In the Tangled Thick of It

Arya Stark of Winterfell

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I’ve missed this space. I’ve been busy chasing a one-year-old toddler reading the Game of Thrones. After five years of graduate school, it is such a pleasure to lose myself in reading-for-fun.

But so many people are dying, or almost dying, betrayed, bloody or lost, in these books. It is a bit dizzying. Arya is my favorite character. She is ten years old, orphaned (we think), and her home is a smoldering, ransacked ruin. She is presently at sea, on her way to a country she has never seen and knows little about. I adore her.

My father always said, “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.” That quit working for me about a decade ago. I’d rather expect the best — of myself, of life, of others.

But the best, the list of all the things I want to be and do, is so long. It isn’t just that I don’t have the time or money. I don’t have the energy. When did I get so old?

The Game of Thrones novels are thick, the stories long and twisting. Sometimes, reading, I get tired. Part of me imagines the conclusion — all ends tied, all journeys completed. But then I settle back in, content to travel, ready to be dismayed, excited, surprised, afraid, elated. I am so hopeful for Arya, even though she has been through so much and is so far from home. She is fiercer than she looks. I know she will do well.

Each morning as I drag myself out of bed, I am glad to hear my daughter’s voice. Within an hour, I am tired, yes, but that’s not all I am. I am fiercer than I look, too.

I want to know that I will do well — today, tomorrow, next year. Not always. I make plenty of mistakes. But I expect great things of myself and this life, the only one I have been given. Even though I’m tired. Even though some days it is all I can do to turn the page.

I won’t be a heroine or save anyone’s life. But I’ll be faithful to my own. My life is thick and, right now, this moment, I’m so glad to be in this…my messy, exhausting, complex story.

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What about you? How do you manage your expectations? What is it like, living your story?

Dear Little Miss Independence

While I’ve long admired blogs like this one for the tender way the mamas write to their kiddos, I’ve been too overwhelmed with parenting to document said parenting. Now that our daughter is almost ONE YEAR OLD (how.is.this.possible???), I am getting into gear. (How I covet GoGoGadget arms.) So here’s a letter to our daughter, in part to remind me that for all the angst and worry and fear there is an unequally abundant portion of joy, and more goodness than I can measure.

Dear Little Miss,

When you were an infant, you (like all infants, I’m told) hated loud noises. The coffee grinder, the vacuum cleaner, the lawn mower, they all made you cry. (Everyone mows the lawn with their baby in a stroller nearby, right?).

But today when I got out the vacuum to do a quick sweep of the kitchen floor, you came charging toward it in your best, most intimidating crawl. (You started crawling 3 days ago. It has been a looonnnng 72 hours.)

You shrieked the I’m-gonna-get-you howl you persist on using with the kitty cat (despite my patiently logical explanations that such noises deter rather than attract the object of your desire).

You chased me and the vacuum through the house shrieking. I stopped to take a picture.

Baby Vs Vacuum

Baby Vs Vacuum

I think you were after the cord. You adore electrical cables of all kinds, little rabbit. Life on the edge, I guess. It keeps Mutti hopping.

In the past few months, you have made it very clear that it would be better for everyone if you fed yourself. You loudly advocate for control of the spoon. You have been holding your own bottle since you were four months old, and pitching it onto the floor since six months.

You croon along with Mutti’s singing and clap joyfully when Mama comes home from work and light up like fireworks when we visit your mom Lisa.

More and more often, your moms look at one another and sigh and say: “there she is, our little girl. All grown up.” Overhearing us, strangers laugh, because they just see a baby. But we see YOU, little one, the fierce personality that has always been there, just waiting for us to get out of the way (and provide enough milk, thank you very much) so that you could emerge.

In honor of YOU and your fierce personality, Mutti got you this shirt:

Miss Independent

Miss Independent

2013-07-03 18.18.35

Almost a year old!

It was *technically* a size too small, but LOOK! It fits. Oh how it fits.

Here’s to you, little one: to crawling, to charging, to independence. We celebrate you and all you are. We LOVE being your family.

So charge ahead! But hang on to Mama and Mutti’s hands for a little while longer, ok? We aren’t ready to let you go into the wild alone just yet.

Much love,
your adoring Mutti