November was a hard month for us. Because Scarlett, dear, you are a puzzle and sometimes Daddy and I don’t feel like we even have all the pieces, let alone know where to put them. But when you started crying inconsolably every day around 5:30, we knew it was time to trash the Dr. Sears book and start taking charge of our schedule. So we read the Baby Whisperer and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and we made it rain in your room and broke in the crib and plugged in the monitor and bought a couple dozen pacifiers and wrote it all down in your 1000 Days Journal. We rocked and sang and swayed together. Day by day. We just took it day by day.
Everyone kept telling me to follow my instincts but I gotta tell ya, my instincts and I have always had a complicated relationship. We’re just such different animals. I’m looking for all this approval and feedback, while my instincts are always insisting on this pesky independence. It’s a drag.
And then one day, I took you to the Sheridan DMV to get Daddy’s Volvo plates. Remember? It was the same day we pulled over to nurse in the McDonalds parking lot and the same day I drug you into Burlington Coat Factory to find socks that would stay on your feet. And as the cart rolled like a train across the parking lots toward the filth of low-income Colorado, your eyes seemed to outgrow your face as they looked up at me with innocence and fear and confusion. But I was scared, too. I realized that you would always be looking up at me for the answers and what was i going to do when i didn’t know them?
Ann LaMott says that motherhood is a scary business and if you’re not careful, you can trip off into this Edgar Allan Poe feeling of otherness. She’s pretty spot-on with that. Ann also says to ask people for help. I have. I do. But it turns out there’s a lot going on inside my head. Gender roles and self-loathing and ego monsters and more guilt than I’ever witnessed in one of life’s little intersections.
One morning as you stared into my soul, I reached for a link. You know, the blessings from my baby shower. This one was from Eva. It said: “Andrea, may you come to know that every choice you make with love, as a parent, is completely perfect.” And I kissed your little eyebrows and I knew it would be okay.
Then, that first weekend in November, your Great Grandma Enright passed away and Mommy really had to pull it together.
After crying into my robe the morning Grammy called, I knew that I had to go back with you in my arms. To beam new life into the stillness of death. So I carried you in your sling and nursed you through the take-off and landing and put you under my arm like a happy little basketball to meet Papa at the gate.
One day I will tell you about the farm where he grew up. About the green glass chalice full of mail and the phases of the moon on the Whiteside County Bank calendar. How Papa’s baby picture was the only photo I ever saw on Great Grandma’s dresser. How she always knew the White Sox line up by heart. Sometime, I will tell you about Great Grandma Enright’s mother, Mae Gainey and how she died just a month after giving birth to her only daughter. How Great Grandma grew up without a mom. And when I do, I hope that you will find it hard to imagine life without me.