Before I had kids I never really had favorite times of the day. Don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy my peaceful alone times by Lake Michigan, the times I would go jogging by myself without having to push a BOB, the days I completed all those 5k races I so actively participated in, shopping by myself which I find oddly calming even if and especially if I don’t buy anything, sipping wine and watching television, eating out with Aaron or doing anything with him, and so many more. These times were not regular occurrences. They happened when they happened so I never actively thought about them or knew in those moments to really savor them, not all of them anyway. They were a part of my single or DINK (dual-income-no-kids) life and that was that.
These days, thanks to the two greatest joys of my life, my TJ and Baby E, I have the pleasure of experiencing several favorite moments throughout any given day. These don’t happen every day but when they do happen, they are my favorite. Below I list 10 of my most favorite ones:
(1) Waking Baby E up in the morning: As soon as I gently start caressing her cheeks and wish her a good morning, she opens her eyes (or she is already awake) and stares at me with her beautiful black eyes and gives me a million-watts smile. I keep saying ‘Good morning E’ in different sing songy tones and she just breaks into the most amazing of smiles. I also love when I unswaddle her and her arms immediately reach out and above the sides of her head in a long stretch. Love it!
(2) Putting TJ down for his naps every afternoon: My oh my…this used to be a struggle. For the longest time, J would fall asleep in my arms and I would then transfer him over to his crib and gently lay him down. Realizing that this would not be an option once E was born, I had to start training him to fall asleep on his own for his naps (he did fine with the night time sleep). I started in February and the whole process took almost a month and I underwent many a high stress levels during those times. Because I was nearly 9 months pregnant at the time, I could no longer continuously pick him up and put him in his crib so we had removed a side of his crib and placed a railing guard instead so he could get in and out on his own. This meant that every time I put him in, if he didn’t want to sleep, he would come right out of his crib. It took weeks of patience to finally get to a stage where I could just lay him awake in his crib, read a couple of books, hug him, kiss him, and leave the room wishing him a good nap.
Soon thereafter, J organically moved to the big full size bed we also had in his room. Since we only have two bedrooms, whenever grandparents visit, they share the room with J and hence the big bed. Snuggling up with grandma and grandpa who stayed with us a week before E was born and for 3 weeks after, J got used to waking up in his crib but then getting into the big bed with his grandparents. We had also started dropping him hints that eventually, that’s where he would sleep and that his baby sister would sleep in his crib, a fact he seemed to have accepted matter-of-factly.
Now that J sleeps in a full size bed, it is really great to just hang out with him on his bed, read to him while laying next to him all snuggled together and shower him with tons of kisses and many, many hugs. He loves holding my arm and sleeping in my curve as I read to him and I love him next to me. I know these days may not last forever and he may not want to snuggle with his mommy much longer but for now, putting him to sleep for his naps is one of my most favorite times of the day. Unfortunately, on some days this is disrupted by Baby E’s crying or immediate demand for attention. However, whenever I can, I don’t miss the opportunity to get snuggle time with my little man (dad gets to do this on weekends).
(3) Overlapping nap times: At least for now on most days, I get between 1-2 hours of alone time when there is an overlap of nap times. If E goes to sleep at 1:00 p.m.and J at 2:00 p.m., I sometimes get until 4:00 p.m. where I am child-free. I love watching them both on their AV child monitors as I sit down with a hot cup of chai and some Parle G Glucose biscuits, one of my favorite biscuits (unlike Aaron who calls all my biscuits as cookies, I refuse to do so. Biscuits are not cookies no matter what anyone else thinks). This is also the time I catch up on emails, pay bills, call insurance, make doctors’ appointments as needed, research recipes, update this blog, straighten up the mess that is J’s toys and books that are all over the place, clean the downstairs bathroom, sweep and mop the kitchen, start cooking, or watch tv when there is something to be watched. Not all of these happen everyday but these are some of the tasks I finally get to do when I get that overlapping nap time.
(4). Hanging out with TJ – This can be anywhere but typically, the places we hang out at are our little garden, any of the local parks, or even just the living room where I read him books or play with his trains and trucks. I’ll focus on the garden for this point.
I have started a little herb garden and have potted a few flowers in addition to some succulents in the small outdoor space we have. I love spending time there gardening or deweeding. I feel like such a domestic diva doing these things. Oh look at me, I cook, clean, raise kids, and garden. Haha. For someone who has hitherto only killed all the plants she has tried to grow (not on purpose of course) and didn’t think either of her thumbs were green, the garden has turned out quite pretty even if I say so myself. Okay, Aaron agrees too so there’s that. I love hanging here with J and introducing him to a love for the green, a love for nature and a kindness toward plants by watering and nurturing them. He enjoys helping me pot soil, dig (his favorite garden activity besides watering) the ground for planting or deweeding and just playing around while I do what I need to do. This doesn’t always go smoothly. After all, he IS a two-year-old.
I have to often scold him for trying to pick up my heavy pots of plants just so he can put them in the sun. Because he has seen me do this, he wants to do it all by himself and clearly no amount of telling him that the tomato and red pepper plants are too big for him to lift make any sense to him 🙂 Then there are the few times he knocks over my mint or tulsi (basil) plants, sometimes on purpose and sometimes when he is trying to do something else he is not supposed to do. Despite all these naughty times, I absolutely love ‘gardening’ with him. I don’t know about him, but I am building a lifetime of memories.
