When a woman delivered flowers Saturday afternoon--a giant yellow bouquet--and the card from Sam made me weepy, I thought, "Man, this Mother's Day thing is not bad at all." I know plenty of women who don't like this day much, or at least feel complicated about it (see this and this), and though I can understand this intellectually, for a moment, I didn't really get it.
But Sunday morning when Henrietta woke up at 4:30 and fussed her way to 6:30, I carried her into Sam and realized I understood at least part of the complication: was I supposed to be all mother-y because it was Mother's Day? Or was I supposed to pass her to Sam and get some sleep, since it was Mother's Day? Luckily, Sam agreed with the later, and I got a bit more sleep, but the whole day was kind of like that. I had a complicated day with Henrietta, while I think Sam had a pretty lovely day with her. In fact, the last thing she did before going to bed was climb all the way to the top of our stairs with Sam watching over her (13 stairs, plus a landing!). She got to the top and crawled into her room, and we clapped for her and marveled and it was very sweet. But I was off doing something with my Mother's Day freedom for most of it (spray-painting thrift store loot, if you must know), and so I sort of missed it. I don't know. It was a strange feeling all day.
Over the last week or so, she's become a completely different baby. She had those rough nights where she woke up every hour, sometimes twice an hour, and feeding her more only helped a bit. And then one day she stood up at the coffee table, just pulled herself right up and looked at Sam and grinned. On the same day, she suddenly crawled more efficiently that she ever had, and sat up more stably. It was a big day for her, after which she slept just fine, so I think she was up again and again trying to work out the logistics. She just turned seven months old, and I'll be shocked if it takes her until eight to walk. She's already taking steps around the coffee table.
So suddenly, my baby goes wherever she'd like. She's over here, stuffing an entire Target receipt in her mouth. She's over there, scratching the grate of the fireplace barrier. Church is suddenly sort of ridiculous, since she's not at all interested in sitting still with me. She's very busy. She has a full-time job.
Last Thursday she grabbed the cat's fur, and he turned around and scratched her face, and I watched her realize this creature she loved had hurt her, and it was crushing for both of us. We both sobbed.
Worse: yesterday, when she went to pet the cat again, and I went to stop her, I accidentally scratched her face somehow with my fingernail--scratched it deeper than the cat had. She was bleeding. And then she was crying this cry I had never heard before. I wanted to project all sorts of things into that cry--betrayal, confusion, like the central goodness of the world had turned on her. It was heartbreaking. Maybe the most heartbreaking moment yet. Happy Mother's Day, indeed.
All week, as I've worked to keep her safe and held her when she fell and tried to give her as much as I could that she seemed to want, I've thought, again and again (forgive me), "This s*** just got real." This is mothering on a different level. This is busy and scary and exhilarating. Part of me is longing for my newborn. When I see a newborn somewhere, it's difficult for me to believe that Henrietta isn't a newborn anymore. I look at her, and blink, wondering how it happened. But another part of me, of course, is thrilled with every day; it's just more complicatedly thrilling, if that makes sense--and probably deeper because of it, since everything is mixed together.
Back to her bedroom Sunday evening, after she'd crawled there herself from our downstairs living room. Sam took her pj's off, since they were making it hard for her to crawl, and she toured her room as if she'd never been there before, talking to us all the while. Sam sat on the floor with her, and I dug around in her closet, pulling out the next size of clothes to see if she'd fit them yet. I pulled out a yellow sunhat with bees on it, a hand-me-down from her cousin, and she crawled around in just that and a diaper. It was adorable, if I may say so. She clobbered a big teddybear she'd never noticed before. She pulled on a garland of stars I bought in Paris just after we married. She flashed her personality and her will around the room, and Sam and I were pleased with her, wondering how she'd be as she continued to grow up. Sam said, "I like this. I like hanging out with you and with her." I agreed. As complicated as it's getting, she's beginning to feel more like my sidekick, my little friend. And the three of us are feeling more family-like. And I, I suppose, am the mother.