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.
Dear Little Mister:
I keep thinking about how you have been the light of our lives in what feels like a dark and never-ending winter. Your sister had a tough few weeks at school and home; daddy and I did not always do our best to be patient and understanding with her. The house needed some repairs. We fixed the guest room which is wonderful, but was expensive. The cost made us feel stressed about money. We are undertaking a massive job search; I am excited for the potential of starting another professional adventure, but also nervous. These days, I often feel tired, cranky, sad, and stressed.
when we are playing and cuddling together. You make me feel like a rockstar when you see me and immediately start smiling, laughing, and kicking your legs in delight. I feel like we are accomplishing great things as we work on rolling a few times in a row, sitting, and practicing more words. You have figured out how to go from your back to your stomach; you do a push up to assess your surroundings. You are getting close to sitting on your own. You have said "Dada" and "Didi" which means older sister in Hindi. I am hoping to hear you say "Mama" soon.
We started giving you solid food and so far, you enjoy rice cereal, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pears. You were not a big fan of peas. I think your favorite thing is being at the table with us in your high chair. I keep getting surprised at how much you enjoy socializing. Family dinners and breakfasts are chaotic, but fun. You love to laugh at your sister's antics and your dad and I enjoy watching this, but know we are in trouble when you both tag team us.
Two weeks ago, we began swim lessons. I was waiting for you to turn six months, so that we could begin. Your sister started when she was 18 months, but I wanted to begin with you. I like doing stuff with you and I had heard from several people that their kids take good naps after swimming. Sure enough, you slept well after our first class. I was nervous because you seemed so upset during the class. The instructors said that it would get better and I was so relieved that you laughed when we came back for class. Being in the water with you forces me to face my fear and discomfort of being in a bathing suit over and over. I am glad for the chance to address and transform my body shame on a weekly basis.
The other big transition is that we have someone coming to the house to watch you for a few hours two days a week. I just need more time to job search. This is our second week. The first week was tough for both of us. I was excited for a break, but also missed you so much. I heard you cry a few times and thought my heart would break. I also heard you laugh which made me happy. I think that the space is good for us as I return to you refreshed and less worried because I have had a chance to do some work related things.
You ground me in goodness and hope. With each new milestone, I remember that positive change is very close. Even when I feel scared about how to do right by you and your sister, the love you give me makes me feel like anything is possible.
I love you,
Dear Little Mister:
High five-- you are five months old today! Actually, you are five months and some change as I am writing this over the course of a few weeks. Winter of 2015 is no joke! Seriously kid, I wonder if one of your first words is going to be any of the following: snow, shoveling, ice, white, cold, leak, repair, shit! We have been inside a lot and have gone on "walks" around the house where we stop at each window to look at the view. There is a lot of snow, ice dams, and people using snow blowers or shovels to clear driveways and cars. Daddy has gotten more tone as he is outside a lot to try to get ahead of the snow.
Over the past few weeks, we had to shuffle our sleeping arrangements. Our original plan was for you to share a room with your sister. We thought things were going well until you stopped sleeping through the night. We came up with a plan B which was that you would sleep in the guest room in a pack and play. This was going well until we had a major leak in our guest room ceiling. We have yet to have a week in February with no snow predicted, so the ice dams we have been trying to break and melt are not going anywhere for awhile. We will likely be without that room for a few more weeks. Big sigh!
You are a champ at being flexible or rather you can wake up multiple times a night no matter where you are sleeping. We put you back in your sister's room and you are waking up a lot. She comes to sleep in our bed if she gets up while one of us sleeps in her bed in the same room as you. I told your Dad that I wish we had splurged for a fancier mattress for her as my back hurts when it is my turn to share a room with you :) Both Daddy and I feel so cranky when we hear you crying in the middle of the night. After a few minutes of snuggling with you, seeing you smile, and watching you relax completely as you go back to sleep, I feel happy again. I also know that I am lucky for this opportunity to be your mom and help you thrive.
With all the snow cancellations, I appreciate our weekly outings so much more. I was not sure how much you were getting out of our weekly book babies adventure as you are by far the youngest. However, when we returned after a snow break, you started smiling and babbling as soon as we got into the room. You were all smiles to the other babies, parents, and the librarian. I wanted to cheer too because being out of the house felt so good! When we returned to yoga, you were all smiles and cute noises to the teacher, the other moms, and the other kids. When people were talking and not looking at you, you protested which just made everyone laugh. Without realizing it, we have made a community. Even though I do not really talk with the other parents or kids much, you and I are part of something bigger. I want you to have connections and feel delighted when you see people, no matter how old you become, and I am going to try to socialize more to make that happen for you. You may find this hard to believe, but sometimes I feel shy and overcome with the challenge of making new friends. However, I am committed to taking small steps and being brave for you. I started with small talk at book babies. After yoga last week, I went out to lunch with two moms and their kids who are just about two weeks older and younger than you. We had so much fun!
You are able to sit in your bumbo seat which has opened up a world of possibilities. Suddenly, you can sit on the floor while we are sorting clothes, folding laundry. You help me fulfill my dream of having a cooking show while being an attentive audience as I describe the process of cooking dinner. You also enjoy looking at yourself in the mirror. It is so fun to watch you admire yourself and laugh hysterically when you see your reflection.
You are starting to reach for things and people. You are making your preferences known by either babbling or lunging yourself towards an object. We noticed that you have started reaching for your sister when she is close to you. Once you get her shirt, hair, or arm, you start babbling and then laughing hysterically. She enjoys performing for you-- jumping, singing, talking, screaming, all for the chance to see you smile and hear you laugh. She is not the only one. You are rapidly acquiring an adoring public, including your dad and me, who all work hard for the chance to make you happy. Even though I have accomplished a bit in my professional life, my biggest achievement is making you, your sister, and daddy happy.
I love you!