Well I had just cozied into my recliner writing hub – laptop warmly charged, crisp Pinot Grigio to the right, tv turned OFF - about to act on the First Day of Spring typing inspiration I felt bubbling from within. Lilac tinted flowers blooming in the backyard’s tired-of-winter grass, less snow flake animations on the weatherman’s forecast (notice how I wished I could have said no snow flake animations), the 7:00pm flaming sunset making it’s way around the corner of the neighbor’s cedar sided house that will eventually mean summer when it lands center through our picturesque ocean-view window. Freaking love it.
.:record scratch sound:. But you can thank my darling husband for turning tingling bubbles into jet angry rage. I leapt from my freshly burrowed hub to briefly help out with the first bathtime he’s seen in a week. That being because Lyla & I had been in Buffalo and he’d been here alone for 5 days. Alone with only take-out menus on the calendar. Alone with Lyla’s folded laundry to be put away. But no, only my hands are capable as the comment “I don’t understand why her laundry isn’t put away” painfully overflowed from his lips after I had walked off the plane 3 hours beforehand.
Goodbye Springtime inspiration post.
Hello rant on what I’ve learned about men & babies. I am woman. Hear me roar.
- Women think babies are more cute than work. Most men think babies are more work than cute. This is why women want to have 3 kids and men want to have 1. (Throwing the disclaimer of most men in there – I know some of you rare Jim Bob Duggar Super Dads exist and I applaud your enthusiasm for multiple siblings).
- Being a stay-at-home mom is like Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua collection – it will never be enough. Husbands will always think they have a one-up because we don’t receive a paycheck and aren’t bound to a boss from 8 to 5. Nope, instead we work the hardest we’ve ever endured for no monetary reward on a 6am – 8pm schedule, with a mandatory 2am conference call Monday – Sunday. Lunch is at your desk. No vacation time. Holidays observed are one Grandma’s house weekend and one friend’s bachelorette getaway that requires only Mom to leave town for. Wow, sounds like a White House intern job when you put it on paper.
- Men aren’t so keen on a baby’s schedule. Bedtime is after this pint of beer and before the latest Netflix DVD to arrive gets put in. Baby monitors – who needs ‘em?
- Women love baby’s toys as they promote motor skill development. Men love baby’s toys as a way to watch the Saturday afternoon game. But heaven forbid there are more then 2 toys on the living room rug. Then we just have a “mess”. What I call a mess is Lyla’s new trick…throwing puffs on the floor as I tirelessly try to encourage her to eat them…along with her usual sockless life.
- Men hate strollers. They’d rather carry the car seat – WHAT?! WHY?! I still don’t understand this one.
- Babies pick up on Dad’s paycheck and give all of their firsts to the male. First smile, first words, first kisses. Theory is they can already smell the stack of Dad’s proudly earned cash in his wallet that will grant them a Barbie’s Dreamhouse. Smart girl.
- If your husband comes over to refill your wine glass after a said jet-fueled rage comment, all is well with your marriage.
And you bet I just backspaced a couple of paragraphs that would definitely get me into trouble. Love you babe.
So let’s get back to the original thoughts of newborn bunnies hop hopping all over the backyard, temperatures so nice you knowingly walk out the door without your down jacket on. Take a deep breath in that crisp air – that’s beach days coming baby! Morning walks watching the birds fly back home, weather-able construction workers filling the sun-drenched afternoon with sounds of remodeled homes, sweet honey BBQ chicken sizzling on the grill you can smell from across the neighborhood.
Spring will also bring a momentous day that I have been daydreaming about since Lyla turned 1 month old – her first birthday bonanza. The balloons, the streamers, the people, the baby shoving her fingers in cake. I used to think this signified the end of the baby era. Now a big girl who’s age is referred to in years versus months. Man, I can remember like it was yesterday proudly announcing her age in weeks as we paraded around town. My little newborn peanut has grown into a whole peanut bush, sprouting her branches left and right into 26” of Jif yumminess.
