Saturday, July 30, 2011
My mom said not to be surprised if it caught up with me, even if it wasn’t until after we got home. (I think that was before we found out we wouldn’t be home for an additional week.) Everyone said they’d be falling apart if it were them, but I didn’t see it that way. There was nothing new about her condition -- only the fact that it was being treated. There was relief and hope and comfort in sleeping here and telling her story to professionals who could help.
But yesterday I kind of unraveled. A big, burly guy who told jokes in the elevator walked us down to MRI. Passed us off to a roomful of confident, empathetic people who did their best to prepare me for something I clearly did not understand the complexity of, like parents explaining divorce to a child. I nodded my head a lot, just like a had for every other exam and every other test in every other corner of the hospital we’d been escorted to so far. I didn’t care about a brave face, just about conveying my confidence in what needed to be done because I believed it was true. I was not afraid. My daughter was being cared for. She needed to feel that confidence from me, like I needed to feel that confidence from them. For the first time, the very first time in my entire life, I remember feeling nothing for myself - not pride, not worry, not sympathy, not even from some hideaway in the back of my mind no one would ever know about. I wished I could tell them to stop concerning themselves with me; to stop calling me ‘Mommy’ to soften the blow. I was not here. It was only Scarlett.
It was my job to rub the few inches of arm that ran between her elbow and shoulder, to ease the punch of the anesthesia going in. We were holding her down, even though she was too tired to fight. Having not eaten for so long, though, I knew that a pinch of discomfort was all it’d take to get the fight in her back up. So I braced myself for the period of thrashing that had started to come on -- when all at once, the sleep came on like a punch in the face. It took my breath away. Her head flew back, eyes rolling up lifelessly into unconsciousness, mouth falling open. I passed her like an object to the doctors. She looked mercilessly dead. I couldn’t see from behind my own sobbing. The nurses pulled me away. It didn’t feel like they did this all the time.
I shook it off and got some coffee, apologizing when I got back. I took out my phone once I got to the waiting room, read some text messages, and cried like a baby in front of some man and his kid in the waiting room. The more I felt like I shouldn’t be crying, the more it came on. All I could think about was that 12 pound baby boy and the scale and text messages from the past few days and my tiny helplessly baby, failing to thrive, with her mouth hanging open.
It was like I was remembering that she was my baby, and that came with remembering myself for a minute. And that made me cry like a little kid. Not like a mom.
When we got back I learned how to put a feeding tube into her nostril before she went to bed, and to guide it through her insides into her stomach; how to eject stomach acid into a syringe to make sure it was where it needed to be. I watched her look up at me with panic in her screams, begging me for help. I watched her plow herself in the face repeatedly with the big, heavy cast that covers her I.V. injection point, taking over the whole lower half of her arm, in a useless attempt to get it off of her face. I watched her give up, and fall helplessly to sleep.
That was yesterday.
Today I woke up to a smiling baby girl for the first time in months, rolling from side to side and squealing with energy to burn. For the first time in months, I played with my baby and she had the energy and vigor to play with me back. It was better than the day she was born. Nothing is worth seeing your baby in panic or pain, but I started to think that if ever there could be a silver lining, that this was the start. We started out the day regaling in some great news. Then some better news! Some disappointing news. And then some scary news. As the day went on, her energy drained and the weight we thought she’d put on since yesterday, she’d digested into nothing, like it’d never existed. When we weigh her before and after a feeding from my breast, she consistently comes off of the scale weighing less after a feeding than she did before it.
She just looks lost now, lying awake and motionless in her big, metal crib, lethargic and drained from a day virtually void of activity. She has the very distinct look of a person who is waiting. Lost and waiting to be found.
Today I don’t feel like a mom. I feel a little kid who is lost and helpless and stupid for not understanding anything that’s going on. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and I’ll know what to say when someone offers a hug or a hand on my shoulder. I’ll be practical and understanding and a little more patient. But today, I’m gonna cry.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Scarlett spent last night in a metal crib at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, hooked to an I.V., a catheter, and a machine that monitored her levels of oxygen; her Momma close beside. Even though this hospital is incredible, the crib my daughter will be sleeping in for what we were told to expect can be the next few days is hard to describe as anything other than a great, big, terrifying jail cell for babies.
