Second Child

Dear Charlie,

I want to apologize.

I swore I wouldn’t fall into “second child-itis” with you and I have fallen. Hard. There are so many ways I feel like I am “failing” you.

With Eddie, I scrap booked the day lights out of his first year. I kept track and wrote down everything. I recorded first words and monthly milestones and growth patterns.  I printed pictures each month and clipped them together to make sure I would include them in his book.  I wrote letters to him on the 23rd of each month with all my notes on hand to reference and put into words.

I have not been this vigilant with your milestones.

Daddy tells me that I have been keeping it here on the blog…but when I do a search of all my posts for you, they are mostly letters–heavy on sentiment and feelings and light on the facts of your growth.

Part of me is sad about this.

second child

I mean, I had been so good about it with Eddie. But with Eddie I was sick. I had trouble being close to him without getting upset. He much preferred to be with Daddy than with me.  I clung to those stats.  They proved I was doing my job as his mom. He was growing and thriving and he was happy.

I think about writing things down about you a million times a day.

Just yesterday you said, “Ma Ma Ma! Juuuuuuu!!!” as you stood by the refrigerator. I told you to say please and you smiled that HUGE smile of yours with all your teeth and your squinty little eyes and cooed, “eeeeeeessss!”

I melted all over the floor.  You’re not even 18 months old yet.

second child

By comparison your brother didn’t say any real words until well after he turned two. And even then he wasn’t stringing 2-3 words together for a thought or request. He didn’t say “ma ma” until he was a full year older than you are.

It’s not a bad thing. You know Eddie, he says all the things now and he is so smart and articulate. It’s hard to really imagine him not having words.  I wrote down little notes each time he said a new word.

I have not written down any of your words, Birdie.  They just come too fast!  I think maybe the first word was “no”, but I could be wrong. Off the top of my head the words you have are:

  • ma ma
  • da
  • di di (Eddie) –which you don’t say very often. You just know who “Eddie” or “brother” is.
  • woe
  • yo (and also yo, yo! when Daddy comes home.  So silly!)
  • NO!
  • Juuuuu!  (juice, water)
  • mik (milk)
  • num num (for food)
  • ni ni (for goodnight)
  • bye bye
  • aw gu (all gone)
  • hi!
  • shoooooos (shoes)
  • bop (pipe, your pacifier)
  • boom (you repeat this after us, but you also use this for the word “poop”)
  • Ow
  • Di (diaper)
  • eeeeeeeesss! (please)
  • nus (nose)
  • tus (toes)

And I am sure there are more. You study what we say and try to repeat it. It’s so fun that even Eddie tries to teach you words.

second child

You are quite good at knowing all the parts of the face including some body parts like fingers, toes, feet, buns, tummy, and of course penis. Because boys are weird.

You are over 25 pounds and wearing size 5 diapers.

Size 18 months is a hit or miss fit for you. Most shirts don’t quite cover your big buddah belly, but the shorts are the right length.

You want to do everything Eddie does. EVERYTHING. If he is playing on a tablet or a computer or a video game, you think you can do it too.

second child

You are a climber. I’m positive some of my new gray hairs are because you can climb on anything you decide to climb. It’s also freaking Renae out at daycare this fall. She tells us with panic what the newest thing you have climbed is. Daddy and I just nod knowingly.  Yup. That’s Bird.

This summer you crawled up three concrete steps at the cottage and proceeded to fall down them and land on the concrete slab…on your head. You didn’t cry. You just stood up, rubbed your head (where there was a big scratch and a goose egg) and say, “woe.”  Then you walked away.

Your uncles are still talking about how you are indestructible.

second child

I knew you would be fine and I didn’t rush to you.  With Eddie, I would have cried and rocked you and fretted over a concussion.

With you, I gave you a pat on the buns and told you, “good hustle, Bird.”

Am I failing you?

I don’t think we are, but sometimes I question whether we are being fair.

You put yourself to sleep every nap and every night. Sometimes you cry. We let you.

We never let Eddie cry. Never. We spent HOURS rocking him and sleeping on the couch with him. Never did he cry himself to sleepy.

You normally just fall asleep, but when you don’t, we let you cry. It only lasts 15 minutes at the most. Then you are out.

Is this wrong?

Is it because you are the second child?

I think so. In part.

second child

But I also think it’s because you’re not Eddie.

You’re Charlie.

You are a different child.

Yes, you are our second boy. Yes, you are another Sluiter. Yes, you both have blue eyes, blond hair with curls, and a wicked cute smile and dimple.

But you are not the same child, so we are not parenting you as the same child.

