Sunday, September 11, 2011

52 weeks

The past several weeks have flown by. I started writing this entry two weeks ago. And now Miss M's first birthday has already passed. I can't believe my baby girl is a year old.

Exactly one year ago, we were preparing to leave the hospital. It was the calm before chaos. Sleepless days and nights. Learning to breastfeed. Laying next to her, mesmerized by every breath, every jerky move, every blink of her bright eyes.

Fifty-two weeks later, Miss M is a cruising, babbling, silly little girl. If she's not pushing her V-Tech walker, she's dancing to its music. She likes cups and balls and chewing on her Robeez knock-offs (thank goodness I didn't splurge on the real thing!). Her favorite word is "dog." It's the first thing she says when I pick her up in the morning. "Dog?" It's also what she chants when we get home: "Dog? Dog? Dog?" as she high-tails it to his room.

In addition to dog, she regularly says "mama," "dada," "all done," "uh-oh," "ball" and "up." She has also been known to say "open," "hi," and "bye." She will high-five and clap when she feels like it. She signs for "milk" and "all done."

She takes after her mama in that she knows what she wants, and when she wants it (or doesn't). It is both endearing and frustrating. It's cute when she says, "All done," but exacerbating when she says this after only one bite ... of the fifth or sixth food you've tried feeding her for dinner.

It's hard for me to remember life without Miss M. I finally understand why so many women say motherhood makes them a better person, although I am still conflicted by this statement. I love her more than I have ever loved anything in my life. And I love myself since having her. I feel like a better person, and yet I know I'm not a better friend or wife or professional. How can I be? I have less time to devote to my friends, my husband, my job.

Miss M has filled a void I couldn't articulate prior to having her. For 30 years, I lived with an absence of a history, of roots, of a biological connection to any other human being. Realizing my daughter has my hands, for example, was a profound experience. Her palms, her knuckles, her fingernails ... they're just like mine. She scrunches her eyebrows like me. She is goofy and opinionated like me. I know she is different from me in at least as many ways as she is similar, and yet it amazes me to see myself in her -- traits I now realize I inherited, not learned. It is an amazing connection and awareness that may be hard to understand unless you have lived without it.

I didn't know I was incomplete until she made me whole.