Wild, Free Spirits

We cuddled this morning.

This is huge- HUGE. You’re not exactly…well, I would describe you as…ok let’s start from the beginning.

For nine long, nauseous months I wondered who you would be.

I’m not a fan of stereotypes, but I did catch myself daydreaming about brushing shiny, curly hair, sharing polka-dotted headbands, and painting tiny nails to match my own…all things I do with your brother, but I figured it might be slightly different with a little girl. So anyway, here I am, queasily daydreaming about having a little miniature of myself…

And then I met you.

You came out wailing and flailing- not the sweet cries of a newborn baby, but more the guttural growling of a hibernating bear roused in the middle of February.

I quickly learned that while your brother enjoyed (edit: still enjoys) hours of story time, back rubs, and slow-dancing the night away, you wanted none of it. You pushed books out of my hands, covered yourself with your blanket and turned away from me before I could read one word, sing one note or plant one kiss on your chubby cheeks.

I spent months wondering what I was doing wrong, and then it hit me (much like you do when your milk is in the wrong cup) – I’m raising a strong, free-spirited human. You are fierce! You are independent! You don’t need any stinkin’ cuddles! You don’t need any stinkin’ dancing! You don’t need any stinkin’ Adele songs whispered in your ear!

One problem.

I am mousy and clingy and I need all of those things.

Alas, the more I tried to force the cuddles, the more I learned that what you really thrive on, my dear, is space. The kind of space one might give to a cat. You rub up against my leg every so often and sit on the counter to watch me cook, but if I get too smoochy you slap me, shriek and run. I’ve gotten used to this.

I’ve gotten used to the fact that “sitting at the table” actually means “climbing onto and rolling all over the table.”

I’ve gotten used to the fact that I will need to wrestle you like a tiny bobcat to get your shirt over your frantic, static-shocked curls every morning.

I’ve gotten used to the fact that putting you in your carseat will usually entail getting scratched, punched, and growled at, and that I should never, under ANY circumstances, wear dangling jewelry during the ordeal. It will be swiftly destroyed.

I’ve gotten used to the fact that if I try to help you brush your teeth, open your applesauce or put your shoes on, you will shriek “I DO IT!” before struggling, doing it horribly wrong, and declaring proudly, “I DID IT BY MYSELF!”

I’ve gotten used to the fact that you think licking the food off the floor is more fun than eating it off the plate; that you will drink the bath water and try to spit it long-distance into the toilet bowl no matter how hard I try to stop you; and that your favorite place to sit is in the window sill. Preferably naked.

I was completely unprepared for you.

And you know what? I love every minute of it.

After five years of being immersed in the sweet, affectionate, soulful person that is your brother, I am learning so much from you. Your fearlessness, fierce determination and unshakeable spirit thrill me. They also give me heartburn, but I figure that’s par for the course.

So when you woke up just before 6am bellowing for a milk refill, I stumbled into your bedroom just grateful that I’d get 30 minutes to wrestle you into your outfit before Vince wandered in and asked for chocolate milk at a specific temperature.

But as I headed for the kitchen you stopped me and pointed to the couch.

“Mickey Mouse on?”

“Sure, Gracie. Here’s Mickey Mouse- I’ll go get your milk.”

“No, Mommy sit….cuddle?”

As I flopped into the chair in complete, half-asleep shock, you snuggled onto my lap, covered us both with your blanket, and whispered, “We cuddle, Mommy,” into my neck.

If that chair didn’t have an armrest I would have been on the floor.

We watched as Mickey Mouse found coconuts for the Clubhouse Coconut Party; I brushed your curls with my fingers (for about 4 seconds, until you gently but firmly grabbed my hand and said, “No. Mommy, No.”); and we sang the Hot Dog Dance song (not exactly Adele, but I’ll take it).

It was Heaven.

And then you ran into Vince’s room yelling “Wake UUUUP!!!!” and climbed onto his art table and I wrestled you into a clean diaper and Rocco pooped on the floor and Vince complained that his milk was the wrong temperature and that he couldn’t get all the boogers out of his nose….(deep breaths)…and we were back to our regularly-scheduled program.

But we cuddled, you and me.

I guess even wild, free spirits need their mamas every now and then.

So…matching headbands tomorrow? No? Too soon?

Ok, well…I’ll be here.


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