We joke a lot about her being such a ‘pipsqueak’ but honestly, her development has been the center of a lot of concern, concern that for me was beginning to spiral a little out of control. You might have noticed that I never put together a 9 month letter for her, part of the reason being that finding ways she had grown or developed that month from the last (or even the one before that) were becoming harder and harder to list. We landed here yesterday morning by recommendation of the family doctor. Scarlett’s team over the past few days have described the possible culprits of her symptoms as ranging from the “not-so-worrisome to the very worrisome.” Very worrisome, of course, being all I can hear ringing through my head right now. Still, I can’t help feeling comforted about where we are. All things considered, I’m thankful that we’re here and that the doctor’s have given some validation to my concern. I’m not scared for her. I just know that something is out of the ordinary, and I want to know what.
We threw around some scary words last night, but at this point the ‘very worrisome,’ doesn’t seem to be outweighing the ‘not-so.’ And the truth is, whether I worry about it at home, breastfeeding her on the couch or staring out of a 4th floor window from a cot on 3F, I’m going to worry. I feel a lot better doing it while something is being done to find an answer.
So far we know that she’s lost weight since her last check-up a couple months back and that so far, (though the testing has only just started) there seems to be some kind of abnormality on her liver. We don’t know what to make of it yet, I was told, which means there’s a chance that it’s nothing. She’s eating and sleeping as well as she can, but she’s lethargic and detached and clearly overwhelmed. The good news for her about being alone with me for 3 days in a children’s hospital is that she’s not leaving my arms for anything.
The good news for me? is that she’s not leaving my arms for anything.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Delicate isn’t usually the kind of word you can use to describe a bouncing 10 month old baby girl. Of course, when most people picture a ten month old baby, you don’t exactly fit the image that comes to mind, anyway. We think of things like fat, wet, grins and cutting teeth and cruising. We think of sticky, grab-happy palms and knobby knees thundering across a hardwood floor; The Frankenstein toddle of those first few steps holding onto Momma’s hands. I think of silly new sounds and squeals of laughter. We think of fearlessness and an itch for giddy, impatient destruction…
And then there’s you, who exemplify exactly none of that.
They say that God was inspired by the flowers to create woman, which has always reminded me of you. In all my years, Scarlett, I have never seen a human being embody the delicacy and grace of a flower like you, even at 10 months old. And I know that sounds like just another load of sap coming from the mouth of an over-emotional mom, but these are things even your FATHER says about you. Yeah, him. That is how unavoidable this daintiness of yours really is. It just stands out.
I also swore for the past three months that I wouldn’t make these letters to you about your size. But I have just surrendered recently to the fact that your size can’t help but define you a little. This past weekend we took you to a carnival in Haverde Grace and to a festival for fireworks over the Delaware River and then to Woodside Farm. And between those three separate events in three different locations on the same weekend we had two complete strangers assume that you were born premature; had a waitress tell us her 6 month old son could EAT YOU ALIVE; and even had a few people congratulate us on the “new addition” because they made the small hiccup of mistaking you for a large newborn.
If I had a nickel for every time someone held you and said they felt like they were going to break you, I could probably buy a swimming pool, and then fill it up with nickels. Or with about your monthly intake of food. Honest to God, there is a bottomless black hole that exists where your stomach ought to be. I’ve been around babies all my life, Scarlett and I, nor anyone else who’s ever watched you eat, has seen anything like that Bermuda Triangle appetite you have.
Second only to your size, the thing that stands out about you most is that you ooze this impossible femininity for a child your age. I think it comes from everything you lack in gross motor skills (which, don’t take this the wrong way or anything: basically don’t exist) being made up for in the fine motor department. Your legs are almost always comfortably crossed and your hands are usually resting thoughtfully on your neck or your chin while you watch the world go by perched upon my hip, like a tiny bird on a branch. From the time you were two months old you’d practice interlocking the fingers of your left and right hands so that you could rest them just so over your belly. Between that and your completely unreasonable metabolism, I picture you growing into the kind of girl who could wear a pair of heels to bed and look perfectly comfortable.
Just a heads up? All of your friends will hate you for that.
Of course, that’s also running on the assumption that you ever learn to walk in the first place, but that’s another story. Walking, or crawling or even pretending to have interest in anything that separates you from your perch on my waist is a joke. Don’t even get me started.
You don’t squeal or screech or make too much noise right now, which is strange because you jabbered on like a caged bird for the first few weeks of your life. Then after that you just clammed up, and right now you’re basically a mute. You like to sit back and just soak it all in, you know, collecting your judgments, and then gossiping with me about them later. Usually, when you do manage to work up a giggle, even for me, it’s as if it’s just to be polite.
