Humble Pumpkin Pie: Chai-Chai Goeth Before a Fall


Parenting is a full-on American Gladiatorial course in humility. 



When I say humility, I have something fairly particular in mind. Humility, to me, is not about self-abasement or the abnegation of one's self, but about placing the self in the greater context. It is about the freedom, love and gratitude that can blossom from within when one does so. Stemming from the Latin humus for grounded, it is the opposite of a pride that closes oneself off from others, from deeper truths and from the self.  Pride stops one from surrendering a pleasant story about oneself when it no longer applies. Pride devours curiosity and spits out empty presumptions. Pride assumes that the set of circumstances and biases that lead into our opinions and beliefs is somehow superior to others. And in doing so, pride denies itself growth and connection.

 Humility may be about recognizing one's limitations. It may be seeking to continue improving oneself and diving deeper into the ocean of human experience. It is about being free of the desperate gymnastics we take to leave our pride unbruised and our self-stories gilded and silver-plated. It is about being open to ideas from any source and embracing those that challenge previously held beliefs. Humility is about letting go of the anxiety that we may discover we are not as "good" or "smart" or valued as we think we are. It's about seeking out cognitive dissonance. It's about fostering one's whole self, and not burying the parts we do not care for. It's about embracing failure as avidly as success. It's about recognizing the privileges and fortunes that allowed us to thrive and cultivate our talents and abilities. And about honoring those by giving back without desire for recognition.

It's almost trite to mention that we are constantly reminded of these things with a child. We think we have something figured out and it changes. One baby benefits from one act of parenting. The next is an entirely novel sphinx. One moment our child beams like the sunlight to see us coming home and the next this same creature screams to be held by us in preference to some other person in the room. And we carry on through high and low, hoping and trying to even ourselves out, remain open, and marvel in the miracles of discovery they continue to share with us. We trudge through so many moments and forgive ourselves so many parental pecadillos, hopefully without losing hope. Sometimes when Chaya is inconsolable, I have to tell her that she is deeply damaging my narrative of excellent parenting to cut the internal tension and allow there to be space for her experience of emotion.

And then there's our children themselves, little receptacles of germs and contumely. Pride can arise through and in our children in so many ways. A facile aspect would be the pleasure we take in seeing ourselves (occasionally) "succeeding" in our role as parents. Or our desire to see ourselves in our children. I admit, I get a little twinge when Chaya starts dancing to a good bout of music (musical like her mommy, she digs blues and the Eurythmics in particular). I dote on her beautiful blue eyes (so sharp and blue and sensitive like her mommy's). And I want to believe that her apparently acute sensitivity to social moods and observation of the world around her connects with my empathic HSP self. I want her to love words and have facility with language. I want her to see all of my most favored qualities embodied in her. And I fear for how my worst qualities may endure and provide stumbling blocks for her.




 But it runs more deeply than that.  How can I not look at the miracle that I have created and stumble upon the temptation to think more highly of myself for having created it. Is it possible not to edify myself for experiencing all that parenthood brings.

Watching Miss Chaya evolve and develop every single day is both the most humbling and prideful thing conceivable. Who am I to have had such a profound experience as birthing her? What have I done to merit the plunging depths of unimaginable love in every minor glance. I simultaneously want to drop to my knees and affirm God is in all things, and to parallel the experience of parenting to becoming a god in my own right (the demiurge if ever there were one). And perhaps sometimes I forget that though she is a receptacle of infinite miracle, so is every other baby and human life. Sometimes I may forget that the deep love and profundity of parenting her is no more edifying than any other parenting experience. When I sit back and realize that every parent (who has earned the name of parent) has some experience equally intense, it brings me awe. I'm astounded when I recall that parenting is not even necessary to plunge the depths of human existence: we are all embodiments of that miracle.

Our children are our own hearts, souls and blood. To see them succeed is beyond self-gratification, but it certainly is an extension of it. As we often mistake what constitutes success for ourselves, we all too often fall back to meaningless measures and metrics for our children. Do we ever truly accept that some things are out of our control or understanding? Isn't that one of the more terrifying thoughts when you have a child? That this thing whose happiness is the driving factor of your own well-being is successively less and less subject to our influence each and every day. And this is a good thing, but it is a terrifying thing. And there is a massive mote of pride lingering in our foolish idea that we could possibly know what "happiness" is for another living being.




Andrew and I have both pledged that we won't be those parents (read "every upper middle class parent ever") who constantly hover and push and strive to meld our child into some version of "success" that we've hobbled together from our own directed paths. I imagine this will be easier said than done, but we want her to be happy and satisfied with her chosen course. We don't want to start pushing big-S Success on her with endless reams of enrichment programs and early testing. We want her to do her own homework, have her own space, make her own choices knowing she will take her own consequences, and to be comfortable with her own failures.

But I suspect it won't be super easy to step back and ignore the occasional moment of foolishly prideful parenting.

And those developmental milestones provide a first few opportunities.


(Eight month pin-up baby)

At eight months, Chaya began walking with help. At thirteen, she shows no immediate signs of taking off on her own. At least to me. I've grown tired of the choruses of "she is so close." She has been assymptotic to walking in spits and spurts for months now. Many times standing on her own without realizing it or walking with a hand barely touching hers. She had a major revelation last week that having one hand free (and thus able to waive large objects around wildly) is preferable, which vaulted her skills astronomically. She nearly did just take off last Thursday and Friday, and was even trying to stand up on her own. But since then she's gotten more comfortable with one hand holding her up. More trusting and willing to throw herself around with the faith that this hand will keep her up. And more comfortably reckless - it's terrifying to think of the damage she might do to herself when she does actually take the (dare I say) walking plunge. At the playground, she'll just walk straight off the top structure, tantrumming when I pull her back. And she's less balanced on her own. In new spaces, or where the terrain is particularly uneven, she tends to be far closer to balanced. But for the most part, my fears of missing Chaya's "first steps" while in the bathroom remain unfounded.




She similarly mastered crawling and climbing up onto the mantle about a month and a half ago, tried briefly to do the same for the couch, and has now stopped attempting to do so. Currently, she'd rather just kind of limp-arm herself pulled up the stairs in a "walk."

I care and I don't. I didn't walk until I was fourteen months. My hubba-hubba walked at ten months. My current state may not reflect this, but I've always been a natural athlete and dancer; I have always been very well coordinated and exceedingly kinetic. Andrew, by contrast, is an athlete (and a formidable one at that) on sheer force of will. He has middling hand-eye coordination, funny joints, bow-legs; yet, he's a beast on the bike and swan on the slopes... So either way, an ambitiously prideful parent needn't worry yet. Maybe Chaya has some natural coordination and when she starts walking she'll never stop moving. She is a little dancer already with kicking legs and thoroughly fabulous rhythm. And her dynamic balance is astoundingly good - she has been able to stand while pushing the rocking chair loudly into the wall or with one hand on a jittery bouncer without a blink for months now.

