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holidays at home

This is the second year in a row that we celebrated Independence Day stateside – no mean feat considering that we have been posted overseas for the entirety of D’s six-year career with the State Department.

Given Junebug’s arrival, our Fourth of July observance this year was light on festivities, but heavy on family time. It was just the four of us on the actual holiday – a low-key evening that ended with all of us in bed just as the fireworks were beginning to go off over nearby Casco Bay. The previous three days, however, we hosted a bevy of visitors: S’s sister and her boyfriend, D’s aunt and cousin, S’s parents, and D’s sister and her husband. Some of our family members literally overlapped for only a few minutes, one set of visitors arriving just as another was on the way out the door.

With relatives on hand to help out with the kids, it was tempting to lay low for a couple of days – to let Munchkin get reacquainted with his aunts while we snuggled with Junebug or tried to sneak in a nap to offset the lost nighttime sleep. On the flip side, it would have been a shame to miss out on all the Independence Day activities in Portland and the neighboring coastal towns.

After initially agreeing to D’s suggestion to attend the Bath Heritage Days festival, S almost backed out at the last minute. Reclaiming one’s identity is one of the unadvertised challenges of motherhood. A week after Junebug’s birth, S still feels like a stranger in her own skin, more akin to a sack of raging hormones ensconced in maternity clothes than the mental image she has of her own persona. Between nursing Junebug and pumping after each feed, the window of time at our disposal to get out of the house is miniscule. With Bath a 45-minute drive away, the idea of attending a festival seemed simply too daunting.

In the end, S was glad she decided to go for it. We didn’t make it to any of the carnival rides, but Munchkin had a blast anyway, eating all sorts of carnival junk food and then expending his sugar energy by chasing bubbles from a bubble-making machine and dancing up a storm in front of the music stage. And we had a great time too. The first of the two bands we saw – and the impetus for the excursion – was started by one of the musicians who played at our wedding. The outing was a complete success until we woke a slumbering Junebug strapping her into her car seat for the return trip home. The twenty minutes of her heart-rending cries that followed was the price of our little bit of fun and freedom on the eve of Independence Day.

We couldn’t get our act together to attend a Fourth of July parade or the local historic society’s vintage auto show yesterday, but we did eventually make it out of the house late in the afternoon for a couple of hours of fun at Bug Light Park. Munchkin skipped the face-painting, was unimpressed with the clown on stilts handing out balloon animals, and didn’t make it to the “science” set-up where kids could make their own slime, but he did spend the better part of an hour playing cornhole with D – a game with which he has long been familiar and which for some inexplicable reason he decided to start calling “pick-pogs.”

The good news is that we succeeded in running Munchkin ragged, and he finally slept through the night for the first time since we brought Junebug home from the hospital. The downside is that he woke up fully recharged this morning whereas our energy resources are seriously depleted after successive outings with the kids during the day and Junebug’s multiple feedings at night. And therein lies the parenting dilemma: how to balance tiring out the older sibling so that he won’t terrorize you in the middle of the night with the reality that the morning will find you dead tired anyway.

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