ashes, ashes.

It’s been a while. Not sorry, because life has just been really full and every time I sit down to type, something else comes up that I need to work on more urgently. Writing is a priority too though, so here we are.

Christmas was good to Morella! She loved all the family time and all the toys and all the food. “CAKE” as she likes to yell, about anything even vaguely resembling cake.

We’ve had lots of dinner guests lately. Morella got her first haircut thanks to my friend Karen.

We’ve done a few historical sites / short hikes / walks when it’s been nice out, and whatever fun indoor activities we can find around town when it’s not nice out.

Morella enjoyed herself thoroughly at Clarabelle’s SPCA birthday party and crashed out so hard for her nap that day.

I got some new lamps and have done a little rearranging in the parlor and in my bedroom. It’s staying light out a little later, which is good for the walks we like to take after dinner. Work is amazing, though very very busy.

Morella is obsessed with “Ring Around the Rosies” lately. She’ll come up and grab my hands and go “Ashes! Ashes!” We sing, hand in hand, moving in a circle (always counter-clockwise for some reason) until “We all fall down!” Then she stiffens her legs and falls super hard onto her butt, and laughs and laughs. Then she yells “Again!” and again we go.

She’s also really into “Susie Q” — yep, the song popularized by CCR. I would sing it occasionally to her cousin Siouxzette, and even address her as “Susie Q,” so now Morella loves it and is always asking to hear it. Even at bedtime if I’m like “Shall I sing? You want to hear ‘Rockabye Baby’?” she’s like “Susie Q? Susie Q?” Sometimes she comes up to me and taps on my lips with her pointer finger and says “Mama. Susie Q.” So the sweet sounds of everyone’s favorite super-repetitive Creedence song are always wafting out of our house. Not complaining. I’ve always loved impersonating John Fogerty when I have the chance.

I’d really like for us to be more involved in the community and do service projects, but there’s almost nothing in that vein you can feasibly bring a toddler to. CHPN recently started an initiative called My Block, where people are encouraged to adopt a block in the neighborhood and keep it free of trash. We adopted the two blocks that our house borders, and we’ve been out there some evenings after dinner with our pick-up stick, gathering up trash a la Humphrey the bear. The good people of Church Hill love to crumple up a couple dozen lottery tickets and scatter them along the street, so we always have plenty to do. I didn’t think Morella would be all that helpful and she does want put rocks in the bag for some reason, but she dutifully follows me around and opens the bag every time I pick up a piece of trash. If you know of any other ways we could make ourselves useful, particularly with meeting and helping other people in Church Hill, let me know.

One chapter of legal limbo seems to be getting wrapped up while the next chapter looms ahead. I’m thankful for progress, slow though it may be. Pray for Morella’s safety and wellbeing to win out over any perceived “fairness” to adults that wouldn’t really be fair to her. Pray for stability and peacefulness for her.

Every day with her is a gift. Every day I spend with her is an adventure. I really, really like my kid. If I wake up before her (uh, rarely) I’m like “Aw man I wonder when she’s going to wake up.” Other things I don’t want to forget about this beautiful time:

  • The feeling in my gut when I’m walking up to the daycare to collect her at the end of the day
  • The way she says “orange:” “ohnch”
  • Her morning wants: “peebee” (TV), specifically “Emmo” (Elmo), “Coo Cooze” (Blue’s Clues), or “Muh-eh” (monkey, meaning Curious George), and “nack” (snack)
  • How I didn’t know she knew the birthday song until she sang it in the backseat of the car with no prompting on the way to Clarabelle’s birthday party
  • The way she recites her ABCs, with only the known parts really audible: “ABCDE…H..K…..P…ESS!…VEE…EHKS…Z…Now I … ABCs…next….meeeee”
  • The little “Peez” she sniffles out after yelling and screaming for something (juice? a cracker or a nut?) and I tell her that she needs to calm down and ask nicely for it
  • Her demanding “Mama sit” when she’s on the potty because she can’t stand me being up when she’s sitting down
  • Her pronunciation of the names she loves: “Neh-nowah” (Eleanor), “Nyanya” (Lianna), “Pa” (Grandpa), “Mmm” (Gram — she doesn’t do “g” sounds but the other day she managed “Am”), “Ammeh” (Aunt Meg), “PETE,” “Suhzeeeee” (Siouxzy), “Doo” (Uncle Drew), “Shanda” (Aunt Shanda, which is the one she pronounces the most normally, oddly enough)
  • Asking her to make a happy face and then to make a sad face, and getting the same awkward grimace no matter what
  • Her tapping my face and saying “Mama happy”
  • Running through the park as the sun sets, with her chasing me and laughing
  • How each day she seems smarter and cuter than the day before

Her health, by the way, is stellar. This winter is a hundred times better than last winter in terms of getting colds. I firmly back otolaryngotomy. Now she gets colds like usual, and gets over them. No ear infections and other / worse ramifications of ear infections. A couple weeks ago I got very sick for the first time in years, and (thankfully!) she didn’t get it. She’s still in the 87th percentile for height, but is pretty light in terms of weight. I just had to get her some new pajamas because every time she stood up or stretched out in bed, her gut and her ankles would hang out of the 18-months ones.

On the topic of health, The Longest Shortest Time podcast this week was about Healing After Childbirth, and it was a really emotional listen. I agree and disagree with some of the ideas and experts put forth on the weekly podcast, but it’s always entertaining and I like that they never seem to be prescribing a lot of answers, but rather just acknowledging that the questions exist. Anyway, this installment was spot-on. I related so much to the physical childbirth healing issues that they brought up, and I don’t care if talking about it gets kinda graphic, because guess what? Childbirth is a real thing that millions of women go through and just describing what actually happens is graphic and there’s no need to apologize for that. There are painful physical realities of postpartum healing that aren’t talked about, and a whole cesspool of guilt, unrealistic demands, and pressure that go along with them. Even in my intensive Centering Pregnancy course, the mother’s physical recovery process was mentioned but pretty much glossed over. I’ve since learned that my experience was not rare at all, that tons of women have the same issues I was having to some degree, and that most of us are trudging around the earth feeling totally alienated about it just because it’s unpleasant so it’s not a thing that’s widely known. The day I was told this by my physical therapist, I burst into tears and could not stop weeping for a long time — I don’t think I consciously realized at all how resented and broken and blamed I felt until I heard those words come out of her mouth: “This is actually really common.” I remember that she had a box of tissues handy right there and immediately stuffed some tissues in my hands as I tried to apologize for crying, and she was like “Are you kidding me? This happens all the time.” I’m not trying to scare anyone (on the contrary, having babies is AWESOME and you should do it if you feel like it), I just know how much it’s meant to me to find out that others’ experiences are eerily similar to my own. It’s worth mentioning something more personal than I usually do, on the off-chance that someone might read this and find it helpful. If anybody wants to talk about it, hit me up. At least listen to the podcast to hear what all the fuss is about.

Adieu for now.

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