You also have no teeth. And I swear on all the cream cheese icing in the world, you do not drool.
You don’t even make a mess when you eat. Once your three year old cousin fed you a puree of blueberry and plum without you even needing a bib. That is how oddly poised you are.
Unless of course, you’re crying, in which case all mother-freaking hell breaks lose. The day you were born, and I heard you let out a holler for the very first time, I said to the nurse, “Jeez. Hell hath no fury like the scorn of Scarlett Stucky, huh?” That will forever go down in history as the understatement of this century. When you’re displeased in even the slightest, all delicacy about you goes out the window and you fly completely off the handle. You kick, you throw, and you WAIL from this deep, dark, throaty place in the very pit of your stomach. I never thought I’d live to see the day, but seriously, at ten months old your temper tantrums have already trumped even the worst of Matthews. I’d tease you about having a Napoleon complex if I weren’t a little afraid of pissing you off.
It’s lucky for me that I am still by far and wide your favorite person in all of the known universe. And, well, okay - your universe might be a little small right now, but I’m still enjoying my time in the sun. Meanwhile, until Daddy catches up, I’ll flatter him with photos like this to get him by.
Til next month, Bug.
I love the living, breathing daylights out of you. Forever and ever, Amen.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I can think of no gesture more lovely than that of a woman giving to her child of her own body.
As Scarlett gets older… sleeps for longer stretches from dusk to dawn, eats more solid foods, she is gradually weaning herself. At first my breasts stopped leaking in the night, then at all. They stopped becoming engorged when she became hungry, and then even when she skipped a feeding altogether. Today my breasts are officially back to their pre-pregnancy size. A painfully normal 32B; their magic slipping away as my daughter becomes more and more independent of my body to grow. Even though I’ve always been reasonably fond of my body exactly the way it was given to me, and even though I’m enjoying the shift of having my weight and my shape fall back into the places they rightfully belong… when I look at myself in the mirror now, I can’t help but realize that the last traces of physical evidence that I was ever pregnant are leaving me. And it feels a little bit tragic, a little bit empty, even though I can’t decide exactly why.
When I started inking this drawing for Illustration Friday: a portrait of one of my favorite bloggers with her new son Arlo (isn’t that the coolest name?), I found myself riding a surge of unexpected emotions while I drew, sorting through my thoughts. Even though I’m still breastfeeding Scarlett, and doing it often, I’m already preparing for how much it will be missed once it’s gone. I’m slowing down, I’m drinking her in to the very last drop, I’m trying hard to gather everything about the experience now, so that I can hide it away later, lock it up and throw away the key. And in my rush to do these very sensible, perfectly understandable things, I’m succeeding only in turning this one, small, ordinary step into a total doomsday event, so that it looms over me like a threat.
I’m the one who didn’t want to breastfeed her past 12 months. I’m the one who wanted control of my body back. I’m the one who decided Scarlett would be the last of our children. I’m the one who is still perfectly satisfied with every one of those decisions. So what’s the big deal, anyway? It’s not even over yet…
I ran the brush along the curve of Arlo’s ear this morning and I remembered what it was like to share the experience with my own son; to touch his tiny ear and marvel at his magnificence while he grew without a sound in my arms, like a precious secret. I remembered what it felt like to be in equal parts astounded and overwhelmed by the very idea of what lay ahead. Of the infinite unknown. And how intimidating that could have been if I’d have let myself feel that way.
Matthew met me at the dining room table where I sat with a spread of art supplies, breakfast and coffee. He grabbed a paintbrush I laid out earlier so that it’d be ready for him when he woke up, he slid a sheet of clean, thick watercolor paper in front of him and he swirled the brush in a dish of water to the left, so that it clinked and splashed a little on the table. He said good morning, and that his belly was starving, and that he didn’t have any bad dreams last night. He told me he loved me too, and we painted before breakfast -- just like we always do -- at least, for now.
I thought of how nice this will be to look back on when someday he’s got more exciting, and then more important things to do with his time than paint with me before breakfast. Then suddenly, without meaning to, I found myself rummaging through a hundred phenomenal memories sandwiched between the days he fed from my breast and this morning at the table. And wouldn’t you know, of all of my favorites, not a one of those precious, everlasting moments in my mind had anything at all to do with breastfeeding. Not a single one.
I guess in hindsight the infinite unknown has been pretty good to us in the past.
