Monday, March 4, 2013

Great expectations

When Olivia was born, I was immediately in love. And, although early parenthood kicked our butts with the night feedings and the fussy hour and the whole adjustment period to the idea of 24/7 parenting, we were constantly falling deeper and deeper in love with this beautiful child.

Seriously beautiful kid

We went into this parenthood thing with some expectations. One of those was that we would be noticeably different from other families because of our interracial status. So we were pretty surprised when people just assumed that this dark-haired, pale-skinned beauty sprang forth from the two of us. She blew away all of our preconceptions, starting with her appearance, but certainly not ending there. By the time she was a year old, she was running, climbing, and had an extensive vocabulary that included multi-syllable words like "motorcycle". She had an independent streak a mile wide and used to terrorize us by escaping her 5-point-harness in a moving vehicle and appearing, as if by magic, atop kitchen counters. We had to child-proof absolutely everything and the word "no" meant absolutely nothing to her.
Please excuse me while I empty the laundry basket onto the floor and then climb onto the piano bench. (11 months old)
Behaviorally, she has been a challenge. Developmentally, she has been a marvel.
And her hair has always been a mess.
Over time, she got (a little) better at listening and obeying the rules. Gradually, we learned to adapt to her impetuous nature and managed to create reasonable boundaries and limits without completely stifling her creativity and energy. But no matter what she threw our way, we were undeniably, irreversibly in love with this gorgeous, infuriating child.
I'm awesome and I know it.

Enter Martin. From the moment we met him at 12 hours old, he was darker-skinned than Olivia has ever been. (African-American babies are born a lot paler than they end up being and grow into their skin color over the first few weeks.) He also had many of the African-American features that Olivia lacked. In other words, he met all of the expectations that we had before Olivia was born.
This is what Mommy was expecting Sissy to look like.
Immediately, we became that family...the recognizable one because of adoption. Strangely, though, it rarely occurs to me that we are different. It's kind of like The Cosby Show...I watched that as a kid and it didn't occur to me until someone pointed it out to me that the whole family was black. To me, they were just a family with quirky, normal family problems. In a similar way, my baby is just a baby with normal baby issues. He eats, he sleeps, he plays and squeals, he demands attention and likes to snuggle. He is a baby.

And a darned cute one at that!
I guess I am struck by the fact that the most obvious difference between these two babies, to me, is not their dramatic difference in appearance. It is their dramatic difference in temperament. Martin is the baby I was expecting when we were expecting Olivia. He's laid-back, likes to sit in one place and play with baby toys, enjoys squealing and grasping and cuddling and smiling. He likes the baby carrier, wants to be close to Mommy and is taking his sweet time reaching developmental milestones that Olivia hurdled like it was a race. He has no teeth, he does not crawl, he is not interested in finger food and is happy having Mommy or Daddy or Sissy cart him around like a prince. He is in no hurry to grow up.

And you know what? As proud as I was at Olivia's lightning-speed of development and all the milestones that she hit at rapid-fire, I am totally fine with sitting back and enjoying babyhood with this little guy.
Who needs to crawl? These people bring me everything I need and all I have to do is sit here and look cute.


Doing My Best said...

I think I would spend all of my time nibbling those happy cheeks while letting everything fall apart around me =).

All in His Perfect Timing said...

When I watched the Cosby Show, it didn't really occur to me that they were black. They looked different, but who doesn't? I loved that show!
You have two beautiful children - I think they both fit incredibly well into your family! :-D