Last week Mary Virginia turned 22 months old. I think it’s been my favorite month yet, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve gotten more sleep in the past month than I have since she was born.
It’s not the only reason, but it’s certainly ONE of the reasons.
Before you assume that the earth has fallen off its axis and Mary Virginia has started sleeping, dependably, through the night and waking up at a sane hour, that’s not it at all. Instead, Tom has taken over nighttime Mary Virginia duties. So if you see Tom rubbing bloodshot eyes, mumbling to himself, and walking into walls, it’s not because he’s hungover from a night of partying. He’s hungover from Mary Virginia.
The problem with her is that there’s no pattern. We put her down at the same time every night, and sometimes she’s up until 9pm, up again at 3am, and up the next morning at 6. Then, for no reason, she’ll sleep through the night for two weeks straight. Then she’ll start going down easily, but waking up screaming at 10:30pm. She keeps us on our toes, this one.
One particularly bad night I’d been up with her for more than three hours. The next morning Tom took her to the doctor, where she was diagnosed with an extreme case of stubbornness.
[To be completely fair, the doctor also mentioned a pair of upper incisors, just below the gums. Which will be followed by lower incisors, which will be followed by two-year molars, which will inevitably be followed by nearly a decade of very expensive orthodontia. And when I consider all that, I can’t think of one good reason evolution hasn’t phased out teeth completely.]
During the three hours I was up with her, all I could think about was how, in a month, this scenario would not be ok. Mary Virginia only wants me, and it would be impossible for me to be up with both a newborn and an overly-emotional two-year old WHO IS OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER.
The next night, I officially handed the reins over to Tom, and Mary Virginia is still pissed about it.
I thought the hardest part of this transition would be hearing my baby girl scream at the top of her lungs, “I WANT MY MAMA!” and not running to her. But that hasn’t been the hardest part at all. Instead, it’s relinquishing control — Daddies don’t get babies to sleep the way mommies do. When I hear Tom dragging a sleeping pad into Mary Virginia’s room, I didn’t ask any questions. And when I found out that Mary Virginia spent the night on the floor, in his sleeping bag, I didn’t say a word. Out loud, anyway.
Before I spend all my time complaining about sleep, I should also mention that Mary Virginia is doing her part to prepare for the new baby. The biggest, best change is that she is growing in independence. She isn’t asking me to hold her nearly as much, and isn’t demanding to be with me, on top of me, clutching me all the time. Most of the time, yes. But not all the time.
She will tell you where the baby is (in Mama’s belly) and knows which stuffed animals, onesies, and blankets are for the baby. And yesterday, I overheard Tom telling her, “Mary Virginia, when the new baby comes Mama won’t be able to hold you all the time, ok? Because she’ll need to take care of the new baby.” And she replied, “Ok, Dada.”
So glad we got that taken care of.
At 22 months she’s in this in-between phase — sort of a baby, sort of a big girl. She wants to be a big girl most of the time, to run with the big kids and go down the biggest slide in the park. She wants to do all the tasks David does by himself — like putting on her jacket or snapping her straps in the car seat. But she just doesn’t have the dexterity, so I have to mock that she’s doing it and then celebrate what a BIG GIRL she is because she put her jacket on! Then she prances around the living room, rubbing her belly and arms, showing off her freshly-zipped jacket.
She’s brimming with personality. Around everyone else she’s quiet and demure. But at home? At home she spouts off things like, “I have idea! Let’s eat JELLY BEANS!”, and screams when I say no. She likes to sit on the potty, and when she wakes up from her nap, she holds my face with both hands and kisses me.
But she’s still such a baby. For example, have I mentioned that she still doesn’t sleep through the night? She is cuddly and her favorite place is to be close, close to Mama or Daddy. She talks like a 10-year old, and then also says things like “hi-di-down” instead of upside down. She has sweet chubby thighs, and her skin is just as soft as it was on the day she was born.
How am I supposed to look at her and see anything but my beautiful darling baby girl, with a curl above her ear?
Dear Mary Virginia,
I think about this place you’re in all the time — in between a baby and a big kid. When you’re with your brother, you want to keep up, play, do the puzzles he does, and run as fast as him. But you’re not quite there, because, as I find myself explaining when you fall trying to climb the ladder David just scaled, you’re still a baby. Soon, though, there will be another baby in the house and you’ll have a new big sister role; no longer the baby of the family.
We talk about the baby all the time, and you always act excited because you LOVE teeny tiny newborn babies. But I know that you have no idea what’s coming, or how much life will change. And, to be honest, neither do I, but knowing the upcoming change is helping me slow down a bit more, enjoy you a bit more, and savor your baby-ness for just a bit longer; just a few more weeks.
I’ve spent a lot of hours with you at night, rocking you, singing songs, rubbing your back, holding your hand. Sometimes I tell you to go ni-night because Mama wants to go ni-night; Mama is very tired. And you’re like, “Oh, you’re tired? Well maybe you should blog about it because I don’t care even a little bit. Sing Humpty Dumpty.” Sometimes I imagine you as a teenager, and waking you up at 6 a.m. Then when you complain, I’ll tell you about this nonsense you put us through when you were a baby. But I won’t really do that, because I know that until you’re rocking your own darling to sleep for the third time in the same night, you’ll never understand exactly how tired I am. Or how very much I love you.