He squirms like a dog trying to scratch an itch it can’t reach. First he turns one way, then he turns the other way. He rolls onto his back, and then onto his stomach. Finally, he settles with his back to me, his tiny body nestled into the curves of my own. He is not as tiny as he once was but he fits perfectly into the blank spaces of my body. A part of me I didn’t know existed until it was there. This thing- motherhood. It hits me out of the blue some days. A part of me I did not know existed until it was there.
Last night was a good night. Casey went to bed around 9:30 and actually slept in his room the entire night! The last time I went into his room in response to his cries, it was light outside, the edge of dawn seeping in around the lowered window shade. It was sometime between 7 and 7:30 in the morning. He was sitting up in his bed, barely fussing, just letting us know he was awake, waiting for my arrival. I brought him back into our room and succeeded in laying down for another thirty or forty minutes until we got out of bed at 8:15 to go make coffee.
Since we have moved Casey into his own room, we have managed to keep him in there the entire night only a handful of times. Usually, I end up bringing him into our room in the early hours of the morning because he either isn’t sleeping well or because I know I need a longer stretch of uninterrupted sleep and refuse to get up anymore. Casey isn’t a bad sleeper, neither is he seeing through the night. Four or five hours of sleep in a row is a big deal for us. We speak fondly of that one time he slept for six hours in a row the night before we moved from Seattle to the Midwest. He generally wakes up every 3 hours or so but he is pretty easy to get back to sleep. I worry that we are doing something wrong sometimes but my rational self knows that we are doing just fine. My rational self, that rascally wise woman who lives within, gently reminds me that he is a breast fed baby who is still nursing and who, until very recently in baby terms, slept snuggled between the two most important people in his world. [This is me on a good day- catch me on a bad day and I am worrying about our every parenting decision, Googling ‘toddler sleep problems’ and generally crazy with exhaustion.] I am consoled by the fact that Casey has become a great napper, taking two naps so consistently each day, that I can usually predict within five minutes when he will fall asleep.
Anyway, this morning, walking into Casey’s room, I thought, “success!” Even though I knew we would be starting our morning routine before too long, earlier than I might wish, it was a good way to start the day.
Mornings are always my favorite time.
We sit and watch the birds out our front window most mornings. First the cardinals come, showy with their red beaks. Mama and papa cardinal share seeds and it looks like they are kissing. On the outskirts, there are always robins, “red-breasted” but really orange, waiting for their turn. I point them all out to Casey. “Look at that fat robin under the bush!” The robin in question on this particular morning, was a very rotund robin, standing pompously, breast puffed out indignantly, but I instantly worry about using the word fat. I feel angry that I have to worry about such things, angry that our politically correct culture has made the use of this three letter descriptive adjective so questionable, but still, I worry. Now that Casey understands just about everything we say to him, we are more aware of what we say in front of him- not only the words we use but the context in which we use them.
Casey is still sticking to his two favorite words: this and that. It’s sometimes frustrating that he won’t say anything else, no matter how many times we repeat the names of things. On the other hand, I’ve been using baby sign language with him for a while now and all of a sudden he is using all of his signs! He won’t say ‘open’ when he wants a door opened for him, but he puts his hands together and then throws his arms open wide (his version of the sign) as if he is saying “open the door because here I come!” It is his newest sign and he does it with abandon, a huge grin on his face. When I ask him if he wants to put his shoes on, he bumps his little fists together, and when I offer him a cracker, he pats his forearm with his hand. Of course then he gets said cracker and shares it with the dog, literally letting her take a bite off and then taking a bite himself. I’d intervene but it’s too cute to stop.
Anyway, Casey loves sitting on the blue bench beneath our large picture window and watching the birds go about their business outside. I’m amazed how long he will sit still to wait for their arrival and then observe them as they peck at the seed, strewn across the lawn. The birdfeeder we stuck on our window goes largely ignored (I’m hoping that will change when the finches arrive) but there is plenty of birdseed spread across the lawn and the front walkway. Casey had a ball taking tiny handfuls of birdseed and throwing them into the grass and the squirrels are equally happy with the piles he poured onto the sidewalk.
One thing I will say about our son, he may not be using a plethora of words yet, but he is a great mimic of sounds. I point out the cardinals and the robins and the doves and try to teach him the sign for bird:
“Look at the birdies, Casey! See? Birdie. Tweet, tweet, tweet.”
“Tee, twee, tee.”
Yesterday, he started pointing out the window, “this, this!” I looked out to where he was pointing at a Blue Jay, bullying his feathered companions as he searched for seeds along the front walk, his brilliant blue and black feathers in stark contrast to our mottled lawn.
Casey really looks for and notices the birds and I find it fascinating. I draw a lot of inspiration from sitting and looking out our front window; the scenery may be the same but the view is always changing. Casey finds the birds in the trees near the window and points them out. He watches them hop around the yard and preen themselves when it rains. The other day we saw two ducks waddling down the street on the opposite sidewalk and Casey didn’t even know what to say. Except, of course, pointing to them, he looked at me and said, “this!”