The Shapiro Files

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Look Back

Julianne is now sixth months old and Melody has just hit the huge milestone of turning two. I can’t believe how much time has already passed since both of their arrivals. It doesn’t feel like over two years has passed since Marcie and I were living a fairly quiet life of seeing lots of movies, frequently going out to favorite local restaurants, and, in general, having quite a lot of time to ourselves.

Melody’s arrival in September 2005 certainly brought with it some considerable change to our lives — not the least of which was what felt like an increase in how fast time began marching on. It quickly became rare to have any moments where we had the luxury of taking a step back from the relentless engine of work and life and simply being instead of constantly doing.

However, I did get a long-needed respite by way of a full month-long paternity leave from work when Julianne arrived in March. So I thought as a means of commemorating our little girls’ latest milestones I’d take a little look back at that wonderful month of refuge from the chaos of emails, meeting proposals, action items, and all the rest.

The first few days of my paternity leave time began at the hospital, where Marcie had to stay for the few days following Julianne’s arrival. That time in the hospital wasn’t exactly a great thrill. The room was small and stuffy and staff members never stopped coming at all hours of the day and night. But once we got home, things were much more relaxing. We were so happy to have both Melody and Julianne together at home, with all our stuff, space, and privacy. Over the course of the weeks that followed, we mostly followed a divide-and-conquer strategy with me mainly focusing on Melody and Marcie mostly focusing on Julianne. Since I wasn’t going to be much help in the nursing department and Marcie had quite a bit of recovering to do (lifting Melody was out of the question for her), this seemed like a pretty good plan.

So for the better part of four weeks, Melody and I were together for almost every single moment of her waking hours. I’d take her on errands, to the park, on walks. During all this time, I can honestly say that not a day went by that she didn’t do something that both delighted and surprised me.

Meanwhile, Marcie tended to Julianne while trying to recuperate to the extent it was possible given the sleep deprivation that accompanies a newborn. I also tried to help out with Julianne whenever it made sense to do so. But it was really by attending to Melody that I was able to help out the most. Although we both felt some parental guilt that we couldn’t spend as much time with the other child as the one we were focused on, we both enjoyed getting so much quality time with our beautiful munchkins.

During this time, I mostly avoided looking at email and anything else work-related. As such, I felt such a calm and peace with our life — even with the chaos a new baby can bring to a household. I also was very aware that that such concentrated time with Melody was such a rare and precious thing. So I made sure to fully immerse myself into our activities in order to get the most of our time together. By the end of that month, I felt we had a stronger bond than ever and I was very emotional about that time coming to an end and my having to return to work. It wasn’t that I had any issues with my job; I just was sad knowing that I may never again (at least not until I retire) have such a wealth of time to spend exclusively with my family. Sure you get weekends and the occasional vacation, but how often do you get a full month to do nothing but spend as much time as possible with the people you love the most?

The bittersweet part of all this is that Melody was just a little too young to likely form any permanent memories of our precious time together. But at least in the years to come, I can hopefully share with her stories of that very special month — what may very well be the greatest month of my life.

Lest I get too maudlin here (if I haven’t already), the good news is that my company (not to mention the state in which I live) allows for a pretty generous paternity leave program and I actually still have three unused weeks left. So I’ll be taking a week off in October and will probably take the other two weeks at the beginning of next year — one week each for January and February. Single weeks aren’t quite the same as a month-long break, but I’ll take what I can get. And this time Marcie and I should be able to achieve a better balance with the time we spend with both of our little girls. I can’t wait.

6 Comments:

  • Steve:

    SO glad to see your new post, and I love hearing about your family!

    Please keep em coming, and please, pictures!!!

    Love to the whole family!
    Aunt LInda

    By Anonymous Aunt Linda, at 9/26/2007 8:18 PM  

  • Steve,

    You brought tears to my eyes. I came back to work after being home for just 8 weeks and know that the next time around I will take my full 3 months because I know how precious that time is. So glad that you got that opportunity. I agree that Melody might not remember, but you are still forming her mind and that month was very influencial on her!!
    Hope to see you all soon!

    Love,
    Jody

    By Anonymous Jody, at 9/27/2007 1:20 PM  

  • P.S. There is no specific next time around yet...lol. I wasn't using that to try and hint anything! :)

    By Anonymous Jody, at 9/27/2007 1:21 PM  

  • Cous -

    So happy to see this wonderful post. Also happy to read that everyone is doing well...

    We wish you all the best and you must post some new pics for us :)

    I also am not sure what "next time" Jody is referring to yet :)

    Bradley
    The Egel Nest

    By Blogger Bradley Egel, at 9/27/2007 9:37 PM  

  • Hey there Steve!

    Great blog posts. I can certainly relate to all your comments on how much life changes and how fast time accelerates when parenthood arrives.

    You certainly look like you are every bit the fantastic father I always knew you would be.

    I miss ya my friend and can't wait until we can get our kids together.

    Your friend,

    Deane

    By Blogger Deane, at 10/04/2007 8:18 PM  

  • Aunt Linda, Jody, Brad, and Deane,

    Thank you all for your nice comments! I'm glad there was some universality to this post. I was a little afraid I was getting a bit too personal and serious!

    Photos are forthcoming. I've completed all the photo selections for what will be four online photos albums and even completed all the Photoshop work for the first album. I'll do a big splash on the blog once I complete the second album and will do another posting once the other two albums are done. Stay tuned!

    By Blogger Steve Shapiro, at 10/05/2007 12:42 AM  

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