Today was my daughter’s birthday.
I am amazed what this last year has done to her pre-teen body. She’s grown tall and lean, though she’s filling out in places, not nearly as boyishly thin as before. I am amazed at how she is maturing right before my eyes. I want to pick her up and hold her on my lap and bury my face into her hair. To smother her with kisses like I did when she was a baby. To have her wrap her arms around my neck and not want to let go.
But instead she is this confident young woman. With opinions. About clothes and hairstyles and colors and books and snacks and flavors of ice cream & birthday cakes.
Her father took her ice skating with her Girl Scout troop this afternoon. They do this together every year on her birthday (it just so happens to be an annual activity—this GS Veteran’s Day skating party…and it’s a right handy way of celebrating her special day with her friends). After they leave I always get a bit weepy because I can’t join them on the ice (damn disability). And I think about the ways that my ‘limitations’ have affected my relationship with her through the years.
She was born in November while we were living in Salt Lake City. It was a hard thing, having a baby as winter neared. I was paranoid about taking her out, such a wee thing, and feared that I couldn’t keep her warm enough in the bitter winds coming down the canyon towards our humble university apartment. I was also fearful of the snow and ice. So afraid of slipping and dropping her. After a snow and freeze I sometimes had to navigate through the parking lot on my hands and knees because I couldn’t keep myself upright on ice, much less carry my baby. I would nudge her carseat in front of me as I crawled. We made it through that long winter and I was so relieved to know that though I’d fallen a few times on the ice but never when I was carrying her.
Many times I have told my daughter her birth story. The visit to my Kaysville cousin. The contractions that were getting stronger. The stop at the McDonald’s drive-thru for the super-size fries. My driving back to Salt Lake, eating fries and feeling my belly grow tight every few minutes. The rush home to get the suitcase and my reluctance to leave my 2 year-old son (despite the good care of my sister) as John corralled me out the door and to the hospital. Walking the medical center’s bland hallways with John and sneaking to the cafeteria for more French fries. An easy labor. And the thrill of seeing this perfect girl. I had kept the sex of the baby a secret from John (at his request) and what a treat to see her father’s eyes when he discovered a girl-child. Disbelief and then complete joy. Seeing him fall in love all over again.
But I haven’t told my daughter the story behind the birth story. I have saved this one for when she was older, for when she might understand how hard it is to make decisions, to see clearly which way to go. John and I were confronting some big choices in our young marriage. He was at a crossroads in his academic career and we were weighing a move to Japan for his fieldwork. We couldn’t come to a decision about when and where and how to make the move. The options weren’t falling into place as they should have. We had vaguely discussed another baby, but we had dropped the discussion for several months. There was confusion and no clear direction.
Then this one night something clicked like the feel of a combination lock when the numbers are aligned and you can sense the ease with which it will open if you will just reach out and pull. There was an unspoken clarity between John and I that hadn’t been there before. As if all the other options were dissolving and there was only this clear choice ahead. And then this overwhelming knowing that we were bringing another baby to our family and this was the right choice.
It was a gift to know that it was my daughter’s time. That she was coming to clear the confusion and to set our family on a path that would lead to some short-term frustration—some financial pressures, an abandoned graduate program, a return to California—but that was the right design for our family in the long-term. And how the surety of that knowing has made her place on our family so right, such a joy.
So how can I tell this dear girl of how she was meant to be here, with us? How can I tell my daughter how much I love her, how right she has always been to me? How much love was invested in conceiving her and how much I agonize as I see her growing tall, as I wish I could hold her tight in the curve of my belly like I did when she was little? And how can I ease the pain of knowing that I can’t be everything to her—that I can’t run and skate with her, but that I hope she won’t hold that against me? That she’ll understand that I invested her body with all the nourishment and love that I could. That I prayed daily that I would never drop her or hurt her because of my physical weakness. And that my prayers were answered then, and I hope they will still continue to be answered as we move into this new phase of our relationship. The one where she is expressing her will and I am learning to respect and enjoy her choices and not mold her into a creature of my own desires.
A new reader left this comment on one of my posts recently [BTW, Hi Judy, glad to have you on board!]:
Just reading John’s Out of Mormonism blog. LOL, I guess you are both now techincally “inactive”. Anyway, I still think you’re strong. :)
Since John’s post about our recent choice to become Quakers, we’ve had quite a mixed reaction of responses: supportive visits, concerned phone calls, emails from priesthood leaders, and so forth. At some point, I will blog more about our current spiritual path, but in the meantime I thought I would address the question of how ‘active’ we are.
Ironically, even though I no longer seat myself in a Mormon chapel on Sundays, I would still call myself ‘active’ in the church. Why? Well, because I attend a weekly LDS Institute class (for those out there not familiar with Mormonspeak, Institute is a church-sponsored religion class). I am a permablogger on two high-traffic LDS blogs (Exponent II and SunstoneBlog). I subscribe to a church-sponsored LDS News service, I read from LDS scriptures, I ponder the temple covenants, many of my friends are LDS and our favorite conversation topics revolve around Mormonism, I sing Mormon hymns in the shower, most of the listservs that I participate in are Mormon-related, I am the Book Review Editor for a Mormon journal, and so forth.
