Friday, June 9, 2006
Letter to Carmen
Forgive me for not writing this on scented pink paper with perfect penmanship to present to you on your 13th birthday. But I'm only one person and I just don't have time for good copies, I only have time to backspace and delete my mistakes in between the burpings, the laundry and the endless diaper changes.
Sometimes I feel like you take it all out of me - the milk from my breasts, the tears from my eyes, the breath from my lungs. And then with a single smile or gurgle or coo, you put it all back in. These past weeks have been like a sea with waves of elation and troughs of despair, I have become well-acquainted with feeling like the victor and the failure all at once.
But those good times, boy are they good. And they are getting closer and closer together. Someone told me that after I had you in my arms, that I would forget the pain of labour and the trials of pregnancy. They were mostly right. When you're lying on my chest, I rub my hands back and forth around your diapered bum and remember how I did the same while you were still inside me. My labour with you was much like an athletic event - maybe a three-legged race with you and I both working towards the finish line. I will never forget the exhileration, exhaustion or mental side of the pain, but the sensation is gone.
Today we had a bath together. I love the way you freak out when you hit the water and then immediately relax into its warmth. I hurriedly lather you in delicious smelling baby soap while you toss your head this way and that, blinking and sputtering if you accidentally turn too far! I pull your naked body towards mine while enveloping you in a fluffy yellow duck towel after rinsing the bubbles from your skin. As we make our way back to the change table, you are angry with me for pulling you from your bathtub womb, but all is forgotten once I've turned on the blowdryer - your favourite toy! The warm breeze makes your frantic legs and arms melt down into the table. If you could hang your tongue out the side of your mouth and drool, I'm sure you would!
As you are basking in your tropical diaper change paradise, you make eye contact with me. You smile, a glorious radiant smile! I am caught off-guard as a stream of bright yellow poo escapes you. I recoil in surprise, your right leg hooked in the sleeve of my bathrobe. As my arm lifts so does your bum, sending the next stream rocketing across the table and now down the wall. You are still smiling and, miraculously, so am I!
I carry you over to the tub and back into the bathwater, but you are not done. The bathwater turns an ugly shade... surely you must have inherited this type of behaviour from your father! The only towel I have on hand is a pretty pink hooded towel with your name emblazoned across the back - your "Rocky" towel. As I fervently wish that you don't poo on it as well, I wonder quickly why all baby things are pretty pastel colours and not mustard yellow? Never one to disappoint, you make short work of the towel and it is soon covered with pee instead of poo. You are still smiling, and so am I.
I know you are my daughter the way you can take something bad and make it good. I hope to impart so many things to you - not to sweat the small stuff, to respect yourself, to be touchy-feely - a lot of this stems from issues that I wish I didn't have. I want you to love deeply and openly, to take care of the people in your life, and to be nurtured by others in return. I want you to trust your gut and take chances, but not be foolish. I want you to believe that you are capable of anything and to follow your heart. I guess I can only lead by example.