Friday, November 19, 2004

Happy birthday to me! Twenty-one years ago I started writing in my first blank book. I still have it, carefully stowed in a safe place along with every other journal that followed it.

Five years ago I moved into my new office as a junior copywriter with the same group I work for now. My own office. I felt like I had arrived.

Three years ago I was frantically breastfeeding my new little Gert and wishing I had decided to buy birth announcements instead of lovingly hand-craft each and every bleeding one.

Twelve years ago I skipped dinner because my friends were taking me out, pulled on size 5 jeans, and went to a party where I apologetically claimed to have already eaten.

Seventeen years ago I got my period for the very first time. It had actually happened earlier in the month but I wrote about it on my birthday with great excitement.

Nine years ago marked my grateful exit from the realm of teenage motherhood.

Twenty-three years ago, my mom brought chocolate cupcakes to my kindergarten class and I sat in the circle next to Melissa. Melissa had the nicest, softest hair of any girl I have ever known, to this day.

Nineteen years ago my mother drove me to the home of a sweet old couple with a litter of kittens and let me pick out my first cat. I named him Princess and then discovered him several days later licking some very non-Princess-like anatomy. I promptly renamed him Fredrick.

This morning, Matilda presented me with this heartfelt poem, sung to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it":

Its your birthday, it's your birthday and you have smelly feet, smelly feet. It's your birthday, it's your birthday and you have smelly feet, smelly feet. But I don't give a care. I love you anyway. It's your birthday and you have smelly feet. Smelly feet!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

My little baby Gert entered the 3-5 year demographic over the weekend, and thus let it be known that she no longer has any use for plastic, baby-friendly bowls, nighttime training pants, or toothbrushing assistance.

She cried when her new roller skates wouldn't let her go as fast as her 9-year-old sister, and again when the loops on her tennis shoes wouldn't fold into neat, bunny-eared bows.

After the excitement of her party, after all her favorite cousins and aunts and uncles had gone home and the sugar was wearing off, I caught a glimpse of Gert sitting on her Sit-n-Spin in the living room in front of the TV, gazing up at her new Care Bears DVD and twisting slightly, absentmindedly from side to side. Then suddenly, she looked down on the floor next to her and patted a small pile of blankets. "Aw, it's o-tay honey," she told it, and I realized one of her new dolls was apprehensively watching the video with her.

The only babies in our house anymore are the ones Gert takes care of, and that makes me more than a little sad. I don't necessarily miss the messy, exhausted, nervous parts of parenting a baby. I don't necessarily want another one, or wish that I could relive the entire thing with either of the girls. It's just that I see Gert being such a kid, and she's so beautiful and perfect in each and every moment that it hurts, like looking into a bright light and never wanting to look away.

When people told me that being a parent is hard, I thought they were talking about messy, exhausting, nerve-wracking things. I didn't know it would be so hard to let go of each perfect moment while you're reaching to grasp at the next one. Children shed them like scales and laugh at us for trying to hold each one so close.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Who says two-year-olds don't get politics? Gertrude & I were having our morning chat on the way to Meemee's and I mentioned that tomorrow was election day. Then I found myself struggling to find a way of explaining democracy to a child who refuses to let anything drop until she thinks she understands it.

She wasn't satisfied with the mechanics of voting, "poking holes in a piece of paper." It sounded like a great deal of fun, but she was interested in the larger purpose.

So I went into a bit of detail about "choosing someone to be the leader."

"The leader?" said Gert. She was quiet for a moment. "I will choose my daddy to be the leader."

I stifled a giggle. "Why do you think Daddy should be the leader?" I asked, just out of curiosity.

"Be-tuz I like my daddy. And my daddy takes care of me."

"And because Daddy wouldn't take us to war to satisfy his own interests, or run us into debt to finance tax cuts for the wealthy?"

"Yes," said Gert. "I like my daddy."

I'm definitely looking forward to poking some holes tomorrow, I don't know about you.