Learning to Be Happy- Monday February 20th

Hazel began life with a very mild, relaxed expression.  She cried when she needed help, but other than that she seemed sort of contentedly aloof. As she got a few weeks older, she started opening her eyes more and studying us.  I pretended I wasn’t worrying that I wasn’t measuring up to her expectations.  ”I’m usually much funnier than this,” I would say as we stared at each other “you’ll see, when I get a good night’s sleep I’m so funny.”  Hazel would blink passively.  Another week or two went by.  She stuck out her tongue, I started to actually enjoy breastfeeding (it still hurts like hell though).  Her staring started to feel more concerted.

Then she smiled.  A day or so after that she smiled and squealed.  Another few days and I figured out what made her smile.  It’s seems like Hazel had learned how to be happy.

This was the moment that I really didn’t understand would happen: the moment when I finally realized that I have a whole new life ahead of me.  Watching a child arrive on earth with a personality really makes you reconsider your own life and experiences.  Happiness is something you have to learn and practice, even when you’re too young to work or have heartache or worry about making car payments.  There are a few times in my life when I felt hopelessly unhappy, and I decided to change.  I forced myself to smile more and accept invitations and after a few weeks (maybe it was months, maybe even years) I was a happier person.  But it took work and practice, and watching my daughter go through her first phase of learning to be happy is exciting and scary.  I hate to think of the days where she lays tangled in dirty sheets on a crappy college bed, pressing the snooze button 36 times until she has safely missed all her classes and can spend her day smoking cigarettes, eating Mr Goodbars and watching Blind Date.  I can’t stand to think of the first party she doesn’t get invited to, her first disappointing grade, her first broken heart.  Hopefully she can help me gain some perspective so I don’t go on a murderous rampage the first time she has hurt feelings.

Hazel and Tom and I are in this together.  Seeing how much Hazel does on her own make me breath a little easier.  She and I can be partners in her happiness.


The First Baby Ever – Thursday February 3rd

Oh my god, prepare yourself to read about the most incredible things that have ever happened to anyone ever:

Hazel rolled over today.  Then Hazel took a bath without crying.  Then the Amazing Hazel spend 10 minutes looking at her Daddy, laughing and smiling.

I’m pretty sure I am the first mother in the history of the human race to ever witness such a brilliant child grow and learn so much in one day.

That’s how it feels anyway.  I have a vague intellectualized notion that this feeling is part of new motherhood.  But this baby is a genetic product of Tom G and he is one of the most incredible human beings on the planet, so it would be logical that she is more incredible than other babies.  I don’t know.  Maybe this is just how everyone feels about a 10 pound person who manages to actually change the axis upon which the earth revolves.

The Graduation of Baby Dinosaur- Thursday February 2nd

Hazel is a very communicative baby, but not in the way I expected.  Of course, she’s excellent at crying when bored, hungry, tired, wanting of mommy, and overstimulated.  But her non-crying noises up to this point have been the little roars of a baby dinosaur.

While I found this utterly adorable, I did wonder if she would ever make the sounds typically associated with a baby.  I didn’t care if she spent her whole life growling and barking, if that’s how she wanted to talk.  Without a lot of previous baby experience, I didn’t know if babies were born sounding like babies or if this was something they had to learn.  So I waited and delighted in her little dinosaur noises.

Then Tuesday, on the 7 week anniversary of her birth, Hazel looked at me while I changed her and said “coo”.

I had to grab the side of the changing table to myself from fainting.  I knew that little developments would happens as Hazel got older, but I didn’t expect them to flood my heart with love and pride.  I mean, babies are supposed to make baby noises.  I shouldn’t seem like an accomplishment that you want to call your friends about.  I decided not to be one of those moms who makes a huge deal out of every little thing.  I was going to exhibit some self control.

Later that day, Hazel stuck her tongue out for the first time.  I had no choice I had to start calling people.

Luckily people rarely answer their cell phones anymore, so I was spared from having to catch myself trying to wrangle up excitement from non-relatives about this incredible advancement.  The problem with having a few ounces of self awareness if that you know most people are bored by your enthusiastic recounts of what your baby does, but you can’t necessarily stop yourself.  It’s especially hard when your whole day consists of feeding your baby and trying to steal a few minutes of sleep while she’s sleeping.  It’s not like I’m going to fine restaurants and the opera.  Even when I watch TV I’m just looking at the screen, I’m not really absorbing what’s happening.  Well that’s not entirely true, I do really want a Total Gym, the Wen Hair Care System, and the Gojo hands free.  So I guess some of it’s penetrating my brain.

It’s exciting to see Hazel learn more and get older, but it’s bittersweet.  I wish I could freeze these days in my memory- unencumbered by work, socializing, or any big life decisions.  I know that the older she gets, the less time we’ll have to fawn over her every coo and poop.  For the time being though, watching her stick her tongue out is more incredible that anything I’ve ever seen or done.  And this is just the beginning.

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