The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

May 28, 2012

Day in the life

I just want to write it down, so I can remember these days.

He usually wakes up in our bed. He’s still not sleeping through the night—at six weeks home, we don’t really expect him to—and if he wakes up and is inconsolable, bringing him from his crib to our bed does the trick. And he loves his sleep! Some mornings he snoozes until close to 9, although usually it’s more like 8. By then, of course, John’s left for work, so it’s just me and him. He often wakes up with a grin on his face, and we cuddle together until he hears Stella’s tags jingling from her bed on the floor, then he scootches over immediately so he can see her.

Right now, I think one of the tougher things about taking care of a toddler is occupying him while I’m trying to go to the bathroom, put on the barest essentials of makeup, or get dressed. I’m constantly trying to think of distractions to keep him occupied and in the same room while I do these things: a flashlight, a small box filled with ribbons and other odds and ends, an old makeup bag with empty containers in it, a toothbrush (he loves brushing his teeth). I have gotten very fast at things like washing my face.

Next up, a diaper change (sometimes there is screaming involved), then breakfast. He loves fruit, so I usually give him strawberries or pineapple along with a frozen pancake, waffle, or dry cereal. If the dog’s in the room, he’ll throw pieces on the floor and giggle wildly as she eats them, so I usually babygate her in the hallway. I eat my cereal or toast and coffee, sneaking peeks at the newspaper as we babble and make faces at each other. If I hand him a whisk, sometimes he’ll play with that in his highchair while I clean up the kitchen. Other times, no—there’s cry-whining until I lift him out.

Playtime! We head over to the den, where we keep most of his toys, to play for about an hour. Right now he’s loving his Pororo keyboard, wooden stacking toys (amazing to watch him learn to stack them), a plastic giraffe that has balls that go through a hole in its mouth, toy cars (great for pushing along the dining-table bench), and books. It makes me so happy to see his interest in books—we started reading to him right away every night, and how he’ll bring me books to read him during the day, too. Current faves are The Hungry Little Caterpillar, Five Little Puppies Jumping on the Bed, Doggies, and Mr. Brown Can Moo. His attempts at making barking and rooster-crowing noises are adorable.

My goal is to get out of the house at least twice a day, so around midmorning, we start our preparations to leave, most often to visit one of four playgrounds nearby but sometimes to run errands, too. It’s a slow process—I give him his morning bottle of formula (he was drinking this way in Korea, and we don’t want to introduce too many changes at once) and get him dressed, then we head to the master bedroom so I can make the bed and get myself dressed. Sometimes the application of suntan lotion is involved, which good God he hates.

Once I sit him on the mudroom bench and get out his shoes, he knows for sure we’re heading outside, and his excitement is obvious! Another thrill is getting to push the button to set the house alarm; that never fails to elicit a grin. I strap him into the blessed BOB stroller—best baby gear we own—and off we go. The farthest playground is about 1.2 miles away and the closest is less than a half-mile, but overall we usually spend about an hour and a half on our outing. I love watching him toddle and stumble around the equipment, watching the bigger kids with wide eyes. Every once in awhile, he’ll turn to me with outstretched arms to be picked up, but usually he’s independent enough to do his own thing. He likes the toddler swings and recently started trying to climb steps, and he’s now going down short slides by himself. He definitely tries to copy what he sees other kids doing.

We take a short break on a shaded bench to eat Cheerios together—a time that I love—and we leave so that we’re home by around 12:15, lunchtime. I put something together for us as quickly as I can while occupying him in his highchair with more Cheerios or a kitchen utensil, or directing him to his unlocked cabinet that’s full of Tupperware. It’s kind of funny to me that I usually eat the same frozen meals I ate at work—fast is best! Will’s lunch might be PB&J, leftover butternut squash or sweet potato, cheese, grapes, turkey lunchmeat, pasta, applesauce. It’s easy to see what his favorites are by noticing which food’s on the floor when we’re done.

