There are only so many hours in a day, and they clearly are insufficient, especially on weekdays. We want to play with our kids after spending a long day at the office, but we need to get them fed, bathed, and into bed. We want to unwind, perhaps with a glass of wine or our favorite album on full blast, but it’s hard to get ten minutes of quiet time when one kid persists in popping out of bed with a litany of requests and the other requires constant, hands-on attention. Books? Movies? Going out? In an alternate universe, a short lifetime ago we used to enjoy these things too, but given the current state of play it’s hard to imagine how we ever had the time or energy for them.
The distance between New York City, where D grew up, and Mahama, nestled against the bank of the Kagera River, which serves as the natural boundary between Rwanda and Tanzania, cannot be measured in miles and feet alone. A barren parcel of tse-tse fly-infested land just a couple of years ago, Mahama now hosts more than 55,000 refugees from Burundi, who began streaming into Rwanda in the spring of 2015 and continue to arrive in smaller numbers more than two years later.
Munchkin turned three-and-a-half over the weekend, which means he is almost but not quite on the cusp of reaching self-sufficiency. At lunch the other day, he gave S a rundown of all the things he can do by himself. Unfortunately, getting dressed, feeding himself, and putting himself to bed are milestones that remain miles away. He’s made some progress on independent play, but only when we’re around – as soon as S heads upstairs to nurse Junebug, for example, Munchkin breaks down.
We’re quickly coming up on the end of Junebug’s fourth trimester – those first three months of infancy when child psychologists say it is impossible to spoil a baby; that surreal period of missed sleep when every moment spent snuggling one’s newborn feels like a minor miracle.
By the time Munchkin was a couple months old, we had already spilled a considerable amount of digital ink chronicling his every squirm, coo, and nascent personality quirk in the pages of this blog. As Junebug’s due date approached, we talked about the need to ensure that she does not get second billing – that we devote at least as much attention to her as to him so that she does not feel like she is growing up in his shadow.
Serving in Kenya, shortly after we got married and before we even thought about having children, we tried to take advantage of every extended holiday weekend to get out of Nairobi and explore the country. We continued to travel a lot after Munchkin was born, using our posting in Moldova as a springboard to explore Eastern and Central Europe, but we also came to appreciate the value of spending long weekends at home to soak in the wonderment of new parenthood.