You are fiercely naughty in a way Eddie never was. You ignore the word “no” unless you are using it against us. You laugh as you do something you know you’re not supposed to. Did I mention you climb all the things? Even our high top dinner table? You are rarely unhappy unless you are hungry or tired. Then your tantrums are fierce…FIERCE, I say. But quick. As soon as you have a snack or a nap you are back to silly Bird.

second child

And your cuddles. Oh you’re my cuddly momma’s boy. So different than the first time around with Eddie who was incredibly attached to Daddy.

I’ve been a bum about writing things down, yes. I’ll try to get better. I want you to have as rich of a pile of my memories as Eddie does. I want you to know about yourself in a time that you will not remember. I want you to have that.

You are my second child, but you are not second place.  You are not less than First.

You are different.

You are my Charlie T Bird.

And I love you with all of my heart and soul.

Love, Ma Ma

our time

I didn’t take many lone pictures of Eddie while we were at the cottage last week. That wasn’t on purpose, but as I click through the hundreds of shots Cortney and I got of those five days, most are of groups of people doing group things.

There is a pretty legit reason for this: during our waking hours, we were all always together. We were with each other.

Eddie and Charlie always had someone to play with…even if it was each other while the rest of us sat and chatted.

2013-08-19 10.06.36

The days were a relaxed busy…if there is such a thing.

We kept the boys going going going.

But at night…when it was quiet in the cottage, and his little brother had gone to bed, and his aunts and uncles and cousins had gone to play cards…Eddie and I readied him for bed.

The first night he said to me, “mom, I’m scared.”

When I asked why he said, “Because it’s new and that is a little bit scary. Will you lay by me?”

I told him I would be sleeping in that little bed with him all night since daddy would be sleeping in the front room with Bird.

“Can you just stay in bed now? Don’t go read your book?”

The first night I tried to tell him I would just be outside his door. He could lay with his head where his feet should be and stare at me if he wanted to.

He did.

The second night we both sat up reading until bed time.

2013-08-17 20.48.09

He simply would not go to sleep unless I was in the bed with him. So Ok, I went to bed by 10pm every night.

I’m so glad for this.

We would talk about all the fish on the walls (there was a wall paper boarder of fish around the room) and how they  made a pattern.

Each night he asked me to read the same three books, the last one always had to be Love You Forever. He would recite the song with me:

I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

Each night he asked me if I would keep him safe.

Each night he rolled into me and put his arm out to make sure I was there as he fell asleep.

He has always needed someone to be there as he drifted to sleep, but knowing I wasn’t leaving made it different. I wasn’t getting up to go to my own bed after he fell asleep. We would chat some nights until I finally would say, “Ok bud. We need to get some sleep. I love you.”

And of he would say, “I love you more than the wide world, mommy.”

No matter how uncomfortable that dang bed was, or how much Eddie tossed and turned, I sort of loved those four nights.

I didn’t get good sleep and as a result found myself heading down a dark road, but in those moments of falling to sleep, all was Ok.

He would start to cry in the night…scared and not knowing where he was. He would start to call for his Daddy because that is what he does at home.

But I would immediately wake up, turn to him and rub his cheek and tell him I was there. And he would immediately settle back into sleep.

Each morning I would sense his waking at least 30 minutes before he opened his eyes. He would start to toss and turn and move his arms and legs. I did my best to sleep through it, but just as the tossing stopped and my mind slipped back to sleep, I would feel his blue eyes.

“Mom…..Mommy?”

When I opened my eyes he would smile, “Hi, mommy. I want to get up now.”

And up he got, turning on the light, finding his clothes, getting dressed, and heading out to sit by grandpa and grandma.

The day had started and it was time to share my little buddy with everyone else.

As much as I really didn’t like the sleeping arrangements or the quality of the bed, I ended up by being surprised by how much joy that alone time with Eddie brought me.

I realized how much I missed his tiny self, but how proud I am of his big boy self.

I also realized how important it is that Eddie and I have time just the two of us.

A little our time.

 

Upsie Down

Ever since Eddie was very small he has hated to be upside down.

He loved to be bounced on our knees or wrestled with, but the minute you pick him up and fling him into a position that puts his feet above his head, he freaks out. FREAKS OUT.

I don’t know how to describe Eddie’s risk-taking.

He is very willing to try new things if he feels they are safe, or if he is sure one of us will keep him safe (aka be directly next to him through the experience).  And even then, once he realizes everything is fine, he easily ditches us.

He never thought twice about mastering bike-riding or going on the go-karts near the campground this past weekend, but when he feels he doesn’t have control of the situation anymore, his bravery goes out the window.

The go-karts ended up freaking him out because, even though he was riding with Cortney, going around the turns was rough and bumpy. He worriedly told daddy he wanted to be done.

He will wrestle and tickle torture and roughhouse for hours, but if he gets put upside down by an uncle who doesn’t know better, he grabs and clutches and cries until he is put right-side-up again.

He is a controlled risk-taker.

