Zooey update: twenty two months

You give kisses now! I love that! The little pwaa! of your tiny lips. Especially when the aim is off.

You’re still sparse on words – what do you wanna say, Zooey? You can tell me… or Big Bird, we’re into Sesame Street now…

I mean, I love the faces you make – you’re speaking with your eyes, with your little button nose, with your shoving to get in the center, make sure you get yours along with the other kids.

But maybe we can both try something for the next few weeks… deep breathing, letting go, saying what we need and what we want and what we don’t want, as hard as that can be at times.

 

Zooey update: twenty one months

You’re just one of the girls, Zooey.

You’re thing now is part de-planed flight attendant, part big kid going to school – rolling around Nettles’ backpack (especially convenient because she doesn’t want to, and, um, between us – you’re being kinda used… but there’s time to work that out…).

You pick it up in the morning and hand it back as you walk into your gan… and on pickup, it’s the first thing to run and hug – although, sometimes Nettles or I get one before the bag does.

I suppose I should have seen it coming, but hair is kind of a big deal in our house these days. Your older sisters are having a ball of it (or making balls of it… who knew kids needed to be taught to brush their own hair?!) and you are right there beside them, soaking it in – from the conditioner to the braids to the headbands.

I may not be as great at providing you with the kind of entertainment I did for your oldest siblings, but you do have them around to look out for you… and make sure you get what they got… guess I did something right…

Zooey update: twenty months

Fire and doughnuts. What more do you need?

You really love Chanukah.

At first you were all, huh? What? I’m supposed to eat this? Naaah. Really? Just eat it? This? Uh… I guess… 

Oooooh, I get it.  

And you wanted so badly to light the candles yourself… which, you know, you nearly did, as much as I could push the limit on fire safety with a twenty month old…

In gan, on the playground, in a new place… you’re curious… and cautious. A combination we know well; but you have your own spin.

You’re getting involved, letting us know in your own way that this is something you want to do (or this is something you don’t want to do) and we hear you loud and clear, even if it’s not with the same words.

The last week.

This isn’t how I thought it would end.

I didn’t think the end would begin with a deep soreness, tiny stabs of pain, highlighted by stinging tears; the added torture of me trying to hold all this in and stay strong for you, to avoid the chance you’d feel unwhole, to acknowledge your instinctual longing, to turn away in the hope you wouldn’t see me holding back, and cry yourself to sleep.

I just didn’t see it coming, I didn’t know that’s how it would go.

Day by day for this last week, I held back while you went ahead. How each day, you could start a little more fresh, a little more optimistic; how you could then end each day a little more fulfilled, a bit brighter, that much more ready.

Without me.

You were slowly moving on, and I wasn’t seeing it. My time was occupied waiting for us to reunite.

Day by day, you managed; surpassed; moved on.

One week later, you are the happiest I’ve ever seen you.

Running ahead, a vision of fresh opportunity, arms open, drawn to people who are not me, people who have not nourished you with love and comfort for the last year and a half. At the other end of these last few days, you haven’t run to me in desperation, clinging to the crutch I nurtured. Now you see me and smile while you hang back, greet me brightly from a distance. Even Ruth, she said to me today – one week later – “you know, she’s just so happy. I can’t even explain why. She’s just been happy – changed.”

It’s been a week. And I never thought once in this time that this is how it ends. You, reborn. Me, at a loss.

I didn’t want to hurt you, I absorbed all the pain. And I didn’t see it coming.

And here we are. The physical pain has passed – it’s been a whole day without the break in my chest, the throbbing, the feeling of being shattered, burst open, bruised. That’s subsided and now I look up from this dark week and the tears are receding with the tide, the cracks are filled, the sores are healed; but the pain in my heart is encased in a crust that is raw and fresh and choking.

And you – you’re happy. And tonight, I hold you in my arms, your tiny head resting against my shoulder, the slow, mellow motion of your breathing against my upper chest… as I hold you like this, in the dark room, quiet and at peace… as I hold you I know you are happy. And I know I am, somehow, too. And I know this pain is about my loss and my failure to never consider it could end like this, but knowing – somewhere, between the tender bruising that is both reminder and revelation – somewhere, deep inside my chest, right behind my deflated, soft, healing breasts – baby girl, this is for the best.

Zooey update: eighteen months

It may be autumn but your steps are in full bloom. Your toddle is… toddle-y, and exactly as it should be. It’s not that you couldn’t walk or wouldn’t walk, but I think we both know you were going to go with what came easier to you as you cautiously sorted out the whole walking on two legs thing.

Meanwhile, you won’t let yourself be left behind – walking or crawling, toddling or not…

If all of them other kids get to lick the chocolate off the mixing spoon, then goddamit so do you.

I always tell people that what I’ve noticed in sibling pairs is, the friendship starts when the younger sibling is around 18 months. And sure enough, here it is. You’ve paid attention long enough – now you are playing for attention. You’re also fighting back – finally – and to be honest, I agree with you, your older siblings deserve it.

And, there is a smattering of words we hear. No! for starters. No! (that’s mine). No! (I wanted abba, not you). No! (this is my drink, get your own).

 

Zooey update: seventeen months

We’ve been waiting for you to join us, and you’re finally having your Neil Armstrong moment. One small step, Zooey, is another month until you’ll be racing after us?

Hello! Hello? Hello. Waving or saying it or pretending to talk on the phone. Mostly pretending to be talking on the phone. Talking on anything but a phone?

It’s been a pleasure obliging you this past summer, water baby. I don’t think you were ever as filled with glee as you were with a floaty device strapped on to you, bobbing along in the pool.

 

Zooey update: sixteen months

Summer, full-time

This is the first time in eight years we haven’t gone abroad to visit extended family for part of August. I feel a little bad, as you’d get a bunch of spoiling, but we did travel in May, your grandpa has come for a week, and you have been abroad three times in your little life. And what do you know? You’re happy as long as your immediate family is around.

So I brought you to work one day to say hi. There was Bamba there; there were computer cables there; you were happy.

We actually did a lot of exciting things during this time, too.

You got to finger paint.

You ate at restaurants. You started eating properly with spoons. You went swimming over and over (you love the water. Love. Water baby.) You drew on the sidewalk with chalk. You ate chalk. You sat in the waves at the beach, you watched boats at sea.

You took some more steps to keep up with it all.

Sibling love

It comes in all shapes and sizes and levels of torment. I’ve been thinking a lot about sibling love… I guess for years. As long as I’ve had siblings. Zooey, it’s all born out of something good I’m sure. The need for attention, the human requirement to be loved. Whether you get a playful kick or a not-so-playful kick in the face… it’s not you. It’s the struggle to be heard, to know one’s place, in the sibling universe.

Because for every maka there’s a spoonful of precious maadan.

For every too-tough tug, there’s a basket of laughs.

What’s next

You’re getting out there. You have a big year ahead – graduated from the comfort of your sweet loving Moroccan metapelet, you’re going to join a dozen other kids (likely more) in the nursery atmosphere of a maon. It means more language, more interactions, more experiments, more friends. We’re looking forward for you, Zooey.