Walking around in Best
Buy, killing time, waiting for Eric to get his new phone. I gave Parker an Xbox
remote and let her have a go at the baseball game on the screen. An older girl
walked up, saw that the game was already taken, and whined a loud
"Waaaaaaaaaaaah" to her mother (literally that sound, that many a's).
As if prefaced by "Don't worry, Mom--I got this," 16-month-old Parker
copied the exact whine back in this girl’s direction and stared her dead in the
eye until she walked away. Never wanted to high-five my kid so badly.
You’re in love with moon. Get sunglasses, hat, sunblock
slathered on, head out for a morning walk, and even in broad daylight your eyes
are scanning the sky for a pale blip of white, not waiting for night. Finding
the full round orb, clearly defined; a blotchy half circle, like a chalk stamp
not pressed hard enough into blue skin; or a thinly curved feather of pale.
Your eyes are seeking, fattened fingers lifted, marking, steering attention upward.
Your little voice, urgent, charged with all the breath in your lungs:
“Moon! Moon! Moon!”
With all certainty, this daughter is mine.
We were supposed to Skype with Grandpa today at 3:00, but we
went upstairs for a nap at 2:00pm and didn’t wake up until nearly 5:30. He
called and left a message and waited for you. And waited and waited. He took a
shower and had Maria on phone watch in case we showed up. Hours later, we signed
on. He made faces for you, did Sock Monkey dances for you, listened to your song
on the xylophone. He said this was exactly what he wanted for his birthday
today—and I have no doubt how much he meant that.
Visit to Goodwill. First stop, children’s books; three good
hardbacks, but I’m too cheap to spend $3.99 on each used book, so no go. Next,
children’s clothes: one pair of black shorts to add to the hand-me-downs (how
did we inherit so many tops and no bottoms?). Toys: a Leap Frog ‘phonics desktop’ which you
started using immediately (good batteries thrifted?—like a four-leaf clover) as
we perused aisles and began repeating alphabet letters for the first time. You
put up a fuss as we checked out until I let you hold the “puppy card”—the Visa
with Walter’s face.
I brought you into the glass stall shower with me today. I
was afraid it would be too cramped, that you’d get frustrated with water
constantly sprinkling overhead. But you loved it. You got your own hair wet (impossible
feat in the bath). I sat on the floor with you, limbs angled, so that I could
shave my legs and wash my hair at eye level with you. You jibber-jabbered,
wiped the glass, started to put a bar of soap in your mouth and quickly
realized your mistake. I felt, for those moments, like I was a little girl too.
Took Jules to doggy daycare as soon as you woke up. You
weren’t happy in the carseat on the way home. I thought we’d just been in the
car too long, but the next thing I know you’re throwing up. Unexpected,
unexplainable vomit. We’re both strapped in, separately from each other; you’re
crying, half choking, struggling to breathe. I’m trying to watch the road and
watch you, make sure you’re in manageable distress without freaking out. First
time it ever happened, I nearly swerved across three lanes of traffic. I can’t
imagine ever getting used to this as a parent.
I went back up to bed for extra sleep this morning. When Dad
brought you up to wake me, he plopped you on the bed and asked you what sounds
some animals make, and—no pictures necessary—you just rattled them off. Dog,
lion, owl, monkey (which you sometimes do all high-pitched and squeaky now
because of Dora & Boots). You’re repeating letters when we read alphabet
books. Saying “airplane” (working on R and L) and “princess.” Tonight when one
of us sneezed and we said “bless you,” you repeated it too. You’re learning so
fast. Little sponge. Always listening.
the perfect size
you to walk to me on the floor
hand me a book
do a slow, choppy spin to
face your back toward me and
into the cushioned nooks of my legs.
The top of your head fits
just right—just like a Tetris piece,
snugly under—so that my chin
is kissing your hair.
Someday, you’ll have to
sit on just one leg. Someday,
your head will have to rest
beside my head instead.
Someday, we’ll have to read
side by side, pushing together
two pieces instead of
Today at Grandma & Grandpa’s, you and Grandma were
on either side of the ottoman as we were getting ready to go, and she started
tapping her long nails on the leather top, scurrying her fingers toward you and
tickling you. You loved the tap, tried to imitate it, loved the tickle of the solid
slick of false nails when they poked your soft skin. I wonder what small
sensations like that you will never feel from me—bitten nails and soft finger
pads barely brushing a wisp of sound, flat nubs hopelessly scratching, not
waking your nerves or senses.
When we took a nap, Billy started meowing (as if to
wake you up) and before I could get pissed, you started meowing back at him
with your squawkiest meow, leaving out the E’s, sounding out just “Moww! Moww!
