Saturday, March 31, 2012

Intensity

Sophie definitely has a bit of my temperament. She is a happy, curious child, but she is also intense. I'm not even sure intense is the right word, but she could never be mistaken for laid back or easy-going. I find it amazing that this is so obvious even from this age. So much seems to just be hard-wired in there.

I just hope she doesn't worry the way I did. It's taken me 38 years to get to where I am now, a much tempered down, relaxed version of a completely neurotic, worried woman. Maybe I can pass on some of the coping skills I have learned (finally) to deal with my overly active imagination and hyper-empathy. Maybe she has just enough of Ron's temperament to stay in the present -- something at which he is exceedingly good and at which I, until recently, have failed miserably.


I also hope I can help her find some level of peace with her place in the Universe. That's what has helped me. Feeling some sense of, I don't know, spirituality. To let go and let God, as my grandmother says. I really didn't get how to do that until the last year or so. That whether or not this life is all we have, it's all we know right now, and it is to be enjoyed. To be kind, but that you can be kind without feeling you have to save everyone.

I just finished reading this book, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, by Anne Lamott. Excellent book. In one entry she tells about this story of a home or school for autistic children who were so far on the severe end of the spectrum that they couldn't walk. She says they tied a rope across the room and found that the children could walk by holding on to the rope. Then they made it just a string, then just a piece of fishing wire, and the children could still walk. If they took it away, they couldn't. So finally she says they cut up the fishing wire and gave each child a small piece and with it, they were able to walk. An amazing story, and one she uses to illustrate her faith a bit. I love that image. It's taken me my entire life to find my little piece of fishing wire. I hope I can help Sophie find hers early on.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Point of This

I have been taking Sophie out and about more lately, which seems to be very good for both of us. She loves seeing new things and I love getting out of the house for a bit. I take her in the Ergo carrier, and she never, ever fusses. Seems being strapped next to her mama keeps her feeling pretty safe and content.

Wait. Before I mention any more about my daily life with Sophie, I should take a minute to clear something up. I've decided to start blogging again, at least for a while, in order to document these early years with Sophie, for Sophie to have when she gets older. Also, to perhaps connect with the experiences of other parents of infants out there (or memories of this time). So unlike most of my blogging history, I have a pretty clear purpose for writing.

If you have followed me for any amount of time on my old blog, you will remember I also have two wonderful, beautiful, kind daughters who are teenagers now. I did not have the privilege of giving birth to them, as they came with my husband from his previous marriage, but they are my kids regardless and I have never bothered to add a 'step' before 'daughter' because I don't feel anything other than a mother's love for them.  I have written about them and my experiences with them many times over the years, but now that they are teenagers, I feel I need to respect their right to privacy concerning the details of our lives together. For this reason and because of this blog's specific purpose, I will mostly leave them out. However, they are an active and joyful part of my life and I love them dearly.They are also very good big sisters to Sophie, whom they adore. We call Carina 'Big' and Jamie 'BigBig.' They are delighted to have a wee little sister (even though Jamie asked over and over for a big brother. I told her time and again that was impossible, but she persists to this day.)

So, there you have it. This blog is going to be about Sophie's early years, mostly. If that bores you, you can skip my feed. I have so many thoughts in my head these days, thanks to this new perspective of seeing the world through a baby human's eyes, that I feel compelled to put it all down. If I don't, it's possible my brain could explode, and I just don't have the time to clean up any more messes these days.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

March 24, 2012

She is just so damned beautiful. That's the problem. I had planned to go to sleep early tonight because I'm so exhausted these days I can't form simple sentences, but instead I had to lie here and stare at her until my eyes watered. She has that effect on people, I think. I get the feeling she always will, too. This one, she is positively mesmerizing.


Overall, we had a nice, relaxing Saturday, but it was definitely on the gross side of warm which made everything feel more frustrating than it needed to be. Spring is supposed to be beautiful -- crisp and fresh, you know -- but Arizona decided it was gonna ratchet up the heat a notch or two, and probably as a result of this combined with my general fatigue, I ended up walking around half the day wondering what smelled so funky weird before I realized it was me. Yeah, I know, gross, but that's the kind of day it was.

Anyway, despite having to break down and turn on the AC, we enjoyed a pleasant day of family banter, playing with Sophie and napping as much as we wanted. Jamie, Carina and I even took Sophie to the grocery store for the first time. Maybe because she was so enthralled by all the novelty or maybe because I had her in the Ergo baby carrier, she seemed to really enjoy the trip and didn't fuss once, although she seemed a bit put out that we couldn't stop to examine things for longer periods of time. I had held off taking her anywhere in public until now because I had such fear of illness entering her little, unprepared body, but she seems to have weathered a house full of sick people very well, so I decided it was most likely safe. (Of course that didn't stop me from silently steering clear of actual people as we walked through the aisles. I'm neurotic like that and it can't be helped.)