Getting Will to nap has tended to be a challenge, but right now we seem to be settling on one afternoon snooze at around 1:15 or 1:30. Sometimes it lasts more than an hour; other times it’s 40 minutes. And right now, the only way to get him to sleep, unless he’s already super-drowsy, is to put him on my back in the Ergo carrier. He’ll sometimes fight and shriek about getting in (which does not make the process easy), but he’s fine once I stand up. I strap him in, we take Stella for her short midday walk, and then I pace the floors a bit, and he’s asleep. I pick up the kitchen and read a book or magazine or spend some time online. No, it’s not terribly comfortable doing this with a 25-pound child on your back, but I’ve figured out how to make it work. I sincerely hope that someday Will will be able to nap in his crib. Right now it’s more important to us that he naps, period.

Lately he’s been in a terrific mood when he wakes up! Super smiley, uncomplaining during diaper changes, etc. We play with his toys, read books, drink another bottle, maybe watch a few Pororo cartoons on YouTube (if I ask him if he wants to watch, he runs to the computer). Then we gear up for our afternoon stroller run. I’ve been trying to leave the house around 3:30 or 4, when the sun’s not as strong… and since I can’t shower when I’m home alone with him (the pack-and-play isn’t really tolerated yet), waiting until the end of the day to get sweaty is best. We usually do a three- or four-miler with a break halfway to play in the grass at a park or the lakefront. Not only does this take up a nice portion of the afternoon, I get my workout and he gets to explore. I swear, Will spends just as much time in open outdoor spaces as any suburban kid.

After we return home, it’s snacktime—Greek yogurt with cereal sprinkled in it. I love this little ritual of ours. We both love yogurt, so he’s always in a good mood. It’s something I used to do in the late afternoon at work, too, but it wasn’t nearly as much fun (or messy—just once it would be nice if my dining companion didn’t end up with yogurt on his wrists and eyebrows, which he loudly protests being wiped off).

After that, it’s usually not too long before John gets home, around 6. I won’t lie, I look forward to this—it’s so good to have a break after a 10-hour day of toddler wrangling. John takes Will onto the back deck to play while I start dinner, sneaking in a newspaper article between stirs and chops. Then it’s mealtime and watering the outdoor plants and bathtime and bottle and stories and “Twinkle Twinkle,” and he’s asleep by 8:30 or so. The next three hours are mine—to wash dishes and pick up toys, but also to read or email or work on my Seoul photo album or watch TV. The decadence!

People have asked me if I miss work. When I’m sitting in the sunshine in a green park, watching my son pull up grass or stare at a bug in wonder, no, no I do not. There’s absolutely nowhere else I’d rather be. When I’m scrambling to prepare some kind of lunch while he screams, or trying desperately to put on makeup or sunscreen while he flushes the toilet for the eighth time, being at work sounds pretty damn nice. Sometimes I look forward to going back and other times I dread it. But truly, I haven’t thought about my job much in these past six weeks… I just don’t have the headspace for it right now. My mind is completely engrossed in parenting. And I suppose that’s how it should be. That’s the purpose of this beautiful, idyllic, maddening, challenging, amazing, once-in-a-lifetime time. 

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Blogger Jessamyn said...

I'm so happy whenever I see you have a new post up. It sounds like everything is going amazingly well with you & John and your new son. I had an idea you would be a wonderful mother, and even from here, I'm saying that was correct.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Oh, Jessie, thank you so much. I hope that's true!

9:06 PM  
Blogger Kellie said...

So happy to see your post and get a glimpse into your days with Will. I remember the days when Anna would only nap in the Ergo (we did the exact same thing). It does get hard on your back! So glad things are going so well for you all. Think of you all the time. Love, Kell

6:34 PM  
Blogger Pix said...

Catching up on blog posts and so wonderful to hear how you are settling in! Happy mama. Happy boy!

10:00 PM  

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