On the 28th, my muffin turned six months old. In culinary terms and scope, this would make her now more of a layer cake. Sliced so that you can see all her delicate layers (adorable, frustrating, crying, laughing, crying while laughing, squealing, jumping, drooling, farting) and served on the most beautiful china plate. That will then break into 67 pieces right before I want to go to sleep. And we have no glue. Or any more plates.
Six months. That means I haven’t had a leisurely or comfortable shit in six months. Or had one of those Saturday nights where you get really drunk or high, and then sleep until 3 pm on Sunday, and lay sprawled on the couch tasting your own breath with a hot cup of tea and a PVR’d episode of SNL to mock.
Six months of daydreaming about sleeping through the night. Remembering how it feels to decide you’re tired, get ready for bed, then crawl under a duvet cover that is cool to the touch but warm underneath, and wiggling your toes in anticipation of the soft embrace that is sleep. I picture getting a full night of uninterrupted sleep now like a beautiful mini crème brulee, where you lightly rap through the hardened candy on top, and float downwards into the creamy custard, surrounded by sweet angels whispering, “hey, gorgeous, let’s fix that pillow. Your drool is making this particular spot quite soggy and gross. Let’s get you down deep into some sleep where you have dreams about George Clooney and Ryan Gosling taking turns pushing you on a swing made out of angel food cake.”
My reality of sleep is more like a trifle. Various layers of different sensations representing different levels of exhaustion, none good, and without the layer of alcohol that makes the soggy cake worth eating. (Who am I kidding? I’ve had celiac disease for now half my life. I haven’t eaten cake worth fucking eating in a real long ass time.)
Ok, I’m done feeling sorry for myself. Through the grace of pumping breast milk (which really isn’t graceful at all – the hum of the machine always sounds like it’s saying, “FEED ME SEYMOUR”) and help from my amazing mom and Nuv’s mom, we have had nights where we’re free of the baby and sleep in a darkened room without that third barely perceptible set of lungs breathing in and out. But even when she’s out of sight and even out of mind for like 30 seconds, my engorged breasts are the painful throbbing reminder that she’s not there.. “Hey! Where’s dat sucking beast that empties us? We’re dyin’ down heah!” (My new boobs were born and raised in the South Bronx.)
Six months. You adapt and adjust and learn to find pleasures in the little things. Like when she says her first word. (‘Dada’ for everybody who had a pool started. Vegas odds were on ‘Mama,’ the person who carried her for ten months and tried pushing her out for 36 hours, numb and sweating and ripping and bleeding, but hey, you can’t win ‘em all!)
Or when she first rolls over, with one arm extended in a very small, very amazing ‘ta-da’ motion. Or the mornings when she’s jumping so hard in her Jolly Jumper it looks like her feet are highland dancing and b-boying at the same time to the beat of Mac Miller’s Knock Knock (our morning jam) while simultaneously I take a sip of a very good cup of tea and all the ingredients for my breakfast smoothie finally catch and start whirring together in the blender.
Six months of no expectations for a day. We do have a routine two days a week when we head to my Mom’s place in White Rock, but the rest of the week she will maybe let me sit and write this all down, or maybe not sleep at all and fart and howl at the moon through a little mouth covered in saliva, counting down the seconds till that first tooth comes ripping through the surface of her pink gums. I learned early the hard way that if you have a plan, anything that requires more than a shower and meal, you’re an idiot and you’ll soon find yourself singing every song you know off-key behind the shower curtain so you can at least accomplish two shaved legs, while she’s listing to the right in her vibrating seat, screaming and swinging her Sophie around her head as menacingly as someone wearing a shirt and pants with polka-dots on them can be.
Some days, I want to go as is (read: lame [LAME!] pajamas, hair not cut in over a year, bags under my eyes that mineral makeup can’t hope to cover, gum boots, jacket with busted buttons, sore wrists and a mangled back) to a high school assembly and stand there for about 6 hours and talk about what having a baby actually means. How it changes you, your life, your relationships, your partner, your body, your appetite, your priorities, everything. I hate public speaking, but I need 16 year olds to know the real-life version of having babies. It’s hard to look at. And should be. I am humbled every day at how hard this job is, being a Mama. Sure, some of it is instinct and common sense, but when you’re operating at low battery levels, the simple task of reading them a story seems daunting. And then, when instead of patiently listening or looking at the pictures, they just cram the sides of the book into their mouths, you get instantly all “FINE. No more stories for you, ever. I carefully made sure I was using a different voice for every character here and you didn’t even NOTICE nor CARE.”
Six months in and despite the ravings of a lunatic above, I stop everyday and look at this kid and think, Thank you. Thanks to my body, so normally stumbling and stupid and uncooperative, for incubating this kid and making sure she was perfect when she came out. I know that having a baby, period, is a luxury not everybody gets. I need to remember that more when she pulls out a bleeding handful of my hair as I’m munching her tummy, or when her shit has been jet-propelled out her diaper and up her back and onto the bedspread, which is approximately three loads of laundry and a bath. At 2 am.
Six months of watching a human you made become more than just a lump of tiny flesh that sleeps, farts and cries. She smiles at me when I smile at her. Or when I tell a hilarious joke that Nuv says is terrible. But, what does he know? Stella thinks her Mama is the second coming of Mitch Hedberg.
I have had an open wound for a heart since this kid came along. Because, despite all the hard times and frustration and lack of time to be just me or even pluck my eyebrows without an interruption, before her, there just wasn’t a tangible reason to pick myself up by my bootstraps and be better. She is now motivation and reason and purpose.
I have a daughter now who will alternately adore, hate, mock and respect me as she gets older. I need her to know that despite all the whining, she is the best person I know. She is a perfect combination of the dude I love and my family and his, topped off with a smile that makes me smile when it’s hard to even move my facial muscles.
Six months ago, we started a journey together, and even though she can’t quite hold my hand yet, I know she’s been with me every step of the way. I love you, my crazed maniac.