Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to the Summer of 2012, isn’t just a couple of days away. It’s still April, right? It really can’t be May 24th today. But, alas, it is. And in all honesty, I knew this day was coming all week long. It’s been exactly three months since little Elyse made her noisy arrival into the world. Even though three months isn’t really that long of a period of time, it certainly feels as if our second daughter has always been a part of our family. We’ve officially cleared the quater-year mark, or what Taylor and I have referred to as “the three worst months of parenting.” And we’ve survived without any major scars. Today, Elyse isn’t so much a ball of need as a bundle of joy. She still needs constant care, but she is definitely more aware of our presence and rewarding us more and more with her broad smiles and cute little coos. I remember the first three months of Clara’s life being so much harder than these past few have been with Elyse. Perhaps it was because Clara was a TERRIBLE sleeper. Or, perhaps it was because Clara was our first living child – the first one to wake us out of a sound sleep multiple times a night, the first one to cluster feed (i.e. link two feedings back-to-back) in the dead of
night and the first one teach us that not all newborn babies nap. Thankfully, Elyse is nothing like her sister in these regards. Quite the opposite of Clara, before she was three months old, Elyse slept through the night (meaning 5-6 hours of straight sleep – yeah for me!), only suckered us into a cluster feed once or twice and naps very peacefully for a large portion of the day. Clara broke us in; Elyse is giving us a break. We couldn’t be more thrilled.
Speaking of Clara, she just adores her little sister — well, most of the time. When Elyse cries, Clara has one of two reactions: 1). She’ll grab a receiving blanket and cover Elyse’s body or 2). She’ll grab a receiving blanket and cover Elyse’s face. Sigh. Lately, she’s been covering Elyse’s body more and more. I’m taking this as a good sign. There have even been a few occasions when during a particularly fussy moment Clara will race to Elyse’s side, grab her little hand and say, “It’s okay, Elyse. This is Clara.” I really need to have my video camera on 24/7 in order to capture some of these moments.
So, as I’ve done the previous two months, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect upon some of the things that I’ve learned during Elyse’s third month of life. In addition to teaching me a thing or two more about parenting this month, Elyse also surpassed a major infant milestone: She rolled over from her front to her back last week. Considering she was born prematurely and her adjusted age is really two months, we couldn’t be happier! So without further adieu, here’s how this past month has enlightened me:
Lesson One: Routines are a good thing.
I’ve always thrived on the advantages of having a game plan in place for the day/week/month and knowing exactly what’s in-store for me at any given point in time. To me, routines = certainty, and when things are certain, I’m a happy camper. I’ve also discovered over the past two and a half years that my penchant for monotony, boring as it may be, and general aversion to spontaneity is shared by babies and toddlers alike. Although quite adaptable in their own little ways, Clara and Elyse are happiest when meal, nap and play times occur on a consistent basis from day-to-day. Let’s take Elyse, for example. Thankfully, she’s put herself on a nighttime schedule. For the last few weeks, she’s been going to bed around 11/11:30 p.m. and waking up around 5/5:30 a.m. I’ll feed her at 5:30, put her back down by 6 a.m. and then she’ll sleep until around 8:30 or 9 a.m. And during the day, she’s consistently wanting to nurse every two hours or so. Believe me, I’ll take nursing frequently during the daytime hours for the chance to sleep a solid six hours at night. Parenting has definitely taught me how to choose my battles.
Lesson Two: Time goes by even faster when you have multiple children.
I thought the first couple of months of Clara’s life flew by in a flash until I had Elyse. Because our days are so routinely busy, they sail right by. Our mornings are spent getting dressed, eating breakfast and playing. Before I know it, it’s lunchtime. Clara’s nap time — 3 p.m. — comes quicker each day. While she naps, I take Elyse downstairs with me for a workout. My workouts now take much longer since I oftentimes have to stop mid-run to feed Elyse. But, as long as I can get back to my treadmill, we’re both satisfied. Every so often I squeeze an appointment or errand into our routine — you have to change things up every once in a while, right? And since the beginning of the month, we’ve been attending a weekly music class on Thursday mornings. While Clara and I sing and dance, Elyse usually catches a cat nap. For now, this routine works well for us. But I know that as Elyse becomes more active and Clara begins cutting back on her nap, it’s going to change. So, even though my life is quite predictable at the moment, future changes to our daily routine will add in just the dash of excitement that we need.
As I’ve said during the past two months — sometimes I really feel like a broken record — it simply amazes me how quickly time passes by. The older I get, the more I appreciate the value and scarcity of this precious commodity. Before I had children, it didn’t faze me much when I slept in on a Saturday morning or stayed in bed watching movies before facing the day. But now, I choose to get up and spend those extra few hours catching up on chores or spending quality time with the girls. As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” And when it comes to Clara and Elyse, I don’t want to miss a thing.