November 9, 2016

Yesterday, I knew the kind of world I had to raise my daughter for, one that was imperfect, absolutely, but one whose dangers I had at least a basic grip on. I’d do my best to prepare her to face and combat things like climate change, sugar, mean girls. I’d nurture a love of the outdoors and a life where experiences matter more than stuff; I’d expose her to as many foods as I could, cultivating in her a wide palate that favors vegetables over sweets; I’d read books to inspire empathy in her and teach her “I statements” when conflicts arose.

This morning, I awoke, after a nearly sleepless night, to a bleaker world, one where, seemingly, fear has conquered. I feel utterly ill-equipped to prepare Lucia for the challenges that lie ahead of us. Hell, I can barely drag myself out of bed this morning.

But today is also Lucia’s birthday, and I am a mother, so get up I must for my Ricky Ticky, my Skinnamarink, my Rat-a-Tat-Tat, my Lucia, my Lu. Lucia Elaine is, as her name means, my “graceful, shining light” in this world. She has given me hope from the moment I knew she existed. On March 3rd, 2015, the due date of the baby boy Jared and I lost, I found out I was pregnant with her. Ten weeks later I learned I was carrying a seemingly healthy baby girl, one who even in utero forced me to confront my darkness to make space for her to grow. She came rip-roaring into this world in a perfectly timely fashion on her due date, a tiny 6 pound 14 oz, 19 inch healthy bundle of joy. Jared and I felt instantly in love with her, truly, and began what a minister at a wedding of friends termed a couple’s “second marriage”. The past year she has lived up to her name.

She brings light and joy daily. She has a smile that fills her from her eyes to her toes; her giggle is contagious. She loves nothing more than scooting up the stairs and waiting for Jared to chase her. Seeing Jared delight in being a father fills me.

On a literal level, Jared and I have seen more light in this past year, in the form of waking hours not spent sleeping when one should be sleeping hours, in the the form of is this a sleep regression or teething or is she just playing us why oh why can’t you sleep, fine i’ll feed her thank god she’s asleep hours.

She casts a blazing light on all the things I love about Jared that I see in her: curiosity, open-heartedness, brains, and his cute Norwegian face. She has made me love myself better and more strongly when I see echoes of myself in her laugh, in her playfulness, and yes, I’ll admit it, in her ski jump nose.

She has proven that years of putting the cart before the horse in co-parenting in the dorms at boarding schools has prepared me and Jared well for being parents together. He and I make a great team. She has shown a light on the strength of our marriage, as well as the effort that must be put into making it work. Jared and I struggle daily to find enough time for ourselves, for each other, for the house, for the pile of dishes, for our creative lives.

She has also thrown into stark relief the shadowy bits that still need attention. I work to be a kinder, less critical woman because I want to model that for my daughter.

Above all, she has shown me that love is our natural state. When I hear her sweet babbles, as I do even this morning, as she talks to herself in her crib, I know this. When she greets me with a big, wet kiss and a nuzzle in my neck, I know this. Further, I know that curiosity has roots deeper than those of fear when I see Lucia smile at a stranger behind us in line at the grocery store, or when she attempts to launch herself off the armchair and onto the floor or towards the table in relentless pursuit of whatever “not a toy” she sees: my phone, my car keys, Jared’s computer.

If love is our natural state, then lightness is an absolute truth in this world. Indeed, If Lucia has taught me one thing, she has taught me that there is always more room for love, that your heart can grow ten times its size in an instant. So, I will love harder for Lucia, for this world.

Happy One, Lucia.

 

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