Jake’s birthday is imminent. In just a few days he will be one year old.
It’s so cliche, but I cannot figure out where the last year went. It’s been a year of a lot of changes — sold our house, moved back to NY state, quit my job/career thing. Through all that Jake’s been happily along for the ride. I spent five months of maternity leave just loving on him as much as I could, and he made it so easy. He practically came out of the womb smiling. And once he learned how to laugh, man, it barely stopped. He is one happy guy. His smile lights up his whole face and is, in a word, infectious.
After the maternity leave, I went back to work three days a week, and Jake went to day care with his sister. He seemed to instantly win over the girls who worked in the infant room. They would light up when we arrived in the morning, and gushed continually about what a wonderful baby he was. He didn’t sleep much for them – he is and has always been incredibly sensitive to noise when he sleeps – but no matter to them, because his demeanor was always cheery and easy-going.
Then we sold our house, and moved, and I gave my notice at work, and my notice at day care, all in late September/early October. At that point Lane had just started in a new classroom so her teacher wasn’t much attached to her yet or vice versa, so that wasn’t an issue… but because Jake was still a baby he had remained in the infant room, with the girls who doted on him without remorse. But regardless, the two center managers knew Lane since she’d started there at six months old, and Lane’s previous teacher was now the teacher in the classroom Jake would graduate to once he mastered walking. They all cried when I told them. Cried. I cried, too. As much as I was looking forward to my days with my babies, it was emotionally very difficult to remove them from an environment where they were so well cared-for and loved, and where I knew they were safe. I had about 15 minutes of sentimentality about leaving my job… leaving that day care center was so much more difficult for me. I still miss them, and Lane still talks about a couple of her friends and asks to see them.
Of course, being home with them isn’t all gumdrops and lollipops. There are times, like right now, where Frank just caught Lane smacking Jake and put her in time out and now she’s wailing from on our bed for me, like I’m going to go easier on her for being mean to her brother. Or when Jake fights having his nails cut so hard I’m tempted to duct-tape him to a chair to get it done. Or at the mall today when Lane decided listening was optional so she lost the privilege of visiting the Princess Store (a.k.a. the Disney Store) and she became a wet noodle and I had to carry her to the car wailing and wet-noodle-like. And the times, which really occur nightly, where Jake refuses to sleep more than two or three hours at a stretch.
But mostly, really, it’s fun and amazing and awesome and fulfilling. I love watching Jake and Lane interact and love on each other, seeing them learn, seeing them play and playing with them, and more than anything feeling like I can be a better mother because I’m not trying to cram all that motherhood into the too-small window after work, when everyone’s tired and cranky from a long day. Though I suspect Frank thinks I’m tired and cranky all day anyway, because that’s mostly what he sees when he gets home from work every day. Two kids are a lot of work, especially when one of them is a three year-old with a body capable of sustaining a constant fusion reaction… because seriously, she barely eats, so cold fusion is the only way I can think of that she has as much energy as she has.
And her constant state of motion provides such a contrast to her brother. He’s a cool, content dude. Happy to be in a sling, happy to be in a stroller, happy to be in the playard, just happy. Crying from Jake means one of three things: he’s tired, he’s hungry, or his sister has him in a headlock. Though, that’s becoming less true nowadays, since the boy is walking. He’s hurt himself as much as Lane has injured him over the last couple weeks.
He’s not just walking either… he has a veritable inventory of skills. He claps. Oh, does he clap! He claps after he walks, he claps when he hears anyone else clapping, even if they are on TV. He claps when you laugh. He’s quite a pointer, too. He has one word, Dog, though it sounds like Duh. I think in the last day or two Lane has been designated “A”. He points at her and says “A”. One of his most recent additions is tickling. We’re big on tickling, and when I tickle Lane he tries to, too. If you say “I’m gonna tickle you!” he wiggles his fingers at you. He’s also waving with meaning, which is just awesome. And, he knows the sign for milk, which we use for nursing. He doesn’t use it to ask to nurse yet, but when he knows that breastfeeding is imminent he starts signing “milk”. I think, though, his most impressive skill is climbing. Given he’s spent most of his mobile life in this 2 bedroom apartment which completely lacks stairs, he can sure get up a flight of stairs awfully quickly. Or get on a step stool. Or on the padded ottoman in our living room. He can nearly get himself into the bathtub by himself.
He’s just such a little person now. I love it.