Everything is in terms of you now. As I watch Molly Ringwald present an Oscar, I wonder: What celebrities will inadvertently influence your style? As I watch what’s happening in Haiti, I ask: How and when do we explain this to you? When we tell you about your first year of life, when I birthed you at the Mountain Midwifery center and we were happy about the medical marijuana laws and we were both unemployed and the furnace quit and you were sick for 10 days and we sometimes sang Danny’s Song at breakfast, will you think we were poor hippies? You might. But if that doesn’t do it, Daddy’s organization of the God brunch (or Brunch#42, as he calls it, in honor of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), so we can figure out what to say when you ask where people go when they die, will. Then again, maybe you won’t even know or care what a hippie is. Maybe it will have been too long ago.
But there, I go, thinking too far ahead again.
When Mommy lived in the UK in 1995, nearly fifteen years before you were born, Grammy sent her a lot of care packages. (Grammy’s very good at stuff like this). From Twizzlers to Tootsie Pops and TJMaxx finds to Dear Abby gems, those boxes were brimming with inspiration and instant gratification. In one package, she’d cut out a comic strip called Family Circus from the newspaper. (I guess we’ll have to go to the museum and look at a comic strip sometime) In the comic strip, Dolly shares this bit of wisdom with her brother, Jeffy. She says: “Yesterday is the past, tomorrow is the future and today is a GIFT. That’s why it’s called the present.”
Sometimes its hard for Mommy to focus on the present because she’s too busy worrying about the future. I hope that somehow, someday, we can teach you that delicate balance.
But back to your babyhood.
Your first four months were like night after night of seeing the Blue Mosque for the first time. Every time we held, rocked and nursed you, we were amazed by your perfection and very existence. “Oh my God, look,” we’d say, to each other, taking our 72nd picture. Like the Blue Mosque on those breezy spring nights in Istanbul, it was hard to believe you were real. Back then you were untouchable. Mysterious. So breakable, it seemed.
Then on December 21st, you giggled. It’s a moment I’ll never forget. And as the new you slowly came into view, a baby with deeper dimples her wrists, a much stronger grip and far more curiosity emerged. We left the mystery of the mosque and discovered the familiar rhythm of parenthood. We figured out just how you roll.
In January, it was from your stomach to your back. And on February 16th (but who’s keeping track) it was sleeping to the tune of all night long. Yep. Lionel Richie style. Twelve hours. By March, you were sitting up, raking cheerios across the counter, occasionally letting bits of banana and avocado into your mouth, and drinking more milk than mommy could supply. And slowly, ever so slowly, olive green and bamboo brown began peeking through the slate blue in your eyes. Excellent, we thought. You’re actually our baby.
Yet still, there are times when I look at you as if I just realized that you are my daughter. It happens at night. After I tell you what the brown bear sees, after I sing a lonesome Bluegrass lullabye, after I talk about a dish that ran away with a spoon, I begin Someday, a tender story that reaches far into your future. Right then, my “soul rushes up to the deck of my body” and water splashes from my sides.
Scarlett, oh Scarlett. I love watching your hands open and close as if you’ve been waterskiing all weekend. I love how you shriek with joy as if there’s a birdhouse in your soul. I love how you throw one arm around my neck when I carry you around the house. I love how you burrow into my shoulder every morning. And I love how you keep me in the present moment, forever reminding me that today, this moment with you, is a gift.