Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Save the baby.

I remember years ago a friend humorously being quoted as having said that her day, everyday, consists of making sure that "her boys don't die". I thought it so funny, I understood and respected the concept but only on a superficial level. Now I fully g r a s p the gravity, the deep dark truth of those words. Three days ago, I awoke and was amusingly surprised to see Lily happily sitting up in her crib, refreshed and bright-eyed after a good night's sleep, air conditioner remote control in hand. This morning I awoke to her happy babble and smiling face grinning at me in the dark, standing up excitedly, hands on the railing, eyes gleefully peering over. Jump, jump, jumping in place.
My daughter is mobile.
Months ago she was a skilled roller and even then I recognized that boundaries were in order; today, pillows against the console no longer do the trick. The days of her perched in full view on the bed - barricaded by pillows, entertained by animals and a shape sorter - are over. She established a game where she'd gradually climb the barrier every time I turned my back and giggled delightedly when I turned around and caught her in the act. It was our own version of Red Light Green Light. I know that when she's playing on the floor, while I prepare something in the kitchen, that three minutes of silence mean she's ventured into questionable territory. She can pull herself up, walk along side furniture, inch worm her way to toys and extension cords and enjoy a meal of postcard or board book. Often times Lily won't fold, she's on the go and is thoroughly enjoying her new found dexterity. She spent much of her afternoon nap today standing in her crib. I tried to minimize that fact by reminding myself that cows and horses sleep standing up. But the most daunting thing about all of this evolution before my very eyes is that it is time to empty the apartment. Move out the furniture, eliminate picture frames on shelves, barricade books, strap TVs to walls, pad the floors, latch the cabinets, lock the toilet, safeguard the oven, encapsulate power strips, fence the windows and on and on and on. The mission is well worth it but the endeavor is overwhelming. We have limited space as it is with a storage unit almost at capacity - what I would do for a walk in closet. One of my parenting books says that a cluttered apartment is good for a baby. It colors their world and is fodder for a curious mind - much more so than a minimalist environment.
I love that book.
But I love Lily more, and need to find that safe-happy-medium where she gets an eyeful without danger lurking. Apparently Alan said that the amount of money spent on storage could easily buy back any items you give away instead of storing. I love that man. But then how did he and I end up with an overflowing attic on 26th street? Perhaps it's time for it all to go to the curb. But that's no easy task for me, I am a sentimentalist and we both were nostalgic. So storage remains... But it's down to the details now. If he ever saw me wrapping presents on the floor he'd say "you can't leave the scissors there Sus when there's a baby" and when I'd forget something in the apartment as we were on our way out he'd dryly say "don't forget the baby Suuuus.." . Lily is impossible to forget. She is making her mark by the minute and she is precious. The innocence of babes is breathtaking and terrifying, they rely on you for everything and are far from grasping caution. That is what makes them so beautiful to watch, they embrace life without a care beyond the need of arms wrapped around them or carefully shadowing them as they explore the world. It is a unique phase, they are truly carefree. So while I worry and follow her every move, envisioning every disaster and tragedy imaginable, it is nice to know that in her eyes, everything around her represents nothing more than adventure and discovery,

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Strength in numbers.

This morning Lily and I had brunch with my support group friends from Gilda's Club. There were two other babes there and I hope Lily will know them for years, as they will understand what it feels like to know a parent through love that is present in a different way. I don't want her to ever feel alone, or self conscious of growing up under unusual circumstance - undoubtedly she will at times but if she has a bond with other kids such as these, as I do with my support group, she'll know that she is understood, that there is a place for her among others who are similarly so very special. It is oddly amusing to imagine how we all look, gathered around a long table in a diner - to the passersby, the other diners, we look like a happy, colorful group of people - perhaps connected through work - at one dinner we had, the waiter asked what the occasion was. When one in our group laughingly said something to the effect of "the death of our spouses" luckily he was able to roll with it. But it is surreal to step back from the table and to take it all in. We joke, we laugh, we cry, we confide. It is the only group with whom I can truly feel comfortable socializing - and little do the people around us know, that we are all connected by the deepest sadness - immeasurable loss, longing, despair, and the daily struggles of trying to live as productive, hopeful people again. I can joke freely with them, our sense of humor is dark - and it feels OK to laugh with them. Because I know they know how I feel underneath the surface, I know they understand the ache, I know their minds are haunted with similar memories, I know their daily hurdles mirror mine. We have dreams, we don't have dreams, we get the continuous comments. Recently someone told me, again, I needed to "move on". Ugh. A friend trivialized a routine I share with my daughter as though it were as base as taking the trash out. Recently someone complimented one of my group friends on her idea to wear her and her husband's wedding rings around her neck on a chain. The woman commented, "I can never get my husband to wear his ring - that's such a great idea". You have to laugh. It's too awful to contemplate if you don't. This world is full of people who cannot think further than "what's for dinner tonight" so introspection or heightened sensitivity of any sort is hard to come by. But we all ride the waves, and see the world with a different pair of glasses these days.

It is interesting to watch Lily develop as she doesn't need the glasses. Her thoughts are pure, she is open and loving to all that is around her. She takes it all in with no judgement, just delighted curiosity. Yesterday she gave me a round wooden circle. And later she gave me her spoon. She is beginning to grasp the idea of sharing. She has found another way to communicate. Lily is rarely still, the changing pad might as well be a hot plate, I am now struggling to change diapers as she attempts to crawl across the dresser. She was thrilled to be in a highchair next to another baby this morning, they held hands, Lily grabbed at her as they spoke with squeals. Gentle isn't part of her vocabulary yet, but it is refreshing and beautiful to see unfettered emotion, rooted only in the feeling that something, or someone, makes you happy.