And the egg-maracas play on
If you need me, I’m probably still hunting Easter eggs. Oliver’s first holiday was a success. In an effort to set ourselves up to go completely bonkers, Spencer and I hosted an early brunch for family at home before hoofin’ it out to Culpeper, Va. — a relaxing two-hour drive away — to see my grandmother and cousins.
It was a fun, wild, exhausting Sunday.
In contrast to Christmas, the last major holiday we celebrated, 11-month-old Oliver has grown by leaps and bounds. aHe’s much more aware of moods, surroundings and people than he was in December, staring at faces and always listening closely.
Our enthusiasm leading up to Easter must have been contagious . . . because our kid went nuts.
Bouncing-off-his-crib, squealinglike-a-monkey, flapping-like-a-bird kind of crazy.
For the most part, we roll with his wild-man antics. I mean, he’s a baby. It’s not like I can reason with him, politely requesting he use an indoor voice. Sometimes I swear Spence sneaks sugar into his bottles; completely out of nowhere, Oliver will attempt flight.
Though I should probably anticipate this by now, I rarely expect the jumping. One minute we’re calmly enjoying (read: gnawing on) a book together, and the next Ollie is growling and launching from my arms. It’s all very . . . abrupt. But on Easter, Ollie did us proud. He pulled out his baby manners and impressed relatives with his friendliness, going along with the program and rarely fussing until the big time-to-go meltdown in Culpeper. We have the eggs to thank. He was too little for a true egg hunt, of course; he can’t crawl, let alone run to keep up with his spritely cousins. Spence helped him “find” a few eggs in Maw Maw’s yard, but we left most for the big kids. No sense in entering that war zone.
Oliver did love shaking his eggs like maracas, enjoying the tinkling of the coins inside. That kept him occupied for a good 10 minutes — a possible record.
I offered to place his $1.15 winnings in a piggy bank, but I think it went toward my Monday coffee. In my defense: Monday. I think I enjoyed his first Easter so much because, unlike Thanksgiving and Christmas, it wasn’t so fraught with expectations. Spencer, Ollie and I were sick for most of December, so the shopping, wrapping, decorating and traveling were overwhelming. My energy and enthusiasm wore thin; I felt weary and tattered.
But in the months since, we have actually slept. Oliver has gotten stronger, funnier and more vocal. I have become a calmer parent, and I’m learning to choose my battles — especially if they involve another episode of “The Muppets” so I have time to wedge in my contact lenses. I do like vision.
Plus, this Easter stood in sharp contrast to last year’s. I knew something was off as we drove home from my grandmother’s that day. I was in my third trimester of pregnancy, already warned about my rising blood pressure — and when we checked my numbers later at home, they’d skyrocketed.
That kicked off the longest, scariest week of my life — the last week before we welcomed Oliver. By the following Sunday, I was in labor.
Though rainy and gray, this Easter was joyous. Celebratory. Maybe a touch chaotic with cooking and baking, visiting with family, long drives and riotous egg hunts . . . but it was so nice to return to Culpeper with our little boy in tow. I have learned gratitude. We stood beside the tree Maw Maw always decorates with pastel egg ornaments, a tradition since her grandchildren were young — or maybe even before. Easter is her favorite holiday, an occasion that always falls on or near her birthday . . . and now my son’s, too.
I thought of how much has changed since I last sat on her deck with swollen ankles and swollen hands. We chatted at her picnic table as rogue raindrops fell, delighting the kids sprinting by. Oliver’s egg-maracas play on: our Easter soundtrack.
And then I sink down to pick up all the eggs Ollie has chucked, upending his basket to chomp on its handle. I don’t think he’s devel- oped a sense of humor about seeing his parents crouching to clean up his messes just yet, but I know it’s coming.
In the meantime, I gather the eggs that roll under chairs, wedge into cushions and catapult down stairs. It makes him happy, tossing these plastic shells, so I do it. I don’t really mind it. Anything for our kids, right?
And anyway, I keep thinking I hear coins rattling.
That coffee isn’t going to buy itself.