Sitting on my impatient, 40 weeks, 3 days pregnant behind, I was told repeatedly that my baby would come out when he's ready. The next day I was holding onto my wrinkled newborn, and I found out that babies do pretty much everything on their own terms, when they're ready.
They learn to nurse when they're ready. They lift their heads when they're ready. Roll over when they're ready. Sit when they're ready. Crawl when they're ready.
Carter might not be talking, but he's been adamantly clear with me that he'll start walking when he's good and ready. My secret goal was for him to be walking (heck, I would have even taken partially toddling) by the time his first birthday was here. I've called it a secret goal becauseI know better than to pressure him into doing something before he's ready. I had all kinds of impressive little visions of him bobbling around the feet of guests at his first birthday party. His birthday has come and gone; patience is my virtue.
Still, I've encouraged and directed him by trying to show him his capabilities; I stand him up and reach out to him with Oreos, chunks of cheese or random Yo Gabba Gabba figurines balanced on top of my head (If it's any lower than that, he'll plop down and crawl to it). Sometimes he'll make a three step attempt for the Oreo, but ninety percent of the time, he acts annoyed and sits right back down. I feel lucky if I even get him standing. I know he's capable. And I know he's stubborn. I guess I just don't get his reasoning. Maybe he doesn't think he can do it? Or is he lazy? Does he have enough opportunities to practice? Playing with toys does seem like much more important business than trying to get something off the top of your mother's head.
Carter and I were in the Target checkout line yesterday, and after falling victim to his flirtation tactics, the cashier asked how old he was. When I told her he turned one last week, she assumed, I bet he's all over the place.
Well crawling, I told her, not walking.
Shooting him a pity-filled look, she turned to me, Ohhh ... he's one of thooooose.
I looked at her blankly. Then she explained to me that one of her daughters refused to walk until she was 19 months old. I let out an accidental gasp.
Carter and I went home, and I unpacked groceries while he ate green beans and smeared cheese sauce in his hair.
He got down from his highchair, and, that night, I peeled back the top of a new pack of Oreos and carefully stacked three of them on top of my head.
I won't get into Carter's finicky eating habits. If you could even call them eating habits. It's more like a tasting-throwing-whining combo he's got going on.
But I want to show you how he lets the whole table food situation stress him out. Every time we eat - in public, at home, snacks, lunches, dinners - he runs his slimy hands back and forth through his feathery hair.
On top of scouring his face & hands, picking up dollops of food and mopping spilled liquids, we make a trip to the bathroom after every meal to wash his crusted hair. When he grows up, he's going to think bottles of shampoo go along with napkins and little after dinner mints.
Our blog has been happily inching its way up the page on Top Baby Blogs for the past couple months. Today the site reset everyone's vote counts back to zero, so we're all starting from scratch. I don't like asking for votes, but I'm really proud that this blog is strong enough to be highly ranked without exchanging cunning giveaways for votes and just be great for what it is - my thoughts and photos saturated in sincerity.
So, could you part with a quick click? The brown box is below, then click the text on the following screen to cast your vote. If you're feeling extra generous, you can even vote daily!
Today we went to a pumpkin farm. Sadly, I couldn't come up with any little quips that related voting and pumpkins (Carter wants to get one vote per pumpkin he pointed at?). One lady stopped in her tracks to survey how cute Carter looked
standing squatting among his kind.
I've always known I wanted a baby. But I've been apprehensive about the part where I'll have to be a parent to that baby. Calling the baby my daughter or son sounds so grown up, so official, so old. I'll just take the cute, snuggly parts, please.
Watching Carter figure things out day by day is like getting into a really unpredictable, addicting movie. My absolute favorite thing to do is figure out different ways to make him laugh (hint: variations of peekaboo never fail). I always emphasize to him that we have a BFF kind of relationship.
But I've dreaded the part where I have to be his parent. I've never wanted to be a parental figure type, per se. I hate, hate, hate telling him he can't pull stacks of papers out of the filing cabinet or climb in the dishwasher while it's dirty, especially if he's having fun doing it. And nobody should have to wear pants if they don't want to.