I was not surprised at all when he told us he wanted to do gymnastics.

beam

We were sitting down with the Zeeland Rec catalog for the summer programs.  We told him he needed to do swimming lessons, but he could choose one other thing.

Choices were pretty limited for a three-almost-four-year old. He was pretty much the youngest age for any of the available programs.

He quickly told us he wanted to do gymnastics like Maddie and Brookie (the daughters of our daycare mom).

We were happy to oblige. Eddie thrives in environments with lots of organized activities and we feel it’s good for him to learn about turn taking and following directions.

Plus gymnastics is fun and helps with coordination.

horse

It did not faze him that he was one of only two or three boys in the group, but he did love that his bestie Brookie was with him.

(side note: I played carpool mom for the first time in my life for this. Listening to two 4-year-olds have a “conversation”? Totally separate blog post. Seriously.)

But the days leading up to his first day he told me he was scared.

Then scared turned into, “I don’t want to do gymnastics. I only want to sit and watch Brookie do it.”

And then I finally got the real fear one night at bedtime: “Mom? I don’t want them to make me walk on my hands. I don’t want to be upsie down.”

There it was.

I am not sure what gave him the idea that they would make him do that right out of the gate, but in his young mind, gymnastics = handstands and walking on your hands.

He also told me thought it would hurt to stand on his head.

We talked it out and I told him they wouldn’t make him do anything he wasn’t super comfy doing, but that he could trust the teachers to keep him safe.

After just the first day I saw a new confidence in Eddie.

They didn’t make him do a handstand, but he did do a forward roll which he showed us over and over.

After the two weeks was up, Charlie and I got to stay and watch.

floor

I watched in amazement as my little guy confidently trusted his teachers to help him do all sorts of new things…including going upside down into a handstand.

Each new trick he completed met me with a smile and a wave as he returned to his place on the mat for his next turn.

bars

My little guy bounced through the stations with self-confidence. He knew what to do, how to listen to the instructions, how to wait his turn, and then how to get his mom’s jaw to hit the floor.

Not once did he falter. Not once did they have to coax him into anything.

He marched right up each time it was his turn and did the activity.

finished

In the end he got a certificate and a ribbon that will forever be in his scrapbook.

But it’s not the paper and ribbon I will cherish the most from the Tots Gymnastics. It will be the confidence they gave my boy.

He may still have control issues over putting his face in the water…and he may not completely trust me or Cortney to fling him upside down over our shoulders (I mean, we are not gymnasts after all), but he is building up his confidence and faith in himself that he can do things that he tries.

It’s a wonderful thing to be privileged to witness.

I know he will fail at things in life or just not be good at some things he tries, but I hope he never lets those things get him down.

He was by far not the most talented tot in the class (his beam work made me giggle. Grace and balance are not among that boy’s gifts), but he DID it without quitting or being afraid.

I wish I could somehow make that feeling of pride stick with him through everything he attempts. One thing is for sure, he will always have me sitting there on the sidelines clapping for him…and snapping pictures.

The Way You Are Now {Charlie age 16 months}

2013-06-23 17.31.05

You are 16 months old.

Today Daddy was holding you and your legs hung down past his arm almost to his belly button. Last week the doctor said you are now 25 pounds and almost 34 inches tall.

You are no longer my baby.

You run at top speed through the house swinging just the one arm with your one little fist all balled up like you are cranking yourself along.  And you do this running with a little prance that makes the floppy curls on your head bounce all over the place.

Unless they are shellacked down with syrup from that morning’s breakfast.

2013-06-23 13.47.19

You are 16 months.

It’s hard to get a non-blurry picture of you these days.  You are in constant movement.

Except when you’re not.  But in those moments, you are usually glued to my side or my lap or in a hiding place all your own.

Or you’re thoughtfully in your own world figuring out a toy or something you’re not supposed to be touching.

2013-06-28 16.27.04

You are 16 months.

I try not to compare you to your brother, and really, there is no comparison.  You two are just so different. I’d heard it said that just because you have one child, you learn to be a mom all over again with the second.

That is true.

All the things that comforted Eddie are not the things that comfort you (except that dang pacifier.  Both of you had/have a mad love affair with the Pipey).

And all the things that did nothing to comfort Eddie are like home to you.

Where Eddie has never had an ounce of sit in him, you can chill in a chair or on a lap or in a baby carrier forever without complaint.  Your older brother has to do ALL THE THINGS. You like to watch all the things and decide to maybe do the most ridiculous things that you will probably get hurt doing, yet you don’t care because LOOK AT YOU DOING ALL THE THINGS!

2013-07-12 12.58.48

You are 16 months old.

We chose your middle name wisely, Charles Thomas.  You are like your Grandpa Tom (my dad) in ways that make me giggle all the time.

The biggest similarity though is the way you putz around outside.

