Apparently CJ did wake and squawk briefly several times last night; Kevin said these episodes lasted mere moments, but because he was in another room, and we’re running two humidifiers now (so much for cutting down on energy consumption), I didn’t hear the babe and instantly leap to grab him up and feed him back to sleep. He is now 20 pounds, 6 ounces. Weighed today. I’m noting that here because I seem incapable of noting it anywhere else.
I’m only a tiny bit torn about moving him out of our room. Mostly I’m looking forward to reading before bed (while lying in bed), and to resting more consistently, ie. more than an hour or so consecutively. And I’ll still get to bring him into bed for snuggly night feedings, just fewer and further between. It always seems to come to “it’s time.” This may be the case for every transition. Something just tells me when it’s time.
To speak of a more fundamental transition, I’m finding myself in this New Year thinking often about life beyond primarily childcare. Researching possibilities. Feeling excitement, even impatience.
Kevin stayed home Monday morning so I could write, and he reflected afterward how these moments will never come again. You either decide to spend this time with your growing children, or you don’t, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t spend this same time with them later. They will be grown. You can’t sit on the kitchen floor while CJ practices standing and taking a step, and Fooey gobbles handfuls of peanuts perched on a stool, talking utterly non-stop. Sometimes it feels too slow, too boring, too quiet. Sometimes it feels like you need some positive feedback, some notice, some worldly recognition. That feels vain to admit, but there must be something in human nature that craves recognition, recompense, for work done. But this isn’t regular work. You might even argue that it’s not work. It’s living, life. It’s experience. It’s definitive.
And I’m trusting that I’ll know when it’s time to shift my focus, that I’ll know when my time has come to get up off the floor. Maybe it will be when CJ can run away from me, or when Fooey has her nose buried in a book, or when Apple-Apple can cook supper, or Albus can walk to school by himself. I’m just guessing. I never know it’s time … till I know.
He did it! He slept through the night! Well, mostly, and enough. I sense that he’s actually more comfortable sleeping by himself. Less restless. I fed him at around 5 this morning, in our bed, and within an hour he was wriggling and sweaty; so I carried him back to his own crib.
He’s still sleeping now and it’s time to put the porridge on. These mornings are so very dark. Snow this morning, too.
Thinking New Year. Thinking about how, when I’m doing something that I really love, I’m almost out of body, there’s a feeling of transcendence. Yet that out of body thing seems to take me away, too, from the conscious reality of Life. Played piano for an hour yesterday while CJ napped and the other kids played road hockey. It took me far far away, into music’s private space, feeling the meaning of the notes take character and shape, speaking emotion with my fingers on the keys. But then, I wasn’t with my kids and that made me feel vaguely guilty. What does it mean, to be “with” people? That is something I’m struggling with as I try to live life as presently as possible–with presence, with gratitude. The paradox is that often when I’m most present within an activity, deeply focussed, I’m taken away from the everyday-ness, away from the chaos going on around me. Away from them.
We did something funny yesterday morning (pre-road-hockey). The kids were going wild with boredom and CJ was extremely fussy, so I popped him in the sling and paced the living-room while narrating our lives operatically. Everyone found this hugely entertaining (“Get off your sister!” sung in slightly out-of-range soprano with serious vibrato beats plain old “Get off your sister,” any day). The best part was that they joined in. That’s the kind of transcendence I crave–collective transcendence.
There was a program on collective joy, recently, on CBC Radio’s Tapestry. It’s a concept I’d never considered, but instantly understood–that amazing experience of feeling connected to and part of something larger than oneself. It’s even more amazing when the experience is being collectively invented, when everyone is a participant. Think: sports. Think: camp. Think: orchestra, theatre, choir. (Think other things I haven’t thought of or mentioned; and tell me about them, please!). Speaking of which, last night I watched the finale of a deeply moving documentary called “The Choir: Boys Don’t Sing.” It’s a BBC production and may actually be a series, in which a young British choirmaster goes into hard-knock schools and starts a choral program. In this case, Gareth went to an all-boys school and in nine months built an amazing 150-voice choir that included a group of beat-boxers. To watch their performance at the Royal Albert Hall was truly to witness an experience of collective joy. Look up this series if you have even the slightest interest in choral music (and even if you think you don’t).
On that note, I must continue preparing for our low-key New Year’s celebration this evening. These are my New Year’s hopes (forget resolutions): great creative energy, imaginative problem solving, vats of patience, presence, gratitude, calm, reflection, and bursts of collective joy.
We ate, and we ate, and we ate.
For breakfast, sticky buns with pecans. Homemade. Oh, the butter.
For lunch … well, there was no lunch. There was snacking on oranges from the stockings, chocolate from the stockings, candy from the stockings. What was Santa thinking?
