It's March. The warm sun lingers longer day by day and the tree canopies in our neighborhood are getting dense with new bright green leaves. March is also full of memory and nostalgia for me. I find myself keeping company with the memory of waiting for Dashiell, belly round and full, not knowing what birth or parenthood would be like. Also with me is being so joyfully pregnant with Maeve, my daughter. It doesn't seem that long ago, and it does. And then layered on top of that are less joyful memories: bewilderment and fear as the world shut down amidst the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; and then the March a year later when I was at least half-way vaccinated and the boys were back at school but life felt far from "normal." I think every March will mean keeping pleasant company with these memories and all the feelings they bring up. All around I see new growth, tender yet boldly claiming its space, which feels like the right setting for embracing the nostalgia and emotion that March brings to me.
I love puttering around our yard this time of year and find myself gravitating outside with Maeve to wait for the boys to come home from school. Those afternoon hours ahead of dinner are so much better spent outside than in. After school, the boys are often playing with friends on the street or a whole gang of them are climbing our palo verde trees. The trees now bear the the marks of sword play and frequent climbing, scars earned from standing sentry in front of a home with children. (Thank you, trees.) I've had to ask the kids to be more gentle but I'm glad the trees are being climbed. When we had the thin saplings planted four years ago I never imagined the possibility that they would be climbing trees. But of course kids were scrambling up in them as soon as they could bear weight.
March means looking ahead to our two early April birthdays. Maeve will be two in less than a month. Two! She is sweet, delightful, and adorable. At home Maeve has so much to say, is engaging in focused play for longer stretches, and wants to do whatever her brothers are doing. She thrills at listening for the Monday morning garbage and recycling trucks and gleefully shouts, "Movie night!!" when we have one. Away from the house Maeve is more reserved but getting more adventurous. She hasn't yet done a slide on her own so I've been down a lot of slides recently. Slides aren't quite fun in a 38 year old body but how many more times will Maeve want to go down the slide together? I tuck Maeve's small, plump body into my lap and we whoosh down the slide, over humps and gathering static, and when the ground catches my feet again Maeve is giggling and declaring, "Again!"
My first April baby will be nine on the ninth. At almost nine Dash is thoughtful and feels emotions deeply while still having the playful, light heart of a little kid. I've been impressed at some of Dash's insights about himself, emotions, and relationships lately such as reflecting that yes he and Cedric do squabble quite a bit but "that's just how it is when you're close brothers." Dash is also really in tune with Maeve. On occasion he's babysat her successfully for an hour while we were at home and trying to get some things done around the house. (Cedric is also such a caring big brother I want to be sure to note, and more than once, unprompted by us, has made Maeve's breakfast and looked after her at the table in addition to being a great playmate for her.) Dash loves to be independent and move at a leisurely pace but sometimes that's been at odds with getting ready for school or bedtime. Lately I've noticed more cooperation (from both boys actually!), especially if I'm solo parenting, which has been wonderful. A few of Dash's loves, outside of his family I know he would want me to quality, include being with friends, sweets of all kinds and with infinite appetite, soccer, and Minecraft or any screen time.
As for goals this month, well, the month has already peaked so I'm keeping expectations low. Really the rest of the month and on into April is all about routine for me. Between our trip to Universal, school holidays, spring break, Chris traveling, and several minor kiddo sicknesses I have felt very out of a normal routine for a while which is always hard for me. Just being part-way into a "normal" week is already making me feel better.
Big things happening in March:
+ The boys have a week and a day of spring break. We are already past spring break! Honestly it felt a bit long to me but I made it fun for the kids so that feels good.
+ Chris is out of town for five days. Spring break AND solo parenting! But it went well and the boys were actually really cooperative.
+ Plan birthday celebrations for Maeve and Dash, my April babies. I'm thinking we'll have a low-key family celebration to celebrate Maeve and Dash's birthdays together. Then we'll have a separate friend celebration for Dash for which Chris is leading the planning efforts.
+ Shift meal planning and grocery shopping. One of my goals this year is to streamline our meal planning and grocery shopping. I really like having the shopping done by Friday afternoon. That way we head into the weekend with a full fridge and without the task of weekend shopping. However, I really don't like using my precious Friday daycare hours for shopping. An idea I had is to go on Thursday mornings while my mother-in-law or a babysitter watches Maeve for a couple of hours. I could plan to make the grocery list and meal plan on Tuesdays during Maeve's nap. I was able to do this last week and loved it!
+ Work ahead on my blog and podcast. Being out of routine means I fall behind on writing and working ahead on the podcast. I hope to get back in a good work rhythm by the end of the month.
What are you planning for and reflecting on this month?
Wishing you a sunny March, friends!