Tuesday, June 26, 2012


My dad wrote this poem years ago for my sister and I. He read it at Julia's wedding last July (almost a year ago!) It was an impossibly sweet moment.

Two Sisters

Two sisters snacking on strawberry twisters
Dreaming of future misters
Two sisters playing on the sandy shore
Dreaming about the land of more
Two sisters sailing far away
Dreaming about their wedding day
Two sisters praying in the Holy Shrine
And me dreaming of when they were wholly mine

I choose not to imagine my own daughters building homes of their own somewhere in the world because I'd like to nurse the illusion that at least for a little while they are wholly mine. When I tell Sisay that I can't bare the thought of them leaving us, he says, 'I can. When they are grown, I will take you traveling around the world. And we can sleep through the night." I'm pretty sure the emphasis was on the second part, and I do hope that happens before they fly the nest. As for the traveling--I'm game. We've traveled around the world with them, and it's not all it's cracked up to be. (I know this defies a core belief of a good friend of mine. Sorry Deanna.) Then again, maybe it would be slightly different if I wasn't nursing both of them and we hadn't decided to lug a 23 lb. car seat to the horn of Africa. And then not use it. It was most definitely worth it. I just don't want to do it again for a very long time. 

So. Sisters. Certainly the best part of my life right now is basking in their complete and utter love for each other. This is not to say that we live in some sort of sibling utopia. Far from it. 'No!' and 'NNNNNNNNnnnnnnnO!' and also 'AHHHHHHHHHHH!' are probably the three most common words in our house. They are uttered by Samaya--when Violet takes her stuff (which is every time she has stuff) or when Violet is attempting to remove a large chunk of her hair simply for the entertainment value of it. 

And they are uttered by Violet every time Samaya moves in a way that could be interpreted as 'in her general direction' while she is in the possession of stuff, or when she is being restrained/hugged by her big sister. Or when she's itching to be contrary.
But there are so many moments of pure, unadulterated love. First, there are the hand-in-hand morning walks. Violet's request of "we!", small hand outstretched, inevitably brings Samaya to her side. We are not exactly sure how 'we' came to mean 'hold my hand,' but I do believe a more fitting word could not exist. Then there are the eerily quiet moments that could only mean two things--either someone's playing in the toilet water again or a rare moment of sibling harmony is taking place. In the (grateful) case of the latter, I can usually find them snuggled up in the book corner or on my bed, Samaya reading to a captive audience. Usually this launches into what is fondly referred to in our house as 'bed bed,' which consists mostly of snuggling under the covers, pretending to sleep, and giggling. Lots of giggling. 

At meal times, I often find them feeding each other and lately they have even been playing with the same toy in a civilized manner. Samaya will assign Violet the role of handing her the pieces and half the time she actually does. The other half of the time she makes a run for it, laughing maniacally with a puzzle piece clutched tightly in her fist. 

This afternoon during a thunderstorm, I sat on the couch nursing Violet. Samaya sat beside us reading a book. Thunder rumbled in the distance and, without looking up, she reached an arm around Violet's head and cupped a hand over her ear. We looked at each other then, and she matter-of-factly explained, "For the funder, Mommy. I don't want her to be scared." And then she turned the page.

Daily life these days usually leaves me strung out, but every day, more and more, I am so grateful that they are close in age. The developmental gap is still wide, but it is slowly closing. And I imagine once they both can talk and SHARE life will be so much sweeter. They get each other. They play. They connect. They love. They get angry too, but isn't it nice to have someone in your life you can give a good whack to every now and then and your relationship is none the worse for it? 

Here's to unconditional love, sister style. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

On turning free

Dear Samaya,

Yesterday you turned 'free.' When you looked in the mirror, you said, "Mommy, but I don't look bigger...? I assure you my love, you are. Countless times a day I am amazed by your eloquence, your mastery of sisterhood, your sudden and shocking ability to identify and write (write!) all 26 letters of the alphabet. I told your father the first time you crawled to get that pencil on the floor you were going to be a writer. Looks like you're serious.

You started the day with your favorite breakfast of blueberries and yogurt and unwrapped your presents from Mama and Daddy. You got Press Here by Hervé Tullet, some other stuff, and HULA HOOPS! It turns out that hula hoop was actually all you really needed in life. Now to get my money back...

Our car broke down so strawberry picking got scratched. Instead, we made your cake while Violet napped. Then we walked to the river with a picnic lunch and had a lovely afternoon playing in the water. We should do that more often. The hula hoop came with us of course, and you flagged down a number of passersby so they could have the awe-inspring opportunity of observing your mad skills. You even got to play with Mora at the playground. Grandma came for dinner (you didn't eat it) and birthday cake (you did eat that). It was quite good, actually. Very good for a grain free, sugar free masterpiece. We kissed you and hugged you and snuggled with you a lot. When I asked what your favorite part of your birthday was, you said cake. Then you asked if you could do your hula hoop tomorrow. I said sure. (I was feeling indulgent).

Today we had a sweet little party for you outside. There were giant bubbles, spray bottles filled with paint, mud pies, a piñata, yummy food, strawberry cupcakes, thoughtful gifts, and- most importantly- dear friends. We are blessed, truly. You enjoyed the paint tremendously, as did my left pant leg and most of our guests' clothing. I even remembered to join in the play. I may have even made your friends giggle. (Isn't that one of a parent's highest achievements?) When I asked you what your favorite part of the party was, you said, "The thing you bang."

We'll leave that one alone for a while. I just want to say that I am extremely, impossibly far from being a perfect mom. I may make my own hummus and serve pineapple-mint infused water, but I'm not fooling myself. I know I have a long way to go. I also know my love for you is perfect. And you. YOU are perfect. I hope you grow up to believe that with every cell of your being.
Happy birthday to the one who made me mama. I will always be indebted to you.