Most kids find toys and play with them. You walk around like you have a never-ending To Do List out there.  You are a gatherer and an organizer.  You find things (plastic golf clubs, pinwheels, sidewalk chalk, bubble wands, sticks) and you try to carry all the things around.  You even have a little net and wagon that you will put things in to transport them around the yard.

I could sit and watch your little process all day.

2013-07-08 08.31.56

You are 16 months old.

You like to do your own thing. Run wild to the beat of your own drum.  Hide when you want to be alone…or silly.

Your dancing brings joy to anyone who gets to see you do it. Twirls and fist pumping and clapping and giggles and knee bends and head shaking. You love music. Your brother loves music. Yet it seems to be a different kind of love.  I can’t really explain it other than it’s a different type of joy I see come out of you. Both of you are joyful when music is played, but it’s different. Wonderful.

2013-06-09 11.18.56

You are my serious one.

It’s not that you are unhappy…far from that. You are one of the most joy-filled children ever, but you can be quiet…serious…thoughtful…contemplative.

You “take it all in” as your Granny has said.  She sees a lot of your daddy in you.  I do too.

You are the observer.  The watcher.  You pay close attention to things that Eddie never did. I think it’s why your fine motor skills developed so quickly (you were stacking blocks with just one hand before you were a year old) and why you started climbing so early.  It’s why you learn to shake your head and stomp your feet just like your brother.

And it’s why you know what “no” means but choose to ignore that meaning.

In fact, just this weekend you brought me the remote control and my phone all the while repeating “no, no, no, no,” quite matter-of-factly.

You know what you’re not supposed to do. You just don’t care much.

2013-06-27 09.12.11

You are 16 months old.

You have found your voice.  You know what you want (milk, snack, my phone) and you know what you do not want (to hear the word “no”).

You have learned by watching Eddie that the fridge is where the milk comes from and you walk up to it, throw your Pipey out of your mouth, and grunt “uhhhh!  UHHHH!!!” while standing there.

You have developed what Emily calls a BossyFinger. We are not sure if you are bossing, requesting, or just pointing things our for our entertainment/general knowledge, but you do it a LOT lately.

You hate when we say “no” or when we redirect you. You are our tantrum thrower, but it’s sort of funny. You stamp your feet and cry a little bit.  Sometimes you’ll even through yourself on the ground onto your back. But it’s always over in a matter of minutes. And then you’re onto the next thing.

2013-07-13 12.48.39

You are 16 months old.

At this age Eddie had no words.  He signed to us, but did not speak. And he did not say “Momma” until he was nearly 2.5 years old.

You are already spilling with words.  Your first word was “Hi”, but a close second was “Momma”.  Granted it was more like, “muh muh muh…” and it usually involved you clinging to my legs, but I’ll take it.

You say “no” a LOT lately and you are trying so hard to duplicate animal  noises when we go through them (although you already knew what the dinosaur says for about six months now…RAWRRRR!!!”

You have also started to say “buh bye” and doing the cutest little wave.

This weekend I got you to say “nose” (nuhz) and “toes” (tuhz”) when we pointed them out.  You know where your tummy and button and eyes are too, but you haven’t started saying those yet.

2013-07-04 16.03.09

You are 16 months old.

You are my sweetie boy.  You want cuddles and to be held even though you are incredibly independent. After watching things, you can totally toddle in and feel confident, but when you are tired or just need a moment with mommy, you have no qualms about snuggling up next to me or backing up into my lap for a quick sit.

You are a mommy’s boy through and through and I will take it.

Even when it means you wake up in the night and need me as a buddy for a few hours.

Oh how I wish to be your buddy for always.

2013-06-13 17.07.40

You are 16 months.

You have the best laugh I have ever heard in my entire life.

I am not sure where it comes from but it’s a very deep chuckle…it borders on crazy dude laughing and your dad and I love it.  Eddie loves to make you do it.

When the giggling gets too much for even the chuckle it turns into squeals.

And then as you gasp for breath, you are known to put your face against my face and make a kissy noise.  Or take out your Pipey and plant a big one right on my mouth.

2013-06-26 08.07.53

You are 16 months old.

And you want to be big.

But I want you to stay small.

Because even though you are getting tall and Big Boy-ish, you are still mostly baby.

My baby.

Super Four

PicMonkey Collage

Dear Eddie,

You turned FOUR on Sunday.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around how you can already be four.  Four years old.  Every time I thought about it this weekend, my mind went racing back to the operating room where we first met.  Me all splayed out on a table, strapped down as if in my exhaustion I cared enough to flail about, and you all chubby and slimy and mad and cold.  Good times, Ed.  Good times.

