Watching your children grow can feel like a constant bargaining between grief and joy. It's always saying goodbye in one breath and hello in another, crawling slowly past the excruciating parts while clawing at the incredible ones and trying desperately not to let them slip away so fast.
It's happy and sad.
It's some relief and some regret.
It's looking forward and back, back and forward... it's both.
"Maturing" feels like a strange word to use to describe a baby- or two- but it's what I see happening in my Ira and my Roman. They are coming more alive, awakening to the world in new ways, dying to their baby selves and rising on the steps of toddlerhood.
It's happening so fast.
Like maybe yesterday? They were newborns when I ran to the basement to grab a roll of paper towel and by the time I got back upstairs they were nearly one!
They were so tiny and helpless and now suddenly they are big and they can move and sort-of feed themselves and pull up on the toy box and even make me laugh on purpose.
This is probably the best sword-to-the-heart of the last month: their sense of humor has exploded! They do things to be funny. On purpose. Tiny babies can laugh and be pleased but they can't be funny on purpose. But Ira and Roman can, now. Ooh. That cuts me! This is such a mature thing for them to do: to be funny! To growl and watch for my smile. To bop me on the nose with a ball and giggle. To look me in the eye and grin while throwing pieces of banana to the floor just to hear me smile and warmly scold, "No, no, you stinker!"
Wasn't I just minutes ago gasping in delight at your first fleeting smiles?
Wasn't that just this morning? And now at dinner you pump your tiny first and scream as loud as you can before dissolving into giggles when I jump in feigned terror at the sound of you.
It wasn't this morning, wasn't hours ago, though.
It's been nearly a year.
Nearly a year.
You are nearly a year.
Let's not be too wistful about the passage of time.
We survived things I'm not hungry to repeat. The 10 days of you in Special Care after your birth. 10 days with my longing to bring you home. I'm glad beyond all gladness that you are home with me now. The early struggles we had nursing: the pain, the worry, the constant feeding, the lip and tongue ties, those awful stretches, the long, long, long minutes you spent crying while I pumped milk for you and bounced you in your bouncing chairs with my feet failing to soothe you. The witching hours, the long day-hours, and the night hours when I barely survived my exhaustion.
We made it though that and we are all enjoying our present days so much more. You are almost sleeping through the night now! In fact, you sometimes do! And one of these days, you will both sleep through the night... and so will I.
Our future days are bright and future nights, brighter still.
We have so much more to look forward to!
I can't wait for the beach this summer: to watch you play in the water and sand. I can't wait to see you take your first steps, to listen to your small voices as you learn to speak, and to push you on the swings at the park. In less than a month I can't wait to watch you eat your birthday cake! I look forward to giving you honey on toast, to moving down to only one nap, to holding your hands as you toddle along. This weekend we switched you out of infant carseats to convertible ones and while I whimpered a little inside, remembering how excited I was when we put those in our minivan for the first time anticipating your arrival, I'm also relieved to be done lugging you in those heavy things!
Sad and happy.
Some regret, some relief.
Looking back but also looking forward.
Goodbye and hello: it's both.
Wistful at times, but now and always: how I love to watch you grow.
11 months old!