And then, there was a late afternoon simple feast. One 19-pound turkey (from Nina’s buying club) survived my first attempt at roasting turkey. Bread stuffing on the side. Wild rice and barley casserole with turnips and sweet potatoes. Organic greens with grated carrot, apples, sunflower seeds, and honey/balsamic dressing. Homemade pumpkin pie for dessert.
This was the most Christmassy-feeling Christmas in awhile, and the children and their excitement and participation were a huge part of that. Albus and Apple-Apple’s sweet and thoughtful gifts. Waiting, then running downstairs yesterday morning together to see whether Christmas had come. Working on the 1,000 piece puzzle. Just holing up together with warmth and food while snow fell. Music. Piano playing and singing. Retelling the nativity story. Peaceful sleep. Sledding with friends on Christmas day. Jammies all day. Napping.
First, there are a few photos from our first Christmas celebration on the parallel blog; link at right. Second, the photos fail to show all the illness that abounded amidst our crew, but do catch the overall happy and relaxed vibe. It was nice to be sick and have nothing else to do. No cooking. No laundry. No nothing. We checked into the hotel with the rest of the Cairns family and nobody seemed bothered by all the nothing we were doing, together.
Grandma Alice and I took the two older children to the National Ballet’s Nutcracker at the new Opera House in Toronto. Amazing. I was moved to tears at one point by the sheer beauty and grace of the scene before us. All that intense work and effort and artistry to create something that can’t be held in the hand, or consumed, or made into anything else. It made me feel that art really matters, that it feeds the spirit and the soul in ways that can’t be explained. Afterwards, I asked Albus what he thought of the show, and he replied, dead serious, “I didn’t really like the dancing.” Well. That doesn’t leave much left over at a ballet! But he liked the soldiers and fighting scenes (of course). Apple-Apple would comment of a particular costume or dancer during the performance, “She’s soooo beautiful,” and then tune out moments later. Lots of wriggling. We were in the cheap seats and it seemed an extra-excited wriggle might send one plunging miles downward to one’s death. Apple-Apple assured me she’d land on the people directly below us instead.
Other highlights: CJ practicing standing all over the place. He’s really found his core balance and wants to be upright and unsupported. No steps yet. Kevin and I taking a nap with CJ while the big kids hung out in Grandma Alice’s room. Eating really really good food. Santa in the hotel lobby. Lunch with an old friend. The big kids reading chapter books, everywhere: at the restaurant, before bed, in the middle of the morning. Children running freely between our room and Grandma Alice’s room. Watching the older children’s independence bloom. Fireworks out our hotel window on the longest night of the year. Safe driving despite “Snowmaggedon.” Family.
Kids’ highlights: Albus: Present-opening. Reading. Apple-Apple: Yah! Reading. Fooey: Presents.
There’s something about lack of sleep that puts me in the blog-mood. My baby will not sleep at night, and apparently is also refusing to sleep during the day. He’s in the sling right now, lazily chewing my hair and stuffing banana-scented fingers up my nose with a look of supreme exhaustion upon his gorgeous features, hanging on by the sheerest of threads to consciousness. Of course, if he does decide to fall asleep, I will have to wake him up anyway to get to Fooey’s afternoon “recital” at her music class.
But it’s my own sleep deprivation, not his, that makes me want to type. I’m too tired to analyze the whys and wherefores, though I’m sure something applies. I was up approximately once an hour last night with this child. He refuses to nurse during the day unless he’s beyond starving and nothing like a banana is in sight, yet at night he seeks milky comfort to lull him back to dreamland … last night I saw midnight, 2am, 4am, 5am, 6am; those were the ams I recall seeing, anyway. By 7am the whole house was up, woken by Apple-Apple’s surprise nosebleed. Did I mention we also had a child, who shall remain nameless, pee on top of the toilet lid last night? That was my second unexpected opportunity of the evening to really clean the bathroom. The first followed a series of reckless baths. I’d no idea what had rolled under our tub since the last flood. Apple-Apple asked whether I’d found a dead mouse. Nope, just a giant fuzzy hairball.
You can thank me for that image later.
I’ve just laid CJ down, awake, protesting but weak. If he falls into sleep now, I’ll be dragging him out of dreamland in, oh, twenty-seven minutes or so. I run on precision timing.
Was just packing the diaper bag for aforementioned outing, and discovered an old cloth diaper lingering, shall we say, in one of those handy stuff sacs. Maybe we’ll go disposable just for this event. At the rate this day is going, I anticipate solids arriving somewhere mid-performance. And no, he’s still awake. His howls just took on real drama. Twenty minutes till departure.
I’m going to go pick him up now.