Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Letter to My Daughter Gretchen: Four Months

Note: This was originally drafted seven months ago in August even though it's just now being posted, so I'm back-dating it. The delay was in hopes I would gather pictures, but that will have to happen sometime later.

Dear Gretchen,

You are now four months old.

You have a full belly laugh that you share with us most often during outfit changes and when your parents are making fools of themselves with silly faces and noises.

The trend of you waking up once or twice a night continues; I suppose the bright side of this is that the four-month sleep regression has not been noticed.

You have rolled over from your stomach to your back once, but repeatedly from your back to your stomach. This makes you a bit happier at night, now that you can sleep on your belly.

You are sitting up in ever so brief stretches on your own.

Favorite toys are softees to chew on as well as the toys that activate music and sounds, like those on your playmat. You also seem intrigued by your mirror and the cute baby therein. And you also enjoy jumping around in the jumperoo.

You are growing so, so fast. You're already solidly in 6-9 month clothing, and you have a number of 12-month clothing items in rotation as well (remember: you're only four months old - you can slow down anytime!). I'm worried you will have outgrown many of your handknit hand-me-downs before the weather cools enough to wear them, but I still live in denial as they all remain stacked up in the closet, not ready to be packed away just yet.

You have been great at being flexible with our schedules. Your older sister had three weeks of swim lessons in July, and you were a champ at napping in a baby carrier every day. This may have helped foster your desire to take naps on a parent, as it's pretty difficult to get you to nap in your crib or in the swing (unless I'm vacuuming, strangely enough, although all naps -- excluding a mid-afternoon one -- only last around 30 minutes). However, you regularly put yourself to sleep at night, as you roll around and coo in your crib until you suddenly drift off. And if I had to choose when you wanted to be sleeping on a parent, I'd choose daytime over nighttime - after all, you'll eventually outgrow naps.

I'm trying to be content with the naptime snuggles. Or, rather, while I certainly don't mind the snuggles, I admit I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that it keeps me from household tasks. It helps when your older sister is easily entertained - I've been known to read piles of books to her as you sleep on me, or she will build elaborate structures or color near us. If your two naps coincide, I try to have some knitting within reach to occupy me (or I also indulge in a power nap). But then there are those days where your older sister is resting in her room, and instead of sleeping, she is emptying her toy box, dress-up bin, the bookcase, and the pretend food and it all ends up strewn over her floor. Add that chaos to a laundry basket (or two) of clean clothes waiting to be folded, laundry needing to be moved over to the dryer, and the dishes on the kitchen counter if the dishwasher needs to be emptied, and I just need to take some deep breaths and remind myself that my value is not determined in how tidy my home is. Sometimes I am allowed opportunity to tackle some of these tasks if you happily play on a blanket or in your Bumbo, but you've been teething this month, making you a bit more needy than before.

I remember learning of the poem "Babies Don't Keep" before, but it bears repeating, especially as I regularly seem to have to delay cleaning; normal tasks that used to take 20 minutes now can take days.

"Babies Don’t Keep"

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Author: Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

I'll leave it at this for now. This letter has been untouched for seven (!) months, so I'll close it here and try to write a new one soon.

Much love,

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