Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Our Little Life

We are back and two weeks later I thought I would write to give you an update on the summer vacay.
It was really excellent to be gone for two whole weeks. I have always loved vacations that required road trips. So much so, that when our friends visited us from England seven years ago, part of the planned activities for their time with us was to drive to Colorado because isn't the road trip quintessentially American?
While we were gone (and check out Flickr for some of the great festivities), something very strange and excellent happened. All of a sudden, we became a family. Here we were on our first 'real' family vacation, where the sole purpose was to be in each other's company and to relax, and it felt different than anything we had done heretofore that defined us as a family, that defines us as us.
Today is Tuesday, and Thursday and her first birthday are staring us in the face. This last week heading into her birthday has really gotten up in my face. I can't help but think about a year ago and remembering everything that was running through my head, wanting it to be over, wanting to have a natural birth, wanting so many things to just happen and to happen my way. I am rueful for that person that I was a year ago. I had truly believed that there was some aspect of this that I could control, that I had the power to define and shape the next couple of months in almost a god-like fashion. If you've had a child, you intrinsically know what I mean; if you haven't . . . well, let's just say, best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men.

In the months after she was born I fought hard to find my touchstone in life. It had gone from me, and I was left with this new assumption of identity that was startling and horrible and excruciatingly sweet and life-giving, all at the same time. But I felt rudderless. My sense of isolation and desolation only increased as we began to worry about her non-existent weight gain, began the process of trying to diagnose a (thankfully non-existent) liver problem, and ultimately my coming to terms with the fact that in the midst of feeling so out of control, I had made decisions that had helped put us where we were.

Then, just like that, the world changed for the better. She started eating solid foods; I began to understand breastfeeding as a relationship and not an end goal; and she turned six months old and I took a week off of work. That week was pivotal for me. During that time, I realized I hadn't been rudderless all along, but my little boat had been heading in a very different direction.

During our summer vacation to the lake we had our families come and stay with us a couple of days each. Somehow this act of having everyone around us solidified what it meant to be our own family. Jason and I have spent our entire lives being an extension, in one way or another, of our parents' families. It became solidified for me that what we started a year ago this week was the beginning of our very own family that will eventually have its own extensions and nuances, that eventually we will welcome into it whoever our children decide to love, the partners and the children.

One year ago this week, a baby girl was given to us.
One year ago this week, my definition of what it is to be happy profoundly changed.
One year ago this week, we became our own family.
Happy Birthday, Baby Girl.

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