Last week was Calvin’s SIX MONTH BIRTHDAY! Woot woot. He is doing so well. Rolling over and over. He loves going from his back to his front and will (and actually did, but shhh, it’s a secret) roll off our bed if we let him. His eyes seem to be gradually getting a bit greener. The outside is still semi blue, but the inside is yellower giving him an overall effect of blue green. We’ll see if it keeps changing. His personality is coming out in new ways. The other day he was extra tired and ready for a nap, but I had to drop him at daycare. As we were getting ready he turned into a slap happy infant, belly laughing at everything! The way I said his name and called him silly, carrying him into the closet to look at my clothes, seeing Kelcy, it all made him laugh. I was so happy to have a silly baby. Anyways, to commemorate his 6 months of life I wanted to do a semi-interview of Kevin and I as parents. I wrote most of the questions (the last three were Kevin’s attempts at engaging with the exercise) and sent them to Kevin via email. I suggested we just videotape us interviewing each other but Kevin shot that idea down VERY quickly. So here we go:
Kevin’s disclaimer: This sort of thing is generally counter to my reflexive tendencies to not write, not think too hard, and not publicize the minutiae of our relationship. Some couples write on each other’s facebook walls (are they still called walls? I honestly don’t know. Timelines?) because they are far apart and it’s a convenient medium to exchange words. Some couples do it because they want to share some meaningful thing they found on the internet, and it would just take too long to search for when they get home. Other couples do it because they want to annoy me (I can only infer). But this is nothing new. There are Adams’s, who want to save their love letters for posterity, and there are Washington’s, who want to paper mache their correspondences to their husband’s corpse and burn them in a fit of rage (historians may contest that sweet Martha did not do this, but without any letters left to prove it, they can’t be certain). All I’m saying is that I tend toward the latter, so I want the record to show that I’m doing this against my will (partially).
- What is one of your favorite things that Calvin has been doing recently?
Jewel: I think watching him roll from his back to his front is one of the sweetest things to watch. He works so hard to get there and when he does he has this adorable proud smile that makes me laugh every time. I especially find it cute when he does it while he’s supposed to be falling asleep, then he puts his entire head on the mattress and rubs his eyes and pops back up to smile.
Kevin: He’s been opening his mouth very exaggeratedly, like a fish taking in water, and making funny noises, (bah bah bah!). It seems involuntary, and sometimes interrupts an otherwise perfectly good whining session.
- What is something you miss that he used to do?
Jewel: I miss so many little things about the newborn stage. I miss how he just stared at us. His brain was developing so much and all he could do was stare. I don’t get that kind of undivided attention from Calvin now without him wanting to chew on my nose, or my fingers or kick me or try and stand up and look at Kelcy. I miss how squishy and little he was. How we could just wrap him up in his sleep sack and he wouldn’t really move at all.
Kevin: I miss how he lived inside your uterus and did not wake us up at night. Or at least did not wake me up.
- What is something that has surprised you about being a parent?
Jewel: I think I’ve been most surprised at the ways in which we have to adapt to Calvin’s needs. These last 6 months I’ve found myself wanting to meet his needs right away, regardless of what we want. That means I offer him milk more frequently, I prioritize his need to sleep over leaving the house some days. It means that any thought of doing cry-it-out has flown out the window for awhile. Getting up 2 (or 3 or, on bad nights, 4) times a night to feed him and soothe him is something we’re totally willing to do. If you had told me that was what I was in for 9 months ago, I would have doubted my ability to function, but we’ve both risen to the challenge and are enjoying the new “normal.”
Kevin: I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my increased ability to sympathize with things. When I hear about events involving kids, I can relate to them directly now. Before Calvin, I would recognize that it was happy or sad, but not really dwell on it or connect with it. Now I actually feel feelings about things because I have a frame of reference. Conversely, I was disappointedly-surprised with how difficult it was for me to handle him crying when he was a newborn. His cries can be so desperate and inconsolable at times (at least for poor boobless me), and I just want him to stop. Early on (<3 months) when he wouldn’t stop, it made me sad and frustrated and angry and I didn’t like how that felt. I gradually realized that I’m a grown up and he’s a helpless baby and I therefore have more patience (barely) and will power than him, so now I can handle it more gracefully.
- Name three adjectives or emotions you feel on a regular basis now.
Jewel: totally-in-love, nostalgic (for like…last week, how is it all changing so fast!) and excited for what’s coming. Also, tired. I know that’s 4, but I had to add tired.
Kevin: happy, confused, ready-for-business-time.
- What is something you miss about our pre-baby lives?
Jewel: It’s totally cliched to say sleep. I miss sleeping through the night kind of like I miss being in Westminster Choir. It was an amazing experience that I often think about, but I wouldn’t trade my life right now to go back and I’m sure someday I’ll get something like it again.
Kevin: Doing whatever I want whenever I want. And really enjoying pooping.
- Objectively speaking, would you say Calvin is the cutest baby in the world?
