Thursday, August 27, 2009

Little Wonders Never Cease

Hadley and I had our weekly date with Jill (mommy) and Harper (baby) today. After lunch, we trekked through a local toy store--the kind that you always dreamed of visiting when you were a kid. Not the icky Babies 'R' Us-everything-is-made-in-China kind of store. The kind of store that feels like Santa might just stop there from time to time. The kind that has a big wooden Brio toy train set up at kid-level, just for playing. The kind where the employees seem to love, love, love children and the wonders of play. THAT kind of toy store.

So as Jill searched for tiny maracas for Harper, Hadley and I peeked into nooks and crannies. (That's the sign of a good toy store. Nooks and crannies. Not aisles.) We found art sets with glitter, bubble wands as big as Hadley, colorful wooden blocks, a tiny frog aquarium with disturbingly tiny aquatic frogs in it, Play-doh in all colors, musical instruments--I could go on and on. And as we walked through the store, I began to imagine what the next years will bring: snowy afternoons filled with crafts; Hadley's first meeting with Silly String; her wonder as she chases bubbles in our backyard. And then Jill put it perfectly, "We'll get to experience all of this great stuff all over again."

I'm the first person to cringe when people romanticize motherhood. I'm no expert, but from what I can tell, it's tough work. Wonderful, glorious, fulfilling, tough work. It's not all bubbles and Silly String. (In fact, I can report that the first four months don't include either of those things, sadly.) But I'm really excited to watch Hadley experience all of the good things that childhood brings. I feel like I'm going to open a really big gift, very slowly, little by little, as Hadley reveals to us the simple joys of childhood. One day, glitter and glue. Another day, a castle built of wooden blocks. Such fun we will have!

Speaking of fun...Hadley has started giving kisses. She grabs my face, opens her mouth super-wide and leans/wobbles toward my mouth. She generally lands somewhere near my cheek or nose and she slobbers. With great enthusiasm. And sometimes, right afterwards, she squeals, as if to say, "Wahoo! That was fun!" I never would have guessed that being covered in baby saliva could be so amazingly fabulous.

I'm feeling hopeful tonight--and happy. Happy for Hadley, who has a lot of great discoveries to make. Happy for us, that she will share them with us. 

Hadley and I played with the PhotoBooth application on my Mac tonight. Not great quality, but great fun!

And now, for the kissing sequence...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Growin' Up

First, our latest photo shoot with Daddy...Don't you love those shoes? (Thanks, Auntie Tasha!)

So...In the midst of all this transition, Hadley has started doing all sorts of new things. Last Wednesday, she rolled over (from her tummy to her back) for the first time. (Of course, Jason failed to mention it until this weekend because he "didn't know that it was a big deal." BOYS! Hadley and I rolled our eyes and giggled at him. Then she rolled over again.) He wants me to note that it seemed more likely that she lost balance, but I told him that if it only happened once, perhaps it was a fluke, but since she's done it a dozen times, I think it's a new skill.

Then she rolled from her back to her tummy. Just once, so maybe that was a fluke. Either way, she's a rolling maniac.

She belly laughs now, too. Not all the time, but when something really strikes her as particularly funny. She laughed her head off at the baby across the street, which was both funny and kind of embarrassing  because Hadley could not get a hold of herself. Every time she looked at the other baby, she went crazy. 

And she grabs at everything--including my lunch, when I have her on my lap. If she can get ahold of it, her hands make a beeline for her mouth. She has yet to get any turkey sandwich, but not for a lack of trying.

But one of my very favorite new things is her little folded hands. She brings her hands together like she's getting ready to pray, especially when she's eating. It's so sweet.

I think Hadley's favorite thing is "talking." It's not so new--she's been making noises and cooing for more than a month--but she's really into the rhythm of conversation now. She says, "Ah-goo, eeeeee, aaaaa, iiiiii." And then she waits for me to say, "Oh, really, Hadley? Tell me more about it." And she gives me another four or five distinct sounds, and then looks expectantly at me again, until I respond. We have lots of these nonsensical-but-totally-fabulous conversations.

Everyone told me that babies change quickly, but I had no idea just how quickly. It's exhilarating and a little bit sad; it's such a gift to watch her grow up, but I don't want it to go too fast.

To that, Hadley says, "Ah-goo, EEEE!" I think that means, "Don't worry, Mama. I'm not in any rush to grow up. Now where's that turkey sandwich?"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Adventures in Parenthood

Week one was kind of a bust. Monday was fine, but then Jason and I got sick. And then the dishwasher went on the fritz. And by Friday, Hadley had figured out that I wasn't around as much as I had been for, well, her entire life, and she was not too happy about it.

And I sort of freaked out. Quietly. In my car. On my way to work on Friday morning.

Before, if the dishwasher had broken, I would have thought, "Well, that stinks. We'll have to get it repaired, and in the meantime, we'll have to hand-wash the dishes." But last week, I thought, "AH! The dishwasher is BROKEN! WAAAHHH! When will we have time to do the dishes? And will they get REALLY clean? When was the last time I disinfected the sink? WAAAHH!"