Which brings me to one of the frightening things about parenthood: the fear for their safety never really goes away. Ever. You just learn to manage it, I guess. When Jamie came down with the flu, I remember I had such dark, worried thoughts as I listened to her cough and imagined the spittle flying from one room right into Sophie's mouth. I mean, I hardly slept a wink out of fear that this nasty flu would come steal my baby away during the night. And it was right in the middle of one of these dark nights and darker thoughts that I realized I had to make peace with this fear, because it was a life partner now. I told myself that this is the Universe telling you there is something precious and worthwhile in your life and to pay attention to it and love it and be grateful for it and in the meantime push the worry to the back of your mind as far as you can, because it's going to be a long road, lady.

So I love her and enjoy her and am grateful every day for her mesmerizing spirit, and I try to keep my worry in the far recesses of my mind as much as possible. From what I can tell so far, she seems to be a curious, happy, somewhat intense child who is eager to explore the world around her.

And now it's time for her mom to get some sleep, so maybe, just maybe, she can give her a nice tour somewhere tomorrow without smelling funky and having remembered to brush her teeth and wear proper clothes. One can hope, anyway.


Friday, March 23, 2012

March 23, 2012

It is just before bed and I am drowsy and content, with my wee one sleeping quietly beside me. She appears to be feeling much better today and I was tired of being cooped up, so we got out of the house. We started with a nice journey to the park with my aunt and then stopped for a visit with an old friend who was home with her newborn baby. These excursions did much for both our spirits. I don't think she fussed once all day, probably because she was so busy taking in all the novelty.

I continue to be amazed at how quickly she grows. She is very close to crawling and these days moves quickly across the floor like a soldier on the battlefield. She stops briefly, strikes a pose as she decides where to turn next, then continues on her way. Makes me wish we lived somewhere that would allow her to explore farther without me having to pick her up and point her in a less dangerous or painful direction.

She has also taken to examining her hands with a renewed zeal. Once her favorite playthings (second only to her toes -- when she gets one of those bad boys in her mouth, she's in heaven), she is now even more enamored with them because she seems suddenly aware she can make them move. She turns a hand toward her and moves each finger one at a time, as though she is giving the "come hither" wave to whomever is watching. It's the damned cutest thing. Even better, whenever she focuses intently on something, her face transforms into all-cheek mode. It's almost too much to bear, the cuteness.

It's funny, I can't wait for the next stage of her growth, yet I know I'll miss each one as it passes. I wouldn't want it any other way though.It's a little of what being human is all about.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Spring Celebration

Sophie Dawn is 6 months old today. To celebrate, I strapped her on my back and we walked Lucy around the neighborhood. The air was all warm honeysuckle and orange blossom. The three of us lapped up this small drink of Spring like thirsty sailors. Although I was a little sad that her first forays out into nature weren't more beautiful than our run down neighborhood, I remain grateful that she has eyes with which to see the world -- both good and bad -- and that we are free to take this walk together during what for so many other modern mothers is a work day. Every now and then during our walk, she hummed, a sweet little voice in my ear, and I swear, I almost died right there from the sheer joy of it.

I don't know what I did to deserve such a blessing, but I'm forever grateful.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Memo From A Fugue State

March came in like a lion, quickly tackled us, and has spent all month gnawing on our innards. Or at least that's how it feels to this tired mother. Everyone in the household has been ill with some variation of the flu except me. The house sounds like a sanitorium and everyone is cranky and tired, even the baby. Or maybe I should say, especially the baby. I am back to the level of tired I felt when she was a newborn and I swear I'm one lost nap away from my eyes simply rolling, red and glassy, out of my skull as I collapse on the floor.

Despite this fatigue -- or maybe because of it -- I have taken to reading every book pertaining to babies that I can get my hands on. I've always had an obsessive need to know everything about anything I turn my attention to, and now that I am raising this tiny human (while simultaneously raising two teenagers -- talk about perspective!), this need to know everything is stronger than ever. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a consensus on how to grow a healthy, happy, thriving human being. After all those hours of reading, I feel no wiser or more sure of the path I am taking. I am left with my visceral inclinations: to show her unconditional love, take everything else on a case-by-case basis, and try not to forget that I can't be much use to anyone if I neglect myself. I hope that's enough. Even as the tears of fatigue roll down my face, I can honestly say I have never felt such great joy. There is no way to describe this love.