One year of huge change…in both of us. That’s why I feel this birthday is just as much my time to celebrate life as it hers.
I’m the woman who didn’t believe I was destined for motherhood…who would have signed the petition for baby-free planes…who never experienced the baby bug or a desire to hold my friend’s babies. No maternal instinct whatsoever…or so, I thought. My rational brain ran the NPV (Net Present Value) and calculated motherhood as NPV negative in terms of past investment in education and future earnings…otherwise feared as career suicide. This is why I needed to become a mother…to prove myself…my old limited self…wrong.
At one year old, my daughter’s favorite thing to do is wave. With the Desi wave, she has the ability to create magic in the perfect stranger. Waving her hand with eager expectation, we both look and wonder, will this unsuspecting passerby wave back? More often than not, yes. And, wave back with a realization visible in their eyes that this isn’t an ordinary wave; it’s a wave from a baby – a soul-level greeting. With this one gesture, she creates happiness. The strength of her gesture is not in the wave itself, it’s from her pure intention. So, it changes how I acknowledge people…how I connect in my classes…how I write. With the intention to communicate more…at the soul level.
There is more…much more. This list attempts to capture the most salient, so maybe you can relate…imagine…or otherwise celebrate with me.
Top Ten: Year One…Ode to Desiree
Ode (n) : a poem in which a person expresses a strong feeling of love or respect for someone (Desiree) or something (motherhood)
1. The sisterhood…at the gym, on Facebook, at Gymboree…and with a special shoutout to the mother of three who answered unabashedly to the question, What does your baby like to do? with “Umm…my daughter is just lucky to be alive.” (Phew, did that take the pressure off!) I never thought I would fit in with other mommies. But once I opened my eyes to the fact that mothers come in all varieties, just as babies do…I began to appreciate all of them. There is no competition in motherhood. There is just love…love for our most precious thing.
2. Chunky thighs…Desiree’s…not mine! I thought this was going to be a problem for me and my fitness-skewed perception of a nice thigh gap, but once you experience a newborn, you become keenly aware that a baby’s perception or desire for food is pure survival and growth. Empty stomach = screaming baby. Or, as I imagine Desi saying, “Mom, hurry up, I need this sh#t to grow!”
3. The Rocking Chair…patience proliferates here. Hours and HOURS here. From patience, you become a prep pro. Gone are the days of spontaneous outings. I start prepping a good 1-2 hours before my one-hour fitness classes. The absurdity doesn’t escape me. With teething, I have to prep extra carefully for the extra…explosive, which tops the list of things I do NOT love!
I do not love giving birth because it is easy or pain-free. I love birth because when my body is bringing forth new life, I feel vibrant, important, and certain that the work I am doing is worthwhile. I learn the value of giving up control and accepting life as it is.” ~Cynthia Gabriel
5. The sumo slap. Desiree does this when I change her. She slaps her belly…not in shame or embarrassment…in love and pride. There’s something to be learned (relearned) here for all of us. She loves every inch of her body. She knows her beauty. Imagine what that would feel like? As mothers and role models, it is our collective duty to show, feel, and reinforce this…so she continues to love every inch.
Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” ~Frank Kafka
6. Improved vision…as life seen through a baby’s eyes. Her curiosity and fascination elicit it from me. I wonder what is Desiree thinking peering into the dishwasher or…climbing into the trash? (Note: motherhood has also enhanced other senses, such as smell and hearing, but these are often not as pleasantly experienced!)
8. A new relationship with my mother…call it nostalgia, sharing, passing the torch, or good ol’ fashioned intergenerational pay back! “Sarah, I remember when you protested a nap by covering the wallpaper with Vaseline…I could have killed you!” Fortunately, she did not…
10. A new identity. My recent layoff seemed entirely different than it would have B.D. (Before Desiree). My affiliation with my former employer and the title I celebrated attaining are no longer so strongly associated with my identity. The tragedy my prior limited self would have perceived is now realized as a blessing. More time with Desiree and more time to contemplate…and write…my next chapter.
Freedom. Love. Joy. Life. Stop and appreciate the baby wave…in fact, encourage and replicate it. You never know whose life you may be saving…quite possibly your own.
It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Desiree teaches me about life. Dream big. Desiree more.