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“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

Posts for Ariadne’s Second Year Category

A Two Year Letter to My Daughter

[previously in this series…]

Two years seems like such a short amount of time. It feels such an eternity, Ariadne, that we’ve had you with us. It’s hard to remember what life was like before you came along – I know your papa and I had many long years together, before you,  and that two years is only a drop in the hat of time we are all going to have together. But I have to keep pinching myself, thinking, has it been two years since my little baby was born, already? And then in the next moment, has it only been two years? Hasn’t it been a century of our little family, together?

A year ago, back when I was filled with New Mom Woe at the idea of my little baby turning a year old, not so baby anymore, growing, grown, practically a teenager already, college on the horizon – your aunties Emi and Lizzie told me, oh, but that one-year old age is such a fun age. It’s so great. They’re like little monkeys, they can play and explore but they still need mama, they’re still babies.

At the time, I didn’t believe them, or I didn’t want to believe them. I knew every age with you would be precious, unique in its own ways – but that baby stage is so magical. It’s so hard to let go of. It’s why we keep having babies, to try and reclaim that sweetness and that innocence and that magic, just one more time. I didn’t believe toddlerhood could be as magical as babydom – but it has been. Emi and Lizzie, of course, have been so right. One-into-two years old has been such a blessing and a joy with you, my darling.

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You are my little monkey girl, my little angel babe, my faerie mae. You are my goblin child, you are all sweetness and light. You are absolutely my bestest best friend, and I delight in our time together. Since you were born, you have given me this drive – this personal urging to be better and do better, and lately, that driven has manifested itself as a pull to be present. To see the world with wonder, as your eyes do – or to at least be open to it. To be as delighted watching Coco for the fortieth time, like you are – even if, from my perspective, I’m just delighted to be holding your plump little body, warm and fresh from the bath, your candy floss, baby-bird-wing-soft blonde hair still damp and drying in long strands down your back.

Thank you for all you have taught me, in the past two years. Thank you for reminding me that the Now is where we are meant to live, and not in the regrets of the Past, and not in the worries of the Future. Thank you for reminding me to slow down, that having a routine is good — but it’s not necessary to force ourselves to stick so strictly to a schedule. Thank you for refreshing my world view — for reminding me how magical it is to see new things. Thank you for helping me appreciate the sky and choo-choo trains and the feel of grass under our feet and the wind in our hair. Thank you for making me see lovely things about my own self — because I see the same things and admire them in you. Thank you for teaching me to love myself radically, even when that seems like the absolute hardest thing to do — because I want you to grow up loving yourself, and never be plagued with the self-doubt and body hate that troubles me and so many of my lady friends. Thank you for making me strong — thank you for being the reason I’m learning to make harder decisions, push to create boundaries or change situations. Thank you for being the reason I am trying to learn to be a fighter — so I can stand up for you, for us, for anyone vulnerable — and teach you to do the same. Thank you, above all, for the sweet love you bring to my daily life — thank you for the kisses, and the way you grasp my shirt like you cannot be parted from me, the way you light up and do a little dance-dance when you see me for the first time after a long time away. Thank you for needing me — at least right now, at this young age — as desperately as I need you. Thank you for the healing you have brought me, thank you for the peace I feel in my soul when I hold you in those quiet evenings.

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An 18-Month Letter to My Daughter

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[previously in this series…]

Dear Ariadne,

I told myself I wouldn’t have to write another letter to you until your second birthday. That seemed like a relief, at first—sometimes I am amazed at myself, managing to write a letter each month of your first year. I’m glad I did, it was worth the effort – already, once or twice, I have enjoyed going back and rereading, reminding myself what life with you was like at two months, at six, at nine. You have changed so quickly, the weeks and months fly by – and it’s nice to remember days when we just cuddled, or you sat still(!!) in my lap. But still – finding the time each month was difficult, making the effort to pull together words and phrases that remotely captured what it’s like to be your mom. I felt relieved to think I’d cut it down to once a year, a letter for each birthday.

And here we are – I’m writing you an 18 month, year-and-a-half letter.

I can’t help it! You, my darling Ari, are too fun and too silly and too loving and too precious not to take a few minutes to try and capture what life with you is like, right now. You’ve changed so much from 12 months, a year old – already, only 6 months later, I look at pictures of you from your first birthday, and think, she’s so little, her hair is so short compared to now, she’s changed so much, already!

