Every Mama has her Day

While ringing me up at the register in JoAnne’s last week, the cashier told me that I was really put together.  It felt nice.  And I know why she said it.  My hair was cute, I had lip gloss on, mascara even!  I was holding my daughter on one hip, my purchases in the same hand I had wrapped around her back and I signed the receipt with my free hand.  My sweet Sunshine was happy and smiling and waving at everyone.  I’m sure I looked like a mom who’s got her $#@& together.  So I smiled and I said thank you and I really meant it.  What I did not do was tell her about the week before.

The week before, I showed up at swim class with no lip gloss and my hair in the same, wobbly, top-of-my-head bun I slept in.  We had five minutes to get ready before we were supposed to be in the pool.  I opened our swim bag and dug and dug  . . .  and dug.  I dug until I hit the bottom and dug back up to the top, refusing to except the evidence before my eyes that I had somehow not brought my daughter’s swimsuit or swim diaper.

I threw everything out onto the bench at the Y, I had to check just one more time.  No dice.  I called my husband to see if he’d maybe put it in her diaper bag and he reminded me that my darling girl had gotten into her swim bag just before we left.  She’d thrown everything out and he’d thrown everything back in, but neither of us checked to make sure she hadn’t made off with something important.  There was nothing for it, we weren’t going to be able to go to class.  It was awful because she loves the water and she loves her friend Fred, who we’ve been in swim class with since she was seven months old.

About that time, I heard Fred outside the door so I popped out to let his mama know we weren’t going to make it to class and why.  Fred’s mom, who is never one to give up, immediately offered Fred’s extra suit if we didn’t mind using trunks as well as one of their swim diapers.  SAVED!  We grabbed the suit, got changed, and had an awesome class and I really wish I could end the story there . . .
IMG_2610But alas, after class, with my sweet Sunshine all wrapped up in her towel (hey, at least we had towels, right?), I realized that her after class diaper was also missing.  Thankfully, Fred and his mama were still there.  They gave us a diaper and we were back in business, all dressed, and ready for snack . . . except that I’d brought her frozen blueberries, which make a great snack when they’re frozen.  These, once frozen, but frozen no longer berries were a dark purple, puddle just waiting to ruin absolutely everything they splattered on.

My Sunshine began to cry, because of course, babies are always hungry after swim class and that’s when sweet Fred shared his Cheerios and we were finally able to conclude what was one of the most ridiculous mornings of my life as a mother.  Fortunately for me and for my girl, Fred and his mama are not judgemental.  We all laughed it off together and our morning was not ruined for any of the reasons that it might have been.

Moral of the story?  When you see a mom who’s got it together, say something nice to her.  When you see a mom whose day is falling apart before your eyes, say something nice to her, too, and if you have the power to help, help without judgement.  A kind word can work wonders . . . as can a loaner swimsuit, swim diaper, regular diaper, and Cheerios!  My sweet Sunshine and I really do have the best friends.  : )IMG_2614

Firsts and Lasts

I nursed you for the very first time on a sunny, Sunday morning in July.  You’d been here less than an hour, but seemed to know what you needed.  Your father stood by watching over, nurses came in and out of the room, and I answered questions here and there, but even so, it was somehow just the two of us.

I nursed you for the very last time on a rainy Sunday in February.  You were eighteen months–some might say too old, some might say too young, but for us, it was perfect.  It was quiet and we were alone, watching the sunlight fade away from the living room window as water drops ran down the glass.

Now, I’m sitting here thinking about firsts and lasts.  All at once so happy and proud of how you are growing up and so unbearably sad that this beautiful time we’ve shared must come to an end.

It’s a feeling I know well a year and a half into being your mother.  I will never forget the first time I went to put you into a pair of newborn sized, footie pajamas and you simply didn’t fit.  Your little shoulders were pushing at the neckline and your tiny (but not so tiny as before) toes were bent against the ends of the footies.

It was an amazing and terrible moment.  I sat on the floor of the bedroom in our apartment and cried and cried.  You were only six weeks old!  How did it happen so fast???  Since then, I can’t even count the number of times you’ve grown out of something I specifically remember looking at and thinking it would take forever for you to grow into.

