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23 months

Tomorrow my boy will be 23 months old.

His verbal abilities have exploded over the past few weeks, such that he is now saying full sentences instead of single word utterances. He now quite forcefully tells us, "I no want it!" or "More milk, please!" Today, as he walked past a pile of shaped blocks on the floor, he told me, "I see an oval." And indeed he did. He loves to sing and knows all the words to his favourite songs.

In so many important ways, he is now a little boy, and no longer a baby. I am often struck by this fact when I see him walking with someone else, or sitting quietly on his own looking through a book. I definitely notice it when I pick him up or snuggle him and I notice how long his body is, at least in comparison to my 5 feet long frame.

In other ways, he is still my baby. Last night he couldn't sleep, and the old tried and true milk wasn't of interest to him. So I pulled out the tricks I used when we had the occasional sleepless night in his infancy. He still loves listening to baby versions of classical music coupled with a funky computer visualiser. He still nuzzles into my shoulder and practically purrs when I stroke his fine blond hair. He still loves me to sing "Good Night Sweet Angel" to him and rock him back and forth. And he still loves to fall asleep lying on top of me just like he did as a wee babe.

My boy has never slept in a crib nor spent a night alone in room apart from me. I think it will be quite some time before he will. I believe that our attachment to each other has a lot to do with his independance and happiness at daycare.

Some day my boy won't be interested in any of those babyish things. Some day, he will want to sleep in his own room and have his own space. And that will be okay. But for now, I'm happy with things just the way they are.

blog interupted

I haven't written in a long while. It isn't that I haven't had anything to say, but that my ideas vanish by the time I get in front of my computer to record them.

I have so little time for myself these days. My boy fights sleep like a prize fighter and I spend most of my night putting him to bed. There isn't much of a night left before I have to go to bed myself for my early morning wake-up. I am chronically exhausted and don't get nearly enough sleep.

That said, I really like my work and the people with whom I work. I don't like my commute but we love our neighbourhood and the friends that we have here.

My boy started "school" after Labour Day and seems to really love it. It certainly adds an added layer of time suckage in the morning getting him ready to go as well as myself, but I'm happy to have the time to spend with him.

Speaking of my boy, he is really blooming with his verbal and cognitive development. He sings constantly, and maintains the tune as well as accurately singing most, if not all, of the lyrics. And he's such a happy little guy. I'm amazed with the words that come out of his mouth and the sentences that he strings together. He is now 1 3/4 and I find it hard to believe that he will soon be a 2 year old boy.

Our Thursday evening walk

A month ago, my boy was just beginning to walk. Last night, he walked home from dinner pushing his stroller. It was a one kilometer walk and took us nearly a half hour. I kept waiting for him to tire and ask for "uppy". That used to mean, "pick me up" and now it means, "put me down, I want to walk!" He is loving his newfound independence and the multitude of things that can be explored when one walks in the world.

It was a special evening. We sat out on the patio of one of our local restaurants and shared a spelt crust pizza. He pointed out everything he saw: "lights" = the lit-up plant urn; "water" = the lined up pitchers of waters at the bussing station; "pizza" and "noodles" as we watched the food being served to the other, strictly adult tables. It was surprisingly relaxing as it often is not when one dines out with a toddler.

The walk home was no less exciting. We saw "bus", "car" and "dog". He actually stuck his finger right in a dog's face. Thankfully it was a friendly dog, who licked him instead of biting him or barking.

As we walked up the street to our house, I saw our shadows on the sidewalk. When I saw my boy's shadow, I was struck by a memory. During a reiki session a few years ago, I saw my son - this vision of my son. He was a shadow, a little person walking by, holding someone's hand. At the time, I thought he was holding his sister's hand, or perhaps a friend's. I didn't realise that it was me.

My boy walks!

It has been a week since this momentous milestone happened in my little boy's life, but I couldn't let it pass without documenting it.

Last Saturday, we travelled to a neighbouring city for a folk festival. The rain came pouring down en route, but we persevered in the hopes that it would clear up when we arrived. It did.

The festival is located on a lush conservation park amidst beautiful trees and surrounded by lakes. As we walked the road from the parking lot to the front gates (our stroller not fitting on the shuttle bus), I grew more and more excited. I love concerts, and I especially love festivals like this one. This annual weekend event has workshops, children's activities, organic local food, free water, and three stages of live music throughout the day. We barely touched the surface of all there was to do.

Shortly after we arrived, we found the drumming tent. Imagine 15-20 people banging on various sizes and shapes of hand drums in unison. We stayed for an hour. He was in awe. I felt privileged to be there to witness it.

Next to the drumming tent was a open grassy area. Next to the clumping of people smoking various substances and with the sound of live music in the background, my boy stretched his legs and walked around holding his Daddy's hand. Then all at once, he let go, and walked his way to independence.