Your birthday this year has been especially exciting.  It’s the first year you understand upcoming events and could count down and look forward to your big day.  Ever since daddy had his birthday in December, you have been asking if you were next.  You had to wait through Charlie’s party, my birthday, Kingston & Kyrie’s party, Joe’s party, Trisha’s day, Addie & Lexi’s party, Aunt Sarah’s day, and finally…FINALLY…you were next.

We talked a lot about what you wanted for your birthday: a new bike, superhero stuff, Legos, the baby doll at Target that actually drinks her bottle, that pancake making pan that you saw on an infomercial.  Every time you saw something you loved you announced, “mom! put that on my birthday list!”f

We asked you what kind of party you wanted for your birthday and you said, “um, maybe a pool party with my little pool and my cousin Jack and my friends.”  So we planned it.  We sent out invitations.  We bought a new inflatable pool that could accommodate more kids. We bought a slip n slide. We bought a “baby” pool.  You wanted “hot dog on a bun” for the party, so we went to Gordon’s and bought a case of dogs and a ton of buns and fixin’s.  You helped me pick two HUGE watermelons.

Your birthday party was on Saturday.  The day before your birthday.

2013-06-22 12.14.58

On Friday, we had some unexpected guest cancellations.

I often wonder what your first memory will be, Eddie.  Most people have their first memories around your age.  I really hope you don’t remember the Friday before your party. I was disappointed to the point of heaving tears.  I spent almost 30 minutes on the phone with Grandma while you and Charlie played.

But I know you heard me.  I saw you climb to the top of your clubhouse and stare at the field behind the house.  You don’t miss much, Eddie.  After I got off the phone, you came and sat next to me and said, “I don’t have any friends, Mom?  Is that what you told Grandma?”  The tears got hot in my eyes all over again.

“No, buddy. That is not it at all!  You have SO many friends who love you LOTS!  It’s just that some can’t come to your party anymore.  Big stuff came up and they have to take care of their big stuff.  But they are so sad they can’t come.”

“But Jack is coming?”

“No, buddy. Uncle Chris just let me know that they are going camping.  No Jack.”

He looked down at the ground.  “It’s Ok, mom. We will have fun. It’s my party!”

The next day it was indeed your party.  Our neighborhood friends, Kelsey, Bentley, and Harry came at the last minute and you and Bentley had an absolute ball splashing and chasing each other.  Uncle Mike and Uncle Cody both brought their swimsuits in case you needed some fun…but they didn’t even have to bust them out.  You have have an awesome family who loves you so much.  Aunt Kenzie even showed up though she had originally thought she would miss it.

2013-06-22 13.10.13

Unprompted you thanked everyone for coming to your party, and you thanked daddy and me about a hundred times for your party and for hot dogs.  You made us so proud, Eddie.  So proud.

On your birthday you woke daddy up with your new Batman Mask on.  It was hilarious.  Then we had cinnamon rolls followed by a treasure hunt to your gift from us.

2013-06-23 09.00.52

When you saw it, instead of jumping on, you rushed over to me and threw your arms around my waist. “OH THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!  FOR MY BIG BIKE!”

Then you did that excited little dance you do where your arms get flappy, and you jumped on in your jammies. Daddy took video, but since we are all in our jammies, we will keep that gem off the blog.

That afternoon, Daddy “swam” with you in the pool and showed you how to use the slip n slide.  After your brother’s nap we went to Red Robin (yummmmm!) because that is your favorite and immediate choice when we ask where you want to go.

2013-06-23 17.28.38

You got the corndog (because three hot dogs on a bun over the course of two days was not enough hot dog for you, I guess) and polished it off claiming LOTS of room for ice cream.  Last year you shared your ice cream.  Not this year.

2013-06-23 18.01.18

When we got home, you announced you were STARVING for some birthday cake…and what do you know, I happened to make you the lemon cake you requested!

We lit the candles, sang happy birthday to our four-year old, and you blew them out.

028

Later that night, I put you to bed.  It was my night, but if it hadn’t been, I would have asked daddy if I could do it.  I need the snuggle and talk time with you.

We used daddy’s tablet to read Oh The Places You’ll Go and Happy Birthday To You both by Dr. Seuss.  You were almost asleep by the end of the second book, so when we turned it off and you rolled over, I quietly whispered, “Happy Birthday, Eddie.”

Barely audible, you whispered back, “thanks, mommy.”

“I love you,” I added.

“I love you better than the wide world,” you managed.

“Oh. I love YOU better than the wide world too.”

And then you fell into the steady breathing of a boy who had loads of excitement and sugar.  Of a little boy who just turned four and feels so big.

I lay there even though I knew I could get up. I replayed your birth day in my head.  I let the tears wet the pillow under my face.  I apologized to you again for being so sick your first year of life.

And I thanked you for being the little buddy I never knew I needed.  For being so smart and funny and silly and witty.  For being strong-willed and bossy and whiney and emotional.  For being so much like me.

