Zooey update: Two years

You’ve been watching us for two years, and now you’re coming out… lessons in dolls, headbands, jewelry… lessons in ‘enough!’ and hitting back… lessons in climbing to the top bunk… lessons in dogs and cats and preemptive barking… lessons in wanting to do it all, by yourself… and teaching us to never underestimate you, and also how to eat with table manners (thanks, nursery?).

Happy 2, Beanie.

Zooey update: twenty three months

There’s that point after the baby turns into a toddler and the toddler gets even a bit more toddlery that they are so delicious you could just eat them. And even if I haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of what is bothering you yet… I feel tension in you, Zooey… so while I’m busy trying to gobble you up daily, I’m also wondering what is the source and how it’s probably my fault. But you are growing out of a shell, or a cocoon, because every day you are finding new things to touch and watch and wonder at. So keep at it Zooey and I’ll keep eating you and we’ll sort it out.

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).