I was just about to give up writing this month’s letter. Let’s face it: I’m already a week late.
I have been so busy getting ready for two major bridal expos in the next two weeks that if I had a moment to actually stop and catch my breath, I think I might just start sobbing.
It’s not easy trying to make a killer first impression for your business, particularly when you work another full-time job, overbooked yourself with portrait sessions this month and have an amazing little girl you desperately want to snuggle with on the couch.
I knew building a business would be a major commitment for me, but I didn’t realize how much it would affect everyone else in the house. I want you to know that your dad has picked up a ton of the slack at home without so much as a peep. Last weekend, he did six loads of laundry in one afternoon, and tonight he made an amazing chicken dinner while I was corresponding with clients and designing my brochure.
It’s been a monster team effort.
But yesterday I think you and I just needed a break. We needed to get out of the house, leave the photos and e-mails and phone calls behind and spend a little time together.
It was our inaugural Mother Daughter Day.
When you got up, I asked, “Hey, do you want to go have some fun today?”
Your eyes got wide, then you screamed, “YEAH! TOYS!”
After I got done laughing, I asked where you’d like to go. Even though I had a specific destination in mind, I wanted to see what you’d come up with. You ticked through a predictable list of relative’s and friend’s houses, then asked to go to the bank. It’s those damn free lollipops.
Instead, I took you to Slinky Action Zone — a crazy kid activity area filled with tubes, slides, punching bags, a ball crawl and ramps. Actually, it reminds me of a gigantic hamster cage. For kids.
Knowing how crazy you are at home jumping and climbing and running and otherwise constantly going at full speed, I expected to feel a rush of air as you passed me yelling, “BE BACK MAMA!”
Instead, you looked at me, held out your hand and asked, “Eee comin’ Mama?”
I spent the next two hours 20 feet in the air in plastic tubes as other impatient toddlers tried to squeeze past my butt. And, you know what? I loved every second.
So what if all of the other moms were sitting at tables in the eating area? So what if I hit my head every single time you wanted to go down the twisty slide in my lap? So what if it took us 20 minutes to crawl across the rope mesh? We did it all together.
We didn't go out to lunch afterward like I had planned because you were conked out before we even made it out of the parking lot, but the afternoon rejuvenated me in more ways than you’ll ever know.
As always, I had been thinking for days about all the things I wanted to document this month. That was two weeks ago. Now I don’t remember any of it. There’s nothing left in my brain space besides what I need to do tomorrow. If I allow anything else in, I’ll make a major gaffe that I can’t afford to.
Instead I'll write what comes to mind. This does, however, come with a disclaimer. I worked all afternoon on the business, then I went to the paper for 9 hours and dealt with a late-breaking hostage situation that required me to rip up and resend a page minutes before deadline, and it's now 1 a.m. and counting, so it could very well end up all over the place. But this feels important. I promised myself I would do this for you. And after two years, I'm not about to stop now.
I knew I was going to write about our day. The rest? Well, here goes.
Santa brought you a gigantic princess tent for Christmas. When we got back from spending the holiday in Rochester, I wasn't exactly sure where it was going to fit in our house. First we had it in the office upstairs, but it severely restricted, oh, breathing in that room. So once the Christmas tree came down, we parked it in the living room.
You love that tent. Right this very second it is filled to the brim with shit. Your kitchen is in there, your doodle pad, blocks, plastic food, your kitchen, a wooden train and probably at least four miniature Kai Lan figurines in various outfits and hairstyles.
We sit in that tent together every afternoon reading books or doing just about anything. You love it in there.
Surprisingly enough, I don't hate it. In fact, one of my most cherished memories of that tent will be New Year's Eve 2010. All three of us were really sick this year, so instead of going to a friend's party like we had planned, we stayed home.
After a very bland dinner and passing around some medicine, you, me, Dad and Toby spent hours hanging out in your tent. Dad hooked up his iPod dock, and we listened to music while playing with your new toys. It was so hot, there were tissues everywhere, and the only thing flowing freely was snot instead of champagne, but it was wonderful.
There wasn't anywhere in the world I would've rather been.
This afternoon while we were eating lunch, you turned to Dad and asked, "Daddy, eee sing the spider song?"
You phrase all your questions that way: Mommy, eee do it? Daddy, eee comin'? Mommy, eee get BunnyBear? Daddy, eee havin' a drink?
I know someday you're going to speak clearly and I'll struggle to remember all of your cute attempts at learning a language. In fact, just a few days ago you said "lemon" correctly. I knew it was the first time you had gotten in right, but then I couldn't remember how you've been saying it up until now and it broke my heart. I think it was "menen" or something like that, but I hate that I'm not sure.
Anyway, so you asked Dad to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider. You know almost all of the verses now, you just have a hard time remembering which one comes next. Sometimes the sun dries up all the rain and then the spider washes down the spout, but whatever. We love it.
This time, when Dad got through the first verse, he made this weird noise with his mouth and you went into absolute hysterics. You laughed so hard and long, your eyes were just so alive. I didn't have my camera, so I hope the mental picture I took lasts a lifetime.
It continued like that after each verse. Dad would bust out that weird noise and you would freak out, looking at me like, "Hey, isn't this the greatest thing you've ever seen in your ENTIRE LIFE?"
When I looked at Dad quizzically, he just said, "I screwed up the song last night and made that sound before starting over. She laughed like crazy, so I did it again."
We spent the rest of our lunch making blubbery noises in between bites while you laughed and laughed and laughed.
I don't remember what we did to entertain ourselves before you came into our lives, but surely it wasn't half as fun.
You are still at a very difficult stage as far as tantrums and needing instant gratification. You specify which color cup you want your drink in and expect things to be a certain way.
But there are other times that I remember how far we've come with you. How much you've grown.
Last Saturday morning, Dad's radio station sponsored a free showing of Loony Toons at a historic theater downtown. He had been planning on taking you himself, allowing me time to work on photos, but then he said something in passing that instantly changed my mind.
"I can't wait to see her face when she sees a movie screen for the first time."
That's all it took. I threw on clothes so fast that I think I broke a personal record. I went from pajamas to ready to walk out the door in less than 10 minutes.
And I couldn't have been more glad. Not only did you sit on my lap the entire time, you helped Dad introduce the show. You've gotten so familiar with microphones from hanging out at his radio station a few times that when the theater manager handed Dad the equipment, you begged and pleaded to hold the "mike.ro.phone." You pronounce all three syllables like they're separate words that are each worthy of their own distinct attention.
When the two of you walked on stage, I felt my heart expand. Once you saw the crowd, you covered your eyes. Then Dad explained that it was your first time in front of a group and asked them to say hello. As the whole auditorium yelled, "Hi, Allison!" you put your hands down and beamed. And just like we had practiced in the car on the way there, you leaned into the mic and said, "HI KIDS!"
And then my heart expanded again.
You finished by attempting to pronounce the names of the business sponsors when Dad prompted you to, then you waved on your way back to your seat.
Needless to say, you guys got the biggest cheer from me.
As for your first glimpse at a movie screen? It earned a long "Oooooh" in between bites of popcorn. And, impressively, we made it through the entire series of shows.
There were lots of little moments like this that are eluding me at the moment. But mostly because I'm exhausted. Not because I've forgotten them.
I guess I just want you to know how incredible you are. When I'm stressed to the max and feel I can't hold one more thing on my plate, you are my antidote. Your perfectly simple world where utter joy comes in the form of a funny sound. And the biggest hurdle to overcome is figuring out where Bunny disappeared to.
Remember how I said starting this business was a team effort?
You're a big part of it, too.