Sunday, September 27, 2009
Happy Birthday Layla, 1 year today.
What a year. I thought it only appropriate to write you a love letter (ala Facebook and Blog Declaration) filled with your loveable qualities, must-not-forgets, and of course, many quicks, idiosynchrasies, and nuances, which, even with highest hopes, I know will never truly encapsulate the journey we have been on with you over the last 525,600 seconds.
You entered this world mouth-first. One can only imagine you take after your father in this regard, as I frequently find myself speechless and without opinion. 11 minutes of pushing and you came out an angry shade of purple, arms and legs outstretched as if about to launch off the nursing basin into a cartwheel. Screaming and shouting you told each one of those nurses about “it”. At 5lbs 13oz everyone was amazed at the choice words machine-gunning their way out of such a little thing. You had a shocking amount of dark black hair which we have yet to figure out. I perused the mental family tree and still cannot find a genetic link. It has since turned to a nice shade of strawberry blond (read: RED) which has brought an equal amount of confusion. Along the lines of non-conformism, your eyes refuse to budge from their original blue, although I promise I am diligent in checking them for change every morning, noon and night. And not to worry, my dear daughter, ALWAYS in good lighting [which all resourceful mothers know can only be found directly under the many fluorescent light bulbs in the bathroom].
You really don’t know what to expect when you have number 2. Scratch that. From the first positive pregnancy test you know *exactly* what to expect. Like every other mother of one, you know to expect that this pregnancy, birth, and child will follow in the path which has been worn with meticulous love by your firstborn, specifically for the purpose of predictability in rearing your second. My precious baby, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, you set to pave your own way.
Let me count the ways.
You make no apologies. This is one girl who *knows* who she is, and what she wants [and how she wants it, and doesn’t want it, and when she wants it]. So many times we remade imperfect bottle after imperfect bottle. A future meteorologist in the making, you could tell the temperature of the bottle with an astute precision worthy of high-paid experts. I’m talking to the tenth of the degree. Impressive stuff. In your very early days, you were wise to our ways and knew the car seat was just another method of confinement, but we quickly learned if we gently rubbed a soft blanket on your face at the exact moment we were trying to buckle you in, you would humor us and allow looming entrapment. However. That blanket rubbed ever-so gently on your bless-ed cheek had better be the softest blanket we could find in the state of Minnesota, which only Petunia Pickle Bottom knows how to make, and forgoodnesssake, make sure it’s the SOFT side, people. The fuzzy side doesn’t sooth. It agitates. And rue the day one attempts the cheek-rub with a minky dot blanket. Oy! Later, you learned to enjoy said imprisonment, as you realized you could kick your legs to rock the seat. “Does seat have a motor?” A question we received more times than we could count. They also told us you were smart and they’d never seen a baby rock their own car seat like that. As you can imagine, were increadibly pleased to have a genius, car-seat-rocking-baby, on our hands. Despite the endless hoop-jumping, my stomach gets all bubbly picturing who you are going to be someday, the woman you are going to become. I know that particularity transforms to passion. Preference will make-way for decisiveness. You will be sure. You will stand your ground. I simply.cannot.wait.
We’ll call you spirited. From the moment we brought you home, you have challenged us in every area. I am better mother - no: person - for the patience I have developed, the strength I have earned, and unreserved abundance of love I didn’t know I had to give. It immediately dawned on us that it was impulsive, perhaps even foolish, to name you based on what you “looked like” (let’s be honest: a smushed, squishy face, toothless, wonder). But what are love-drunk parents to do? So Layla it was, and Stella the nickname remains, as it is so much more fitting and indicitive of your spirit and...er...charm. Someday, perhaps a crisis of identity, but at least for now, you go by both. As many dogs have for generations.
Sense of humor abounds. While, as previously noted, you obviously take after your father in ability to reach decibels harmful to the ear, not to mention a constant stream of things to say, but I relish in your apparent inheritance of my spot-on humor. At 3 months you would shake your head no at us (even when the answer to the question was, knowingly, yes), and then, with perfect comedic timing, smile and laugh at your own sassyness. You could be screaming hungry – and we would still hear the oh-so-familiar and abhorred sound of your little sausage fingers squeezing the nipple of the (more importantly: full and not eaten) bottle until it would slip from your grip and drop on the floor, only for us to rescue it and return it to your gleeful eyes and open mouth. Rewind. Repeat. With a smirk on your face, you would watch us tiptoe about, speaking in hushed tones as though you understood the nervous strategizing of a 26 and 29 year old on how to bathe, diaper, dress, and get you to bed within a reasonable timeframe, with a minimum amount of fit-throwing. Even before you could laugh, we could feel you laughing at us.
You keep me on my toes. You grab hair, earrings, necklaces, glasses, and anything else shiny, glittery, expensive, or otherwise imperative for functioning on a daily basis, with an impressive stealth and surprising agility. I can only imagine that soon grabbing and stealing will turn to grabbing, stealing AND sticking these things in your own nose or ear holes, garbage cans, sinks, or the worst offense of all, down the toilet. At least when your sister would steal my wedding rings, she would only hide them in the same spot under her bed like a dog burying its bone for later retrieval and enjoyment. You, I can only imagine, will present many a scavenger hunt [and hours of fun] to various locations for lost and essential items in the years to come.
You change for no man. Despite some intense heart-to-hearts, and even after resorting to threats made with plastic spoon in one hand and jar’o’squash in the other, you refused the food. You make zero efforts to hide your obvious displeasure, which is recognizable by your clearly stated, Velociraptor screeches and dramatic choking sounds (even when the food was but a drop hanging from your lip). The Ace of hearts in my pocket was peer pressure. If you’re going to be on Team Jentz, then a love for food is not optional. A threat to which you played no heed. Your lack of concern for peer pressure will be a strength which will make mama proud someday when all the other 5 year olds are eating glue and sand, but for now, I wish you’d bend ever-so-slightly to my devices.
You have so much love to give. You are a true nurture. Since you were big enough to know what a doll was, if you so much as caught sight of one out of the corner of your eye, it was like a light switch going on. Your arms would shoot out and start to flap wildly in uncontrollable excitement, as if preparing to take flight. Reaching your chunky fingers around either side of their throat, you’d ecstatically shake the life right out of them. Your mouth would open wide and you would put as much of that poor baby’s face into your mouth and bite down. Hard. We know, sweet love. You’re just giving kisses. But soon mommy and daddy are going to have to cash in our stocks and bonds to replace all the cherished babies whose faces you have eaten off.
I love the way you channel a little Maggie Simpson when it comes to your pacifier, the way your second toe curves against the remaining 3 like your daddy’s, how you’ve been teething since day one but still don’t have any teeth, and how you rock your exersaucer in a way that brings concern for shaken baby syndrome to a whole new level. There are so many more things, too many to write about, but these are some of the ones that can easily slip through the cracks of a mom's memory. Things that I adore and are so individual to you. All and all, I’m super mushy over every little piece of you. So many things remain unknown about your future, who you will become, what you will do, but you are an amazing blessing on our lives.
I think we’ll keep you.