How could I forget?
Dancing at me like tambourines
How could I forget your wild arms,
Winding up for flight?
How could I forget?
Dancing at me like tambourines
How could I forget your wild arms,
Winding up for flight?
Occasionally, very very occasionally, I entertain the idea of becoming a real blogger. You know, the kind that posts pictures of the amazing Halloween costumes they’ve sewn for their childrens, gluten-free pancake recipes and hosts product giveaways. Mommy Bloggers. I entertain this not because I think I would be any good at it but because I see the sponsored links on those blogs and I know that they are getting a tidy little check every month just for writing a blog they would probably keep up with anyway. That modest paycheck would be a very nice thing to have in addition to our 1.12123 income household (I made that number up if you can’t tell). We want to do cool things like, I don’t know, take trips, eat good food, send you to college. Any extra cash would be niiiiice. But then I come back down to Earth and I realize that there are a million and one reasons I should not and could not become a Mommy Blogger. Here they are in no particular order:
And that, dear daughter, is another self-indulgent rant. Thanks for listening.
Hi wonderful girl,
Your mama has been totally remiss in updating this blog. It seems like the months have had their way with me and now here you are, 13 months old and quickly becoming the most amazing person I know.
You took your first steps the other day. It was March 5th. We were in the library and you were playing with some blocks and some little cars that you could hook up into a chain and drive around. I don’t know exactly what you were going for, a toy, a book, maybe me but you took 2 hesitant, teetering steps and then fell on your butt. I just looked at you in astonishment, wanting to yell out “She just walked!” but I was surrounded by strangers so I didn’t. But it was amazing. You are amazing. You looked so cool and nonchalant about it all, like you could have done it at anytime but decided it had to wait until that day.
We had your birthday party last month at Granny Mimi and Grandpa Phil’s house. We kept it small and pretty grownup. Your friend Gracie was the only other baby there. We ate manicotti, lasagna and homebrew made by your daddy and a delicious salad made by Auntie Mary. You opened a few presents and then we had your blessing ceremony where everyone said aloud a wish they thought of for you and lit a candle. It was very special and sincere and I cherished every second of it.
You have been giving hugs and kisses. Grandma Watts is particularly over the moon about this. I love it too. You’ve even started giving your teddy bear hugs too which is just too adorable for words. And you know how some people are really crappy at hugs? Like they just give you a little squeeze or a lame pat and then let go? Well you will never be one of those people. You have the sweetest, most perfect embrace.
You say “hi” all the time. It’s particularly cute when a stranger says hi to you at the grocery store and you surprise them by saying hi back. Sometimes you and I will go back and forth exchanging “Hi”s for a few minutes. You’re so proud of yourself. I’m pretty proud too
You say lots of other words too but not very consistently. You like saying “kitty”, “dada”, “Mama” and “thank you”, which sounds like “taykoo”.
Whenever music of any kind comes on you light up and start dancing (read: bouncing on your butt). I’ve even caught you dancing to Brahms. I think I would be remiss in my motherly duties if I didn’t enroll you in a music class in the next few months.
You’re still a nursing champ. I would even go as far as to say a fiend. You can’t be anywhere near me without demanding that I immediately whip out my breast. This is of course annoying but I’m trying to be compassionate. Your teeth have been giving you a real hard time lately and you’re reaching out for your favorite comfort. Dear girl, you certainly have taught me a lot about patience and stamina in the last year.
You’ve started using “no” a lot and your comedic timing with the word is always impeccable. You still shake your head emphatically while saying “nahnahnahnahnah”
Your hair is still blonde as can be and you’re finally starting to get those sweet curlyques around your ears. You look like a perfect little Kewpie Doll.
You love peekaboo or pretty much any game with daddy. He still gets the best smiles from you.
Your newest thing is spitting when you are displeased with something. At first it cracked me up. Now I just roll my eyes and pray that this is a phase you will outgrow. I call you my little stinker all the time and you just giggle and giggle.
I’m going to be better about writing to you more, my love. It’s hard when there’s so much to do and you need lots of attention and love and kisses. But I do think this blog is important, if only to serve as a reminder someday how in awe I have always been of you.
Your daddy calls you the girl with the golden hair. It’s finally begun to curl right up around your ears. It sends pangs of loss right to my heart to see my baby turn into a child before my eyes.
Strangers always marvel at your eyes.
“Those eyes. Those EYES,” an older Black lady said today as she passed you.
