It turns out you are very literally my sunshine. We’ve reached the depth of winter solstice, and there’s not much sunshine to be had. (Though who am I kidding? In my college winters it’d last from 8:30 to 3:45, so 7:45 to 5:15 is plenty even for me.)
At any rate, it’s still true: You have been making my world go around, little guy. You’re incredibly easy and cheerful and wonderful. You’re the only thing in my world these days that doesn’t feel too hard.
Including writing these journals. I’m over two weeks late, and there are plenty of reasons, most of them having nothing to do with obvious things like finally being ready to move in to our newly-renovated basement. But I write to live, and living is one of those non-negotiables for me.
It turns out it looks different, always, than I thought it would. Living, that is. I am one of those enormous souls that can’t quite find enough time to fit everything in. I’ve written a lot about this to your brother because he’s the same way. Who knows, maybe you will be, too. (It doesn’t seem like it.) The complicated thing is that I want to do all the things.
Until I don’t. And that’s where I’ve been the last few weeks. Tired on a level I’ve never before experienced, and I’m not only talking about the fact that you’re sticking to the textbook and serving up some big-time sleep regression as a side-effect of starting to teethe.
To live, I think, looks like planning feasts (and executing them) and making sure to read the Advent & Christmas devotionals I love in the quiet moments before my kids wake (they’ve woken me basically every day of the last couple months). It looks like creating this grand procession of Advent & Christmas memories not only for you but for me. It looks like rearranging the ornaments on the tree after the kids finish their handiwork. It looks like singing and playing the hymns I love and making sure to watch A Christmas Carol and read good literature instead of just Love Actually and, to be completely honest, Arrested Development.
In another year that is probably what living will look like, and it’s lovely to see all across Facebook the joy of every other family in the world getting their Christmas on and being sure to take a family picture at church, but this year it looks like brushing it all aside and saying “No Thanks.” I think when I look back on pictures from 2015 and don’t see our family all smiling in our church clothes I’ll remember how we wrangled ourselves out the door at 4:55 (I dressed four people in under 15 minutes), snarfed Chick-Fil-A in order to be with Daddy between his 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. services, and then wrestled tiny bad attitudes and big sparkly hairbands all through our two churches, and that was enough family-life without a photo shoot. We were together, there’s no mistake about that, and there’s no need for photographic evidence. I know because at bedtime I had to tell Merry “sorry” for being grumpy at her.
This year Advent has actually felt like Advent, not eclipsed by the bustle of Christmas Joy and friendship. It’s been lovely. We haven’t party-hopped or even sat down to decide which party to go to. (Answer: None.) We went to church last night (twice of course) and I almost left fifteen minutes into round two. (Almost is big for me.) I haven’t kept my house spotless and this entire Christmas week your foodie-momma proclaimed she was not going to cook, and so we’ve been living off snacks, finger food, and the abundance of holiday treats that make their annual migration onto every kitchen counter. Daddy’s church members are on the ball with this, let me just say.
I guess this is just me listening to myself for a change, and I don’t know why it’s all coming out so far away from normal. I didn’t even tune in to Lessons & Carols from Kings. Just trolled my friends’ Facebooks for a bit of sports-style reporting while I hid in a quiet coffee shop.
I forgot to buy egg nog.
The beauty of all this is that it feels OK. On one level I feel a little bummed, like I’m “missing Christmas,” but on a deeper level – the same one that’s learned not to feel guilty when I’m not outdoors to enjoy every beautiful day; the one that’s learned to gently say “Hush. Rest. Peace to you. Another year it won’t be an ordeal to walk out your door. Days will still be beautiful then.” – on that deeper level I’m good. Everything is fine.
In the middle of all this is you. I don’t want to say that you are supporting me emotionally. That it’s OK to look to my children for the emotional highs I need, because that’s not what you’re there for. I hope it’s not true, either: I hope listening to myself and resting is effectively sparing you (and me) from that dysfunctional dependency, because I want to give you a me that is happy already, not just happy because of what you bring to me.
But you do make me pretty happy whichever way you look at it. I just can’t believe how amazing you are. How big your smile is and how good you are at going with the flow. How you get fussy because you want to be put down alone in your crib and then I hear you in there talking and laughing instead of sleeping. (Daddy got himself an introvert-offspring.) How you choke on your milk and have to stop to splutter, but how you always splutter through a grin, like you think the whole thing is hilarious. (It is.) How entranced you are by the sight of a car driving past the broad south side of our house with its 180° window-view. How well you learned to trust the big bathtub on your first adventure in it, despite your initial horror. How much fun we have sneaking away for neighborhood walks just the two of us and a Moby. How shockingly early you go to bed at night (usually before 6:00). How you started to teethe and sit up EXACTLY on your half-birthday, like you’d been sneaking the textbooks to bed with you at night.
Speaking of nights, you are the most darling sleeper ever. I’ve actually invited a friend or two to come watch the whole thing go down: I feed you in the rocking chair. When I stand up you arch your back and scream at me in disgusted protest. I walk three steps to your crib and set you down, grabbing your yellow blanket and pulling a corner of it up to touch your face. Like gears in a clock you respond, grabbing the blanket with your right hand and rubbing it on your face, putting your left thumb in your mouth, curling your legs up into a little L as you roll to your left side, and shutting your eyes in perfect peace. This is how you do it 95% of the time. At least.
You could give lessons to babies everywhere.
You are this one magical thing in my world that is so easy and rewarding and life-giving that I never want to run away from it or hide for a few minutes or a few months. I love you no matter what (this is a promise), but I do love you for that. And I will do what it takes no matter what to be happy for your sake and without using you to attain that happiness (this is also a promise), but I do wonder at how part of that happiness just comes from you anyway, like a straight-up Christmas Miracle.
So to quote one of the quotes quoted in one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time…
“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.”
I love you.