Happy New Year!
We had a lovely, whirlwind Christmas with my family in Connecticut and a quick trip to Long Island to spend time with Ray’s mom. Although exhausting, getting together with everyone — including our 10 kids — was perhaps the best thing about the holiday. The kids and I enjoyed a week off from school playing in the snow, trying out the new Wii from Grandpa, and ringing in the new year with neighbors.
Then yesterday, my oldest baby turned eight. How can that be? Mitzi and I cuddled in the early morning chill and watched some videos of her first days. I was more enthralled with the quiet images than she, who was eager to get to her presents. What can I say? To relive those days is stunning. Somehow in the other 364 days of the year I forget to remember what she used to be — the Not-There then There — a fat, red, just-under-9-pound bundle of sweetness that I couldn’t stop hugging.
Of course, I also recalled the labor and delivery. Like the pregnancy, that was mostly easy and pain-free. Except for the brief period of baby distress and Mommy oxygen during contracting, I was comfortable, thanks to the successful epidural (which left me numb from the waist down for many hours that long night). I remember when the doctor told me to push. I thought, “Huh? How do I do that when I can’t feel anything?” But I visualized and willed my body to do something. The doctor was encouraging, so I kept it up, and out she came (with a little help from the head-sucking Hoover device).
Mitzi was a great baby, eating well, sleeping well, developing ahead of the curve. It’s no wonder we were thrilled to expand our family sooner rather than later when just five months later we learned that Cooper was on his way. And she has continued to thrive in like form, growing well into her big feet and nearing my height a little faster than I could ever imagined, easily wearing a pair of Michelle’s hand-me-down Sketchers, but also cultivating her excitement for science, crafts and horse riding.
So we are now, with this beautiful bundle of daughter, well into her own personality and life-vision. As always, ahead of the curve, she seems to be testing the waters of pre-adolescent defiance and independence, while still craving to be cuddled, carried, and babied. The moment-to-moment fluctuations between defiance and desire make my head spin, but when the vertigo ends and I breathe, I can marvel at her very existence.
Maybe that’s what birthdays are for, to slow us down so we can remember where we started and where we’ve been, to appreciate not only the current location but also the journey we’ve taken, with all its potholes and delays, to remind us to remember, every day, what a miracle each of us really is.
And maybe that’s why we have mothers who make us watch our birth videos every year — guardians of our past and protectors of our future. Mothers delight in who we are, even before we knew it ourselves.
I doubt Mitzi has any idea about all of this — although with her precocious nature, I can’t help but wonder just what she understands — but I do know she had a great birthday, and loves, loves, loves being eight years old.
That’s enough for me.