(5) Hanging out with Baby E snuggled into my bosom in the K’tan: Unless she is hungry, E’s favorite place to hang out is also with her mommy in the K’tan snuggled close to my heartbeat, fast asleep, her cheek resting on my chest – her pillow, face to one side smooshed. I love taking a peek in to see how she is doing and see her gently snore or smile in her sleep or just peacefully asleep oblivious to the world around her that she will one day own. Thank goodness she took to the K’tan. I was a little nervous about getting a baby carrier knowing that some babies absolutely despise. Both J and E have liked their carriers. I didn’t have the K’tan with J though but I am sure he would have liked it too. As E gets older, I will make the move to my Ergobaby. For now, we are both happy with the K’tan.
(6) Driving when E is fast asleep in her car seat and I point out all the dump trucks, school buses, fire engines, light rails, or garbage trucks and others to J: These are some special moments I share with J. I point things out to him and he looks at them in quiet wonder, sometimes going, “Mommy, yaa. Yaa, mommy” (have tried to make him say ‘yes’ but he prefers ‘yaa’ or ‘yeah’ and he even said ‘yep’ once – don’t know where he got that from). This is only possible when E is asleep. If she isn’t, she is fussy and needs attention which I provide by talking to her or tapping on her car seat.
Related, driving with both kids in the car in quiet enjoying the latest hit on the radio lost in my thoughts is also another favorite time of the day. Each kid is quiet, content, sleeping or observing the things around them in beautiful harmony as I drive in silence. Bliss.
(7) Playing with Baby E on the activity mat and dancing with TJ to any music: As she gets older, E is really enjoying being on her back looking at the lights on her activity mat and toys dangling from it. Yesterday she even reached for a toy and touched it. I love just sitting next to her and watching her observe the moving lights, the sounds, the toys, taking it all in, smiling and cooing. She has even laughed a few times when I tickled and kissed her tummy. Absolutely love making her smile and laugh.
In the evenings, when both kids are up from their naps and we have time to kill before daddy gets home, on occasion, I play some music (has been Hindi music the last few times) and I just twirl around and dance. J gets so amused at the unusual randomness unleashed before him that he starts tapping his feet with a huuuge grin on his face while joining me in twirling. We don’t do this a lot but whenever we do, I encourage him to just let loose and join me in my dances and I love him as a partner.
(8) Massaging Baby E and bathing her: I love love love massaging my little bunny as much as she loves getting massaged. She just lays there smiling and looking right into my eyes, sometime gurgling and cooing as I massage her. I used to use Cetaphil Baby Oil on her in the beginning but then switched to Organic Coconut Oil when I saw some eczema like skin rashes on her knees and once she started putting her hands in her mouth. I love this time with her, just her and me while Aaron and J play in the background. Once I am done with the massage and move on to light stretches, I ask Aaron to get her bath ready. J enjoys helping out with this. He drags her little bathtub from where we keep it and brings it to the sink. Aaron does the rest and gets the water ready.
I love and enjoy the entire process of gently bathing her. She enjoys it too. She is quiet and contemplative during this time. As soon as I place her on a towel to dry her, she starts wailing and that continues for a few minutes. Soon she is diapered, clothed, and swaddled, ready to go to bed. I also like giving her sponge baths on alternate days. This leads me to my next favorite time of the day…
(9) My last nursing for the day before Baby E goes to bed: My little Baby E…growing up a little every day. I love these last few moments with her before putting her to bed. Now this is not always roses and peaches because she may not go to bed right away and may cry and fuss and refuse to sleep but on most days, I sit cross-legged on the bed with her on my Boppy, nursing. She sometimes has her eyes open staring at a fixed spot as she feeds. Then, gradually, I see her close her eyes in slow motion, peacefully drifting off to sleep as if she is taking those last few moments to allow for all that she has learned and experienced that day to color her beautiful dreams for the night. I caress her hair to help her welcome the wonder of sleep deeper. Then, slowly, holding one had under her neck and the other at the back of her knees, I lift her and place her in her bassinet. This wakes her up sometimes (and is more problematic at nap times) but if she is too tired, she just keeps her eyes closed, stirs a little, and then lays motionless breathing in perfect and quiet rhythm. I slowly get up and tiptoe my way out of the room and head to J’s room.
(10) Assisting in J’s bedtime ritual: J’s mornings and bedtimes are primarily Aaron’s responsibilities. At bed time, Aaron helps him brush his teeth and get ready for bed. By the time I join them, he is being read to. I jump into the bed with them and lay there hugging J while Aaron finishes reading. Sometimes J wants me to read another book or two. Our favorite book to read together at sleep times (nap and bed time) is, ‘Guess how much I love you’. As a family, we enjoy reading ‘Big Wolf, Little Wolf’ and with daddy, he loves reading the ‘Little Blue Truck’. After reading his books, I kiss him multiple times, cuddle him and hug him many times. I have a little thing I say to him every night before bed which I do and I follow this up by summarizing his entire day (have been doing this since he was about 19 months). He listens with rapt attention and reacts at appropriate places as he goes over his memories of the day with me. This is followed by more hugs and kisses and a final good-bye.
Touchwood. I have a blessed life. The above are of course all ideal situations that thankfully happen more often than not but there are also any number of days when nothing goes right and I just want to crawl into bed cursing adulthood and the responsibility of raising two kids. It’s a beautiful life.