Jewel: Of course he is. Like…duh. Though there are so many cute babies in the world! I’m way too excited about having another baby someday. I can’t wait to see how cute he or she is.
Kevin: He’s the cutest baby that has ever existed in the entire history of the world. Except for sneezing baby pandas.
- Tell me one random thing about Calvin or being a parent.
Jewel: Every once in awhile I get this overwhelmingly nervous feeling that being a parent NEVER ENDS! It’s like realizing you have this huge test that you may or may not be prepared for and it’s tomorrow, and then the next day, and then the next day. Usually I just take a deep breath, look at Calvin and think, right now is pretty awesome! Why would I worry about tomorrow? That’s something I think he’s really helped me with, why borrow troubles from tomorrow? I love to plan ahead and make sure things go smoothly, but that’s looking at the future optimistically. Being nervous about the rest of our lives as parents is just silly, but it does happen every so often.
Kevin: Watching Calvin try and sit on his own sometimes is like watching someone try and be casual while they really really have to poop.“Hey, Jimminybillybob, can you pass me that thing that’s pretty near you but will require you to reach a little bit?”“What, that item a foot and a half to my right?”“Yup, that’s the thing. Can you hand me that?”
“Sure…no problem. Let me just extend my arm without adjusting my hips in anyway…there, almost got it…there we go, snagged it. Oh boy, I sort of rocked to my side a bit there. Here, take it quick. I have to go… do some painting upstairs.”
Other times it’s like watching a drunk person, I imagine. He leans just a scosche to get something, then, bam, he falls right on his face. He’s just so uncoordinated.
- What do you plan on doing differently with our second chance at parenting on the next child that we generate?
Jewel: The big thing I get to decide for the next one is whether I want to do a home birth or not. I loved getting to use the natural birthing center at Gundersen, but I didn’t love being interrupted every 1-2 hours to have them check on me and on the baby. I totally understand how great that is for catching those rare problems, but I was and am pretty certain that my next delivery and baby will be in the majority of healthy deliveries. Plus, we live 1.5 miles from the hospital so we can get there extremely quickly if we need something. The bonuses of being at home might outweigh the negatives of the hospital experience. The only thing I’d miss would be 24 hours of free, delivered to your bed food for me and Kevin. That was pretty great. I know people might provide us food at home, but it’s not like ordering what you want right off a menu and getting it hot and ready to eat. I realize my answer isn’t really about parenting. Parenting-wise, I think we’ll be more laissez-faire about sleeping and cloth diapering, we’ll have done it all before and it’ll feel a bit more natural the second time around, less fraught with worry.
Kevin: I plan on playing with Calvin while you do everything, and then complain about how much work it is to watch you do everything. So, status quo.
- Has there been anything that I’ve done as a parent that has surprised you?
Jewel: I’m not exactly surprised as much as I’m totally loving how over the moon in love you are with Calvin. The first 2 months were difficult for you and I totally understood that, he was so reliant on me and he kept throwing up on all of our furniture. But when he blossomed into a smiling, wiggling, babbling baby you’re the best dad I could ever imagine for him! You take such obvious joy in him every day when you pick him up from daycare and you patiently hold him and rock him to sleep when he’s fussy. I think it’s going to be so fun to watch us parent Calvin as he grows up.
Kevin: You seem to have an intuition about what Calvin needs. I can spend an hour alone with him and think everything is copesthetic, then you come home and take one look at him and know he’s ready for a nap, without even knowing how recently he woke up from his last one. I feel like I’m filling out ‘C’ for every question on the essay-based test of parenting, and you seem to be able to write a tome for each one. I don’t get it.
- Have you considered what you would do if Calvin tells us he wants to be homeschooled?
Kevin: Uffda [insert from Jewel, you are truly a Midwesterner now!]. It would sure take away any anxiety about having The Talk with him. I guess the first thing I would do is try to sell our house and buy a factory for us to call home, then retrofit it (using only my hands and my tools…which consist of a hammer) into a bunch of different rooms with desks and things, then adopt like a thousand kids, then employ like 50 people to work with the kids following an established curriculum, making sure some of those 50 are in an administrative role to take care of the bureaucratic responsibilities, and see if Calvin notices what I’ve done.
Jewel: Your answer kills me. You are so funny to come up with this question. I think I would love to homeschool Calvin if we were in an area where there wasn’t a school we liked or there was some other reason (zombie apocalypse?). I know that worries you, Kevin, because I’m not so great at math or science, but it’s just cause I’m rusty! I was excellent at school and I think I’ll enjoy passing on my love of tests and excelling at academics to our kids regardless of where they go to school. I think I’ll always want to be semi-employed out of the house, which could make home schooling difficult. Remember, I often wanted to be home schooled just cause I loved being home and reading so much, but it was good for me to be at school.
I hope you enjoyed reading our crazy interview as much as I enjoyed answering these questions. I can just see Calvin reading this when he’s like…16 and I finally show him this blog and he is so confused about why we did this. But then he’ll be like….29 and having a kid of his own and he’ll laugh and be grateful for the strange ways we documented our lives as new parents.
Love you all,