But it’s much more than transitioning from 11 months to 1 year old. Much more than just a number you throw out when the cute elderly woman at the grocery store begs to know how long your special angel has been on this earth. And I love how they always use the term special angel. All of them. It’s how much this little 18-pound nugget of smiles has changed my life from year 29 to 30. I didn’t write much about the big D-day I faced in February. Frankly, it really wasn’t a big deal respectively. Just a number, right? Mostly because I didn’t feel like it was about a gray day signifying my getting older, but instead felt the year’s worth of abundant wisdom pressing down on my 30-year old shoulders that a little someone in a pink tutu sent my way. And I wore the wisdom proudly like Samantha Jones’ shoulder pads. It’s like Lyla was preparing me for the “Ok, This Is Where It Really Counts” phase of life where I can check off so many unknowingly important things as I turn 31, 34, 38.
So I’ll take this revelation and celebrate each of my birthdays as recollection for things my daughter has taught me those past 365 days. This first year I’ll sum it up into 3 lessons.
Change, Beauty, and Strength.
Change. Her first months threw change at us like we were young immigrants ascending onto a new foreign land we would now call home. Didn’t speak the language. Didn’t know the land. Just hopped off the boat and knew we had to figure it out for ourselves or we would perish. Change is funny like that – you either rise to the top by embracing it or sink to the bottom from resenting it. The phrase “well, we used to do it this way” must transform into “how can we do it now”. I didn’t expect the overwhelming amount of information to have to learn about Down syndrome, to overwhelmingly want to learn. All of a sudden the medical terms consumed me. A scholar on a mission to know everything about something I sadly, sadly, sadly only thought meant “mentally retarded” before she came out.
You could say I was like an art major suddenly changing her degree to pre-med. (But that’s the student’s parents’ dream, right?) The intimate pastel images that could be painted on canvas full of dad’s stares as he studies a babe that is his own turn into raw cardiologist appointments that have you studying terms like atrial septal defect, ventricle, and mitral valve. Or the soft, black & white photograph of a mother nursing her child while peacefully lying as the morning sun peaks through the bedroom curtains became an un-Photoshoped Le Leche Group snapshot of 8 sleep-deprived women in a circle, bare boobs poking out of nursing tanks, unflattering fluorescent hospital lights shine down upon them, hungry naked newborns screaming everywhere, and lactation consultants squeezing lady parts like a toothpaste tube. Now there’s a Pulitzer Prize. And the elegant waltz of rocking your newborn sound asleep next to their bassinet became a stiff routine of poking & prodding in order to keep her awake for a measly 1.5 ounces of breast milk. But as she slept so soundly during her first few months of life, recharging her 8lb body for an hour after tiresomely nursing for an hour, I was able to put my student hat on to learn the bold beginnings of change while she slumbered.Just as our little buddy Lucia did during her first playdate with Lyla. How precious is she?!
Each day, the beauty seeps out from within her even more. This beauty is simply, well, beautiful. More picture-perfect than any Pampers commercial could make my babyitis mind imagine. And now, I see beauty everywhere. In Lowe’s as I gaze at a married couple in their 60’s home improvement shopping as if it’s a Sunday ritual, hand in hand as if they’ve never let go. At the nail salon as a 4 year old pig-tailed girl gets a manicure for the first time and tenderly walks out the door in awe of how big girl she feels. In the Hundred Acre Wood around the corner where the deep blue ocean glistens and resonates peace from your hilltop wooden bench. Just open your eyes and the world really is a beauty queen.
Strength. The last was one for the books. I thought I had won an Oscar for my Superwoman portrayal delivering a baby 2 times the size of the hole it came out of on a bum epidural. Phshh, that was an 11-hour walk in the local dog park we love compared to our new medical world. A world full of what if’s. To let fear of the unknown consume you will succumb you to your knees. It was always so reassuring to hear kids are resilient in times of medical complications that may take adults twice as long to recover from. Young ones able to spring back into good health like it was the day before surgery. Able to recoil more quickly due to the lack of worry us adults obsess over. One day playing in their bouncer like they could jump to the moon, the next they’ve got their chest cracked open, the next week they’re eyeing the Bumbo for more action. Can you say strong? Just living in the present. See the connection? Let’s toss that s.o.b. Fear of the Unknown aside and just be fully in the moment right here, right now.Great Grandma Margaret promoting Lyla’s love for music. She was mesmerized. Tear.
Freshman year is drawing to a close and Little J has succeeded as the coolest college professor ever. Thank you Ms. Dolly for molding my naïve freshman self into a student who knows exactly what she wants now in life. You were an inspiration to direct me towards a “career” in Change & Strength Management. You are now responsible for me becoming the better person I intend to be for the rest of my birthdays.
Now where’s the beer pong table for that end of the year frat bash?!