Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Charlotte!


Today you are two years old. In some ways I can hardly believe it. As much as I loathe being cautioned to enjoy this time because "they grow so fast," it really can't be denied as truth. It feels like I waited so long to have you, and the time since I brought you into this world has gone more quickly than I anticipated, despite all the warnings.

But, at the same time, it doesn't surprise me at all that you are two. You're so much a part of me now, that it's difficult to believe there was ever a time I didn't spend my days with you. Is it possible that I used to wake up to an alarm clock instead of your grumpy voice calling for me to come get you, and your massive bed head, out of your crib? Could I really have gotten coffee at Starbucks without having to set you down and let you grab your own chocolate milk before you proceed to eat half of my scone?

I really don't even know how to begin telling you how much you have enriched our lives in the last two years. Being your mother has been an incredible experience, and it has changed me into a different person. Well, I'm the same person. I'm just...better. More patient, more generous, more empathetic. I needed you to help me become this person. This person who can take it in stride when things don't go as planned. This person who cares more deeply than ever about people in need and wants to find ways to help. It was easy for me to make excuses for myself before you were here, but now even when I don't feel like it, I need to put my best face forward and be the kind of person I want you to be.

You are also teaching me to be silly. In the last day or so your imagination and capacity for creative play have EXPLODED. We hit a wall a month or so ago, and I have to admit I was getting a little weary of holding one of your stuffed animals while you commanded it to cry and be sad. You still do that, and it really boggles my mind that you are so obsessed with the emotion of sorrow. It is also less than encouraging when you tell one of your toys he is sad because he wants to go swimming in the bath, and when I ask you if he can go swimming since it would make him happy, you reply with a booming, "NO!" You're like the bully of the toy box, and I sure as hell hope you get over that soon.

Last night was the first time you really committed to pretending to be anyone other than Charlotte. You'd dabbled in it before, but would ultimately get confused and insist that you weren't Mickey or a giant or a princess; you were Charlotte. Last night you were Lightning, and I was Mater. You were Tiana, and I was Shadow Man. Today you were Jack, and Daddy was Sally. And then for the longest time, you were Daddy, and Daddy was Charlotte. You even parroted some of the things he says to you, like when you told him he could have carrot juice after you washed his cup. It has been a BLAST. You meowed your way through dinner because you were a cat. It's just beyond adorable.

Enjoying your carousel ride on your big day. You love carousels.

Your dad and I sit around and marvel at you constantly. It's such an intense experience watching you learn and develop your personality. You get sillier and smarter by the day. Yesterday at Starbucks you informed your dad that one of the tables was a circle, and the the other an oval. We hadn't even talked about shapes in weeks. Don't even get me started on your memory. It's eerie how you remember the smallest detail from, like, months ago. Somehow I get the feeling your super-strength memory will not do me many favors in the years to come. No false promises of lollipops to lure you away from playgrounds. You'll call me on it.
Showing us your birthday cupcake with "frinkles"

Digging in

We've had a lot of fun this past year. We went to Sea World, Disneyland, a Santa Barbara trip, and you and I took a trip up to Napa for your aunt's engagement party. Traveling and taking you out is easy because you are generally very well-behaved. There have been preludes of the inevitable "Terrible Twos," but right now you are mostly pleasant and a great companion. I am looking forward to more trips, days at the park, museum excursions, and hikes with you. Your dad and I are never happier than when we are out spending the day with you.
You and daddy on one of the trains at Travel Town. You also really love trains.

Sunday will be your party, which is really just dinner with both sides of the family. I asked you if you wanted a bunny cake or a Mickey cake, and I expected you to say "bunny" because you are infatuated with bunnies. If we are reading a book, and you see a bunny on one of the pages, you will interrupt me mid-sentence to say, "Hey, bunny!" But, you chose Mickey. I was going to make the cake from scratch, but it looks like it will have to come from a box since your dad and I will be out on a date for most of the day before your party. As for decorating? I bought Mickey figurines from the Disney store that I will place on top. I do hope for your sake that you turn out to be less artistically-challenged than your mother. It's quite sad, really.

