Today while your nana and I were changing you you grabbed a hold of your foot, stuck it in your mouth, and started sucking on your big toe. I’d seen you do this a few times before, but you haven’t ever sucked on it so intently before. We had so much fun watching you, and you watched us back, all the while sucking your toe.
We had a nice breakfast with Dan, Becca, and Aaron, then you and I headed home so I could get some work done. This afternoon your dad barbequed and we all relaxed outside. You were content just laying on your belly, pushing your chest and head up with your arms, and looking around. Usually when we’re outside you roll around and want some toys to play with, but today you just held yourself up and looked around, happily observing the world.
After dinner, just a few minutes before they departed, Becca and I were chatting and enjoying a few last minutes together. She had given some gentle direction to Aaron, and I couldn’t help but tell her that I think she and Dan are doing a great job as parents. Being a parent is hard, with almost no validation or appreciation, and I just wanted them to know I think they’re doing great. It is so neat watching a friend who I knew in such a different point of my life – college – become a parent, and an amazing one at that.
Last night I found you asleep in your crib with your legs tucked into and under your body and your bottom up in the air. You looked so cute, I had to take a picture. I’d never seen you sleep like this before. I watched you for a bit, and you soon stretched out your legs and were sleeping flat on your belly. A few minutes later, though you were still asleep, you curled your legs back in. With all this movement you didn’t seem to be sleeping soundly at all, and in fact you woke up multiple times throughout the night. A couple times I’d pick you up and just hold you, and you’d immediately fall back asleep and stay asleep when I placed you in your crib. One time you were fussy and I fed you, and twice we brought you to bed to cuddle, and eventually, to sleep.
I can’t help but remember reading and learning how your mind and body becomes obsessed with trying to master something new, repeating it over and over until you’ve perfected it, and even then, still repeating it. We witnessed this when you learned to roll back to front, as you would almost automatically roll over to your belly when placed on your back, even though it was clearly frustrating you to be on your belly and apparently causing such distress that you forgot how to roll over to your back. I’m wondering now if your mind and body are working intently to discover how to crawl.
Our friends Dan, Becca and their son, Aaron, arrived early this morning. Aaron is 2.5 years old, and you are just fascinated by him. You stare as he plays, or cries, or talks. He is not nearly as intrigued by you. I imagine you are interested by all that he can do, and he is slightly bored by how basic your movements are. But someday, you two will be able to run around and play together. They live in Seattle and we’ll see them fairly regularly. They love the MLS and cheer for the Sounders, and so we dropped you off at nana and papa’s house tonight and went to a Rapids/Sounders game. Unfortunately, the Rapids lost. But we had lots of fun attending the game with our friends.
The Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympics were on TV tonight, and I was so excited. I made you an Olympic-themed onesie and you wore it and your USA tutu in honor of the occasion. I love the Olympics; the athletes are amazing and inspiring. This year I had so much fun wondering if you’ll enjoy watching them someday, if you’ll be an athlete yourself, and what sports you’ll participate in. While sharing my thoughts with your dad, he declared that you’ll probably be on the US national soccer team, and that you’ll play in the Olympics when you’re 20 and 24 (in 2032 and 2036). I was amused by his presumption, and asked why, if he was dreaming about this scenario, would you not play on the national team when you’re 16. He said that was a bit too aggressive. I’m glad to hear his dreams aren’t too optimistic.
You are sleeping great lately! You slept through the night last night, from about 9 pm to 6 am. It was wonderful.
Your Aunt Gretchen came to Boulder today for work and we got to join her for dinner. She was so excited to get to see you and to hold you, and we were happy to get to catch up with her. She is great with you (having had three of her own!) and it’s always fun to watch her interact with you.
We went to the Sun for dinner and drinks, and you enjoyed relaxing there in your stroller, then being held by each of us. You also slyly grabbed a lemon off my beer and enjoyed sucking on that.
When your furry brothers were puppies, and we pored through books on animal behavior similar to how we now devour books on parenting, we read about something that puppies experience called Frequent Random Activity Periods (FRAP). Periodically, they would have so much energy it was like they literally couldn’t contain it all, and they’d sprint about like crazed little animals. We quickly called it ‘frapping’.
Last night your dad called me in to the living room so that I could witness you frapping. You were laying on the ground at an activity center, holding on two toys, one with each hand, and you were frantically shaking, shaking, SHAKING the toys back and forth. Your legs even joined in the shaking session as you feverishly tried to shake the stuffing (or something!) out of the toys. You were very content, and very energetic. We’ve been realizing that you’re a very active baby, and you’re going to grow into a very active child. We’re going to have to keep you busy and moving to keep you happy and challenged. For the time being it is a little difficult to find activities for you to get your energy out. Soon we’ll start taking you swimming, and I think once you’re mobile that will help. But for now you’ll just have to keep frapping away in the activity center.
During our prenatal work with the doulas they introduced us to a Birthing from Within concept that uses a labyrinth as an analogy for the birth process. It equates the birth of a child to the twisty, turny unknowns of a labyrinth, where one minute you are close to the middle, the finish, the birth of a child and the birth of a parent, but then an unexpected turn forces you down a new path. It is a nice example for how unpredictable and often uncontrollable labor can be, and for us, it accurately depicted our experience.
The analogy also goes on to convey that exiting the labyrinth is relatable to the process of adapting to life as parents, and of finding yourself and feeling comfortable with yourself in this new role. There was a statement that stuck with me, one that I have thought about many times over these last few months with you. It explained that this process of exiting the labyrinth and finding your way as a new parent can take up to a couple of years. Two years! For some reason I found this comforting rather than unsettling, a sort of justification that this adventure we were about to embark on was going to be a big adjustment and that we might rightly struggle a bit as we proceeded through it. It provided some reassurance to know that settling into this new role as a parent takes some time, and that we shouldn’t expect it to be completely easy, natural or intuitive.
About a week before you were born we went to a nearby labyrinth and walked through it. We each silently pondered our way through it, the dogs by our sides (wondering, I’m sure, why we kept changing directions), and I took comfort in reflecting on my pregnancy and the impending arrival of you. I also enjoyed thinking forward to the next stage in our life, as parents, and the little family that was about to be born.
At this time, and shortly thereafter, I often thought of exiting the labyrinth, and ever since then I’ve been taking stock of where we’re at along this path of retreat from the middle. These past few weeks, and even months, I feel like things have really been clicking. Even recently, through a few rough nights when you weren’t sleeping well and your little cold when you weren’t feeling well, your dad and I are solidly established in our roles as parents, but still also as husband and wife, and as best friends. I realize that we still have a lot to learn and experience – that our role as parents will always be evolving and forcing us to adapt and learn and that we’ll be challenged in ways we still cannot imagine – but at this point in time I feel confident that we have exited that labyrinth. We’re ready to move freely outside of its winding confines and to explore the world confidently as a solid family unit.
Today your dad did a lot of weeding in the yard, and finally planted our Christmas tree. You and I laid on a blanket out back in the shade and kept him company. I was playing with you, giving you kisses on your cheeks and blowing on your belly, and I finally got some giggles out of you! It is such a sweet, happy, light, infections giggle, and your dad heard it too. He came over and I kept playing with you to keep the giggles coming. So fun!