Five Months

5 months old! And yes, her hair does that naturally. Not a thing can be done about it.

Tummy time. This photo cracks me up.

We celebrated the 5-months mark by starting solids. Sigh. Solids aren't my fav.

Okay, so all that “serene acceptance” stuff I wrote about in a previous post? It was possibly the sleep deprivation talking.

(So. Tired.)

Because today, my littlest girl turned 5 months old.




Perhaps Chris and me mechanically accepting the relentless tasks of parenthood blinded us to the fact that 5 months of Lorelei’s life—and our lives—just raced by.

I’ve been squeezing Lorelei into 3-month sized clothes, stretching those onesies to their breaking point. I cursed Carters and Baby Gap for making poorly sized clothes.

Until: Oh. Lorelei isn’t a newborn growing into 3-month clothes. She’s 5 months old.

I still think of her—truly—as my fragile newborn, just a couple days past having her umbilical cord stump fall off.

But a fragile newborn she is not. For instance, by day 5 of no poop from Lorelei, her pediatrician said to give her prune juice. I nodded, assuming he meant a teaspoon or two. “About 4 ounces or so,” the doc said. What?! That’s like a whole bottle! (Okay, not a WHOLE bottle, but close.) And believe me, nothing makes the Breast Is Best efforts seem so futile as when you’re giving your baby a bottle of thick black sugar liquid. (I was relieved to be off the hook for a feeding, though.)

I’m unnerved by my aging baby. I’m trying to figure out where these past 5 months have gone. Like I went to sleep and just woke up.

Except we all know SLEEP isn’t happening.

“I feel like I’ve missed 5 whole months!” I told Chris. But I haven’t really missed them, have I? I’ve been there for every single late-night feeding, I’ve slogged through back-to-back-to-back workdays when I’ve been up since 2:45 a.m., we entertained two full houses for Thanksgiving and Christmas, Charlotte turned 3, autumn leaves fell and even some snow. Spring is almost here.

Here’s the thing: As much as I’m looking forward to seeing Lorelei’s personality bloom, and heck, even her eye color to pick a team, I do so love having a baby. A jolly, smiley baby, who doesn’t yet shout “NO!” and who can still be safely contained in a car seat or crib. A baby who looks at me in rapt adoration just because I deigned to change her diaper while simultaneously singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Sometimes I wonder if my late-night rendezvous sessions with Lorelei are her way of compensating for when my attention is on Charlotte. Like she’s making sure I have a quiet moment to really take in the cozy weight of her, the rhythm of her breathing, the feel of her finger loosely clasped on my finger. The charming moments when she snorts and shifts position, right as her daddy snorts and flips over, both of them settling into a dull snore.
I’m sure much of my angst is due to the fact that Lorelei is (most likely) my last little one. There’s some freedom in knowing your months of paying the infant rate (until age 2) of tuition are numbered, and knowing that before 2020, you might just take a family vacation without a diaper bag or pack-n-play, or your body—after 9 months of pregnancy plus however many more of breastfeeding—will belong to YOURSELF again.
But goodness, putting those little onesies in the when-are-Tyler-and-Christine-going-to-make-me-a-niece-or-nephew box is hard.
I’m trying to look at this whole mothering thing as a shifting-role sort of thing. After all, I interact with Charlotte and Lorelei differently—I have to. One is 3 years, the other is 5 months. One loves me but wants to break free from me; the other is literally fed by my body. They need me in completely different ways. (Well, okay, when Charlotte climbs into my lap and lays her head on my chest, she’s not so very different from Lorelei, but you get my point.)
Surely this shifting-role thing could apply to the whole trajectory of mothering them, yes? I mean, I don’t want to be that batshit crazy mother who calls her kids 14 times a day when they’re at college, because they’re all I have and I want to control them from afar. Because being their mommy was my only THING. My only ROLE.
Not that I won’t make a huge blubbery scene in the Oxy quad come freshman orientation.
So, in letting go of Lorelei’s young babyness, I’m letting myself mourn a bit, but I’m reminded that I’m not JUST a mommy. Sure, it’s my favorite jewel in my tiara, but if it’s all I put all my time, energy, and talents toward, I’m going to (a) become a baby mill and have 25 kids to justify my purpose and existence, or (b) become just a hollow shell when the girls leave, unable to embrace the freedom of an empty nest and my new role in my relationships with my daughters.
This is how I justify reading. Granted, I can barely get through a book per month right now, but damn it, I’ll get through that one book. It’s why—despite pretty much zero time—I’m back at my rightful spot in my writing group.
And, though it takes me longer and longer these days to “find” my Ashley voice, it’s why I let myself keep blogging, you lucky reader you.
I need to find other avenues for hitting “pause” on the mommy role, flipping it over, and seeing what else I might do for a half hour or so. I’ll let you know when I find them. 
 In the meantime: 5 months. Holy. Moley.


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