27 March 2013

Attempting to click "publish"

I don't fully appreciate Eloi's general laid-back personality until he loses it. Yesterday and today, he's got one of those baby-misery colds with low-grade fever, constant snot, possibly an ear infection. Continually tired but only sleeps for twenty minutes at a time, compared to his usual solid 1-2 hour naps twice a day. Kvetchy and cranky and only wants to be, whimpery, in my arms. So I hold him, or he cries for a few minutes while I run to do something, then pick him up again. Sad little dude. But boy, it makes me realize how nice it is that, as long as it's not eating or sleeping time, he's usually a seriously content kid, happy to bat his toys in his play pen, scootch around the floor in search of lint to nibble on, or flap his arms in happiness while he hangs out in his high chair.

It's not great timing for him to be sick, because we're leaving on Friday for our first little family getaway, one that doesn't involve flying to a different country to visit others. Instead we are renting a Citro├źn Berlingo, holing up in a stone farmhouse, and spending a few internet-free days in the cold damp of Belgian spring. We're hoping to explore the Ardennes a bit, but if we have sick kids, we might just stay in and read lots of books. It might be a disaster of not sleeping and whiny cooped-up children, or it might be a relaxing break from our regular routine. We shall see.

Ever since we exhausted ourselves with airplane trips and jet lag this Christmas, we resolved to stay put for at least a few months, so we made M's family visit us for February break instead of vice versa, and we're not taking a trip during the two-week Easter break, except for this four-day getaway, and again M's parents will come to us during the school break. We do have a trip planned to the US in May, but at least we will have managed to made it five months without getting on a plane. (Maybe the longest I've gone without doing so in...gosh, more than ten years? Maybe we also went about that long the spring Gabriel was born.)

And I have to say, this resolution to stay put has been SO GOOD. Whether it's the not-traveling, or the developmental step of turning three, Gabriel (dare I even say it?) has been SLEEPING. Predictably. All night. As in, we tuck him in at 7:30 and he pores over a book or two on his own then puts his books away, crawls back into bed, then falls asleep. And stays asleep ALL NIGHT, possibly waking himself to run to the bathroom (on his own) and running back to his warm bed (on his own). And then he sleeps until 7:30 or so, and wakes up happy and rested. This is... huge. We've struggled for three years over sleep issues with this little guy, and it feels really really good that he's somehow figured it out. The sleeping, and the staying asleep. I'm curious to see how he'll do in a different bed in a different house, if the good sleep habits will transfer... With our track record, probably not, but hopefully it won't be hard to get back in a rhythm after just a couple of days.

I've been managing to keep up with my five-year diary (although I abandoned it last fall for a few months, I've gotten back to it), and it's been amazing to compare what life was like just one year ago. Gabriel at just two was just so much younger--until going through this stage I wouldn't have realized what a difference 2, then 2 and a half, then 3 makes. At 2, Gabriel was still baby-ish in many ways, and we were still, again, going through a big rough patch of sleeping.

We'll see how things develop with Eloi, but although he is still feeding frequently during the night, he goes to bed at 6:30 like clockwork, and I can lay him down in his crib drowsy but awake, and he'll fall asleep. Likewise, after the feedings, I lay him back in his bed and he drifts off without protest. (In fact, if we bring him to our bed during the night, he has difficulty falling asleep, instead excitedly grabbing our faces and flopping around.) Gabriel was the complete opposite, and was never able to fall asleep quietly in his crib on his own, even after many strategies and routines and attempts, so I have high hopes that we won't have to go through quite so much drama with this child over sleeping issues. Of course, Gabriel potty-trained himself without so much as an accident, and to make up for it Eloi will probably be the opposite. Or whatever. I'll take it!

Speaking of sleep, the baby has stayed asleep long enough for me to write this entire post! Poor thing, I hope he keeps sleeping, because he needs it. I'm going to download a few photos of egg decorating from yesterday and do a little menu planning for our weekend away (sticking to the basics, just in case the house is outfitted with, like, one frying pan and one pot).

25 March 2013

The secret blog

I have to confess something: there is an entire, second blog's worth of draft posts waiting to be published on this web page. But I don't publish them, and I'm trying to figure out why.

