Baby Steps: Drunken Sailor

Oscar walking

Oscar, my little drunken sailor 🙂

Oscar is getting stronger everyday with his newfound passion: extreme toddling. He still uses the cart some, but mainly for the hilarious thrill of running it into the backs of mommy and daddy’s legs or making the dogs run for cover. More often, he’s walking.

Here’s what walking looks like right now. He strides somewhat bowlegged, swaying side to side like he’s got sea legs or has had one sippy cup too many. His arms are upraised for balance, but it looks like more of a celebratory ‘huzzah” type gesture. Indeed, his enthusiasm and joy at his progress is infectious. He catches himself mid-stumble, sways on his tiptoes, then returns to his peerless toddling form and continues, halting and swaying, ever onward.

He looks like a very small, very cute drunken sailor.

He also looks disconcertingly like Zero Mostel in Fiddler on the Roof (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here—around 2:15, that’s what Oscar’s walking looks like), especially when his arms are upraised. It kills me. Damon doesn’t get the joke, but he doesn’t share my passion for musicals. Meh.

I keep trying to get a good picture, but all I ever manage to capture is a blur of movement. My only excuse is that he’s a very fast-moving drunken sailor / Tevye.

How the Tables Have Turned

It seems only two weeks ago I was writing about the great energy boost I get each spring. Actually, it was only two weeks ago that I wrote that. Huh.

Shortly after penning that piece, there was a seismic shift. Around six weeks, similar to last time, my energy dipped. Hormones: gotta love ‘em. Now my mind is still racing and I’m still super inspired, but my body… just… can’t… quite… muster up the energy to do much more than sit on the couch and cheer Oscar on as he races to and fro.

You catch that? Yes, that’s right. We’re pregnant.

This is going to be epic. 🙂

As a funny little aside, this is our 100th post. Nice little bit of happenstance. Huzzah!

Baby on a ring

Damon and I call this “baby on a ring”

Baby Steps: Walking Tall

With the proper start of spring came Oscar’s first steps. He’d been walking while holding on to things for a while already, but by “first steps,” I mean he’s walking on his own, unassisted by holding on to anything. He is giddy with the accomplishment.

Weekday evenings go like this. We get home. He protests loudly when I put him in his playpen (so I can let the dogs out). I hear the song “Don’t Fence Me In” in my head as the soundtrack to his complaints. I bring the dogs back in, feed them, and liberate Oscar from his babycage playpen.

Oscar and his walker

Oscar pushing his walker (and wondering why I’m in his way *grin*)

While I prep dinner, little man sets about his work. He grabs his walker—it’s like taking a taxi for a new toddler—and zooms through the living room, through the dining room, into the kitchen… and into the back of my legs, often enough. There he stops, grabs the hem of my shirt or scarf, walks around me on tiptoes, grinning up and gleaming with pride. He lets go of my hem, toddles across the kitchen floor, arms outstretched for balance, laughing with raucous glee at his success and sheer daredevilry (is that a word?).

With each step, he laughs harder, till by step eight or nine he’s doubled over and falls down to his knees. He looks up at me again, bright-eyed, then crawls or walks back to his walker, and off he zooms for another cab ride around the house.

Repeat ad infinitum.

We take a break for dinner, then it’s immediately back to the races. He doesn’t even have time for the stairs anymore. Stairs are so two-months-ago. No, now it’s all about the perambulation. He doesn’t even stop for the dogs, poor things—they do their best to stay out of his way.

By seven o’clock, he’s tiring out but far from slowing down. Still zooming and testing and walking and testing in his constant toddler circuit training course. I think he would probably keep going till he just passed out on the floor, legs twitching, but when he starts stumbling and complaining more, Damon and I nod to each other that it’s time to intervene and put him to bed.

I carry him upstairs, and he complains all the way, reaching back, wanting to movemovemove! But by the time he hits the changing table, the thumb’s in his mouth, he’s rubbing his eyes, and his giggles are interrupted here and there with monstrous, jaw-cracking yawns. I take off his shoes (if they even lasted this long) and find his feet steaming hot and damp with sweat. I pull his socks as far as they’ll go before popping off of his feet—this always makes him laugh—and as the cool air hits the hot, damp skin of his feet, he slaps them against the end of the changing table as if to congratulate them on a job well done, flexes his toes, and grins up at me.

I love the punctuation of those smiles, each one marking a beat, an acknowledgment that passes between us. I used to measure out our time together in feedings. But now? Now I measure it in those smiles.

And lots (and lots and lots) of baby steps.

Making Grand Parents

This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding. Look at them. Aren’t they beautiful?

The Grand Parents

The Grand Parents

Damon and I are blessed with these four incredible parents. We’ve always loved and respected our parents, even though I’m sure we didn’t always act like it. But now that we’re parents and they’re grandparents, I regularly am stopped in my tracks by the sheer force of appreciation of them and admiration for what they’ve done in their lives. People often joke that when your children become parents, then they’ll understand—payback time. Luckily, our parents aren’t jerks about it *grin* but yes, I “get it” a lot better now than I did even just a year ago.

What makes a grandparent? I think the name says it all. These individuals have been in the new parent trenches. Just like us, they often agonized over the little stuff, tiny details of their new baby’s life, concerned with doing their utmost best by their child. Somewhere along the way, they noticed that a bruise didn’t mean the end of the world – in fact, most things just kind of sort themselves out. The important things are bound up in treating your child and your spouse both with love and respect. This big-picture understanding of parenting, knowing that (hopefully) your kids aren’t totally screw-ups despite a mistake here and there, makes them grand.

