Archive | March, 2012

A Series of Fortunate Events

25 Mar

Dearest daughter,

I cannot sleep because there is a raucous party going on two houses over. I’m pretty sure these people are older than your grandparents and they’re partying HARD. Good for them. Bad for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my decision to become a mother so young. Yes, you were unplanned. Well, sort of. You came earlier than expected. Considering that I had you at 23 you might expect that you were early by several years, that your dad and I planned on having children “someday”. You would be wrong. Originally your dad and I wanted to get married this year in the spring. Provided that I had a decent job by that time we thought we would try to have a baby and get pregnant sometime within the year. Turns out the two of us are a fertility match made in heaven (sorry, I know you’re probably grossed out thinking about your parents in this way) and you were conceived sometime in May 2011.

But like I said, I always planned on being a young mother. I am fully aware that this sort of plan flies in the face of most current attitudes on the subject. My peers and I were always told that in order to be successful in life we must go to college, spend our 20s traveling, working on a career and getting our jollies out before finding a nice guy/gal to marry in our 30s, buying a house and settling down BEFORE having children. Any deviation in this plan (god forbid an unplanned pregnancy) would result in a sense of permanent discontent over our lost youth and shattered dreams. To be honest, this doesn’t seem like a bad plan if appeals to you. There’s plenty to be said for financial security and pursuing a career before having children. But I just knew this would never make me happy. I knew I wanted to be a mother so much that I would have to rework that sequence of events, or at least the timeline in which they happened. So while it is true that we didn’t plan to have you when we did, you were very much wanted and expected.

Ophelia, at this point I want to make something clear. Motherhood has never been negotiable for me. That said, neither has having a career. I desperately want a career. I want it not only so that I can contribute to our family financially but so that I can feel fulfilled as an individual. I want to be your example of a woman in love with the work she does. I want you to become a woman in love with the work she someday does. Building this career is essential to my long-term happiness. But that career can wait a little while. Part of the beauty of having you before becoming more financially secure is that I didn’t have to make the decision of whether or not to take time off from a job that I love to be with you. I don’t have that job yet so the decision was totally clear. I get to spend a large chunk of time with you as a baby before jumping back into the work force (or graduate school as the case may be). I love this! I also love that you get to be with your grandparents while they are still young. They have so much wisdom to impart upon you, for you to miss out on really knowing them would be a shame.

Sometimes it’s difficult to remember why I decided to be the first of my friends to take the plunge into parenthood. It can be isolating and lonely at times. But then I remind myself that your dad and I made this decision very intentionally and our reasons are still very solid. I remind myself that we still have all the resources we need to give you the childhood you deserve. You will have summers spent at the lake with your grandparents, take camping trips to Yellowstone, learn to craft, read endless piles of books, bake blackberry pies from fruit you picked yourself, build tree forts and love learning at an awesome public school. That’s the childhood I want for you and it’s the one I intend on giving to you. My age plays no factor in that.

I just might be able to fall asleep now despite the fact that the party still isn’t over but I’ll write a little more about you before trying. You are changing every day and I am always in awe of you. You have started mimicking sounds, smiling and even laughing sometimes. It sends my heart soaring to see your pretty smile. You are such a beautiful baby. Everyone says so. A random stranger walked across a restaurant the other day to say how beautiful she thought you were. People always comment on how peaceful you are too. Serenity- that was one of the blessings we drew for you on the day of your birth. You already embody it. You are happiest in my arms and often start fussing if you’re away from me for too long. I feel guilty for thinking it but it secretly makes me happy. I love being your favorite person. You’re mine 🙂

That’s all for now, my love.

Mama

Advertisements

Les Petite Plaisirs

17 Mar

Dear Ophelia,

I will make this post a short one before bed time. You are snoozing in your froggy bouncer in the living room with Daddy. I just need to share this story with you before the memory fades.

Tonight I was feeding you on the couch. As usual you began drifting off to sleep while you ate, making sweet squeaking sounds and every now and then eating ravenously for only a seconds. When it seemed you had finally fallen asleep I pulled you away from me. Your mouth was wide open and there was still a little pool of milk inside your cheek that you hadn’t swallowed. And then the most beautiful thing happened. You laughed! Laughed! The most perfect giggle of a laugh and your whole face lit up. Better than first dates, first kisses, first ‘I love you’s, the first time I saw you laugh was the purest, most poignant dose of happiness, the best ‘first’ imaginable.

I’m so lucky to have each of these moments with you. I hope that by writing them down I am forced to fully appreciate their preciousness. And when you read about them someday I hope you are reminded of how deeply I love you .

Mama

Here Comes the Sun

14 Mar

Dearest Ophelia,

Something amazing happened this winter. Something that hasn’t happened to me since I was a young child. This winter I’ve made it all the way to March without experiencing seasonal depression. True, it has been a somewhat mild winter here in the Bay Area, but hey, I lived in San Diego for four years and even then was not able to escape my annual bout of despair and sadness. This year I worried even more that winter would mean a complete emotional hibernation with the addition of all those lovely postpartum hormones swimming through me. But somehow I was spared. I’m pretty sure I have you to thank for that.

