Month Two

angryabigailDear Abigail,

I won’t lie. I wanted to start off this month’s letter like this:

Dear Colicky A-hole…

But, and while I’m not Dooce, I know first-hand how self-righteous and lacking in humor the Internet tends to be, especially where calling your two-month-old baby an asshole is concerned, and I have enough on our plate right now. Fending off the killers of joy is not one of them, especially since I know that by the time you read this you will have been regaled with the tales of these past weeks and how they’ve almost been the undoing of your parents.

Well, not really, but I imagine as the days, weeks, months and years wear on, Daddy and I will have given this experience the epic treatment we think it deserves.

As of this point in me writing this letter, you’re asleep upstairs in your swing, for your morning nap. At this time last month, such a thing was unheard of, which goes to show you that the Internet is right about some things, and in this case, it does get better. Now you barely squawk when I put you in there after your morning bottle, and sometimes you sleep in there for two, three hours. It’s amazing. Your parents also nutted up a bit and stopped letting you run the joint.

cuteabigailA lot has happened this month. It didn’t really go by that quickly, I’m not going to lie. We learned you not only had reflux, but also colic, which has meant your Daddy and I working hard to make sure you’re not only not in pain, but also sleep at night for the love of all that is good and holy. You’re stubborn, by God, but so are we. And we’ve had years of practice at it.

I’ve given so much thought to how stubborn you are, how fussy, how set on bringing the thunder each and every night, and how it sets the tone for our relationship. What is it exactly that God’s trying to teach me here? Most of it has become pretty obvious to me: It’s my job to be present, to be the adult, to let you know how much I love you in spite of it all. You might read all of these posts one day and think I didn’t love you, or that your crying made me angry with you, especially if you read them when you are a little younger than I’d hoped. Please know that nothing was ever further from the truth. I love you because of it. There is nothing more encouraging to me than to see we’ve given birth to someone like you, someone so headstrong, so sure of what she wants and so tenacious, as your Papa calls you. We’re just working hard to make sure we channel all that, even now at this age, and it’s not easy but it’s what we signed up for.

One of the blessings I’ve had this month is that I get to be home with you in the mornings, once all of the crying has subsided, and the gas has quite literally passed – and holy smokes, kid, do you let ’em rip in the morning – and I get to spend time with you. The you you, not the poor baby who is currently plagued with colic and reflux.

playmatabigailYou’re so, so curious. Where once you could have given a royal hoot about the outside world, all of that growing has meant you want to take in everything. It’s as though you’re thinking, “Holy shit! Look at this ceiling! Have you bitches seen this ceiling?! Was it here the whole time? There is a lot of ceiling here and I have a lot of catching up to do!” And now, God bless you, you’re entertained for 15 minutes – at least! – on your play mats, which mean Mama can do any number of things in your general vicinity, or just sit and play with you. Just last week you took a swipe at one of the space monkeys on the mat upstairs. You grabbed it with all of your might and pulled the whole damn contraption down.

You’re a damn tank, my dear.

You still love looking at shapes and patterns, and every day we spend time with a whole slew of them. You giggle and smile when you see them, and so I like to think you’re putting it together, that it’s something you do with Mama and it makes you happy.

Of course that may just be gas. Seriously. Have I mentioned the gas? No one farts and burps quite like you.

abigailandthegangYou love, love, love your Mr. Monkey Magoo and Pooh. You can spend 20 minutes at your changing table, cooing and talking to them. It’s hysterical. On Facebook, I’ve started an entire series of pictures based on your chatting and cooing with these guys, all centered on the concept that you’re hosting a “daily staff meeting.” Mostly it’s a way for me to laugh and document you being stupidly cute.

We make up a lot of songs, about Mr. Monkey Magoo. Well, we pretty much make up a lot of songs about everything we do. The soundtrack to our days is much like those songs from most of the movies from the 1970s, theme songs that provide play-by-play narration as to what’s taking place. So far, we have songs about your face, songs about us walking around the house, songs when you’re pooping and songs when I’m trying to get you to fall asleep.

Go to sleep/Abigail. We love you/Abigail…” over and over and over again.

Your Mama is not so good with the lullabies.

This month you discovered your hands, and I’m so grateful. Mostly because you’re learning how to soothe yourself by sucking on your hands and your thumb. Just today we caught you sucking on your thumb when we came to get you in the morning, and when I came to get you after your afternoon nap.

We don’t get outside as much as I’d hoped – this Spring has been both rainy and cold, which puts a damper on our walks. When we take then – and we take them every chance we can get – you fuss initially but then sit back and enjoy the ride. Grandma Paula noticed recently that putting down the shield is a surefire way to get your cackles up – you want to see the whole world from your little seat, by God.

abigailthighSomething else happened this month, something that we talk about pretty openly, your dad and I. Mama has always battled being a little sad, and this month she became a little more sad than usual. It wasn’t your fault, it’s just how I’m built, much like how you have colic. Can’t help it, it’s just what God threw our way. So Mama did what she usually does, and that’s set out to make it better, to make it right. Your grandparents have been the biggest help of all, as they’ve all come to our house, each week, to spend time with you and give me a break.

Always know this: no matter what happens in life, some things you can’t help. What you can help, though, is how you deal with those things and what you have to show for it in the end. Circumstance will never be an excuse, my dear daughter. You’re smart, privileged and loved, which is more than what 90 percent of world gets blessed with when circumstances befall them. If I teach you anything by example, it’s that I hope you see that with hard work, you can handle anything life throws your way.

And just so you know, it’s gonna throw you a lot of stuff. Best realize that now, suck it up and get to working. You may be pissed at us for it, but, to paraphrase a column I read recently, you can take it up with your therapist because we’ll have raised you in such a fashion that you’ll be able to afford one.

abigailcribTo that end, I’ve had to make you generally miserable this month. Part of what made Mama sad was that she was really tired and, also, hungry/dirty/sloppy/etc. As much as you hate being put down, I’ve had to let you sit on your own while I did things like shower or make dinner. Now I always did this once I was sure you were clean, dry, fed, burped and otherwise OK. Frankly, you seem to be no worse for the wear, and I’d like to think that even at this young age I’m helping you understand that life isn’t always fair, and sometimes we’re going to be unhappy for a few minutes. You are not the boss of me, my love, and Mama’s got to eat.

Plus, we’re transitioning you to your crib. As I write this, and seriously it’s taken me three days to craft this, you time-robber, you, you’re in your crib squawking and fussing. Daddy just checked on you and you’re fine, but oh man you’re not pleased. You liked sleeping on us, and I suppose I don’t blame you. But I need to get better sleep if I’m going to get better, and even though right now it means some tough times, and making your world less than awesome, we have to do it.

But oh when you’re happy! When you’re happy it’s true what they say – your kid smiles at you and it’s like every light in a ten-block radius turns on and the power surging through each one is so frenetic and massive that it all just can’t be contained and bursts into a million tiny fragments. This morning, for instance, I zerberted those cheeks and that belly of yours and you giggled and smiled and cooed and we immediately disappeared into our own little world. I took you back to bed with me, and we snuggled and snoozed for an hour like that, side by side, the two ladies of the house. Of course once you woke up and got worked up to look around you, you spit up all over my nightshirt and sent it down my cleavage.

Still, it was sweet, and peaceful, and I look down at your perfect little head and I cup it in my hand and say, “Oh, daughter, daughter, daughter. My daughter.”

I do this a lot these days. And I’m so grateful. And I love you so much.