Though I am adopting many of the attributes and practices of a Quaker, much of my spiritual and academic life still revolves around the LDS community. I suspect that it will continue to do so for quite some time. Perhaps indefinitely.
I know that my definition of ‘active’ probably doesn’t jibe with what many would consider ‘active’ (meaning, a believing card-carrying Mormon). But I’m hesitant to call myself ‘inactive’ in Mormonism. If anything, I feel as embedded in the church culture as ever.
Yep, we’re pretty jazzed around our house about the political victories yesterday. Wow.
Some good news on a completely different front: for about three years I have struggled with the socket on my leg–my last prosthetist just couldn’t get it ‘right.’ Even though it’s been livable, it’s never been comfortable. So I met with a new prosthetist about a month ago and just got approval from my insurance company for a new socket. I’ll go in for casting next week. Brighter, more comfortable, days lie ahead. Definitely worth cheering for, too!
I’ve been absolutely enchanted by the story of this woman who wore the same little brown dress for a whole year. Every day. (And not to worry, she washed it every few days).
It’s started me thinking about my favorite clothes in my closet. Those items that I can wear over and over before I realize that they’ve been with me for years. They are soft and comfy like old friends.
-Right now I am wearing the black cropped pants that I wore on my first-ever trip to Europe 7 years ago. They are still super comfy even though I’ve had to rehem them several times. They are the pants I wore to Connecticut when I got embarrassed by the airport security person who discovered the secret safety pins that live in their waistband (oops).
-I have been wearing the same PJ pants nearly every day for nearly 10 years. They are a light blue plaid. I cut the legs off just below the knee and have never hemmed them. They’ve gone camping, have seen me through several moves and many late nights of reading. They are comfort.
-My favorite black sweater. ‘Nuff said there.
-My blue & white Nikes. Oh, these are so old and ugly now that I only wear them for gardening. The sole has split and is coming off of one shoe. But the second I step into them I am in heaven. No shoes have ever fit me so well.
Thinking about my few favorite pieces of clothing has made me wonder what it would be like just to wear those items. Or to make a dress that fit me well and to wear it every day. Would life be easier, because the question of what to wear just wouldn’t be there? Or would I feel stifled by the monotony?
When John and I were poor newlyweds I had two t-shirts and one pair of jeans that I wore almost every day. We called them my ‘uniform.’ At the time I remember being quite proud of them–I loved them and they fit me well. But life got a bit more complicated after I got pregnant and was forced to get bigger clothes. Now I have a sense of nostalgia for those days when I didn’t have to muddle through what to wear.
I’m also wondering if the preoccupation on how we adorn our bodies somehow distracts us from exploring and understanding ourselves?
These choices are based on recommendations from the Friends Committee on Legislation, the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, and on my own good sense. YMMV, of course. :)
Doesn’t tobyjoy look mean and vicious in the picture? Can you believe that she weighs less than 5 lbs and can curl up into a small ball on my hip as I type at my computer? And that she is all softness, a little girl who is hungry for the love of a mother. :)
[Note: See her tag, hanging down there? For a sense of scale, it is about the size of a nickel. Photo by CatGirl]
So help me here, readers…A few years ago I attended an event that was similar to a Pampered Chef party–except that they were selling various mixes and spices rather than kitchenware. They had a garlic product that I bought and loved. It was perfect on pasta and on garlic bread. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!
But now I can’t remember the name of the company that makes this product, nor do remember the name of the product itself. If you’ve got a guess for me, please leave a comment. Thanks!!
A year ago this was me–standing in a doorway in the Forbidden City in Beijing. It’s still hard for me to believe that I actually stood there!
See those brass knobs on the big red doors behind me? Rubbing them is good luck. I rubbed them every time we walked through such a doorway in the palace. With it’s thousand or so rooms I racked up a lot of luck during my trip. :)
Brooke’s post on XBlog about her near brush with death is oh-so-worth reading. Perfect for a Friday afternoon. And read the comments, too. So much wisdom and insight there.
Another item in the list of things that the Remys don’t have in their house: a bathroom scale. A few months ago (maybe even a year ago?), John tossed out our scale. It gave completely unpredictable readings. Like how could you really have gained 10 lbs as you brushed your teeth?
It’s weird not to have a scale. I really don’t know how I’m doing weight-wise except by how my clothes fit. I can’t tell if my more regular workout schedule is impacting my weight. It’s all a mystery.
But there’s something quite liberating about not having a scale. I can eat 5 cookies and realize that I won’t be weighing myself later to see if and how they’ve added to my hips. Hmmmm…this brings an added sense of freedom but also an added weight of accountability.
What about you? Can you imagine life without a scale?
And I thought our Halloween pictures were cute. Oh my! You will never look at Princess Leia quite the same way again.