Saturday, February 25, 2012

Zero to 5

Last year I started a twitter account called Lydia_said to post the funny, interesting, and surprising wisdom that flows from my 5 year old daughter's thought-stream. More than to just share the inner workings of a mind new to this world on earth, but to record it and recall it when I forget.

To tell the truth, the first few years of her life were very difficult for me. I wasn't 20 years old anymore and I didn't have the energy to run on little sleep nor the resolution to bounce back right away from the tail-spin that was her birth. Even up until her 1st birthday, I didn't feel myself in my body. I was often irritable and miserable. Returning to work at least provided structure and focus in my life. It got me away from dirty diapers, puke, and the constant beckoning of a baby in need. I imagine, in retrospect, that I may have been so settled in my routine and freedom that when that was taken away, I didn't know how to cope. As the mom, I was the first and primary caretaker of this new demanding being, and I was exhausted. Every day, I went through the motions--- feedings, bathing, changing, calming, soothing, healing, shopping, burping, cleaning, sleeping. I envied those perfect moms whose babies slept for 8 hours, could sleep through noise, and remain quiet in public.

Not my child. She demanded attention from birth. Even at 4lbs, 8oz, my preemie could break out of the tightest swaddle with a tiny but strong fist of rage that she would stretch out above her head in triumph. In public, she wanted to see what was going on around her. Never would she sleep if we were out and about. She was done with napping at age 2. If I remember correctly, and granted my memory of her early years is fuzzy, she didn't sleep through the night until well after her first birthday.

Everyone said it would get easier. When? I would ask in frustration. Once she started attending pre-school, I was elated to have the intervention of teachers and care takers who had the skills to address her constant need for attention. Soon enough she began understanding and engaging everyone, and I do mean everyone, in dialogue. At the grocery store, walking in the park, at the doctor's office, random people crossing in front of our home, she stopped them all. "What are you doing here? Where are you going? Where is your dad? Do you have a daughter? Where is she? How come? This is my mom." I haven't met so many total strangers in my life before she started talking. And if they have a dog, forget it, they're not moving for the next 10 minutes because she has to talk to them, work up the courage to pet the dog, then finally, reluctantly let them continue on their way wishing them a nice day.

Yes, she is a charmer. Now at 5 years old she's unsure of who she will marry and worries about it frequently. She also wants to know how to buy a house and when she turns 6 would like to get her driver's license. Yet when I ask her to do the dishes or cook dinner (joking of course) she reminds me that she can't. She's just a kid! Maybe sometimes I do forget she's just a kid. We have so many deep conversations about life and death. Her first direct link to death happened around age 4 when she discovered Michael Jackson and his phenomenal dance moves. She was hooked. One day, in the school yard, she must have been bragging about her MJ dance moves when a boy broke the news to her that he had died. She was crushed. Her heart was broken because she would never get to meet him. Then she questioned death. Why do people have to die? The only safe answer I could think of was to talk about heaven. That it is a beautiful place where God lives and where we go back to after we die. It is where we lived before we came to Earth. I asked her what she thought God looked like. "A mom," she said.

My baby is about to turn 6 years old at the end of March and although life is still tough I have come to really enjoy her company. Her deep thoughts, profound love that is deep within her, and zest for life have thrust me back out into the world. "I love you to the last number, mom . . . can you wake up now so we can start having fun? . . .How old was I then, zero? . . . why can't my farts smell like candy?" These and other casual utterances stop me in my tracks each and every time. It's quite humbling.