To be honest, I don't really remember the first time. He has walked a few steps unassisted several times in the past, but I hesistated in declaring that he started walking until he was doing so consistently. Well, on Saturday he did. He walked that grass on his own maybe 3 or 4 times. Each time, my husband had to "launch" him by walking with him for a bit and then letting go, but unlike so many times in the past, he didn't sit down and he continued walking with a huge smile on his face demonstrating his pure delight. I was able to get a video of one of his jaunts, and I'm so pleased that I did.

Of course, the next day he didn't repeat his performance, nor did he for much of the remainder of the week. But yesterday, when I picked him up after work, he nonchalently turned from the toy that he was using and walked to something on the other side of the room. My eyes welled up with tears and I put my hand over my mouth to keep myself from making a fuss. He repeated it a few minutes later. When we got home, after his before bed pottying, I suggested to him that he meet me at the change table since I had been sitting on the floor reading him stories. He walked right over (and then passed the change table to head towards the laundry hamper). He walked a few more times today.

Of course, he crawls like a speed demon so when he is in a hurry, he doesn't have the patience for the slow gait of his walk.

My baby has turned into a toddler at the ripe age of 19 months. And I am so proud of him.

adult conversation vs. baby talk

It's been almost two months since I started my job. Do I still like it? I do. Do I miss my boy? I do. And Mondays are the hardest day of the week.

As I sat on a patio enjoying a chai latte with some of my colleagues this afternoon, it occurred to me how different my life is these days than it was just a few months ago. Two months ago, I would not have been sitting on a coffeehouse with a group of childless women talking about things other than naps, tantrums and my boy's latest accomplishments. I would not have been trying to convince women who have heard nothing but horror stories birth that birth can be a beautiful, magical experience that does not require pain-relieving drugs or medical intervention. I would not have been able to actually finish my beverage while it was still hot, nor would I have been able to stay sitting and complete my sentence.

I never missed so-called "adult conversation", nor did I long for a conversation about topics other than babies. I enjoyed "baby talk" long before I ever had one of my own. Babies and children fascinate me, and I appreciate learning the opinions of people that I respect in how they formulate their own parenting practices.

A close friend's daughter asked us a few weeks ago why grown-ups always talk about their kids when they get together. I thought it was a very insightful question and a perceptive one. The immediate response that came to my mind was - because our kids are the most important things in our lives and we think about them always.

But as I thought more about it, I realised that the answer was more basic than that. People who are parents have something in common with other parents, a common dominator. We all have to deal with the same stuff, and we want to talk about it. We want to brag and commiserate. We want to share the joy and the heartache. Talking to a total stranger who happens to have a baby is easy in a way that talking to a childless stranger is not.

Coming back to today's patio discussion, another thought occurred to me. How strange and unusual, and... well, nice... to be the only one with a kid at the table; to be the only one who has experienced pregnancy and at least the beginning stages of childbirth; to be the only one to cope with a screaming child and the only one to know the joy of coming home to a joyous greeting of "Mommy, Mommy!". How mature I felt and how happy I was to be a mommy.

I thought back to earlier conversations with friends where I was the only childless one in the discussion, and I remembered feeling anxious and sad and alone. I'm glad that I'm no longer in that place. And I'm very grateful every day for my little boy.

17 months and a new job

My boy turned 17 months old yesterday. He is talking up a storm, mimicking almost every two syllable word we say, and every so often throwing out a word relevant to our conversation to show that he is really listening. He's still not walking. Somedays I worry about that, most days I don't. He will do things in his own time and in his own way.

I started work last Monday. It was an easier transition than I expected. While I do miss my boy a lot, it is not the devastating kind of sadness that I was expecting. Perhaps because my day passes quickly with lots of interesting work and good people doing important things. I know this world and I fit into it well, even though the actual workplace is a new environment. For the past 16 1/2 months, I was exclusively a mother, and now I am a lawyer again. I like it. It feels like I have rediscovered a part of myself that has been asleep.

And the best part is that I'm actually still spending time with my boy everyday. I usually leave for work while he still sleeps (though occasionally he wakes up to join me to breakfast) and I am home well before supper. Most days I have been able to join him at the park or a playdate and enjoy some fun time playing together. He gives me a beautiful smile and a hug when he sees me, and then it is back to the important business of whatever he is doing.

I'm told that some days he asks for me, though never with sadness, just saying "Mommy, Mommy." I'm glad that my attached little boy is adjusting so well to the change. I'm glad that I am too.

And now I want to get home to see my boy. Have a good weekend.

May 7

Seven years ago today, my niece entered the world. The day began like most other days in the spring of 2002. I went to work, and on that particular day, I went to court to argue a Master's motion as a favour for another lawyer. I was not adequately briefed on the matter and had a dogs breath of a file. As a result, while my niece was working her way through the birth canal, I was being yelled at by Master Sedgewick. I had been a lawyer for just 2 1/2 months, and I was still taking it personally when a judicial official yelled at me. Because my sister-in-law had been admitted to hospital the night before, I continually checked my voicemail at every opportunity to find out if there had been any news.