Narcissus at 10 months

 Or she'll have her father's grit and kinetically kick-ass because deliberate practice is far more important than innate talent.

Or she'll have neither, won't be particularly athletic/physically-talented, but she'll find passion in something fulfilling and we'll love her regardless.

And, as I'm apt to tell people these days, it's a relief to be part of the little Chayanado careening through the house. I keep her out of harm's way several times an hour. And it keeps me nice and fit, all that walking. Which makes up nicely for the fact that I eat roughly 80% of her food these days.

Nonetheless, I can't help but bristle an eensy bit when the mama whose precocious child has been toddling since she was seven months asks about Chaya's "progress in walking" and instructs her daughter to "help her friend figure it out." I feel like other babies are "beating" Chaya when they start up with their first steps. And I'm a little relieved without knowing why when I meet an older baby who took a while to walk, or still isn't walking.

It's not a huge thing. We're well within the range of normal, and I see that she's continuing to make progress, so I feel like all is healthy and well. We don't play walking games. I don't sit behind Chaya with Andrew in front trying coax her into walking towards him. We both assume she'll walk in her own time.

Though sometimes I think that she transitioned to her current one-handed dervishment because I got tired of never having a hand free and began withholding the second hand more pointedly. And I'm sure that babies with siblings walk sooner in part because their parents have less time to help them walk. And then I wonder if I'm helping too much. Isn't my role as mother to help my child become more and more independent? Am I interfering with her growth as a person? Am I somehow secretly savoring the dependence and fostering it beyond the expiration date? But then I remember that parenting is a form of clinical insanity and holy crap, just relax already, before Andrew gets that tone in his voice while telling me to chillax, and then gladly goes about doting on how happy his daughter is to see him after a purported long day of grumps for mommy.






And maybe it isn't just pride. There's some of that, but there's a silly bit of impatience that crops up when you feel sooooooooo close to something for so long. The breakthroughs are so exciting that you start to feel odd in the minor regressions or the populous plateaus. Having a baby is a lot like watching baseball or cycling... a lot of nothing much and then - when you least expect it - massive bursts of excitement. But you have to pay attention the entire time. Don't even turn away to use the bathroom, or you could miss it. And babies aren't on DVR.

It's the same with talking. About a month ago, Chaya started to make some major connections. She started pointing at things. Birds. Dogs. Trees. Pictures. Her babble became increasingly complex to the point that my brain tries to process it as English and becomes thoroughly confused. Sometimes she'll respond to "where's your bunny?" by finding her bunny and offering it to me. Or pointing at the fan when I ask where the fan is. If I ask where her foot is, she'll laugh and lift her foot (I then tickle it). And I swear last weekend, I said "would you like to give the lamb to dada?" And she picked up a stuffed lamb and went into the bedroom where her father was. But some days, all she says is mumamamamamama with no particular connection to anything to do with me. Some days, she ignores my questions entirely. Or points idly at the light when I ask where the fan is. Sometimes I swear she's saying "bird" or "book." But other times I can't quite tell. And it makes me wonder if she was just coincidentally responding at other times.

And teething! Ok, now she has five teeth and one just on the precipice of popping.

And ... everything else.

But back to pride and humility (let's shelve the prejudice and zombies for a while longer). I've no right to anything with Chaya, except a basic constitutional right to raise her as my own right up until I'm legally unfit to parent. I don't have a right to her gratitude or love. I am gifted with her and - if anything - I owe her the world for bringing her into it. And yet, some small part of me foolishly feels like I've "earned" the "right" to witness Chaya's big firsts. As if I would be sorely slighted to miss her first steps or first words. Which is quite silly.



I remember saying that it wasn't really the wedding that mattered, but every single day after the wedding. And, despite a pretty awesome wedding, I still totally believe this. And it's the same with Chaya. The first step will be great. But will they be better than the one millionth? The billionth? Don't I have a lifetime of steps and words that will just get better and better as she walks and talks further and further from me. Perhaps it's so special because I know just how many steps I'll miss in the future. Or perhaps it's simply that artificiality that metrics always provide.


And as for first steps, I somehow suspect her technical "first steps" (staggers) will be taken at 80 miles an hour when her hand finally slips out of mine. And they will probably involve one of several crash landings. Because boy is she close to taking off when she starts sprinting. Whoever coined the term "baby steps" didn't necessarily see my little gremlin stomping around the house carrying a spray bottle and a toy snake while shrieking "buhbiihbuuuuhbuhhbuhhhh"... but the greater sentiment about things being gradual and coming in stops and starts perhaps applies.

And somewhere in there, I hope that I can foster patience and humility. Because somebody needs to ground the both of us in this crazy flighty time. Baby steps.

Slumping September Sonatina and the Weird Wonder Words

Fall: The Grand Return. As summer flings and fantasies fade faster than those lingering tan lines, children truck back to their yellow busses endued in smart new clothes and jittery optimism. Vacations vagaries proceed from life to lore. Autumn air is tinted with a smoky hominess. Pumpkins litter the grocery store atria, while arguments rage about the pumpkinosity of "pumpkin spice." And the small smattering of cyclical resolutions resurge.



Summer was the time to push past the self and beyond the ordinary. Fall is the time for Odysseus to reconnect with Telemachus, swords flashing and indiscretions ignored. And so, in the madness of our toddler tarantella, we begin the cycle with a new little creature and a little self-embrace. There is no normal for parents, but there's the settling of new routines (for however briefly they may last before whole new routines rev up).

So back to me. I'm bringin' sexless back, yeah! That's my theme music for a thought or two on the ol' mommy wardrobe.

You don't always think about how the tiniest features daily life might impact your "style." Well, ok, you might. It's not exactly a hard thing to fathom that convenience and identity are external factors in the ongoing evolution of one's "look." Of course I blather on and on about how we attach symbols to our bodies in order to associate with whatever in-group we most identify with. Mom-jeans were upgraded to yoga pants. LuluRoe and all their splendiferous leggings leapt upon the scene - they say not only are you a mom who balances comfort and individual expression, but that you probably actually have it together enough to attend "pop up boutiques" - parties hosted by your friends featuring a legging orgy. If not that, that at least you are in the right groups with the right friends for online fashion. And they are cute and comfortable. You are the fun mom who still gets a drink with buddies at the end of a day of leap-frog and adventuring.

I don't quite do mom-chic, though. I do mom-mess. Kind of the early 1990's Seattle version of mom-chic. You know the whole overplayed "boyfriend cardigan" idea? My current sense of style is a bit more "big-brother's gymbag." But it works for me. Athleisure becoming so socially acceptable in the US is a boon, though I rather enjoy my birthday haul of decidedly non-gym-bag palazzos gauchos, and flowy shirts that hearken back to my youthful dancing days.