I think I had feared, like most first-time moms, that moving out of that baby stage and into the toddler phase would mean losing some of the specialness of our bond. Having a baby is so soft and sweet and lovely – sure, messy as well, sleepless often, stressful, definitely – but cuddling your baby, knowing you the mama are the thing a baby needs most – it makes mamas feel so special and so unique and so needed, so necessary. The older you get, the more superfluous I will become, it seemed like – the less you will physically need me, maybe the less you might need me, period. It’s a silly worry, I know – I am thirty-nearly-thirty-one years old, and I still need my mama, all the time. But you are so precious to me, I always want to be your best friend.

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But happily – so happily – this second year has begun so wonderfully, and has been just as fulfilling, emotionally and spiritually, as your first. Friends had told me one-year-olds are a delightful mix of baby and child, and it’s so true. You have your toddler moments, sure, you’ve learned to arch your back and go limp everywhere except your kicking little feet, you whine when you don’t immediately get your way – but for the most part, you are such a happy, joyful little girl. Every day with you is so entertaining and funny and tender and sweet.

At 18 months, you are brimming with personality. You’ve learned people think you’re funny, or cute, and you like to ham it up. You give Sylvie Ann so many kisses, and then grin at the adults. See how sweet I am? You have this bashful little grin, and you duck your head into my shoulder if I’m holding you, or press yourself into my legs if you’re standing near me. Shy, sometimes – but so sweet when you are. And among friends, family – you are a firecracker. You crawl in your little shark tent at Marmee’s and hide, and shriek when you’re spotted. You chase Ziggy and Kitty and Alice Kitty and Big Kitty Boi, out of an earnest desire to love them, pet them, play with them! You’ve followed Alice and Big Kitty Boi all over Marmee’s yard, chirruping and singing to them, trying to get close enough to touch.

Friday.

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The Stomach Flu.

Just held her sleeping a while today, and it was nice.

The stomach flu is the great equalizer. It sends shivers of fear into the hearts of even the strongest among us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student with midterms looming or a mom of two under two or a marketing manager at a big firm – if you hear someone’s got the stomach bug, it’s an instant retreat. Hide away. Get out the Lysol, blast the Thieves oil in the diffuser. Breathe artificial air until the stomach bug has run its course and the germs are far, far away from you.

No one wants the stomach flu. You hear someone you know has the stomach flu, and suddenly, you’re calculating how many days it’s been since you last had contact with that person, or their household. Did you hug? Did you take a sip of their latte? Did you exchange big, sloppy kisses with their two-year old? Every interaction is cataloging and weighed for likelihood that you, poor fool, will be next to feel your gut bubbling and simmering in that horrible, pre-puke way.

I don’t remember the last time I personally had the stomach flu, and that’s just fine with me. I am completely, 100% aware that writing this down is inviting the Universe to shower the stomach flu on me personally, as I have just mentioned how I  am probably overdue to kneel before the porcelin throne and puke my guts up. I’ll keep you posted.

But my sweet baby girl had the stomach flu last night, and Lord, the only thing worse than having the stomach yourself is seeing your child have it. Spouse with stomach flu? Regrettable, sure. Shaun had the stomach flu back in late February, and I felt bad for him – bought him saltines and Gatorade and told him how sorry I was over and over again – but I also put him in quarantine at the other end of the house, entered and exited the room he was in with a cloud of Lysol before and after me, to make sure no one else got it.

But my Ari, sick? That was bleak. We didn’t know what was up, we didn’t suspect – Shaun headed off for his weekly lithography time at Brokenstone, I had decided Ari and I would stay home that night to try and prevent her from dipping her hands into ink and mineral spirits like she’s tried to do the last few times we went to the studio. And thank God we stayed home. I put some music on the computer, Ari wanted to snuggle up in my lap, not wholly unusual for the first hour after I’m home from work. She’s so clingy in that first hour, since I’ve been gone all day and she wants to make sure I stay within her grasp once I’m home, so I don’t disappear again. But then – she laid her little head on my chest, and we just relaxed for a few, long moments. This is nice, I thought, I never get cuddles like this anymore. Gonna soak it up.

Then – her little head reared back – I heard her make a choking noise – she’s had a runny nose for weeks now, all part of the allergies-turned croup-turned tonsillitis-turned ear infection-turned eye infection she’s been battling for weeks – I thought she was working through some snot – but no – the vomit. Ohhh, boy, the vomit.

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