The Times, They are A-Changin’


Somehow, in the past week, the topic of having a third child came up with three different friends.  One of these friends actually has two boys close in age to mine and also an infant son.  I watched her manage her three boys at the beach with a respectful awe, and although I loved holding her sweet little guy and playing with him on the beach blanket, I also felt a strong sense of gratitude about not having a newborn in a sling while jumping Lyle over the waves, nor dealing with an explosive diaper (or any type of diaper) at any point during the outing.

And yet I told all of my friends with complete honesty that I am aware of this being “the time”, if there were ever going to be a time to have another; biologically, I actually have quite a few more years, but in terms of the boys being older now and how closely I’d want my children spaced, this would be the time for me.  However, it is not in the cards, and that’s as it should be.  It’s not what I truly want, nor is it what Matt wants.  (The boys have explicitly stated that they’d like us to have 100 babies, and have even figured out places for approximately 72 of them to sleep, but their votes don’t count, thank goodness.)

This is the right thing for us, and today brought a series of reminders of how wonderful it is for us as a family to have moved beyond those baby and toddler years.

For one thing, Matt and the boys did a 5-mile bike ride together while I was out this morning, traversing some city streets and then the lakefront trail down to a beach and back.  Lyle was in the bike trailer, and Baxter rode independently on his own bike.  They all loved it!  Following that, Lyle successfully continued his 3-day no-nap streak and was able to take a bit of quiet time and then push on through the afternoon, which really changes our whole day as a family because there is so much more time to do things together.  I called the boys in to watch the Obama/Biden event this afternoon, and it was delightful to watch Baxter’s excitement as he cheered for them and asked a kajillion questions.  At the end, he said dreamily, “Maybe I could be president someday.”  Those two men certainly leave one with the feeling that if they can make it, anyone could.  And, indeed, why not Baxter?

We then took Baxter to the eye doctor this afternoon for an exam; he’s been complaining of difficulties seeing things at a distance.  Sure enough, his vision is quite poor, and so before we knew it he was picking out glasses.  He will be wearing them all the time – what a change, to see my guy looking so old and studious in his new blue frames.  I was so proud of how well he took this in stride and that he was excited to choose his frames.   The more we think about it, the more we realize that there were little signs of his nearsightedness for the past year.  I’m most interested to see if it improves his overall ability to focus in school; I can’t help but believe it will.

Although the boys were exhausted from their bike ride and the push through the busy afternoon, something prompted me to suggest that we take them out for dinner in Andersonville, the neighborhood we were in for the eye exam.  We’ve never taken the boys out for Persian/Middle Eastern food, and Reza’s is one of our favorites, so we went for it.  Baxter was so tired he was holding his forehead up with his wrist during most of the meal (and we went at 5 pm!), but he loved the food!  I don’t know about you, Wonderfriends, but one of the best feelings for me as a parent is seeing my kids trying new and unusual foods and loving them.   After being babies who ate absolutely anything, both of my boys became very picky as toddlers.  For years, there has been so much that Baxter wouldn’t touch, but suddenly he is trying and appreciating all kinds of new foods.  I couldn’t be more pleased.  While Baxter ate falafel, tabbouli, baba gannouj, and lamb kabobs, Lyle picked at his warm bread and covered the entire paper on our table with beautiful, imaginative drawings.   He hasn’t put pen (or marker) to paper in ages, and it was amazing to see what he is now capable of.  Matt and I exchanged astonished glances every time he explained what something was.  We’ll be encouraging more of that, to be sure.

It is now 7:15 pm and the boys are both asleep for the night.  This transition out of Lyle’s nap is doing wonders for our evenings and, some days, everyone’s ability to sleep past 7:00 in the morning, a very rare treat around here.

I am fully appreciative of these boys, suddenly so much more mature and capable.   They are a delight to be around as they grow and change.  And so, when I sense the shadow of that imagined third child scampering out of sight, I need only pause and watch my boys for a little while before I’m ready to wave it good-bye without a doubt in my heart.


15 responses to “The Times, They are A-Changin’

  1. What a beautiful post, Jordan. And yes, Baxter looks so handsome and wise in those specs!

  2. Um, I said “wise” but I’m not basing that on the photo above. Clearly.

  3. Yes. Maybe more like handsome and wacky? Thanks, Kristen.

  4. Jordan, I feel so much of this myself although I wish I could do it with less guilt. I still wish we had another baby, but it would have been the child we were supposed to have had. Now it just seems that we are meant to focus on and be grateful for the children we do have. And I do not envy those with toddlers running about or babies to nurse, only in the context of wondering what our life would be like had things played out differently. Thanks for this post. I have been a bad blog reader (& writer) lately (um, twitter is kind of a replacement, no?) but this I opened right away and it was exactly how I am feeling now.

  5. Wow, Baxter sure does look older in that photo. (I was going to say “mature” but, well, the photo kind of speaks for itself!)

    This is a beautiful and wise post; such a glorious tribute to the joys of your boys getting older and the changes that can bring for your family.