All the sleepless nights (ok not sleepless. But certainly “sleep less”), loss of personal time and the inability accomplish anything without simultaneously jiggling a newborn on my hip, all of that has felt, dare I say…easy. Oddly enough, I felt the same say about your birth. Though it was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced and I harbored my doubts along the way, the whole thing went off without a hitch. Yes, motherhood (and you) have been incredibly good to me and I think that has made it easy to enjoy our new life together.

But I am certainly not under the illusion that life will always be this way. And while you may be a very “good baby” (by the way, I hate that term. It implies that babies that cry often are “bad babies”, which is of course, BS) I know that you will have your own good and bad days, and maybe even your own good and bad seasons like myself. It is not your job to be the “good baby” or “good kid”. It’s my job to be the good mother and to make the transitions throughout your life easier. At the same time, it is also my job to make myself happy. Not just for myself, but for you too, so that I can give to you. Winters may not always be this easy peasy but there are so many good things to remember, so many things that make me happy. I wrote a list to remind myself of those things. I’m sure the list is endless but I’ve cut it off at 50. 50 things to remind myself of when it feels like the rain just won’t stop coming, literally and figuratively. 50 simple things that remind me that life is good, just like you do. And even better is that more and more we will be able to enjoy these things together. Some of them may seem too simple, or maybe even odd but I am a firm believer that happiness can be simple. Sometimes it must be simple when the bigger picture is somewhat bleak. I need to learn to love simple pleasures more and I need to teach you the same thing.

I love you, babycakes!

Mama

 

In no particular order, here they are!

  1. Shopping at thrift stores
  2. Sewing
  3. Making felt crafts
  4. Writing
  5. Going to the fabric store
  6. Eating on the patio at Jupiter’s on a sunny day, avec beer
  7. Crossing things off my list
  8. Hiking
  9. Picnicking at Tilden
  10. Going to the Exploratorium
  11. Taking drives
  12. Baking and decorating cakes
  13. Watching movies and falling asleep on the couch
  14. Going to sleep in a bed that’s been made
  15. Reading Martha Stewart
  16. Blogging
  17. Reading other peoples’ blogs
  18. Reminiscing
  19. Ordering appetizers AND dessert with a meal
  20. Going to garage sales/ flea markets
  21. Photography
  22. Taking hot baths
  23. Drinking cocktails made by Rob
  24. Making pancakes on Sunday morning
  25. Deep conversations
  26. Weekend trips to new places
  27. Spending time at my parents’ house
  28. Hot tubs
  29. Making/buying things to pretty-ify the apartment
  30. Waking up to a clean apartment
  31. Waking up early and getting things done
  32. Waking up to Ophelia
  33. Reading until I fall asleep
  34. Watching my plants grow
  35. Girls’ Nights
  36. Playing Scrabble (and winning)
  37. Lunch with friends
  38. Writing our weekly dinner menu
  39. Daydreaming about future international travel
  40. Actually traveling internationally
  41. Making lists
  42. Pinterest!
  43. Reading old letters and looking at old pictures
  44. Taking walks around Lake Temescal
  45. Waxing my eyebrows
  46. Getting a nice haircut
  47. Listening to audiobooks
  48. Talking on the phone with friends
  49. Tuesday night dinners with Mary
  50. Summer plays at CalShakes

Offbeat Mama Reject

10 Mar

Hello again, sweet daughter. Today I have a previously-written letter to post to your blog. The (somewhat embarassing) thing about this letter is that it has been rejected. I sent it in last week to Offbeat Mama in the hopes of having it published on their site. Um. They sent it back. Within a few hours. I wouldn’t take this rejection so personally but these ladies are MY PEOPLE. They’re the other writers, crafters, homebirthers, cloth-diaper-ers that just happen to be mamas as well! It’s my little safe haven on the vast expanse of the interweb. And they rejected me. For the second time. Meh. Oh well, this letter was written for you anyway so I will suck it up and just post it for you, the tiny love of my life. Enjoy!

Dear Ophelia,

Today I made a decision. Today I decided that I would stop looking over the fence, stop obsessing over the greener grass. Today I decided that not only is what I have good enough, what I have is exactly what I want.

You see, my dear daughter, I’ve always been a frequent partaker of envy. I’ve envied others’ jobs, relationships, houses, crafting abilities…the list goes on. At times envy has even become a hobby in itself when I would spend large chunks of time actively comparing my life to everyone else’. This is probably why I should be banned from reading the blogs of super creative, well-dressed people with good taste in home décor. The resulting feeling is always one of inadequacy. Her husband loves yoga? Rob won’t even go to a class with me. Stuff in her Etsy shop is selling like gangbusters? I can’t even get my act together enough to set up an account. And while I hate to admit it, when I unexpectedly became pregnant, my jealousy skyrocketed. I envied women who had accomplished more in their careers before having kids. I envied couples that had gotten married before becoming pregnant. I envied anyone that appeared to have planned shit out a little bit better than I had.

