One of the more interesting aspects of this new life JoAnn and I have chosen to undertake is the transformation of our everyday life. For so many years we both worked all day rarely ate together during the day and had only moments when we were both awake and in the house at the same time. Weekends were strictly business as it was mostly chewed up with household chores we’d neglected all week, couldn’t someone have taken out the garbage? My first clue that things would change with a baby should have come a year ago when JoAnn stopped working and stayed home working on the nest. She’d call me more and make dinners that I rarely got home to eat and weekends we shopped for baby gear she’d spent all week picking out and was dying to show me.
Flash-forward a year and the JoAnn I married has transformed herself like a superhero into a first-rate stay at home mom. She puts the same energy and enthusiasm she used when working into taking care of Katie and the house and subsequently me. My own mom was the stay at home variety and in this day and age when so many people are quick to head out the door back into the workforce it’s so refreshing to see. Financially I guess a lot of people need two incomes and let’s be serious it wouldn’t hurt us to have some extra cash. Since I imposed a weekly budget it has changed the way I used to waste money for the better but oh how I miss being able to buy that new DVD without a thought or care now I do without, I’m guessing it’s like quitting anything spending was my habit so now I’m on the wagon.
More importantly, I couldn’t imagine someone else spending most of Katie’s waking hours with her and reporting to us when we picked her up what she’d done that day just so we could have a nicer car in the driveway or the newest electronic toy. I love that JoAnn is there all day every day and every time something does happen that I miss while working I get called right away. It wouldn’t mean as much sharing that moment with Mrs. Jones the sitter as it does share it with the other person responsible for Katie’s being.
So JoAnn has thrown herself into the role of full-time mommy with “Baby Talk” class one day “Mother goose nursery Rhymes” the next and “story time” at the library after that. A week full of networking with other new mommy’s and their kids, all comparing notes on early childhood development and where their child sits on that scale. This creates a little competition with some women and JoAnn and her closest ally in these classes trade calls whenever one kid or the other does something new. We actually meet this couple at the hospital during the birth as they shared a room and the two of them have stayed friends ever since. It’s good because you have two girls born under twenty-four hours apart so charting progress from one to the other is neat and they both are advancing at their own rate. Each excelling at one thing or another first before the other and sometimes it’s days or weeks before the other does the same thing. Of course, I’m partial my little girl is superior in every way even if that another little girl has some of her own tricks she was a full term baby and Katie was a month premature so of course, she’s ahead. Of course with that logic why does Katie outweigh her? All I can say is thank god it’s women at these classes and not men or you know there would be betting on who’s going to crawl or sit up first.
This month like every other my little girl has shown remarkable ability to follow along with the weekly development book like clockwork and had many huge firsts. The biggest would have to be the breakthrough of her first tooth followed quickly by her second on her lower gum. Now when she grabs a finger to chew on she has the ability to do damage and every time I see JoAnn breastfeed her I cringe just a little at the thought of the danger she’s putting herself in. There have been incidents but so far so good.
I got a frantic call one afternoon while at work with the proclamation she spoke her first word and it was “mama”. True to her word over the phone I was hearing something that resembled mama if you listened really hard and disregarded all articulation, yeah you could hear it. Really it was more “ma ma ma ma ma ma” and when I saw her do it in person she said it to everything and everyone including the dog so it may have been a leap of faith on JoAnn’s part but I’m willing to overlook it. For the sake of her childhood development and JoAnn’s ego and the fact it puts her one up on the other kids in baby class, my daughter can speak. Her next word is more puzzling as it sounds like “bab bab bab” and we don’t actually know a Bob. I guess I could stretch things and say she’s trying for “dad” but I have a hard time selling it to myself so I doubt I could sell it to anyone else, it will come when it’s ready.
The next big time accomplishment call was to inform me that Katie has pulled herself to her feet from a sitting position. This is something we’ve been expecting and waiting for as she’s been so close for quite a while. She sits on her own playing very well though the ability to lay down gracefully still escapes her, it’s more of a thump followed by the obligatory crying. Once she discovered quite by accident the joys of rolling onto her tummy from her back and visa versus there has been no stopping her. This has lead to creeping and was it not for our hardwood floors where traction is hard to get in a sleeper I’m sure she’d be crawling. Her version of crawling combined with rolling has everything on the floor within reach and now that she knows how to pull herself up, her discovery range just got that much bigger. She’s always had strong legs and liked to stand only she needed help, she still does but something tells me not for long. I curse the exercise saucer we got her last month as one of the side benefits of this thing is she likes to bounce up and down. If you’re holding her on your lap or worse on your stomach while lying down yourself you’re in pain because she gets air and at twenty pounds that’s a heck of a weight using your groin as a trampoline.
It really is quite funny when you see her holding herself up against the coffee table and she starts to slide to one side. She doesn’t take the precautions to protect herself she just starts falling and the look on her face when her balance has let her down is precious, gravity is not something she’s mastered yet. Of course, JoAnn and I are always there to catch her but I fear as she perfects this standing thing and puts the motions in place to start crawling the opportunity for getting out of sight and into trouble rising considerably. It is now officially time to start childproofing the house and fast.
In only seven months I’ve gone from complete baby fear to embracing this wonderful little mini me in ways I never imagined. I look at her first photo’s and video and can hardly believe they are one in the same little girls. I have so much fun playing with her on the floor experimenting with all her noise making toys and building blocks I can’t remember a time I wasn’t doing this. The smile I get from hearing her laugh and knowing I made it happen gives me a charge every time. Whether I’m swinging her upside down or flying her like a plane or just teaching her the finer points of a perfect tummy fart she gives JoAnn and me endless joy. But even more is coming home to find the two of them happy to see me and tell me about their day. The first smile on Katie’s face when she sees Daddy blows me away. Every morning I look in on her while she sleeps before I leave and I can’t wait to get home to see her smile. Yes, our lives have all changed dramatically in the last year and for the first time in my life, there is a real focus of what I have to do and who I have to do it for and that’s my family.