Family & a five month old

8:45 AM

In the spring papa bear usually starts his adjunct teaching schedule in DC which means that we make the two hour drive from our house to the DMV almost every weekend. That gives us the rare opportunity to talk A LOT. It's nice, baby girl falls asleep just as we leave the Shenandoah Valley behind and switch our fm to DC stations. Route 66 rolls on and we remember what it's like to talk about things other than grocery lists, sleep training, "where are her mitts for bed?," emails, bills and "did you take the dog out?" Our mind's wheels stop, unlock and change positions. We dig deep. We check up on how we're doing as parents, as spouses and as dreamers. We share frustrations, questions that we've amassed over the week and sometimes, if she's still asleep we'll even have ourselves a good old-fashioned intellectual discussion. It's nice. Like really nice, like "gosh I've forgotten what it's like to feel like a human with valuable thoughts in one's head" nice.
This particularly Friday we were talking about V's five month birthday which one of us "celebrated" at 2:36 am (the exact time she came into this world) in her nursery bleary eyed, half dressed and shivering by her crib. Five months people!! This is HUGE. Those clothes I tucked away into the bottom drawer back in October are now popping open thanks to those chubby thighs, the teething ring has been pulled out and I find myself shopping for rash guards for six months old babies. I remember thinking those first few weeks that it will be ages before she wears that shirt, before she needs that teething ring and before I'll be looking for clothes that say "6 to 9 months" on the tag. And yet here we are.
It's been a wild and crazy ride. Yes, there have been some of those picture perfect "peaceful" moments of us laying in bed in the morning gazing at each other and falling in love all over again (I live for those moments!). But most days I feel like I'm on those moving walkways at the airport where someone is constantly barking orders overhead - "baby's hungry!!!" "change diaper 'tis stinky!" "wash the dishes for once!" "throw some amalgamations of food into the slow cooker and just press START!!" "put on deodorant!" By the end of the day my feet ache, I'm pretty jumpy from all the coffee and I say things like "rinner's deady!" In the flesh it's even more romantic than it sounds by the way...
But the funny thing is that I've probably never been in a better place emotionally and mentally in my life. I find that in the same breath that I'm complaining about the lack of sleep that I'm expressing gratitude for this absolutely A+ family that papa bear and I have created. I'm rarely jealous, I feel fulfilled (because how can you not with so much going on at all times right? right???) and I look upon our future with excitement and bravado. I've found that time and becoming someone's mother has softened a lot of my hard edges; made me less judgmental, angry and haughty. Because honestly, and there just is no way to make this sound any less cliche, when you've made a tiny person everything else just seems so useless and silly. I still have big goals and dreams and I'll be damned if I'm not in grad school within the next couple of years but there was an unmistakable "GAME OVER" feeling when I held her in my arms for the first time. On those rare mornings when we're all laying in bed together, slightly sweaty and woozy from a mid-morning nap, just grinning because when life hands you something so spectacular what else can you do but grin I feel like it just can't possibly get better than this? These are the "when you were a baby" stories in the making, the ones I'll think about on that long and lonely drive after dropping V off at college and cry over. I'll think about that absolutely ridiculous face she makes when she sucks in her bottom lip and puffs up her cheeks and I'll just die because SHE HAS A DRIVER'S LICENSE AND LINGERIE!!! [seriously though I will literally die I think]
So when you see me at Target one afternoon with a pathetic excuse for a top knot and in the same pair of yoga pants I've worn every day that week, with a very large pair of sunglasses shielding my eyes I probably look like the biggest waste of space. And yet when I look down at my cart and see that wide slobbery smile I feel like I'm totally WINNING. Having a child has this odd way of simultaneously making you feel like a complete disaster and a hero. You lose it all (sanity, sleep, hygiene and the gift of speech) and gain everything.
I've never been one for living by the book, I was raised to crave adventure and new experiences (living on three different continents before the age of twelve will do that). I like meeting new people, falling in love with a new country, state or dirt road. I live for change and stability has never been a part of our vocabulary as a couple. So this zigzag existence that we've been navigating since we found out I was pregnant last April has really energized me and been exactly what I've been waiting for. I will give every last penny in my bank account for a solid six hour night's sleep but you bet I've been loving seeing what is around the corner every day because more often than not it's something new. I feel full, alive and oh-so-grateful for this life I've been given and every minute I'm just praying I'm not squandering it (though those four hours I spent watching "Pretty Wild" clips on Youtube last week were probably, ok DEFINITELY, majorly squandered... So for that I hope God forgives me).

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