So loom away, Threat of Change, my infinite unknown awaits, and I cannot wait to meet her.
And to drink her in to the very last drop.
Monday, July 18, 2011
I know I’ve written about this before, but after Scarlett arrived last fall, Matthew pulled out all the stops to vie for my attention. I mean ALL OF THEM. Scarlett came out of the gate with a short-tempered need for constant attention and even though I know it takes some level of adjustment for any toddler to become an older sibling, I think Matthew really kind of drew the short straw there. It threw us all for a loop, but especially him; especially after he’d spent so much time seeming to look SO forward to welcoming his sweet, new baby sister into the family.
No matter how hard I tried to stay one step ahead of every need with all three kids, meltdowns just became a daily part of our adjustment period. Even though it seemed a little counter-productive at the time (a time when everything about our life was in disorder and time was not in large supply), deciding to home pre-school Matthew when I did became, hands down, the best thing I’ve probably every done for my relationship with my son. I told myself I wouldn’t overdo it, but I probably did only because it became such a much needed outlet for the both of us to get time - real, honest-to-goodness quality time - together. I could go on for days about what a difference it made in his adjustment in particular, as well as about how it ended up impacting our entire family too. The goal was not to pump him full of knowledge so much as it was to just distract him a little from the stresses of becoming a big brother, and to allow me the recourse I needed to put 110% into the time I gave him. It became the one part of our day that just made sense, and the first step toward getting into a routine that actually had some order to it.
Matthew became so engulfed in our schooling that in a matter of months, he had almost taught himself to read. Spencer in particular always says he will never forget leaving the K-mart at Governor’s Square shopping center and hearing our two year old point out the word BUG! with his finger pointed directly at the bold, red sign above the Fashion Bug entrance. We would have passed it off as just an odd coincidence if he hadn’t gone on to make a habit of pointing out words wherever we went.
But, like all storms, the adjustment one passed. We adapted to a new routine and Matthew adjusted to the role of Big Brother like he was born ready. On the flip side, the better everyone adjusted, the less attention we put into the effort of scheduled learning time. We started spending more time together as a family and not needing (or wanting) to be distracted from that. After a little bit of a cooling off period, Matthew started to actually rebel a little bit when I tried to reintroduce him to some of our reading concepts; pretending he didn’t know words or even letters he could have recited in his sleep a number of months ago. I didn’t fight him on it. I just took it as a sign that he was ready to cool it for a while longer, and we gave ourselves a break.
Recently, though, he’s started showing a renewed interest again. Saturday night we took the kids to Delaware City Day for the fireworks display. We met Mary at the dock, who had just gotten off the boat with mom-mom and pop-pop for a day of fishing and was really hungry. I wanted to tell her that there was a granola bar in the diaper bag without Matthew hearing and wanting it for himself. I pulled her to the side and told her: “In the diaper bag there is a B. A. R. --” I got no further than that when Matthew shot up and interjected, “Momma! I want a bar, too!!” The funny thing is that it took him no time at all to do the letter math in his head. He knew what I’d spelled instantly, no differently than if I’d said the word itself instead of spelling it. In fact, he couldn’t understand for the life of him why he was even being showered with praise. He had literally no clue what he’d just done.
He’s also pointing to individual words in our storybooks, asking what they say specifically, and pointing to letter combinations he recognizes like ING! And EE! And CH!
Back when Matthew made all of that initial progress, our pediatrician said that if he continued at the rate he was learning, he wouldn’t be surprised if Matthew skipped kindergarten altogether. I wasn’t at all disappointed when Matthew lost interest in learning to read, because I was confident that once he picked it back up again -- even if it wasn’t until 1st grade, he’d catch on quicker than normal. It’s never been my goal to push him into anything he wasn’t ready for -- but I can’t deny that I am pretty freaking stoked about me and the Little Dork picking back up where we left off.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
The best thing about meeting Spencer (you know, besides the kids, I guess) has got to be how many incredible things he’s turned me on to. It’s funny to think about how I ate before in particular: how I never liked steak or ground deer meat and had never even thought to try things like asparagus or zuccini -- all of which are among my absolute top favorite foods today. Steak taking up, like, the top five all by itself. And if you’d have told me before our honeymoon that calamari would ever become my favorite treat of all time, topping even French fries with honey? I wouldn’t have even known how to respond to you because I would still have no clue what the hell that was. Then, when you told me that it was fried squid, I probably would have vomited.
