The night we brought Christopher home from the hospital had to be the longest, most challenging night of my entire existence. It was awful. Of course, he had been a complete angel in the hospital, but by the time we got home everything had changed. It didn't take long for us to figure out that he was just. plain. hungry. There is a lot that went into that realization, a lot that I won't get into right now, but that is the general idea. He was hungry. And it took him quite a while to learn how to eat - even from the bottle. Just thinking back on that first night makes me cringe. The SCREAMING. Oh good heavens. It was awful.
But after that, everything seemed so easy. Well, not easy. Natural. Everything seemed so natural. Yes, I was tired, but that didn't matter because I could sleep whenever I wanted to. With my husband at work and my child being of the "I won't sleep unless I am nursing" temperament, if ever I was tired, I just grabbed the boy and snuggled in for a long winter's nap. And no one else needed me. I could be up all night and sleep all day. I could sleep next to Christopher all afternoon and no one else was waking up for a nap asking for bubbles or wanting to watch "Hohoho."
Now it's completely different. The amount of sleep I got last night is of no value to the little person in the next room who is calling from his crib because he has poo-poos. I can't nap off the grumpiness (and trust me, there has been a lot of grumpiness. I'm surprised Tim hasn't handed me my papers yet. Really.) because my world is now so much bigger than it was just three weeks ago. Being a mom of two is INFINITELY more challenging than just being a mom of one.
Don't get me wrong. I don't mean to imply that if you only have one child then you're any less of a parent than those who have 16. Or 18. Or however many they have by now. I just mean that, for me, this whole parenting gig has transcended the real. We're into the really real now. And that's serious stuff.
Tonight was my first night alone with both boys, as Tim had a meeting at church. He was probably aching to get out of here, in light of the fact that the woman formerly known as his wife has been replaced by this temperamental, hormonal, massively emotional basket case of a beast. Despite all of that, he offered to stay home as I waved goodbye from the screen door with tears streaming down my face. But we sent him on his way, eager to really try it out. Have I truly been initiated? Or is that going to wait until he's back at work and I'm really on my own. So Christopher and I read some books on the couch while Jake enjoyed a tasty treat. At 7:30 on the dot, Christopher pointed upstairs to his room. So up we went. He was already jammied up, as we were skipping bathtime tonight (what do you think, I'm THAT crazy?). Had this night been like every other for the past week, Jacob would have been asleep in his chair at that time and I could have just left him and read with Christopher in his room, had our snuggle and kiss, and dropped him into the crib. And everything would have been normal. For a few minutes anyway. But NO. Jake was AWAKE. WIDE AWAKE.
Throughout the whole of my pregnancy, this was my biggest concern. How would I handle bedtime or naptime with TWO? I thought that Christopher would be massively unimpressed if I put him in his crib and then walked out of his room with the baby in my arms - I figured he would wonder why the new kid got to stay up and play with mom while he was sentenced to three hours in the crib. I should have known better. I should have given my Christopher a little bit more credit.
Tonight we laid Jake on a blanket on the floor and, at my son's command, we sat next to him on the blanket (rather than in the rocker) and together we sang songs to the baby. For a while, Christopher even laid down next to him while we were singing. And he gave him a kiss before night-night. And I still got my snuggle. And I still got my kiss. And when Jacob and I left the room, Christopher sat in his crib with a smile on his face and waved bye-bye to us both.
I guess this initiation really is just in its beginning stages - as is the education. Not the education that I will pass on to my boys through the love I have for them... the education I will receive by allowing them to love each other.
...and to all a good night...