Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Birthday and Symbiosis

We're celebrating DeDe's birthday today. Had a little party for her. Couldn't have chosen a better group of girls, younger brothers and amazing mothers to do it with either.

Other than a traditional party and dinner, my husband and I observe a somewhat intimate ritual in celebration of my daughter's birth — we tick through two days recalling what we were doing at that moment so many years ago when our first born arrived through me into this world. By nighttime, we'll mark some indistinct hour that DeDe was brought back to me. This year, I confessed to my daughter that after she was born, after I fed her and then the hospital me, I was so exhausted after 18 hours of hard, pitocin induced labor and 24 hours without sleep, that I sent her to the nursery instead of having her room in with me. I then described how I later woke at some unmemorable hour to the sound of a piercing wail resounding through the halls of the hospital that grew louder until a visibly shaken nurse entered my room with my crying infant daughter in her arms. But as she stepped into the room, suddenly my DeDe was perfectly content. The nurse apologized profusely. "She was crying, we couldn't get her to stop, honestly. She's been crying non-stop until now. And she was so loud. We wouldn't wake you but the other babies couldn't sleep." But DeDe just gazed at me, a portrait of innocence and perfectly at peace. Startled by the sudden change, the nurse commented before she left, "Well, she's got strong lungs and this little firecracker knows what she wants."

I kept her close the rest of the night and every day since.

Recalling this so soon after recent meltdowns, not only the children's but a surprising one of my own, I've been thinking about the strong bond I share with my family. It is pretty intense. I've always remarked that my children catch my moods — they really do, always have. But now I'm beginning to wander if I don't catch theirs, too. I've only now realized how ours is a busy two-way street.

We visited Stone Barns Agricultural Center this past weekend, too. (I had hoped to write about our visit, but ADD and PDD always have surprises and other lessons in store for me.) Part of our exciting tour of the farm was a visit by the bee hives. As our guide was explaining bee communities, she counseled us to think of them not as a group of individuals but of the hive as a single organism. In many ways, so too are me and my children.

Silver Lining: My children don't go it alone. And, I wouldn't want them to.

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