Dear River and Lila,
Is it wrong of me to measure the success of my parenting by how much I get out of the house? By how much you sleep? It feels like my absences from you signify balance in my life, faith that you will be happy without me. Or maybe I'm just neglecting the heck out of you. Either way, I do feel happy. I have been getting out, seeing friends, experiencing the world (more or less), and I don't feel one ounce of guilt for it. Perhaps that's the difference between a first and second-time parent; I can leave you without feeling excruciating pain.
This has come in handy of late since you, River, have started giving up your naps. You fall asleep about every other day, and while you may not need the extra sleep, I'm still waking up at least a couple times before morning to feed your sister and I depend on those moments of peace to function. Without a little down time in the afternoon I turn into a grunting, thrashing Frankenstein. So we've worked out a little compromise: you leave me alone for an hour (if you can't sleep, you read or play by yourself) and I try not to be a gigantic beastie in the afternoon. You're nearly three years old, so while it still tugs at me that you might cause yourself harm or tear down the house, that guilt and worry is not great enough to make me skip my nap.
I suppose there's evidence that you could cause some damage while I sleep. Take an incident from a few weeks ago. You were on a real Tic Tac bend (please don't get me started on how you were even exposed to Tic Tacs), and since they were within your reach on the dining table you were popping them like, well, candy. Before your nap, I put them on top of a 7 ft armoire in the dining room so you couldn't reach them. Silly me to let you see where they were. While I was in my bedroom trying to nap, you started a little project to liberate the Tic Tacs. I could hear a thump, then a few seconds later another one, then another. After about three minutes of listening to you work on something in the dining room I walked out to see you stacking your picture books next to the armoire. I'll admit, I should have worked it out a bit quicker (see above re: sleep deprivation) but it took some probing for me to get it out that you were building yourself a stairway to the Tic Tacs. And you know what I did? Rewarded your cleverness and gave you one. Seriously, if you can engineer your way to something you want, I think that deserves some kind of positive reinforcement. (I may regret that when you've built a time machine in the basement.)
Your ingenuity and cleverness shine through more every day. You are becoming an amazing story teller and have really worked on creating fun scenarios for us to act out. Lots of your story-lines are derived from Richard Scarry books (whose work sometimes make me want to gouge my eyes out, but hey, you love him), and you want us to be firemen or bakers or underwater robots (a River original plotline). You pretty much always have a plan for what games we could play, what activities to do. A few years from now you're going to have a little playground entourage of kids who follow you around and do your bidding. All the other kids will probably find you incredibly bossy and annoying. But that's the price of leadership, I suppose.
As for your language, I can't even say it's "developing" anymore. It's pretty well developed. You grasp so much and your father and I have no need to talk down to you or use small words. If you don't understand a word, you ask what it means. Most of the time you can then use it yourself. Aside from your vocabulary, your syntax is so adult. It's clear that you mimic the way dad and I talk and it makes me crack up when you bust out with, "I sure do like these grapes," or, "So how's it going, uncle Kevin?" You still have a few quirks, but they're fading. I'll be so sad when you no longer say "got-for" instead of "forgot" and "rec-T" instead of "T-Rex." Please stay my little boy a little longer, okay?
And Lila. You are amazing. I couldn't imagine an easier, happier baby. River and I drag you around to playdates, museums, yoga and art classes, and you just take it all in stride. You nap, eat, and play on the road and it doesn't - yet - seem to be a problem.
You like to watch what's going on, and increasingly you like to be held in an upright position. Your neck muscles are getting really strong and soon we'll be able to put you in the bumbo chair where you'll be able to sit up on your own and see the whole room. You still love to watch your brother and, other than a strange fascination with licking your face, he treats you like a princess.
You've started grabbing for toys and you love a good crinkle or bell. You can get objects to your mouth - a washcloth, octopus toy, or your fingers - and you suck away happily. You already have a favorite stuffed animal - a little bear blankie that you smile at and hug close. It pretty much kills me with cuteness. Your eye contact is great, and you give me the most amazing smiles when you first wake up. You love it when I get real close and make google eyes at you and talk silly nonsense. But you don't need constant stimulation. You're great about entertaining yourself, and you've given me ample time to sew and work on craft projects.
We've worked out your evening feeding schedule - it involves a bottle, an early bedtime, and me pumping some - and it seems to be making everyone happy right now. You still sleep incredibly well, and if I nurse you just before I go to sleep you'll sometimes stay down until 5am. To friends without parents that doesn't sound so great, but let me tell you, you would win the gold medal for baby sleep.
You guys are rocking my world right now. I love you both so much and I feel so lucky to be your mom.
Another origami fox
2 hours ago