Despite our morning struggles, we had some definite successes this week.
We bought D a tagalong bike for her birthday, and although she was initially terrified (she actually ran and hid), she did eventually climb on, cling to the handlebars for dear life, and discover that she LOVES riding behind T. SUCCESS!
The girls have slept all night, every night in their big girl bunk beds, and we have had no violations of the 4 cardinal bedtime rules (I stay in my bed, I am quiet, I lay down with my head on my pillow, No kickers). SUCCESS!
We are still working on the finer points of ladder safety: Do not climb the ladder while eating a chocolate egg. Do not climb the ladder while snuggling 5 stuffed unicorns. Do not climb the ladder while carrying 24 puzzle pieces. But despite the repeated falls, no one has been injured. SUCCESS!
Because of D’s birthday, and because I am reaching the end of the semester in my Life Journey class, I have been thinking a lot about growing up and growing old. My students are reading Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan, and we watched the Frontline documentary Living Old. Yesterday some of them cried quietly during class discussion. The conversations this week have been difficult, but powerful: they trust each other enough to ask hard questions. They are thinking about their parents and grandparents; they are thinking about their own lives unfolding; they are, we are, grateful that spring seems to be here for real, that the threat of winter has mostly passed.
As a parent, as a professor, in some ways I’m always longing for the next step: the big girl bike, the big girl bed, Muppet Babies instead of Dora the Explorer, the thoughtful discussion that happens between students without me having to repeat and filter their thoughts back out in the form of another question or prompt. Growth, achievement, milestones. Tick, tock, tick tock. For me, the pleasure of seeing them (my daughters, and my students, for that matter) emerge and reemerge as inquisitive, intelligent, increasingly independent individuals outweighs, most days, any sadness over the passage of time.
Except where Margeaux is concerned.
Margeaux, who is right smack in the middle of my most favorite age, between 6 months and a year. Crawling, babbling, smiling, laughing, she says mama when she reaches for me and hop hop hop when she plays with her frog rattle. I freely admit I don’t want her to learn to walk. Maybe because she’s our last baby, maybe because it all felt a little precarious when I was hospitalized with preeclampsia after her birth, maybe because that year between 1 and 2 felt like such a struggle with D and Lucy, maybe because right now, there’s nothing she needs or wants that I can’t give her freely. It’s not complicated.
She still wakes up around 4 am to nurse, and I usually bring her back to bed with me. I love the moment when she throws her chubby arms up over her head and sighs and drops off into baby dreamworld, tummy full, safe and warm. When D was a baby and my nephew was about 5, I asked him what he thought D dreamed about. We were watching her nap, and she was making soft little sleep sounds. “She probably dreams about girl stuff,” my nephew said. “Like horses, and fruit.”
Chubby arms, mama mama, hop hop hop. Baby perfection. If I could, I’d hush the tick, tock and stay in bed, dreaming of horses and fruit.