You love to wave at people and sometimes get so excited that both hands have to get in on the action.
Sometimes you open books and begin to speak gibberish like you’re actually reading.
If I look away from you for even a second you look at me and cock your head in my direction as if to say, “Um hello, don’t forget about me.”
You squeal with delight at the kitties. You squeal in delight at a lot of things. Sometimes it quite resembles shrieking in terror. You’re ambiguous like that.
The heart-shaped birthmark on your thigh is growing into something very unheart-like. I’m pretty sad to see it go.
You’re pulling yourself up to standing and getting up on all fours but you remain disinterested in crawling. You continue to remind me that patience is a virtue…and so is having a baby that can’t crawl before your house is babyproofed.
Your favorite toy is my wallet. You can get every single credit card, dollar bill and receipt out of it in seconds flat.
You are a ravenous eater, devouring everything from artichoke torta to shrimp and grits to plain yogurt. If I want to eat something in front of you I better well be prepared to share unless I want to witness a complete meltdown.
You nurse more or less constantly through the night. We need to fix this because my sleep deprivation is bordering on dangerous these days.
I have to keep careful track of what I give you to eat. You have been known to keep your fist clenched for hours around a tiny nugget of cheese without anyone (not even you) remembering it’s there.
You love music, especially “Bom Bom” by Sam and the Womp. As soon as I put on the music video you start bumping up and down excitedly.
You give hugs and big open-mouth kisses but only to me and Daddy. We feel very special.
You are perfect.
It is nearly 10′oclock and you have been asleep for hours but tonight I can’t stop thinking about you. I can’t stop thinking about how quickly you’ve become my favorite person, how I can’t look at pictures of you without grinning from ear to ear, how much you’ve brought your dad and me together and cemented us as a family. Sometimes I feel like these blog entries are getting redundant. I imagine you reading them one day and saying to me with a sigh, “Seriously, Mom? Couldn’t you think of anything else to write other than how much you love me?” Maybe I write it over and over because at times it’s a little difficult to process how deeply I love you. Maybe it’s difficult to fathom that I am even capable of being so consumed by my love for another person. Or maybe, and I think this is the big one, it’s that it is difficult to voice in any way just how much I have to lose. You represent not only the most precious thing in my life but the most precious thing in many people’s lives. Certainly in your dad’s, grandparents etc. And I am responsible for protecting you, loving you, teaching you, inspiring you and providing for you. Sometimes, just sometimes, it feels like a job that someone else would be better at.
Ophelia, you are amazing in so many ways. You are funny as hell, you are gregarious and charming, you are smart as a whip and you are deliriously beautiful. One thing you are not (at least at the time of this posting) is very physical. You turned 9 months old the other day and you are still not crawling. Truthfully, I’m not even sure you want to crawl. For the first six months of your life you would scream as if someone was sticking pins in you whenever we tried to give you some “tummy time”. To this day it is still not your favorite thing. When I took you in for your regular check up a few weeks ago the doctor said that although you are still within the normal range for crawling time, you should be able to get from your tummy to sitting position by now which you cannot yet do. I walked out of there feeling guilty as hell and determined to give you your prescribed 30 minutes of tummy time every day whether you liked it or not. And for the most part, that’s what we’ve been doing. And you’ve improved by leaps and bounds, scooting around the kitchen like a pro. My guilt, however, stubbornly remains. Not to mention the nagging urge to compare you to other children. And then of course I feel even more guilty for the comparison. And dear daughter, that comparison is a bitch. It is the thief of joy (to quote some wise person from Pinterest). I have decided for your sake and for mine, that I will not compare you to “the norm” any more. In the time that I’ve been dwelling on your less than stellar physical strength I have almost missed some of the precious and hilarious things you’ve been working on instead. The other day I noticed you opening up a book, staring at the pages and babbling a string of nonsense, as if you are actually reading. I’ve caught you doing this several times since. You’re brilliant. End of story. Then tonight you amazed me by reaching for the book over and over each time I asked “Ophelia, where is your book?” So you see, my darling, your mother has the tendency to be blinded by comparison. But I’m working on it. And I will make a promise to you now that by the time you are reading this, it will shock you beyond belief that I ever worried you were less than average.
Thank you for keeping me in check, sweetheart.
