My husband and I take turns putting the boys to bed. We each have our different rituals and we feel that the one on one time is as important for the boys as changing it up is for us. While both boys initially pout when they get the news that Mommy will not be putting them to bed, once they are upstairs I can hear the giggles and laughter floating down the stairs as Daddy reads the tiny toddler's books in funny voices or talks football with the big five year old.
Last night was my turn with the tiny toddler. On Friday he turned three years old, and he has been having so much fun with his birthday this year. Last year his birthday fell six days after the Russian court approved our adoption; he had a cake a new toy but he also had two new parents that he wasn't quite sure what to do with. He had a sleep deprived Mommy who was equal parts over the moon at having a new son and sad beyond belief at missing her oldest one. He had a new Daddy he seemed to only enjoy while Mommy was around and who he certainly was not going to allow himself to be left alone with. So last year's birthday was somewhat of a blur. But this year? He totally gets it and he is having a ball.
When my oldest son turned five back in February I filled his room with balloons so that when he woke up there was a sea of colorful balloons to greet him on his special day. I didn't do that with the tiny toddler this year because he still puts everything in his mouth and it just didn't seem safe. Last night both boys and my sweet husband headed upstairs for bed a little early so that we could clean their rooms, something that is normally scheduled for Saturdays but somehow got away from this week. Daddy helped the big five year old and I headed into the tiny toddler's room. We supervised bed sheet changing and toy pick up and then I got the little guy ready for bed. After putting on his jammies we settled into the rocking chair to read books, which is when the big five year old burst into the room carrying three of his surviving birthday balloons. "I want to give these to Alex since he had a birthday." The tiny toddler slid off my lap and immediately began dancing around the room with his new balloons.
As I watched my boys playing together with the balloons I realized how "normal" life had been lately. Friday night we had macaroni and cheese and birthday cake for dinner in honor of the tiny toddler's birthday. His older brother couldn't wait to bring out his presents and sing Happy Birthday. After dinner I watched the boys playing with the new bubble/squirt guns in the back yard. They ran at each other, shooting bubbles up into the air, giggling. Saturday evening we took the boys to a friend's house for a China play group picnic. Both boys played with the other children, bounced in the bounce house, ate hot dogs and generally had a great time. There were no melt downs. No running off. No hitting or throwing things. No screaming and tears. Sunday we took the boys to church, where one went to the nursery and one to Sunday school. We grocery shopped as a family and we all hung out in the living room watching the tiny toddler's newest obsession, Little Einsteins. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but seeing my little guy actually sit down and be able to enjoy and process a television show is a HUGE deal for this family. And then we got to Sunday night, and the balloon dance of joy. And I sat in my grandmother's University of Akron rocking chair and exhaled. We have temper tantrums and melt downs. We have dirt and rocks and we never have matching socks. We have toys everywhere and still occasionally have bored children. We have whining and sticky kitchen floors. We are far from perfect. But we are finally normal.