 Of course it makes sense that I'd want something (1) comfortable, (2) easy to stumble across rooms trying to stop tiny human from self-destruction, (3) not dripping with opportunities for snagging and pulling and yanking, (4) not hideously unflattering to the more effeminate body that has emerged post-parturience. I don't quite elevate myself to buttery leggings and flowing tops. Nonetheless, lifestyle and fashion. And the freedom in America to go sloppy and call it athleisure.

But shirts, in particular, have a certain constriction: breastfeeding dictates a lot. Not for everyone, but for us.

When the gremlin seemingly started self-weaning at tennish months, I began fantasizing of sartorial splendors. Or at least shirts whose merits are not solely their ability to flip-and-flash the boobies. Not that this is not a miraculously fabulous design feature. Were my breasts at all erogenous areas anymore, I'm sure there would be even more attendant excitement and novelty about the peek-a-boo convertible top. But it is fairly limited. You can only do so much with a flip top shirt. In fact, You can't do much at all if you detest nursing bras and do not have an extensive bosom that can froth out over normal clothing.

And no matter the nice design work in the back or appealing color-scheme, the nursing top is typically also a maternity top, or one at least designed to charitably side-step the mommy pooch. Which means that the midrift is set adrift in florid fabric oceans. And this doesn't lend itself well to attractive profiles or accessorizing with any additional layering.

And so, it's nursing tops, running pants, and my favorite hoodie. I've tried desperately to mix things up with at least a few different styles of hoodie, but only this one particular hoodie maintains deep enough pockets to carry my cell phone and keys with me. And a cell-phone pocket is particularly important. I recently discovered restaurant server aprons as a handy summertime porta-pocket, but these tie awkwardly under other hoodies. And Chaya has learned how to untie them, which she finds hilarious. I still don an apron on warm days or during kitchen binges, but I prefer the damned hoodie. It's my version of a lovie, I think. I just don't feel quite as safe and warm without it.

I briefly managed to find some lovely nursing tops. Beautiful lace work in the back. More structure in front (instead of a full flip top, there's a two-piece tank that separates around each breast). Elegant profile. But Chaya has set about tearing honey-badger-style at the underlying structure. She is so driven to distraction by the part that remains around my breasts that she will incur severe niplash popping on and off and ripping at the shirt. I have returned to the simpler, less flattering flip-tops recently. Which is fine, because the lace in the back was not really meant for my "throw everything in the washing machine and hope for the best" approach.

At any rate, the fantasies are momentarily stalled, as Miss Chaya has not only reversed course on the self-weaning thing, but has also taken to rapaciously ripping at my flip-tops when she decides (a) she wants to nurse, or (b) ha-ha, mommies boobs are funny and wouldn't it be fun to scratch off that mole mommy has, which is already scabbed over from previous attempts? (c) how many times can I drench mommy's shirt in a combination of drool and let-down milk before she gives up and finds a toy to distract me from what will otherwise be a maelstrom tantrum when she puts her top back up. My poor tops are already getting a beating.

Then again, I do accessorize as best I can. I can't wear pretty well any of my favorite dangly earrings for fear of an ad hoc lobe-ectomy, but my daughter's spurned baubles look great on me, if I do say so myself.



I shall reclaim some momentary sense of "style." I am slowly re-opening my boxes of soxes.



Of course any semblance of style and suave will take a backseat to the somatic slump.

Parent hunch. Not code for my approximate and far more nebulous version of "mother's intuition." This is more like Quasimommy Kyphosis. I can't imagine how sunken chested I'll look once the nursing gazongas deflate back into (small) pumpkins. It's a mix of devastated abdominal floor, creaky core, stoooped and snarled back, and that particular combination of fully enveloping a little one during naptimes and nursings. I can feel the tectonic shifting of my shoulders into a forward arch. The oozing slump of my pelvis. I know the posture is prowling into calamity, but it's a little hard to stand in glorious attention while leaning over a toddling non-walker. It's not super easy either when you're singing your sixtieth round of Dream a Little Dream of Me to a baby who is alternating between nodding off and pounding your chest while screaming LADLDLDLDLALDLAL and blowing raspberries into her hand. It's not merely a bowing in the back, but a sheer shrug of parental uncertainty, as the shoulders raise themselves towards my ears. Truly not my finest display of frumpery, but one which puts me in solidarity with office workers and elderly folks everywhere.

Still I stumble on in my charming manic pixie dream mess, I am reclaiming tiny slivers of my original Adella mojo - namely I've realized that Russian novels are fantastic for the sort of sporadic and staggering reading that mommydom requires. I've resumed Anna Karenina after a year-long deferral. And while essentially everyone is named either Anna or Alex (and variations thereof) in addition to having twenty additional names, you can read almost each chapter as a short sketch in its own. The plot (there nominally is one, I swear) is less driving than your average Edsel, while the language and internal monologue is rife. I can rapidly reorient in each chapter, wade about in the primordial mental and spiritual muck, then emerge mere minutes later at the end of a chapter. It's rather relieving. And it's quite satisfying to read again. During the naptime hours, I've taken to pacing around the kitchen island (my entire life involves circling this bastard) with my kindle. At least once I'm done with the cleaning and cooking and barefoot-but-not-pregnant-in-the-kitchening. It's great. Sometimes it's almost ploddingly internal, but the language is lovely and just dripping with clever observation and simple profundity.

And speaking of language (segue time) I'm utterly marveling at the complexity of language and the human induction that underlies it these days. Nothing like having a preverbal toddler pointing at everything in search for a term to remind me of the heuristical marvels of basic human cognition and communication. How on earth do we understand that the cartoon on a page, the toy rattle, the gigantic furry monster loping along howling, and the yipping rodentish quadriped are all dog.







 But also could be doggie, puppy, chihuaha, King, Spot, canine, etc. Birdie, bird, duck(ie), robin, crow, chicken, emu, cock (oh my!), hen, warren... but not fly... Bunny, rabbit, hare, Angora, And lord what is she pointing at now? Ceiling? Sky? Spider? Every single word is a rabbit-hole into deep and complex ponders about the very essence and eidos of the universe itself.

And wow, how gendered our language is! I'd like to give Chaya as much space as she needs to understand her own gender identify, but it's almost impossible to teach simple language without imposing heavily loaded cultural notions. What's a boy or a girl? What, really, is the difference? As soon as you start explaining how to distinguish, you impose a world of expectations and ideas - a treasure trove of aspects and adjectives that take prescriptive prominence. As soon as pronouns go beyond "it" you associate objects with feminine or masculine traits.

What makes a woman? What is a mommy? Do we define women by their biological function, something that many women will never exercise and which mommy herself was not actually able to fulfill on her own? Do we leap headfirst into the external trappings or the prescriptive job descriptions. Do we begin to heap on heteronormativity?



