Saturday, July 31, 2021

Letter to Our 6-month-old

Dear Zoe,

I have been waiting to meet you my entire life.  Now that you've been here for six months, I still feel like I'm just barely getting to know you.  Are you still getting to know me, too?  It's crazy to think about how you must think that I'm everything to you right now.  You came out of my body and you survive off my body.  But I still know very little about you, and this is probably how it will be for our entire relationship, because you're always changing and growing.  Just when I feel like I've figured you out, you throw me in for another loop.  I'm not sure that I can ever keep up.  It's both amazing and sort of crushing.

You're just a little baby, but you're tougher than you appear.  You've tolerated so much of my bullshit already, at such a young age.  Remember how I didn't brake the stroller and it rolled off our front steps and you fell onto your face?  And all of that blundering through breastfeeding in those early days, the awkward rocking/bouncing/pacing/shushing, the tears that dropped onto your innocent face as I held you all alone because I felt like I wasn't good enough to raise you.  You've had to deal with Mommy and Daddy's screams of horror (and sometimes elation) when we opened your diapers, our unintentional reversing of your digestion by putting you on your tummy too soon after you ate (eek!), that time you had a diaper rash because we didn't use the right butt cream, the times that I trimmed your finger flesh along with your nails (you didn't even flinch, don't worry), those awkward first baths, wiggling you into strollers/carseats/carriers/high chairs at funny angles until we got it just right... thank you for your patience!  You still look into our eyes with utter trust every time after you've cried, even when we were the cause of your frustration.  You're such a tender and innocent baby.  

You are so young and dependent on us now, but you will soon be your own person.  You have a whole life ahead of you, which is really crazy to imagine.  Already, I see you pushing away the breast, tearing off your hat, or snatching the Nose Frida out of Daddy's hand.  You will soon be annoyed because my drive to protect and nurture you will make you feel like you're being controlled.  You'll realize that we are not all-knowing, so you will test the limits and find your own answers.  It'll be so cool to see that fire ignite within you, but I know that it will also be so hard to let you go your way, especially since you have been nothing but ours up until now.  I'll miss these days of innocence, but I know that it's going to be beautiful and wonderful when you gain the insight to be able to actually question us and set yourself apart.  I'll try my best to listen with an open mind, remember to apologize, and let go willingly.  I'll try to put myself in your shoes, because I was there once, too, and it isn't easy being a kid. 

We only have a few more days left together before I go back to work.  I hope you feel that we had an overall good time together, just you and me and Daddy, before I go back to my job.  Six months is a lot compared to what others get in terms of maternity leave, but it's such a small fraction of your life.  I know you won't remember this time by the time you can talk about it, but I hope you feel safe and happy now (and forever).  It makes me sad to think that you still have no idea that everything you've been used to is going to suddenly change, and there's no way for me to really prepare you.  As a mother, a part of me feels like you're not ready, but if I'm not careful, this will become a theme for the rest of our lives.  You are ready.  You are a strong-willed, observant, and curious girl.  You, my little darling, will soon learn how to get along without us and you will discover that your world is not limited to us three.  You'll start by falling asleep without our rocking, getting nourishment without my breast, rolling over by yourself so that we cannot dictate the length of your "tummy time" anymore.  This is only the beginning of your long path forward, and we can't wait to see what's around every corner with you.  Thank you for giving us this amazing journey to be on and for the many opportunities to mess up and learn!  You are exactly what we hoped for and you always will be, no matter where life takes you and what you do.  

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