He's gotten so smart that he can predict when we're strategizing a diaper change or a nap time, and he'll
run crawl away really quickly. I feel bad for him and want to get on the floor, giggle and crawl away from Matt with him. Sometimes I wish we were the same age.
What's so confusing about learning to be a mother is that you have to balance the urge to have fun and be silly with instilling order, rules, manners and cleanliness. It should be easy, but babies are born cute for a reason ... looking at his enormous blue eyes and puppy ears makes me want to give him anything and everything. I've found myself trying to measure what's more important, a dry diaper, or Carter being happy in this moment? Why does it feel like such a tough call?
I guess it really hit me when the crawling away started. He'd never done anything but crawl to us, reach for us and tug on our pant legs. Watching that diapered hiney wiggle away so quickly made me realize that the dynamics are starting to change. Soon he'll hide things from me, not tell me the whole truth, not want to hang out with me and probably think I'm mean because I'm his mom. I don't think I'll ever feel anything like that for him, and it will break my heart.
Scroll to the bottom of the page and pause the music player before you play this video.
For the past month, I've been carrying with me this perfect vision of Carter's Little Pumpkin Birthday Party.
Sunday, my vision was finally rolled into animation ... and I have to admit, as life would have it, it didn't turn out quite as incredible as I'd pictured.
Carter refused to wear his socks, so the birthday boy's attire had a slight caveman vibe to it. The "Lil' Pumpkin" iron on I bought for his onsie during cake time only partially ironed on (so it read, L; Pumpkin) and gave the white cotton a brown tinge, so he settled for a plain white shirt at the most exciting (and taped/photographed) part of the night.
Ok, now that its faults are off my chest, welcome to (the details of) our pumpkin birthday party ...
We had Carter's monthly video montages playing on a loop on the TV for the duration of the party. Everyone came into the house, which I had crammed with pumpkins, orange balloons, orange lights, bright, paper streamers and spiced candles. They were asked to put on orange and yellow glow bracelets while they snacked on caramel apples, fancy dips and finger foods and sipped mulled wine and warm, spiced cider. Later we ate smoked pulled pork, specially cooked by my husband and his dad, corn bread, sweet potatoes and various pasta salads.
He was having too much fun crawling around the room to really be any help to me opening his presents, but eventually he found out that he'd scored tons of sweet new outfits and toys.
The sign I painted
Daddy's trying to talk him into giving up the tube of Butt Paste
The main cake (left) and the smash cake (right)
He was so engrossed by everyone singing to him, he hardly noticed the pumpkin cake that was bigger than the size of his head
After the cake candle was blown out, the conversations grew quieter and eventually everyone trickled out to their cars, Matt and I agreed that we didn't carry the same excitement for this party that we did on his actual birthday. I was so busy keeping up with food and and timing the order of events that I didn't get a chance to sit with Carter and see what he thought of his party. And I was ok with that, because even with the house draped in orange and filled with food, laughter and people we love, his actual birthday a few days earlier had something magical about it that made it feel intangible.
Here's a video I put together of footage from his birthday on Wednesday and the party on Sunday. (Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the page and stop the music player before you click Play)
It's true, our babies won't remember us rocking them to sleep at night, playing peekaboo, or the first time they saw a real, live duck. But knowing this doesn't stop me from trying my darnedest to make every day Carter has his happiest. Because I believe that while all these experiences are still fleeting from his mind, the love and happiness we smother him with will stick with him and shape the person he grows into. The events may not matter, but the feelings absolutely do. I think a happy demeanor can be taught and instilled long before we have the capacity to hold onto the memories we bring into adulthood.
So, while I took into consideration that the balloons, cakes and presents will be forgotten, I decided I wanted to hold true to my baby raising philosophy and make his birthday more filled with smiles than any of the other days during his first year.
