Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ages and Stages

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the boys and their ages, and also the space between them.  There are days I wish that our three-year gap would have happened, but then I realize that had it happened I might be locked away in the looney bin and unable to enjoy it anyway.  Jacob was such a handful at that age that I can't even imagine how I would have managed an infant.  Even with a four-year gap I think we'd have had quite a challenge, and in either case we'd be considerably poorer from double daycare for so long.  So I think it worked out for the best.

Still, the nearly five-year gap is looking bigger and bigger to me every day.  Even though Jacob is coming around a bit as a brother, the gap is really pronounced.  Carter is too young to do big boy things, and Jacob is too old (in his mind) to lower himself to Carter's level.  I know a lot of this is personality, too, that if Jacob was like most kids we'd get a little more willingness to be a good big brother.  He had a lot of time on his own and Carter's arrival shook him up more than even we expected, with prior knowledge of his personality and behavior.  It's still hard for me to tell if it was Carter's mere presence, or his dominance of my time, or all of the changes that went along with it, but it's evident that it took his behavior to a whole new level.  I think things have calmed down a bit, though, and Jacob is finally acknowledging Carter more and more.  Of course, not all is good attention.  Sometimes he does engage him in playing knee hockey or throwing a ball around, and it's nice to see them playing together.  It rarely stays civil for long, though.  Jacob will take away something, or Carter will tackle him, and that's the end of the fun.  Jacob also has this terrible habit of goading Carter into doing something or talking about something he shouldn't, be it potty talk or which daycare friends hit him or whatever.  It's so annoying.  At this point I can only hope that as they get older they will get along better, but I'm not so sure!

One of the challenges right now is that Carter is getting to a point where he wants to hang out with the big boys, but isn't quite able to.  If Jacob wants to play lacrosse with Daddy, or if Daddy's taking Jacob to baseball, Carter wants to do it too.  He may love his mama, but he wants to be with Daddy a lot more than before.  He wants to be included in what the boys are doing, but because he's so young it's hard to always include him.  He can't play sports at the level Jacob prefers, or and I can't always send him to baseball games with the boys because Craig helps coach and he can't be watching Carter as closely as needed.  So he's "stuck" with me and isn't always happy about it.  This is where the gap definitely becomes a challenge, because Jacob can do so much more and Carter doesn't quite understand why he can't.  And most likely, this will be the case for years to come.  Oh, and we definitely had to deal with some jealousy on Carter's part when Jacob got his birthday gifts and got to go spend his gift cards at Toys 'R' Us last weekend.  Hopefully he outgrows that and learns that they'll be taking turns with birthdays!

Even still, I'm still feeling like I want to freeze Carter at this age for a while.  He's so cute and so sweet that the tantrums and annoying moments are easily overshadowed.  I don't ever recall wanting to freeze time with Jacob because I was so eager for the terrible twos to be over.  If only I knew, right?  But even though he never wants to go to bed or brush his teeth or eat certain foods, he is still so sweet and so engaging the rest of the time.  He says "Please" and "Thank You" and "You're Welcome" without being prompted.  He calls me "pretty" and gives hugs out of the blue.  He's talking a lot now and seems like he's getting to the point where it's a constant running narrative.  I was sort of dreading this stage since Jacob is still in it and a double narrative might make me crazy, but gosh, he's cute.

Yesterday we were at Wegmans and he was sitting in the cart.  He gave me a little trouble about not being able to go in a car cart, but once we were off shopping he was fine.  He was rattling on about random stuff, and at one point an older African-American woman stopped me and said, "I just had to tell you how well your son is talking!"  She'd been walking near us and had been listening to him.  She remarked how adorable he is and said that he must be a ray of sunshine.  I told her he is and thanked her.  It was really sweet and just adds another story to my arsenal about how amazing it is that people see that in him after just a short time in his presence.  After that incident, we were in the parking lot and Carter said hi to the "eagles", which I pointed out were actually seagulls.  After we went over how seagulls are birds, too, he launched into a little mini-story about the seagull and its mama.  It was sweet and it really struck me how his imagination is really starting to develop.

Last week before Jacob's party I put away a few "baby" toys, like the stacking rings, Carter's lion push walker, and a baseball toy (since he can now hit a ball off a real tee, that one seemed unnecessary).  Every time stuff goes in the basement, it's a little sad because I know it's not coming back up until it's leaving the house.  Last time I knew we'd have another baby, and even if it was a girl some of the toys and baby things would still get reused.  This time that's not the case, and it's sad.  With Carter as sweet as he is, I can see where some people get to this point and are ready to do it again.  If I knew we'd get another baby as sweet as him, it would be tempting, but I honestly can't do another kid like Jacob.  I love him SO much but I simply do not have the energy or patience for another one like him.  I'm just not up for another pregnancy or cramming our house fuller or worrying about three car seats.  I can't deal with a baby who doesn't sleep or have the energy to manage three boys or even try figuring out a girl.  I just can't.  I don't want to pay for another round of diapers or daycare, or worry about more reflux or intolerances.  I have to be done. 

Of course, the one thing that gave me pause was that a couple weeks ago we were at Jacob's baseball game and I noticed Carter randomly playing peek-a-boo with the baby brother of Jacob's teammate.  He's almost a year old and super smiley, and Carter was loving the game!  I'd never really thought about how Carter would be as a big brother, and it made me sad that his natural big brother skills were going to go to waste.  He'd probably be awesome, especially at this age.  I realized as I was writing this post that if we had wanted a third and tried to do a three-year gap this time, we'd be trying right about now.  YIKES.  Carter's conception "birthday" (remember, it was well-planned) was just a couple weeks ago, and it's hard to believe that was three years ago already!  I guess it's good that this time around I can feel the baby urge (since I really didn't last time!), but I know better than to listen to it!  Still, I will look longingly at infants and fantasize about cuddling my own again.  But I just can't.

So, now I will try to revel in the ages my boys are at--Carter learning so much and Jacob turning into a real person, a talented athlete, and a bright student...I hope, anyway.  It's not always easy but I'll admit the stages are harder to leave behind knowing we won't be revisiting them.  Heck, I might even miss diapers.  And don't get me started on the crib or the Snoopy decor that's been ever-present in our home for the last seven years!  Man, this is going to be tough!

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