January 31, 2012

Our Family Rhythm

You know when you're reading a good book, how you can't put it down? I find those books have a sort of rhythm to the words. Not in the way of a rhyme or beat, but just that cadence that draws you in and carries you through the pages effortlessly, with great intrigue. It's easy, it's fun, it's interesting. You enjoy it, want more of it, and hate for the last page to come. Families are the same. There's a rhythm to the days that you come to enjoy and expect. Yet, more often than not, that rhythm inevitably changes and you find yourself in the pages of a new story.

For the past five plus months, our family has enjoyed a very nice, peaceful rhythm. As some of you know, Des had taken a leave of absence from his ad agency position and, from August until last week, he had been home with us. While the instigation for the change was not ideal, having him home was awesome. We quickly settled into our new routine and the changed cadence of our days.

Two parents to one child - albeit one very sleepless child - made life a lot more sane. We settled into taking turns on the night shifts and early morning shifts. We could trade off on midday naps when necessary {which was much more often than we would have preferred}. Mid-week afternoon coffee dates were a common occurrence, as we were walks and hikes and hanging out in our PJs. One of us would do grocery runs and banking and other errands sans baby, getting it done faster and at more convenient times, while the other enjoyed playtime and snuggles at home. We could head out of town to Nanny's on a whim and stay as long as we wanted {thanks again Nanny!}. The rhythm of our days, even if they followed many a sleepless night, was good.

More importantly, HP got to spend lots of one-on-one time with each parent and even more time as a family together. That his first word was Dada is evidence enough for me that having Des home with us was worth the financial strain {let's be honest two people on leaves from work does not pay well}. In fact it was so worth it that it makes me want to advocate for all families being able to benefit from some joint parental leave time. Especially in those very early days when life goes topsy-turvy on you. Alas, I expect the national EI system wouldn't be so quick to pay out. I digress.

Last week, those family days came to an end. Late in 2011 Des resigned his agency position and accepted a new gig, which he started last Monday. Des went off to work, coffee in hand, waving bye-bye from the driveway. Then it was just me and HP for the whole day, for the first time perhaps in months. The rest of the week came and went. While Des went off to work, HP and I filled our days with play + snuggles + naps. We got groceries together, a little slower than going solo, but fun too. We ran errands - I was never so grateful for drive-through banking and coffee shops before! I figured out that morning naps are better times to fit in my run and, if lucky, a shower too. We met other mamas-n-babes for a winter walk in the park and a post-walk cocoa, so nice. We visited Grandma and cousins. We even fixed a car.

Before we knew it, the weekend was here and daddy was home again. This week we're planning more of the same. The rhythm of our family has changed. The cadence of the days is different and we're getting used to the way it feels now. Like any good book, I was enjoying the story of three at home so much I almost dreaded the arrival of that last page. Yet, at the same time, I was so very happy to see what would come next, what the sequel would hold in store if you will. So far, the rhythm of the sequel feels ok too.

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