Monday, March 09, 2009

Days of exhaustion, years of wonder

At the end of some days, it dawns on me that I haven't been alone, really alone in quite some time, perhaps days. Other realizations? I haven't used the bathroom in five hours, I've eaten very little and had even less water, I've forgotten to take my vitamins (again) and I've had a 12-pound infant on my body most of the day even through meal preparation, chores and one of the few potty breaks I got.

And I honestly don't know where I got the energy or patience to deal with this. Today I mustered enough brain power to tally how often Fiona nurses in a 24-hour period. Right now, she's eating every two to three hours. She eats even more in the evening between around 4:30 and 8:30 when the end-of-day activities are in motion - dinner, cookies, outside time if it's nice, wrestling and drumming with daddy if it's dark, cold or rainy, baths, pajamas, smoothy, Curious George, bed for Danny. We don't have a bedtime routine for her yet and probably won't for months to come.

I often go back and read blog posts from Danny's first six weeks to two months to get an idea of what I'm in for. But the most instructive posts are those labeled "sleep." Those remind me of how Danny became a 2-year-old who readily goes to bed 99 percent of the time. He sleeps when he's tired and likely does so because we allowed him to stay up until he was tired during his first year. In short, we let him experience what tired felt like instead of insisting on a sleep schedule tailored to our needs. We now have a little boy who is confident and flexible enough to adapt to new situations, like having sleepovers at Nana and PopPop's house or going to sleep in different places or moving from a crib to a bed. He's not been trained into one bedtime routine. We have a toddler who actually heads for the stairs on his own when Curious George is over most nights and sleeps alone despite having coslept with us for much of his first year.

That said, we are moving into new territory with him - he may be trying to give up his nap, but I know he still needs it. I've been flexible about when nap time starts, but not about having a rest. I don't normally call it nap time, either. Each day, when I leave his room, I say "Mommy loves you, it's time for resting." Everybody in this house rests in the afternoon, even Jim does when he's home. (Siestas are genius. I don't know why every culture doesn't adopt them.)

As I write this, Danny is in his bed talking to himself and has been for the past hour. This afternoon we went to the lake. At the playground there, Danny had a conversation with two older boys. Jim said the boys began talking about a table - part of the jungle gym - and he began to chime in, talking about the table. He was just delighted when he realized that, for the first time ever, he was having a conversation with other kids. Apparently, he's practicing his conversing skills and who am I to interfere with that?

So, the energy and the patience are likely coming from the very source that seems to be draining me - my ever progressing toddler.

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