Of course we end up doing so. What else are we going to do? Do I dress my daughter in neutral grays and never wear anything that could be at all associated with either gender? While I certainly don't shun the boys' section when I'm shopping, I cannot resist the cute dresses, the pinks and purples, the sparklies, and all the vicarious fashion fun that having a little lady allows. Are her loving nicknames often feminine? Yes there is always Princess Papaya, though I maintain that "sweetie-chai," "pumpkin pie (or "Pumpkin spice latte" for the autumnal season), would certainly be used for a little boy-Chay as well. Do I usually point out little "girls" and "boys" based on their manner of dress and hair style. Do I interpret some of her behaviors as feminine and joke about her "boyfriends"?



 Of course. Are mommy and daddy already exceptionally gendered in their style (see it all ties together), manner, mien, and occupation? We never begin with a blank slate and it gets chalkier every ticking second (and even the tacit ones).

But I digress as I fall back into the writing ramble of an autumnal nap period. We are rounding out another year in the life of Miss Chai and her (W)rightly Ranglers. And I may never quite rediscover the entire dresser full of cute tops, but mama will have her mojo moments. Or perhaps mojito moments, although that doesn't seem particularly autumnal. Perhaps with a little pumpkin pie spice dashed in?

Happy autumn all.

Slumping September Sonatina and the Weird Wonder Words

Fall: The Grand Return. As summer flings and fantasies fade faster than those lingering tan lines, children truck back to their yellow busses endued in smart new clothes and jittery optimism. Vacations vagaries proceed from life to lore. Autumn air is tinted with a smoky hominess. Pumpkins litter the grocery store atria, while arguments rage about the pumpkinosity of "pumpkin spice." And the small smattering of cyclical resolutions resurge.



Summer was the time to push past the self and beyond the ordinary. Fall is the time for Odysseus to reconnect with Telemachus, swords flashing and indiscretions ignored. And so, in the madness of our toddler tarantella, we begin the cycle with a new little creature and a little self-embrace. There is no normal for parents, but there's the settling of new routines (for however briefly they may last before whole new routines rev up).

So back to me. I'm bringin' sexless back, yeah! That's my theme music for a thought or two on the ol' mommy wardrobe.

You don't always think about how the tiniest features daily life might impact your "style." Well, ok, you might. It's not exactly a hard thing to fathom that convenience and identity are external factors in the ongoing evolution of one's "look." Of course I blather on and on about how we attach symbols to our bodies in order to associate with whatever in-group we most identify with. Mom-jeans were upgraded to yoga pants. LuluRoe and all their splendiferous leggings leapt upon the scene - they say not only are you a mom who balances comfort and individual expression, but that you probably actually have it together enough to attend "pop up boutiques" - parties hosted by your friends featuring a legging orgy. If not that, that at least you are in the right groups with the right friends for online fashion. And they are cute and comfortable. You are the fun mom who still gets a drink with buddies at the end of a day of leap-frog and adventuring.

I don't quite do mom-chic, though. I do mom-mess. Kind of the early 1990's Seattle version of mom-chic. You know the whole overplayed "boyfriend cardigan" idea? My current sense of style is a bit more "big-brother's gymbag." But it works for me. Athleisure becoming so socially acceptable in the US is a boon, though I rather enjoy my birthday haul of decidedly non-gym-bag palazzos gauchos, and flowy shirts that hearken back to my youthful dancing days.

 Of course it makes sense that I'd want something (1) comfortable, (2) easy to stumble across rooms trying to stop tiny human from self-destruction, (3) not dripping with opportunities for snagging and pulling and yanking, (4) not hideously unflattering to the more effeminate body that has emerged post-parturience. I don't quite elevate myself to buttery leggings and flowing tops. Nonetheless, lifestyle and fashion. And the freedom in America to go sloppy and call it athleisure.

But shirts, in particular, have a certain constriction: breastfeeding dictates a lot. Not for everyone, but for us.

When the gremlin seemingly started self-weaning at tennish months, I began fantasizing of sartorial splendors. Or at least shirts whose merits are not solely their ability to flip-and-flash the boobies. Not that this is not a miraculously fabulous design feature. Were my breasts at all erogenous areas anymore, I'm sure there would be even more attendant excitement and novelty about the peek-a-boo convertible top. But it is fairly limited. You can only do so much with a flip top shirt. In fact, You can't do much at all if you detest nursing bras and do not have an extensive bosom that can froth out over normal clothing.

And no matter the nice design work in the back or appealing color-scheme, the nursing top is typically also a maternity top, or one at least designed to charitably side-step the mommy pooch. Which means that the midrift is set adrift in florid fabric oceans. And this doesn't lend itself well to attractive profiles or accessorizing with any additional layering.

And so, it's nursing tops, running pants, and my favorite hoodie. I've tried desperately to mix things up with at least a few different styles of hoodie, but only this one particular hoodie maintains deep enough pockets to carry my cell phone and keys with me. And a cell-phone pocket is particularly important. I recently discovered restaurant server aprons as a handy summertime porta-pocket, but these tie awkwardly under other hoodies. And Chaya has learned how to untie them, which she finds hilarious. I still don an apron on warm days or during kitchen binges, but I prefer the damned hoodie. It's my version of a lovie, I think. I just don't feel quite as safe and warm without it.

I briefly managed to find some lovely nursing tops. Beautiful lace work in the back. More structure in front (instead of a full flip top, there's a two-piece tank that separates around each breast). Elegant profile. But Chaya has set about tearing honey-badger-style at the underlying structure. She is so driven to distraction by the part that remains around my breasts that she will incur severe niplash popping on and off and ripping at the shirt. I have returned to the simpler, less flattering flip-tops recently. Which is fine, because the lace in the back was not really meant for my "throw everything in the washing machine and hope for the best" approach.

At any rate, the fantasies are momentarily stalled, as Miss Chaya has not only reversed course on the self-weaning thing, but has also taken to rapaciously ripping at my flip-tops when she decides (a) she wants to nurse, or (b) ha-ha, mommies boobs are funny and wouldn't it be fun to scratch off that mole mommy has, which is already scabbed over from previous attempts? (c) how many times can I drench mommy's shirt in a combination of drool and let-down milk before she gives up and finds a toy to distract me from what will otherwise be a maelstrom tantrum when she puts her top back up. My poor tops are already getting a beating.

But someday, I shall reclaim some momentary sense of "style." I am slowly re-opening my boxes of soxes.



Of course any semblance of style and suave will take a backseat to the somatic slump.

Parent hunch. Not code for my approximate and far more nebulous version of "mother's intuition." This is more like Quasimommy Kyphosis. I can't imagine how sunken chested I'll look once the nursing gazongas deflate back into (small) pumpkins. It's a mix of devastated abdominal floor, creaky core, stoooped and snarled back, and that particular combination of fully enveloping a little one during naptimes and nursings. I can feel the tectonic shifting of my shoulders into a forward arch. The oozing slump of my pelvis. I know the posture is prowling into calamity, but it's a little hard to stand in glorious attention while leaning over a toddling non-walker. It's not super easy either when you're singing your sixtieth round of Dream a Little Dream of Me to a baby who is alternating between nodding off and pounding your chest while screaming LADLDLDLDLALDLAL and blowing raspberries into her hand. It's not merely a bowing in the back, but a sheer shrug of parental uncertainty, as the shoulders raise themselves towards my ears. Truly not my finest display of frumpery, but one which puts me in solidarity with office workers and elderly folks everywhere.

