Monday, October 8, 2012

Baby Big Girl

I've learned that I'm a very visual person.  When I travel anywhere, near or far, I rely on landmarks.  When I studied for exams, I often relied on remembering what the textbook page or my flashcard looked like in order to recall a term or definition, utilizing my brain like the screen shot feature on my  iPhone.  My memories are very visual too- glimpses of life, stored like photos stacked in the shoebox of my mind.  

Perhaps it's for this reason that I'm having a really, really hard time dressing Etta each morning.  Last week, I pulled out all the 12-18 month winter clothes we saved from Tye.  Every time I see each handed-down outfit, my mind flips through those photos of Tye wearing it- who gave us the outfit, what we did each time she wore it, where we went in it, how it fit her, even packing the clothes away for Baby Girl 2.  After all, it was just one year ago, after we found out we were having another girl, that I sorted through all these clothes that Etta is now wearing.  

Partly what's causing me so much heartache is that when Tye wore these clothes, I thought she was so big.  One outfit, in particular, I remember Tye wearing one day as we shopped at Costco. (It was this one- a gift from my aunt and cousin.)  
She looked so big that day in her jeans and her coat and her little pink Converse AllStars, sitting on her own in the shopping cart.  I remember thinking she was my little buddy, like my shopping sidekick.  Now, when I see Etta wearing it, I want to cry out, No! You aren't old enough to be my little buddy! You're my little baby!!!  And my heart just aches to slow down time.  

I realize that my new perspective of age and time is also playing a role in these feelings.  When Tye was nine months old, I really did believe she was getting to be "so old" already.  After all, she was eating solid food and crawling and babbling and showing off all her play skills.  We were rounding the curve into toddlerhood.  Now, I see Etta and think she is still so young.  And compared to Tye now, at 2 1/2, she is.  But Etta is also doing all those almost-toddler things Tye was at this age. While I once thought almost-toddlerhood was quite grown up, my current perspective sees it as oh-so-young.  I'm finally understanding how parents unknowingly baby their youngest child.  It truly is unintentional.  (Well, mostly.)

And so, on a daily basis, I deal with this disconnect between my visual memories of Tye the Big Girl and Etta my Baby wearing these same clothes.  I've tied memories to these clothes, and I'm looking forward to adding more photos to the mental stock I've acquired, of course.  I'm finding myself grateful to have a family member to hand these clothes down to when we're done.  The promise of seeing my niece wearing them some day will make parting with them significantly easier.  Otherwise, I don't know how I could part with clothes that are tied to so many memories.  They feel like the link between my Baby Big Girl and what will one day, all too soon, be only memories.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

To Etta, at 9 months

Dear Etta,
Happy Nine Month birthday!  I can't help but think of pregnancy when I hear that length of time- my mommy brain automatically relates anything to gestational duration as a frame of reference, I guess.  While I am amazed that you, my baby, are already nine months old, I have such a difficult time remembering life before your birth that I have a hard time believing you've been here only nine months.  My pregnancy with you flew by in just a few blinks of an eye, but these first nine months with you out here have been so full that they feel like an even longer period of time. You're a part of our family, but also a part of us as individuals- you've shaped each of us to the extent that I wouldn't recognize myself, or Tye or Daddy, without you.

You are very aware of your surroundings these days.  As we walk down the street, you in the carrier on my chest facing me, you love to lean as far to the side as you possibly can so you can see more of the world, especially when we see dogs or people.  When we attend our weekly Music Together classes, you watch the teacher and other participants with a very serious expression on your tiny face.  You recognize people we see often, like Tye's friends' and their younger siblings, but you are also deep in the throes of stranger and separation anxiety.

In fact, I think your separation anxiety has encouraged you to pick up your crawling pace.  You can cross a room quickly now, especially if it is to reach one of us.  Your crawl is an adorable hand-hand-knee-foot, with your left leg raised to propel you as quickly as you can.  You're still doing a lot of cruising, though, and you will pull yourself up to standing on any item possible- a parent's pant legs, the decorative fireplace cover, Mico's body.  You're certainly motivated to move.

You've begun talking much more over the past month, babbling with a new range of consonants.  You babble so much that it's hard for us to know when you're intentionally speaking versus just exploring your sounds.  So far, we know we've heard Mama, and you once said "HiTye" (merged as one word) three times in a row, looking right at Tye as you stood up and saw her over the coffee table.  We know you understand what we're saying to you, because when we say certain words- like people's names- you'll look right at the subject.  Knowing you're participating in the conversations makes them that much more fun.

Nine months.  You've forever changed our lives in such a relatively short amount of time.  The emotional portion of your nine month birthday, for me, is knowing you've grown been outside of me as long as you grew inside of me.  No matter where you're growing, Etta, you'll always be my baby.  I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.




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