I drag my weary self downstairs, first peeking in to make sure he's still tucked snugly in his crib, and hasn't managed to escape to unknown places in the middle of the night. I may cover up his little toes with the blanket, and replace the giraffe in his crib that he inevitably tossed out during one of his midnight soliloquies.
Gabby, tuned in to the very moment I put foot to the floor after getting up from bed, is already waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs, nub wagging, her favorite stuffy fox or polar bear in her mouth, offered to me as a thank you for beginning the day. The ritual is the same. Empty her bladder before my own, fill water bowl, serve breakfast, all the while listening to the first gurgles of wakefulness. Shower. Get dressed. If I was lazy the night before (read: too drop dead tired) then I've saved the tedious task of washing G's cups, plates and spoons til now, inwardly groaning at myself for the 10 extra minutes I could have added to the morning had I just done it last night. What's that? Chatter coming over the monitor. The Prince has awoken!
Snuggle, change diaper, get dressed. I could do this with my eyes closed, which is almost what it's like since the blackout shade in his room keeps it dark as night, except for the glowing yellow moonbeam nightlight. A quick goodbye to sleeping daddy, and it's a mad rush to stuff him in his carseat with favorite riding companion, gather his diaper bag (hopefully I've remembered to restock it the night before), my work bag, and off we go.
For 25 minutes, we commute together, sometimes chatty, sometimes not. I drop him off at daycare. Each day it gets a little bit easier, despite doing it for nearly three months now. But my heart still gives a squeeze now that he's able to wave bye bye and seems less interested in me leaving and more interested in what toys await him. (But isn't that what I would want for a peaceful goodbye?)
My work day goes by, and soon it's 4:45 and I'm off to pick him up and see his squinchy smile when I walk through the door and he notices I've arrived. He mad-dash crawls to me, then stops short at my legs, kneeling in front of me with outstretched arms. My heart squeezes again. On the ride home, I like to think he's telling me about his day, until the chatter stops and I assume he's decided that NPR's "All Things Considered" is no match for having spent the day listening to London Bridge is Falling Down. I hear the gentle snore that usually accompanies his carseat catnaps.
Arriving home, like every day, Gabby hears the car and anxiously awaits at the door to greet us with her "release the hound" moment of unabashed enthusiasm. I rush to get his dinner ready, thinking back to what he had for lunch so I don't, God forbid, duplicate anything. Then the challenge begins. About half the time, he's fine and manages to eat a great dinner, without much fuss. The other half? He loses it. He's tired, his teeth are bugging him, and nothing I can do appeases him. Except yogurt. Have I mentioned that? He is *obsessed* with yogurt. Yobaby 3 meals in one to be exact. (I mean who wouldn't love a plain yogurt mixed with green beans and pear combo?) It's amazing what I've dipped into this yogurt to get him to eat, thus fooling him (or so I think) into believing he's just getting the yogurt and only the yogurt.
Once dinner is done, it's time for a stroller ride around the neighborhood to walk Gabby. This dog has been so patient with us all year, the least I can do is get a walk in before the boy's in bed! And on a warm Maine summer evening, it's a delight for all of us. Except for the pesky blood-sucking mosquitoes. And nasty black flies. Well, almost a delight.
I try to point out all the things we see on our walks, but I wonder if he gets bored hearing me say "look at the trees! and the pretty purple lilacs! and the lush green grass! and the mailboxes, lawnmowers and cars!" Now home, Gabby is still hungry, and, despite having cleaned up whatever of G's dinner made it to the floor, gets fed and watered. In the meantime, G is reacquainting himself with the living room and all the things he left behind this morning. Pulling books of shelves. Throwing blocks across the room. (Seriously, this kid has the makings of an excellent arm) Enticing me to play our latest game. This involves me chanting the theme to "Jaws", which somehow, he has totally understood to mean "I'm coming to get you and eat you up!" Then he's off! Frantically crawling away, hysterically laughing and occasionally looking back to see how close I am to catching him.
Soon enough, the thumb is lured into the mouth, like a magnetic force, signalling sleepy time. Of course, some nights it's prolonged by bath time, and since he's discovered the fun to be had in splashing, and then crawling around stark naked after baths, this process can take much longer than anticipated. We make our nightly trek upstairs, saying good night to daddy (if he's not working), to the kitties, the dog, and sometimes the little boy in the mirror who looks suspiciously like G. Since there is no more bedtime bottle, more time to snuggle and read stories.
The must-read is Sandra Boyton's "Moo, Baa, La La La". I *heart* Boyton's books. Clever, witty, and easy to memorize and make into silly songs. For some reason, G is especially hooked on this one. If I try another, he leans over the side of the rocker, whispering "Ba ba ba ba" which signals "where is my book?!" And if I don't get it fast enough...
As I've said recently, it's become my favorite time of day. I breathe in the delicious scent of his freshly washed hair and it reminds me that he's still this perfect little being, and as tired or hungry or whatever I may be, I wouldn't trade these moments for anything. And when he gives me that toothy smile, the mischievous twinkle in his eye, and smacks his lips in his own attempt to blow kisses, it's then I wish I could freeze the moment so that down the road, if he's a moody, angst-ridden teenager, I will look to this very moment when we knew nothing but cherubic sweetness.
So we say goodnight to his stuffies, gets his multiple kisses from me, and clutches his favorite giraffe (by the tail no less). Lulled by his lullaby cd and the ocean waves sound machine, he's out. Yes, actually it really is that easy and has been since day one. Or maybe day 60. This kid is definitely a product of his instantaneously-asleep-when-head-hits-pillow parents. By now it's nearing 7:30-45ish and depending on whether or not I'm home alone will decide the effort I put in to making dinner.
Then it comes. The first moments to relax. I'm a nerd. I dvr Jeopardy! if I know I'm going to miss it by putting G to bed. I figure it balances out the rest of the bad reality or dvr'ed tv I may watch that night. I don't last long though because all I can think about is how comfy bed will be and how I really want to get in more chapters of my book before fatigue completely settles in. Let the dog out for one last pee. I peek in G's room, amazed that he's always in a different location in his crib then the last time I checked, but no less peaceful looking. I always whisper "i love you, sweet boo!" and blow him a kiss. My day is done. I relish in the comfort of my soft warm bed, surrounded by furry kitties--one at my side, one at my legs, and one, actually the 20lber, nestled comfortably on my head. I try to read, and only when I get to the point where I've read the same paragraph over and over again, do I realize it's either lights out, or a reenactment of Tom and Jerry's eyelid-propping toothpick trick. And the latter just takes too much effort.
As I go through the day in my mind, and prepare for the next, I feel myself completely relax for the first time all day, and much like the advice given on a shampoo bottle, prepare to "lather, rinse, and repeat" for the next day, the next, the next...And I wouldn't have it any other way.