Monday, March 19, 2012

No more milk for you!

We threw Samaya a weaning party...3 months ago. Hey, at least it's getting mentioned at all. Just because I didn't blog about it, doesn't mean it wasn't a monumental milestone in our lives. It was. It just means I had two babies within 20 months of each other. Both of whom are as strong-willed as their father. 

Oh, ok. And their mother.  

Which is also why we had no idea how this whole weaning thing would blow over. This is a child who does things on her own terms. She needs to walk around something a few times until she is familiar with the space it occupies in the world. Once she has memorized the way the light falls on it from each angle, she might be willing to embrace it. After the first few ear-piercing visits to the doctor, we finally picked up on this. We scheduled her second annual check-up two months in advance and spent literally every day immersed in doctor dialogue, role plays, doctor kits, and doctor-themed bedtime stories. By the time of the appointment, she was tentative but mostly willing. 

I did the same with the weaning. I decided that December 12th, her half birthday, was going to be the big day. In theory, I would have let her self-wean on her own terms. After all, breastfeeding is really more hers than mine. But in reality, I was done. Strung out. At my outer-most limits. I had been nursing for 2 1/2 years, nursing two for ten months. We had returned from our trip to Ethiopia in September, and for the entire month of November I had bout after horrible bout of mastitis. It was an amazing trip, but it was also the most stressful two weeks of my entire life, and my body was letting me know it. The plane rides alone were something I cannot even let my mind return to. 

So making it to December was going to be an accomplishment. Every time she nursed (only at nap and bedtime), I would tell her that pretty soon she was going to be a big girl and she wouldn't need milk anymore. Her body would be getting everything it needed from healthy foods and, instead of milk at night, we would end our day together sipping tea. And of course, we talked about the party. By Samaya standards, this was to be quite a to-do because there would be ice cream involved. Not just any ice cream, but PINK ice cream. In 'ICE COMBS.' By Mama standards, it was simple and sweet. I found two lovely tea cups and saucers at the thrift store, made dinner and strawberry coconut ice cream, and invited our good friends over. 

It was perfect. We ate yummy food (I can't remember now? pizza?), played, then Samaya and her friend Mora each blew out a candle after a smashing rendition of, 'No more milk for're a big girl now.' The ice cream cones were brought out and Samaya savored her little piece of heaven (and the rest of Mora's too). Then we brought out her 'big girl' gift, which was really just a doll house that she hadn't played with in a long while and had been in our basement.

After our friends went home, we made chamomile tea in our new cups, the pouring of the milk being the real highlight. It must be said that what happened for the next 20 minutes will always be one of my most cherished mothering moments. It was perfectly ordinary. We talked about our day, we listened to each other. But it was one of those rare moments in which I was completely and totally focused on the beautiful little girl in front of me. I wasn't thinking of the million things that needed to get done as soon as she went to sleep. I wasn't thinking of one of the endless daily tasks involved in caring for young children.  Instead, I was wrapped up, enveloped, immersed in this beautiful little person who I am privileged to spend my days with. 

And you know what? It was delightful. SHE is delightful.

Amazingly enough, she casually asked for milk the next few nights, but you could tell her heart wasn't in it. If it had been apparent that she just wasn't ready, then I was prepared to pick a new end date. But it turned out we both felt it was time. And I am so very grateful.    

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ayyam-i-Ha Highlights


Service: picking up trash in the park

The 'dance of jubilation' (from Maggie Celebrates Ayyam-i-Ha)

 Children's party at Green Acre

Mama-made quilts

New stroller 

Green Acre family party

Family celebration

First ever bubble bath with new bubbles (I know. deprived child.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dear Violet

It's hard to believe you're 1 year old already. Such a sneaky birthday really. I know because I've done this before. One moment you're a baby, and the next your scaling playground equipment and saying cranberry. Granted, we found out about you right after Samaya turned 1 and so she immediately got put into the big sister category and left babyhood in the dust. Don't feel guilty- she was VERY relieved to do so. Once you can say 'cranberry' you don't really have much use for babyhood anymore.

So, my sweet girl. Who are you right now? You can be fierce and fiery. You have a temper like NONE other. If Samaya so much as walks in your general direction while you're playing with something, you bellow ominously. If she takes what is yours...dear God. In fact, God is also my witness to a stream of daily tantrums, including but not limited to: diaper changes, putting your coat on, not being read to, getting buckled into anything (except the high chair-you've recently decided food is AWESOME), not being picked up, not being put down, and not wanting to be carried in the ergo.

