Winnie is nine months old (and four days, eleven hours, twelve minutes as I type). She crawls faster than I walk most places. She can pull up on anything, including mom’s giant exercise ball, the corner of dad’s shirt, and anything precarious/unbabyproofed (most things). She makes the tiniest smacking kissy sounds and today gave her BFF Santiago a giant, slobbery, snotty smacker on the cheek.
There are a million and one things that THEY (all-caps-all-knowing-keepers-of-secrets THEY) don’t tell you about having a baby— that newborn sleep is actually the best (those little bugs sleep for like 20 hours a day!), that THEY are not kidding when THEY say that you need next to no stuff for a tiny babe, that 90% of your showers will involve playing peekaboo with the shower curtain, that you know more about your baby than all the THEYs put together, that tags are the best part of toys and dust covers are the best part of books. I can’t believe, though, that THEY didn’t tell me you get a new baby every day.
I mean, at least every day. I’ve sometimes put one baby down for a nap and gone in to a brand new one twice in one day! Three times even! The new baby is, of course, the old baby, but oh how very new she seems. Even she seems delighted by her own new-ness, as if everything she does carries an implicit “TA-DA!”.
Her infectious laughter. Her smacky kisses. The way she looks Mike straight in the eye when she says, “Da da pa pa!” and waves as he leaves in the morning. She crawl-chased a full-on walking, talking toddler into the corner at the library while growling (#banbossy?). She threw her plate of blackeyed peas in the air when she saw me walk in the door from work today— I can think of no greater greeting in the world.
Every day we try to live with a rhythm that meters our moments, and every day I am reminded that that rhythm is dynamic and ever changing. We’re observing a quiet Lenten season at home— we’ve given up eating out at restaurants for the next forty days, gathering round the table for cornbread and beans, beef stew with pearl couscous, pumpkin, clementines, and star anise. We cook seasonally, we celebrate seasonally, we try to add structure to a life that is in constant, vibrant flux, and I wonder if she’ll feel it in her bones like I do when she’s older— if the change in temperature or quality of light, the change in the texture of an apple or tomato or the saturation of the colors at the market will reference an entire vocabulary of days and hours and moments past and yet to come.
Other things are changing, too. I’m struggling with late onset post-partum depression, throwing a hazy cast on days that now graciously give us more light. I cry and worry and struggle and push, and I am lucky to know where to go, how to begin to move forward, how to ask for help. I am leaving my job, the job for which I uprooted myself from my home state, the job through which I have found out much about myself, the job that led me straight to Mike and our little family. I’m taking a step away from whom I’ve known myself to be professionally to find out who it is I can be, who I am.
We’re making sauerkraut and yogurt this week, finishing off the giant batch of oats and amaranth from last week. I’ll keep sweeping the floor and Mike will keep washing the dishes, and we’ll get dinner on the table and everyone cleaned up and between warm sheets. We’ll all cuddle and thrash about at some point in the night, and then we’ll wake up to a whole new one, again.
I can’t wait to see who she is tomorrow.