Babies. I highly recommend them.
My little Tan Tan is two months old today. As I snuggle him, two quotes often flit through my mind. The first when I nuzzle his head: “…his softly furred scalp.” The second when I experience those moments of amazement and delight in him and the desire to carefully preserve exactly what this sweetness is like in this very moment: “…the last baby trails his sweet scent like a soft flag of surrender.”
Today, I looked them up so I could use them in this post and behold they both come from the same author and the exact same passage of The Poisonwood Bible.
“A mother’s body remembers her babies–the folds of soft flesh, the softly furred scalp against her nose. Each child has its own entreaties to body and soul. It’s the last one, though, that overtakes you. I can’t dare say I loved the others less, but my first three were all babies at once, and motherhood dismayed me entirely. . . . That’s how it is with the firstborn, no matter what kind of mother you are–rich, poor, frazzled half to death or sweetly content. A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world.
But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after–oh, that’s love by a different name. She is the babe you hold in your arms for an hour after she’s gone to sleep. If you put her down in the crib, she might wake up changed and fly away. So instead you rock by the window, drinking the light from her skin, breathing her exhaled dreams. Your heart bays to the double crescent moons of closed lashes on her cheeks. She’s the one you can’t put down.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
I know I already used them in a past post about Alaina (don’t judge!).
I guess another bonus of a bonus baby is that you get to have the sweetness of a “last baby” twice! I remember writing after I had Alaina that I finally felt about her the way I always imagined feeling about motherhood. It isn’t that I didn’t feel the deep love and attachment with my older boys, I definitely did. And, I had lots of moments of delight and cherishment with them as well, but I just don’t remember consciously enjoying their babyness so very much. I really very much enjoy the babyness of this new last baby.
We haven’t weighed him since seven weeks and he was a little over 12lbs then. Is certifiably adorbs. Is first baby to have smiled at me while nursing and awake at this young. Seems extra smiley in general for a baby this age, actually. And, has been successfully peeing in potty when I remember to take him. I haven’t exactly been taking off with EC this time around, but suddenly decided it was time to try. Here is a video of his heart-melting goos.
He seems even more mama-focused than my other babies. I pretty much still hold him 22 hours a day. He likes to smile at and look at other people and can sometimes be held by them while sleeping, but his limit on being carried around by most others is about five minutes. Sometimes with my mom he lasts longer than that if she can get him out of the kid-chaos-zone and into a quiet room and lay him down to talk with him one-on-one. I keep exclaiming about this to Mark, as in—“couldn’t you hold our other kids longer than five minutes at a time?”—when I remember that Tanner is the only baby for whom Mark has been home. I guess I didn’t notice how mama-fied the other babies was, because I was the only adult home with them during the days of their babyhoods. I did envision that with two parents home all the time, baby-care would be distributed more between us than with prior babies, but so far it isn’t working out that way. Its okay though, because…softly furred scalp.
Also, and perhaps this plays a part in the delight in the babyness of the baby, when you have multiple kids, sitting down and snuggling the baby feels like a break. It feels like delicious respite. It feels like vacation. When you have one baby and you hold it all the time and are on so constantly, sitting down with the baby feels like that is “all” you do. I remember wishing to be free to be a complete human again. Now, with three other complete-human kids needing things, sitting down with the baby does not feel like the ongoing work that it once may have felt.
He does like to sit on a knee and pump his legs with enthusiasm!
Some things also haven’t changed. As I posted to Facebook recently, this week I was on the elliptical while Tanner slept. I started talking about how I was looking forward to my oatmeal for breakfast and how I was fantasizing about eating it. Then I started laughing and telling the kids about how when Lann was a baby I used to wait all morning to eat my oatmeal, until he went down for his morning nap. I would walk around getting weaker and headachy and sort of depressed and imagining my bowl and how good it would be. “How sad is that?!”
Then, the realization: Oops! I guess nothing has really changed in 11 years!
(Except my oatmeal has lots more chocolate chips now…)
Here is a picture of Tanner “opening” his first gift on the Winter Solstice:
I knocked them out too! I really wanted to be drinking Nutella cocoa, making Christmas decorations, and brainstorming awesome biz plans for 2015 and not doing any grading at all, but I also tried to hold appreciation and gratitude for this work that I can do from my kitchen table with my baby listening to my heartbeat at the very same time.
(You might not be able to tell in the pic, but I also had an earbud in one ear because I was listening to Red Tent facilitator training recordings at the same time too! That’s how I roll. Later, I listened to audiobooks at 1.5 speed while grading. There may be nothing better than being able to read a book AND do something else at the same time. Dream come true!)
I also asked Mark to take a picture of some of my favorite accomplishments of 2014. Baby, M.Div degree, and finishing the facilitation of a year-long Rise Up curriculum with my women’s circle:
And, here are a couple of more pix from Christmas, including my cute new doll (Alaina got one too) in her crocheted boho vest made by my talented mom as well as lovely new handmade wine goblets. Also, the boys in their made-by-my-mom beard hats and Alaina in her princess hat and my brother in his Cthulu hat (which was too awesome not to include!):
We also got to experience more cousin power on Christmas!