If there's one thing I have trouble finding time to do, it's write. I hope that thing about a picture being worth a thousand words is right, because that'll help give a leg up. (and that goes double-triple for video)
But this baby --- sheesh, this baby. What a treat. And a challenge, of course, but ... I just love her so much. I find that when she's going to sleep for a nap, I ... I kind of miss her as she dozes off. I'm relieved, too, and I treasure that finite time (about an hour, maybe two sometimes). But if I had my way -- and surely this is a common sentiment -- I'd just spend all my time with her on my chest, wiggling this way and that way, trying increasingly to ... get a-hold of things.
She's not really a newborn anymore, I've had to concede. She's still a baby, I guess, but it seems so fleeting. It IS so fleeting. And it's time for me to make that confession that so many parents must make, at least to themselves: I don't want her to grow up. Not because I don't want her to be an adult, but just because ... I just love this little baby.
I noticed the change about two months ago, I think. Some friends were over and she was sitting at our kitchen counter on Lori's lap, while we talked. She's always been pretty simpatico (the Spanish word, I think, doesn't have quite a direct English equivalent), but on this occasion I left the conversation mentally because I noticed that -- from Lori's lap -- Libby Lee was scanning the countertop... looking for something to fuck with. It was the first time I'd noticed her not focus exclusively on the adult humans in the room.
Early on, I remember taking a comfort in the addage that: "what a baby wants and what a baby needs are the same thing." It's a great relief to uncertain parents, I think. Then when I told Dr. Palley ("she's your pal!") about a particularly vivid FIT she'd recently had, she said: "That sounds like her personality beginning to come out," with a wry half-grin. Suffice it to say: I think we're moving past the time when want and need are the same thing. For example, I'm pretty sure Libby Lee doesn't need to manhandle the serving tray of her high chair. But she sure WANTS to. (And why not? it's highly entertaining.)
It's been downhill from there of course. Today I was praising her, with exasperation, as she reached impossible distances from her Bumpo seat to snag a pepper shaker, the salt shaker, a newspaper, I don't know what else -- all while I was trying to get her to thrill to a spoonful of pulverized carrots. No. Those little fingers, they fan out, then ball up, then fan out, then ball up, reaching, reaching...
I've been thinking (fearing) that one day, I wouldn't be able to remember the time before she could talk. I know it's not here yet, but... right now we've got this wonderful world: Mama and Daddy and baby -- who can't even say "mama" though some claim she says "daddy" (or certainly "da, da, da!" all the time. I'm just not convinced that she's been referring to me. I think she's beginning to though. It makes me wonder anthropologically if "daddy" is actually an outgrowth of a natural baby inclination to say "da, da, da!"). She hoots, squeals, sings, whispers, clucks like a chicken (the best) and still sticks with the earliest of all vocalizations: a kind of low whine/grunt. But I can see where this is headed. And as much as I'll be dazzled when she starts saying "daddy" and "mama," I wish she wouldn't.
Lucy's been trying to teach her to wave. Not me. I don't want her to wave. That's the beginning of symbolic language and I know where that leads. I don't want her to crawl because I know where that leads. Nonetheless, I lay her on the changing table and look at that squirmy naked little girl and sometimes I think "you've already got all the eggs you'll ever have in your whole life. You've already got your own babies inside of you, little baby mama." And that is mind-blowing.
She will grow up. That's the goal, the point. That doesn't mean I have to go along willingly.
Increasingly, I find that I wrap my arms as far around her as I can, and squeeze as tight as I dare -- squeeze those insanely chubby shoulders with the four, yes, four creases from wrist to torso. squeeze those wrists. squeeze her around the middle. press that head and those cheeks into my chest, into the crook of my neck. And I find myself saying quietly: "you are such a special girl. you're my sweetie." And I don't know if any child will ever know -- unless it's when they become a parent -- how deep those words reach.
I guess I'm mournful in advance in some way because I can see that these are simple times and they are fleeting. All times are fleeting, I suppose. But the dazzle -- I always come back to that word -- of a baby, my own baby, is unlike anything I've ever known. I didn't get to know it with my beloved elder daughter (28), and I've wrung my hands over that plenty through the years. But the simple fact is I didn't get to do that. So I have to move on.
I'm so grateful for this opportunity.