While Mommy’s away…

Baby will learn all sorts of new skills.

 Last weekend the three of us traveled to Broken Arrow, OK, to continue my birthday celebration (my birthday was on Thursday, but I am a firm believer in the “birthday week” concept, first introduced to me by my dear friend Megan). We left Little Britches with my parents so as to have a true getaway weekend.

Of course part of the day centered around Charlotte anyway, since we hadn’t gotten her Christmas presents yet. I know she’s only 7 months, but something feels wrong about buying her presents right in front of her. We ventured into the land of toys for kids who don’t want to grow up…talk about sensory overload! It’s a good thing we had a list, though we still ended up with more than we had planned on getting. We decided that we won’t ever take Charlotte there…it’s just an “I want that now!” melt-down waiting to happen if you ask me. Chris and I have talked a lot about how to handle Christmas. We want to set present limitations early…at least from us. I know there will be a giant pile of gifts under the tree from her grandparents and aunts and uncles, and she doesn’t need any more toys. We decided to modify the guidelines my friend Joy uses for Christmas presents for her two little ones. We’re going with four gifts: something to learn from, something to read, something to wear, and something just for fun. It was still hard to stick to (we ended up with two “educational toys” and two books) but at least it kept us from grabbing every fun toy that we saw.

This whole Christmas thing is hard. I’ve been so excited about celebrating Christmas with a little one, but I never considered all the complications. It’s not so bad this year, but what about when she’s older? How do we help her understand that Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birth by serving and giving to others in the midst of a consumer society that shouts “you need this to be happy!” and where Santa appears in every store display? How do we make giving as exciting as getting? I’m glad we have a few years to figure out a battle plan before jumping into the fray of selfishness vs. selflessness.

I seem to be wandering from the topic. Getting back on track…while my hubby and I were busy Christmas shopping, attending the Nutcracker ballet, getting massages, eating fancy food at an upscale restaurant, and enjoying a full night sleep in a hotel room, Charlotte was learning all sorts of new skills. Apparently Grandma and Poppy are much better teachers than mommy, or possibly she was already doing some of these things but I, in all my hurry to complete my to-do list each day, hadn’t noticed until I took some time away from her.  I knew she was more mobile now (see previous post for my terror-filled lesson on that topic) but didn’t realize she could roll herself across a room. I knew she was making more purposeful sounds, but was she really saying “da-da” before? I’d never heard it. Suddenly she was making all kinds of “almost words” sounds, not to mention standing while supported, eating whole containers of baby food, and rocking back and forth on her hands and knees, the time-tested precursor to crawling. Mommy guilt hit like a tidal wave as I wondered if I’d been neglecting my child’s development in favor of crafting and Christmas decorating. That’s when I took a deep breath and cut myself some slack. It was normal and natural for Charlotte to learn new things…she is doing it constantly. It’s not surprising that she was honing her skills while I was gone for twenty-four hours, or that the time away made me see things about her that had changed too gradually for me to notice before.

Being with my baby constantly it a blessing, but it comes with the curse of taking her for granted. It’s easy to let my own selfish wants and tasks get in the way of truly enjoying the time I spend with her. Taking some time away from Baby Girl has fostered a desire to be more intentional about the time I spend interacting with her. I know I can’t spend all day playing with her like Grandma and Poppy did…that’s a grandparent treat that’s not practical or healthy for our day-to-day living. But I can get down on the floor with her for half an hour, leaving my phone on the table and resisting the temptation to surf Facebook or Pinterest while we play. I can try infant massage again, which I gave up because she didn’t seem to enjoy it (probably because I mostly used it when she was having gas pains to help get things moving through her little system). I can actually do some of those activities that I’ve pinned on my “caring for baby” board.

I know that balancing how I spend my time now that my daily schedule is totally up to me will be a constant struggle. I’m so thankful that I was able to take time away from the daily bottle washing, diaper changing routine to gain some perspective and focus on taking care of myself and my relationship with my husband. Even the short time we had was a huge blessing and went a long way toward restoring my peace and contentment. Everyone told me that taking time away from my baby would be a necessity, not just a luxury, and now I really believe them! How do you take time away from the daily grind to recharge and regain your enthusiasm for everyday life?

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