Then, just as I think we’re getting somewhere with the
business of sleep, you open your eyes, look at me, and start saying something
like “Joon, joon, joon… Joon joon joon.” I have no idea what it means. But you
can tell I think it’s funny, which makes it all the funnier.
Giggling ‘til we dream—this is my favorite.
I can’t believe, at 18 months old, we are still rocking you
to sleep. I thought it would’ve naturally evolved into something else, which is
silly—to think you would somehow realize you didn’t need us for something we do
every night. It’s wearing now, how you nurse on one side, then the other, then
back to the first, then switch again, sometimes never seeming to get tired.
Every time I decide it needs to change, I remember “They grow up so fast, enjoy
it while you can” and know soon I won’t be able to rock you at all.
Every morning during breakfast
you eyeball Jules through the window
or, after, stick half your pudgy body
through the dog door
scouting the scene.
I open the screen door, hand you
a baggie of chalk, and you scoot out the door
on your butt (never feet, this one step
a seeming cliff). You scratch
choppy pastel slashes, faint squiggles
into cement, laying over your drawings
to transfer them to skin, pausing
every time a breeze blows by—
brushing hair, grazing
eyelashes, sweeping skin—
freezing for that moment
as if listening
to something the wind
is telling you, then
A Mommy heart attack, something on par with how I feel when
you throw up in the backseat and I think you’re choking.
We were going to give Jules a bath so I turned on the hose
and let you play with the water while I grabbed a towel. Before I get back out,
you’re crying. Water is splashed on your face and there is a cockroach crawling
up your leg, black beetles by your feet, a pincer bug in your elbow pit. NIGHTMARE.
Couldn’t breathe. Swept you clean and ran us inside. Heebie
jeebies all day long. Apologies, baby.
We get to the baby shower and you have your dress on and
your tiny pig tails in, perfection. And me, I’ve got you, your diaper bag, two
gift bags in my hands, a gift still in the trunk, and keys suddenly locked in
the car. I walk in sweating and frazzled, people offering to take the baby, to
call my husband, to take my bags and bring me water.
I see it—‘Someone help that poor girl…’
Just a reminder that you belong to the Mom who never has it
all under control. I’ll always keep it that way.
Father’s day – and amazing
what a change from last year.
Father’s day at 5 months old
– she barely cared that I existed.
Father’s day at 17 months –
started with a hug, continued with new tricks and new words. Next year, who knows. At 2 and a half, a world of new possibilities.
It’s a day that I never much
cared about growing up – because really, what kid does? But now that it’s MY day, all of a sudden it
holds all of these new possibilities for things to do with her.
Father’s day in 10
years? Where will we be?
So many words are popping up. You’re repeating better than
ever. You say “coffee” now when I let you watch as I pour the grounds into the
basket. Dad got you to say “Washington” as he held up a $1 bill, but it came
out sounding more like “washi washi.”
I’ve made a
point to say “shoot” around you when I drop something or stub my toe or realize
you made a mess I hadn’t noticed. But when you go to repeat the word, it
sounded just like “shit.”
even when I say “scheisse,” you still say “shit.”
Went to the Science Center with the cousins. Passed by all the
exhibits that explain the functions of your body, how a house works from the
inside out, how weather affects land. Instead we are grabbing plastic balls
from a pool of water, trying desperately to lift you high enough to dunk it
into a whirlpool. We are playing in a playhouse with a tiny kitchen and a
garden full of Lincoln logs. We are scooping wet sand that reeks of bleach from
side to side to create dams. Wonder how this science will be stored in your
After the patio repair, we met up with the cousins and went
to see Adam. Rae and I got teas, Reece and Avery got little vanilla frappa-shake-somethings,
and you got a tiny cup of whipped cream with a tiny straw as a spoon. You had a
taste and looked up smiling. Suddenly he was the ice cream man.
We walked around the store and you took out your ponytails
and fought me to let your hair be free. Reece and Avery ran around like wild beasts,
grabbing every toy, earning us glares. I know it’s only a matter of time…
You grab your snacks, your cup, go to the dog door and sit
in the tiny carpeted space between the inside flap and the outside flap. I hear
the magnets pull away and slap back together as you adjust yourself in there,
legs in or legs out, and your voice is suddenly muffled, trapped in the warm
air between the doors. You talk to yourself, talk to Jules, whisper things. I
say loud enough for you to hear, “Don’t go outside...” and you peek in slightly, just your nose like
Walter used to do, to see if I mean it.
