Ana Sofía has been outside of me as long as she was inside of me now. (It is ten months, people--10!) This is incredible to me. When you just stop and think about it. In this month, Ana started walking. She walks so well, she doesn't even crawl anymore. She also responds to social cues: she laughs when we laugh, babbles when we ask her questions, and generally likes saying "Da-dee" a lot.
There are two pieces of parenting advice that have really stuck out to me:
1. Parents give their children roots and wings.
2. Parents create "normal" for their kids.
I found the first one in a book written by an eccentric Jewish artist. I wasn't looking for advice and she wasn't trying to give it and I didn't have kids at the time- it just reminded me that I create safe places to leave from. That I work really hard to have a hands off approach. That my daughter is on loan to me from God, who loves her even more than I do.
#2 was in a sermon from my pastor in the USA. He said that parents are like a door, letting in and out what we choose to go into our kids lives - but only for a small window of time. I want "normal" to look like my best self, the best that Ana could have by way of character, by way of making a difference in the world. To Ana, living in Brazil is normal. Helping children and families in poverty- well, doesn't everyone do that? She doesn't know anything else, and that blows my mind.
Since having a baby, I have liked my body much better. I grew up in a conservative home where you didn't show your body off. You were careful to cover up because your body was something special. It was never spoken, but I got the idea that my body was powerful in some kind of dark way, and in general, something to be avoided. My ignorance and innocence avoided a lot of drama and issues that could have wrecked me, but it also avoided ME. Part of who I was and am.
I never liked my stomach. Ask any woman and she will tell you her "trouble spots" and that was mine. I have a nice face, easy hair, strong arms, and thin legs: but that tummy area...crunches do nothing. And then I got pregnant. And suddenly having a little pooch was the cutest thing ever. It symbolized a new life inside of me. For the first time in my life, I stopped trying to suck it in. I stopped looking at every angle in the mirror, trying to hide it: I wanted it to show now. I had something bigger and more important in my life than worrying about if I looked fat- and that was a big deal to me.
Then I had a baby. A perfectly whole complete person came out of my body. Out of my vagina, to be exact. All of my baby making parts had previously just been a pain in the butt to me once a month: now it was their turn to shine. Not that I particularly want to go into labor again, but it was an extremely empowering experience for me. I birthed a baby- and if I can do that, I can do anything. My body did that.
I was, for the first time, proud of my body. Proud of its achievements. This wasn't like when I ran the mini-marathon (that was me telling my body to keep going). No: this was my body telling me to keep going.
I held her in my arms. I am the one that creates normal for her. I want "normal" to be her being proud of her body. Knowing that this is the only one she gets, so treat it right and respect it. That it is special and powerful, but not in a dark, secret way- that is only when people use it for what it isn't meant for, or live in fear.
I held her, and felt grateful to my body. Grateful for every jiggle and wiggle and not magazine worthy part. And I let myself rest. My body had opened up- literally, and needed to have time to heal. To close up. To re-figure out life. And so I was kind to my body in a way I never had been before.
My body has fully recuperated from having a baby, and I am working on getting back to my healthy self (that can run for a couple miles without being winded). My tummy is now worse than it ever was before I had a baby, but I like it better. I still work to hide my tummy, but I respect it now. My body and I are getting along better, and I hope we grow old together well.