Just me and my girl

Growing up, one of my favorite things was when an adult would tell me a story about when I was little.  It didn’t matter that I was four and my grandmother was telling me about something that had happened in the past year: it was in the past, I was littler when it happened and, by telling me the story, she was telling me how important I was to her.   The history of me and how I came to be never failed to enthrall me.   As an adult, I love that I have little trinkets from those that came before me:  a glass bowl from one  grandmother, her engagement ring that I wear to this day,  my Uncle Tim’s Navy Jacket, Uncle Bill’s baby picture, letters my other grandmother wrote me – ones where she sent me an article from the paper and highlighted the parts I especially  needed to read, a very large painted portrait of my Aunt Mary who, though she died before I was born, was alive and much-loved in many stories my mother told me of her childhood.  Uncle Andy makes fun of me, saying my house looks just like my mom’s – It always makes me happy to think I’m turning out like her.   My history, though nothing exotic, is something I am proud of and I want my children to feel that same pride.  They are special and their stories unique.

I have started to tell the kids stories of my past – different players making their appearance and giving shape to a time they would otherwise have never known.    Like me, they both love to hear about times when they were little or when I was and I love sharing my memories with them.   I have started writing them down so the kids can have them whenever they want to pull them out, to feel loved, cherished and wanted.  To know how they came to be.

Maddie, this one is for you.

When you were ready to make your appearance, things were so different from my first time having a baby.  Because of the difficulties with TJ’s birth,  this time around, I scheduled my C-section and knew the date and time you were going to be born.   I was prepared emotionally, more settled and knew what to expect in the operating room and during recovery.  I was much calmer this time.  I was a pro!

I was so excited and happy to be having a baby girl.   Having a boy had been amazing so far… to be honest, I had wanted a boy first and a girl second.  It made sense in my brain and I was glad you’d have an older brother.   I’d so enjoyed all the boy things he brought to my life and was looking forward to the girly ways you’d bring with you.   I knew, long before I met you, you’d be quite the character, I just knew.   Because I was 40 when I was pregnant with you, I got to see a picture of you in my belly once a week.  While the doctors made sure you were growing right, clicking buttons and taking measurements, I’d just stare at the screen watching you move – you were always moving – and you always looked like you were talking to us.  I’d laugh with the technician that you were going to be a talker – we’d pretend we knew what you were saying and we’d talk back to you.   Kiddo, you didn’t let me down!   Your voice rings through our house and is a part of the landscape that makes it home.

Like my love of stories of the past, I had always loved the idea of  family names going on through generations.  I’m named after my great grandmother, Elizabeth and my Aunt Mary (yep!  The one in the picture)  and TJ was named after my two grandfathers (John) and after my uncle and brother both named Timothy.  Naming him Timothy John – the only name I ever had on my boy name list –  meant so much and, for me, it thanked those men for being part of who I was and who he would be.

Little one, I struggled with your first name.   I knew your middle name was Kathleen after my mom, but first names eluded me.  I could never stick with one, nothing seemed good enough and the girl family names left a lot to be desired….Because of this, naming you ended up taking the full nine months, I wasn’t sure until I saw you that morning that you would be Madelyn.  I will say, Madelyn suits  you.

Nine months is a long time to wait to meet someone you’re dying to meet.   I had TJ to keep me hopping and I put a lot of energy into letting him know I loved him and that my feelings for him wouldn’t change.   I wanted him to be happy you were coming, too.   I also kept busy by doing things moms do:  buying your clothes and toys, car seats to keep you safe,  a new crib and changing table and by decorating your room.    That was a pure labor of love, Maddie, a room I saw in my mind as just for you.

Your room was so beautiful, Daddy had worked so hard to make it look like the one I had in my dreams.   Beautiful light purple walls and carpet and ladybugs everywhere.  Mommy loves ladybugs – they remind me of my mommy –  and boy, I loved your room.   I had a special pillow hand made and painted with your name and a ladybug and a I hung a print I’d had in my room as a little girl of  (you guessed it!) a ladybug.   It was perfect and, with that done, I needed you to hurry up and get here.