This morning we packed you into the Scion and headed down to the Wells Fargo in Chinatown for our meeting with a guy named Jimmy. Our mission: get you a house. We sat in his office for an hour and half, answering one personal question after the next while several older Asian women walked by and made googly eyes with you through the picture window. A petite Chinese woman dressed in staggering heels kept running in and out of the office, asking Jimmy questions in Mandarin and answering his in English. Your constant chatter and movement was a welcome distraction from the seriousness of what was at hand. I was sure we wouldn’t get approved for anything; your dad was more optimistic but certainly removed. But to both of our dismay, we walked out of there with a letter approving us for more money than either of us thought we would qualify for. And more than anything else, that letter feels like a promise from me to you to find us the best home possible.
Making this decision makes me consider your whole childhood, how the home we buy now will become the framework for all your memories from your early years. You will garden with mama in the backyard, make “real” mac n cheese with daddy in the kitchen, hang Christmas stockings on our fireplace. I am incredibly protective over these memories yet to come. I see myself as the keeper of the purity of your childhood. And call me a snob, but I want that childhood to be in Oakland. Sure, your dad and I grew up in the suburbs and turned out alright. We’re even kind of, sort of, in our love of NPR and Barack Obama and CSA boxes and craft beer, cosmopolitan (stop laughing). I want you to remember a bazillion trips to the zoo, to Fairyland, to MOCHA and Tilden Park. I don’t want Telegraph Avenue to be something you discover with wide-eyed fascination as a teenager…I want you to be on a first name basis with those homeless dudes by Kindergarten! I want you to have friends of all colors, creeds and sexual orientations and to be aware that you are privileged and damned lucky to be in the socioeconomic position you are in. I know these things are all possible in the suburbs too but I’m holding on like mad to the idea that we will find a home in Oakland that is A) not in a
shitty dangerous neighborhood B) we can afford and C) makes us feel like we’re finally home. The market is crazy and there are multiple offers on most homes, but we’re diving right in. Let me know in 20 years if we made the right decision.
Today is the first day of fall. Everything is still outside and it’s a little chilly. I walked out our front door yesterday only to have to run back in to grab a sweater because suddenly it was cold. The seasons are changing- it’s official.
School started a few weeks ago and I have been in the classroom, gaining my teaching experience, while you and your dad play every Tuesday. At first, I couldn’t bear to leave you, even with your doting papa. While it seems like you love just about anyone that flashes a smile at you, I am clearly your preference and your separation anxiety only seems to be mounting. When I leave you at home every Tuesday morning I feel washed in guilt for a few minutes and then…relief? Yes, relief. I drive to work without a thought to the radio’s volume, blazing over bumps in the road without having to worry about a tiny backseat passenger. At work I am focused on children, yes, but my mind is in the academic world again, mentally referencing coursework and pondering the effects of poverty on my students. I go to the bathroom when I want to, I linger over my packed lunch and I dream of having my own classroom someday. For a few hours, I am a working woman, an intellectual, someone’s peer. And yet, I am always a mother. While these breaks from your constant needs are invigorating and necessary, I am always humbled by the thought that whatever else I may be, whatever roles I may adopt, for the rest of my life I will always be your mother. I can no longer compartmentalize my identities because those boundaries don’t exist. While I refuse to begin calling myself “a mother who writes” instead of a writer, my writing will always be informed to some extent by my motherhood. As will my teaching. I can no longer look at a child and feel even a shred of apathy towards their complete well-being. I’ve always loved children but now it’s different. Though I don’t feel the maternal love for them that I feel for you, I recognize that (hopefully) there’s a woman out there who does, whose baby I have been entrusted with.
I have been waiting my whole life to adopt the role of Mama. And now I have. I even sometimes (to my slight horror) refer to myself in the third person as Mama. And all cliches aside, it’s one of the only things in my life that has lived up to the hype. You have brought me the kind of joy I’d always heard about but never knew personally. So yes, I will always delight in being your Mama. It will always be my most important role. But please don’t forget, when you’re sixteen and think I’m the lamest person in the world: I once danced on tabletops at a wedding I crashed in Venice, Italy, I was kicked out of a bar on my 21st birthday for mooning a group of fighting drunkards, I graduated from college Summa Cum Laude and I married the man of my dreams with you in my belly in front of all our family and friends. And then I gave birth to you at home, wiped your butt, nursed you and gave you a home. And I’d do it all over again. As well as being your mom, I’m a pretty interesting person…in case it wasn’t obvious.
You know who (Mama)