When I was pregnant, I signed on to get those babycenter.com emails. You may know them – the “fruit” emails. If at all possible, your unborn baby is likened to a piece of fruit to describe size. It doesn’t work in the beginning, say, when your baby is a microscopic system of cells by one week and a poppy seed by the next. At the very end, I’m not sure they can find a fruit big enough. Maybe even watermelon is too small. I believe they eventually say, “Your baby is currently the size of…a baby. Happy Laboring, my friend.” (Or something to that effect) I loved those emails. I used to get them every Friday.
Scarlet was born on a Thursday, the night before her due date and 40th week email anniversary. My trusty email still did come because I hadn’t, in fact, contacted babycenter.com to tell them that my baby was now a baby.
I loved these emails for their aspect of time. In this world, events you want to happen slowly, happen swiftly. Events you want to happen swiftly, happen slowly. In the world of pregnancy, I wanted time to move quickly, and oh quickly, did it move. I’m not a patient person. I would look ahead to the coming weeks and see what my blueberry and apple and jicama were up to. And how it affected me. I loved knowing that in between just a week of two “Gossip Girl” episodes, my sesame seed started growing ten fingers and ten toes. That as I reclined and slept a lot and ate somewhat questionably, as I applied for jobs I wasn’t getting, as I learned the New England world around me, days were long and hard. November and December were gray and icy and treacherous. Yet in my body, a miraculously warm & thriving system of life was taking place.
So fast. The economy may have crashed. My world stood still. But, Scarlet – she was growing at the speed of light.
On the outside, her life was similar at first. I still got my weekly emails, time-adjusted a day earlier to her birth, of course. Now, on Thursdays I learned just how much my ever-growing miracle was changing. One week, vivid smiles. The next? Vivid laughs. Processing, growing, gaining eyesight, eye contact, motor control, grasp, emotion, self-soothing, babbling, growth.
Freakin’ miracle, all of it.
Somewhere along the line, time stopped moving at the speed of light. It had to. I couldn’t afford her outgrowing new clothing sizes every week. That slowed down to every month, and now, every year. The new interests, the sleeplessness at trying to master skills, the painful growth spurts, the teething, the language…somewhere along the line, I realized she wasn’t unrecognizable week by week. That she wasn’t turning microscopic into tadpole-like in the blink of an eye. That she wasn’t turning half-blind into seeing in between two dreary Thursdays. She’s always changing, yes, (aren’t we all) but maybe it’s not as drastic right now. Or vividly, openly drastic. Expression of emotion seems to be her latest 2.3/almost 2.4 endeavor:
“I feel sad because…”
“It scared me because…”
“You found my Elmo! I love you because of that.”
“I’m happy. Why? I’m happy to eat this apple.”
“Are you ok, Mr. Dinosaur? Are you sad because it’s raining?”
“How are you? Do you feel better now?”
And with this ability to express emotions, comes processing emotions. And she’s processing fears with language and with a bit of my help. And it’s fantastic.
The Slide was a fear semi-recently conquered. However, the fear of The Slide was never as great as the fear of The Swing. I believe I successfully put her in a baby swing once when she was maybe five or six months, and it only lasted enough for my friend to snap two or three iPhone pics. Recently, I had to go to the local park twice in one day. One time was for a party and the other time was for a casual photo shoot. Both times, she was in the swing for practically an hour. She calls it “finging” and talks about it constantly. I don’t know what changed in her to embrace swinging. Something did.
When I was a kid I remember how much I wanted to attain that mini roller coaster stomach feeling you get on that first big swing. I love watching her grimace and then squeal as the feeling overtakes her.
Ever try swinging as an adult? I’m sure I did it as a teenager but it’s been awhile. I would have thought it would make me queasy. It doesn’t. Still feels like flying.
Sometimes after a particularly good swing session, she asks me to put on Tom Petty’s “Learning To Fly” when we get in the car.
I’m not at all a thrill-seeker. Even as an adult I have never been on a roller coaster and I’m pretty much scared of sledding hills. I see little traces of that in her, but maybe that’s just normal two-year-old stuff. I also see the physically braver parts of her father in her. I like that. The caution and the courage. The yin and the yang.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be waiting a lot on benches at amusement parks while those two go on rides. Will I ever get the guts to join them? Will I grow and change slowly as she does?
If I never do gain her physical courage at least I know I’ll always be there taking photos of it all and cheering them on from a safe distance. Waiting and watching, always. And relishing it.