Still I stumble on in my charming manic pixie dream mess, I am reclaiming tiny slivers of my original Adella mojo - namely I've realized that Russian novels are fantastic for the sort of sporadic and staggering reading that mommydom requires. I've resumed Anna Karenina after a year-long deferral. And while essentially everyone is named either Anna or Alex (and variations thereof) in addition to having twenty additional names, you can read almost each chapter as a short sketch in its own. The plot (there nominally is one, I swear) is less driving than your average Edsel, while the language and internal monologue is rife. I can rapidly reorient in each chapter, wade about in the primordial mental and spiritual muck, then emerge mere minutes later at the end of a chapter. It's rather relieving. And it's quite satisfying to read again. During the naptime hours, I've taken to pacing around the kitchen island (my entire life involves circling this bastard) with my kindle. At least once I'm done with the cleaning and cooking and barefoot-but-not-pregnant-in-the-kitchening. It's great. Sometimes it's almost ploddingly internal, but the language is lovely and just dripping with clever observation and simple profundity.

And speaking of language (segue time) I'm utterly marveling at the complexity of language and the human induction that underlies it these days. Nothing like having a preverbal toddler pointing at everything in search for a term to remind me of the heuristical marvels of basic human cognition and communication. How on earth do we understand that the cartoon on a page, the toy rattle, the gigantic furry monster loping along howling, and the yipping rodentish quadriped are all dog. But also could be doggie, puppy, chihuaha, King, Spot, canine, etc. Birdie, bird, duck(ie), robin, crow, chicken, emu, cock (oh my!), hen, warren... but not fly... Bunny, rabbit, hare, Angora, And lord what is she pointing at now? Ceiling? Sky? Spider? Every single word is a rabbit-hole into deep and complex ponders about the very essence and eidos of the universe itself.

And wow, how gendered our language is! I'd like to give Chaya as much space as she needs to understand her own gender identify, but it's almost impossible to teach simple language without imposing heavily loaded cultural notions. What's a boy or a girl? What, really, is the difference? As soon as you start explaining how to distinguish, you impose a world of expectations and ideas - a treasure trove of aspects and adjectives that take prescriptive prominence. As soon as pronouns go beyond "it" you associate objects with feminine or masculine traits.

What makes a woman? What is a mommy? Do we define women by their biological function, something that many women will never exercise and which mommy herself was not actually able to fulfill on her own? Do we leap headfirst into the external trappings or the prescriptive job descriptions. Do we begin to heap on heteronormativity?



Of course we end up doing so. What else are we going to do? Do I dress my daughter in neutral grays and never wear anything that could be at all associated with either gender? While I certainly don't shun the boys' section when I'm shopping, I cannot resist the cute dresses, the pinks and purples, the sparklies, and all the vicarious fashion fun that having a little lady allows. Are her loving nicknames often feminine? Yes there is always Princess Papaya, though I maintain that "sweetie-chai," "pumpkin pie (or "Pumpkin spice latte" for the autumnal season), would certainly be used for a little boy-Chay as well. Do I usually point out little "girls" and "boys" based on their manner of dress and hair style. Do I interpret some of her behaviors as feminine and joke about her "boyfriends"?



 Of course. Are mommy and daddy already exceptionally gendered in their style (see it all ties together), manner, mien, and occupation? We never begin with a blank slate and it gets chalkier every ticking second (and even the tacit ones).

But I digress as I fall back into the writing ramble of an autumnal nap period. We are rounding out another year in the life of Miss Chai and her (W)rightly Ranglers. And I may never quite rediscover the entire dresser full of cute tops, but mama will have her mojo moments. Or perhaps mojito moments, although that doesn't seem particularly autumnal. Perhaps with a little pumpkin pie spice dashed in?

Happy autumn all.

The Teeny Toddler Tralala - One year down and movin' on up.

I know she's still a baby. And that she will always be a baby to me in some regard. But this little twelve month old ain't much of a baby to me. I look at her and joke that she must have eaten the little newborn we brought home last year.


Tasty little morsel she was too!

Of course the synapses are firing like the pyrotechnics at a Ramstein concert. She's developing connections, inducting all kinds of basic principles, banging ever more stridently on ever more things, and interaction all the more intensely with the world around her. She may not be walking on her own yet, but she is casting her net over a wider and wider swathe of the world around her.

And mixing it up on all kinds of fronts.

Sleep. She sleeps through the night now. That was kind of a mutual decision after her nose was so stuffy that trying to nurse just woke her up more. It seems to have stuck.

And then there is napping... That old nemesis.

Who knows? Naturally, a baby drops to two naps, gets on a schedule and then... somewhere between (I'm not joking about the mushiness of the range) a year and 18 months... They drop to one nap! So far this array is squishier than even that. For instance, Chaya's 11 month friend Alex mostly takes 1 nap a day. Her buddy Sebastian takes three. It makes our weekly playdate a pretty exciting game of baby roulette. It's pretty well guaranteed that one baby will be napping or about to take a nap at almost any time during the day.




I'm told that babies often appear to be dropping the second nap when they first turn on year. That for a few weeks, it looks like the second nap is on its way out. And that it's a fake-out that fools many parents into having an ongoingly exhausted toddler. Something about developmental milestones.  Because if it isn't teething, it's "developmental milestone" in this age range. For everything. Baby turned purple? Developmental milestone and maybe molars.

Sleep training is a hilarious act of - Ok, winding up here - an act of breathtaking nihilism(1) Getting babies on a schedule is a marvelous little treadmill of triumph and tragedy. You'll get your child on schedule. You will feel pretty amazing about this. Confident, even. Finally, you have hacked the unhackable. You are the uber-parent.

 And then she'll get sick. There will be aftermath as you dredge through the wasteland of razed sleep. And just when you start to get back on schedule... teething! Then sick! Then some other kind of sick.  Then developmental milestone. Then vaccines screw everything else up. And just when you're reeling from all that and ready to get back on track... suddenly their wake time has extended. Or by golly, forget that, time to drop another nap and move bedtime right back up to earlier than the rooster's supper. (2)

(1) Cited from a Paul Auster book that a friend loaned to me while we were travelling in Morocco. Apparently it did not agree with me at the time, as I found it stilted and pretentious and otherwise full of self-congratulatory prosody. It may be that at other times I would have tolerated it or abandoned it. But we were poor in the Medina and had little other recourse to English entertainment than books. And it was in between Gravity's Rainbow and Sheltering Sky. And I felt hostage to a book I disliked. Then this line hit me and I spent the rest of the trip referring to just about anything as acts of breathtaking nihilism with heavy sarcasm. The line has thus stuck with me, making Paul Auster's somewhat forgettable book gain credit for having utterly imprinting my soul for all eternity. It's more ironic than rain on my friggin' wedding day. 
 (2) Pretend that's an idiom. 

