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

Posts for ariadne grey

A Three-Year Letter to My Daughter

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Dearest Ariadne,

We sit on the front steps in the early evening. The sun is not yet set, but the blue of the sky is weakening; the light going all golden and long.

“Ari,” I say. Our toes are in fading chalk dust. You have dandelion seeds in your hair. “Are you my baby?”

You are wearing a pair of Troll panties, and nothing else – as you usually are, when we’re at home. I’m lucky to have the underwear on you at all.

“No!” you exclaim emphatically – that grin with the gap between your two front teeth that melts everybody, “I big girl!”

It is a familiar correction, these days. You know, you understand: you’re not a baby like you once were. Maybe it hurts my heart a little, to hear that even you know you’re not a baby. Mostly it makes me smile, makes me laugh on the occasions I’m not even calling you a baby, I’m calling you baby like honey, sweetheart, angel.

Can you pick up that cup, please, baby? I’ll ask, and your return is immediate, no, I big girl!

And here on our front porch, covered with chalk outlines of your little body, blobs for your two hair buns, belly-buttons and squiggly smiled added as the only details, amid our flowers that you “help” me water – you make an allowance to your answer.

“I no big girl. I little big girl.”

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That answer, I like, unreservedly. That’s exactly what you are – grown, no longer a baby. Not just talking but holding conversations, asking questions and making inferences, remembering previous answers and building on them. Not just conversing but singing, do you know the muffin man, and Old McDonald had a farm, and most touchingly, the chorus of Work Song, your favorite lullaby, when my time come around. Not just singing but reciting little rhymes, there were four in the bed and the little one said roll over, and no more monkeys jumping on the bed! Using your imagination, creating little plays for your Baby Elmo and your kitty cats and your Legos.

And yet you are little – you need help up and down steps sometimes, you need reminders to potty and we don’t always make it. You sometimes have fits just because you can’t find the words to tell us what you want fast enough, and we aren’t telepathic enough to understand you want to use two forks and one of them should be green.

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An Eleven Month Letter to My Daughter

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Dear Ariadne,

My darling, you are eleven-months old – you’re still my little baby, but you’re on the cusp of becoming a big one-year-old girl, my little toddler. Every day, it seems you are more and more a little girl, and a little tiny bit less a baby. It is, as this journey has been the entire time, both lovely and heartbreaking to watch.

At eleven months, you are a fiery little girl, full of personality. You have been particular and sensitive since the day you were born, and that hasn’t changed a bit. You want things – clothes, food, activities, comfort – to be just so, and anything less is unacceptable. I remind myself this will be a good quality to have, when you’re older, picking out dates or clothes or jobs or colleges. Right now – it’s a little exhausting. You are so sensitive, so easily touched by the people and energies, the sounds and smells around you. All I can do is grin, a little chagrined, and say, I wonder where on earth she got that from?!

Also, we have this new cute dress from the Farmer's Market.

You are very clever, finding loopholes to the boundaries Papa and I create for you, mimicking our actions and sounds, and grinning with pleasure when you succeed. You are cheerful, for the most part – I swear, I don’t know any other baby who laughs as often and with such gusto as you do. You delight in being delighted. You laugh, and then you give a little grin, a little check-in glance to Papa or me, that was funny, wasn’t it? I’M funny.

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A Nine Month Letter to My Daughter

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Dear Ariadne,

My sweet Ari Grey, you are a big girl.

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There are always these moments, in parenting, especially in the first year – these moments that hit you like a truck, slamming into you. Even though you’ve seen your child day in and day out, watched her like a hawk, observed every tiny thing she did or said or ate or tried to eat when you weren’t looking (pine needles, grass) – yet somehow, suddenly, your child seems so big. So much noticeably, exponentially bigger than even a day before. How could it happen that quickly? we ask ourselves. How can there be such a huge change, overnight?

I had that moment, last week. Every day, I drink in your babbling and your wriggling and how dirty or clean you are, how much you’ve eaten, how much you’ve slept – and still, one afternoon, sitting on your quilt with you, watching you scramble and wriggle trying to get – my cell phone, the remotes, Kitty’s bunny tail, anything you weren’t supposed to touch, I had that moment – wow, she is such a big girl, suddenly she is so much bigger and more developed, and how did this happy so quickly?

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An Eight Month Letter to My Daughter

[previously in this series…]

Dear Ariadne,

I am behind on writing and posting your eight-month letter, as I have been behind on everything this past month. Your papa and I have been late or not caught up on just about every task and project this month.

And you know what? It’s completely intentional, for once.

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I realized, in this last month, we needed to slow down. Everyone needs that reminder, once in a while. It’s so easy to get caught up in our long, long lists of things we need to accomplish, never-ending tasks that we cycle through over and over again. We get so engrossed in obligation and duty and responsibility. We are trick ponies, making our jumps and running the course, aiming to do everything as quickly and neatly as possible.

But – it’s impossible. The course is never done, our lives never stop being busy and requiring so much of us. We can push and push and push ourselves, but there’s no magical day when the laundry stops being dirty and then clean and then needing to be put away. There’s no day that we won’t need groceries or gas or to mow the lawn. It keeps coming, and the more we rush, the less we are living; the more we are becoming robotic – the more we are missing the point of living by trying so hard to cross things off our to-do lists.

To live is to feel life, is to find empty spaces in between the Must Dos, and take advantage of that space, that time. To take advantage of those empty spaces and push at our boundaries, to allow ourselves to be still in those moments and not hassle ourselves to fill them with another activity, another responsibility.

Your papa and I were caught up in that whirlwind of go-go-go, do-do-do. I (as usual) was mostly to blame as I tend to chart my success in life based on how much I’ve accomplished each day. It’s as if I need a concrete list to prove to myself that I’ve done enough, been the best person I could.

It took me a little while to realize it – but our evenings started to feel so rushed. We were in a hurry, your papa and I, and we were rushing you. I didn’t realize it until I was journaling one evening – your papa was at work, you were asleep in your bed, and I had a few minutes to sit and think and write out my thoughts.

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Humility.

I love my daughter more than anything else in this world, and I would do anything for her – and sometimes, I’ve learned, that anything I’ve promised to do is to humble myself and ask for help, to take an action I don’t necessarily want to take but become aware I need to take.

Motherhood teaches us humility in a variety of ways. Sometimes, we learn humility when we have baby puke or baby poop on our hands and clothes, and we can’t clean it off us until we take care of our child first. Sometimes, we learn humility when our child is having an epic meltdown in the grocery store and everyone is staring and we have to just patiently pass items onto the conveyor belt to get the shopping over and done with so we can get the screaming child out of there. Sometimes, we learn humility because we have a plan in place – a mothering plan, a parenting plan – and we are physically incapable of following through with it.

The last one? That’s me. That’s the lesson I’ve learned over and over again since I’ve become a mother. It’s apparently the lesson I need to learn the most, because it keeps coming back and reminding me I haven’t studied hard enough yet.

I’ve said this before – if sheer force of will were enough to get things done, I would never be behind. I would always have my ducks in a row. My spirit is always willing, but the flesh is weak. Or, perhaps more aptly – there’s just a world outside my stubborn, strong-willed self. There are other people in the equation. There are jobs and obligations and traffic and people whose priorities are not my priorities, and visa versa. I have a will, and I am determined to find a way – and the truth is, that lesson that I have to learn over and over again – is that just because I want make something happen a certain way doesn’t mean it’s going to happen that way. I can fight and fight the inevitable outcome as hard as I want – I will eventually have to humble myself and learn the lesson.

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