Child of mine,
Do you feel as battered by this last month as I do? I bet you are exhausted from all that growing, all the learning of new skills, all the new social understandings necessary to function in this confusing world. New places, new faces, new smells, new tastes, new sleep schedule, new independence, new perspective. New, new, new, new, new! It's making me tired just thinking about it.
I hope that you will see my honest confessions as a strength. I am a painfully honest person, and I hope you know that despite any phases or hardships we encounter in this complicated mother/daughter place - know this:
I admire you.
I respect you.
I adore you.
I support you.
In short, I love you.
In my imagination, I see you as a young mother, reading these posts, finding comfort in knowing this simple truth: We do not need to find pleasure in the daily tasks of caring for a baby in order to experience the deep joy that having a child does indeed bring.
I sat at the kitchen table last week, sobbing. I laid my head down between my arms, lost to despair and frustration. I had been trying to allow you to put yourself back to sleep without nursing, and after an hour, I gave in. I have never felt such defeat. Motherhood is such a mixed bag of emotions. One is required to trust one's own instincts, but simultaneously know that a mother's instincts are not always for the good of the child. For example, it is my maternal instinct to give you anything you want, but I know that you need to reach your own places of frustration, that I am not here to meet your every need. You are so capable already! It shocks me.
After I had that crying fit, I grabbed my journal thinking that writing would be the best soothing aid. However, I ended up sitting in the bathtub just reading previous entries. I stumbled upon several underlined phrases, the first of which was, "Parenting is guesswork at best." And it made me realize that I had been in this place before, and more importantly, I would find my way out. That I was capable too!
As we confront these personal deficiencies and subsequent resources together, I stumble into the deepest satisfaction, a satisfaction wrought with the confirmation of this decision to procreate. As you grow into the gorgeous, smart, and kind young lady I see developing before my eyes, so will I grow into the mother that you will know. I find myself ever anxious that you will find my personality distasteful to you (after all, part of being a daughter is being annoyed with one's own mother). Even if we are not a good personality match, I hope we are close.
Your father and I were discussing our long-term financial goals, and as I pondered retirement living in another country, I immediately balked because I would be too far from you and your family. I hadn't realized that I expected that we would always live in proximity. I hadn't even known this was a desire. I am a free bird, living far from home for many years now. I never understood it, but now I sympathize with my own mother. One of her strongest desires in life is to have her children all together.
As I uncovered this hidden expectation, I began to search for more expectations that might send you a message of disapproval before I have a chance to keep them in check. So I suppose I will say it now, and whisper it to you every cherished day that you live under my roof:
"Fly, little star. You are free."
Developmental Notes, for record-keeping:
You are such a good baby. This month has brought on a needy side of you, since you are experiencing frustration with your immobility, but strong desire to explore the world of toys and food (and Mom's coffee) that you are waking up to. I still suspect introversion, as you will often sit in a reverie, staring quietly at the cosmos. Even as I read you books, you sit contentedly, enjoying the fluctuations of my voice. Well, if you are not introverted, you are introspective, for sure. You are quick to laugh for the people you know, and love to be tickled. Your belly laugh is perfection.
If you get into a fit of frustration and neediness, I will often have people over. The change in pace and the new stimulation of vocal inflections and gestures (often card-playing) keeps you content for quite a while. Are you going to inherit the love of studying people from your mother, or will you be more inclined to study the stars, like your father?
In this last month, you have perfected rolling over. You are almost an independent sitter as well. You are your least cranky while sitting up, so I know you are enjoying the fresh perspective of the world. You are much more adroit, grabbing toys more skillfully. Last month, you had a very low tolerance for your jump-a-roo (what a ridiculous name), but I had a wild hair to raise the seat, and now you love it. On a good day, it will entertain you for an hour! In fact, last week, you bounced yourself to sleep in it! So funny.
You are a drooling machine, and I suspect a tooth revealing any day. Your hair has grown in a bit, and it is darker than I thought it would be. I am looking forward to putting obnoxious bows in it.
We have moved you from the infant tub to the adult tub and have increased baths to nightly. You absolutely love it, and I have to admit, I love it too. Dad will make dinner as I sit and watch you learn how to splash.
You have learned so much skill in eating solids! Depending on the consistency of the food, which I make, you have begun to learn how to keep that pesky tongue from poking the food back out. You love sweet potatoes, but so far it's a no-go on avocado, green beans, and peas - but I will keep trying! For now, we are sticking to carrots, sweet potatoes, banana, applesauce.
We are both still enjoying nursing, though you also do fine with formula when I don't have the supply or when Dad is watching you.
I have been a tad obsessed with your sleeping habits. I write everything down (just as I always have. Just in case you ever need to know how many diapers I changed in your lifetime, it will all be right there for you, kiddo. You're welcome.) Your dad and I speak constantly about how to help you. I expect a lot from you, and honestly - once I take a step back, I realize just how good of a sleeper you are. You put yourself to sleep, you love your bed, you take consistent naps at roughly the same time of day. You go to bed easily around 7pm and stay asleep until roughly 12am.
Then you are up every 3 hours. 12am. 3am. 6am. Sigh.
We are on a mission to assist you with your night wakings. You are not hungry, and you are not in pain. You are simply involving Mum in your comfort process; I nurse you and we both go right back to bed (a 10-min ordeal at most). But I don't want to perpetuate this cycle when it's not necessary. It's hard to know exactly how to proceed, as many people will give you all kinds of advice. Dad and I are thinking that having you cry it out (I am a firm believer in it, I just don't know if I have what it takes to follow through consistently) will be one of the only ways to irradiate this behavior. Maybe this is naive, I'll let you know next month.
Either way, sleep is good. We love sleep in this household. We will totally make fun of you if you chose not to fit in.
OUTINGS AND EVENTS
We went to Los Angeles this month, and you were a trooper! Not only was it your first flight, but you were sick. The trip down was hard for us both, but I managed to have the foresight to bring the sling, and it saved us! You were able to catch a few zzzs and god bless those zzzs. The flight home was a piece of cake. Note: fly in the morning. Note: ask for a seat for the baby if there is one. Note: FLY IN THE MORNING. I do not relish another flight any time soon (read: until you are able to be entertained by a screen), but overall - we survived quite well. You got to meet your other cousins and Aunt Monica and Uncle Jorge. You got to snuggle with Gpa Cliff for the first time, as well as meet your Great Grandma Ruth.
The rest of the month, you've enjoyed a regular coming and going of fine ladies, here to cheer us up with coffee, cakes, and cards. Delight! This month, we also received the amazing news that Aunt Jess is pregnant with TWINS! These twins will most likely be born right around your first bday. How fun! Instant family.
You accompanied Dad and I to my ex-boss' house for a party, which means you finally got to meet all those faces whose voices you heard throughout my pregnancy. What a team of co-workers. I already really miss them.
You also had another sleepover at Gma's house so Mom and Dad could enjoy a date night. What a great time we all had. I am telling you, it will behoove you to live by me (no pressure) if you have children (no pressure), because I cannot tell you what an immense help Dad's parents have been to my daily sanity.
Happy celebration of 7 months on this gorgeous planet, baby star.