I don’t know if you will remember any of these events, but my heart will remember them always.  And my prayer is that even though the actual events may fade from your mind, they feeling of being so loved by so many will always be there with you.

Because so many people love you, but I?  I love you most of all.

More than the wide world.

014

Love,

Mommy

Love Bird

486790_10151945218694616_1599809447_n

I was mistaken when I thought Eddie was a cuddly child.

He doesn’t really like to cuddle.  He likes closeness.  He doesn’t like to be alone.

As a baby he liked be rocked (every night), but what he wanted was someone there with him, even just sitting in the rocker while he fell asleep in his bed.  At almost four-years-old he is still this way.  After we read books, he just wants one of us to lay by him.  It’s how he feels safe.

I only realized the difference between needing closeness and being a cuddler because of Charlie.

Charlie has never been needy like Eddie.  I don’t mean needy in a bad way, but Eddie does need us–to lay by him, to sit by him, to go downstairs with him, to color with him–more than Charlie does.  Eddie will play by himself…as long as someone is in the room with him.

Charlie does his own thing.  He will play by himself, sit in a totally different room by himself, and when it’s bedtime all I have to say is “nigh nigh?” and he grabs his glow worm under his arm and trucks down to his nursery.  No fuss.  Hugs and kisses and down he goes.

945263_10151945218649616_1241918837_n

I missed out on a lot of the first year of Eddie’s life.  I was emotionally distant and, after I went back to work when he was 3 months old, physically distant.  I was sick and don’t remember much of his first year.  Charlie’s first year made that even more painfully obvious to me because I just couldn’t remember what Eddie was like at that age.

One thing I know is that while I rocked Eddie to sleep almost every single night, he didn’t really spend all that much time in my arms.  He and I cried together often and fell asleep in a pile in the chair out of sheer exhaustion, but not because we just couldn’t stop cuddling.

Charlie and I were inseparable during his first 6 months. I had 3 months of maternity leave followed by 3 months of summer break.  He slept easily and I wasn’t fiending to put him down. I let myself heal and relax.  And because my anxiety was under control, I was Ok to take him out in public with me.

I wore Charlie wherever we went.  If we weren’t at home with him sleeping next to me or on me, we were out and about with him sleeping in the Moby.

And now?  Eddie needs us to be there and Charlie does not.

Except…

Charlie is our Love Bird.

972004_10151945218579616_1523918960_n

He gives kisses.  Seriously, they are so sweet I die a little bit.  He leans in and says “mmmmmmmuah!” and lays an open-mouth wet one on your mouth, nose, chin, eye…wherever that sloppy mouth lands.

Eddie never did that.  He is just starting to give us kisses now. I think it’s because Charlie does it.  I’m not kidding.

Charlie gives random hugs.  He will barrel over and just fling his arms around us and then truck off like it ain’t no thang.

Charlie wants to sit on a lap. All the time.  If you are on the floor, your lap is his seat.  He just sort of comes over, turns around, and backs up until his behind is on you.  If you don’t make room for him, he will wiggle around on you until you do.

He will crawl up on the couch or chair and mountain goat his way all over me until he can get himself nuzzled in and then lean back like I’m his recliner.

He will find the one little cranny in Cort’s arms and wiggle his way in and just chill.

He will hold my hand just to hold it.

923154_10151945218674616_772721521_n

And he will press his face to my face or his head to my nose…like he knows I love to take in the sweet smell of lavender in his hair.

He will softly repeat “ma ma ma ma” while he lays his face on my shoulder.

Both of my boys are love bugs, but Charlie is our cuddle monster.

It never ceases to amaze me how they can be so similar and so different at the same time both in big and small ways.

Most people would say that both of my boys are cuddlers, but Cort and I know there is a difference ever so slight. While Eddie drifts to sleep to the slow breathing of a parent next to him, Charlie thrives on morning hugs and kisses.  While Eddie feels safe with a parent in the room, Charlie recharges on lap-sitting and Eskimo kisses.

It’s even hard to describe here.

Both of my boys have their hearts on their sleeves: they both love to give and get love from us and from each other.  Their love languages are just a bit different.

Each perfectly theirs.

He Writes Stories

I never told Eddie that I have a blog.  He has no idea what a blog is or what I do with mine.

He doesn’t even know that I teach writing.  Eddie only knows that his mommy is a teacher and has a classroom and big kids that she teaches.  He also knows that I spend lots of time doing “work” on my ‘puter.

2013-04-19 17.05.40

A few months ago, Cort took one of our defunct laptops (yes, I know this is a “you know you’re married to a computer geek when” joke), put Windows 8 on it (don’t even get me started on how dumb that is), and made Eddie a “Game ‘Puter”.

It has internet, but the only sites that are not currently blocked are PBS Kids, Disney Jr, and Nick Jr.

