As a moment of reflection, I say that the quarter span of my kiddo's life is a momentous epoch, and of course the brain meets landmarks with pointless tallies.
Besides, it's not like I don't constantly answer the "so how's it living in Mount Vernon?" Question.
More than anything, Andrew/Daddy is happier and better rested. That pretty much trumps everything else in all relevant categories. Or at least to the extent that his well-being impacts ours directly and in second and third order ways. There's less conflict between his downtime, fun time and family time and that leads to less conflict over all. I feel less resentful when we don't make the highest check on the priorities list. I feel less resentful that he needs a job that engages him in a way that northerly jobs didn't seem to promise. I feel less guilty and defensive at his daily kvetches. I'm more willing to expect and protect my own time when whatever additional mental load items don't occur to him. And we both have a little more time and energy for each other.
On a more structural note. I think our new house is a superior house for Chaya's next stages for the most part. No paper shades against glass windows for Chaya to destroy, for one. Not enough mirrors, for her preferences, but we'll get there. She now can climb up onto the ledge in my bathroom to get a really good look at herself, so that helps. I do kind of miss the simplicity of having a condo association handle all these bits and baubles. But there are advantages to the alternative as well.
I love being able to walk to Hillcrest Park
I love driving to The (Vastly Superior) Skagit Children's Museum.
Mt Vernon has a cute downtown. Farmstrong is an awesomely superior brewery.
Shambala bakery is pretty awesome crazy vegan hippy food. The food Co-op here is nice, even if I haven't really spent much time there. There are plenty of good restaurants here to make up for the ones I've left behind in Bellingham. And I've lost a TJs but gained a Costco.
It is of course a positive and negative together at once that we're this distance from "home" (Bellingham). I love that we're close enough to visit with my peeps. I love that I can still see my mom a few times a week.
I also wish it were more, of course.
And I love how easily we can reach the vastly wider children's opportunities in Bellingham. But I also find it a long enough distance, that it's not as easy to just go to the Trampoline Zone on a whim.
Or have a playdate arranged around various baby naps and meetings.
And it's a pretty big endeavor to make Toddler Music Class (though so worth it)
I miss Perch and Play. I miss the Bloedel indoor gym times in winter. There are a number of buffets and other restaurants that Chaya was just about to age into. There are so many cool dance and gymnastics opportunities for two year olds that don't exist in Mount Vernon yet. It's getting easier with her nap needs dwindling down to "one nap is a pretty darned important thing for most days, but there's wiggle room". As Chaya gets to preschool age, there will be even more flexibility to go both north and south. And that will be great.
Then there's community. After six months, I really haven't made huge headway in growing a community here, beyond what I already had (namely, the friend who pioneered our way here - and who would chose to move back to Bellingham if she had the choice - and the very very busy but delightful cousin who's lived here for years). I have reached out. But it's harder and smaller here. I have hope and faith. But it also really affirms how grateful I am not to have moved further away from Bellingham, where so much of my community still exists. And it is cool enough that we're closer to Andrew's community (but not *too* close to work, for reasons I'll say no more about, but I'm sure some can relate).
So it's mixed
Until, again, I remember that Andrew is so much happier and thus our entire family is so much happier. I definitely feel like we are closer for it and that is worth a million Trader Joe's. I really appreciate that we could find this compromise between our two ideals.
And goshdarnit, I'm all for Chaya someday going to the Skagit Children's Museum Preschool. Yes, please!!
It's lightyears away from when we first moved in some ways, but less dramatically than any other 6 month chunk in Chaya's life. Her personality (and crazy hair) grows more and more vivid everyday, but these days it's about saturation and shading on the outlines already well established.
Chaya's not in a hurry to grow up. She has no consistent interest in potty training. She nurses at least three or four times a day. She is still in her crib. She might not believe me all the time but she still needs her afternoon nap (and amazingly agrees to settle for it on her own most days).
