A Painted House

Dear James: Month One

Posted on: January 5, 2011

Note:  Readers from my former blog will be familiar with the monthly letters I write to my babies for the first two years of their lives.   As each new letter will be posted here I will be moving over all previous letters to my archives for continuity.  Thanks for your patience as I work on all this administrative stuff!

Original post date: May 17, 2008

Dear James,

Yesterday you turned one month old.  I decided some time ago that for at least the first year of your life, I wanted to write you a letter each month and tell you about the things you’re not yet capable of remembering.  Things that mark your growth and development and that when you’re a teenager and pushing us, your parents, to the brink of insanity, we can point back to and say, ‘That, right there. That’s the exact moment where it all went downhill.’  And your father can say, ‘I told you so’ about my idea to mix a little nacho cheese in with your milk, just to see what happens.

This month’s letter will likely be epic in length, because more new things have happened in the past 30-ish days than will probably take place in any such timespan in your future.  If you can put ‘Learned to Breathe’ on your list of Things Accomplished in the past 30 days, I’m pretty sure that indicates it’s been a big month.  And learned to breathe, you did.  You’re pretty good at it, too, although that doesn’t stop me from going in routinely when you’re napping and placing my hand on your chest to make sure it’s still rising and falling.  It always is, and I’m always relieved.  You’re really going to hate it when you’re 9 and I still do that, but until you can tell me to knock it off, I’ll probably be there, checking on you as you dream. When you’re old enough to be annoyed by me, then I’ll consider it safe to let you breathe in peace.

What you haven’t picked up on quite as quickly is learning to sleep.  Well, to be specific, learning to sleep more than two hours in a row.  This is all normal for someone your age, as you need to eat every three hours or so, but it’s an adjustment for those of us closer to 30 years old than 30 days.  I’m a big fan of sleep and learning to operate with only about half as much as I received before your arrival has been a challenge.  One night last week as I was getting out of bed at 4:00 to feed you for the second time since going to bed, I turned to your Dad and said, “I’ll pay you anything you want if next time we do this, you be the one with the boobs.”  But I know that this stage soon will pass and I’ll probably miss the chance to cuddle you close and whisper things to you in the middle of the night. I often spend the time asking our God to protect you, keep you strong and healthy, and bring you to know Him intimately.  In the mean time, when you wake up early in the morning and are ready to start your day before even the sun, I bring you into bed with your Dad and I and the three of us cuddle and doze together as a family.  It’s the best hour of our day, and the only thing I’ve ever known to make 5:30 a.m. a time to which I look forward. 

You and I have started going out places together, and I’ll admit that I love taking you with me.  At first it was surreal at first to carry you around, as if I was posing as a Mom.  I love how cute you look in your carseat and I love how people in a store can’t help themselves but to peek at the baby.  I’m so proud to take you out, to let the world know that you’re mine.  And I’m not the only one. Your Dad couldn’t wait to take you to Menards, to introduce you to his personal Mecca, the place where they have all the Man Stuff.   We even took pictures.  Of course we take pictures about every third time you blink, so we would have been amiss not to document that momentous occasion as well.  At this rate you’re going to grow up convinced that you’re some lesser-known celebrity and we’re just particularly attentive paparrazi.

Speaking of your carseat, it’s the one place you do sleep in long stretches.  You love the car, so many things to look at and the vibrating lulls your rear to sleep which is apparently the key to the rest of you dropping off.  Last weekend we took our first long trip in the car to Grandma and Grandpa Pierce’s house and you slept the entire way, almost 5 hours.  And even though I could see you in the baby view mirrors the entire time, when I went to get you out,  I was amazed how much I had missed you.  For the past month every three hours around the clock, you and I have spent an hour together, just the two of us as you eat and I smell the top of your head. (Which, by the way, is the most intoxicating smell I’ve ever known.)  It seems I’m addicted to you, James. 

You’re not the only one who’s learned to breathe this month.  I’ve learned, too. You’re a sweet, contended, funny kid that with very few exceptions, has made me laugh outloud, delighted me, every day of your little life.  But to be honest, I didn’t register a lot of that for the first few days we spent together.  The first couple of weeks of your life I was too busy worrying about when to feed you, how much you ate, whether you were sleeping enough or too little, what to dress you in and whether I could leave you alone long enough to shower.  I second-guessed each decision, micromanaged your routine, and wondered whether the things I was doing in these early days would have negative consequences later.  But in the second half of this month we’ve found a rhythm, you and I.  I’ve relaxed and you’ve adapted to our family life, and somewhere in the midst of the changings where you’ve gone through three diapers before we’re done and the feeding debacles where we both end up covered in your breakfast, I started breathing again.  And somehow, just your presence has made the world smell better, fresher, sweeter.  You’ve made this world a better place for us, James; a pretty impressive addition to one’s Things Accomplished list, especially for your age.  I’d put it under Went to Sleep in My Bed Without Crying and right above Supersoaked My Dad.



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