Friday, January 22, 2016
there was a moment recently when our little family was leisurely lying in bed together while your daddy tried everything in his power to make you laugh, which is his mission most days. he began planting his head into the bed with an exaggerated thud that had you roaring to the point of squeaking, which, of course, had me roaring.
the two of us sat there laughing like fools, with you leaning against me, and at one point you turned your smiling face toward mine and gave me an unmistakable look that said, "get a load of this funny guy." then you turned away to continue laughing like it was no big deal. it was such a simple gesture, this small acknowledgement that we were sharing a moment, but in that instant, i saw you differently.
all this time you had been my little tag-along — riding in the car because i had some place to go, sitting on the bed next to me because i had to fold laundry — and then with one knowing glance, you transformed into your own person rather than just an extension of me. it was beautiful and bittersweet, and i needed a moment to wipe away a few happy tears before returning my gaze toward your father and continuing to laugh alongside you, my little baby turning into a child, for a moment i know will be etched into my memory forever.
your emerging personhood has been a big focus for all of us the past few months. it must be especially exciting for you, considering all the dog tails you plan to pull as a fully fledged human being, that it's keeping you up night. you really tricked me, kid, into thinking i was on easy street with a good sleeper. i felt almost embarrassed to admit to friends, fellow new mothers especially who'd ask me with tired eyes how i was sleeping, that my baby was sleeping through the night by four months.
that all went to hell during your seventh month, dragging me along with it. you went from 12 (semi-regular) hours of uninterrupted sleep to waking several times a night, sometimes every other hour. this went on for about six weeks, a time when i began keeping a pillow in my car for midday naps. this zombieland was unsustainable, as it made me bleary-eyed and mistake-prone at my tedious day job, so i decided the time had come for dreaded sleep training.
having been left to "cry it out" until i fell asleep on my own as a baby, i figured i had no obvious signs of lasting damage or homicidal tendencies to sway me from doing the same to you. so your father and i embarked on a modified version of "controlled crying" with you where we stayed in the room offering comfort as you cried. this seemed like a good, even humane idea in my head, but the execution was disastrous as the hovering over your crib seemed to confuse you into crying harder and longer in case we hadn't heard your cries the first time.
i resisted picking you up for as long as i could, my own tears also flowing, often calling your father in for reinforcement. sometimes i lasted until you fell asleep. other times, i cracked under the weight of feeling like the worst mother on the planet, causing me to scoop you into my arms with apologies and kisses, which rendered the whole exercise useless. after a few weeks of this inconsistent approach, you still weren't sleeping through the night (surprise!) and emerged clingier than saran wrap, making me fear that i was turning you into an insecure person who'd surely develop homicidal tendencies.
soon after that, you were sleeping in bed with me — which i swore would never happen — your father snoring on the couch, the three of us sleeping semi-soundly once again. while i loved waking up to your smiling face, i hated having to sleep as still as a statue and your insistence on burrowing into my armpit, holding onto my arm or having my boob near your face at all times while you slept made for some awkward contortions that added achy muscles to my list of complaints.
then slowly, magically and without reason, you began waking up less often. some nights, i could even put you down in your crib and you'd stay there until the morning (with me waking up several times a night to check on you). eventually, these nights became the rule rather than the exception until you slept exclusively in your crib again, mostly through the night, while your father still snored on the couch and i spread out like a starfish in bed, happy to be alone in it. for now.
i have no doubt that this sleep regression had much to do with your budding mobility, which has transformed you into a bustling activity center. while you are still months away from walking, you are now a pro at sitting up and rolling over in both directions. admittedly, you hit these milestones on the later side and still can't pull yourself into a seated position or crawl. but you love practicing right until you get frustrated with your lack of progress, leading to your distinctive PICK ME UP NOW wail i've grown to know so well.
you are getting more expressive in general now and even said your first word in your 7th month: "duck." i'm just glad it wasn't a similar word that starts with an F that you've surely heard me say. luckily, i caught the moment on video as you sat in the bath playing with the rubber duckie in question. you said it a few times, in fact, and i beamed with excitement, blasting that video into the tubes of the internets. since then, you've called each one of your toys a "duck" so maybe this new development isn't so spectacular.