Soon it was the day…..August 16th.

Daddy and I got up so early that morning, we had to be at the hospital at 6am!  I know you know me well enough by now, I am NOT a morning person, but I was up and dressed and ready to go – I wanted you here!

I also knew something else, something I had learned from my time in the hospital with your brother.   When TJ was born, the nurse asked me if I wanted my baby in the room with me or down the hall in the nursery.   She was well-meaning and told me I’d need  to rest up to take my baby home.  To this day, I regret that I listened and let her wheel my baby boy down the hall to spend those first hours without me.

This time I was ready.

When they asked me if I wanted my baby in the room with me or down the hall, I told them to leave you with me, I wanted you with me at all times.   I wanted the alone time with my girl.   Just me and my girl.   The world would get you soon enough, but this was our time and I was going to be selfish about it.

They rolled your bassinet into my room and I asked them to put it right next to me.   The nurses thought it would bother me and wanted to put it across the room so I could sleep and they could come in and check on you without waking me up.   I didn’t like that idea at all.  I didn’t mind waking up, I wanted to see you and to hold you and feed you myself.

That first afternoon, I put you on my chest on your tummy.   You were all swaddled up and you smelled so good.    You and I laid there for hours, I talked to you and told you how happy I was that you were here and that I couldn’t wait for you to come home.  I told you about your room, Daddy, Maggie Doggie and Abby and our kitties.   I told you about your uncles, your aunt, two cousins and your grandparents.   I told you so many things – You seemed to  understand.  You were such a smart baby.  I told you all about your older brother, how cute he was and funny and so sweet.   I thought you were so lucky to have him ahead of you in life, to love you and protect you.  I know it doesn’t always feel that way now, but he’s your first best friend and I hope your life long best friend, no matter where your roads take you.

I will always cherish those days alone with you.   It was our time – just us – and it means the world to me that we had it.

Now you’re six, its your last day of 1st grade today, my baby is not a baby anymore…but wow, what an amazing young lady you are.    You are so funny and quick-witted and your observations on life amuse not only me, but so many people.  I sometimes post your funny comments on Facebook and my friends tell me they look forward to my “Maddie Stories” – you’re a source of so many smiles.

During the days, you are a whirling dervish – always busy and active and asking questions and sharing your opinions. I hear at least a million times a day, “Mom, watch this!” as you fly through the room doing your round offs or hand stands.   Your energy far exceeds mine and I often find myself exhausted by you, but in a good way.   Its the kind of tired you feel after a day at Disney World or a really great party.    At night, however, you like to sleep with me in my room, you started insisting when you were only 18 months old.    To be fair, I’ve never discouraged you because again, those moments alone with you are very special with me.  You get in bed and you’re a crazy wiggle worm and still chattering and laughing and singing.  I try to read or play around on my computer and you just lay there and chatter away.   You start to slow down and you ask me more sincere questions (you told me the other night that when I die, you will attend the Day of the Dead in Mexico in my honor.)  and your eyes start to get heavy.   You always snuggle into my arm, and you fall asleep mid sentence, holding on to my arm.   Every night.

After you fall asleep, I always give you kisses and rub your back and tell you how much I love you.  You are a bit of a bed hog and I wake most nights with your knee in my ear or your hand smacking my cheek as you turn over, I gently move you over and sometimes you talk to me in your sleep….you love to talk!    Much like our first days, this is our time together and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  One day you’ll come to me and you’ll tell me you’re going to start sleeping in your own bed.   That’s ok, because you’re getting older and you should.  But for now, I will cherish our chatty wiggle worm nights together, happy to read with only one arm because you’re holding the other, risk life and limb from your night thrashings…..because its our time, just me and my girl.

I love you, Maddie Kate – heart and soul.

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