Friday, October 13, 2006

Goodbye, Stay-at-home Mom! Hello, Margie

Since June 23, I have been donning the hat of "stay-at-home" mother. Today, I took that hat off and hung it next to my other discarded head coverings-- the baseball cap of a college student, the cowboy hat of a Nashvillian, and the floppy, sunbonnet of perfect wifedom.

It was a bittersweet day. I savored each adult interaction and felt invigorated the moment I stepped on GAC's campus. This past four months, I have not allowed myself to think of school, and I really have not wanted to. Emma and I have thoroughly enjoyed each other. But when I stepped on campus, the old energy returned. Suddenly, lesson plan ideas were running through my head, and I was wondering how past students were doing. I did not just don the hat of mother and wife--I was wearing the hat of teacher as well. It felt fabulous.

Yet, I missed my little angel. When it was time to pick her up, I was more than ready, and I spent the rest of the afternoon kissing her, holding her, really just devouring her.

I am glad I am starting back to school because I need this time away from Emma so that I can truly miss and appreciate her.

My hat is off to all of those mothers who stay at home with their children. You are a creative bunch of folks. If I had to do it, I could, but I am so happy for ladies like Ms. Margie who open their loving homes to little ones like Emma so that their mommies can go recharge their batteries.

Emma does not know which hats she will don just yet. As you can tell from these pictures, she is not such a big fan of wearing one at all.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Face Anyone Can Love

Adjectives that describe the three-and-a-half-month-old Emma:

1. Ecstatic-- This describes Emma's reaction when I come to get her up in the morning. She flaps her arms, smiles the biggest toothless grin, and giggles. I usually am a grump in the morning, but when I see her little face light up, I feel like the luckiest and happiest woman in the world.

2. Social-- Emma loves places in which she can engage people. During church, she tries to see how many people she can smile at and get a smile in return. The other day I took her to Babies-R-Us. She started to fuss a bit, so I decided we best check out quickly and leave. The minute we hit the check-out counter, though, she was a different child. She smiled at each person and was gleeful to be in line with all these nice, smiling people.

3. Observant-- When you are holding Emma, she is very rarely still. Her little head is constantly moving taking in all the sights around her.

4. Wiggly-- Emma adores grooving, preferably to music with heavy bass. Put her in her bouncy seat, and she goes to town, kicking up her heels and flapping her arms.

5. Musical-- The one thing that consistently quiets and calms Emma is music. She is O.K. with the run of the mill kiddie music, but she prefers something she can rock to. So far U2 seems to be her favorite, but she also likes Duran Duran and Outcast. I feel we are really going to have to monitor her Ipod (or whatever new device they have when she is a teenager) for lyrical content.

6. Happy-- This adjective might not have adequately described the two-month-old Emma(fussy or gassy may have worked), but Emma entered her third month with delight. She smiles a lot throughout the day and delights in her stuffed animals, her bee mobile, and looking at herself in the mirror.

This little girl has my heart. I never knew I would have to suck things out of her nose; clean her spit-up off my face, out of my hair, and out of my mouth; wash defecant (sp) out of curtains, sheets, clothing, carpets, the tub, and her bouncy seat (two words: Soy formula); feel her pee-pee run down my leg (diaper malfunction--kind of like the Janet Jackson clothing malfunction, but different); and I never knew I would do these things without a second thought. Me--the germ-a-phobe, the perfectionist. Every time she scoots, rolls, smiles,whines, cries, pulls my hair (something new that is oddly endearing), holds my hand--really every time she does anything--I become more and more deeply in love with her. And look at that face, who couldn't love it? Definitely not a face only a mother could love. I pray that when she is older that cute won't be the only adjective decribe her. Hopefully, others will call her Christian, kind, generous, compassionate, wise, and loving.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Emma ADORES bathtime, and I adore sharing this time with her. As Brad lowers her into the water, her face relaxes and she squnches herself into a little ball so as to increase the amount of water that is covering her body (being a rule follower I make sure there is only three inches of water in the tub as the manufacturer recommends). She then looks at me with the sweetest expression. It is a look of utter contentment.

I thought I would share a few pictures of the experience with you. The first one is of Emma in all her almost 3 month old glory. She is really beginning to show a lot of personality. And the second is from her first bath after that dreadful umbilical cord dropped off. I have about three posts in the works, but my writing mojo is just not flowing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Emma is Brilliant

Oprah (a stay-at-home mom's best friend) told me the other day that we shouldn't just offer compliments about looks to our daughters. So now I don't just tell Emma how beautiful she is (I can't help telling her she is beautiful--I hope that does not insure anorexia in her future); I also tell her how brilliant she is. And she is brilliant. Here's my proof--

1. She can say, "Hi." I know you don't believe me, but I heard it with my own ears. When I came to get her out of her crib the other day, she squealed and said, "Hi!" Brad says that she says "analogous" (he thinks she was looking at his SAT prep stuff for his ninth graders). I think he may be exaggerating a bit, though.

