Thursday, January 8, 2009

Second, but not second best

What a difference a day makes.

My friend's son is home, and appears to have turned a corner. I realize that I didn't specify that he was admitted to Calvert Memorial, not a NICU, thank goodness. So, yay for that. And double yay that he's home and on the mend.

Also, at this time yesterday, I was thinking of my sons, so grateful, so anxious that they stay safe in my cocoon of love and neurosis. Today, they're back to being fun, but a real cramp on my style.

For the longest time, I had Owen and Joel on identical napping schedules. It was heaven. I would have an uninterrupted period of at least two hours every day to recharge and indulge in my important work, such as Facebook, reading the Style section of the Post, and this blog. All good things must come to an end.

Joel now wakes up earlier in the morning (like 5:30 in the freaking AM), thus naps earlier. To rub salt in the wound, he often starts stirring from his nap just as I leave Owen's room after tucking him in for his. Bru-tal. So, having mentally prepared myself for downtime, I find myself beginning the second shift, looking at Joel's sweet, beautiful face, and thinking "Damnit kid, you should be asleep."

I know that I should see this as a positive, an opportunity to spend quality time alone with Joel. And, to an extent, I do. I'll tickle his belly, sing him songs, read stories, whisper hopes and dreams into his ear, listen to his belly laugh. That takes about fifteen minutes. Then, he and I stare at each other, thinking, "Now what?"

True Confession: I don't feel like I hit my stride as a mother until Owen started talking. All the baby books preached the importance of talking to your baby, but I would feel like a big, fat idiot, talking to six month old Owen: "These are Daddy's boxers. They are blue and white. This is Mommy's shirt. It is yellow. She got it at a 10K." All the while, Owen was attempting to suck on his big toe. It was like I was mentally ill, except that the voices in my head were a lot less interesting, and only talked about laundry.

Once Owen started talking, it became so much fun, because he constantly surprises me and makes me see things in a new way. For example, here's a few Owen comments I jotted down on sticky pads:

#1: We're in the car. Owen says to me, "Good, driving, Mommy!" I thank him. He then turns to his brother and says, "Good sleeping, Baby Joel!"

#2: Owen toddles downstairs after not taking his nap, and announces, "Well, it looks like I'm going to bed early tonight."

#3: When I was impatiently telling Owen that he needed to get his shoes on or I was leaving without him (an idle threat, repeated almost daily), he replied, "Mommy, I'll do what you want when you ask nicely." Gee, where did he hear that?

#4: He told me, during lunch, "Carrots taste good when you eat them like rabbits." Indeed.

See what I mean? So, I struggle. I love Joel, and I don't want to rush through his babyhood, especially since it's so fleeting and precious, and we don't plan on having any more children. But, I'm just not a natural with babies. Even my own.

I hesitate to even write this, because I don't ever want Joel to read this and think that he was second best. He's not. I dreamed of him before he was conceived, hoped for him, prayed for him, and I love him with an intensity that I know of only because I feel that same fierce love for Owen.

But, I'm really looking forward to the day when he and I can have coffee and apple juice together, discussing the world, building memories together. I can't wait to discover him, each year a new introduction, and new dimension, a new reason to be grateful.

Even though I would be okay with him napping at this moment in time.

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