You have lashes that go on and on with those always surprised eyebrows. You have less and less hair than the day you were born which seems a little unfair, a balding little girl. Of course at seven months old today, you do not mind at all.You are otherwise occupied with trying to sit up without falling over and learning how to belly crawl across the hardwoods.
You don’t like to do your own thing for long. You mostly fight the exersaucer or walker unless your brothers are hopping and dancing and running around you, very close to entertain you. You love to be held and you grab on like a koala, long arms and legs wrapped tight to waist and neck.
Sometimes I just say right out loud, I have a daughter because I will always be surprised by it. Like your eyes with their eyebrows, full of wonder and delight.
You have this toy that dangles on your car seat and for the longest time now, you fall asleep grasping it, your little fingers holding on tight like the minivan is a roller coaster.
We weren’t going to give you a snuggly blanket like your brothers have because it seems we’re always looking for one of those things and not finding it until past bedtime, inside a lunch box or some such thing. But we did and right away you started nuzzling right to sleep because of it. I love that.
We tried putting you to sleep on your own because I could kind of remember it from the baby books before Miles came, years back now. Put the baby in the crib, sleepy but still awake. I guess we just didn’t try that hard and I don’t really mind even when I mind because I’m exhausted. I mean, I really do love rocking you. For a while that crib thing worked. You would just drift off to sleep but then you got wise to that and the jig was up or something.
You baby giggle in the face of my expectations and you do things your own way, in your time. Every month you prove it’s true that you’ll grow out of the things we think you never will, sometimes really fast and sometimes not. These things just have a way of working themselves out.
You are not only new because you’re a baby and our first and only girl. You are new because you’re third and this whole third thing has thrown me for more of a loop than I like to admit. It’s hard. Stunningly hard. It’s not just that you’ve had your tummy troubles and crying and all of that–it’s not at all your fault. It just is. And a lot of the time it’s why I cry every single time you koala hug me, when I can most feel the way your life is refining mine and how could I not cry over that? So I squeeze you back and have only lived that moment, right then.
I thought I’d learned so much, you know? Especially in the last couple of years, about letting go and being grateful and working for peace. Acceptance. Sobriety and the fight for it has been a seed for my life, to grow me up and you are water and water and more water. I see so clearly now how little I know, how far I have to go, and it is painful and arduous and the best thing that could have happened to me.
Lately I start to think too much about how BIG this job is, being the mother of the three of you, and I start to get ahead of myself and I’m so overwhelmed. Then you demand that I stay in the day. I have no choice and that’s just what I need.
EJ, your mother is a control freak and a perfectionist underneath all my pretending that I’m not. Forgive me now and thank you. Thank you for sweeping me off my firmly planted stubborn feet and turning me upside down and inside out. I will not hide in a bottle but I know I have a tendency to keep running from true vulnerability and I’ve never seen that more clearly. It’s like you came with an agenda to kill that in me, to teach me more fully to allow this breathtaking love for my children to not smother me, but to force me to untie the knots of my most deeply rooted weeds.
So at night, in the moments when I’m lying awake with the expectation of your next cry, as ugly as my heart can sometimes feel, it is not. It is simply right out in the open and wounded and healing. It is always waiting for you and for your brothers, my teachers.
There are so many things I want to say about you and to you and the littlest joys come to mind. You still have that little pointed tongue out so much of the time and it’s just one of the thousands of things I’m going to miss about Elsie Jane, age 7 months. You will slip into Elsie Jane, 8 and 9 months, and you will turn years older and I’m going to miss every one of you, just as I miss the different people your brothers once were. Then I’ll have trouble remembering and that astounds me every day.
I am so grateful that I am the one who gets to keep meeting the next person that you are
from my front row seat
day in and day out
while we both
keep saying goodbye
to our old selves.