I feel like there is so much more to tell you, so many more details that would give you a picture of the incredible little person that you are right now. So often I have the urge to record every move you make through pictures, video, or my writing. But, it just isn't possible. You're just too big a personality to shove into the margins of a blog post. You're sweet and caring, except when you're a tyrant. You're cuddly and affectionate, except when you can't slow down long enough for a hug, and it always has to be on your terms. You point to every picture on the page of a book, inquiring, "He says?" because you think everyone has a catch phrase. You make up nonsense words, like "Pumpsy" and use them with perfect comedic timing. When we're in a restroom or a stairwell and you think there will be an echo, you yell "DA!" at the top of your lungs. It's...embarrassing. Every time I make any kind of noise, you say, "What's wrong, Mommy?" You make me laugh. You infuriate me. You make me proud. You make me smile. I can't get enough of you.

Happy second birthday, Bunny. I love you.

You have very strong opinions about your wardrobe. Sometimes it backfires.

Love, Mommy

Monday, March 7, 2011

Coming Around

Today is the first day of one of my many new beginnings. This past month has been difficult. The miscarriage took more of a toll on me than I expected. I think because in my life everything looks good on paper, and because I can't find any tangible thing to complain about, I feel confused when I'm sad. Because intellectually, I'm happy. I have an amazing daughter. A husband so good I couldn't possibly deserve him. Wonderful family and friends. Money is tight, but then again, we can pay the bills, and I know what a big deal that is right now. I should be happy. And, most of the time, I am.

But, then there's the sadness. No matter how much I am enjoying playing with Charlotte or laughing with Chris, there is this sadness permeating my thoughts. It can strike at any time, seemingly out of nowhere. It causes me to react with bitterness and jealousy to situations I would otherwise be celebrating, like, of course, pregnancies, ultrasounds, and births.

I think more than anything else, my inability to see a post about morning sickness or view a picture of a positive pregnancy test without going to a very dark place is most troubling. The first couple weeks, I cut myself some slack. But, now that I am still finding myself terrified to turn on the computer lest I be affronted with more pregnancy news, I am starting to wonder how long this will last. I don't like this side of me. It feels...weak and immature. It made more sense before I had Charlotte, when I didn't know if I would ever be a parent, to react like this. I assumed it would be different this time around.

A few weeks ago I had a follow up appointment with my OB to make sure my body is healing properly from the miscarriage. Seeing the ultrasound machine set up in the exam room, and knowing there wasn't even the slightest bit of hope that I would see that elusive flickering heartbeat on the screen was disheartening, to say the least. But, the hardest part of that day was when I was in my private room waiting for the doctor, and I realized that the muted thumping I was hearing was a fetal heart monitor from another room. A sound that would have faded into the background had I been in that room under different circumstances, was deafening to me now. I couldn't stop hearing it, and I couldn't stop thinking about how we would never hear this baby's heartbeat. This baby was already gone from my body, not a part of me anymore. And, I just couldn't hear it. So, I covered my ears like a petulant child being scolded until I heard the doctor knock on the door.

So, it's been hard. And the sadness has been keeping me from living my life the way I normally do. I've been falling WAY behind on housework, eating too much, drinking too much, practically disappearing from social media (I know, what a tragedy,)and all but abandoning my already-neglected blog.

And that is why today is my new beginning. Maybe I'm starting to feel better, maybe I just realized enough is enough; I don't really know. But, today is the day I have decided will be the beginning of my return to normalcy. I've resolved to update my blog once a week. I would love to do more, but that just doesn't seem possible right now. Especially since I am still hoping to do some other types of writing. Today I will eat my vegetables and flaxseed and leave the cookies in the cupboard. Today I have already cleaned and done laundry, thus starting the process of getting our apartment clean again. Today I am a little better than yesterday and a lot better than I was a month ago.

This isn't the first time I've cut my losses and decided to begin again, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Here's hoping I can make it work.