I love being your mama.  I am so proud of your curiosity, intelligence, strength, and independence.  It’s been my absolute pleasure to give you every opportunity I can to learn so you can do life on your own one day.  And it’s heartbreaking having to say goodbye to a version of you I love so deeply and will never see again without looking at a photograph.

That said, my sweet Sunshine, every time my heart is broken in goodbye, it’s put back together with love that just gets bigger and more as you get bigger and more.  Regardless of how much or little you ever need me, I will always be here.    After all, if you and I are anything like me and my mother (that’s Granny Bee, to you), you’ll be calling about how to make the biscuits, how to get that stain out, and just for giggles over mimosas long after you’re out in the world, making your own way.  : )

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My Prayer

Before you read this post, I’d like to make it clear that in no way am I saying adoptive parents cannot love their children as much as biological parents or that fathers cannot love their children as much as mothers can.  This post is about the depth and breadth of the connection between a parent and their child.  How you come into that connection is of no consequence to me.  I just happen to be writing it from a mother’s perspective, because, well, that’s what I am and so that’s what I know.  Enjoy!  : )

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My connection to you was instant.  When you were born and they placed you on my belly, I could only say “oh, honey” over and over again.  I had one hand on your sticky back and another around your tiny bottom and no moment in my life has ever felt so precious as that one.  I carry that crystal clear memory in my heart, another copy in my soul, and yet another copy in my mind, to ensure it’s never lost.

My understanding of that sweet, unbearably strong connection has taken more time.  I have slowly come to realize the true magnitude of the job on my shoulders and instead of feeling overwhelmed or terrified, I see that no one on this earth could possibly do it better than me.

This feeling–this lovely, silent secret known only to us, enables me to show you unconditional love so you will recognize it and can give it yourself one day.  It makes me the one you trust first and most and gives me the patience and determination to take care of that trust so you will know how it feels and be trustworthy yourself one day.   It fills me with a grace unlike anything I’ve felt before (since I was a child myself and felt it from my own mother and father, that is)–a grace I give you every day with soft eyes and gentle hands so that you will understand how to both give and receive forgiveness one day.  That is the terrible beauty of parenthood–beautiful because there is no bond stronger, that can accomplish so much and terrible because I have never experienced such awful fear as my fear at the thought of losing or being lost to you.

That is my only prayer, my only wish these days–that you and I get to keep each other.  It happens all the time, just watch the news–mothers who have lost their children and children who have lost their mothers.  We are fortunate to have such an amazing, loving, and dependable village.  I know that if anything were to happen to me you would know love, you would be treasured, and raised well . . . but it wouldn’t be the same.  And I cannot even contemplate losing you in words.  There’s a great, black hole in my mind where that horror lives and I never look directly at it for fear of giving it substance.

When they strike, these fears, I imagine all of the adventures we have yet to go on, all of the memories we’re going to make, all of things I’m going to tell you, and all of the things you’re going to tell me.  And then I send it up, the same prayer every time:

Please, God, let us keep each other . . .

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Where the Time Went . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories

My sweet Sunshine, you are currently rifling through a box full of spices in the kitchen, tasting some containers before dropping them at your feet, while others are tossed over your shoulder without so much as a cursory glance.  I’m not certain of your criteria, but you do seem to have a system.  I love to watch you explore–touching and tasting absolutely everything–cataloguing your environment with the precision and care of a scientist.

I folded and put away most of your nine month footies today because the necklines are beginning to stretch and your tiny toes are pressing uncomfortably against the feet.  It hurts every time–putting away bits of the present that somehow, without my noticing right away, became the past.  It is so strange that these moments which are molding and redefining me as a person and a mother, you will not remember.

