So, apparently July happened.
Seriously, how it is that July happened?
But it did, and here we are. And yes, I am still here, despite my unplanned hiatus. And no, there is no major calamity or crisis to report, just life being life and being all kinds of busy and stressful and wonderful and challenging.
At some point in the past couple weeks I read this essay on parenting and writing in the New York Times and between the footnotes, interviews, and word counts and the music classes, swim diapers, and clapping and waving, it stuck.
While a lot of the essay was about the author not wanting her son to hear a reading of her memoir detailing a more colorful time in her life, the part of the essay that resonated with me was the author’s acknowledgment that the people in our lives didn’t necessarily sign up for living with a writer or having their stories out there. That’s something I think about a lot as a nonfiction writer and as a blogger. In fact, I think the more I write, the more tightly I hold their stories against my chest. It is not an easy line to walk—providing enough detail and humanity so the reader is invested without betraying someone else’s privacy.
Naturally I am most cautious when it comes to my daughter. There are so many anecdotes and revelations I think about writing and then wonder if sometime down the road, she will be embarrassed or wish I had refrained, if the line between my story as her mother and her story as her own independent person should be thicker, not more diaphanous. So I write her letters each month and save them in a folder on my desktop, knowing someday I will print them and give them to her and hope I choose my timing well so she doesn’t cringe at the mushiness.
But there are moments that feel appropriate, tiny glimpses of a private life that are meant for public consumption. I can’t believe it has been four months since I wrote a morning snapshot of my sweet girl. I am not one to get too sentimental when one stage ends and another begins because each stage is so much fun and so amazing in its own right, but just like I can’t explain how I blinked and a whole month of the summer has gone by, I don’t know quite how it is that our house doesn’t look as much like a baby lives here anymore.
The bouncy chair she just adored has been stashed away since we were still wearing winter coats. The jumperoo she loved is down the basement because why jump when you can crawl or take teetering, tottering, sideways steps, or swing from one piece of furniture to another? I fear the beloved exersaucer, the scene of so many squeals and pulls and bops! is the next casualty, since the only thing she has used it for since May is something to pull up on and cruise around.
I finally got around to returning the hospital-grade pump, and broke down and cleared out all of the bottles, despite the fact she has used her sippy cup for months. My own little act of denial, I guess. The bottles and the boppy nursing pillow were what gave me pause, and really made me stop and get a little sentimental that she is now 10 months old since they represent such a physical connection to her babyhood. Just tonight as I was weeding through some of her newborn clothes to give to a new baby, a tiny purple Mary Jane sock tumbled out and my breath caught a little at how tiny she once was. (Though so far she has her Mama’s height and can still rock the 6-month clothes…)
It is too good to go this fast.
The baby gates and the sharing entrees with me and the fact that it took twice as long to get through chest PT because she was chasing down the dog, standing next to my therapist trying to pat me, and crawling on my head—all of this points to toddlerhood.
Every stage has been wonderful but even if I could, I would not go back—watching this little person emerge with every wave, every smile, every emphatic shake of her head and every triumphant declaration of “Up!” when she gets up is too good.
(Too good to go this fast.)