The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Year Behind Us

One year ago exactly I woke up in my own home, with a baby sleeping in the crib her daddy for built her.

After three weeks in Ethiopia battling the bacterial infections from hell and the big fat ?? mark of leaving together or staying ALONE with my sick self and my sick baby for another month, the three of us somehow managed to pry a visa out of the embassy and claw our way across the universe back to our cozy den of safety.

Ok, we flew. We didn't claw. But if I had been told by the embassy that "clawing" my way back to the US with Ariam clinging to my back was necessary I would have signed at the dotted line and put on my knee and elbow pads.

Parenting was so daunting a year ago. I think that's why the Ethiopian experience and the trip home meld together in my mind as less of a realistic memory and more of a big black void of churning, sick to my stomach feeling.

Do we let her crawl on the airport floor, is that o.k.? (yep - she'll crawl on worse!) Do we wake her up to feed her on the plane? (duh! NO! never ever wake her up!) How do we cut her nails? Why is she crying? Are we supposed to burp an 11 month old? Do babies eat corn? Can her body really hold 10 bottles in 24 hours?? Is it ok if she holds her bottle herself? Am I witnessing a severe attachment issue? Why doesn't she ever sleep? When will we ever sleep? How does a onesie work? Does her head look big? Do her toes look small? Is one eye opening wider than the other? Why is she so annoyed by socks? OMG are they cutting off her circulation?!

I remember waking up that first morning home. (Probably because I never went to sleep.)
Lots and lots of crying from the little lady.

But then we introduced her to the bedroom of delights. Filled with fantastic things to discover like the mirror on the door, the baby books she couldn't rip up, baskets of stacking toys, soft stuffed animals, and the yellow rocking chair. Two parents at her service completely.

I remember our concern that neither of us would ever be able to go to work again because well, a. we didn't want to be away from her for even a minute and b. it took both of us to tend to her every need and desire. It seemed like a truly legitimate concern at the time!

I remember how, after dressing her in a ridiculously poofy sundress, we just sat and watched her explore the room. Nobody laughed or smiled. We were so. serious. All the time! She was serious. We were serious. Geez, it was like we were attending a wake those first few days. We had absolutely no idea how to make her laugh even after spending 3 weeks with her in Ethiopia. We were really worried she would examine her new situation and find it all very....wanting. We were also worried that if we did anything wrong she would potentially break, crumble and turn back into the dust of a dream.

But, in the end, she didn't. She liked us! And she stayed very real!

A year is behind us. I wrote in her baby book each month of the year. A year of months of firsts and discoveries. Of feeling our way through the impossibly black night of new parenting. A year of seeing the sun pop out in unexpected places.

J is prone to telling me "She makes being a toddler look like so much fun!"
I smile.

I don't remind him that for years I (and a counselor) told him that having a child would help him to rediscover his own lost childhood. It would bring him retroactive joy.

 I don't have to tell him how redemptive parenthood is - how it seems to balance out the universe in indescribably right and good ways.

Last week we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary.
On our 10th we went to Greece. Thank God we did that. Because on our 11th I'm pretty sure that one or both of us were laying in a bed in Ethiopia puking. And our 12th was very...understated.

Last week we hired our first babysitter. We paid her and everything y'all. (Ok, I am not southern and am not even sure if I spelled y'all correctly, but it just seeemed to fit and I may toss it around a bit more in the future...)

We paid her and left her in charge for four hours and took ourselves to happy hour and to a movie. It was blissful.

I think we're going to make it. I think we have found our equilibrium in parenting. It only took a year. A YEAR! It was a year! I am so in love with this past year and so very equally glad it is behind us.


PS. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your comments about Cassidy. Sometimes I have to ask myself why I blog - why I choose to take time out of my family life to write self-indulgently funny or snarky or thought provoking or sad things on a page on the anonymous internet. And then when I wrote about Cassidy it was like putting a little bit of our life together in a bottle and setting it to sail. Honoring her, giving closure, and receiving the gift of comments back was priceless.


  1. Congratulations on your first year! It was a great one and there will be many more to come. Thanks for sharing your life through this blog. Te queremos mucho and come to visit DC again. Abrazos

  2. It is amazing how much joy we take from watching our children be joyful. It's like a magic medicine. Congrats on surviving. 1 down, a lifetime to go!

  3. Oh, this is such a lovely post! ONE YEAR. It has gone so quickly (seems like YESTERDAY you brought her home!) but oh, how much has changed. You are so right about the seriousness - brilliant point. So happy for you all taht you did manage to claw your way home, and that you're all together now in the new normal.

  4. What a beautiful honest, so real. And I totally understand it....congrats on the journey then and now. It is amazing, all of it!


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