And then came you.

I’ve heard mothers describe the feeling of first meeting their babies as one of recognition, as if they have known them all along. And although I could see myself reflected in your red hair, your tiny bow lips and your sweet gummy smile, I could not help but feel like you were too perfect to be mine. That perfection that I had always felt was so far away, so untouchable, was now dozing at my breast.

As you can imagine, sweet Ophelia, your birth changed everything. The thing is, it HAD to change everything. How could I stand to reason that my life was somehow insufficient if it now included a person whose perfection had struck me so profoundly? And how could I be the best mother possible to this tiny, flawless being if I was always modeling an attitude of ungratefulness for all I have? How would she ever learn to just be happy when her own mom constantly expressed the need for more, more, more? Though I have only had a month to adjust to motherhood I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will do almost anything to ensure your happiness, even if that means doing one of the hardest things of all: looking within myself and deciding to make a change.

Today I made that decision. Today I decided that you and your dad and our spastic cats and smelly rabbit and this pretty cool apartment in this pretty shitty neighborhood are just what I want. And that my husband is sweet and hilarious and sexy, even if he doesn’t do yoga with me. And that I am creative and smart and resourceful even if I don’t have that Etsy shop going just yet and that writing career is taking a little longer than anticipated. And I’m going to make a damn good mother because I’m all of those things and because my love for you is fierce enough that it has forced me to finally see things clearly.

What I really want to say, Ophelia, is that life is good. Thank you for reminding me.

Love always,

Mama

Aside

Ophelia Bedelia

8 Mar

Hello my lovely daughter! While this blog is unlikely to be read by you for some years (unless you happen to be a baby genius. truthfully I wouldn’t be surprised) I am writing it about you, for you. But since all of your family members and a few non-family members would like frequent updates on you they will be able to read it too. I hope that’s ok with you 🙂

You are exactly one month old today. I caught a glimpse of the clock at 6:36pm, the exact time you were born. I looked out the window and thought about how the sky looked that night from the birth tub in our living room. It was the clearest winter day followed by the most beautiful twilight and the sweetest night. I remember every second of it. One of these days I will finally be able to right your birth story. You are a pretty easy going baby for the most part but you don’t like to be put down very often. That’s okay, I love holding you oh so much. But one of these days I’ll have both the space in mind and in hand to be able to recall that amazing day.

Here are a few highlights of the last few weeks:

Our first decent picture together. And when I say decent I mean clothed.

You were born on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 which coincidentally happens to be your “Aunt” Kalli’s birthday. Those few hours after you were born I remember lying together with you and your dad in our bed while everyone else bussled about outside our room. Your papa and I just beamed at you and he kept saying how he couldn’t believe how perfect you were and counting your fingers and toes. The midwives came in to ask if we had given you a name and when we told them we were naming you Ophelia they both smiled and agreed that it suited you perfectly.

Your dad has this way he looks at you, sort of a cross between pride and wonder. When he holds you you often just stare up at him. You don’t do this with anyone else, not even with me. My theory is that since he used to talk to my belly so often his voice is the one you recognize the most. Sometimes when you start crying all he has to do is come over and give you a few kisses on the head and you settle back down immediately. He certainly has the touch.

Ashlin and Matt came to visit

Lots of people came to visit you in the first few weeks after you were born. My cousin Ashlin who lives in San Diego was up visiting her boyfriend Matt in San Francisco so they came to see you! They brought us a delicious lunch and a special stuffed cold virus. I think I need to put a picture up for you to get the concept.

And of course Granny Mimi and Grandpa Phil.

I’m getting pretty tired and you’re finally asleep so I might actually be able to eat some dinner. I post much more tomorrow but before I go here are 5 things I never want to forget about you at this age:

1) The silly noises you make. Sometimes you sound just like a puppy. Sometimes you’re all squeeks. Other times I could swear you giggle.

2) Nursing you. I love stroking your hair and watching you eat. You’re so serious about it as if there are lives in the hanging. Nursing always puts you right you sleep. You’re not the cleanest eater. There’s usually a dribble of milk running down your chin after you’re done, passed out in my arms.

3) Your startle reflex. It always cracks me up seeing you throw your hands up in the “caught me red-handed” pose. I try not to think about how quickly something so minor like this that seems so permanent will be gone in a matter of months. You’re already growing up.

4) The way you look at me with complete trust. It always feels like you’re saying to me “I know you’ll always take care of me.” Of course I will, but damn that kind of trust is a lot of pressure.

5) How alert and crazy you are in the morning. When you wake up, boy, do you wake up! When your dad and I are trying to get a few more minutes of sleep you are always squawking and waving your arms around. It’s impossible to sleep but if I have to get up it’s surely the sweetest thing to awaken me 🙂

Love always,

Mama