Monday, May 13, 2013

Baby 2, Letter 8

Dear Lily,

I've been poor about these letters.  It turns out, two babies are much harder and time consuming than one.  With one baby, I could cook, write, work, and mother with relative ease.  There was time for everything I needed to do and most of what I wanted.  This time, with you, things have been more challenging.  My job is more challenging.  We have more house, more responsibilities, infinitely more laundry, and more people needing our time - most of all you and your brother.

Thankfully, you are a delightful and delighted baby and you don't add to the fracas with frequent bouts of crying or other difficulties.  You coo and laugh and stare with fascination at your little hands and when I finally get the chance to just sit down and hold you, you burrow your little head into my neck and breathe heavily as if you've been waiting for this all day.

This year since you were born we've struggled through illnesses, surgeries, and the sudden and heartbreaking death of your grandfather, and you've only been here three months.  Your father has gotten a promotion and my job only picks up in hours and events with seemingly relentless momentum.  I am a person who likes to say "yes" and I like to live in chaos, it appears.  I over-schedule and under-sleep, and thank you, Lily, for being so kind and putting up with all of it.  Your grandmothers, aunts, and all of our friends hold you and pass you around while I make cinnamon rolls for an army or while your father and I try to entertain "just a small" dinner party of 5, 8, 12 people several times a month.

Our house is constantly littered with toys and bits of basil and sugar on the floor.  There is never a day that there isn't a lost bottle or two and a curdling cup of your brother's beloved "chocky" milk fallen behind a chair.  The basement is the laundromat and we barely pick up last week's ten loads and put them somewhere near where they belong before ten more loads magically appear and so we have just learned to treat the floor down there like its always covered in landmines, tiptoeing around to come and go and find places to run trains on the floor.

There are days I think I will lose my mind. It's all my own doing.  And the frustration with the messes and the tiredness and the always-behindness of it all rises and I curse myself for signing up for yet another volunteer effort or for choosing to nap with you instead of vacuuming the living room.

Our evenings are like a waltz, handing you from one parent to the other so someone can change over laundry or go stir the soup on the stove.  We dance around toys and shoes on the floor and leap over the Buzz Lightyear car that took up residence on the kitchen floor.  And you laugh and giggle and I know you just think, as you suck your fist and look around, that you have been given the most ridiculous family in the world.

I am growing right along with you.  As you add pounds and inches, I am evolving in different ways.  I'm learning to accept our family for what it is, for all of our faults and messes and meetings.  I'm learning to enjoy our waltz even if we trip over our feet or lack much for style and grace.  Our imperfection is our calling card, and just when I want to throw up my hands and cry or fight or demand some sort of changes, the weather gets warm the the breeze comes through the kitchen window and you sit in your bouncy chair and gurgle in your throat at me as I roll out just one more pizza crust, and I figure we're doing alright.  And I release the part of me that feels bad about the dirty kitchen floor and I forgive us all for not having done enough tummy time with you that evening, or for having let Johnny watch maybe one too many episodes of Max and Ruby before bedtime.

Because you and Johnny seem happy and healthy.  Because your dad and I love each other and even when we're annoyed or tired or sick we do our best to be supportive and understanding.  Because people are lovely to us and offer to babysit or come help me pick up the toys and organize the playroom.  Because we are, by my estimation, the luckiest family in the world.  We have you, and you are perfect.

If the morning is busy and I'm rushing to be on time to work, I still take the moment to pick out a bow for your hair.  Not because you'll wear it for more than 20 minutes before you pull it out of the baby-fine wisps atop your head, but because I have you, my girl, and I can.  Because I take stupid joy in putting matching booties on your feet and bows in your hair and knowing that it won't be long before you tell me exactly what you are willing to wear and how you're doing your hair, and that will be fine.  I'll let you have that power when the time comes.  But for now, I get to dress you and hold you and you don't care if there are toys on the floor or that I haven't washed my hair today.  You just want to look at us and talk and laugh and you still let me dress you up in ridiculous outfits and take way too many pictures of you doing just what you did yesterday.

Our life may be chaos, but you are the eye of the storm.  You are the peace in the evening when I put it all down and just fall into a chair with you in my arms and surrender.  I cannot imagine life without you, now that you're here.

All my love,