still, it was exciting to think you'd be both mobile and verbal soon. like a good speech therapist, i went to work teaching your next word: "mama" (duh). this involved pointing to myself dumbly several times a day while saying "maaaa-maaa." you'd get as far as "mmmmm" before turning away to look at the dogs. a few times i think you even rolled your eyes.
but, as i will surely tell you one day when you're struggling to learn your 5th language and/or master piano sonatas, persistence pays off. and mine did as i got my "mama" in your 8th month, usually heard from the other room in the form of "mamamamama," said between cries when your father or grandmother changed your diaper or clothes (why do you hate that so much?). to this day, you still really haven't said it to my face despite now saying "dog" whenever you spot a dog in the room. but i'll keep trying because see that thing above about persistence paying off.
perhaps the most exciting development for you in these past few months has been the start of your "career," one that has earned you a handful of paychecks (all deposited into your new college fund). when one arrives at the house, made out to your name, it startles me every time.
apparently, you are pretty goddamn cute, which is clear to me and my mom goggles, but there is also a consensus about this among people who are not related to you. i'm surprised by this because your father and i are pretty average, but you seem to have hit a genetic jackpot that took whatever decent features we had and scrambled them into an adorable gerber baby with a giant head, eyes like saucers and cheeks that must weigh a pound each.
people routinely stop us in public to compliment your good looks while i stammer out a "thank you" and act like a human shield to prevent them from putting their germ-ridden hands all over you. accompanying this attention have been plenty of directives from both friends and strangers to "get that kid an agent." so we did. it was easy enough: we simply submitted your photos to two talent agencies and waited for a call back. both accepted you. we went with the one with the better reputation.
this actually happened several months ago, but nothing really came of it immediately and i was too embarrassed to admit it publicly, but now that you've started "working," i figure i should fess up, own it and fulfill my destiny to become an overbearing stage mother. i mean, your destiny to become a Baby Gap model.
your first audition was for a big recurring role that you did not get — playing baby Matteo on the CW's "Jane the Virgin" — but they liked you enough to book you for another role as baby #3 during a Mommy & Me class. except you were just a backup baby in case the main event had a meltdown during filming, which i should have ensured via sabatoge. but i'm still new to my stage mother role so i stood by idly while you received no screentime, taking photos of you in a dress (you were supposed to play a girl), which i sent to your father who was not pleased at all.
your second booking was far more spectacular and may go down as the pinnacle of your career as you have not booked anything since. you really fell ass backwards into this one, kid, as the agency was short a baby early one morning and called everyone on their roster looking for a fill-in. i happened to answer that call since you wake me up at an ungodly hour nowadays and told them, "yeah, i think we can get him to the studio by 9 a.m. oh, it's for 'American Horror Story: Hotel' for a scene with Lady Gaga? then, YES, WE CAN MAKE IT."
your father took you to that job while i slaved away at my job, eager for the update. the word came back that you did your scene brilliantly, staying quiet during filming and moving your arms like they hoped you would as Lady Gaga lifted you from a bassinet. your father also said she became so enamored with you that she refused to return you after the scene ended, sitting you on her lap for a few minutes so she could smile and coo at you.
six weeks later, the episode aired and did i mention this series is filled with horror and gore? it's called "American Horror Story," after all. i should also mention that they never filmed your face, only your body, because after Lady Gaga — who is one of the biggest celebrities on the planet right now but will be as irrelevant to you as Cher was to my generation — picked you up, they cut away to a computer-generated rendering of your face that was ridiculously grotesque yet awesome at the same time. i could not stop staring at it while laughing. it's similar to my face when i hear you crying at 3 a.m.
it's a face i will be showing all your future girlfriends. no amount of begging or pleading will prevent that so buck up now, little soldier. that face will go down as my favorite moment of your career, regardless of what the rest of it looks like. i look forward to the day when we can look at it together, laughing alongside each other while exchanging knowing glances, just like we did a few months ago when your daddy was face-planting into the bed to elicit your baby giggles.