At the Science Center again today, but this time with
Christy, Topher, and Freddy. I got the Mama Bear vibes at the playhouse when
some old man in sunglasses sat square in front of the door to the playhouse and
watched the littles play. No smile on his face, no particular attention to one
child or another.
Christy broke down at lunch and cried, saying she feels guilty.
Everyone says, “Enjoy this time while your children are young,” but she feels
like she’s always annoyed, desperate for naptime. Another barb when I consider how
I’ll keep my cool with Nina2.0.
What is this twisted thing parents do with comparing?
Against best intentions, despite knowing it’s completely useless, once our
littles are in the same room with other littles, we are silently or subconsciously
ticking through a checklist of milestones, appropriate behaviors, who has the developmental
edge. It’s got to stem from anxiety in the first months about what’s normal,
what’s to be expected, but it turns into this sick relief that a kid older than
yours is barely speaking, still on a pacifier, throwing a fit in a restaurant
while yours is politely eating lunch and saying hello when asked.
In the nursery, you were an independent little thing. If
some kid wanted a toy you wanted, you were holding your own, finger wagging like
Dikembe Mutombo saying “No, no, no!” I’m stuck watching, needing to draw a line
in front of these other kids and women about when you’re right and when you’re
wrong and trying to decide how to communicate that to you. It’s difficult not
knowing, not having definite answers. I feel like I already say “no” too much,
you repeat it so often. How do I turn it all into YES and keep you grounded,
You let me put you to sleep tonight, which is rare for us. Usually it’s mom or nothing.
I like to do it, even though it’s nerve-racking and
sometimes stressful. Once you are out,
and we are in that in-between before I precariously try to transfer you into
the crib, it’s always one of my favorite times to just look at your tiny
sleeping face and kiss you on the forehead (and hoe it doesn’t wake you). It never does.
Your tiny sleepy voice is the best. I ask you questions, and through your sleepy
cries, an “uh-huh’ comes through.
why: “Can you
fly me on your feet like Superman?”
Elmo/Ein-tein/Doh-wa: “What is this crap you have on
TV? Put on something decent.”
pyoo/poop: “You should check to see if I pooped. There’s
a 50% chance I actually pooped and a 50% chance that I am just trying to stall
whatever it is you’re asking me to do.”
else she could possibly want to say. Literally EVERYTHING.]
Finally got you suited up and off to the splash pad. Wasn’t
sure what to expect, but the place was huge, water spilling from colored
buckets, shooting out of a row of hoops that kids were running through, fountains
of water arcing from the ground. There were tons of kids, adults, a pregnant
woman fully clothed standing under a bucket of water. You walked up in your
blue and white polka dot suit, pink shoes, pink sunglasses. It took a little
time for you to warm up to the water, but eventually you were soaked and an
image of summer.
Hanging at Aunt Rae’s today, catching up and baking. It’s
strange how much easier it can be when there are more kids around, kind of a counterintuitive
thing. But Reece can play with you and Avery, Avery can play with you and
Jimmy, and there are extra eyes around to say “Mommy, Jimmy has something in
his mouth!” Even without all the other kids, you’re entertained for hours over
there with new toys, unfamiliar things to try to open and carry around. Makes
me see that you’re so bored at home, need to upgrade the things that will
I was laughing today in one of my first pretty blatant ‘lame
mom’ moments. “It’s Raining Men” came on the cable radio station and I started
dancing like a fool, and you were pretty appalled. I was clearly not allowed to
dance. If I pick you up and dance around with you, hopping from foot to foot
and swinging you down and in circles, you’re all for it. But leave you as
spectator to my horrendous rhythm and flailing limbs and you’re sure to indicate
something along the lines of: “Please, Mom… don’t.” Happy to have embarrassed you so early.
I worry so much about your eating. You get so picky. You
used to like all fruits and veggies, but one day all you wanted was bread and
you never turned back. Every morning you want toast, toast, more toast. And
when we try veggies now, you balk a little and politely say “No.” You’re still
nursing but I wonder if we’re really meeting all of the nutritional marks. Hard
to tell because you’re still fat & happy. Most get concerned when their
littles are skinny, but you still have plump thighs, belly overhanging your
diaper. My carb-loving little lump.
It’s so crazy to me that I can set you in front of a bowl of
freshly cut strawberries and you will just go to town. Not without fail, but
they’re certainly your favorite. It makes me think of when I was pregnant,
how I would buy double or triple the amount
of strawberries we would normally eat because it was all I wanted. Often what I
wanted was unpredictable, but strawberries were constant. You were listening.
You were tasting. You remember. What an amazing thing our bodies were,
connected like that, talking over meals, sharing delicious bites of red.