    Oddly enough, I never lnged for a second after Nik; the docs said I was at significant risk for a repeat scenario. Plus, somehow, the delays with Nik seem to have been just enough that I still enjoy the snuggly moments I would want from a baby. I think I’m ready for him to grow some more now. (Famous last words!)

  6. You sound so truly in the moment in this post. So much to appreciate. We are ‘done’ and I really feel a sense of relief with the certainty that brings about the shape of our family. Gosh does he ever look handsome with those glasses! We’re taking the kids into the city tomorrow to meet a friend for Puerto Rican food. I know I’ll have to fight them for the pastilles. I’m remembering back to your posts at the beginning of the summer and you really seemed to have enjoyed it in the way you hoped you would!

  7. Love the glasses!

    Boy, I wish I could have the clarity that you do! I waver from time to time. But more and more, when I get the chance to hold an infant I find myself relieved to hand him off rather than wanting to be greedy. I guess that should tell me something. …

  8. Oh man. I’ve been thinking the same thing lately; how wonderful it is to have two school-age children, to do so much with them, to enjoy them emerge as little fully-functioning people, without so much, uh, maitenance.
    I like shopping with them, and without them.
    I like it when they have friends over, and we can actually read the Times – from beginning to end.
    I like hearing them “hang out” in their rooms.
    I LOVE the fact that they completely bath and take care of their own hygiene.
    I like watching Miss M cross the street by herself, pay for things, and take her sister to the public restroom.
    I like to hear Roxie answer the phone and take messages.
    BTW, Baxter is a stone cold fox in those glasses. Verrrry cute.

  9. Uh, make that “bathe” in my prior post.

  10. Wow, much has transpired since I last checked in! Glasses for Baxter! He looks handsome! I’m sure my girls–with their nearsighted parents–will have glasses someday too.

    I had to laugh at your comment about how great it is that Lyle’s done napping so you have more time to be together. As a full-time SAHM, that’s my worst nightmare, ha ha! The last thing I need is MORE time with my kids! Seriously though, I live in dread of the end of nap–and my fellow SAHM friends all say the same thing. Oy. Don’t even get me thinking about it; it gives me a stomachache.

    Luckily, my 4-year-old still naps every day and is in a.m. preschool in the fall. And so far goes to bed pretty well at night (I have no doubt that if she didn’t share a room with the baby, who screams bloody murder at bedtime for a good 30-45 min. most days, Julia would fall asleep immediately at 7:30; as it is, she’s awake later than that listening to Genevieve kick up a major fuss).

  11. Yum, I love Reza’s. We felt the same way about a third child. Well, maybe a little bit of ambivalence here and there, but mostly we felt like we were nearing the light at the end of the baby/toddler tunnel and decided to bask in it instead of turning back.

  12. DM, you just gave me a LOT to look forward to in that list of “big kid independence” there!! I can see that it keeps getting better and better…

    Shannon, I totally dreaded the lack of nap, too, given that on my two week days at home it’s the only time I get to make calls and catch up on stuff around the house – and, truth be told, I very often have to work during nap. I think for that reason it was good to go cold turkey on it because then I couldn’t dread it, it just *was*. Since he was starting to stay awake so late at night (hours past Baxter), the writing was on the wall: it was time. So we make the best of it and focus on the fact that now we can stay out longer together and do more fun stuff on the weekends. 😉

  13. Love the glasses!

    So totally relate to the “being done” feeling. I have had good friends recently become pregnant and others have their 3rd … and my uterus didn’t twinge a bit. So it’s true for us too.

    Plus my baby, my baby who is a toddler, still nurses and still sleeps with me most nights, I just know that neither she nor I are ready to give that up to a new baby.

    I guess we just know when we’re done. Contentment is good.

  14. Lovely post – as someone who has had this very discussion with you, and watched a pregnant friend struggle with fatigue and bedrest, I think I now need to welcome my boys back from their trip this weekend and continue to enjoy them, and keep re-reading this post. And stop writing run-on sentences. 🙂

    And Baxter is hilarious. I love the glasses, and the excitement with which he has embraced them.

  15. We had the third (obviously). He is truly a gift. But it was our plan all along to do that, if one can even make those kinds of plans. If someone were to tell me now that I would ever be pregnant again, I’d jump off a cliff. Obviously, we’re done. That last pregnancy almost killed me, literally, and the infant period was very very hard. I’m not doing that again. In fact, I sometimes have nightmares that I have and that I’m going to have to breastfeed and do the infant thing all over again, and it’s horrifying and I want to run away. Obviously, no more “twinges” here, either.

    Two is good. One is good. Three is good. Whatever is good for you is good. And there is a special balance between two boys like Baxter and Lyle and you HAVE made it past those tough, helpless (on both sides) years. You’re through! Revel in it and think about those years yet to come. When you reach a certain age, I think, you’re better fit as a mother for certain ages.

    Nice glasses. Marshall commiserates with him, having had to deal with those since second grade. Swimming, rain…apparently things having to do with water get complicated. On the other hand, he does look like a smart little wise-ass in them. I’m glad he’s excited. I would have been, too…although I don’t really know why… 😉

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