3 months home and life is good.
Currently ALL the kids are napping, I’m sipping a cup of tea that is still hot and eating chocolate, husband is out on pastor visits. Knowing him, he will probably come home with flowers or chocolate because he is a wise and wonderful man. Many years ago we laughed at a sign on a florist’s shop that said “A wise man buys his wife flowers when he doesn’t have to”. We laughed, but the idea stuck, and my husband often surprises me with flowers.
Last week he took Angelina and Della to the store in a divide-and-conquer parenting moment. I don’t really member that day, I’m going to guess I was probably stressed and a little frazzled, but I do remember Angelina and Della racing down the hallway on their return squealing the surprise “mom, we brought you flowers!” Della had seen the flowers and wanted to bring them home for mom just like dad brings home flowers. Dad let the girls each pick out a simple bunch; Angelina chose all white carnation and Della picked blue carnations with glitterfied babys breath. As they both talked at once I looked from one eager face to the other thinking, “what sweet daughters, I can’t imagine life without them”. Both of them.
They helped arrange the flowers in a tall vase and I put it out on the homeschooling bookshelf. That corner needed a little more color AND it is somewhat safe from our Kittygoat who is in constant 2 year old destruction mode. My guess is if she got a hold of flowers she’d eat them or feed them to Roman who would also definitely eat them.
While the girls were out at the store with dad, I was in the kitchen cleaning and cooking. I heard Roman’s babbling, a constant background noise these days, but it sounded unusually loud. Turing around I was surprised to see his little face peering at me from around the kitchen cupboards. Hmmm, okay, so Roman was mobile enough to get clear across the entire living room and into the kitchen. Wow! Was that intentional? I scooped him up, gave him some snuggles and tickles, and plopped him back out in the living room far from the kitchen, just to see what he’d do. A few minutes later he was in the kitchen again, looking for mom and by now ready to EAT and telling me all about it with his “Whhaaaagh blab blaahb blllllaaaghh!”
I set him up in the highchair, spread out cheerios in front of him, and watched as he picked up and ate almost everything all by himself. Three months ago he was clueless about food, when he figured out he could eat things that weren’t in a bottle he really really wanted to put food in his mouth, but didn’t have the motor planning to do so. Now he reliably feeds himself finger food and will use a fork if I place food on it.
He spends all day every day playing; he is making up for lost time. He crawls towards objects, has favorite toys, and is even pulling himself up into standing when he wants to get something out of reach. He looks at faces, will smile responsively to my smiles, and his eyes focus well. This is the little boy who was so unresponsive three months ago, we did not know if he could see or hear. Three months ago he only lay on his back, his eyes constantly shaking, throwing any toys we put in his hands and never looking to find toys on his own.
While Angelina and Della have been forming a beautiful friendship, my little Kittygoat has demonstrated surprising empathy for her little big brother. For most of her life she was a snuggly baby, content to read books and play on her own; during out big trip this summer she changed a lot.
My parents watched Della and Kitty during the trip. My dad gave Kitty the nickname RoboNo because she yelled “NO NO NO NO NOOOO” to everything and everyone. The upheaval was hard on her too, maybe not as apparent as the distress Della endured, but she went from being the baby to being the baby with a sibling who was developmentally significantly younger than her. I kept Roman in a playpen or in the highchair for the first two months mainly because I was wary of Kitty’s rambunctious behavior around him. While she never showed intentionally harmful actions towards him, she does have a tenancy to headbutt everything around her, and Roman’s huge head was too much of a temptation. In the past few weeks there has been a softening in her little heart, at least towards Roman whom she calls Rome or Romcuckcoo. If Roman is crying, Kitty looks up at me with a concerned face and says “Rome cry mom. Rome cry”. She retrieves his toys for him all day long. I have watched in dumbfounded amazement as she gently stroked his hair. She has been a lifelong hair puller, I didn’t know she could be so gentle!
We are all of us quite different than we were 3 months ago. There has been stretching and straining but also deepening and widening. Our budget has been stretched, patience has been strained, compassion has deepened, and arms have widened to embrace this larger family.