I think, just overnight, she grew. There’s more of a little girl in that face than ever before.
PAJAMAS: Hanna Andersson | HAT: My own creation, but it was all Aveline’s idea to wear it
Sometimes, it looks like this.
(Sometimes. Not today.)
It has sounded more like this, today: “Don’t put your head in the toilet.” “Why are you putting that piece of sandwich between your toes?” “Hey! Don’t eat my makeup!” “I am not a trampoline.” “Good job helping! Yay! Thank you! Wait! Was that a red dress? We’re washing whites!”
But those are just the things I’ve said.
I don’t want to drown in the sound of my own voice.
I’ve got to remember the things she’s saying, too.
I’ve got to remember the joyful shouts of “Mummy!!” whenever I reappear. The MO MOW! (more milk) and MO SEE-WOH! (more cereal) breakfast chorus. The “Oh, wow!” marvel at everything from a cookie to a piece of lint. The giggling ”Ready? GO!” shrieks followed by hugs-from-a-running-start. The “Help. Stuck!” announcement that’s she has woken up from her nap. The bouts of uncontrollable laughter. Even the endlessly dramatic “Oh, no!”, which drives me crazy sometimes.
Because, even though every day doesn’t look like that photo, every day won’t always sound like this, either.
So on days like this, I ask God to let me see the miracle in the midst of the noise. And you know what? Every time I remember to stop and ask him to see with new eyes, He always, always answers.
“You have put gladness in my heart.” -Psalm 4:7a
There’s a strange phenomenon I’ve observed since becoming a parent: the irrepressible urge to brag.
Oh no, I don’t mean pulling a quintuple-fold wallet out of one’s pocket and loudly showing the pictures to everyone within earshot. That’s to be expected. The instant one becomes a parent, one firmly believes the wrinkled child held up in that room is the best-looking, smartest baby in all of humankind’s existence. That’s normal. That’s to be expected.
It’s beautiful, actually.
But the moment a parent lays eyes on any other parent, a bizarre transformation takes place. Alongside the beautiful pride, a strange and paradoxical pride also rises up, causing the parent to believe his or her child is not only the handsomest and most gifted, but also the worst and most awfully-behaved.
Remember the Topper, a character in the Dilbert comic strip? No matter what anyone said, Topper would top it.
Well folks, when this Topper complex is observed within the parental habitat, it’s truly a weird thing to behold.
“Hi, friend! How’re you doing?”
“Oh, pretty beat. My kid didn’t sleep much last night.”
“Psh. I have thirty-eight kids and none of them slept through the night until they were twelve.”
“Oh hello, friend, where have you been lately?”
“Yeah, it’s been a while. My kid just got over chicken pox.”
“Ohreally? That’s nothing! Mine came down with an extremely rare case of TURKEY pox! It’s so rare, my doctor hadn’t even heard of it. Here, let me show you the rash. He’s still incredibly contagious. Yeah, it’s the grossest rash ever…let me just pull down his..”
“Ummm, actually, yeah, we were just leaving…”
“What a coincidence meeting you here!”
“Yeah, my kid is going through this phase where he’ll only eat bananas, so…”
“Psh, don’t talk to me about grocery shopping. You’ve got it easy. My kid only ate fin-less goldfish and square cheerios for eight years straight.”
“A cast? What happened?”
“Oh, it’s ok. My kid fell out of a tree in the backyard and broke his wrist.”
“My Bobby fell out of the Eiffel Tower and broke seventy-two out of the twenty-six bones in his foot!”
Friends, I have no answers. No tidy little explanations. Honestly, I can’t figure out if this sort of behavior stems from a superiority complex or an inferiority complex.
The bottom line, it seems, is that each parent wants others to believe his life is better — or is it worse? — than every other parent’s.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go scrape off some cheese (?) my daughter stuck to the television screen. I guess she can escape her Pack n Play now.
If little girls are made of sugar and spice, this one’s been a little more on the spicy side lately. That sparkly barrette in her hair? She used it to…
into the flat screen tv.
