“Ah ah, come back here!” I yelp as my baby once again arches his back, flips over and stands up on his changing table. Somewhere between wrestling and tickling him, I finally manage to get a fresh diaper on. But that’s Little Bird at one year old – high energy and big emotions.
When he was first born, he was a touch over five pounds. He was just bigger than his teddy bear, swaddled in thin blankets. Still convinced that he belonged in the womb, he dozed in the pack-and-play even when his brother was sing-yelling next to him. At first, it seemed like he was going to be adorably sleepy and quiet.
But around two months, he woke up and discovered the world! From then on out, he didn’t want to miss a thing. That meant lying in his crib, swing, or pack-and-play just weren’t acceptable. Even the thought of napping was verboten. If he didn’t know what was going on around him, you’d hear about it. Loudly.
Fortunately, his joy was just as unbridled. As soon as he debuted his open-mouthed smile, he’d break it out with each new discovery. He loves meeting people, just as long as it’s from the safety of a parent’s arms. When someone says hi, he’ll smile just a little and then bury his face in my shoulder. His biggest reactions come when I arrive home. If Chris is holding him, he’ll lunge so hard at me that Chris has nearly dropped him more than once.
But these days, he doesn’t tolerate being held for long. He cruises from couch to chair to table, his little hands moving along of their own accord. With those fingers, he’s taking in the texture of fabrics, the smoothness of wood, the temperature of walls. If those hands find something of interest, it quickly tumbles onto the floor. If it’s a toy, he’ll usually ignore it. If it’s a piece of paper, a shoe, or something else equally inedible, he’ll get in at least a couple of munches before we grab it away. His elfin ears seem perfectly matched to his desire to make mischief.
While he loves exploring, he’s not quite to walking. Instead, he’ll use anything he can as a walker – an empty diaper box, hamper or chair. He’ll take a couple shuffling steps at a time, but only if coaxed by a relative. He’s a risk-taker, but only if he knows there’s someone there to catch him.
In some ways, I am too. Having children is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. I was only able to do it – especially having a second child – because I knew I had people who could support me.
It’s a been a year since we’ve become a family of four. When Sprout arrived, things were so different – saying they were easier or harder before or after him was irrelevant because they were incomparable. In contrast, I can say that at least in the first year, life with two kids is more difficult than life with one. From splitting my time and attention to having worse sleep deprivation than ever, we’ve had our share of challenges. Chris and I have had to lean on each other more than ever.
But in that challenge, there’s been so much beauty. Little Bird’s cinematic arrival. Jumping in rain puddles with Sprout while I was on maternity leave. Introducing Little Bird to whales. Playing with my in-laws’ singing people in the last Christmas spent at their house. Dancing to music as a family – even if it is They Might Be Giants’ Seven song yet again. Watching Little Bird crawl in the grass and poke at the dirt for the first time. Seeing him laugh at his brother being silly. Sprout’s pride when Chris put up the Gemini constellation – “the brothers” – on his ceiling in glow-in-the-dark stars.
“Mother of two” still sounds foreign to me in a way that “mother of one” has long stopped being. But like Sprout’s memories of life without his brother fading, that feeling will too. Our family is bigger and more beautiful with Little Bird in it.