So yesterday afternoon I was driving home from picking up Briar at Dot’s when my phone rang.
It was Sean calling, presumably to check in and give me a sense of how late he’d be staying at work. The weather had taken a sort of ugly turn, the sky was dark and rain had begun to fall. I let him know where I was and asked how long he’d be working. He said he wasn’t sure, which is usually sort of code for, “It’s going to be late, but I kinda don’t want to tell you that because you’ll be bummed. And if I don’t say it, maybe I won’t work that late, because I’d really rather be home.” See how much easier it is for him to just say, “Ah, not sure babe,”? I told him I was in a bit of a funk and was just planning on playing with Briar to shake it. I said that I understood if he needed to work late, but that I was really missing him. He sounded concerned and guilty, so I said, “Don’t worry. Please work as late as you need to so that you are set for the rest of the week. I don’t want to trade an hour with you tonight for an entire Saturday at the office. Just know I’ll be happy to see you when you get home.” We got off the phone – I should say that I had my cell phone on speaker, so both hands were on the wheel- and I continued home.
I was bummed that he wasn’t coming home right at five, but knew Briar, who was asleep in the back seat, and I would have fun. When I pulled into the driveway his Jeep was there. I wracked my brain trying to remember if we had carpooled. Had he just called to ask for a ride home and hadn’t asked because I was down? Was he going to have to walk in the rain? Wait a minute. I know we didn’t carpool because he told me he left his lunch in the car so he would have to move it (parking ticket story for another day). So, did…ah, is he home? “I am so confused,” I said aloud.
I walked in the house.
Briar continued to sleep in the carseat as I walked through the home so confused, to an observer it would have looked as if I wandered into the wrong home.
“Go see your mama. Who’s that?” I heard Sean say as Ella ran to the door (from outside).
He was sitting right on our porch with both dogs. I’ve never been so happy to see someone in my whole life!
I don’t mind the late nights he works or the extra one on one time it affords me with Briar. What I do mind is always coming home to an empty house or the shared time to decompress from the day. Sharing a schedule. It’s hard to always be three steps ahead. For example, if I get home at 4:30, I have a snack, play with Briar, tidy up a room in the house, maybe go through the mail, by the time 8 o’clock rolls around and it’s Briar’s bedtime I am fine with just going to bed. When Sean gets home, whether it’s at 7 or 11, he still needs to go through the 3 or 4 steps of shaking off the day, changing out of work clothes and then catching up on the news. Our bedtimes are not in synch, which means our mornings aren’t in synch, which means it’s quick kisses in the hallway as I leave and he heads to the shower. To have him home to share a snack with, to sit on the bench on our porch, with Briar between us pointing out rustling leaves on trees, it’s just so wonderful!
Totally off track from the title of this entry.
A couple of months ago Sean and I started pointing things out to Briar.
“Briar, look at the tree. That’s a tree. Those are leaves. The leaves are green.”
“Look, Briar, that’s the blue sky.”
At first it felt a little a silly, you always say you won’t baby-talk, but it’s sort of inevitable. And, in fact, I learned on some show or another, it’s proven that the sing song cadence of baby-talking has been used since the beginning of time to teach babies to communicate. It is the up and down rhythm and higher pitch that attracts their attention and works best.
One day I remember realizing that Briar was totally tracking. She was watching my finger, scrutinizing what I pointed at and then looking back at me as if to say, “Is that what you wanted me to see? Because I saw it.” It was incredible! Knowing that we were sharing something. It was really fun when we did it on the plane. I would direct her toward something out the window of the plane and she would crane her neck, touch her finger to the plexi-glass and utter some emphatic little, “Goo” or “Doo-uh”.
Well over the last week she has taken to pointing around the room or up toward the sky. When she does this we’ll encourage her and identify what she is pointing at. One morning I was standing at the foot of the bed watching her wake up and waiting to give her a fresh diaper. She went through her morning stretches, scrunching her face up and pushing her lips out. So cute! When she opened here eyes, she looked at me, broke into a huge smile and pointed her finger at me. Man does she have a hold on me! Her dad is a total goner too.
Last night she was in the living room, sitting on the floor just sort of hanging out. I was watching her, amazed by how fast she is growing. Just in the last week her agility has skyrocketed. She lifts things over her head, picks things up, stands and cruises without any unsteadiness. Anyway, there she was, in her little slice of orange or tangerine shirt, looking adorable. She looked at me, lifted both arms in the air and pointed at the ceiling. It was so cute.
“Look mom. I’m not just pointing with one hand, I am using both hands.”
She looked so proud of herself. I felt like I was floating. I was in such a state of euphoria. I thought the feelings of joy that Sean and I have been having this first year as parents was amazing. Celebrating each milestone, rejoicing after getting through a trying time, the feeling of accomplishment at figuring out how to interpret her needs. Nothing had prepared me for the infinitely more powerful joy at seeing Briar celebrate an accomplishment.
Seeing her light up came with something else. It was a faint whisper in my ear, a reassurance. It told me that as much as watching her grow up might hurt, as much as I don’t want the nursing to ever end, or the sweet open mouth baby kisses to stop, she is going to continue to give us so much as we get to watch her. We are going to be with Briar as she learns to walk, as she goes to that first door in her Halloween costume, as she pops out of the water and feels the exhilaration of water skiing on Lake George. Because we love her so much, every time she figures something out or tries something new, we get to participate and celebrate.
Before she came I thought I knew a thing or two about life.
I think the truth is that I was just waiting before she came.
She brought me to life.
This mama is mighty proud.