To Stevie on the Occasion of Being Born Two Weeks Early
To Stevie on the Occasion of Your Due Date
To Stevie on the Occasion of Being a Third Child and Being Neglected Every Day of Your Life
To Stevie on the Occasion of Being One Month (and One Day) Old
Dearest Stevie Bee,
Today you are one month old. And I’m sorry, honey, but there’s not a lot to say about you that you can’t look up in a google search for “one month old baby.” You are a calm baby. Not too fussy. You are an excruciatingly slow nurser (but where else do I need to be right now?!) and you nurse every two hours, so that’s my life.
Technically, you’re one month and one day old. But, now that I have three kids, I have a feeling there will be many lost or misplaced technicalities.
In fact, here is a list of things that I have already lost, misplaced, abandoned or forgotten in the few weeks since your arrival:
- Luke’s allergy shots
- Danjo’s thanksgiving project (but she said her teacher said it was okay; we can just bring it tomorrow)
- Portions of Babybel’s homework that I was supposed to help with and sign
- Money for your sisters’ classroom visits to the Scholastic Book Fair at school which is, trust me, a very big deal
- A package stolen off the porch that was actually just me forgetting that I already brought it inside and put it on top of your dresser while I was lecturing your sisters about putting their shoes away
So, now that I think about it, it’s your sisters who are really getting the short end of the stick these days. Luckily, your dad has approached this Third Child Period of our life with an enthusiasm and determination to hold our family together that has not heretofore been seen. Of course, you haven’t seen it. You just got here and just met your dad. But, let’s not let that take away from the awesome praise Daddy is due.
Daddy was good before you got here, but he’s Daddy 2.0 now. And I’m so excited for you to get to know him and see him be a model of modern masculinity that won’t land you in jail for date rape or general male rage. Daddy lets us sleep in and single handedly gets your sisters ready for and off to school. He picks up the dog-feeding, Book Fair-purchasing, laundry-doing, dishwasher-running slack.
And that’s good for me too. There were all these things that I have a history of doing. Or that I have a history of believing anyone else incapable of doing: brushing hair, packing lunches, going through homework folders, folding the laundry ala KonMari so everything fits in the drawers standing on edge all pretty and perfect-like, plus other anal retentive, controlling, tiger-mothery, helicopter mom-y things. And, no, things are not exactly as I would have done them. Hair is a little crazy some days. Lunches (even the ones I pack) sometimes consist entirely of food in packages. And I can’t remember the last time I bathed, let alone the last time any of you three kids did.
And I’m (mostly) okay with all of that. It’s something I’ve been working on in preparation for your arrival--to let go, to delegate, to celebrate Okayness, Good Enoughness, You’re Still Breathing Right? Good. Okayness. But, it’s also something that having a third child forces. I only have two arms and about two hours a day that I’m not nursing you or trying to sleep. I have to let things go. I have to be okay with store-bought pesto* and whatever brand of toilet paper your dad picks out. I have to be okay with too many hours of screen time and at least one child crying or whining at any given moment.
And when I look into your clear, bright eyes, I am okay. And that’s enough.
Perhaps, that’s a little less enthusiastic than you’d imagine a letter to you at this point in your life should be? Where’s all the confetti and air horns? Bom bom bommmmm!
Shortly after having your sisters, I had a breakdown (all recounted on this blog). I wanted to die. And when I stopped wanting to die, I still didn’t think life would ever be the same again. And I certainly didn’t think I’d ever be able to have more children without putting my mental health at risk.
I was right that things would never be the same. I put in a lot of work and I am not the same Lauren that I was when I first had Babybel. I have been deprogramming my perfectionism and combatting the delusional voices in my head that tell me I’m not good enough. I have learned to be gentler with myself. Also, your Daddy and my relationship is not the same as it was ten years ago. It is all much improved.
We decided to have another child, to have you, because we felt confident that despite my rocky mental health history, I am in a better place, with better tools, mechanisms and self-awareness than ever in the History of Lauren.
And that’s where you come in. I’m excited to do this whole baby thing again with you. It’s not that I’ve given up on raising the first two kids, it’s that I don’t think I was able to fully enjoy or be present for your sisters’ first years. Not in the way I am now. I wasn’t a bad mom, but I’m a better one now. I’m more aware, more connected, more alive--no, more alive-ing.
Oh, I’m certain I’ll mess it up in all sorts of other ways. You’re a different child. Did I mention that you take an excruciatingly long time to nurse?! You’re a boy, whatever that will come to mean. For now it means you have a penis and because we circumcised you, I have to sort out your chubby little penis folds every day, high-maintenance stuff, man (“MOMMMMMM, TMI!”) In addition, it’s a crazy time where He Who Must Not Be Named is our president-elect. And I can’t even get started on that other than to say that I am more determined than ever to raise children who aspire not to greatness, but to goodness.
Raising you will have it’s challenges, but I’m ready. I’m willing. I’m eager. I’m excited to watch your life unfold and to see you grow into the person God intends you to be. I am honored to meet you, Mr. Stevie Bee. My name is Mommy. I’m the one with the milk and the snuggles. And the one who looks at you with googly, teary, lovey eyes. But, don’t worry, trust me, I’m okay. You will be too.
*inside joke dedicated to one of our number one fans who is not a fan of store-bought pesto; stand-in for all the foods I used to make and bake from scratch B.T.C. (Before Third Child)