My Sweet Girl

For myriad reasons, I’ve shied away from talking about Abigail here in any great detail.

Admittedly it was a somewhat conscious decision. Writing about a baby still feels rather benign; with exceptions, babies are babies and they do baby things that are generally universal in nature. Tracking what amounted to her baby milestones never felt like – cue ominous music – An Invasion of Her Privacy.

I don’t have issues with how people talk about their kids online. I know the Internet is all aflutter with people who like to make seemingly cogent arguments about The Damage that can be done to kids whose parents used them as material for their blogs. I say “seemingly” because, let’s be honest: crawling up to your bully pulpit on the Interwebz is only about making you feel self-important. None of us knows jack squat about the psychological makeup of someone else’s child, let alone the child of someone whose life we only have a glimpse of online, to talk about how someone else is fucking up their kid.

Rest assure, all of us parents will do something to our children that will cause them untold grief at some stage in the game.

I like reading about other people’s kids and families, especially if the stories are well-told. But I get that it’s about comfort level for the families. Scott is pretty adamant about the degree to which we post pictures of Abigail online. Fairly soon, the only place to see pictures of Abigail online will likely be Facebook or in emails that we send to loved ones. This isn’t an arrangement I like, mind you, but you know, he gets a say, and it’s not as though he’s asking me to raise Abigail as a Scientologist.

But I do need to figure out a way to tell the story of being Abigail’s parent in a way that feels authentic but doesn’t leave me wondering if somewhere down the line she isn’t going to wish I’d shut my yap about her. And the other thing is that I miss not having the written record of her as she grows, and yes I know I could do it the old-fashioned way but I don’t work that way, hurrah for the days of yore and all that.

For now, what I want to share is this:

  • Abigail is a total crank in the morning. She inherits this from her father. Neither of them are morning people. You can’t get a coherent anything out of either of them until they’re had their coffee and green monster smoothie, respectively.
  • Abigail is without fear. I’m going to go ahead and give myself a big ol’ parental howdy-doo on this one, since from the minute Abigail started to crawl and explore, we’ve let her go on ahead and get hurt and learn how to deal with it. I don’t mean we use her to act out our own real-life version of Frogger or anything, but it was clear early on that Abigail was a physical kid. If she was going to be that insistent on moving and exploring and the like, we knew she was going to acquire a lion’s share of bumps and scrapes. So whenever she falls on her butt, or scrapes a knee, or hell, even gets a little spooked, we encourage her to “shake it off” and get back up. As a result, she keeps on moving and takes charge of her world without falling into hysterics each time she gets a little bruised. She conquers climbing up the biggest slides on the playground. She approaches other little kids with ease. She willingly dunks her entire face into water with a smile. There is nothing delicate about our child. Nothing.
  • Abigail is a fan of puzzles and books and putting things away. The biggest development of the past couple of weeks is that Abigail can now put together her Melissa & Doug puzzles. All parents have these moments when they realize that the wheels are spinning and clicking in their kids’ brains and VOILA! Kid has Figured It Out. Realizing that Abigail could now put the puzzles together blew my mind. So now, of course, everything has its rightful place. The square shapes go into square holes. Round ones, heart-shaped ones, etc. Lids for containers have a home, as do the nesting cups that double as bath toys.
  • Abigail’s favorite words are as follows: “Outside” and “Elmo.” The child is in a constant state of id turmoil, as she’s either incredibly insistent on being outdoors, collecting acorns (“A-cons, Mama?“) and going to the park or incredibly insistent on hearing and seeing everyone’s favorite furry red monster. The only way this is avoided is to draw every blind in the house, hide every iPad, iPhone and remote control. Looking out the window sends her into a fury as does catching a glimpse of you checking your Facebook page.
  • Abigail does not like junk food. My father makes comments that Abigail rejects French fries and tater tots and fried anything because “of all of the health food she eats.” I don’t think he’s being sarcastic, and he’s right that she eats pretty well, but I do think it’s odd that she’s my child and has routinely spit out any attempt I’ve made at giving her a French fry. I’ve even tried these baked “broccoli” fries and she’ll have none of it. She also doesn’t like meat (though deli turkey slices are OK), but beans, vegetables and fruit are the highlights of her day.
  • Abigail loves watching me get ready in the morning. She’s by my side for every application of mascara. She insists on combing her hair while I’m combing mine. She follows me into my closet. She chooses bracelets for me to wear, but mostly to try on herself. It isn’t the quality time I’d prefer with my daughter in the morning –I’m not nearly engaged as I’d like, but whoever really is?– but it’s time together before I head out the door nonetheless. Also? It’s stupid cute when she tries to open the drawer with all of my hair paraphernalia and squeaks, “Heh-band?” for “headband,” which is her favorite accessory.

I probably love being a mother more than I ever thought I would, though it’s clear to me we’re approaching the place where for all of the love and unadulterated joy her mere presence brings to our lives, HOLY HANNAH is raising a person going to drive me bonkers.

There is a lot of “no” heard in these parts, and time outs have started, and sweet GOD WHY do you have to always try and SIT ON THE DOG? Joan Didion (and I’ve quoted this before, almost a year ago) wrote about the divide that eventually happens between parent and child as the years go on, and how its all both necessary and heartbreaking: “The ways in which our investments in each other remain too freighted ever to see the other clear.” I realized the other day that, no matter my intentions, no matter how resolute I am in how we discipline Abigail, no matter how much love and care is invested in these actions, there’s no way for everything I’m doing now, and all that will come after it, to not completely baffle and anger her until she’s older and, God willing and the creek don’t rise, has the perspective of a fully functioning adult.

But yes. I love my girl. My sweet, funny, smart, brave, hard-working, silly girl. No matter how many times I have to tell her to quit feeding the dog from the table.