On Tuesday, Partner left early for a travel day which meant that I was in charge of getting both kids fed, dressed, and out the door in time to take the Little One to preschool. I was worried about how everything would come together, but the promise of a muffin made the morning go surprisingly smoothly. After I started driving after dropping off the Little One, I realized that Little Mister had fallen asleep. Instead of going home and risking him waking up as we got out of the car, I decided to drive to the library for our baby book group. I treated myself to breakfast that I could get from a drive thru. We got to the parking lot with about 45 minutes to spare.
I took the time to eat my breakfast relatively slowly. I had a book with me and decided to read for a little while with the Little Mister's snores as a nice soundtrack. I fell asleep for about 10 minutes. When I woke up, I saw that the sky was bright blue and there was a beautiful blooming tree in front of me. I smiled and thought, "My life is lovely."
Dear Little Mister:
I feel optimistic about the future. When we knew you were arriving, Daddy and I purchased some things to help transform your sister's room into a space that was comfortable for both of you. One the items was a wall quote: "I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen." While that quote is still in the box, the sentiment has come to life over the past few weeks in a bold way.
You are sitting on your own for long periods of time. I love giving you a toy and watching you play. You continue to love food. We are slowly introducing new foods. You are becoming more vocal. I am a little bit hurt that you have said, "no," but are still not saying mama. I think that you know your name because you sometimes turn when we call you. When you feel like you are being ignored, you make a lot of noise to make sure we notice you. You have started doing some yoga moves outside of class. Your favorite body parts are your feet; you love grabbing and chewing them :)
When you turned seven months old, we were at a conference. I have been trying to network and find my way back to the working world. I know for sure that I need to be in a place that has good work culture and I want to do my best to find work about which I am passionate, that pays well, and gives me energy to be a good partner to Daddy, and a good parent to you and your sister. I care very deeply about reproductive justice, in particular, I have been thinking about how to help create structures that support working parents. I attended this particular conference last when I was pregnant with your sister and presented about the need to transform a culture of son preference. I was excited to return to reconnect with some of the folks I had worked with before, meet some new people, and get energized and excited about the possibilities. Child care was included with registration, so I was happy to bring you along.
I must pause to confess something. I love spending time with you and want to take you for adventures. I am glad for the chance to do yoga, swimming, and library visits. I like breaking up our routine with things that I think you will enjoy. HOWEVER, sometimes I get nervous by the logistics. It is not fun to lug around a lot of stuff. Before we do something new, I sometimes feel stressed about how everything will come together.
In the weeks leading up to the conference, I was worried about how everything would come together. Mostly, I was hoping that you would like the child care providers and that we would both be able to eat and sleep well. I also hoped that I could make connections and get some good ideas for the next step in my career. When I imagined the experience, I thought of your care as something I needed to take care of and keep separate from all the work related stuff.
You opened up another possibility. You were charming and adorable. There were other kids in the child care and I got to talk with parents, not just about kids, but parenting in general. I got a lot of encouragement. Later, I saw the parents at a session and I no longer felt nervous about approaching them. I realized (again) that parenthood is a powerful connector, that you and your sister continue to help me strive to be a better person, and I felt hope that good things are going to come!
I grew up in a Sikh household with parents who are pretty religious. I always associated both Christmas and Easter as strictly religious holidays. As a parent of small kids, I feel like I am meeting a lot more people who celebrate the secular parts of the holidays. Partner has tried to explain to me many times how much he loves Christmas-- the lights, the treats, and the gifts. He also likes decorating Easter eggs, doing easter egg hunts, and gathering with family. He and I had many intense discussions about these holidays and how we were going to celebrate with the kids. I was taking a firm stance towards no to both; I said that we could have lights and gifts for the New Year.
For Easter, I explained that my favorite memories were with the book club I was part of in Durham. We had a meeting around Easter and gave each other baskets. It was so much fun! I loved preparing a basket for a friend and then it was so nice to receive a thoughtful treasure. Plus, the food and company were always great. Partner pointed out that was part of a secular celebration. We decided to give it a try and I am glad we did.
I remembered various times where I felt shame or embarrassment when asked about what I had gotten for Christmas. I did not have enough gumption to explain that we do not celebrate Christmas because we are not Christians. When Santa Claus was explained, I felt terrible as I tried to figure out why I was not on the good list. In contrast, Partner has many happy memories associated with the holidays. I wanted to try giving my kids that memory. For the first time, we put up lights around Christmas and then got gifts for the kids. It was A LOT of work. However, on Christmas morning, it was super fun to see the Little One open the gifts. I was also glad that she had an answer that was relatively simple when asked what she got for Christmas.
For Easter, Partner wanted to decorate eggs with her. He took the lead on getting the supplies and they made some beautiful eggs. We went to a friend's house for lunch and the kids got beautiful baskets. All of the kids who attended participated in an egg hunt. The Little One looked so blissed out as she was running around, finding eggs, and putting them in her basket. Plus, she got some good chocolate which she shared with me :)
I am sure our experience with these holidays will continue to evolve as the kids get older. I am curious about how others who are not connected to the religious aspects of these holidays celebrate.