 So, I have no idea at this point if Chaya started to turn naptime into an all out war zone last week because of the ever-suggested-never-manifested teething, gas, a tummy bug, a cold, dengue fever, ennui, the endless churning of a brain hitting the developmental milestone of climbing everything in sight and risking broken necks in the process...





... or if she knew I scheduled a doctor's appointment for her to occur shortly after her previously scheduled afternoon nap... or if she's just perilously close to chucking two naps in favor of one or none before resetting to twenty micronaps a day. But our handy little schedule - a schedule devised partially for convenience, but largely to shift her bedtime back to a time daddy could actually be a part of - is flying out the window. (1)

(1) With the rooster's supper. 
Nor do I know if she has been back on a fairly normal schedule of napping because she's still a little groggy from the five bajillion shots she received at her one year appointment. Or whether it's just easier to fall asleep now that she can suck her thumb again (THANK GOD!) Nor do I know if that one blown morning nap was tummy pain and poop that seems to ber her preferred post vaccination side effect. Or if the blown afternoon nap a few days ago was...

Of course, she comes and goes. With a perfectly fine sleep day following the rather torrentially bad ones. It's hard to say. I guess you're supposed to watch baby sleep for two weeks before thinking it's anything worth reacting to. Yeah. Because babies don't have a whole new slew of challenges and problems within two weeks.

If the war-zone trend continues there would be a bright side. It does suggest that we might be at a point to let her stay awake longer between naps. Since she will anyways. And since mommy is tired of singing to a struggling shrieking baby for thirty minutes for what could be a ninety minute or just possibly a thirty minute nap. And basically from what I can tell, we may just gradually be moving her nap and bedtimes back a little bit at a time right up until we hit THE END OF DAYLIGHT SAVINGS and/or the oft threatened dropping of a nap. At which point Chaya will go from falling asleep at, say, 10:00 p.m. to going to bed at 5:00 p.m. or something. If I understand it correctly. Of course, if I rely on this at all, Chaya will then mix up all the rules and do something drastic. Like go back to three naps. Or four. Or just contract some kind of exotic sleeping sickness and wake up a hundred years later with a long bushy beard.





In other news, apparently we now nurse "on demand" I still offer after naps lest she get distracted and subsequently hangry. But suddenly Little Distractibaby will dive headfirst into my shirt at random, anywhere, and at totally unpredictable times. Pretty much if we're alone together and she's anywhere near my shirt, she's burrowing into it like a rabid groundhog. If she's standing, she'll dive from a standing position. If she's sitting, she'll stay latched on while pointing at objects in the wall and grabbing my mouth. She'll nurse in public too sometimes. The nurse (har har, badinage!) at her one-year appointment asked if she was still breastfeeding (or... nursing bwahahaha), and Chaya responded by demonstrating for the rest of the interview that she was indeed still nursing. On demand. Pointed demand. At a playdate the other day, Sebastian was actively crawling over her, yet she kept latched. Admittedly she nearly ripped certain mammary glands well off, as she turned to survey the room around her. But she stayed latched.

May I just say a little WTF? Thank you

 Months and months of nearly force-feeding my little munchkin who seemed hellbent on weaning at the earliest possible moment. Weeks of praying she'd figure out a sippie cup so I could rest assured she'd still get nutrition. And here we are. Chaya drinks water and cashew milk from a straw cup more often these days. But she also dives straight like a boob-seeking missile at bedtimes.

 I suppose it may be that we dropped the last middle of the night feed? But it also just seems like she suddenly realized that she had this incredible power over me and that mommy's shirt is magical. She suddenly realized that nursing can be done from five bajillion active positions, and that it's very comforting when you don't feel well. That it's fun to do acrobatics and munch a mammary smoothie simultaneously. Toddler nursing gymnastics.

So I don't really know if this will last and what this means for my plan to wean off the domperidone. It will be interesting to find out I suppose. I've officially weaned off pumping, except for the occasional night where Chaya decides that fifty nursing sessions between nine a.m. and noon were enough for a day (twelve hour sleeping through the night after the body has been given the message to produce produce produce... ouch). I'm still gradually cutting back half a pill at a time. But I really don't know where this will lead us. Except at naptime, I now wear a button up shirt so we don't get back into nursing-to-sleep.

Of course there are downsides. Like weaning would get a lot more complicated. Maybe it's teething, but seriously she wants to nurse all the flipping time sometimes without break. It increases the odds that my shirt is dangling open while I'm wandering about in public. It means that I probably will have to deal with the baby-bites I thought I'd avoided with her late teething. And, it definitely throws off the convenience of anything remotely scheduled. A few days ago, I found myself in a parking lot thanking the heavens I opted against buying a huge bag full of ice during my pre-party run.


Yes, party party party

I may be generally fairly socially inept, but I can plan things


So we had a meet up at Bloedel for all the summer baby birthdays. Chaya ran laps, ate some grass. Tried to steal Sebastian's necklace (of course).




Temporarily stole Sebastian's daddy for some additional lapping. And observed everything around her.



he also ate a few grapes.


They were hardly sour.


All in all, the toddler toddles boldly forward with the seal of approval from doctor and parents alike. Things, my oh my, they are a changin' Thus off we stumble. To infinity and beyond, baby!



And if anyone sees my eenie weenie infant-Chaya, tell her I love her and miss her, but her bigger self is super duper cool and I wouldn't trade her for the world (though possibly I'll just have to trade her for an even bigger better Chaya on the horizon)


Three-Four Good Buddy: 34 years of me and a year of mommy

So, it's been a year for me too. Forget the beast. I've been stretched, bled, stitched, prodded, pierced, milked, bitten scratched, and subjected to some pretty mad emotional highs and lows.

My own inner child digs into her smash cake



Let me gaze into the oh so fuzzy omphalos of my giddy little experience.

People often talk about parents - women in particular, because even in judging women being judged, we really like to judge women (you cannot win) -  "losing themselves." Or losing their "adult identities" when they become mothers.

If we're not failing through some major lapse of neglect, then of course we're probably caring too much. You don't love your child enough, or you've obviously totally lost yourself in loving your child. Middle ground? You're selfish in focusing too much on yourself. You're selfish in conflating your identity with your child's. You are a selfish martyr who's simultaneously negligent, grandiose, and codependent. Pshaw. I will find a way to judge you whether you be pliant or impervious to the social pressures I also judge.