They’re fun. They can relax. Sure, they can put their foot down when it’s important. They understand the concerns and anxieties of us, the new parents, and they treat us gently. They are more than happy to play with their beautiful grandson while Damon and I catch our breath and stretch our backs. Each of them is going to have something different to teach Oscar. I can’t wait to see the best of each of these good people reflected in his life.

I think back on all the moments we’ve shared as children to our parents in the past, and I think of all the moments Damon and I are sharing now with Oscar. It floors me. This parenting thing isn’t cyclical. You don’t love your children and they love you just as much back. I mean, they love you, but will they ever love you as much? Or more to the point, how could they ever love you the same way you love them?

I love my parents deeply—I always have. They have seen me through some hard, hard times. They’ve also been there when I was bubbling over with enthusiasm and ebullience—and they are still there when I need them. Debbie and David, my in-laws, are amazing individuals and regularly humble me with their openness, love, and acceptance. I look at my husband—their son—and I see them in him. I am so grateful.

Just as I didn’t know my capacity for love until Oscar was born, just as it broadened and deepened my love for Damon, so has being a parent deepened my love for our parents. Each day, each struggle we have with Oscar, each moment of giddy joy, is colored by the awareness that this was a moment they shared with me and Damon as children. I can see them—our grand parents—in us.

So to them, I say thank you. Thank you for taking care of the important stuff. Thank you for loving us even when it hurt—you loved us well. Thank you for keeping us clean sometimes—and letting us get dirty, too. Thank you for playing with us, reading with us, making every little thing into a game. Thank you for accepting us, strengths and foibles, smiles and sullenness. Thank you for giving us life, and for giving and giving and giving and always forgiving. Thank you for all the joy. Thank you for being grand.

Growing Pains: Changing Relationships

When Damon and I first found out we were pregnant with Oscar, I had this bright vision of the future in which all of our friends were totally comfortable with kids, would have plenty of free time, and would stop by often to visit and play with our little bundle of joy. They would all be aunties and uncles. And Damon and I would most definitely have the time and energy for all this visiting and would even go out at least weekly to prove that parents still have social lives.

Flash forward to the present. Winter is begrudgingly giving over to spring, having never really gotten his fair shake. As the chill teases out of air, I reflect that almost all of our relationships have changed in some way—some are better, some are just different, and some we’re still figuring out. Perhaps that bodes well for lessons-learned down the road.

Across the board, all of our close-knit group have been incredibly supportive and positive. Largely, I think these relationship shifts are due to competing priorities, availability, and preferences for all of us. Our lifestyle—Damon’s and mine—as parents is very different to our prior lifestyle. We can’t be as flexible as we once were. Scheduling is a mess, and for a long time evenings out were nixed simply because I was too tired from nighttime feedings, etc. We can’t make plans at the last minute unless Oscar can be included, and a lot of times even when Oscar is welcome to come along, it’s challenging because of his naptime and because it means that at least one of us is going to be only half-present, trying to divide our attention between our child and our friends. It is far easier to have people come to us, though even that can be complicated.

Some of our friends have huge, exciting transitions occurring in their own lives as well – starting a new career, going to school, moving and renovating new homes, and caring for their own families. This past year, it seems everyone has their own “baby” to nurture along. I wish I could be around for more of it. I wish we could have everyone be more a part of our adventures. These new patterns are neither good nor bad. They’re bittersweet. They’re the reality, and I’m guessing they’re the reality of anyone who goes through an enormous transition or growth. There are days when I miss my people like hell. And I wouldn’t trade my young family for the wide world.

Then, these golden moments come blossoming out of nowhere. You know a good friend—a “family” kind of friend—when you can go without seeing him or her for months and then pick up right where you left off. The gap in between is like, I don’t know, like waiting for strawberries to be in-season. When the season hits, you savor the sweetness, and that best-of-all-sweetnesses carries you until the season comes back around.

Like this moment. Two weeks after Oscar was born, our new friends Anna and Jeremy joined us at my parents’ for dinner. Anna is an amazing baker and was super excited about making Oscar his first birthday cake. It still makes me all misty.

Anna & Jeremy

Anna & Jeremy celebrating with newborn Oscar

Stealing by my pal Robbie’s house every couple of months, even if just to run through and get caught up on her renovation projects, a quick hug, and then both of us back to our work.

A weekend visit in December with our friends Kat and Christian in Alexandria, not to mention meeting the newest addition to their family. Enjoying ridiculous spreads of finger foods (who needs a meal when you can gnosh like this?!), copious amounts of ‘80s music, decorating the tree together, this awesome movie, and lots of baby cuddles.

Kat and Anna

Visiting with Kat and Christian and their new buddha-baby

Going to brunch at Anna and Jeremy‘s. Anna just happened to have a tank of helium left over from an office party, and thus Oscar got to play with his first balloon. We ate well. We laughed a lot. We love these people.

Oscar and his blue balloon

Le ballon. Ballon blue. Photo by Anna Strahs Watts

Anna chasing Oscar and his ballon bleu

Anna chasing Oscar and his blue balloon

Reuniting the gang for an amazing evening out at Robbie’s (we got a babysitter, like real grownups!) to celebrate all her hard work renovating her new house. This group has been gathering together for about ten years, I guess. I love these people. Damon loves them, too. (How could he not? That’s one of the litmus tests I used on him when we were first dating. He passed with flying colors). Being all together again after such a long time was nourishing. I floated for days after.

good old friends

Good peeps: me, Robbie, Damon, Nan, and Joe. Not pictured: lovely Pamela. Photo by Pamela Howard,

Receiving this note from my pal Lauren, who’s got her hands full with her own two kids and still amazingly finds time and energy to be a superhero/rockstar. She nicely sums up all my thoughts:

“We’ve both been going through a lot in our own ways—maybe it’s time to bump our spheres a little closer together again.”

Yes, please.