Parenthood, or at least our experience of it to date, seems to be defined by two constant, contradictory mental states. On the one hand is anticipatory nostalgia, fueled by the realization not only that everything is a stage, but also that all good things come to an end way too quickly. On the flip side are the doldrums that accompany each particularly challenging phase, which always seem to last forever, and the usual batch of negative feelings one experiences when reality fails to match one’s expectations.
Thus with Junebug we are trying to savor every moment of her cuddly, snuggly, baby cuteness while already mourning the not too distant day when it will surely end. In that vein, S keeps pushing back on the suggestion that she should wean Junebug, who is now going on a year and a half – this despite the fact that the little lady eats twice as much as Munchkin does and has a full complement of teeth she constantly deploys in the most painful of ways when nursing.
Her nanny claims that Junebug says all sorts of words, including her playmate’s name. We have seen no evidence of her supposed speech to date. Despite the fact that she can clearly say “ma-ma-ma” or “pa-pa-pa,” for example, she says neither “mama” nor “papa” to us. There was a period when we thought she was saying “wa-wa” for “water,” but now D is less sure if the sounds she makes count. S had taught Junebug a few signs. The sign Junebug makes when she’s thirsty is analogous to a Native American war whoop. It’s unclear if the resulting “wa-wa” we hear constitutes deliberate speech or the accidental sound an open palm makes when smacked repeatedly against an open mouth.
For all that, we are rarely in doubt about what Junebug wants and have avoided almost completely the frequent meltdowns that were Munchkin’s hallmark at this age. He started speaking much earlier. However, he would also get frustrated very quickly whenever he found himself unable to make us understand immediately what he wanted. Junebug takes a much more pragmatic approach, taking us by the hand and leading us to exactly what she wants while pointing the way. That’s not to say she does not also have meltdowns when she does not get her way; it’s just that they are much fewer and farther between.
As has been true for more months than we care to remember now, sleep continues to be our biggest nightmare as far as parenting Junebug is concerned. Munchkin fought sleep too during some periods of his early childhood, but not nearly with this much determination and ferocity. Once she is asleep, Junebug actually sleeps more soundly than Munchkin did at this age. She started sleeping through the night on a consistent basis much earlier than he did, for example.
The challenge is getting her to go to sleep. We had a reprieve of a couple of months when S could at least do the nighttime routine without pushback. She would nurse Junebug and then transfer her to the crib while she was still awake. Alas, that did not last. These days Junebug immediately pops up and starts wailing as soon as S puts her down, and the wailing proceeds regardless of what we do once she knows we mean for her to go to sleep. The only way D can get her down is by rocking her in his arms for 30-40 minutes until she tires of fighting him and passes out.
Munchkin, of course, presents his own set of challenges, which are even more difficult to manage in some ways, but with the antics he pulls these days he deserves his own blog post.