As I sit down to write this post, I don’t know what I will say. I’ve been putting it off all evening; now it’s 11:55pm, and it’s time to put ruminating aside.
It’s not that I lack things to talk about. I could talk about Phoebe’s babbling, her 12 different giggles, her pottying, her almost-crawling, her endless teething (without any actual teeth, I might add). There are things I could say about myself as a 6 month old mom; struggles, insights, joys, memories. There is so much to say. There are so many small and significant things that I could say, that I could cram into a blog post in an effort to hold onto a bit of the Now.
You see…just yesterday, I was gazing at this face…this three-day-old face:
And now? Now I can hardly believe how much she’s grown. How quickly. How deeply. How beyond me.
The Now comes and goes. Each new moment unfolds in its own little envelope of seconds and skin, and I try to find moments of pause in which to take it all in. You know…before another 6 months pass, then another 6 years…before all the moments are gone.
The Now is what we have. The Now is who we are.
When Phoebe was a newborn and I was getting no sleep and I only ever nursed all the time, friends of mine gave me sage advice. They said, “Enjoy it while it lasts. It only lasts a short while, then it’s gone. And these moments are the ones you’ll think back on fondly. These are the moments that you’ll wish you could have again.” I’ve tried to take that advice to heart. These moments are precious and few. I want to be aware and present in them. I don’t want to waste my time overblogging or taking too many photos or complaining too much about hardships. I want to live and see and experience. I want to be full and present in these moments, because this is what my life is made up of. These moments are what I’ve got. And I don’t want to waste them on things that aren’t important. I want to swell and stretch within my Now.
As good parents, we believe that every little thing has a right answer. There is a right diaper, a right food, a right time. There are good schools and good clothes and better toys and the best activities. There are so many details that make up parenting that we get lost in them. Why? Because there are too many details and topics to know everything about everything in parenthood. There’s tons of stuff we all just don’t know. Plain and simple. Fact.
So, in my ignorance, I have chosen to focus my attention on knowing my daughter and growing in relationship with her. I don’t need to know what Wonder Weeks or Erik Erikson has to say about the stage my daughter is in. She’s in the stage of Phoebe. And me? I’m right there with her. Day in and day out. I parent from the gut and do my best to grow with Phoebe intimately and intuitively. I want to emulate calm confidence in the face of unrelenting ambiguity.
I hate unsolicited advice; don’t you? But you know what I love? I love soliciting good advice from other moms. Moms who have been in the trenches with their own kids. Moms who understand how simultaneously draining and fulfilling motherhood can be. No one knows everything, but we each have some tricks up our sleeves to share, some nuggets of wisdom, or spiritual and moral fortitude in times of need. Companionship and community are vitally important to me as a new mom. The people who have proven to be reliable, openhearted and engaged in my life, these people are my lifeline. And some of them I have never even met, but thanks to twitter and instagram, I meet up with them only almost daily, even when I’m stuck at home with a crying baby and no clean laundry. Thank you to the friends who have been there for me these past 6 months, those of you who I know in the flesh, as well as those of you who I have come to know online.
I always end up talking about myself in these posts. It’s not that I’m inherently narcissistic (I hope). It’s just that when I think about Phoebe and everything that has happened this last month, I can’t separate how she’s grown and changed from how she’s changed me and forced me to face my own need for growth. These moments are new for both of us.
My Dear Baby Girl,
We call you goofy, because you’re always smiling and laughing, and your glee is infectious. You have more laughs than I can count. You guffaw when we dangle you upside down by your heels. You giggle in anticipation when you see I’m about to tickle your ribs. Even when there is trouble–like when you pull my hair or bite me while nursing, and I holler out in pain–your response is to smile and wait. I don’t think you like being “not happy,” and I think you hide your worry in cheer. But your genuine joy also springs forth; when you awaken, slowly coming to, if I’m laying beside you, you suddenly pop your eyes and grin a sparkling and deep grin straight into my heart.
From what others tell me, you’re a fast learner and you’re very advanced. You potty half the time in your little plastic bjorn potty. Even at night, sometimes. You babytalk incessantly and beautifully; I particularly love your coos. You seem to understand the common phrases that I use with you. If I offer you my index fingers, you’ll grab them with your little fists and stand yourself up. You can sit by yourself. You can almost crawl, and you’re excellent at launching yourself, from a sitting position, towards any toy you want.
You are learning quickly how to be gentle; which is great; because when I nurse you and lean over you, you’ll raise your open palm and swish it gently through my hair. It is precious.
People say you look like me or you look like your Papa. Matt and me? We think you look like yourself. We think you are a perfect blend of our features, and yet uniquely your own. Here are photos of the three of us, all taken at 6 months old:
I know that you’ve been going through tough times. Life can be hard. Growing up is difficult and challenging. But you’re doing a good job. Find the pace that suits you, sweetie, and I will try to be here to support you. I’m not perfect, and I’m learning as I grow, too. But if we bear with each other, I think we can teach each other a lot.
*The photo in the leaves and the newborn photo were taken by Stacy Wagoner.
*Phoebe’s vintage dress is, in fact, vintage. I wore it when I was her age. Back in 1982/1983.