Monday, September 6, 2010
Meditations on the Delicate Chicken
My Olivia, aka Livie, Liv, the Delicate Chicken, is turning three officially tomorrow. While I was driving home from vacation on the 101 a few days ago, listening to her chatter with her doll named Bath Baby in the back seat, I wrote this for her in my head.
Olivia was born the year I turned thirty. I had quit my job in preparation for the pregnancy and birth of Baby Number Two, but Livie took her time coming. She was conceived about a year after I was more than ready to be pregnant.
Her coming was miraculous. But she was also born into Mommy's sadness. When I talk about that time now, I say that I had postpartum depression, but truly my 9-month period of intense anxiety and depression really started when I was eight months pregnant with Liv. But God, in his graciousness, gave me a gift: an incredible bond with Olivia, this intensely sweet, extremely mellow cuddle bug who was Mama's Girl from the get-go. She was my solace; I would just stare into her blue eyes and feel at peace.
At three, there's fire in those giant blue eyes know, and it's bittersweet. I love to see Livie come into her own, which at three means the developmentally appropriate willfulness we mothers adore so. When I found out I was having a second girl, I was worried. My first-born (here comes some bragging, but I'm also being objective) was so intensely intelligent, strong,and beautiful I wondered how her sister would be able to keep up. Sophia could command a room at six months old.
But Livie does not need my pity, now, friends. She got her Daddy's thick lashes and somebody's full lips so beauty is not a problem. And though she's more one to hide her light under a bushel, when we're alone, she chats up her mommy and astounds me with her vocabulary (I love her use of the word "also") and observations. She's also a little scrapper. If I have to break up a wrestling match between my daughters, it always because Liv has started swinging elbows and delivering pile drivers.
She's afraid of heights, but not animals. She will wrap her arms around a horse's head or lay down on one of our neighbor's big dogs. I think her inner calm puts animals at ease. They see her coming and sit down. Our next door neighbor's cat will let Jeff and Livie pet her, but Sophia and I can't get close.
She's also afraid of new adventures. When we took her kayaking, the boat rental guy said, "Well, I guess I'll know where you are the whole time," because of her ear-piercing screams. But we're learning that if we push her past that initial terror (its ugly for the first five minutes) those experiences become the ones she talks about with pleasure for weeks afterward.
She loves her baby dolls and stuffed doggies. Each one gets carefully put to bed each day and then she comes and shh's me so I won't wake them up. She has great dialogues with them, too, when no one is listening.
Livie is a slob. Her room is a giant mosh pit of pillows, tiny plastic ankle-turning doll accessories, books and dress up clothes. She's happier when she can dig herself down into a pile of toys like a pig in mud.
She has a disgusting little scrap of a receiving blanket named Night Night, that goes with her everywhere, to her daddy's distress. "Mommy calls it my stinky rag," she told someone recently. "I like to suck my thumb with it."
She loves pajamas, even for nap times, and would rather not ever get dressed. When she does get dressed, she wants leggings and a spin-around dress every day.
She's my kitchen helper when I'm baking. "Which part is the Livie part, Mom?" she asks, as she eats powdered sugar straight from the bag.
She eats. All. The. Time. She's skinny as a rail but she never stops snacking and gets her own trail mix and crackers from the cupboard when I'm not looking. She has a sweet tooth too, and would eat cake until she threw up if I let her.
She loves her little friends, especially Grayson and Isabelle, and is pretty good at sharing, which I believe is easier for the second child. She also adores Sophia's best friend Olivia, who we call Big Olivia, and holds her hand whenever possible.
She is naughty and sneaky. She creeps into her sister's room and takes stuff from the coveted Barbie box just like she pilfers snacks. I'm working on this.
She likes to be funny. Like Daddy, she can make us laugh like no one else, but she will not do it on cue, only after she's very comfortable with everyone in the room.
Though she's Mama's Girl, I think she got mainly her father's genes, because she looks just like him, and so many aspects of her personality are like Jeff's. Especially the way she only performs to small audiences. I look at her and see my precious husband reflected back, and feel like she loves me the way he does too: with an intense loyalty reserved for her inner circle.
And just like her daddy's love, I take hers to my heart and feel enormously blessed and humbled to be on the receiving end.
Happy birthday, Olivia. Mommy loves you.