Promises

My promise to my daughter Margaret, age 4.5 months, in light of recent world conditions:

I will always love you. If you are gay, if you are straight, bisexual, transgendered. If you are super-liberal, if you are ultra-conservative, if you are Buddhist or if you are a Baptist. If you get a PhD, or a GED, if you become a lawyer or a plumber. If you have children at 20 or at 40, married or single or in a domestic partnership. If you drive a Hummer or an electric scooter. If you decide to dress like a sister-wife from Big Love or get a tattoo that says “Get It Here” on your lower back. I. Will. Always. Love. You, just as much as I do today, if not more, and only wish for your happiness and contentment in life.

HOWEVER.

If you get a credit card and abuse it, or allow yourself to be sucked into a lifestyle of “get it now” instant satisfaction that is paid for on dreams and financed terms, or fail to stick to a budget that is within your means, you and I are done and I will not bail you out.

Love,
Mommy

Splat

If you are offended by talk of bodily functions, you’re going to want to give this one a miss.

Still here? Poop! Barf! Not fazed? Good. On with the show. Two stories:

1. Just in case, I have an old priest and a new priest on speed dial.

Maggie is exclusively breastfed, but none of the laxative powers of breast milk seem to have affected my wee one. She is a heavy and frequent wetter, but up to three or four days will pass where she…will not. And then at the end of that time, a torrent. A torrent with the hallmark buttered-popcorn smell of newborns, but on steroids. It stings the nostrils.

Today was the end of one of those four-day stretches, and thank every higher power that Tom was on diaper duty because oh holy hell. This was what William Friedkin envisioned when he directed The Exorcist. This was Satan’s brew, the poo of a sulfuric demon capering in a pink ruffle-butt onesie and held valiantly in check by a Thirsties cover that I swear was beginning to smoke. This what the unbelievers will smell during the end of days.

It was grim, is what I’m trying to say.

I have described the contents to Maggie’s pediatrician and she (and more importantly, The Internets in the form of Dr. Google) is unconcerned by my description. Apparently she is less given to hyperbole than I. At any rate, I am to file this one under “Human Baby, Individual Characteristics of,” and move on. But if you had asked me four months ago if I knew–really, really knew–how much crap a human baby could hold, I would have told you yes. And I would have been wrong.

2. It was a lot funnier when Lucille Ball tried it with the knives.

Maggie likes to spit up long after feedings, so everything is nice and curdled. There is also no real window of safety, so I can let her lie for a long period of time and think I’m in the clear, lift her, and end up with a shirt filled with infant hork. To preserve my sanity I choose to believe this is her way of saying “Hey, thanks for all the sacrifices you made for your career and the household finances so I can have boob time whenever I want.” This generally works. Generally.

The other day I lifted Maggie and held her at arm’s length from my body, about an hour and a half after a feeding. Sometimes I like to tone my shoulders, and she is my willing dumbbell. I was executing a slow lift when a rumble of baby spitup came flying out of my innocent angel’s mouth. It coated my face, my hair, and my shoulders.

As it happens, I was standing in front of our closet door. Due to our landlord’s somewhat questionable taste, the sliding doors of the closet are mirrored. I went to change and came back to discover that the shape of my upper body outlined in baby vomit had patterend the mirrored glass of the closet door like a scatological Jackson Pollack. A Dairy Dada, if you will.

Ahh, motherhood. To be covered in so many foul substances, sometimes even before you sit up in bed for the day.

And to love it, every last squishy second. Because how can you not love this face?

Four Months

I have to write this one down.

When Maggie was just born and liked to clench her fists and flail (more than she does now), she would cock her fist and aim it at my chest while she nursed. We joked that she was “fists of fury” and would pummel me if she didn’t get the milk fast enough. Obviously it wasn’t intentional, but it was really cute.

I forgot all about it until Tom mentioned it tonight.

That makes me so sad. So many moments, so many things that I try to hold onto. I remember how thin her arms used to be, how she used to have a soft layer of fuzz on her skin from the womb. How she would lie against me in the dark and I didn’t dare put her down after she nursed in case she woke up. How I didn’t really want to lie her down. How I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open, how I was still so sore from delivering that sitting upright, even with ice and an inflatable donut, was agony. But I still couldn’t move my newborn from my chest because I would have to stop smelling her hair and feeling her breathe against me. Feeling the tiny bird bones in her back against my hand.

Tomorrow my baby is four months old. She babbles and hoots; she can sit up in my lap while we eat out and doesn’t shriek every time she goes in her car seat. It’s really nice, better in some ways than the early newborn days. But I can’t remember everything. It’s too much to remember and even when I write it down I miss things. I don’t want to miss my baby.

It goes so fast.