Summer ease

We're driving home from the pool, girls already fed, showered, in pajamas. The late afternoon June sun sits over the flatirons, and "Sound of Music" plays as Julia and I sing along. "So, Mom?" she asks, a seriousness in her voice. "After they get chased by the bad guys, do the Von Trapps get to live happily ever after?" The song ends; Margaret insists that we hear it again.

Margaret brings me a toddler- sized costume. "Anna. On." I help her into the costume, and she runs to Julia, who is dressed as Elsa. Margaret spins and giggles, and Julia directs her.

We are discussing Julia's 5th birthday party: Peter Pan theme, in the back yard, Tinkerbell costumes encouraged. When I ask what kind of cake she wants, Julia tells me that she thinks we should have vanilla, because Margaret is too little for chocolate. 

After last summer's challenges, and frankly, the challenges of having two children for the past 18 months, I was dreading this summer a bit. What would it be like to have so much unstructured time? Would Julia like the camps I had signed her up for? Would it just be endless days of her being upset with Margaret?  I have been pleasantly surprised so far. Julia loves camp. Our days have a nice rhythm. There are certainly moments every day where I'm frustrated, but more and more, I there are moments when I find myself happy. Yes, actually happy---and happy when I'm with both girls. Happy to see them beginning to play together, happy to swim together,  happy to see how much joy Margaret feels when she sees Julia, happy to catch glimpses of what it might be like in the future to have two daughters.

Shortly after Margaret was born, I asked a dear friend who also had two daughters when it got easier. I remember her telling me that 18 months was a magical age. That seems to be true for us. 

 

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34 months

On Sunday, Margaret nursed for the last time. While I have mixed feelings about Mother's Day-- on the one hand, I'm certainly not going to turn down brunch; on the other, I know my family loves me, and it seems kind of strange to have high expectations for one day of demonstrating that-- it does seem somehow significant that Mother's Day was the end of what has been a huge part of motherhood for me. 

I've known the end of breastfeeding was coming for awhile, and have felt a little sad about it. For the past four or five months, Margaret just nursed in the morning and evening, and before and after naps. Then, she stopped the before and after naps sessions, and last week, stopped the evening. Since it's been so predictable, I've felt like we might continue for awhile-- it hasn't felt overwhelming, or all-consuming-- just one of the many things we do together. Whereas Julia nursed to solve any problem right until she stopped (at exactly 17 months, just like Margaret), Margaret was always the opposite: if she was too upset, she refused to nurse. She put herself on a schedule, and she stuck to it.  

On Saturday morning, with my coffee in hand, we sat down to nurse. Margaret took a few sips, then grabbed my chest, said "uh uh" and scowled at me. "Huh," I said. "It seems like maybe we are done nursing." She wrinkled her nose and laughed. "Okay," I told her. She was so clear that I almost forgot to be sad. She didn't nurse Saturday night, but Sunday morning, she grabbed my shirt, so I went with it. She hasn't asked to since, and I haven't offered. I didn't know that was the last time. I might have snapped a picture if I had.

Yesterday, my first day without nursing, I was sad.  I googled "hormones when you stop breastfeeding," and learned that weaning hormones and postpartum hormones are the same. Oh, yes , I thought. Headache: check. Weepy: check. And while I know that hormones are compounding the sadness, this also marks the end of 34 total months of breastfeeding over the past five years. 

On Friday, I met a friend's six week-old baby. "How was breastfeeding for you?" She asked. "Oh, great!" I said. "I've been really lucky to have had it go smoothly." When she started to share some challenges, I remembered the early days of feeding Julia. I remembered the awkwardness--how it took countless pillows and four hands (Scott's and mine) to get situated. How I would wonder whether she was getting too much, or enough, and how any mothers managed to ever put on a shirt. It got better quickly, and I was very fortunate to have positive experiences nursing both girls. With Margaret, I think I was nursing her with one hand and preparing meals for Julia while recovering from my c-section within 4 days of giving birth.  

Scott and I used to joke that we could make a map of everywhere I had nursed one of the girls. The grocery store parking lot across the street, when Julia was melting down and just couldn't make it home: check. In bathrooms: check. At seemingly every exit between Denver and Silverthorne on our way to the mountains: check. On airplanes, buses, and hunched awkwardly over the car seat: check. I have nursed to comfort, to nourish, to connect. When Julia weaned, I was so worried about whether she would be okay. Would she be too hungry (well, she was infinitely hungrier, but we figured that out)? Most importantly, would we still connect? Would she still know that I was there for her whenever she needed me?  I was so relieved when, during those first few days post-weaning, she would reach for me, or climb into my lap. We reassured each other as we found the new normal.

