Friday, September 4, 2009

Dear Mack - Month 19

Dear Maverick,

Once upon a time your mommy bought what she thought was the perfect diaper bag. Then her beloved Fashion Designer niece made her 2 more diaper bags. And then she saw another bag that would be "just perfect" and I packed each bag with care and precision that I had "everything" I might ever need. The bags weighed a good 20 lbs and that was with only one of you. Then I had your brother and he comes with his own set of necessities that the diaper bag needs to hold that are vastly different from your current early-toddler requirements and to date I do not have a single bag that can do it all. At this stage the bags are a hybrid of needs depending on the situation. And usually I have with me what I call the jump bag in which I throw everything that I cant fit into the first bag. It is like packing for vacation any time we need to go anywhere.

I bring this up because I realized this week that in this past month I have carried practically every diaper bag hanging on our entry way hooks as I try to keep up with what we need in any given day depending on if I am out with you or Radley or both of you and whether our trip is short or a full day. I have now determined I need a Radley Bag, a Maverick Bag, a Mack/Radley Quick Trip Bag, a Mack/Radley Day Trip Bag and a Swim Lesson Bag and I am sure the list will grow from here. The development of these various bags marks a major transition for us.

You see, suddenly this month you have realized that there are fun things in the world outside of our little house, and you want to go and see them. So we go.

We go to the zoo

and the botanical gardens

and the museums & malls

and the aquariums

and the park

and almost weekly to Target and the Trader Joe's just so you can cruise up and down the aisles and greet your public. "Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! you say to nearly everyone we pass and smile that flashy contagious smile you have like you are Grand Marshall of the Maverick Day Parade.

You are inherently a very outgoing little boy. And I am finding out that when you have an outgoing little toddler flirting with the ladies and making friends everywhere we go and a teensy tiny newborn, you have to talk to everyone, everywhere, all the time. It is exhausting.

This new phase of activity has been made possible by the fact your brother can and will sleep anywhere and you are solidly locked into your one nap a day schedule. As a result, once you wake up for the day around 7am, give or take a bit, you are ready to go. All morning. Until noon or so. Radley is cool for the day, however, you are another story.
I have to admit that when I first process the fact that there were now 5-6 straight hours of consciousness in your day, I kind of panicked. What in the world am I going to do with you for that long? And what about Radley? For a while, I just tried to proceed as normal and keep you occupied with various toys, crayons, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I tried to take care of Radley and get stuff done around the house and occasionally shower or pay a bill or two. That did not work at all. You quickly became bored and would turn into the Five Hour Mack Demolition Machine.

By the time I would get your brother fed, changed, and sorted, never mind taking a minute or two to brush my teeth or run a brush through my hair, the living room or my bedroom or whatever room I had you corralled in looked like post hurricane news footage. I would follow you around trying to clean up these messes you make mostly out of boredom - but I was not too happy with it. I am not a fan of cleaning.

After several weeks of this, and my inbred lack of the cleaning gene and how tired I was of myself telling you "no", I realized that I was going to have to get a new strategy and that it was probably going to involve getting you out of the house more. But I really didn't want to. In the interest of total disclosure, I am kind of a homebody most of the time, Mr Mack. Some people may use the term "anti-social" but I think that is a bit harsh. What is true is that I could easily stay in the house for a week at a time and not be too bothered about the lack of seeing another human being. So embracing my new role as Los Angeles Tour Director has been exhausting.

I think this is another way that parenting you is forcing me to grow as a person in ways I would not necessarily choose for myself. I am preparing to declare that I really have arrived when I find myself on the sidelines of a Little League game. But we are not there yet, so these days, I am just trying to get really good at packing the right bag, the right snacks, sunscreen, your beloved water bottle, changes of clothes for 2, formula & 2 sizes of diapers, and everything else I need in that Mack/Radley Day Bag that we will need to survive a morning out. Sometimes we go on our own and explore what is available in the vast land that is Southern California. Sometimes we go with friends. Speaking you are at the botanical garden with your buddy Jack.

It has not taken you long to embrace your new social calendar. In fact, on the weekends, if 10 am rolls around and we have not left the house yet, you frequently navigate your stroller up to the front door and try to figure out how to get out.

In our travels I have learned not to push you too much past that magic 5-6 hour rule. You see, although as an infant your sleep was spotty at best, now you have developed into a boy who likes his nap. And you prefer it in your crib. After a warm bath. And a snack. I learned this lesson the hard way now that basically anything that disrupts your sleep patterns is basically the shortest route between your normal fun personality and the crankiest version of you. And Cranky Mack is not much fun at all. I learned that. The hard way. I am getting much better at planning our outings accordingly.

This month it is nice to be also able to report that you are much more spontaneously affectionate than you ever have been before. You have always liked to snuggle, but lately, you will come running from across a room and throw yourself at me in a full hug. Or you give kisses when the mood strikes you. At night, when I am putting you to bed, you lay your head on my shoulder and pat me on the back, like I do to you. I think of these little bursts of affection from you as my special mommy rewards. I also try to realize that life is probably a little bit challenging for you too at the moment. I know I do tell you "no" quite a lot these days. I hear from others that I will be doing that in different ways at different times in your life for a long time to come. So I think it is important to tell you that I only tell you "no" because I love you and want what is best for you. And sometimes because I just can't handle cleaning yet another path of wreckage from my favorite little Force of Destruction.

I love you,

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