I realized that I haven’t written a lot about Maren lately.
She is hale and hearty, thank you. She said her first sentence last week. She ran into my room, begged me to lift her up into my bed, and after our good morning hug she looked around and said, “Where’s Daddy?”
She’s very fascinated with the parts of her body. She points to her eyes, her chin, her cheeks, her mouth, her nose, her ears, and her toes, and makes you name them all. Then she will run around the room pointing to various people’s parts and making them identify them as well. Her favorite thing to do is solemnly show people her belly button. This is like a baby-handshake, because the recipient is supposed to reciprocate. This has caused many an awkward situation among strangers and friends alike.
She also really likes to kiss. She always has, but her kisses were basically just pressing her face against yours. Now she really has the pucker and the smack sound down. She kisses everything. She sleeps with Mr. Frog or Mr. Flower, depending on her mood, and in the morning she is all kisses for them, and for us, and she wants us to kiss them and doesn’t understand me when I tell her quite plainly that Mr. Frog smells like a giant foot.
She loves Mitch and I best, but her best friend other than us, in the whole wide world, is her Grandpa Steve. Grandpa Steve is Mitch’s Dad, so Maren only sees him a few times a year, but she has started asking for him. We have some of our wedding photos hanging near our dinner table, and Maren will point to one and say, “Gan-pa.”
She used to be afraid of dogs, but she isn’t anymore…. which means she’s pretty much not afraid of anything. Which you would think is really great, only I’m married to the adult equivalent of that, and its actually quite stressful. Zero Fear = Zero Caution.
I’ve been feeling a little mushy lately about parenting. On Monday, Maren starts back at daycare full time, and it will be the first time in her entire life that she isn’t with Mitch, one of our few babysitters, or myself. When she was at daycare before, she was across the freaking hall. I could literally look up from one of my art projects and look right into her classroom.
Something I never realized when I was a kid is that our parents decisions are always about us, even when we don’t realize it. I remember being pissed when my Dad had to miss one of my musicals, because he was picking his boss up from the airport. But now I realize how important it is to have a job, to create a secure place for our children and the ability to take care of things as they arise. I hate that I have to put Maren into daycare so that Mitch and I can work. But, obviously, the alternative is that we don’t have jobs. And that doesn’t make any sense at all (at least, not for us. For other couples that are able to work it out to avoid daycare… I am so effing jealous you have no idea).
And it’s not just about work! I used to get mad at my parents when they would go out with their friends, or out with each other. I felt like we should all be together all the time. But now…. I feel so so guilty when I go out with one of my girlfriends, or schedule myself an extra long bath with a book… but I know that its so necessary. Without that time, I wouldn’t be a very good Mom. Because I would be a crazy lady. For real. The plaster in the walls would start looking appetizing, and Maren’s stuffed animals would become my best friends. Scary.
When we were on vacation, we would take the boat out on the lake with Mitch’s brother’s family and his parents. I wasn’t raised around boats or water, so the whole boat thing still kind of scares me, so putting my baby in the middle of that can be terrifying. Everyone has been very gracious to me about this. Last year, Maren hated the boat, but this year she kind of loved it. But she still wanted me to hold on to her whenever the boat was moving. I started to kind of love that– the one time of day when my toddler isn’t squirming to be let down, or trying to push me away, or collapsing into giggles because she thinks we’re playing a game. She just wanted me to hold her and keep her safe.
Now that we got through major humps 1 and 2 (having a baby, finishing school….) we’re contemplating our next move. I think that our lives six months from now will look vastly different than it looks now. In fact, when I close my eyes I can’t see anything, because everything is so up in the air.
I love being a family. I love my little baby, even though she isn’t so little anymore. There’s a selfish little Mommy part of me that wants her to always come to me when she’s scared, and always let me hold her tight and protect her. But then there’s the saner heads Mommy, who knows that at some point she will always have times when she’s scared, and she won’t always be able to come to me. Maybe she’ll be one of those ladies that I’m always jealous of, who have it all together, who just seem fearless and confident and to hell with you all.
Or maybe she’ll be like me. And when she gets scared, she’ll cling to the people she loves, and tell them, “It’s okay. The boat goes so fast, and the water is rough sometimes– but isn’t this so much fun?” Until she starts to believe it herself.