2. If she does not have a burp when she is in burping position, she will fling her self downward so that she is back in feeding position. She will then look up at you with a coy grin. The first time she did this it scared the bejeesus out of me. Now, however, I can recognize the brilliance of this move.

3. She can roll from front to back AND back to front. Last night, again, she scared the bejeesus out of me. While I was trying to go to sleep, I could hear her fussing a bit in her crib. Then, all of a sudden, it was silent, deathly silent. Confident that she had smothered herself in the bumper pads, I leapt from bed and ran to her room. What did I find? Little Miss Em contentedly sound asleep ON HER STOMACH!! Apparently, she had not heard of SIDS yet. I promptly told her about it and warned her not sleep on her stomach until after her first birthday. Since she is brilliant, I am sure she will take this as a lesson learned.

4. She can crawl. Of course, you have to place her face down, place your hands behind her feet, push a bit, and say, "Come on, Emma!" but it is a crawl. I promise.

5. She likes U2. Yesterday she was a bit fussy in the afternoon, so I was playing lullabies on Brad's stereo and swaying with her. I tired of the kiddy music, so I put on U2. She immediately quieted and listened intently. Between each song she would whimper, but when the music started again, she would be fine. The girl has good taste in music.

6. She leans in for kissing. If either Brad or I is being the "Kissy Monster," she will pull away after a few kisses and then coyly lean in for more. I keep using the word "coy," but it is really the only word that describes the look she has.

7. When she wants the mobile in her crib turned on, she will look at you with a smile and then look up at it expectantly. It is like she is saying (politely, of course), "Make it work, Mommy."

8. She has a toy bar on her bouncy seat that has two little handles that when you pull them down, they make a noise. She will grab hold of one, pull down, and look up at you for help in making the noise (she is not strong enough yet to do it herself).

9. When she notices that the bath water is getting to cold, she will promptly urinate in it so as to warm it up.

10. She intuitively knows when formula is too old or when it is cheap (or free). She knows the good stuff and has no time or patience for anything but the best.

And she has Brad's observant eyes ( and long and luscious eye lashes)-- Nuff' said. Isn't that a precious picture of my two loves sharing a book?

I think we have the next female president on our hands, people.

For Better or for Worse-- I'm Back!

I don't know if my writing mojo is gone now that I am on the mommy track. We will call this the "grand experiment." Am I still funny? Do I still have "important" things to say? Am I still opinionated? Can I spell any more (not that I was really all that great at it before)? Can I put words together that formulate a sentence that makes a lick of sense? To keep you coming back, I promise to pepper my faulty prose with cute pictures of Miss Emma. I have entitled the one to the left "Daddy's Girl." Look at that face!

I came a bit late to this motherhood business. Not super late. I'm not like that French woman who had that baby at 60-something (she was, however, my role model for a while). Just late enough that my mother said, "It's about time," when I told her Brad and I were expecting. To be truthful, I was scared of motherhood. I was scared that somehow as the baby was pushed out of my body, so would my identity, my soul--that all of the other aspects of me would disappear and I would become a MOTHER. Plus, it seems that I have heard a lot of bad pregnancy, bad birth, and bad early baby years' stories.

I approached motherhood like I approach most new aspects of my life--I feverishly, from the moment the dipstick sported a plus sign, began reading and studying about birth and motherhood. The last month of my pregnancy my "nesting instinct" did not encourage me to clean the house from top to bottom. It encouraged me to clandestinely watch every show about birth and child rearing on the Discovery Channel and TLC. ("Clandestinely" because Brad was horrified when he came in to the family room to catch me watching "The Baby Without a Face.") Because of my research, I was prepared for every grisly event that might happen. I was ready to have a baby with birth defects, to have my body ripped apart, to have a baby who never slept, to hate my husband, to hate my life, to be so tired my eyes bled, to be overwhelmed-- you get the picture.

What I was not prepared for, however, was the joy. I guess it makes sense that motherhood is joyful--I mean, why would people do it multiple times if it were not? But I wasn't prepared for how I felt when I held Emma for the first time, how I felt when I brought her into our house, how I felt the first time I sang to her as I rocked her, how I felt when she truly smiled at me for the first time. Sure, it's scary being a parent (each time she coughs, I am sure she has Tuberculosis), but the joy, the pure joy--Wow!!

I truly did not care that first month whether I would ever sleep again; as long as I had my baby in my arms, I felt strangely complete and at ease. I don't really remember feeling tired; I was exhilarated. She was just so beautiful (and she still is). I could stare contently at her for hours, and I did (and do). Of course, with the second month came the tiredness, but for me, that first month was blissful. I adored her, and she seemed to adore me. I jumped into this motherhood business, and instead of feeling constrained, I felt complete-- like a part of me that wasn't there before was now there.