No, you can’t have another barrette.
Sorry, book pages are not for eating.
Neither are crayons.
Neither are the bubbles in the bath.
Cheese crackers ARE for eating.
But please don’t smash it against the white wall.
Or put it in the dryer.
Now don’t stand on the chair.
WAIT! Either the diaper or the toilet. Those are your only two options.
Oh, lordy. It’s been a long week.
I’ve been in a bit of creative slump, lately. Her nap times come and go, and the silhouettes of half-made fabric dolls stay untouched on the wooden dining table near the windows. Bits of felt and embroidery thread remain stashed in the basket, sketches with new ideas remain taped to the wall, and fabric remains uncut.
And these pages haven’t been so filled with words, not so very many words at all, because words seem just kind of flattened out and tired, these days. Nothing magical really comes from my pen.
Even us, well, we stay in the house. The thick and sticky air hugs the house and warms it beyond comfort, and clings to us when we step outside. It’s heavy, it pulls us downward and pours its moisture into us and we tire of it so quickly. There is no wind.
Inside, we turn up the music, we make forts out of pillows and sheets, we cut everything into bite size pieces, we rinse and repeat. And we drink tea.
Lots, and lots of tea.
And you know what? It’s the best, most delicious, invisible imaginary tea I’ve ever had.
Babywearing and sifting rice seed, via Creative Destination Thailand
My mom sent me this beautiful image this morning. I like it so much it’s singlehandedly going to be the entirety of this week’s Monday’s Pretty Things post. Yes, yes it is.
“I woke up this morning,
as the blues singers like to boast….
Everything seemed more life-size than usual.
Light in the shape of windows
hung on the walls next to the paintings
of birds and horses, flowers and fish.
…I closed the door to that room
and stood for a moment in the kitchen,
taking in the silvery toaster, the bowl of lemons,
and the white cat, looking as if
he had just finished his autobiography.”
-Billy Collins, from the poem “The Literary Life”
She was desperate to look outside. She pulled at the shades, tangled herself in the curtains, and whined, impatiently dancing on her tiptoes.
I understood. I understand.
I swept the curtains aside and tied the gauzy fabric into a loose knot. Tugging the braided cord downward, we watched as the slats slid upward, pouring sunshine over us.
She was instantly silent, instantly still.
She rested her fingertips on the wooden sill, the wooden sill which has seen more tenants than just us. It’s buried in coat after coat of sticky white paint, and not all of them had been evenly applied. She doesn’t notice this.
She is still, transfixed, mesmerized by what’s beyond those two panes of glass.
For a moment I feel sorry for her. She looks at the grass and barely knows it beyond something that’s labeled “Keep Off”, “Pesticides Applied mm/dd/yy”, “Clean up After Your Pet”.
But this does not trouble her. She is quiet and calm, lost in her own little world of thoughts.
In this moment, I feel that her world is much deeper than I can begin to imagine.
She places her small hand on my arm, and my precarious camera-toting, nearly-kneeling balance is lost. She pats my arm reassuringly, and looks up at me from her squatting position.
And then it hits me. That’s ok. I don’t have to be able to see clearly for it to be beautiful. I don’t have to have a perfect exposure, a perfect view.
I just have to be here — here in this quiet moment, kneeling in front of the low window with my daughter, quietly watching the trees and the sky, washed in His redemptive Grace and Peace. Here in gratitude, here in thankfulness, here in the kind of perfection that I can’t create, but can receive, with arms open wide and eyes fixed on my great and wonderful God.
My arms of full of blessings; my heart is full of peace.
“So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. … In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” -James 1:17+, the Message version
The other night, Aveline’s energy was just too much for the four walls of the house to contain. So we went for a walk at sunset.
She watched ants.
She poked them.
(P.S. Her harem/genie/HAMMERTIME! pants that I was tweeting about last week are a modification of this pattern from Pretty Bobbins. I added several inches to the legs to make them full-length pants, and extended the pattern all around to increase the size.)