Matt took off work to spend the day with us. When Carter woke up, we both went into his room to say happy birthday. He was stunned to see his Daddy there greeting him. We went downstairs to find three, bright, shiny balloons waiting for us. For breakfast, he slurped milk and picked at piles of scrambled eggs and corned beef hash.
We packed up snacks and drinks and went to the aquarium. Carter got to see colorful jellyfish, smelly hippos, unnourished penguins, scary sharks and friendly sting rays. His fingers clutched his stuffed sea turtle souvenir while he napped on the car ride home.
We made an unplanned stop at our a local pumpkin farm and picked out about 10 pumpkins to decorate his party on Sunday. Driving home, we decided picking out pumpkins is a great idea for a birthday tradition we should carry out every year.
When we got home, we sat with his first birthday presents in the living room and showed him how to rip the paper. He helped his daddy assemble toys while I went to the kitchen and baked yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles. He's such a picky eater, so I wasn't sure how the cupcakes would go over ... but he was inundated in chocolate bliss ten seconds after the candle was blown out and the flavor hit his tongue.
After an extended bath time with his new Yo Gabba Gabba squirt toys, we read him On the Night You Were Born. He occasionally yanked the book from our hands and attempted reading it to himself in his own, personal baby babble.
It wasn't until I was in the dark, nursing him to sleep that I got a little bit emotional and let some tears slip. This
should ideally could be one of the last times I nurse him. I started to doubt myself and the day we gave him, I worried that it could have been better. I mostly just didn't want his birthday to be over, and it made me a little panicky; I wanted to show him more exciting things, I wanted to let him crawl and giggle, I wanted to give him more. I reminded myself that I have tomorrow. I am so, so lucky to have hundreds of tomorrows to share with him; just because today was his birthday didn't mean I had to give out all the love in one single day.
Sunday we're having a party for him, so I'll have more pictures with exciting decorations to post. Here are a few of my favorite shots from Wednesday.
(Isn't she gorgeous?!)
Tara and I met through YouTube last year and have been swapping stories about our little guys ever since. We're dead set on having the babies meet one of these days!
She's an actress from London who travels the world, and she needs our help. She's working on a campaign for babies and mothers in developing countries who die within a week of birth from tetanus because they don't have shots.
All you have to do is click on the kiss below, and Poof, one shot is donated! You can also read about it in more detail on her blog post.
I'm weak when it comes to presents. I've had every intention of waiting until Carter's actual birthday to let him open packages that have arrived on our doorstep this past week. But let's face it, I'm home all day. Those packages stare me down.
Tonight we went to Toys R Us to buy Carter some presents of our own. He got to preview - err more like pick out - his birthday ball (a sternly pointed finger and constant repetition at the site of the Bah! Bah!). I went home and wrapped it anyway. He's a smart baby, but I'm pretty sure he's forgotten it even existed by now.
The store threw in a birthday club balloon when we told them he'd be one on Wednesday.
My apologies for the gray-on-gray outfit he's wearing. I wanted him to be comfortable since it was rainy, and I wasn't planning to take pictures. :p
It's been raining for days here, so tonight we took Carter to a play place at the mall. At first I was a little hesitant - he's not even walking yet and he gets so nervous when we set him in giant toy cars at toy stores. At first glance, it bothered me that the place appeared so engulfed in random kids' germs that pretty much anyone who walked out alive would probably have the flu before they got home (yes, I'm that new mom who's nervous about shopping carts and sockless feet).
And then I saw Carter's smile. Ear to ear about even the prospect that we might set him down and let him crawl. I've seen him smile and laugh off and on, but never like this. Once he hit the ground, he was giggling to himself, crawling at top speed to test out new toys and slides he'd never seen before. He'd only stop what he was doing for a second to nod and call out to random, older kids running by, as if they were old friends. He seemed so incredibly proud of himself for being able to share their fun.
If it hadn't hit me this past year, it definitely hit me tonight. I get it now. I felt the complete, overwhelming, cold side of the pillow satisfaction of seeing my baby happy. If a crummy, germy play area at the mall can do this, I'm dying to find out what Disney World feels like.