Then I started thinking about that family with 18 children (and their own TV show). I read that they have a commercial-grade dishwasher that washes the dishes in a minute. For a few seconds, I coveted their dishwasher. Then I started taking great comfort in the fact that they are raising 18 children, and Jason and I only have to raise one right now. Truly. I was giving myself a pep talk: "Hilary, you feel miserable. Jason is sick. Hadley is upset. Your dishwasher isn't working. But just focus on raising one happy little person. You don't have to do the dishes now. You don't have to raise 18 children right now (or ever, given the fact that your clock long ago ticked past that possibility). In fact, all you have to do right now is drive to work."

And I felt better. 

Then I laughed at myself because, really, what does another family's 18 children have to do with us and our runny noses and broken dishwasher and new-parent-back-to-work exhaustion?

It's sort of like when things get tough in your life, and well-meaning people say something like, "Well, at least you've got all your arms and legs." And you think, "Well, yes, I am grateful for my arms and legs, but that's a bit of a non sequitur, since I'm really bummed out that [insert disappointing event that has nothing to do with your limbs.]" That's how I felt.

Mumsie came to our rescue with a delicious batch of homemade chicken noodle soup on Friday night, and again on Saturday with fresh produce from the farmers' market. Hadley had a happy weekend with her mommy and daddy (she loves cruising the neighborhood in her Baby Bjorn). Jason and I started feeling better. We even went out to breakfast on Sunday morning.

Week two of my return to work was much better, for the most part. Hadley definitely still wants her mommy and daddy around, but she had a good day with Mumsie and Granddaddy on Monday. She and I ran an errand on Tuesday and strolled around a cute little shopping area not far from here, and she nearly stopped traffic with her cuteness. (I'm not biased. It's TRUE.) She and her daddy had a good day together on Wednesday, and yesterday, Hadley and I had a great lunch date with our friends Jill (mommy) and Harper (baby, 9 days younger than Hadley). 

But today, I took Hadley to my mom and dad's house before I went to work. Really bad idea. First, she fell asleep in the car and stayed asleep when I moved her into my parents' house, so she woke up after I left. My mom said she was happy for about 10 minutes, and then realized that I wasn't there, and got very upset. Let's just say Hadley had a rough morning. 

I was back by 12:30, and she took a long nap after nursing for a good, long while. The rest of her day was very good. She was her regular, cheery self.

So we live and learn. And I've learned that some days will be rough, and some days will be great, and that's just how it goes.

Truth is, I wouldn't trade any of these crazy days for even one minute of our pre-Hadley life. That life was very good, but this one is knock-us-out amazing, broken dishwasher and all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

We survived...

I went back to work today. "Back to work" is a bit of a false phrase because having a baby at home is plenty of work. It's not like I was eating bon-bons and today, well, today I decided to get off my duff and get something accomplished.

Oh, no.

But the work I do at home was so different--so gloriously different--from the work I do at, well, work. For starters, the pay is much better. There's no amount of money in the world that can buy the joy I feel when Hadley smiles or coos or sings. (Yes! She sings! Last night at church, I heard a funny noise beside me; I turned to Jason, who was holding Hadley, and I saw that Hadley was singing along with the congregation. My eyes filled up. I tell you, there's nothing in the world that could have prepared me for the way joy just walks right up and smacks me in the face when Hadley surprises us with a new little glimpse into her personality.)

And then there's the promise of something new every day. At my other job, we have a good little system for publishing the magazine that generally works, and if something out-of-the-ordinary happens, that's not such a good thing. But with Hadley, I'm excited to see what will happen each day. Sure, we'll sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" 98 times and read books and have "tummy time," but she seems always to have a little gift up her sleeve, a new little skill she's going to try out. I love it.

(This cracks me up. Jason says she's thinking, "Mama, I'm goin' fast!" She's really not. I promise.)

And then there's the sheer freedom from deadlines and expectations and budgets and all the yucky stuff that comes with being a gainfully employed grown-up. (Ugh, and HR departments. How I loathe HR departments!) Hadley is so busy learning about the world (her little world) that I can't help getting drawn into her discoveries. She doesn't know about the stuff the can squash a person's spirit. She just knows her butterfly mobile and her daddy's kisses and the satisfaction of good rest and warm mama milk. Living my life in her realm is such refreshing fun, I hate to leave it, even for a minute.

But I wrote not long ago that I hope Hadley learns how to make decisions that are hard, and that's the decision Jason and I made when I chose to go back to work. Truly, I have a schedule that rocks: Mondays, Wednesdays and half-day Fridays in the office; the rest of the time at home with Hadley--editing while she naps, checking email while she sings along with her crazy flashing star, generally figuring it out day-to-day. And I'm grateful to have a job that I enjoy, especially at a time when many people would love to have any job at all. 

It's just that nothing compares with hangin' out with Hadley. So tomorrow, I'm going to snuggle her a little longer when I nurse her, and I'm going to sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" a 99th time, and I'm going to tell her a million times how much I love her.

Yup, tomorrow I'm going back to work--to the best job in the whole wide world.