Monday, January 25, 2010

Letter to Opal, abridged

February 21, 2010,

My dear Opal, you will be three months old tomorrow and I feel inspired to write you a letter.

You are taking your morning nap on the bed next to me right now. You love to lie on your side, wrapped like a fleece burrito in your favorite blanket with the pink dots and brown edging, the super-soft one that shows up in half the photos. Your arms are gently hugging Elie the squishy elephant-rattle (I think this helps keep your arms from flailing), and the cloud-b giraffe lets out a continuous sigh of white noise behind your head. I have never seen anything quite as perfect, except maybe for the version of you that did the very same thing yesterday.

You are growing and developing in such a miraculous, mind-stopping way. Watching you is like watching an orchid grow—the changes are seamless and fluid and only recognizable if you avert your eyes and come back. When I set you down next to a vision of yourself from one week or one month ago, your growth is unmistakable. That is one of the things I have found with parenthood; I have never paid so close attention to anything in my life. I strain my eyes to see deeper and deeper in and yet so much is still a mystery.

Anyhow, it is tempting to spend your whole nap time frolicking about in the poetry of it all, but I am sure when you are looking back on this twenty years from now, you are also going to be curious about what is (was) actually happening during this time in your life.

Oop—you just woke up. You reach out of sleep like a still-life of baby-superman, lips pursed and back arched like a frying pan. All of this happens before your eyes open like freshly resurrected oysters.

Oh, hello mom. Good morning.

Developmentally, you are doing beautifully. You are holding your head up steadily and can pretty much pull yourself up to sitting if we offer our index fingers to help. You just found your tongue yesterday and have been chewing on it like gum. You also just figured out how to make big splashes in the bathtub and seem intent to study the art of getting mommy wet with your kicking. (I love how you study things. Nothing is automatic and mindless.) You giggle and smile all the time, but make certain to make us work for the giggles so they are never taken for granted. You often take a break during nursing to examine my face with your eyes, measuring it up as if you were gathering apples in a basket with your stare. You love mirrors and can hold on to your rattle and have even been reaching for things. You have an amazing grip, the grip of a rock climber—something many people have commented on (along with the hair and those fabulous ears). I do love a lady with a good strong handshake. You are fascinated with your hands, and explore them with eye-crossing focus using your tongue and eyes, as if each finger has a different personality for you to acquaint yourself with. You don’t currently take a bottle, although we are working on it (with my milk) and you don’t particularly like to be away from daddy or me at the moment. But you love to be held by familiar people if we are close by.

And a word about Daddy. When he gets home from work he is bursting at the edges-- I have never seen a man who is so excited to come home to his ladies. I know this simple fact impacts you in positive ways that neither of us will even begin to understand until much later. Your daddy is one of the lights in your life, and you are clearly one in his, as well. The two of you together are like putting a candle between two mirrors in a dark room, it's magic and contagious. You two really do have a special and spectacular bond and I feel so fortunate that this is the case.

Mommy has learned so so much in these last three months of having you around and it is assuredly just beginning. I am learning to trust my instincts and to relax while protecting you like a mama bear but without protecting you too much. (That one is an enigma to me.) I am learning to be gentle with myself and to avoid over-explaining. I try to laugh at myself, at us, when the day consumes my attention beyond all six senses, and I am learning to let the expectations go.

A dear friend said to us before you were born:
“Before you have children, you spend your time searching for a path (to practice sanity and mindfulness). Once you have kids, the path has found you, permanently."

Truth is, I love being your mother and I want to continue to show up as a better and better version of myself. And I don’t think I would be as inspired to grow in this way if I were indeed, still on my own. I am so glad you are here, honey.


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