You will not remember how I shrieked with joy when you took your first, wobbly steps or how I cried in relief and squeezed you tight after fishing that wad of drool-soaked paper out of your mouth.  You will not remember crawling around the yard, picking dandelions and trying to eat pebbles under my watchful eye.  You will not remember dancing in front of the oven door, giggling at your reflection.  You will not remember the way you turn diaper changes into the baby version of a greased pig contest.  You will not remember throwing all the spices out of the box.  And you will not remember your silly mama, sitting at the kitchen table, crying while she writes you love letters from your babyhood.

And oh how I love you, my baby.  Though our time together this way is short, one day, in the not so distant future, we’ll be making memories you can keep.  Until then, I will continue writing (and crying) you a path back through the years to the curious, determined, and much-loved baby you are so that while you may not remember, you can at least have a glimpse of your sweet, small self through your mama’s eyes.

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Morning Mama Thoughts

My favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is watching her choose where she would like to go and what she would like to do when she gets there.  She used to be limited to where we put her or what toys we presented her with, and now another layer of her personality is coming through.

My least favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is that there are now roughly 10,762 new and exciting ways for her to accidentally maim/injure/kill herself.  I have nicknamed her “suicidal octopus” because I swear she has eight, lightning-fast arms and they’re all reaching for something dangerous!

We are getting closer to the end of nursing and I’m both excited and sad.  On one hand, I will be SO happy to be able to wear whatever I want without thinking about how hard/easy it will be to nurse in.  On the other hand, because my wild child is always on the go, nursing time has been our snuggle time and I wonder if/how she will snuggle when there’s no need to stop and snack in my arms.

I think about my parents all the time.  Having a child of my own puts an entirely different spin on so many of my memories.  Like when I was twelve and I was riding my horse bareback, with a bridle I made out of baling twine and jumping the irrigation canal/all the irrigation pipe in the field.  If I remember right, my dad was supposed to be watching me, but he had to go handle a work emergency so mom came to pick me up.  She was terrified of horses and I remember seeing her white knuckles on the fence as we thundered up the way.  I have always thought that story was hilarious.  Now I can actually imagine the worry and fear she must have felt that I would be hurt.  To my  mother’s credit, she did not punish me; she signed me up for jumping lessons.  : )

Another hilarious thinking of my mom moment came when I was exiting the restroom and passed a woman and her young son going in together.  It struck me for the very first time that my mother actually taught me to use the bathroom!!!!  Thanks, mom.  : )

I am so happy to finally be in a permanent living space.  Every situation we’ve been in since she was born has been temporary.  She’s been shuttled across the country multiple times, spent countless hours in the car while we looked for vehicles, then apartments, then houses.  She seems pretty happy wherever we are, but I think she’ll feel the difference as we get settled.

A lovely friend sent me a lovely book (The Magic of Motherhood) and though it’s hard to find time to read, my favorite line from the early chapters is, “Your body will be a home to your children.”  How very true.  My body doesn’t look or feel quite the way it did before my Sunshine came along but there is no place where she feels as safe and comfortable as my arms.  No other body will do, it’s only mine that gives her such peace and security–how beautiful is that?

She is swinging in the living room, fast asleep while I sip coffee and write.  Occasionally, I look up and her face swings into view.  If I had known before getting pregnant just how much I would feel as a mother, I might have chosen another path.  It’s frightening sometimes, the depth and breadth of it.  What I know now that she’s here is that I’d feel it all a thousand times for just one of her sunny smiles.

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Tiny Stranger

She wears purple and ocean colors–my favorites.  She goes on long walks with me and we visit the alpacas at the end of the lane, the coyotes and elk in the field, and the neighborhood horses.  She loves milk and staring at ceiling fans but intensely dislikes being swaddled and chirps like a little bird when she’s first waking up.  Beyond these things . . . well, I know very little.

She is our tiny stranger–depending upon us for her every need while at the same time confidently demanding food, snuggles, and entertainment.  I soak in her baby smiles and sleepy chirps knowing she will continue to change at a pace I’d heard about, but only came to understand in the two months, four pounds, and four inches since her sunny, Sunday arrival in July.

It is strange to think that I’ve been with her every moment of her existence yet hardly know her at all, and it is both lovely and bizarre to realize I won’t for years to come.
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