Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Days These Days

It seems impossibly dull to recount right now, but I know that in three months, three years, three decades, I'll look back and wonder, "What were all those days like? Was she ever really a baby?" So, for my future self, for Cleo some day, and (possibly) much to your bored eye-rolling today, here's a typical day these days:

4:30: The baby monitor lets us know she's awake and none too happy about it. One or the other of us mumbles, "Snot five yet. Less juss wait till five. Swhat tha book said." She settles after a few minutes.

5:00: Using her Atomic Superbaby Clock, accurate to within thirty seconds, she wakes again, hollers again, and The Sainted Dada stumbles in, changes her, and delivers her to Mama, who can only bring herself to open one eye at a time. After her first meal of the day, Cleo is carefully watched for signs of nodding back off. This hasn't happened in weeks, but we fondly remember the days of sleeping until seven.

5:30: Up. Sometimes one parent sleeps in, sometimes the other, but the official version of events starts the day now, for everyone. Once Cleo hears full sentences come out of our mouths, some containing the magic word "up," she gets the full body wiggles and starts her monologue: "Dadadadadada. Pah. Pah. Pah." We're pretty sure by now that Dadadada means Dada, but we have no idea what the significance of "pah" is. All we know is that if we say it to her, it always results in her whipping her head around and fixing us with her full attention. Maybe it means "We're going to take you for a walk in the sling, but first some Cheerios and maybe a visit from a puppy."

6:00: Solid food for all! As we have breakfast, we spoon mushy stuff of various colors into Cleo's mouth. These days, sweet potatoes, peas, prunes, pears, oatmeal, and carrots are in heavy rotation, complemented by bits of cheese, yogurt, egg yolk, pineapple (a new hit), and the perrenial favorite: Something From Mama's Plate.

8:30: First nap. The naptime routine consists of a book (Everywhere Babies? Goodnight Gorilla?), a new diaper and a snack, then a pacifier and into the crib for a rest. This nap, and all of Cleo's naps, is about half an hour long. I have friends who casually drop mentions of their babies' two hour or three hour naps, but I'm pretty sure they're just messing with me. Impossible, right? Right?

9:00-3:00: What do we do all day? Damned if I know. There is rolling around on the floor, there are trips to the market, there's coffee with other mom-and-babe duos, there is standing up, sitting down, crawling around, and putting things in the mouth. Popular games include "Mama goes awaaaaay, sooooo far awaaaaay [crawl slowly backwards].... Mama's coming to get you! Mama's coming to get you [grab, tickle, tickle, roll around]" and "Cleo does a handstand!" Both result in shrieks, giggles, and multi-generational laughter. Lunch is in there somewhere, as well as a midday nap.

3:00: Dada time. Having started work at 6:30, Dada is now done for the day. The idea is that now Mama gets some work done, and this does happen some of the time, but other days, the afternoon disappears into a haze of dinner preparation, showering, email, bill-paying, and staring blankly into space (emphasis on items three and five). Sometimes Cleo has another nap, sometimes not.

6:00: Baby bedtime. Bedtime routine is much like naptime routine, with more books (Hop on Pop, Yummy Yucky, and Goodnight Moon), and a few more rounds of "I've Been Working on the Railroad" before she's happy to be put down.

7:00: Grownup dinner. These days, it's often the same thing a few nights in a row: curry or homemade pizza or tortellini with vegetables. The theory is that I can cook once, and we can eat three times, and one of my great pieces of good fortune is that The Washer of All Dishes doesn't mind at all. It's rewarding to cook for someone who manages to be so accepting of repetition and mediocrity, while also being appreciative of a good variety of delicious food when it happens.

7:30-9:30: I spend these hours doing more time-frittering non-accomplishment, all the while telling myself to go to bed already, since five AM is just getting closer every minute.

11:00: Operating on the principle that, "it's dinnertime somewhere," Cleo has her first nighttime meal. I stumble down the hall, feed her, and she generally goes right back to sleep. Occasionally I'll hear people or cars outside, and my first thought is, "What are they up to in the middle of the night?" And then I remember that I didn't always go to bed at nine, and they might not either.

3:00: It's dinnertime somewhere else! Cleo's second meal. I realize that feeding a ten-month-old twice every night might seem excessive to some, but it's so much better than the five times of just a couple months ago, it seems perfectly reasonable to me (although that might be the Stockholm syndrome talking).

And Cleo's a very active baby, so I admit that I like those nighttime feedings, when she lies quietly in my arms, my big heavy baby, and then goes back to sleep cuddled against my shoulder. During the day she's a bundle of muscle and activity, always on the move, and she seems like what she is: a strong, agile baby who's small for her age. But at night, when she's sleepy, she seems to double in size and weight, and I remember the days when she was a much smaller sack of potatoes sleeping on my chest.

4:30: And we begin again.


Muslim Hippie said...

I remember when Mei was Cleo's age, she had two naps, an hour or 45 minutes one in the morning, and a two hour one in the middle of the day. WE did struggle a lot to put her to sleep. Her old man took her for a ride every night so she'd sleep!
Graby is way easier though( Yes I'm sorry to tell you it's true about the 3 hour nap thingy) she has scattered 10 minutes naps throughout the day, and one nice 2/3 hour one by 10 am ( she does go to bed at night by 9 or 10 though, so that's the trade off I guess). It's the best when both girls take their chunky naps together, but then I freak out!
LOVED your post by the way.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean we can call to chat at 11pm or 3am when you are up and we are being kept awake by marauding cats, college kids listening to bad, slow, Country music or strategies to fit a hundred trees on a small city lot?