Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Babies Are Weird.

Babyhood is a fascinating, enlightening, and mystifying stage of human life.  While there’s tremendous growth and lots of learning going on, there are also a good number of moments that make you wonder what in the world is happening inside your little one’s head.  Let me show you, as best I can, what I mean.


Any milestone chart will tell you that a baby rolling onto his or her side is developmentally right on target for four months of age.  Like this:

Or this:


What none of these charts mention is whether it’s “normal” for your baby to do this in your arms, twisting and contorting himself from the right-side-up position you started with into a c-shape that makes you think he might be able to touch his toes to his forehead, like a ballerina. Our very, very strong baby has gotten very, very wiggly, and it seems the little guy thinks the world looks better upside down.

Forgive me, I can’t figure out how to get a photo of this.  He’s tough enough to hold onto with both hands, never mind one!  Alas.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the magnificent moment when Jacob figured out how to put his thumb—just his thumb, not his whole fist—into his mouth.  Since then, we’ve learned that not only is he an ambidextrous thumb-sucker, but he’s a creative one, too.

Sometimes he links both hands together, like a golfer gripping a club, to hold one thumb or the other in his mouth. Yesterday he did this and managed to get both thumbs in there.  Wow, that seemed cool until I wrote it down.  Now it seems kind of lame. . . . but that’s the proud mama I am, so, so be it, I say.

The one that really baffles me—and the instance I felt most compelled to share—is when he wiggles his thumb into his mouth while he’s nursing.  He doesn’t stop eating for this, either.  This isn’t the kind of multitasking I was hoping for. . . . should I be concerned?

January 28, 2011

All the Single Ladies

This week, with John out of town on business, I went to New Jersey to spend some time with our families.  It’s a blessing that John’s and my parents live so close to each other, and that we are such a short distance away.


It’s always wonderful to spend time with what I guess we’d now consider our extended family: first of all for their company and endless love for Jacob, and second because there are lots of people to hold Jacob, change his diaper, help him to sleep, etc.  It struck me, though, how different things would be were John not around and I was raising Jacob on my own. (Grammar check on those verb tenses, anyone?)


This was the first time I’d made the trip to NJ with Jacob on my own, and it was different not having John around, most tangibly in terms of carrying things.  That giant kid plus a car seat is a heavy set.  Usually John carries him the short distances we have to go, so this time around I did more of that.  Not that I didn’t have offers of help all the time, but still I was more aware of John’s absence (and the consequently increasing strength in my upper arms).


I found myself wondering, not for the first time, how single moms do it. I admire and respect the women that make it work.  I don’t have a full time job apart from caring for the little man, and I can barely imagine adding more to a day.


Yet one thing I’ve learned from motherhood is that if something has to happen, and you, as the mother, have the ability to make that thing happen, then it can and (most of the time) it will.  Before I had Jacob, yes, it seemed impossible to get up three times in the middle of the night to feed and diaper a baby, then get up later that morning and care for him all day.  But if it needs to be done, mama’s going to get it done.


This year, I’ve resolved to have greater discipline in how I spend my days, making each moment, each action count a little bit more, and not wasting time on things that aren’t really important.  This was inspired, in part, by homilies I heard last November on All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day.  The commentaries offered insight as to how our actions—good or bad—have consequences for the whole Church.  Realizing you’re accountable to more than yourself can motivate incredible works.


Having a child makes this all the more relevant, and in some ways, easier than it would be otherwise.  In my experience, doing the right thing is much easier to do when someone else is depending on me.  I think that’s the beauty of motherhood, whether you’re doing it alone or with a partner.  It exhausts you, sure, but it brings out the truest parts of you and asks you to be a better person, every day.  This is a welcome challenge, and one I’m grateful to have been offered.

January 27, 2011


When I was growing up in the beautiful and glorious state of New Jersey, I sometimes wondered about how people managed to live all their lives in places that only saw one season.  Palm trees are nice and all, but how could one truly experience a full year without a few months of cold weather, a few months of hot weather, and the seasons of anticipatory transitions in between?


Over the past few years, I’ve come to wonder less and less about that, as I’ve become less and less enamored of winter.  Since I’ve reached adulthood, the season seems to have gotten longer . . . and colder!  Don’t get me wrong, I love wearing sweaters, my peacoat, and boots.  But couldn’t we call it quits at say, forty degrees?  There’s no need for freezing temperatures.  What is there to love about icicle toes and red noses?


This year, I find myself taking a different view, and for one very special, inimitable reason:  snow.  We’ve had tons of it in New York and New Jersey.  I love snow, especially in large quantities (and especially when I live in an apartment building and don’t have to shovel any of it).


It’s beautiful, especially when it’s just fallen, and it’s a fantastic, tangible demonstration of the power God has over the earth.  No person can create snow like He can—even with snowmaking machines on ski slopes, it’s just not the same.


I don’t know if it’s scientifically proven, or just in my head, but the cold feels different when there’s snow on the ground.  It’s not so intense, not so biting.  And there’s a sense of silence and peace that comes much more easily on the morning after a storm.  It can stop us in our tracks and make us change our plans, for better or for worse.  It’s a reminder that it’s not all about us, an occasion that gives us opportunity to get closer to the things that matter, to help out those in need.


I suppose I’m romanticizing snow some.  After all, I didn’t have to get up early and dig my way out to get to work this morning.  But too often people talk about how much of a problem snow causes, how storms are terrible and we wish we didn’t have them.  I, for one, am grateful for snow.  And I’m sure if we get this much next year, Jacob will be too!


In the meantime, here’s to hot chocolate, sweatpants, and school closings: Here’s to snow!

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