Sunday was Baby Liberation Day. The day, two years ago, that our baby girl came home. We explained to Jocelyn that we were celebrating the day that she met her baby sister—the day that she got so excited that she involuntarily pooped her pants. Okay, so she was only a year a half, but it was her first reaction to the little bit named Aja. Within a day we were living our new normal. Normal these days is full of lots of laughter and tantrums and sisterly love (and fights). Aja is the tormentor and Jocelyn is bossy and they are showing me signs of my future with two teenage girls. The eye rolling has begun and I can’t stop it.
Along with the great escape from baby jail, we have observed many other moments of growth and fun.
Yo Gabba Gabba Live
Making biscuits with Nana for Thanksgiving
Baby Liberation Day cupcakes
And for old times sake, I introduce the day they met:
You are two years old. You have been two years old for almost a month but I’ve been struggling to say much more because there are not enough words to describe how we got from there to here. The day that you were born floats in my mind like someone else’s memory. I remember the first time that I visited you in the NICU and a nurse congratulated me. It felt so odd, as though if I were to say thank you it would mean that I was happy you arrived early. I’m still not happy you chose to make your mark in August rather than November, but I am the happiest woman in the world because you are mine. You are sour and sweet and stubborn and determined and happy and loving. You’ve made me slow down and pay attention to the small milestones—the first time you turned your head, your first full cackle of a laugh, and the first time I found your hand wrapped securely around a lock of Jocelyn’s hair (pulling like it was a game of tug-o-war). You are learning your words and you love to go through the list of family members whose photos adorn the wall. Mommy! Daddy! Jojo! Nana! And when I ask you who you are you say, “Ada.” It melts my heart.
You still love your Daddy, but you have a new found love for Mommy, which I appreciate most of the time. The fact that this stems from you not wanting me to hold Jocelyn or push her in the stroller is not lost on me. I know what you’re doing. When you are called and confronted with bad behavior—usually consisting of you hitting or biting your sister—you cock your head to the side, bat your eyes and say, “No!” Your cuteness will get you far in life but please remember to only use it for good.
I’m looking forward to this next year, when your gibberish transforms into sentences and I learn why you like to hold tutus but not wear them and whether you will play soccer just to be like your sister or if you’ll decide that you’d rather eat all the oranges on the sidelines. Either way, I’ll cheer you on.
When I was eight months pregnant with Jocelyn, Khary said that he didn’t want to celebrate Father’s Day. Despite the fact that he had bought me my first Mother’s Day gift the month prior, he claimed that until he met our baby nose-to-nose, he wasn’t truly a dad. I didn’t argue and we were able to laugh about it [the word preemie remained outside of our realm of understanding for another year].
Now that he’s a dad of two, Khary got the royal treatment. That is, he mentioned that he wanted to take a series of golf lessons and I thought that would make a really nice gift. So I handed him the check to pay for it. I also chose the girls’ gift for him: two mini bottles of hot sauce because he likes things spicy. Nothing says love like habanero sauce. Next year I hope to set them free in a dollar store and see what they come up with on their own. I'm guessing it'll be something pink, with sparkles.
We celebrated by going to the zoo. This was actually our third choice. The A’s game was sold out (damn Giants fans) and the horses weren’t running. Jocelyn is at an age where she remembers most things that we tell her, and she was very excited to go see the horsies. A good substitute, in her book, will always be a giraffe.
I always knew that Khary would be a great dad. We have similar backgrounds—we were both raised by single mothers, and we talked often (before having children) about how we would raise them. But sometimes talk is just talk, and having children can change people. If it has changed Khary, it’s only for the better. Seeing him with the girls will always bring a smile to my face.
Words have not come easily for Aja. She communicates in shrieks and screams and gestures. We have a tendency to baby her at times because there’s a natural inclination to think that she doesn’t understand what is being said or asked of her. But she gets it. She knows what she can get away with and she’s milking it for all it’s worth.
I attended the first of a two-part language class for babies and toddlers that have language delays, thinking that this would help me help her. But much of what was discussed was about determining if there was comprehension happening, and we have that. We know when she wants more of something (scream A), when she wants a toy that Jocelyn has snatched from her hand (scream B), and when she is hungry/tired/pissed/uncooperative/has-a-stick-up-her-butt (high-pitched screech).
Then one day she answered YEAH to my question. And then NO. She said HI. And then she said MAMA. Clearly. Not the baby-mumble-rambling, but clear as day: MAMA. She continued to say it often, every day.
But I soon noticed something. There was a certain time of day when she said it more often than others—when Khary got home from work. He arrived home the other day and she bounced up out of her seat on the couch, running haphazardly around the corner and through the kitchen to get to him. She screamed at the top of her lungs, over and over: MAMA! MAMA!