Now that Scarlett’s first month home is wrapping up, I’m finding that life is finally starting to come back around to some sort of normalcy. Not exactly the normal that I was used to before, but a new kind of normal, and after the month I’ve had, that’s good enough for me.
Scarlett is falling into a very predictable schedule, WHICH IS AWESOME. Like really awesome. Like both kids napping long enough for me to take a shower kind of awesome. She still wakes up twice in the night, but at the exact same times every night. Seriously, you could set your watch to her. And even though waking up at 12:30 and 3:30 in the morning to sit in the dark for 40 minutes, staring at a baby is pretty boring business, it’s a big improvement from waking up every hour on some nights and completely randomly on others. I’m finally spending more time asleep through the night than I am awake.
What also makes it a TRILLION times nicer is that Spencer started waking up earlier so that we could spend our mornings together again. Since I’m on full-time night watch with the little one, he’s made his own breakfast since the baby was born. And up until now, the usual 4:00 a.m. time for us to wake up together has become my first opportunity to sleep for a full two-hour stretch before having to feed her again and then immediately afterward wake Mary up for school, and otherwise start my day. By waking up a half an hour earlier, he syncs his breakfast time with Scarlett’s last feeding, and he brings his breakfast - along with a nice, hot cup of coffee for me - into the bedroom to eat. Because that time together at breakfast was sometimes the only alone time that we got throughout the workweek, it quickly became a favorite time of day for the both of us, and losing that really kind of bummed us out more than we realized it would. It’s really, really nice to finally have that part of our routine at least back a little, even if it isn’t exactly the same.
Matthew is finally settling into his new role as Big Brother-- which has been an enormous, I’m talking tyrannosaurus rex kind of enormous, adjustment in our home.
Now, he’s adored Scarlett from the start; he’s never been anything but affectionate toward her directly, but there was no denying he’d come down with a textbook case of the jealousy bug. And even though it’s perfectly normal (even expected) for a kid his age to need some time to adjust to a shift like that, it really kind of took us by surprise. We’d put so much time and effort into preparing him for all of the changes the new baby would bring home with her while I was pregnant, and he’d always shown so much enthusiasm for it all. He couldn’t wait for her to come. He’d even come to me on his own and tell me that when she’s born, Mommy, I’ll rock my baby Scarlett Barlett to sleep and give her my puppy dog to make her feel better when she cries. I was particularly vigilant about catching warning signs of insecurity and never found a single one.
So NATURALLY I assumed that my son was… you know, superior than other two-year-olds and just above such silly behavioral trends. Duh, right?
The funny thing is, I honestly think it’s been a subconscious insecurity. He’s so adoring to the baby directly that it’s as if he doesn’t even realize she’s the reason he feels jealous. He asks to hold her and “pet” her all throughout the day, and when he touches her, his whole face softens and he cocks his little head to the side and he looks down at her like a little guardian angel. He calls her “Scarlett Barlett” -- (Not exactly flattering, I know, but precious nonetheless, especially because he made it up on his own) -- in this adoring little sing-song voice. And when she cries -- even when she really wails, he speaks to her in this soothing voice that’s just as soft as silk, and with the patience of a pint-sized saint, he peeks into her bassinet, or up at her in my arms and tries to hush her back down to tranquility. It’s really… Ugh, it’s just so sweet it could give you a tummy ache.
But when it comes to me? He’s possessive like a motherfucker. Our normally self-reliant, prideful, all-too-eager-to-be-grown-up, two-year-old going on 16, who never wanted anything done for him, suddenly refused to do anything for himself. The smallest glitch in his plans would throw his whole world off balance, and weathering temper tantrums became part of our daily routine. Anything that got the response, “Yes, honey, in just a minute,” would trigger an immediate fit of tears. “Noooooo… Not in a minute. Don’t get my juice in a MINUTE!!” We’d spent the past nine months of my pregnancy training him to be completely adept at using the potty on his own, only to have him refuse to go unaccompanied the moment we brought the baby home. Even in the middle of the night, AS IF I WASN’T HAVING ENOUGH FUN AT THAT TIME AS IT WAS. Once, (when I suggested he play with his toys while I nursed the baby) he even cried because he wanted me to play with his toys for him. Dead serious. Not with him, but for him. And if the baby is in my arms crying, he’ll run to me needing to be held RIGHT then and RIGHT there. And if the answer is “yes, honey, in just a TEENY TINY BABY LITTLE HICCUP OF A MOMENT,” of course, he’ll need to cry too.
The truth is he was missing me, and I was missing him just as much. The mommy he was spending the day with wasn’t the mommy he was used to, just like this kid… well, this kid DEFINITELY wasn’t the Matthew I remembered from before that hospital stay a month ago. But day by day it’s getting better. We may not spend everyday chasing each other around the monkey bars and wrestling in the dandelions, but we get outside when we can and we get a whole lot more out of it when we do. We’ve gotten more creative with how we spend time together indoors, and we’ve even been able to finagle a few educational activities back into our everyday routine. He’s putting in an effort, too. He’s sharing things now that two weeks ago he unexpectedly guarded with his life and he’s gradually adjusting to the art of taking turns with a sibling who has to come first sometimes. He’s going to the potty on his own again, though he’ll ask for me to keep him company sometimes if he’s in for a good, long poop, and I’m down for that. His tactic for getting attention seems to have finally shifted from throwing hellacious tantrums at the drop of a hat to simply being a little more affectionate toward us -- which of course, is the total opposite of a problem.
In fact, the other day when I was chewing into him about listening the FIRST time, Matthew! he looked up at me with a huff and said “Okay. Sorry, mommy. I love you.” Then, before I could even process the transition, he walked over and gave me a hug on the leg. “I will listen the FIRST time.”