|One month ago|
Last year when we brought Rose home, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the poop to hit the fan, but it never did. She had an easy transition in China, an easy transition to home, and since I'd spent all of the school days of the winter of 2012 writing a book in solitude, hanging out with a baby seemed like a welcome change.
I want to keep it real on this blog, and while this has been a wonderful month in so many ways, I'd be lying if I said that everything was going great and only showed happy, smiling pictures of Eli. But I'd also be lying if I didn't recognize that Eli is doing great-- he is happy, smiley, and wonderful. Eli's transition, the most important transition, has been as seamless as Rose's was a year ago. The main difference is that Rose was a quiet little baby who couldn't sit up or talk back, and Eli is a super-busy toddler who wants to move but is hampered by a very large cast and a lack of opportunity to practice his gross-motor skills. He knows what he wants, too.
Eli's bigger problem is that he has a big sister who is no longer a quiet little baby who can't sit up, but a feisty toddler who spent the last year as the center of the family's universe. I expected Eli to have a hard time-- to mourn the loss of the place he had known, to have a hard time adjusting to our food and our routines and our life, and while that has been true to a certain extent (oh, the sleep has been horrible!), I stupidly didn't realize how this whole experience was going to be a lot harder for Rose than it has been for Eli. We've had hitting, biting, strangling. We've had not one, but two, velcro babies. I sometimes feel like life hasn't changed all that much in the last month, but I'm trying to do all the things I was doing a couple of months ago with a baby on one hip and my other hand blocking Rose's blows. Friends who've seen me in real life can attest to this. If I could show you a picture of what just writing this blog post looks like, you'd get the idea.
The stupid thing is, I've been through this before. I've had a baby, and then given birth to a new baby, and there is always a period of adjustment. When Annie was born and Bryce was 21 months, I thought I was a complete failure as a parent. I don't feel that this time around (although the people who saw me the other day when Eli had a thumbtack in his mouth and I nonchalantly pulled it away and tossed it across the table might feel differently), but I also know that I haven't hit my stride yet.
The big difference between the first two babies and the last two babies is that Eli isn't a baby-- he's a threat. He does almost all of the things Rose does, but he needs to be carried and snuggled. He needs me to lie down with him. He needs me to feed him. He needs to go to the doctor. And Rose is a smart cookie-- she senses that she's not the center of the universe any more. Also, there's the fact that just as the Rose and Eli show starts to wind down for the night, there are four more kids who need my love, attention, and chauffeuring skills. As for my marriage? I just have to have faith that twenty years of love for each other will sustain us if the relationship has to take a back burner for the present. Because it's go, go, go all the time here. When I was a busy high school student, I was always surprised when I added one new activity to my calendar and my life didn't fall apart. Maybe, in some twisted way, I've been adding things to my plate for years (marathon running, blogging, writing, reading, kids) to see how much I could handle. Maybe this experience, although I know it's the right choice for Eli and for our family, will make us fall apart for a while. But I also have faith that eventually things will come back together.
Maybe when I start sleeping again. I do so much bedhopping in the night, I feel like a frat boy or a hooker. Rose was not a great sleeper even before we left for China, and between the jet lag and the clubfoot casts, Eli has been up many times each night. How many? I'm not sure. Because within the first week, I gave in and started sleeping on his floor, and I can poke my hand in between the bars of the crib and pat him when he stirs, which some nights feels like all night long. But it's getting better. Miraculously, he didn't cry at all last night. And I've learned that if I'll just sit with him at bedtime, he's asleep within minutes, but if I try to leave, he cries for hours. So I sit and read. For the first time in my life, I may miss deadlines. The journal for which I'm the managing editor badly needs my attention. The reading contest I'm judging is over next week and I still need to read six more books. I am not superwoman. I'm just a mom, trying to muddle through, and trying to enjoy these sweet babies in the process.