In part, because they are unfinished and raw and I write them fast then never find time to go back and polish. In part, because when I post so erratically I don't want the one entry on my blog in a month to be me complaining, for example, about the physical toll of parenting. In part, because this blog has an identity crisis: I wish I could write mainly about words and poetry and books and languages and living abroad, but I really write mainly about babies and kids and being a mom.

But also, and I'm starting to think this is the main reason, who I'm really writing for is myself. I get nervous when I think about people reading my little thoughts or stories of our family, but those are the things I want to set down, so I will remember them, a long time from now. I don't want or care much about links or pins or tweets or reader counts--although I do like the thought of loved ones being able to keep up with our lives, a little bit. But Facebook more or less fills that function, doesn't it?

I'm not sure what to do with this realization. I doubt I will go back and publish those other posts--they're linked to a moment in time that was a week ago, a month ago, a lifetime ago (literally a lifetime, when it's Eloi's life). But that's exactly why I am anxious to record, and anxious to keep writing. I love looking back at old blog posts, before kids, or when Gabriel was a baby (even though there aren't many of those). My own words capture and trigger my memory better than Facebook status updates or even photographs can. In addition, despite my qualms about audience, the at least quasi-public nature of a blog is what motivates me to continue to write.

So. We shall see. I will keep writing, and maybe or maybe not clicking "publish." And, because this is exactly the kind of thing I want to remember forever, in all of its messiness, a little portrait of our morning:

7 am. I am laying dozily in the warm bed, next to a baby who has decided that it is morning and life is grand! Squeal! Clap! Screech! Log roll! Scoot to the edge of the bed and attempt nosedive until mom grabs a leg! I should be getting him dressed, because the Mister is dropping him off at daycare this morning, exceptionally, due to all the ice on the ground and due to the fact that I have a work meeting. But Gabriel has, in the meantime, also come into the bed from his room, and is curled up so cozily in the hollow of my arms.

So the Mister, who has just dressed himself, starts dressing the baby next to us, and Gabriel touches his forehead to mine and whispers "hi! g'morning!" with a grin. The Mister is late, so he is getting frustrated, and then Gabriel starts flailing his feet and maybe-on-purpose-maybe-not almost kicking the baby's face. So I grab his feet to me, and sternly tell him that his feet should not be anywhere near the baby's face. We have a little talk and I try to convince him that we should get dressed too, but he earnestly tells me, eyebrows raised, gesturing at the clock he can't read, that we should stay in bed "a foo moh minutes."

The baby is now lotioned, diapered, and dressed. The Mister sets him in the bed and says that he'll go down to eat breakfast, and I suggest that he take the baby with him so they can leave more quickly. But he doesn't like that idea, because he's thinking he'll have to manage the baby while running around--as he does every morning--to find the last-minute items before departure. But I tell him to stick the baby in the high chair, since that's what I do every morning while I prepare the kids' breakfast/school lunch/daycare bottles. I try to say this neutrally. But the running late and possibly the fact that he had to dress the baby when I should have done it make him tense and we are both a bit snippy.

But here's the kicker, and the reason I am telling this story. While the Mister and I are having this interaction, the boys are sitting on the bed, facing each other. I have half an eye on M. and half an eye on them, a hand on Eloi's back to make sure there's no pushing or kicking or the baby doesn't dive off the bed. Instead, Gabriel leans forward and puts his arms gently around Eloi, and says softly, so I almost don't hear it as I listen to the Mister, "Good morning. I love you, baby brother."And then he gives him a kiss on the forehead.

This, in all of its messiness, is life with small children. It's kicking and kisses, snuggling but also running late, shrieks over clothing changes and then two seconds later swagger over a "cool" shirt, a gurgling clapping baby then an enraged hungry baby, and you never know what's coming next. It might be a bit of magic, even in the midst of crabby sleep-deprived conversations.

I want to remember this particular bit of magic, so I'm recording it here. A picture is impossible, a Facebook status doesn't cut it, my memory won't hold it given that I'm operating on months of no more than three consecutive hours of sleep. Given that it's just an ordinary morning, a morning out of thousands like it. But now it's here, in this repository.