutes from getting underway. The look of panic on my face must have been pretty striking, because the first thing the conductor said I leapt out was, “Are you Shannon? It’s okay, it’s okay, everything will be fine.”
Our lovely friends and their kids were already ensconced in the caboose: they came out to help us get all the food and everything onboard, and three minutes later we were all chugging along merrily. But can you imagine? Missing your own son’s birthday party—I don’t think that’s the kind of thing you get to live down, like, ever.
Here’s the caboose from the outside:
(Photo by Zach Copley)
and from the inside:
(Photo by Zach Copley)
Pretty awesome, right? Also awesome: my friend Wendy‘s flippy new bob, which she is not entirely sold on but I think is super cute.
Here’s a picture of the engine:
Photo, again, by Zach. You might be noticing a theme here. I was so busy running for the train that I left my camera in the car! Sam did manage to get a few of the boys:
Robin had a great time. He got a little overwhelmed when the singing started: he’s been so much better about people singing that we decided to risk it, but by the third “happy birthday to yoooouuuuu…” he had curled into a little ball and slid down under the table. We coaxed him out to blow out the candles on the cupcakes. (I made yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting, and Robin helped decorate them, by which I mean that he put sprinkles on one cupcake and then grabbed it and shoved it in his face. But there were still enough to go around for the party.)
The rest of the ride, though, Robin spent running around with the other kids—he especially adores Wyatt Copley, who’s a bit older than Robin but as a seasoned big brother is quite good at managing the littler boys—and hanging out with his Pappy. Davy crawled around and examined things with great interest, and also availed himself of the opportunity for some good cuddle time with his Nonna.
After the train ride (round-trip it was about an hour and forty minutes, which is just about perfect) we all went to a little park and hung out and chatted for a bit while the kids ran around. And then we came home. The boys, of course, passed out in the car on the way back. Last night as I was tucking Robin into bed I asked him if he had a good birthday party. “Yes,” he said, in a very self-satisfied tone of voice. Of course this morning he said hopefully, “My birthday’s coming?”
“It sure is,” said Sam. “It’s just a year away.”
Davy spent about ten minutes kissing my toes, very determinedly, and chuckling to himself after each kiss. He’d crawl around to follow my feet when I moved them. At first I was all like “What are you doing, pervert baby?” And then I realized: oh, of course. He’s kissing my toes because that’s what I do to him.
It’s so funny the behaviors you find unexpectedly mirrored in your kids. You never know what they’re going to pick up on.
I have been meaning, Internet, to write up a post telling you all the ways in which my life has improved.
Sleep, chiefly. The sleep situation has gotten so much better. Davy never took to the crib, and he still isn’t what you would call a great sleeper, but he sleeps through the night more often than not. And the difference this makes to my daily well-being? Is enormous. I was prepared for three months of sleep-deprivation, right—when you choose to have a baby, that’s what you’re signing up for. At six months I started to feel sorry for myself. At nine months I was really reaching the end of my rope. And then, shortly after I began complaining publicly to you, dear Internet.…it broke. The baby started sleeping. And I started remembering what sanity feels like.
Given that great relief, I really shouldn’t have anything to express but simple gratitude. So let me talk a bit about the things I am grateful for.
I am grateful that I can sleep more than three hours at a stretch. It’s still a rare night where I don’t have to wake up at least once to address one child or the other, but I’m getting enough sleep that I have a handle on my own mind again. It’s amazing. Sleep, it’s a wonderful thing, and we take it so much for granted.
I am grateful for Davy. He’s such an amazing baby. When he wakes up every morning he tells me, “Hiiiii! Hiiiii!” And he gives me sloppy open-mouthed kisses, and he pats me, hard, on the shoulder and face and arm. “Hiiiii!” he says, and hits me, in the face, with great love, moments before he comes in to press his wet open mouth all over my nose. This doesn’t sound enviable but it is, it is.
Davy is a smart little guy. You can see the cogs whirring behind those agate-colored eyes. I posted about this before, with Robin, but I had forgotten how single-minded babies can be in their projects. Davy is working on walking. He works on this project with a kind of devotion that would put the most obsessed Olympic athlete to shame. He pulls himself up on every vertical surface, standing whenever he can, taking sideways steps as far as his grips will allow. When he’s put on a soft surface (like the bed) he will stand, sway, inevitably topple over, and then pull himself up to stand again, over and over and over, tirelessly. He doesn’t care how many times he falls down. He’s going to keep pulling himself up until he’s strong enough to stand on his own power. When do we lose that, that indefatigable baby drive? When do we learn a sense of defeat?
I am grateful for Robin. He’s such a good big brother. He plays beautifully with the baby—there’s nothing I like more than listening in on their games. They sing together, sometimes, or play peek-a-boo. Or sometimes Robin finds a defensible position and Davy assaults it with great gusto, while Robin shrieks.
And for the things that are hard: I am still struggling with the edits that my agent wants. I put them off, and put them off, because I knew that finding the time will be hard. And when finally I did try and carve out a day just to sit down and work on the manuscript—well, I had forgotten exactly how hard it is. There’s a good reason I’ve been putting it off so long.
I am going to throttle with my bare hands the next person who asks, “Oh, so you stay home? But what do you do?” I frickin’ take care of two preschoolers, that’s what I do. It’s not that I don’t have any other interests or ambitions. It’s that it’s completely impossible to concentrate on anything for more than fifteen minutes at a time when you’re looking after two small boys. It’s actually pretty easy to find a lot of those fifteen-minute increments throughout the day, so sometimes I feel I’m just being lazy, because in a typical day I do spend a lot of time on the computer. But it’s constantly interrupted, constantly dropped and picked up again. I mean–I do read to them every day, take them outside every day, play with them every day, but I actually feel strongly that it’s also important for children to have independent time, to be at their own devices for a portion of every day. But even in those times I’m always available and I’m always solving various low-level crises: someone needs a drink, someone needs a change of pants, there’s a fight brewing over the play silks (or whatever particular toy). The kind of deep concentration I’d need to really work just isn’t possible, not in the normal course of events.
And by the end of the day, once the kids have finally dropped off to sleep, I’m just exhausted. Even though Davy’s sleeping better now, that hasn’t changed. The difference is that most days I feel pretty sane and able to manage, instead of barely holding it together with a lot of caffeine. So—I’m doing better, a lot better. But am I “not working”? Not hardly.