I definitely am not into everything he’s into. I can get down with some fishing, okay, and even learning how to shoot a gun, but the whole buck-hunting thing, I’m pretty sure will always be one of those things he just has to delve into without me. When he first started telling me about how rewarding, and healthy and smart and awesome it is to grow your own vegetables, I pretty much saw it falling into the same category as hunting. A.) a lot of work. And B.) not even a little bit fun.
One of the many, many things we definitely did not have in common when we started dating was that he always said he’d love to live in a cabin somewhere, completely disconnected from civilization, where he either caught or grew all of the food for his whole family with his own two hands. Now, I’m not saying I didn’t think he was a nutcase when that came out of his mouth, but I have to admit, he gave me the feeling that he actually could, and it wasn’t long after that I started to fall completely head over heels in love with him.
Spencer gets his love of gardening from his dad, who has this in-freaking-credible garden and freely gives to us the fruits of all his hard work. Spencer only goes maybe one weekend every few months to help out with an especially big chore or to give a hand once in a while when we’re already there visiting. I always enjoyed the fresh veggies and was definitely impressed by the garden itself, but it still never really screamed at me that this was something I wanted for myself.
Spencer always kept a few small plants going around here, like tomatoes and peppers but I honestly never even really paid attention to them. This year, he talked me into letting him roto-till my flowerbed out to about 3 times it’s original size, so that I could fill it up with flowers. And as I was planting and he was buttering me up with all sorts of pretty garden flowers, he kept tossing out the idea of roto-tilling a long patch alongside the house in the backyard for vegetables. I told him maybe it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world.
Then, shortly after the flowerbed out front was mulched, we started seeing these giant pumpkin plants sprout up. ALL OVER THE PLACE. They must have planted themselves when our pumpkins rotted on the front step after Halloween last fall and then roto-tilling spread them around and gave them a little jolt of life. Spencer talked me into keeping them because, he said, in the fall when most of our flowers are starting to wilt for the winter anyway, it’ll be really cool to have our own little pumpkin patch. If it weren’t for the fact that they grew so quickly and turned out to be really, freaking cool right off the bat, I might not have listened to him. But pumpkin plants, turns out, are some of the coolest plants ever, -- with their big, bright, star-shaped flowers and their twisty, winding vines that crawl up everything and spiral around whatever they can grab a hold of -- even before they ever sprout their first actual pumpkin.
So I’ve started mothering his other plants now too. The pumpkins, the tomatoes, the peppers and a few small others. But it wasn’t until Friday this week, when I actually watched my kids poke around Pop-Pop’s garden, hand-picking the food themselves that we were to take home and eat, absolutely beaming with pride and squealing with excitement over VEGETABLES! That I really warmed up to the idea of starting a garden at home. I can’t think of anything more awesome.
Damnit, how does he always do that to me?
Friday, July 15, 2011
Scarlett is always the first to stir and so we start our day nursing on the couch early in the morning. She’s only barely awake, and needs just a quick snack to help her back to sleep. I read her a few quiet pages from a short novel, while her belly fills and her eyes flutter, forecasting a heavy sleep. Silly as it sounds even as I write the words, I’m convinced it’s doing some level of good for her to be exposed to beautiful language. Even though I can’t explain it, it feels like she clings to my voice, floating on the rise and fall of my speech. Her breathing catches onto a rhythm and she’s absorbed in a dream, faraway from where we are. But if I know my girl, wherever she is in her dreams, she’s there with me.
When she wakes up for the day, she’ll have an egg yolk breakfast, scrambled and covered in cheese, with a blueberry spread over whole grain toast after nursing again. We’ll read from a stack of picture book stories her brother picks out, and you might think for a minute that the sun is shining right out of her ass, like nothing could spoil her day.
Then I’ll set her on the rug to play.
And the world will stop turning. I know this because every day it’s the same. She’ll feel my arms slip away from around her waist and she will gasp in shock and disgust as she realizes what is about to happen. She’ll look down at the carpet beneath her bottom, and then back up at me to cry. Her tears are heart wrenching and filled with blame. They’re so accusatory she might as well be throwing them at me.
Literally the only time she lets me walk away from her is when she’s ready for a nap. I can lie her in her crib, perfectly awake, walk away and she’ll fall asleep like a dream all on her own. In that way we’re very lucky I guess, but if she is awake, she fully expects that she be in my arms at all times without any exception.
