There have been a lot of milestones since my last ramble. Penelope celebrated her first Christmas- which was a 3-day-long extravaganza of grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and wrapping paper. If she was able to put a sentence together she may tell you that wrapping paper is her favorite food- or would be if the cruel taller people weren't constantly stealing it away from her tiny fists.
Then we rang in her first New Year's Eve with tears and consolation. She'd been asleep until the moment the ball dropped and she awoke from her nap in a strange dark place- her grandparents bedroom. So I celebrated 2013 with the world by rocking my bigger-than-ever- 6 month old. A year prior I'd celebrated by drinking club soda and artificially flavored mixers, holding my belly and not knowing what a Penelope was.
Right now a Penelope is someone who lifts their left leg straight up into the air every time she drinks a bottle. A Penelope sweetly reaches up her hand to my face as she drifts off to sleep, slowly caressing before suddenly grabbing whatever she can fit in her fingers and palm and squeezes with every bit of strength. The pain makes my eyes water. If I offer my hair instead, she innocently twists it around her fingers and releases a few times, or waves her hand in it like she's testing out a cool stream, then quickly grabs, her eyes still half closed and tries to bring me down to her face by the hair. Or she flat out just suddenly, with ninja speed, slaps your face, without any malice or ill-will, just maybe to hear what kind of sound it would make. When she's not physically abusing me, she's grinning at me so huge, with drool seeping out of her mouth. She laughs at my every attempt at humor.
Every night when she goes to sleep, I miss her. She's like that present you got for Christmas that you couldn't wait to play with when you woke up in the morning. Luckily I don't have to miss her for long because lately she's forgotten how to sleep. When I was pregnant the most common comment I got was 'Hope you don't like sleep." And then when she was born the first question I got, and continue to get--usually with a smirk is "Getting any sleep?". And I used to be able to say, "Yes. She's a terrible napper but she sleeps great at night." Well, my darling princess must have gotten sick of my complaints about her lack of napping because for the past 4 nights or so, she's been waking up on average- once an hour. And she doesn't just want her pacifier, which was what had satisfied her for the last 3 months. Now she won't be pacified unless we rock her. Sometimes she won't even tolerate us sitting down to rock her-- which is the meaning of true suffering at 3 am. Isn't this how war criminals are questioned? By waking them up every hour and forcing them to stand up, holding a screaming twenty pound weight? Danny reassures me by saying, "It's only temporary." Which then fills me with sadness, knowing that time is still fleeting, and that in a few years I'll look back on this time and wish she was still a sweet baby. So I try to enjoy even the sleepless, back-aching moments by staring at her face that's cute even when she's Miss Sleepy Grouchster Groucherson.
A less festive milestone was when Penelope visited her great grandma in the hospital. She stared in disbelief and wordless fascination at my weak grandmother and then drooled on the poor woman's bed. Then she was distracted by the beeping machine keeping grandma alive and wanted to push some of the flashing buttons.
A relative I hadn't seen in a while saw me and Penelope at the hospital and told me the way that I mothered Penelope made her flashback to how my mother was with me when I was a baby. "You don't look like your mom, but just the way you are with her is so much like your mom was with you. It's uncanny." I was moved and grateful for the statement. It was a good reminder that in an unexpected way my mom lives on. Also, loving my daughter as much as I do is a reminder of how much my own mom loved her daughters. And maybe only just a fraction of how much our Mother God loves us.
I think Penelope is starting to recognize me as a mom more, and less like a giant buffet. She stares into my eyes as if hypnotized, (and then, reminiscent of Elle from Kill Bill, snatches at my eye ball as if to keep it as a trophy). She's started to reach her arms toward me, and more and more when I leave the room she cries. I peek my head back in and she grins again, I leave and she cries.
The first few weeks, or maybe even months, after I delivered Penelope, I didn't feel like a mom. I didn't feel like much of anything- I felt diminished, invisible, confused, non existent. All that existed was this beautiful tiny baby and the baby's food source, which was me. But lately, I've noticed I feel like a picture in a coloring book, that's started to get filled in. Tonight at her grandparent's house, Penelope was getting sleepy and I said we should go home and get to bed. Danny asked if she would play for a little while before bed and I said, "We'll see." P's grandma Sharon laughed and mimicked my tone. "'We'll see'? That's such a mom thing to say!" she teased me. "Did you ever think you'd say that someday?" I blushed but felt a sense of pride at the new colors filling in my temporarily grey scale self. I like these new colors- they feel good on me.