I've never been one of those "never grow up, baby" folks. I'm excited to meet the person she will become. I really do sometimes fantastize about how much easier the tough nights will be when I can slip in and out of a toddler bed to snuggle with her. I think about days where I'm not buried in diapers and likely to find an err bit of feces tracked about the house after a diaper-changing-calamity. And I do feel like a lot of my health concerns remain on pause while I wait for her to open up the weaning dialogue (that's a whole 'nother story coming soon)
Over all, I'm also happy not to rush. We're past comparing milestones at this point. There is the highest height of something soon to dissipate. Before I was a parent, I never realized the full depths of physical affection unhitched from sexual attraction. I danced, have had pets, and have never been particularly reserved, so I understood that deep intimacy. But not like these utterly pure and engrossing moments where I hold, kiss, snuggle, and fully embrace my little toddler. And somehow that she now chooses to be with me and reciprocates makes the toddler cuddles more intense than the nonstop kangaroo care of infancy.
And sometimes I want to say to my mom how much my heart breaks for her for that first day that I flinched when she hugged me or that day where I just didn't fit in her lap anymore. I celebrate the transition to cerebral from visceral, as the affection remains fiery and strong, but I mourn that loss of essential wordless physicality. I know the joy she felt at setting me free, but that it must have been complicated. The necessary rejection of independence celebrated with a different sort of homecoming.
So on those grounds Chaya can stay in her diapers until she's ready (or we're talking preschool). She can hold up breakfast a little while longer because she needs to sit on my lap while attempting to put bunny to sleep in her favorite book. And she can keep clawing at my shirt and nurse before bedtime.
Well for a while. As I continue to reflect on my physical health, I've come to realize a few things: (1) the last time my body felt fully physically healthy and functioned without hormonal supplementation was just before lawschool. s
I weighed roughly forty pounds heavier than my lowest weight. Possibile about 15-20 pounds more than now. And I had a BMI that was exactly mid-range healthy.
I think there's this insidious mentality that too thin isn't great, but one should be as thin as is healthy. And I'm starting to challenge that for myself more and more. So that's an adjustment. Just enough isn't good enough. And I'd really like my body to rediscover that point of homeostasis it once had. I remember being very happy with my body at that weight. It's silly how one feels fear about returning to a point where I was - again - happy. But this is the confusing nature of our society and our weird association
(2) In a sense, the best way to know if I hit a "healthy" set point for me would be to see if my body starts cycling again, but this has a rather large snag: I'm still nursing. And I probably shouldn't be from purely medical view. My bone mass is dwindling. I didn't think I'd be nursing so long. I revel in it. But i also recognize that it's complicating a lot. At my current bone density (not quite osteoperosis, but give a few years), I'm likely needing a lot of extra estrogen (that could be coming from increased fat stores, but again it would be hard to know) or other medications. It seems odd to go on hormone replacement to fight my own body when I'm still nursing (this would be the first recommended approach). I am not keen on other stronger medications when I don't yet have osteoperosis but continue to put myself at risk of developing it.
It's a lot to balance. I've started bandying the topic with Chaya. I know she's young for a long dialogue, but I know she also understands more than I think. I am telling her that she'll grow older soon and we will nurse less, so mommy can be healthier. I'm shortening some of our sessions a little. Often I can distract her after a brief nursing session with a book. I'm trying to find new ways to cuddle, so she doesn't associate weaning with diminishing affection, but it's hard because sitting together triggers assocaitions for her. And I'm going to try a little harder to distract and shorten the two daytime habitual feeds. I know she can skip them, since she does when we're travelling or having a big day. But she rarely replaces that with water or other fluids. I wish I could find something she enjoyed drinking. And I hope we can develop a place where we can cuddle together with that same attention without it becoming a mad grab at the shirt.
Because right now, it's exhausting finding OTHER THINGS to keep her happy/distracted/occupied comparred with just getting to chill together and browse my phone while she suckles a bit.
It's exhuasting to contemplate. And emotional. And we'll see. I really do want to be around for the long run here.
I still hope and think I foster the more nuanced physical intimacy of a husband one both loves Platonically and romantically. And I think we'll build upon that even more as she moves away. But I know we'll both have a little hesitation and holding back when we moved to kiss our grown up Chaya. And I know that my cuddly nights are numbered. They'll still kill me sometimes, and I'll still need breaks, but I'm living in a moment of gratitude that time can take some time and that Chaya is happy enough to keep on playing at being toddle-waddle a little while longer.
And happy enough to have had six more marvelous months of mayhem and madness.
Here's to the next quarter of Miss Chaya's life and the next stage of my rollercoaster existence.