But, yes, losing oneself in parenting. There is some risk of this, of course. One can lose oneself in nearly anything. We're a society of -oholics, here. Work? Hobby? Nothing partways of course. The parents lose themselves is also a misattribution to a fairly common phenomenon. Whenever you immerse yourself in an intense experience, or even not so intense, you buy into a certain culture and pick up the markers of that culture. You  endue yourself with certain totems, acquire an argot, and mores that identify you as part of that group. So, yeah, becoming a mommy is somewhere between joining a clique and a cult. But so are a lot of things.



Ballroom dancers can't imagine dating somebody who doesn't dance. They have praticum shoes and know the difference between rhythm, swing, character, and smooth shoes (yes, they have at least a pair each). They know American versus International styles, and have opinions about various schools' strengths. They have complicated rules about asking others to dance or being asked, and about whose invitations are accepted. They can name drop like an A-Bomb better than even the most proficient Dancing With the Stars afficionado. They wear gauchos, maybe, and have possibly spent more money on a bespangled fringe bikini than their car and a month's rent. They spend shocking fortunes to tan themselves within an inch of their lives, shellack their hair, and drag-queen themselves up in various hotel rooms during competitions.



Tango dancers don't live in Buenos Aires, necessarily, but they know which nights are the hot nights to go to El Beso versus La Viruta versus Canning (or which sequence to attend them in a single night), the fine differences between neotangos and comme il fauts. They wear (or did, I shouldn't predict fashions after a few years of being out of the scene) drop crotch pants and complicated tops. The know every luminary between Singapore and Bangladesh, and strategically drop references to their pilgrammages to Buenos Aires. They have an odd fondness for empanadas and maybe drink mate to keep themselves up into the wheeeeee hours of the morning. They probably own a small silo of shoes, have heated debates about milonguero versus nuevo versus salon. When they travel, they spend hours looking up old partners and renting out gym spaces to practice. They have twenty different versions of the same Di Sarli tune, interpreted by all the other masters and sung by all the major singers. They may speak a pittance of Spanish, but are constantly saying "abrazos" to their friends.



Swing dancers... you get the idea.



Runners...



Cyclists...



Law Students... ok let's not even begin with that whole rollercoaster into attorneydom. Or, heaven forbid, Johnies!



Wherever we go and whatever we do, we eventually simmer ourselves in a stewpot of teeny tiny stringent signals and customs and a certain frame of mind that revises the world in its image.

Just like with anything, there are always subsets of parents. Not exactly the Helicopter versus the Free-Range simplicity, but the preferences and practices of your particular group of surrounding parents. That's age sensitive. It takes parenting philosophies into account. It takes region and cultural backgrounds into account. It's complicated. And you amass this incredible amount of expertise in these areas. I know more about teething, sleeping, pooping, babywearing, and lactating than several bestselling experts. My LCs ask me for input sometimes. And I have passion about that. Being a "low supply mom" (even one who had domperidone) will cast me in a certain group of advocacy and pride similar to how being an infertile woman placed me in a separate spot of perceived-weakness-turned strength.



 It's a lot more than baby talk and googoogaaagaas. There's a drive to understand myself and then reach out and help/connect with others. And I get a lot of energy from being able to help new moms and be a part of the reticulate support network of similarly positioned women. Our experiences are vast and varied, but they inform each other's and connect us in ways I wouldn't have anticipated.

That can reshuffle friendships and priorities, which may be the root of the complaint about parents losing themselves. People who don't have kids - people who aren't moms - don't understand that any more than most moms understand what it is like to be unable to become a mom. Or any more than a non-dancer gets the obsession with the elusive "tango high" in a sweet abrazo. Or anyone who didn't go to lawschool understands why suddenly your old friend is a total wanker with a drinking habit and forty extra pounds of contentious argumentation. There's a regrouping. It happens naturally, but it's important to remember that parenting isn't the only thing that's changed. Time passed. People are constantly evolving towards and away from each other. It's one of very few constants in this world. The best friendships endure and hibernate through the extremes.

But sometimes the intensity can leave one a little lost. And naturally you do give up parts of yourself while sorting out the new self that is to come. I certainly had those struggles.


It was a quick delivery (in a sense) and in that sense I was "lucky," but the condensed intensity of the experience most likely took a heavier toll on my body than a slower labor may have.


I had no idea how weak I'd be after being so fit through pregnancy. Or how little activity constituted "overdoing it." I stubbornly railed against my helplessness, exacerbating said helplessness in the process.

Andrew was home and really wanted to help out, but he's not the thaumaturge who seamlessly intuits what needs to be done and fills the cracks. He needs direction, and I just wasn't in a headspace to give that. Sometimes it feels easier to do things yourself than to try to explain when you're tired. But in this case, it was probably not the right approach. If I'd any idea how wrecked I was, I would have tried more to let go, to stay in bed, and to just stop already. He was so great with Chaya. He loved her so much, but all she did was nurse and sleep. It shut him out quite a bit at first.

It was a tough beginning in a way where I didn't even realize it was tough. Andrew and I had more "difficult conversations" in the first few weeks than six to twelve months of normal talk-it-out-edness. We both felt totally sotten with love, but also completely restless and at loose ends. I wasn't depressed, but I think I may have had postpartum anxiety. I remember feeling such adrenaline and stress at a certain point during a family visit that I was shaking and short of breath when everyone left to grab a meal.

It was just a day or two later that Chaya started losing weight and my milk started drying up. Perhaps that was a wake-up call in its way. Andrew encouraged me to seek help while dealing with the complex emotional labyrinth of lactation failure. But at that point I had so much help. Perhaps it was before that point that I really needed the help. The next few months of pumping and bottle feeding was intense, but so much more manageable: I was back at work with my mom; I had the Bellingham Center for Healthy Motherhood helping and Facebook support groups; I had a distinct grief and anxiety to name and address, and an action plan to do so; and Andrew was really present as I stepped back and made space for him. I felt less like an exhausted-walking-boob and more like a mother.

There were milestones that corresponded with Chaya's. When I stopped working, I again felt like more of a mom. At times, I was panicked to be left alone with Chaya for too long. Even if my mom was working in the other office, being "at home" was terrifying. Driving. Going out. But the more we got into a groove, the more human I felt. The more I forced myself to extend outwards and immerse myself in the parenting schtick, the less isolated and flailing I became. Playdates and group events evolved.  I slowly felt less isolated and dependent. More in control, as Chaya became more her own little creature.

