Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

This holiday season has me feeling reflective because last year at this time we were officially "AJ" as opposed to "BJ." (After Jarrah vs. Before Jarrah.) Of course, last December I didn't know her yet, but she was present, filling up my thoughts on a minute-to-minute basis. Either I was collecting items for her care package, arranging her room, shopping for travel, or filling out more paperwork. All the while, I was staring at her picture in my wallet, at the cue ball shaved head and the slightly lolling tongue, and feverishly wondering what she'd look like in motion.

Because she was 11 months old when we got our referral, we had the opportunity to celebrate her birthday, even though she was half-way across the world at the time. I have attended many first birthday parties this year, and each time I've found myself studying the proud parents, imagining them thinking, "Wow, where has this year gone? My baby is growing up so fast." And each time I've done this, I've felt a little twinge of sadness that I never knew a Jarrah who weighed less than 27 pounds, or one that I could nestle in my arms while she drank a bottle.

It was wonderful to eat cake and sport tiaras with Mary in a dual celebration for our girls who had no idea who we were yet. I am grateful that I had that opportunity. But lately it feels weird when I talk about Jarrah's upcoming birthday and I realize she's turning two. It's like my time as a mother has spun into hyperdrive somehow. How could she be turning two? I've only known her a few months!

Her second birthday makes me reflective about the past year in other ways. Very soon, she will be starting preschool two days a week. In preparation, we've been "visiting" her classroom together, just for an hour or so, and I grow anxious when I see the other children, so well-trained at sitting for storytime, even speaking to me in full sentences. Granted, Jarrah is the youngest in her class, and she is coming to the party four months late, but I fret that she will be confused and frustrated, and (horrors) that not only won't she speak like the other children, she won't even understand what her teachers say. Everyone from the director of the school to her teachers to my friends have reassured me that she is going to do fine, thrive even, so I know this is one of those times when I really just need to work on me. But still!

Looking back over the year, I also have an indulgent smile for my early mom self, who was so tired and befuddled that I signed up for a music class a half-hour drive from our house because, well, we needed something to do. That same self tried every children's gym in the county as if we were touring colleges. Just this past week, Jarrah and I checked out a newly opened gym (Reader's Note: this gym shall remain nameless because, unbelievably, I have been flamed by representatives of said gym who have Googled me--who knew I was so important? :)) and as I watched Jarrah climbing up and down the vinyl blocks and scooting down the tiny slides, I was struck by the stunning notion: she is too old for this place. Wow. How did that happen? Then she was scared witless by the colorful clown who arrived to "dance" with the children. She leapt into my arms, making a moaning sound and pointing accusingly at the clown, who, I must admit, inspired a little terror in me, too. Jarrah, who flies up tall ladders, sails down steep slides, and marches up to huge dogs, was terrified of a stuffed clown. Good for you, Jarrah. :)

So, I don't think we'll be going to any more gym classes, or having our bellies stamped at Borders Babies. And while I'm a little nostalgic for the babyhood that lasted less than a year, I think it will be good for her and me to set our sights on new challenges. But that doesn't mean I won't be thinking about what once was, or never was, or what will be.


Anonymous said...

I feel the same about Joy's first year. How can they be "little girls" already?

Sometimes I still get mad when people say, "Gosh, she is getting so big! She looks like she is three! She is TWO already?"

They will move on to different things. There is really no stopping tht. And, while Mommy Mary wants them to stop, Kindergarten Teacher Mary knows better.

Sometimes I take solace in all of the "firsts" that we do get to see and experience.

Here is to their first Latke Party (in person) this year!



Unknown said...

Nameless gym -- with a clown? Oops! ;)

I wax nostalgic and marvel at how time passes when I pack up the clothes Laura has outgrown. It's so hard to put away the little outfits she once wore. Yet each new day brings fascinating changes. I just love hearing about Jarrah's latest feats! So to time marching on, I say, bring it!

Anonymous said...

Holy moly. She's gonna be two??? Wow. Isn't it amazing how this little person is such a part of your being that it's hard to imagine time before her?

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