There is no way to accurately state how much I love you and how every time I see you I fall in love with you all over again. Instead, here are just a few of the many things I currently live for.
The way you clear your throat (uhhh-uh) when you're bored or need attention. It's so adult of you--in fact, it sounds just like a little old man. If you are not immediately handed new toys or picked up the sound changes to full-on grunting and then crying.
The way you watch my mouth when I'm eating and then move your lips and jaw up and down, up and down, to mimic me. You are fascinated by food and I'm sure it won't be long till you're snatching what you can off mama and daddy's plates. It might even convince you to start rolling.
The way you open your mouth when I kiss you on the lips.
Your Daddy Dimples. You have a big one in your right cheek and the ghost of one in your left. You tend to smile with your mouth pulled a bit to the right, which may be why that one shows more but they are both amazing and precious and I love that they match your daddy's.
The way your eyebrows always say more than the rest of you. They are there, they are pronounced, and they are never unsure of their own meaning. You also have a bit of a unibrow, though it is still faint and I think that it's hilarious and amazing. I promise that if it's still there when you're older and more sensitive we'll do something about it, but for now it makes me smile.
Today is one of those days when I am so incredibly grateful to be able to stay at home with Penelope. Even though it's been a tough day at times (she's had a harder time eating and sleeping today and doesn't seem quite her usual self) and I've had moments of being overwhelmed with where things are at with me and with life, even with the crazy heat we're having which means I can't just throw her in the stroller and head outside, even though I haven't seen friends nearly as often as I'd planned on the past few months, even still. As nice as it would be to escape, I truly can't imagine how badly it would hurt to have to turn her over to someone else every morning. Or even some mornings. Not now, while she's still so little and every single day brings a new noise, a new look, a new smile, and yes, a new frustration.
I know this life isn't for everyone and until I was a little over half-way through my pregnancy I really thought I wanted to go back to work. The thought of two less paychecks a month plus the cost of diapers was frightening, to say the least. How could we possibly afford to enjoy anything in our quiet little life if we were constantly worried about making it month to month? Was it really worth it to sacrifice our potential sanity? Wasn't it better that our baby had parents that didn't worry so much about money? How would I ever be able to afford to look like anything other than a tired, unkempt mommy with grown out roots and holey sweatpants?
The other argument for working, and it seemed the strongest, was that my own mother had stayed home with my sister, brother, and me and I don't remember her being happy for much of my life. She homeschooled us, doing an excellent job I might add, kept the cleanest house that side of the Mississippi River, baked our bread with wheat she had ground, for Pete's sake, read out loud to us daily, crocheted, made quilts, the list goes on. But I really don't ever remember her feeling happy that I could tell. And later I found out just how depressing it was to live with a man as narcissistic and heavy-handed as my father, a man she was never brave enough to leave. I knew I wanted my children to experience happiness and be able to see their parents happy as well so the logical thing, in my mind, was to take three months off after the birth and then go back to work. I figured I could work three long days in the office and one day at home, to help with childcare costs as well as give me more time with the baby. Then I could still keep a spotless house, do all the laundry, make at least half of the week's dinners, and not miss too much of my baby's life. I was convinced I could do it all. And do it well.
And then in January I decided that the thought of anyone getting to spend as much or more time with Baby Pea in one day as I did would drive me to dreadful, dreadful acts of jealousy and my perfect little plan started unraveling. And then I sat down and figured out what we were actually using my salary for in the way of necessities versus "fun things to have and do and not have to keep track of". Let's just say that we weren't doing as much with the money as we really could have. So much of it seemed to be spent paying for lunches, work clothes, gas, car repairs brought on by the constant use, dinners out because we were both working such long hours and then sitting separately in horrendously bad rush hour traffic and to then want to cook a decent meal, much less have time to, just wasn't practical. Granted, living on one salary would still be a huge, huge change but Jeffrey had recently been given a raise and so we'd essentially be back to making what our combined salaries were when we were first married. And now we didn't have car payments so there was the diaper money.
Now, almost three months into Pea's life, I cannot even imagine going back to work. And had I chosen differently, I would be going back this week. Yes I'm sure that our bond would somehow hold but how could it continue to grow? Yes I would have already had so much more time than so many other mothers are granted but I actually have the option to stay. How could I look into her eyes and tell her that I was leaving her because mama decided she needs more stress--people that depend on her but people she doesn't love desperately reminding her that she now consistently runs late? How could I explain to her at night, when I'm finally home and trying to soothe her tired, little, mama-starved body that mama's working so hard because more than anything she needs new and better clothes, new shoes more often, to buy books instead of borrow from the library or friends, and the chance to have dinner out whenever she wants?
Of course there are things I would like to have and do and more often. But every morning Jeffrey goes and gets Penelope when she wakes, changes her, and brings her back to bed. And I get to feed her, play with her, and put her down for her nap. And then I get to do it all over again and again and still again until the end of the day. Sometimes the laundry is done and sometimes it isn't. Usually the floors are dirty and at least one of the toilets has a ring. But underneath my tiredness and frustration, and the worry about money that never really goes away, is a deep, deep happiness in my soul. And the knowledge that when the time is right I will have the option to do other work again.
But a quick warning to any and all future bosses: motherhood has a way of making your bullshit detector extra sensitive.
Posted by Annagrace at 2:45 PM
I can't remember the exact date... it must have been within the first five days of her life, or there abouts, as Jeffrey was still home... but I remember I was in the tub in the main bathroom upstairs. Oh that's right, it must have been Thursday or Friday (she was born on a Monday). I was taking a post-delivery sitz bath, sitting with my hands brushing the sides of the cool white bathtub, the hot water sharp and heavenly around my torn and agonizingly stitched up girl parts. I could see myself in the faucet, even though contorted by the shiny tube's shape I could see my shoulders and my new mother breasts, my chin and face still swollen from pregnancy and now the tiredness, my lips still full, my eyes.
And I suddenly I started sobbing. Big, almost silent whole-body sobs. I remember opening my eyes, when I finally could, and looking down at my hands, at my belly which was still getting accustomed to no longer holding something alive. I didn't deserve such happiness, such great, gut-wrenching happiness. After everything I'd lived through, the deep, deep pain, the secrets, the lies, my broken heart--my smashed-up spit on heart that will always show scars deep in its tissue. After all the things I did to make the pain disappear, even for a moment. After all my daring God and then the desperate desire for love and the ability to love in return.
And here was my body, showing, in all these stretch marks and bruises and swelling and torn tissue and the physical ache of motherhood, the proof of love.
I love you, Penelope. Even as write this my heart aches with love for you.
Posted by Annagrace at 3:06 PM
A couple nights ago I started looking back through all the photos of Penelope that we've taken, beginning at day one and working slowly up to the present. I realized that already some of the earliest memories, the tiny, precious things along with the large significant ones, are beginning to fade. And though I wish I could carry every single moment of her life with me, clear as the present, I do want to begin to write down what I can and my thoughts and emotions around them. Hopefully it's not too late already, but it's better now than never. So as I have a few minutes, around the feeding and the changing, the scattered attempts to keep the house together and have at least an occasional dinner prepared, the sprinting for the shower and the determined efforts to get out and see our friends, I will begin to put those things into writing. They won't be in any particular order, except for the order in which they come to me.
Posted by Annagrace at 2:02 PM