Then And Now

Alex and Julianna, age 25 months & 19 months
Alex and Julianna, age 25 months & 19 months

We stretched out across the front pew when we arrived at church Sunday morning, the boys (as usual) waging a silent war to sit by Mommy, who did not at all appreciate being consequently shoved so far to the end of the pew that there wasn’t room on the kneeler.

When the fallout cleared, Nicholas had won the prime position and Christian had Michael restrained on his lap at the far end. I did a quick calculation. Michael is now approaching 27 months. I thought: If I got pregnant now, how old would he be when the baby was born?  (I do this calculation a lot, actually. Is that weird?) Then I thought: When Alex was this age, how old was Julianna?

The answer: six months.

I took a minute to re-orient myself in that time. When Alex was twenty-seven months old, we were having PT twice a week, and speech and OT once a week. Julianna’s heart surgery happened right around that time, and Alex had already had at least one sleepover with a friend down the street, necessitated by Julianna’s frequent hospital stays.

Try that one on for size: Sending your two-year-old to a sleepover.

Toothbrush Headbands
Can YOU imagine sending this kid for a sleepover?

I can’t imagine sending Michael to stay overnight with anyone but a grandparent, and even then only with his siblings along for company. And, ahem, supervision. Let’s be honest.

The contrast between “then” and “now” can be a really striking thing, can’t it? I tend to view Michael as a baby at the same age his older brother was being asked to start stepping up to the plate. Then, I only knew I had to start leading Alex toward responsibility. Now, I’m so occupied with trying to teach children #s 2 and 3 the responsibility, I can barely think about treating Michael like anything other than a baby. If I remember to tell him to start the dishwasher and bring his plate over to me, that’s about as much as I can expect.

And then, of course, he’s not talking, which makes him seem younger than he really is. And his physical prowess is so impressive, most of my energy goes into keeping things out of his reach and unbroken. (Did I mention he snapped my new Jazzercise DVD in half? And we subsequently learned the DVD had just been retired?)

The whole train of thought snapped me back to another then-and-now moment. About ten or twelve weeks into my pregnancy with Michael, I went to the Ob/Gyn’s office on a mission. In my first two pregnancies I had looked forward to those trips to St. Louis. They were an adventure, something to look forward to, even when they got to be more frequent. By the third I was starting to feel frazzled by them. By the fourth, I went in with a plan. “I love seeing you,” I said to my doctor, “but these trips are killing me. Do I really need to come every two weeks, and then every week? I mean, we already know I’m going to have a C section. It’s not like we have to keep an eye on the cervix.”

He twiddled his pen and thought his way through it, then wrote out the standard schedule on a piece of paper and started crossing out visits he thought we could skip. “Yes,” he said, “if you were a first-time mother, it would be different. But you’re an experienced mom now. You know what to look for.”

And I chuckled, because at that moment I flashed back to myself having a conversation in that very examining room when the doctor was reassuring me because I was a first-time mother. The difference between that “then” and “now” was just as great as the difference between that fourth-pregnancy moment, two and a half years ago, and yesterday in church.

Perfectly obvious but nonetheless earth-shattering insight of the day: an awful lot of things really do change drastically depending on perspective.