Sunday, August 31, 2014

Keep it Simple

One of my dearest cousins had her first baby last month. They named her Clementine. She is sweet and beautiful and still tiny enough that I could have just tucked her in my purse when I went to meet her for the first time. Alas, I value my relationships with my family and couldn't come up with a valid reason to have Morgan start visiting me in prison.

Prior to Clementine's arrival, I had the pleasure of helping with her baby shower. My cousin might be the cutest little pregnant lady ever. No, really.

The weather was perfect, the mood was enthused. Everyone was delighted to celebrate Clementine's upcoming arrival. There were gifts and games, and more food than twenty women could have possibly devoured. Not that we didn't make a good faith effort. Those sandwiches weren't going to eat themselves.

The shower was complete with a craft station, where people could decorate onesies for the baby. Several of them were covered in hand drawn art, a number of them had ruffles hot glued across the butt, and not a single one of them was something my cousin was ever going to put on her baby girl. Let's just say my family may be lacking a bit in the artistic skills department.

One of the most precious ideas at the shower was called a "Blessing Bowl" -- shower attendees took a few minutes to write words of support and love to the soon-to-be new parents. I wrote a short note to my cousin and her husband, reminding them that being each other's best friends was the best gift they could ever give their daughter. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Morgan hunched over the table. She was intensely writing her own note, guarding her sheet of paper so that no one could catch a glimpse. When she finished, she quickly handed it to me, demanding that I tuck it away immediately. I did, but not before I made myself privy to her little words of wisdom for the new mom. 
"Watch out for poop, Chelsea. From: Morgan"
No truer words were ever written. Congratulations, Chelsea and Patrick. And may you heed my daughter's advise for years to come. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Little Fish, Big Pond

I have always loved the ocean. As a child born and raised in a land-locked state, the ocean was something grand and unattainable, full of mystery and magic. Stories of mermaids filled my childhood and I often longed to be a dolphin. To be fair, I was 12 and I also longed to marry Tom Cruise. 

Right after Morgan turned one, we took Morgan to the Atlantic ocean for the first time. We were in New Jersey for the wedding of David's brother and I set her on the warm sand. I was prepared for this Kodak moment, snapping photo after photo as she toddled across the beach. Unfortunately, of the nearly 30 (yes 30) pictures I took, she refused to look at me. I called her name, I made loud noises, I offered to buy her a pony. Nothing. Instead, I now have over two dozen photos of her eating some bacteria-covered clam shell while her diaper filled with sand.

At one point, someone offered to take our family picture. Although Morgan was just one, I wanted to have that memory of our time on the beach, the memento that would capture perfectly that chapter in our lives. And now we do. One exasperated mother and one angry toddler who could have given a shit about the magic and mystery of the ocean.

Fast forward 5 years. We spent some time on the Oregon coast this summer, and I was eager to have another opportunity to share with Morgan something I loved so much. I am a much wiser mother now, and knew not to put much pressure on Morgan. For all of her wild ways, there is a part of Morgan that is very reserved. New experiences often overwhelm her; she needs time to assess her environment before she jumps in. Pushing too hard makes her push back, something I have learned the hard way over years of "encouragement."

As we made our way to the water, I watched her. Her steps slowed, her lips forming a small "o" as she struggled to comprehend the vastness before her. She stayed back, unwilling to get too close to the water's edge. After a few moments, she stepped closer, squealing as the waves began to wash over her toes. Within minutes, she was out as far as I was comfortable with, begging me to let her swim in her clothes. She was now as in love with the ocean as I had always been, and I was now petrified she was going to be swept out to sea.

We left after much protest, her clothes wet and sandy, her words breathless.

"Mom, I was fearless!!!"

"No, baby girl, you weren't. You were very afraid when we got here."

"But Mom, I still got in the ocean, and I did it by myself!!!"

"I know you did, and that makes you very brave."

"But how is that different than fearless?"

"Because being brave means doing something even when you are scared or afraid. And that is so much more important than being fearless."

Always be brave, my baby girl. And try to keep the sand out of your underwear next time.