I returned to the office, and had a brief meetings with clients. I had negotiated a settlement on their behalf, and the clients were not happy with the result. It was one of my first opportunities to manage clients' unrealistic expectations on a difficult lawsuit against a corrupt police squad. Many years later, that police squad was the subject of much media attention, and I was contacted by a reporter. Of course, I declined to comment as lawsuits and media attention are rarely a good fit. But I digress.

I can't quite remember if I got the call before or after my meeting, but I received several messages from different family members telling me about the arrival of my niece. I couldn't wait to meet her, and dashed out of the office to go to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, my mom was holding a beautiful pink bundle. She handed the bundle to me. My eyes filled with tears and I was overwhelmed with love and joy as I looked down at the sleeping little girl. My mom cried too. She was overjoyed to become a grandmother and I was equally overjoyed to become an aunt.

I love being Auntie Marlo, and I especially love hearing my niece and nephew address me as such. I am Marlo to everyone in the world, but Auntie Marlo to only three special little people. And those little people mean to the world to me.

Happy birthday M. I love you more than words can express.

My blog will need a new name.

I accepted a job today. A full-time permanent (as in not contract) position. I start in 11 days.

I was bloody excited when I got the call. In fact, I accepted the position before we even discussed remuneration. An hour later reality set in. I have only 11 more days of "free" time. I have to buy clothes, shoes; get a haircut, pedicure, massage, chiropractic adjustment, etc. And then there are the more practical things, like getting my court garb organised and digging out the supplies I'll need for my office. I'll have to buy extra cloth diapers and prepare a big stash of food for the freezer. And I'll have to get myself and the boy into a more regular routine.

Perhaps most importantly, I have to cherish these remaining days at home with my boy, because they will be over all too soon. And for that, I am profoundly sad.

The sleep book told me to do it.

We were at a program today and another mom was raving about a sleep book. It wasn't one that I had heard of. She said that the book recommends waking up every 3 hours during the night and nursing your baby while he/she sleeps. As she explained, then if your baby wakes up during the night, you can safely ignore him/her because you know that he/she isn't hungry.

I obviously gave her a look indicately my belief that that is the stupidest thing I have ever heard, because she offered gratutiously, "that is what the book says to do."

Really? Are we so insecure in our parenting choices that we have to rely on a book to give us permission to ignore our babies' cries?

I will admit to relying heavily on the works of Dr. William Sears, the creator of the attachment parenting philosophy. That said, his books confirm what I already believe; that babies should be held as much as possible, that it is safe and wonderful to sleep with your babies, that babies should be breastfed for as long as possible, that we need to fuel their little bodies with nutritious food, and that babies cry for a reason. I didn't need a book to tell me what to think.

My son sometimes wakes in the night, and almost never needs more that a snuggle to fall back asleep. In fact, lately, he doesn't even cry, he simply crawls over to me or my husband in bed and curls up against us. I believe that he has taught himself to soothe himself this way, and he doesn't need to cry to get the affection he needs.

I'm 35 years old, and sometimes I wake up in the night needing some comfort. I cannot understand why any one would deny an infant the easiest thing in the world to give.

One week

I saw One Week today with my boy and my father at my local Movies for Mommies screening.

While the plot was a little thin (man finds out he has terminal cancer and takes off on a bike across the country to find himself), the film was well made with outstanding cinematography and an interesting narration. It was a nice treat to see my fine country actually depicted in film for what it is, without an attempt to Americanise cities and towns that are uniquely Canadian. It was also cute to see a brief scene shot outside the very theatre that I was sitting in.

What struck me in particular was the following question: what would I do if I knew that I only had a short time left to live?

In my youth, inspired by the film, Six Weeks, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do in my life before I died. I maintained this list for years, adding new items constantly, and occasionally crossing off something that I actually did. As the years progressed, I was no longer interested in fulfilling some of the objectives on my list, but I would not permit myself to remove them because I had not actually completed them. From time to time, I would reorganize the list by alphabetising it, listing in order of priority, or grouping by theme. I spent much time focusing on my list without actually taking steps to do the things that the list included.

Interestingly, I was just thinking about my want list and wondering what I did with it. I considered recreating it and internally debated about whether such a list would shackle me with unlived dreams or set me free to realize some of those dreams.

My biggest "want" since childhood was to be a mommy. I also wanted to experience being pregnant. Even with all of the challenges of parenthood, I relish the fact everyday that my biggest dream in life has come true. And it really is as fabulous and I thought it would be.

As I watched the film today, I briefly thought about all the places that I wanted to travel to, and all the life experiences that I wanted to have. I then looked at the amazing little boy who was cuddling in my lap and realised that if this is all my life is to be, I am okay with that.