The thing is, no one believes me. In public, you are an angel. You say 'hi' to perfect strangers and will go with anyone who offers to pick you up and show you around or to read you a book.

You love books. LOVE them. If there is an available lap on the floor, you will back that booty up so fast and park it for as long as the reader is willing. I love this about you, I really do. I will love it more when you can read Brown Bear, Brown Bear to yourself.

You love animals too. You point out every bird on every walk (signing 'bird' and calling 'AH, AH') and stand at our living room window watching the squirrels. You spot dogs before anyone else. Any animal you can't readily identify is a fish. naturally.

And art! I am daily amazed by your sustained interest in putting crayon to paper. Usually, I block off the art table because after you finish your still lifes, you like to climb on the chair, climb on the table, then stand up and call me to witness your mad skills. But I haven't barred your way, you're there creating masterpieces. And multi-colored teeth.

You use a combination of signs (many self-invented), a handful of words, and a whole lot of screaming to get your point across. Today you watched me dump your solid waste into the toilet and you said, 'Bye bye poo poo.' I thought that was pretty genius, though next time let's try to elevate the level of conversation, shall we?

Above all you are sweeter than sweet. Whenever your grandparents come over, your run into their arms. You are head-over-heals for your daddy, whose dance moves you have clearly inherited, and you give great kisses. Especially to your sister. Every time you wake up. It's like a bell goes off in your head: 'Awake; must kiss sister.'

You may have some frustration to work out regarding thinking-your-28-when-really-you're-not , but know this time in your life is fleeting. One day you will be 28, and you'll find yourself burying your face in your own daughter's curls. That's what I do, and I still can't seem to inhale enough of your sweetness.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rocky Coastlines

Maine's rocky coastline is the third longest in the country--longer than California, behind only Florida and Louisiana. It is beautiful and treacherous. 60+ lighthouses warn of its dangerous allure.

The landscape of motherhood is eerily similar. From a distance, even more so as one approaches, it is beautiful and alluring. How many times did I ache to hold my own newborn in my arms. To nurse her. To breathe in the particular scent of the crown of her head. To wear her in a sling while cooking dinner.

And later, to catch snowflakes on our tongues and plunge our hands into the still-cool earth to plant peas.

And later still, to laugh together until our bellies hurt, and whisper stories to each other in the dark, and marvel at her kindness. her generosity. her capacity to love.

Now that I am standing here on these rocks, it is more breathtaking than I could have imagined. Newborns are everything they're cracked up to be. And now, the way my first baby girl smooths back my second baby girl's hair and wipes her tears away with the edge of a sleeve is something to behold. Such tenderness. Such love.

But it is slippery. The rocks hard and cold. One poorly executed step and I am down. And there are many poorly executed steps because it really isn't until motherhood (and marriage, arguably) that life requires such ridiculous amounts of diligence. And there really isn't any training sufficient enough to prepare you for the new 25 hour days--none of which really belong to you anymore.

I turned 28 today. I cried about an hour into the day because my husband walked into the kitchen and asked how I was doing. It was 5:30. "I just want a happy day," I sobbed as my one-year-old sobbed over me. This child whose mind astounds me, who brings me book after book and never tires of them, who eagerly talks to anyone who will talk back, who hides behind the bathroom door waiting for someone to find her, who adores her sister, who gives the BEST open-mouthed kisses, who loves art almost as much as books, and animals almost as much as art. This child who screams every time her face is wiped, who kicks every time her diaper is changed, who gracefully flings her arched body onto the floor at the mere mention of a coat, who strongly objects when peeled from the top of the step ladder, who cries for some unidentifiable reason countless times a day.

I cried because, like hundreds of times before, I forgot that this isn't about me anymore.

So I stopped looking forward to the pancakes that needed flipping, the errands that needed running, the birthday that needed happy, and looked here. Now. To the baby that needed comforting. And when I finally looked down at the rock I was already standing on, I realized it was just perfect for sitting.

I turned the burner off, sank to the kitchen floor, and nursed my baby. She was happy. I was happy. I was having a happy birthday.