Eddie also has access to Word.

2013-04-19 17.06.35

A few weeks ago, I asked Eddie what game he was playing.

“I’m not playing a game.”

“What are you doing then?”

“I’m writing my stories.”

“Your stories?  What kind of stories?”

“Well, this one is about daddy and his best friend, Mat, and how they never get to see each other because Mat lives so far away and they are sad because friends love each other and want to see each other.”

“Wow, Eddie. That is good.”

“Yeah, but now I think I will write the story about when God died.”

“You mean when Jesus died?”

“Yup. Same thing.”

And away his little fingers went all bunched up over the keyboard simulating what he has seen Cortney and I do when we are on our computers.

2013-04-19 17.05.49

Sometimes his stories are based on something we read from one of his books or from his Bible.  Sometimes they are based on what he knows about family (he has also “written” about how Papa and the cat are both in heaven and he misses them).  Sometimes he makes up funny stuff right from his imagination, like the time he told me he was Bad and he had a Bad Cat and a Bad Baby and the Bad Baby knew karate.

Each time he “writes” a new story or song (oh yeah, he also writes songs apparently), he calls me over to see what he has written.  The last story looked something like this:

lkdjldflkaa;l;dxosal d  ldsakjalfsjlka;l kdljnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn afjasl;xada;lkljf;alskaljsf;lkdjs ldfjsalf jls;kfdj;sa df ald als asl    l sflkjasdl;aeuiiuogj 123456789011121314151617181910101010101010l’iaekl’;        lksfasfsl;f ko

asflksadkfa

s

alkfasll i[aajaf’as

I believe that one was about the Bad Baby who knew karate.  Clearly.

All joking aside, my heart melted when he told me he likes to write stories.  He has asked me what the letters he puts together say, and I told him that letters have to be put together in a special order to make words.

“Like in my books?”

“Yup. Like that.”

“Will you teach me to do that?  Will you teach me to reads those words too?”

Oh my heart. At that moment I wanted to pull him close to me and tell him how special words are.  I wanted to whisper in his ear that words can set your soul free of so many burdens, either by writing out your own or reading the words of others.  Words are freeing.

But instead I smiled and told him, “yes.”

Yes.

So much yes, Eddie.

The Unassuming Mother’s Day

I have so many words in my head and heart for Mother’s Day.

So many mothers I would love to write about and give words to so they know what impact they have had on me…and how they continue to inspire me every single day.

So many different types of moms: laid back ones, working moms, stay at home moms, teacher moms, best friend moms, groovy moms, trendy moms, veteran moms, newbie moms, optimistic moms, realistic moms, dreamy moms, dreamer moms, hot moms, sad moms, hurting moms, waiting-to-be moms, past moms, present moms, my mom.

All beautiful.

All deserving of something extraordinary.

But this year there was no fanfare.

And I was glad for it.

There was no running around to all of the mothers and trying to thank every mother who has ever mothered me or inspired me to mother.

There was sleeping in.

There were boys pouncing on the bed.

There were new jammies that someone (ahem…EDDIE) had already told me about.

There were cards…one in particular with a “macaroni and cheese machine” drawn on it.

There were wet kisses and tight hugs.

There was fighting and whining and pooping in diapers and barging into the bathroom.

There were groceries gotten and laundry done.

There was feeding of hungry boys.

There was grading of long-overdue tests.

There was a bubble bath.

There was rocking.

There was wearing sweat pants all day.

There was this…

008

Smile as hard as you can.

And hold on even harder than that.

Mother.

So much power in that title.

I hope I do justice to it.

April 15, 2013

Monday, April 15 was anything but normal,  but as it goes with those who don’t live in the center of the abnormal but have small, current-event-oblivious-children, it was totally normal in Sluiter Nation.

We worked. We had daycare. We had a rampant case of the Mondays.  We came home and tripped over each other while dinner was  made.  It was…typical.

Cort was in the kitchen making chicken. I was trying to occupy Charlie so he didn’t turn into a hungry dictator before dinner was ready and Eddie was playing on the computer busy writing his “stories”.

The news was on because obviously.

We never thought about the news being on.  It is always on this time of day.  Charlie has never cared about TV and Eddie has lately been having his screen time while dinner is prepared, so the news is on because it’s not a kid show, but it’s also not something that will slip foul language.  It seemed neutral.

Until Monday, April 15.

“Mom, what is that ‘splosion?” he asked over my shoulder.

I turned to see Eddie looking intently at the TV coverage with a puzzled face. “Did someone drop a bomb? Did those people running get hurt?  Are they helping people?  Did someone go to Heaven?”

The questions came fast, but calmly. He sat next to me on the floor never taking his eyes off the TV that I was willing to just shut off by itself.

It didn’t and even though I felt like a total mom fail for allowing him to see this sort of tragedy, I tried to explain.

