And all of a sudden my little baby is a little girl – a running, jumping, giggling, talking little girl, who will bring you a book, turn around, sit in your lap, and demand to be read to. A little girl who will hold your hand while she walks; not because she needs you, but because sometimes she likes to know you’re there (and sometimes she wants you to walk faster). A little girl with her first molar.* A little girl who says “roar” like a lion, “moo” like a cow, and “ah ah ah” like a monkey, who can say “at” for cat and “ba” for bird (specifically, parrots. Girlfriend loves parrots) and “duck” for duck (well, how else would you say duck?) and still slays us with the “Mama” and the “Dada.” A little girl who will give me a kiss on demand before I leave for work in the morning; who is sweet and affectionate and hilarious and who gives the world’s best hugs.
I don’t write here often because I’m not home much, and when I am home I’m trying to spend every second I can focused on Molly and Lee (and the cats. Our poor, poor neglected cats) but this blog is a space to talk about our family, and I will say this: this year was full of joy, yes, but it also housed a lot of pain. The postpartum year is not only difficult because of the new human you’re responsible for keeping alive, but because you have to do so while your body and hormones are stabilizing (and by stabilizing I mean spinning out of control). So there is stress, and there’s not the same ability to handle the stress (hormones, you beastly, beastly things), and then on top of the stress and the hormones, there was a family tragedy, and then Ulisses had to leave, and honestly, there were several times this year that I felt like I was drowning; like I couldn’t quite pick my head up above water to get enough air into my lungs; like it was only a matter of time before I got caught in the undertow and lost myself forever. These were the times when I looked at Lee with tears in my eyes and said, over and over, I’m just really overwhelmed and I don’t know how to get better. These were the times when Kristin picked up her phone and all I could do was wail; when she had to remind me to breathe because she had just been through the first year with Connor and it really does get better. These were the times when Bibi pulled me aside and said that I needed to reach out to her, and if not to her than to someone, when it got too bad, because she could read on my face how badly I was struggling.
The truth is, you lose a part of yourself when you become a parent. To love someone the way I love Molly – the all-consuming, overwhelming way that parents love their children – to put that energy into a human being that you grew inside of you, it’s just not possible to love so big without giving up a part of yourself. Even the thought of her hurting is enough to shatter me absolutely, so that when I even think of her in pain, or scared, or lonesome, my bones start to ache. The power behind that emotion has caused a shift in me – an uncomfortable, awkward shift. I’ve lost the part of myself that was able to compartmentalize, to push aside, to focus on myself only and not worry about anyone else. It’s been a hard, complicated year, and I need to write this down, here, to remember, because it hasn’t been easy. But. That picture at the top of the post is our family. Our family of two imperfect, complicated, brilliant, amazing, strong adults and one fiercely loveable little girl – and that joy captured in that family picture – that light – that glow – that has made it all worthwhile.
*They said we wouldn’t really know teething until the molars came in. They were right…teething is the worst.