What a melodramatic title for a blog post. Such are the peaks and valleys of my emotional life now.
Ava Bear. What do you need? Who will you be? Who are you now?
Here are a few of the things I know about her. She loves her animals. She is breathtakingly sharp and alert, always absorbing and putting bits of information together and locking it all away. She gets easily bored. She's funny. She's fussy. She loves the water. She loves biscuits and peas and cheese and mangoes. She loves clapping and high-fiving and riding around in the grocery cart. She does not like baby gates or Mommy's laptop.
She sleeps. (Putting her to sleep is hard though. Sometimes she wails and wails and what feel like essential pieces of me shrivel as tears shoot at the same time out of both of her big eyes. Papa Dog has taken to wearing his industrial-strength sound engineer headphones when he rocks and coos and eventually soothes her resistant little self to sleep.)
She poops (especially during family photos).
She walks. (Like a tiny drunken zombie at the end of a bender.)
She grows. On Monday she celebrated her first birthday with her first cupcake.
Ava's Mother. What do I need? Who will I be? Who am I now?
I am tired. I am suddenly aware of my limited reserves of patience and energy and imagination. I like to think of these as muscles that are being worked for the first time by a merciless trainer—who not only yells, but spits and vomits and craps on me. I'm working on my strength and endurance. I am sometimes struck with moments of great loneliness. I think I am lonely for the life I used to have that allowed for some alone time. I really miss Ethiopia, and the emotional intensity of that week. I am shaky from being hit again and again with overwhelming waves of tenderness and concern for the little person who now sleeps down the hall. I am still mystified by the realization that I have a daughter. I haven't seemed to regain my balance since we've met.
It was two weeks and five days after we returned home when I was struck—again with the force of a rogue wave—with the sudden realization that I loved this little girl.
I'm not yet the mother I'd like to be—but I have to think I'll get there one day.