“Yes, buddy. It looks like someone let a bomb explode by all those people who were running a race. And yes, it hurt people. And yes, some of them died and went to Heaven. And YES, those people you see running? Are trying to help the hurt people.”

“That’s good. We need people to help people.”

And then he went back to what he was doing.

Dinner was soon ready and the local news had moved on to weather and sports and less heavy topics.  Eddie brought up the ‘splosion a couple more times, but didn’t seem scared or fearful.  In fact, knowing that people were helping people seemed to be what was most important to him.  That and that those who died went to Heaven with God and his Papa and his cat.

He is three.

He brings up death a lot, but not in a fearful or worried way.  He seems to just want to know about it.

And because communication is important to Cort and me, we encourage our boys (well, Eddie right now), to ask us anything at all that they may be thinking about.  This has come in the form of how seeds grow to why plants and trees die to why girls have a vagina and not a penis.

Someone recently asked me if Eddie is in the “why” stage.  I guess yes and no, but he mostly makes observations and then asks “what? where? when? how? who? and why?”  He asks all of them

I don’t feel like I spend a ton of time answering just “why?”  We mostly have conversations.

On Monday he didn’t ask why someone would bomb other people, but when we were having the conversation about it Cort and I did say the bomb hurt lots of people and to us, it seemed like a really awful thing to do to someone else.

Eddie agreed, “yeah, because hurting people is so so SO mean, right guys?”

Right, bud.

So maybe I am a mom fail for letting my son see the news, and we did our best to limit it the rest of the week.  But in the end, he felt comfortable talking with us about it and wasn’t afraid or worrisome.

I’m not sure that I could call it the right thing or claim some parenting strategy here, but I will say that his reaction to the whole thing helped me know we are doing something right with our parenting.

He asked questions, he told us what he thought, and we had a conversation that left him satisfied, but not afraid.

I’m still sorry that he saw it and that he now knows about that level of evil, but I’m proud of him for asking questions and responding the way he did.

Eight Weeks

“Hi mom. How did you sleep?”

Every day for a week this was my morning greeting.

Every day for a week Eddie and I moved into a comfortable buddy relationship that we have never had before.

Every day for a week I marveled at how Charlie went from my mushy little baby into a full on little so-and-so walking and babbling and being full of being Charlie.

Every night I fell into bed completely exhausted.

It was a wonderful exhaustion.

There were times when Eddie and I faced off, when he stopped using his words and instead used his screams and grunts.

There were times when I thought I might lock Charlie in his room for the rest of the day because he wouldn’t stop climbing on ALL THE THINGS (oh yeah, because he does that now).

I learned that Charlie is not ready to drop his morning nap unless we are out and about and super busy, but I also learned that his limit is 3 hours of nap a day.  Doesn’t matter how it’s broken up or when it is, 3 hours. Limit.  Otherwise? We are all up all night with someone who wants to party. Ahem…Charlie.

I learned that Eddie has a voice and that voice has something to say.  When Eddie is heard, his behavior vastly improves.  Every choice was talked over between the two of us.  Cereal or pancakes for breakfast?  Grapes or bananas?  Stop for gas now or later?  Should I have another cup of coffee or have some water?  Should I put Bird down for nap now or later?  Is it a cleaning day or a relaxing day?

Sometimes we decided he didn’t need a nap that day and he helped me with laundry and cleaning and playing Legos and entertaining Charlie and racing Mario Kart and making dinner.

We read books together and napped together and cuddled together and ate together.

He told me stories and made me laugh.

He broke my heart telling me when kids were not nice to him and how he didn’t say anything.

We talked about why flowers and plants and pets and people have to die, and how there is a time for new things to be born and grow.

He asked questions and made observations.  I asked him questions in returned and offered explanation when I had it.

Charlie discovered he can go pretty fast on two feet rather than two knees/two hands.  He found that he can climb on the footstool, the chair, and the couch.  He can also fall.  A million times.  But not a million-and-one times.  Nope.  That is when he suddenly got on his tummy and slide down feet first.  And clapped for himself.

Charlie learned the art of pushing boundaries.  How close can I get to touching something before I am redirected?  Does crying help? No, it does not. Darn.

Charlie protested milk and insisted on a bottle at least twice a day with FORMULA, NOT MILK, MOM! And if I insisted on milk? The bottle came flying back at me and wailing ensued.

Sometimes you choose your battles.

I watched two little men that at one time were little blobs growing in my tummy.  Now they are people with personalities and they are making their presence known with clapping and screeching  and dancing and singing along to the Sofia the First soundtrack.

And now we are back to our routine of daycare and work.  A different kind of exhaustion that is not nearly as satisfying.

But it’s just eight more weeks.

Eight more weeks until we can go back to the business of playing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...