This time around, I know that Margaret will be okay. I know that I will be okay. And while there's a part of me that mourns the end of what it's meant for me to mother a baby, I feel such comfort and pride in the 34 months that I spent sitting on couches, beds, benches, with babies in my arms.

Do Less

Yesterday, we had a good day. Julia asked to paint some boxes during Margaret's nap time, which may not seem like a big deal, but for the kid who has completely given up art this year (aside from a sticker addiction), it was positively shocking. I set her up on the deck with paint and some boxes from Amazon, and she got started. "Mommy, can I mix these colors?" I started to say no, and then I kicked myself and said, "of course you can." (Why, Meg? Because cleaning paint cups is that important?) And she was so, so happy. "Look, I'm making orange! And purple!" 

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Between Sea and Sky

On the deck of the boat, harnesses on, non-locking carabiners hooking us into the sail (trying not to think about how sketchy that is). Are you ready? asks the 20-something guy in his hoodie and torn jeans. And with that, we are off. We float into the air, between the green water and gray clouds. Julia waves, next to her grandfather, her eyes bright, as we soar higher and higher. Okay, I think. If we fell now, we wouldn’t die. This is fine. And then we keep going, unbelievably high, the boat becoming a tiny speck below.

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Summer recap

I was really ready for summer when school ended for Julia in late May. I was tired of fighting with her about getting ready, tired of making lunches, tired of herding her and schlepping Margaret into the car. I daydreamed about leisurely, relaxing mornings on the deck...about leisurely, relaxing afternoons at Spruce Pool... about leisurely, relaxing evenings on the deck...notice the theme here?

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Goodbye, Quiet Playtime

Last week, just two weeks after a double ear infection, Julia was sick again. The doctor diagnosed it as strep, and while we found out a few days later that the lab tests came back negative, she was the sickest she's been in years. Fever, zero energy, terrible sleep... it was a long week. Ever since she stopped napping at two and a half, Julia has done an hour to an hour and a half of quiet playtime in her room after lunch, followed by some TV watching.

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From childless to one child; from one child to two-- anticipation.

Last week, I read this article: http://www.scarymommy.com/from-a-lot-to-a-little/, which resonated with me, and speaks to how life has changed for me since I became a mom. The author writes about the transition from extrovert, from freedom, from single life, to parenthood: "To fill my days with these small people, hold them close, keep them safe. To cultivate our corner of this earth. To be central, indispensable to a few rather than a superficial acquaintance to many. To dig deep instead of spread myself thin." 

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Babysitter cancellation, from both sides

In the past 24 hours, I've had 2 babysitters cancel.

The first was yesterday afternoon-- a high-school student canceling for Saturday night. We booked her about 4 weeks ago, to go out with several other couples for dinner and the annual Warren Miller ski movie at Boulder Theater. Since tickets are pricey, I waited until this sitter had confirmed that she could babysit before buying them. Her text read "Hi Meg, so sorry to do this, but something came up and I can't babysit any more on Saturday. I'm really sorry." Now, I may be wrong, but I have the feeling that this "something" is a rare week of November snow, and the promise of powder days in the mountains.

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Eight years ago today...

Eight years ago today, I had recently moved into my own apartment, after living with roommates in Boulder for the previous two years. I was living in a little basement studio on the hill, which was two blocks from the family for whom I had nannied since I moved to Boulder, and had just started grad school in education at CU. I was twenty-five, and was beginning what my former roommates and I affectionately called "senior year in life:" our fourth year after college, where we were still going out late and lingering over long brunches the following mornings; loading all of our belongings into cars in various states of disrepair to go camping, skiing, whatever sounded fun that weekend.

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And then there were three...

On Sunday, my mom and Dana left. Dana had been here for five weeks, my mom for a little over a week total (spread out over two long weekends), and our house has felt empty ever since. Even before Dana arrived in mid-June, I knew it would be hard to say goodbye at the end; For fifteen years, my entire adult life, Dana has been a great dad. But I guess you can never anticipate what it actually feels like to say a hard goodbye. 

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Big news...

I have had a hard time writing posts over the past couple of months, because I've been so consumed with our (admittedly poorly kept) secret-- Baby 2 is due in December! I've known since about 3.5 weeks with a 6 week and a 9 week ultrasound to confirm, so waiting until now--almost 13 weeks--to share has been a challenge!

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