“Honey, let’s play! Let’s explore!” I encourage. “It’s fun!”
“I’m right here with you. Momma’s not going anywhere, see?” I try to reason.
“Honey,” I plead, “Growing girls need to stretch their legs once in a while. Please? Will you just try?”
I rub her back and stroke her leg and playfully munch on the ticklish spot under her ears, reassuring her that I really will stay. That just because she isn’t in my arms doesn’t mean that I’m not here.
Sometimes, gathering a heartbroken lump in my throat, I take a few steps back and I stand my ground, determined to get this child to stimulate her muscles if it’s the only thing I accomplish all day. I look at her, and I tell her, like it’s not even getting to me, “Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Scarlett Rebecca. You are being ridiculous.”
She wins. I pick her up and she gathers herself, tucking her tears away with one last, indignant “Hmph!” as if the child were Vivian Leigh herself. “Good Lord,” I tell her, feigning exasperation. The side of her face falls into my shoulder, perfectly satisfied, like that’s exactly where it were meant to be, and she plays with my necklace.
And like this, we stay.
Not actually submitting into Illustration Friday this week, but I churned a little line doodle out this morning for the sake of linking my post to the topic and trying out my scanner. If I can pry myself from the pool I might do better next week, but I'm not making any promises until fall.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Now that we’ve officially reached summer, Scarlett, my littlest pipsqueak, has cycled through 4 complete seasons of baby clothes. Which means, in turn, that a whole boatload of my favorite outfits in teeny-tiny, Thumbalina sizes are now hidden away in storage where they will sit forever and ever, amen, collecting dust because I cannot bare the thought of doing anything else with them. ‘Anything else’ would require parting with them. And I cannot do that.
After all, this was what she came home from the hospital in. And this is what she wore to her first party. And this is what she wore the day that she crawled (kind of, at least) for the first time. And this outfit is just… well… LOOK AT IT. Who could part with a dear piece of baby-sentiment like this??
Like, seriously, half of our storage room is a shrine to Matthew’s old clothes. Outfits like the ones above that I just couldn’t part with. Not even to benefit other naked infants born into the family. I swore I wouldn’t do the same this time around, if only because we would literally run out of storage space in our house if I did. But more importantly, because that storage room is where my art studio will be next year when we finish renovating. Yeah, then I had a girl. And all bets were off. Plaid pleated skirts -- in PINK no less? In size negative nothing?? Forget about it.
So, I found this incredible illustrator (Heather Castles), who came up with this genius idea to chronicle all of her daughter’s stuff by making an illustrated diary of it. Genius, I tell you. So I was all over it. And here it is. The Remedy to my dilemma if you will.
I gotta say, I am in love with what a cool, little keepsake this turned out to be.
Note to Illustration Friday Police:
Okay, so I am completely copping out on this one. Don't be mad at me, okay? I started working on this a little while ago -- and since the baby is teething and I am also simultaneously working on a number of tattoo designs , I didn’t get anything up last week for Illustration Friday, (my mom even called to check that I was okay when Friday passed and I’d posted nothing) and I didn’t want to miss out on it again. But in all fairness, this is like the remedy of all remedies - if only to me, or other very OCD mothers with baby-outfit hoarding issues.
In other, semi-related news, I finally got an actual printer/scanner so that I won’t have to take terrible digital pictures of my drawings in order to get them into photoshop anymore -- which always ends up costing me tons of time doctoring in order to hide the shitty quality of the uploaded image. Spencer went out and got me the highest quality, most artist-friendly one he could find. Once I get this bad-boy up and running, I plan to put an Etsy Shop in the works.
Any ideas or advice on what kind of stuff I should put up for sale?
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
When your sister was conceived, I knew that something about our relationship was going to change, and even though I wanted badly by then to bring another baby into our family, I was not on board for that part. Not at all. I remember standing at your doorway, staring at you in the thin light while you slept, thinking that if I started to cry then it would be the first time since you were born that I’d trickled tears of anything but joy. Your dad was with me, and it’s weird how he knew exactly what I was feeling without me saying anything to him -- even looking at him. He walked up behind me and for one of the first times since my belly had started to grow with the weight of your sister, he wrapped his arms around the front of my chest instead of bringing them to my stomach. We felt like we were letting go of you, if only just a little, tiny bit by making room in our hearts for a new baby. It was the first time I ever looked over your body and felt sad. The first time I’d ever been so afraid of a change.
