Monday, June 17, 2013

leigh and hazel - the eleventh month


leigh is the author of the amazing blog, marvelous kiddo, which is sadly no longer. so it is such a treat to have her share this little glimpse of life with hazel. i read this post in the middle of line at the market and started bawling. sleep had been particularly short that week (it still is!) and her words rung so true. "One day in the very near future, all i will have left of hazel's babyhood are the memories. so if that's it, let me surrender to the hard moments as fully as revel in the good ones..." I am so thankful for your voice and example in this world of motherhood. Thank you leigh!


Hazel is my third child, my first daughter.

One of the things I have learned most clearly in the course of watching these kids develop is that every stage is so fleeting. The things that wrung me out when my first son was a baby always seemed so agonizingly permanent at the time: he will be teething forever, these wakeful nights will never end, will he ever learn to speak? Now that I'm on kid number three I know all too well how transient even the hardest growing-up phases are. Looking back, it's tricky to even imagine my oldest as a baby, much less to remember what it was like to spend the day with that abstract, baby-version of him. The memories are faded. And he's only five.

Now that I know about this parental amnesia, I am trying to use it to my advantage. I realize that even the most challenging moments that arise with my littlest are not only going to pass soon, but that I should embrace them and use them as a conduit of memory. One day in the very near future, all I will have left of Hazel's babyhood are the memories. So if that's it, let me surrender to the hard moments as fully as I revel in the good ones, let me take comfort that this too shall pass, let me understand that in a year or a month or a day this will be ancient history.

For Hazel, eleven months feels like the fulcrum between babyhood and toddlerdom. Her first steps have already been taken, but she would still much prefer to crawl (or be carried). A few teeth have taken up residence in the front of her mouth, but she wants to eat more ambitiously than her modest set of chompers would allow. She refuses the boob for the majority of the day and fights every single nap, but breastfeeds as if her life depends on it through the night (it does!). She has a tiny vocabulary of English words but enough clarity in her nods, head-shakes, and emphatically pointed fingers to convey even the most complex desires.

I actually saw her age during a nap one day -- she woke up a tangibily more sophisticated and worldly person with a more defined sense of what she wanted and how to get it. The look she gave me when I went to pick her up was downright knowing. Look, mom, I'm leaping headfirst into a new version of myself. I'm pedal-to-the-metal, zooming out of here. I'm not a baby anymore. And she had gotten heavier, to boot.

Here is some of Hazel at eleven months:

A well-honed talent for throwing food off her high chair tray. If it isn't tasty it doesn't need to stay within her field of vision.

The ability to not just delightedly receive kisses, but to bestow them on others. So tenderly and sweetly.

Pointing and grunting and emphatically encouraging the adult in whose arms she rides forward by bucking, squeezing, generally willing them wordlessly towards her goal.

An understanding of the word "hot" and the ability to blow on food to cool it down.

An incredible proclivity for what I call gymnurstics -- the habit of being wiggly, crawly, and downright acrobatic while breastfeeding. She's working to perfect the no-hands headstand suckle. I'm totally serious.

A scowl of disapproval that would make your toenails curl.

A scrunchy-nosed smile that would melt the iciest heart. She observes so keenly. You can tell she's teaching herself how to do everything by watching us. This phenomenon has given me pause with a daughter in ways it never did with my boys. Did she notice when I paused by the mirror to suck in my stomach and frown? What is she thinking while she watches me put on my makeup? Can she already take in the advertising crap in this fashion magazine I'm reading while I nurse her? Will she internalize all of these things and be somehow damaged by them?

Six teeth.

A love for dogs, or "Oof Oofs" as she calls them in a breathy, excited whisper.

A fascination with costumes and accessories of all kinds…hats, gloves, socks, purses, sunglasses, her brother's basketball jerseys.

Even as I compose this list, I realize how some of these habits of hers have already started to wane, replaced by other interests/abilities/tendencies as she grows into who she will be next. Even as I mourn the loss of her babyness, I absolutely can't wait to meet the Hazel I'll wake up next to tomorrow.

10 comments:

  1. Miss your blog Leigh! So lovely to see you here! Wonderful words x

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  2. this is so beautifully written. thank you.

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  3. This was wonderful. Such a good way to look at the rough patches. I will definitely be reminding myself of this when my baby won't sleep at night or nurse.

    http://pondcrossings.blogspot.com

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  4. This is such a moving and beautiful post about motherhood and heartfelt perspective on the hard times...which there are many. But oh the good times! :)

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  5. It feels like you were describing my adventures with my third child, Julianna... right down to the gymnurstics. Beautifully written.

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  6. this whole series is so beautiful, but this one particularly so. thank you a million times for sharing. my sweet baby is 7 weeks old and I can't tell you how much comfort I took in your month one meditation ("you are your little one's universe. enjoy knowing that you are enough.")

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  7. This is such a wonderful feature to have these gorgeous mamas + babes. Leigh - what you said resonated with me so much. My 3rd child is 11 mos (Reed was born on July 8th) and so I've just been so desperate to commit all of these moments to memory. And...the gynurstics! I think both of our children must be conspiring on that one! Beautifully and eloquently written. Thank-you for sharing with us.

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  8. I loved reading this, Leigh. When people say , "it goes by so fast," they are so right! I can hardly remember the nursing marathons and lack of sleep now as I watch her play the tambourine and "sing" at 8 months and slam dance when she eats pears. I also miss your blog and wise advice. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Leah, this is so lovely. Thank you for sharing. My baby is 3 months now and I miss your blog dearly, but it is so nice to have a little peak into your writing again. I hope you continue to write little ( or longer) essays on parenting, I so love your take on parenting.

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