Unicorn Baby

For the third time in about as many months, we’ve schlepped our kids across the country and asked them to sleep in strange rooms, in strange beds. Moses would dispute that this is a big ask on account of the fact that he’s thrilled to be sleeping on a foldout couch in an airport hotel, watching planes take off all day from the top floor of a building with glass elevators, with rooms dispersed around what can only be described as a track, which he has lapped no fewer than one million times. His body has been vibrating with excitement since 47 days before this trip. I know because we counted.

But last night Juno struggled. She hasn’t been counting down, or even know what a countdown is, or have any idea why she’s not at home, or even really know what a home is. She just knows she needs something extra from the people who smell good and look nice. Even the loud one. So at bedtime, I set aside our sleep training principles — to which I adhere steadfastly as long as someone else does the work and I never, ever, ever have to hear her cry — and just held her in my arms, rocking her, keeping her as close as possible for as long as possible. I abandoned our usual bedtime song, Moon River, because she was kind of mad at me for trying to trick her with sleepy cues, so instead, I sang a Carpenters tune that kept us both going in her newborn days. I used to sing it over and over to comfort her, all night long, till I was hoarse and she was asleep. Singing it again last night transported me back to that place, when she was so new and we were both so tender. “Why do birds, suddenly appear, every time, you are near? Just like me, they long to be, close to you.”

The unicorn baby I still can’t believe we are lucky enough to know and call our own is 1 today. It’s been a whirlwind year of joy, chaos, and resignation about how hard it all is, being a working mom of two kids. So thank goodness for this bright spot right here. Juno is a cruising, squawking, plucky personality, fully her own person. She’s never met a mountain of foam blocks she couldn’t summit or a plate of string cheese she couldn’t put a hurt on. She really likes corn hole. She does not like diaper changes. She prefers her dad, but she also likes me OK. She bears down hard when she wants something bad enough. She is determined. She kisses and hugs. She cries when baby friends cry, and she laughs when brother Moses laughs. She also cries when he cries. Two kids crying at one time is the forgotten ring of hell, but she can stay (and so can he), because she is everything. Everything we wanted, but could never have dreamed big enough to ask for, but got anyway.

Happy birthday, baby Juno.

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