Not like teen spirit – babes in the woods

It’s time for a pinch. Just a quick one to make sure I’m not spinning at 33 1/3 in a long play dream. Well I felt that. I recommend going light on the unsupervised pinching. I’m still here, looking out the home office window at a drizzle day. Our new babe Lila-Jeanne has been home from the hospital for a week. She’s a big hit with the whole family.

So here I sit in the midst of luxury, a new baby in the house and nine months of parental leave beckoning me. The wealth is measured in the extended period of time I have to spend with immediate family. This is my second go of leave to love babies. The first time was for six months and it was a smash success.

Big sister and big brother light up when the little one is awake. They can’t get enough of cute, beautiful baby sis. Whenever Nellie-Rose sees either maman, or myself without le bébé in our arms, she immediately asks in a probing, semi-alarmed voice, “Where is Lila-Jeanne?” Lila is on Noah-David’s mind too. Just the other day he pipes up right out of the blue from the back seat of the car and says, “Dad, you know why I like this time of the year, this Christmas time?” When I told him I didn’t know, he replied, “It’s because I can buy a gift for Lila Dad, that’s why.”

Smells like a heady blend of pre-school, toddler and new born spirit to me. Their spontaneity swirls about in unique and unpredictable ways. Their mindfulness is compelling for its generosity, tenderness and absence of guile. There is plenty of learning here if I look and listen carefully. This stepping out of an adult centric world and falling into imagining play is a gift of gargantuan proportions. I want to be the turtle – slow, steady and in the race. Winning is not important.

I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before. My previous parental leave started when Nellie-Rose was six months old – a whole different dynamic than getting in on the ground floor so to speak. There is no vacuum in the absence of the paid job. The day is pretty much filled the entire time my head is not on the pillow.

For now it’s like Christmas, New Year and vacation all wrapped up in one, a kind of holiday mash up. There is loads of anticipation and excitement watching Lila-Jeanne day by day. She is the gift, like all my other children, that just keeps on giving. There is the relaxation and freedom to embark on mental walkabouts that’s associated with the temporary release from the 9 to 5 world. Then there is the planning, the resolutions of how best to make use of this gift of time. No matter how many times I cut the deck, I come up aces.

I want to spend scads of time with the kids learning together, teaching where I can, laughing, trying to see what they see. I want to write, to tell our story, to remember these moments before they fly away.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got shitty diapers and runny noses here too. From time to time I might attempt to wax eloquently about the earthiness of domestic bliss, that banged head on the cupboard door, or dishpan hands that can still be restored à la Madge.

Seems Madge even made it to Australia – no end of degradation in that hot water environment.

The dishes, parenting, cleaning house – this is the kind of work that’s been undervalued for years. Parental leave puts a monetary value on the table for this kind of work for a short period of time. It’s a great beginning. The enhanced leave that came into effect on December 31, 2000 is having a positive impact on Canadian families according to a summative evaluation carried out by Human Resources Development Canada in 2005.

More about babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers and domestic bliss in upcoming installments.

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