I saw one of the sweeter–if slightly weird–things I’ve ever seen last night. I was watching TV when I peripherally noticed–or thought I did–Mama chewing her fingernails on the other end of the couch. It’s one of my pet peeves so I turned to tell her to stop when I saw that she had our sleeping baby’s fingers in her mouth. “What are you doing?” I asked incredulously. “I’m trimming G’s fingernails,” she said and kept gnawing.
I was blown away a little–what a selfless act–and it seemed like the kind of thing only a mother would do (I would never think of that). It also seemed primal and wild, perhaps the sort of thing you might see on a nature special, like a mother Chimpanzee picking the bugs off her little baby chimp.
Another five minutes Mama was done and Baby G’s fingernails were safe for use. A good thing–in the past few days he’d scratched not only his own cheek but also mine, as well as my nose. More than that I had a new appreciation for G’s mama, and mine, too, maybe all mothers. They do all these things that never get noticed. This is an exception.
Seven months ago today, Baby G was born. Even though it was only three years ago that his brother was the same age, I’d forgotten what babies were like, and more specifically what a great age G’s at right now. In their first few months, you constantly worry about them and there’s not a whole lot of interaction. In short, babies aren’t that much fun early on. Then around six months there’s a transformation.
There was a moment a few weeks ago where I said to Mama, “He’s a little person now.” G has his own personality, his own likes and dislikes, quirks and traits. He’s really the nicest little guy, always smiling and laughing whenever he’s tickled and he’s ticklish everywhere. Quite often, he doesn’t even require tickling, just kiss his belly and he’ll laugh. He also loves human interaction, which I would assume most babies do, but you can never be sure. One brother of mine is about as social as the Unabomber and it started when he was around this age, even as a baby he hated to be kissed. G is the other way around, he craves human touch, which is great considering he has the world’s chubbiest cheeks and a ginormous head that is perfect for smooching.
Even his traits that should be annoying or even provoke anger are endearing and adorable. For instance, G has taken to waking up between 9 and 10pm when Mama and I are downstairs reading or watching TV, just trying to decompress before going to bed. Suddenly we will hear little baby gurgles or grunting from upstairs. Last night I volunteered to go grab him, mainly because I love to be on the receiving end of the ear-to-ear smile he flashes when he sees me. Then I bring him down to his Mama who he also grins at, but once her breast is in his mouth he’s back out. I watch him as he suckles and think how great it is to have a baby again. I forgot how much I like them.
I like to talk about how exhausted I am as a result of staying home with toddler B and baby G, and it is tiring, sometimes it even seems like they are little parasites that live to just suck off my life-force, but it is nothing like what their mother goes through. She heads off to work five days a week, then comes home and has to deal with the kids and me (usually beat down and cranky after spending the day with her … Uh, our children) for the next four or five hours until the wee ones go to bed. The next couple hours are hers, usually she just vegetates in front of the TV, and then the real work begins because both boys rely on her throughout the night.
Understandably, Baby G needs to suckle but then B frequently wakes and wants to know where she is and demands that she sleep with him (he wants nothing to do with me). Sometimes that is in our bed, at other times in his tiny IKEA one. This week has already been rough. Monday night, it seemed that B and G were conspiring to keep her from rest as they took turns waking up on the hour every hour. Then Tuesday night, around 2:30, B woke up screaming like he was demon possessed and it took a while for both of us to talk him down. By then, G was fully awake and making baby sounds that would normally be cute but not at that point. Then last night, B woke screeching again but because he’d peed himself she had to help him change. Worse, baby G was congested all night so she had to repeatedly get up to clear his nasal passages so he could eat, or just sleep. Except for my assistance Tuesday night, I usually wake up but then just roll over and drift back to unconsciousness, saving up my energy for the next day. No such luck for Mama.