3.20.2006

Milestones

Yesterday was my birthday, always a fabulous opportunity to reflect. Two years ago we were wondering if we were ever going to get pregnant again, and just weeks later we did. Last year, MZ was with us, and on my birthday we took a long urban walk. In those days she could sleep peacefully in the Bjorn and we weren't always up against the 3 hour window between naps.

It was a beautiful day, and we took a roundabout path that included lunch in Noe Valley. When she woke up from her snooze, Robert propped MZ against him and she sat, on his lap, throughout our lunch. It was huge that she could sit with us, and we traded holding her so the other could watch her, she seemed so interactive from that angle. Those were the days when playing with MZ meant a few minutes of tummy time before she hollered to be flipped, and lots of silly songs and raspberries on her belly to get her to smile. Looking back, she was still so larval, yet we found her endlessly fascinating.

Tomorrow MZ will be 14 months old and I will post about where she is and what she's doing developmentally. Today I am indulging in memories: of how good it felt to hold her little bitty body, to nurse her, to watch her learn to hold herself up on her tummy, then turn over, sit and finally crawl. How magical was her first smile, how sweet the sound of her voice when she learned to coo, and oh! that first giggle!

Conventional wisdom tells us that appreciating subtlety takes maturity, that most will appreciate Spring in the Sierras before they see the richness of Spring in the Mojave; that it's easier to get Robert Johnson if you start with the Stones.

Then it's another count against intelligent design that our children start out as the most subtle of beings. Those who don't associate subtlety with a newborn must never have -- or forgotten what it's like -- to parent one. We were enthralled with her every move. The way she found my breast that first time I nursed her in the hospital was a miracle, her efforts to lift her head fresh out of the gate were Herculean, every moment of captured attention was a sign of clear genius.

For me, one of the lessons of parenthood has been the beauty of the small moment. I've learned to watch for and appreciate subtle signs and changes, to cherish the place we're in and revel in incremental accomplishments.

And here she is, this mobile little person who talks and even teases us, offering items then pulling them away with a wicked smile and an assertive head nod "No." She has volition and the skills beyond crying to make her needs and opinions known. It's all happening so fast and we're looking forward to the changes ahead, but this is my ultimate indulgence: a moment to press pause and reflect over the joys of the past year. Happy birthday indeed.

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