Making room for your sister turned out to be an even bigger job than anyone could have prepared themselves for. Even though I tried hard to ready myself for anything, I really didn’t expect she’d take quite so much effort or so much time from me, and if I’m completely honest with myself -- even so much love. Standing outside your bedroom door that night, wanting to give you a sibling was not the only thing I can remember feeling guilty for. I was also very much afraid of how impossible it seemed that this child could ever measure up to you. It was a terrible thought, I know… Not the kind of thing a good mother would worry herself with. But still, there it was, seeping into my brain every time I marveled at how amazing you were -- and my boy, that is something I have always done very, very often.
But even with Scarlett being the little firecracker that she is, consuming my heart and my time (and my patience!) tenfold what I thought I had room for, the only thing that’s changed about our relationship is that you and I have become closer than ever, ever before. Especially now. Now that she’s almost a year old and now that it’s hard for any of us to imagine that life in our family ever really existed without her.
I’m not sure if it’s because of your age or because of the fact that I’m home more or because you’ve become just a little bit competitive with your sister, but you have become - for the first real time in your life - a complete Momma’s Boy.
Lately, letting me know that I’m in your little heart has become one of your top priorities. When you aren’t already shadowing me around the house making me laugh through the day’s responsibilities, you stop right in the middle of any game you’re playing just to run to my side and give me a squeeze on the leg or the hip, even pulling me down by my hands sometimes so that you can reach one around my neck. “Momma!” you say. And just like that, you’re gone again, as if I’d just replaced you with freshly charged batteries. Sometimes, you’ll just take my hand in the middle of the grocery or on a walk around the block, and in the still of a quiet, trifling moment, you’ll kiss my knuckles. Or, if I’m just a little out of reach, pull my arm to your cheek and nuzzle against it, saying, “Momma. I love you to the moon.” Just like I’ve always said to you. You live in my arms these days, more than you ever have before. And boy, have I been reciprocating the affection like I’ve never reciprocated anything in my life…
In the past few weeks you’ve done a lot of growing, which is what’s gotten me writing this letter to you in the first place. You’ve finally -- after months of practice -- gotten the hang of propelling yourself up the sidewalk by the pedals of your bike. It’s a slow go, but we can make it around the entire block with you on that thing, crunching over the concrete, getting stuck in the deep cracks of our old sidewalk and then concentrating and pushing and groaning until you get out. Seeing you end that much of a struggle without falling into a heap of exasperation on the ground is new. You can really try, and really fail, sometimes over and over again, and still come out of a situation with something to be proud of.
One thing that Dad and I have always said we want to remember until the day that you’re grown is how terrified you used to be of the cracks in the sidewalk. There’s a spot a few houses down where the end of the neighbor’s driveway is crumbled to bits in one area, like someone might have tried to pull it up once, but gave up almost as soon as they started. The flat area is chipped away and there is not much more than a dip where the loose stones and rubble lay overtop of the broken concrete. Once when you were old enough to start walking by yourself a few dozen feet at a time, your dad and I started walking you up the block, each holding one of your little hands. Suddenly, you jolted in our grips in front of this spot, digging your heels into the ground with your whole body, terrified of being pulled onto the broken cement. It was as if you were convinced stepping onto the busted stone would send you plummeting to the center of the Earth, hundreds of thousands of feet down. Dad and I made a whole show of dancing on the rubble to show you it was safe. And it looked like you really wanted to believe us, but for months - just to be safe - you wanted us to carry you to the other side.
When I watched the front tire of your bike grip it’s way out of that same spot the other day, it was kind of like coming full circle. Once your training wheels squeaked up out of the pit too, and you knew that you were in the clear, you gave me a full-tooth grin, ear to ear. But only for a second before looking at your sister in the stroller.
“Did you see me, my girl!?” you squealed, “Did you see your big brother ride over the big rocks??” I clapped and she grabbed the sunglasses right off of your face. An obvious sign of affection, we decided. And in that wonderful, fleeting moment I realized how many things I had been wrong about when I worried about bringing a sister into your perfect little bubble of a life. Everything from how much I’d love her compared to you (a laughable concept from the perspective I’ve got now), to feeling like I was somehow taking anything away from you -- trading in some special relationship we could only have if we never had to share each other for the special relationship we’d have with a new member of the family. I had it all so backward.
Your sister has become such a part of who you are. And I have never marveled at you more.
To my son and to my daughters’ brother,
I love you ‘so big and much' all the way to the moon...