One month old. Today. Wow…how did this day sneak up on us. My daughter is. now. one. month. old.
I’m not going to say “time flies,” because it doesn’t feel like it’s flown. I’m not going to say “it seems like forever ago that we gave birth” because that isn’t true either.
It feels like time has stood still.
It feels like we’ve been enveloped in one long “present moment” with an elusive beginning and no inclination of an end.
Our existence this last month has been unbelievably rich, unbelievably challenging, and amazing in the most unexpectedly profound ways. The difficult parts of this month have made us pay attention; the hard parts have made us dig deep. Since I hope to actually post this blog post today, I doubt I will be able to give proper credence to the vividness, depth and resplendent nature of our relationship with our little daughter, Phoebe, during the first month if her “life on the outside” of the womb.
But I will do my best to share with you a slice of my heart.
Language is not cheap. It is not inadequate. Words are amazing, powerful, beautiful things. Words are containers for our thoughts, our emotions, our experiences. Words bring us together. But do I have the words that can contain the love I have for my daughter and the deep challenges she has posed to my very concepts of existence over this past month? I have faith that I will find the words. Someday.
Someday, but not today. I do not have the adequate equipment today. I need to gather myself, to let my mind and heart spring forth with what poetry they may just as a field gives forth with what wildflowers it may each Spring. Unpredictably. In its own time.
One thing I keep coming back to is a poem I wrote. It is one of the poems I wrote while in college, and it is one of my favorites; but I had lost it until recently. I found it shortly before Phoebe was born while sorting through a stack of things to recycle, and I was bewildered. I thought it was lost. I’m so glad I’ve had it thumb-tacked to the wall this past month. It captures many aspects of how I feel about my daughter:
What could you tell me that I
could not read in your eyes?
That I could not read on
your arms; that I could not
hear in your footsteps on the beach
or your sighs as you sleep
on my couch? I need no poem
to remind me why I love you.
If you were never to speak again,
I would know the sound
of your voice, of your laugh.
You are poem enough for all the
words we never need to say, for all the
poems we will never need to read.
I never expected you to smile at me hours after you were born. What a precious gift that was. I never expected your strong little legs or your big goofy giggles.
I was prepared, mentally, for the responsibilities of parenthood; I was mentally prepared for the fact that my human frailty would make caring for another being both draining and difficult. I spent so much strength and prayer preparing for the hard parts that the joys of your tiny little existence snuck up on me and blew me away.
I am floored by your personhood. I see the balance of strength and sensitivity in your little psyche, and I rejoice to see your moments of fortitude. I am glad I am able to be here for you in your hard moments, when you are scared, when the world is too overwhelming for you. I find a special joy in your curiosity and attentiveness.
I love the way you stretch your little arms as you are waking up. When I nurse you to sleep, I love the way you will unlatch, lift your chin, and lay your head on my breast as a pillow. When you are wailing inconsolably, and I lie close to you to let you know you are not alone, I love the way your little fist will grasp my shirt and pull it close to you.
I will give you more kisses than there are stars in the night sky. Let us lay close and bask in each other’s presence. You and me and Papa make three. Or, maybe, one. Are these things really measurable? It makes no difference,. These things are. They exist. And our words exist to describe them, but will always fall short of the profound nature of existence.
You are. I am. Papa is. We love. That is all we really need to say.