I remember telling myself over and over that I didn’t care one way or the other. Throughout the entire seemingly interminable ride on that rainy January morning, I repeated “health-y, health-y, health-y” over and over again in my mind like a mantra, in time with the windshield wipers.
And yet, when the ultrasound technician informed us that I was carrying a (healthy) baby girl, I was shocked to find myself tearing up from happiness and, um, a tiny bit of fear.
The thing is, I was totally prepared for another boy. For some reason, I had always envisioned myself as a mom to a houseful of them. I regularly babysat my neighbor’s sons growing up, I have two younger brothers, had a ton of guy friends throughout school, and even at that point, I was outnumbered by J and T, but was totally fine with it. I knew how to deal with boys; I was used to it.
A girl required, in the barf-inducing parlance of Corporate America, a paradigm shift. I mean, diaper changes alone would likely involve a complex mapping system, but fast forward a few years, and OMG WHAT ABOUT MEAN GIRLS AND HIGH SCHOOL AND AIEEEEE. I kind of felt like hyperventilating every time I began to think about A Girl, and all she'd entail.
But she was born, and much like labor itself becomes a hazy, distant memory, all the navel-gazing faded away.
She was...well, damn easy to love.
The experience of having one kid and then another in fairly rapid succession is interesting; you feel vaguely guilty for taking time away from kid #1 because of kid #2, AND know full well that you’re not being the same parent to kid # 2 that you were to kid #1 BECAUSE HEY, NOW THERE ARE TWO OF THEM. NO ONE TELLS YOU THAT, PEOPLE.
However, I must say that one of the best parts of the past year with her in our lives has been watching the two kids grow from indifference (T) and oblivion (Lo), to this…
The other thing I love? Realizing just how different they are, and how good it is for each of them. I can't speak for anyone else, but when I was pregnant the second time, I kind of just pictured myself giving birth to a clone of T, in both looks and personality. From day one, T favored me; Lo TOTALLY prefers her dad.
T was a cautious baby, slow to do the physical stuff (rolling over, crawling), but was talking very early. Lo says only about five words, but she doesn't stop moving. She is my daredevil, and doesn't think twice about attempting to swan dive off of our bed. I call her my magpie, since she tries to put EVERYthing in her mouth, particularly if it's shiny. She brings out T's silly side, and he calms her, uh, Knievelishness. They're a hell of a lot of fun on their own, but together, they're even better.
Looking back at my favorite pictures of Lo from the past year, I find myself tearing up again, like I did when the reality of A Girl coming into our family first became a reality.
Because, yes, there's still a part of me that is PETRIFIED about the prospect of raising a little girl in what I feel is (for me) the "right" way...One that allows for pink dress-up gowns, glittery nonsense and dolls...
... but which will not ultimately lead her down the path that starts with clear heels, and ends with her competing on Bret Michaels' Rock of Love: Nursing Home of Nookie.
The other part of me, however, gets weepy--as I did back then--out of sheer joy. Because, quite simply, I love this kid so, so much. She's a good, cheerful and...SPIRITED baby, and I'm thankful she's mine. No longer just A Girl, but My Girl.
Happy birthday to you, my daredevil, my magpie baby, my Dancing Queen.