And although I admit that my life is still dictated by baby poop, leaking boobs, and the ever shifting NAP (not my own), I feel like me again. Not lost or adrift. Perhaps still seeking a balance when it comes to putting myself out there. Still the introvert who can talk herself into staying home with the slightest provocation (because I'm not going to blame being a parent for being lame - I've always been kind of lame in those ways). But me. And part of me is Mommy of course. More so than ever. And part of being mommy is not being the same entity as my child, because mommy is an externally defined outside influence. Mommy is being a home base that allows these little lives to grow further away every day; it's encouraging our children to have their own heartaches and defeats without taking them onto ourselves; it's modelling skills, but also staying out of the way as they develop in their idiosyncratic ways. And that's a role that takes skill, support, and ever evolving groundedness. It's something to be proud of in its own right. It's a daily challenge of self-regulation and constant openness. And it is very, mother-friggin' grown up. It's takes a big woman to crawl around on the floor singing Pollywaddle-Doodle all day while secretly listening to the 538 Podcast and googling "childhood developmental markers in Botswana" on my cell phone.

But don't worry. Mentally I'm still a five year old. I haven't lost that part of myself. It's going to be awkward when Miss Chaya outgrows me so early in her life. But she's a clever one. She'll handle it just fine.



Happy thirty four years to me and one whole year to mommy-me!

I don't always get it right, but I most often get it (W)right enough.

The Chay-B-Day Eve Extravaganza: Doobie Doobie Dooo Date Delirium



A year ago today I had an appointment with my OB. It was my "due date" (amorphous and misleading term, but Chaya took it semi-seriously). An exam indicated I was no further along than prior weeks. I declined to have any mucus stripping (don't ask), and we discussed the next steps if I went too far "past term."



 The exam itself left me a bit uncomfortable, as they sometimes do. I thought little of it. That evening, we went out to Super Buffet for my very last meal there. I was uncomfortable to distraction - curt, cramping, digging my nails into the chair. Again, I'd had contraction-type things after exams before and thought little of it except "everyone is very boring, this food is annoying and OWW". That night I slept in uncomfortable twenty minute jags. The next morning, I thought maybe I had food poisoning. It took my mom coming over to confirm I was probably in labor. And of course by the time I went in, I was almost fully dilated. 

And here we are at fifty-two weeks of peak (and pique) Chayosity. A pittance of a day before Miss Chaya's grand appearance on The (W)right Scene. Boy has it been a month of an approach. 




The eleven month sicko-slump persisted beyond those first two weeks. Her Grandpapa Wright did indeed fall ill with our little lurgy. And in turn he shared once more with the family. Chaya relapsed. Gramma Pam had a day or two of dyspepsia. My gutsy guts did a few cartwheels. And we shelved, once more, any delusions of dairy, fiberful foods or tidy diapers. As for that sleep schedule thing? Pshaw!

Another week of miserable baby and rancid diapers and peradventure things began to ... settle? We hope! But cannot be certain. And with a whole new petri dish of peripatetating family to swap sick with, who knows? That's right, Chaya has met her (genetic) match:



The Falconers are back in town. 




Oh heck yeah. And we can't confirm that they are truly the pesky harbingers, but it's very possible that they were the peripatetic Patients Zero who imported Chaya's brand new head cold to our humble home. Or... she chewed on something pretty much anywhere in public... But we'll blame family and call it a birthday gift. As a result, of course, Chaya no longer has any appetite. Oh I take that back. An appetite for mayhem, an appetite for waving her fork and spoon around, an appetite for stacking utensils and food and cups, and an appetite for distributing the contents of her plate with some inscrutable discrimination between the floor and her seat. I don't blame her. No matter the torture we undertake with saline drops and aspirators, she continues to have a plugged up nose. 



She's currently down to actually eating freeze dried strawberries. Hey, all five calories of them were definitely worth the half hour sitting at the table, the half hour to clean up and the half hour to try to figure out anything else she might just feasibly eat just in case... But hey... vitamin C.
This is why toddlers live off of McDonald's 

Oh and she kind of stopped sleeping. Our Friday evening was a traumatic three hour ordeal of sleep untraining. I'm pretty sure none of our measures to sooth and comfort her deserve the credit for her eventual eight hours of restless sleep. I'm pretty sure she just cried herself out. But we tried fruitlessly And there was much sobbing. I currently live in terror of bed and nap times. Though I'm hoping the fact that she no longer has any appetite should curtail her vexatious habit of pooping herself awake during naps. Fingers crossed. 



And so without further ado (but many sneezes and sniffles), she slips right out of infancy and into the terrifying and terrific toddler years. Toddler! Yikes! It's so different now. It's hard still, but in such a distinct way. Caring for a young infant is so primal. Even the terror is the most basic and primordial of tremors - it's all ounces: ounces of baby weight, of milk pumped, of coffee shot directly into the eye to keep partially conscious).



Dealing with an older baby is fully cro-magnon. It's about handling a teeny tiny little person hellbent on destroying herself, and digging up every imaginable emotion and personality conflict that could roil under the stew of our human egos.



 It's running, laughing, crying, and trying to remember that they totally understand shockingly complex words and emotions. They're in your head and they haven't developed the capacity for empathy yet! And that - little person though they be - they have not mastered some of the moderating abilities of mental processing that make this crazy life tolerable. Constantly ambushed by new and confusing feelings, sensations, desires, and drives. Both delighted and surprised and truly distressed at things we silly grownups imagine are old and tedious. It's a rush going through that again with your own flesh and blood. While trying to handle your own raging ego and screeching inner child. It's different. 

One years old! Toddler! Ack! Personhood. Albeit a little person who does not talk or walk like I was promised she might at this age. Seriously, I thought she'd be walking by now, after she popped up and starting tromping around with such determination 



Chaya may in fact not be particularly exceptional in any objective way. She is a bit bigger than an average female her age, though after this month of constant ailing not by much. She's been ahead on some milestones and behind on others. She pulled herself up and started walking with help on the early side, but has pretty well stuck with honing that skill for the past couple of months. She was determined to crawl at four months, but waited until eight to really do so with any skill. She scales stairs like an expert, but doesn't climb the couches. She made a series of complex syllabic and intoned sounds months ago, but still doesn't appear to have identifiable words (except "mamamaama" happens when she wants something or is unhappy and the ever popular "bababu" which clearly means something but we have no idea what). She's just sort of in the middle.  




 Not particularly social or anti-social. Neither fully independent, nor clingy. Yes, people have commented on what an attractive baby she is ("and not like with other babies where I don't mean it... she is genuinely attractive"), but she also has cradle cap and funny hair and isn't exactly 100% gerber baby. A baby who gets sick, but not more than average. Not an easy baby, but certainly  nothing like the truly difficult babies. Regardless, she is absolutely the hands-down best Chaya Wright in the land. She's so aware. So bright. So engaged. So willful and determined and full of humor and wonder.  Brash and bold, yet sensitive. She of the alacritous eyebrows and So very... Chaya. I couldn't ask for a more Chaya baby ever and I wouldn't settle for anything less. 

I love my little crazy fiendish snotty drool bugaboobabe. 



So today, on this anniversary of something quite surreal and spectacular,  I think of fortune cookies and wontons and very uncomfortable chairs and raise a glass of jasmine tea to my snotty, underslept bobbling little toddler. May she one day remember how to sleep and eat.