I’m sitting on the couch with my feet up right now settled in to write to you. I thought I might snag some alone time while you slept this afternoon, but you are right here with me and I think you might be awake for real now from your series of cat naps because you just opened your eyes all the way, yawned, stretched, and smiled at me. Well, hello to you too.
You’ve been a great baby this month. You’ve settled into a night routine without argument that sees you in your bed by 7:00 at the latest, rarely awake before 8:00, and waking for fifteen minutes to eat only once around 2:00 a.m. Sometimes you need a little top-off about 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. I try to feed you before you start sleeping but you always just yell, like you are so tired you can’t possibly eat before you take a pre-bedtime nap. So I let it go and then you eat at 8 or 9 and I’m off the hook after that. It works. It feels good to have arrived at normal and know we’re settled into this for the foreseeable future.
During the day you’ve been getting tricky. I think you haven’t taken a nap over 45 minutes all week long and I’m not sure why. I’m trying to strike the right balance between going with the flow and figuring you out. Easier said than done, I’m finding. I think you’ve learned me well now – trained me might be closer to the mark – and you consequently expect to be waited on at each squeak. You are so unlike your brother in that you prefer to be held and talked to at all times when you’re awake, so lately it’s either been chatting time or crying time and very little in between. This is exhausting to me, especially since I’ve been so accustomed to several hours all alone every afternoon. I’m trying to adjust, and I’m trying to get you to adjust a bit, too.
You’re just a little social butterfly. Your grins spread across your whole face, and you lavish them on anyone, anytime. You are talking our ears off and telling great, long, interesting stories. You lock our eyes and then start talking. These stories are always full of intrigue and variety, balanced fables of happy and sad. One minute you grin and the next you are in full-on lament. You little goof. Of course we talk back and do plenty of outlandish interpreting for own entertainment.
I was telling Daddy this morning how I find myself already begging God for grace and wisdom to love you well. You have been a handful this week and it’s easy to start making big plans for how I will get you to do this or that, sleep longer, need me less, whatever. On one hand I know I have to be the mom and call the shots, and today you got to scream for 10 minutes in bed while we ate lunch. Sometimes you are not going to be held. On the other hand I know my most important job as your mom is to know you and meet you where you are and let you be yourself. If you are a social butterfly, my job is not to mold you into a quiet introvert because it will squish your tiny, busy wings.
The important thing for me remains to create peace and calm and joy for you and Daddy and your brother. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It doesn’t matter if it looks different from everyone else’s peace and calm and joy. It doesn’t matter if it looks different from yesterday’s peace and calm and joy or tomorrow’s either. The only place peace and calm and joy occurs is in each present moment. That’s what takes the grace and wisdom, because I’d like to get ahead or fall behind now and then, so I could stop being on top of it all like a tight-rope walker and just breathe for a few minutes.
To that end I often catch myself setting out to create a rigid place for us to live, so it will hold us and we won’t have to hold ourselves to grace and wisdom each moment. In my dream world you’d take exactly four naps of exactly predictable duration each day and they would nest into Jacob’s schedule perfectly and it would all look the same, always. I usually start to dream these “schedules” up after two days of bliss when it happens naturally. But then the third day you need three naps instead and I find that’s just perfect in its own way, too, if I take it gracefully, peacefully. So I laugh at myself for my naivety again and remember to improvise. Always improvise.
There is form by which our improvisation takes shape and that is a beautiful thing, too. But it is easy to rely on the forms as though with them in place we will be safe. Settling for behavior management is a lazy escape for a parent. In the last couple baffling weeks of trying to figure out what you need it’s been sobering to realize how attractive that escape is. I’m praying for grace and wisdom because I love you so much and I don’t want my selfishness and laziness to crowd out that love. Whenever that happens, I know you will be crowded out, too. It’s an exhausting prospect, living this balancing act of love, but I’m praying for it.
I love you.