Sunday, August 24, 2008

Give a Little Bit

I have been overly blessed with Samantha in my life. If I could sum up my parenting experience thus far in one simple phrase it would have to be "not nearly as bad as I thought it would be." I'm not trying to blow off the difficulty at all or attempt to undermine parents who struggle, it is just my particular situation. I'm not one who has ever been accused of being overly optimistic. I'm cautious and cynical. If you ask me whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, I'll say half-empty and ask suspiciously why you drank half of my drink. I will continue to be wary of you until you have earned my trust by not taking my drink for the next five years (give or take a year). Considering my natural-born predilection for trepidation, suspicion, and my pathetically deficient threshold for pain, it's no surprise that I was terrified of pregnancy and childbirth. Throughout my teen years I honestly thought about adopting just to avoid the whole painful mess. I spent 9 months of pregnancy trying to come up with a "plan C" for birth. No vaginal delivery, no C-section, there has to be an easier way. We walked on the moon for crying out loud! Are you telling me we can't find a better exit for this kid? To my surprise, pregnancy wasn't horrific. Childbirth wasn't nearly as horrible as the Alien-esque bloody fiasco I had mentally prepared for either. I don't plan on doing it again any time in the immediate future, and I am more than willing to be the national spokesperson for epidurals, but it wasn't as bad as expected.
Once that hurdle was clear, I dreaded the newborn stage. I was a nightmare baby myself. My mom and dad will both testify that I was born the intense control-freak that sits here now. Actually, in the name of accuracy, I'm pretty sure I've mellowed since birth. The fact that my parents had my brother and sister is either a testament to their undying optimism in the human race or evidence of their need for medication. Considering that most nights I wouldn't sleep longer than 45 minutes and would only let 2 people on earth (one of whom lived out of state), hold me without me screaming like a howler monkey, I would incline towards the latter. My parents used to have to pry my clenched fists open to clean out the lint while I howled. I'm not Hindu, but I was pretty much convinced Karma was out for me on this one. The fact that I was a horribly nerdy and obedient teenager was my only hope to cancel out the bad points I must have racked up in infancy.
Instead of what I deserved, I got Sam. She is a wonderful baby in every sense of the word. She sleeps, she smiles, she is the poster-child for easy-going. We took her to Las Vegas this week and she handled the 6-hour ride each way amazingly well. She was less overstimulated and crabby from the noise and hubbub than I was. She goes with the flow, she is patient and lovey. She's the infant version of her father in personality and appearance. Samantha has Daniel's smile, his mouth, his baby-bald head--I looked like a hybrid monkey/troll doll from birth and didn't lose a hair. She is always on the go, just like Daddy. She has to be standing up all the time, and is not content to lounge on the floor or the couch, my favorite pasttime. She loves to watch TV, but only if she's doing something else at the same time. Playing, eating, trying to kick her toys from her bumbo. The only part of me I see in her is that the little hair she does have is dark, not red. Plus, she's chubby like Mom, not Dad, but what baby isn't a little chubby in the thighs? She is for all intents and purposes, a little Daniel--everybody says so.
Sam is such a good baby that despite the fact that Daniel and I are both complete worrywarts--he worries about money and keeping things spotless and I stress about everything else--we have even decided that barring a horrible toddler phase, someday way down the road, we would like to have another child. It may sound lame and non-committal, but trust me, this is a big step for us. It took Daniel three years to ask me out (we don't make any decisions lightly), so it's a good indicator of how our angel baby has changed our lives.
I realize that Sam's disposition is only fair. To have two women as intense as I am in one household would be the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. I am very grateful for everything about her and love her more than life itself. I married Daniel because he balances me out completely and together we make a perfect set, so I'm not sad that our baby seems to be so much like him--he's great and if she turns out just like her Dad, I will be happy forever.
Being the insecure person that I am, there is a however attached to that.
You knew it was coming.
Deep down "in places you don't talk about at parties" I hope Samantha will have just a little bit of me in her someday. I may be a hot mess in a lot of ways, but I do have several good qualities. When properly channeled, my intensity is passion. I am passionate about justice, learning, and doing the right thing. I work hard at whatever I do and won't settle for less than my personal best. I love to laugh and I do have a sense of humor. I can see the funny things in sad situations and despite being intense about outward things, I don't take myself too seriously. I always try to help others and it is my goal in life not to be narcissistic. I'm loyal to my family and have a deep capacity to love them.
It may be an act of Divine intervention that my infant is not just like I was. If she were, I might be dead by now. I do wish though, that my little girl will develop a few qualities of mine throughout her life, give me just a little bit of myself to carry on. I'm not all bad. On occasion, Sam will have a hard time settling down for a nap and scream until she is rocked to sleep. On those rare occasions, I secretly hope and pray that this isn't my only contribution to her personality--the rare but memorable panic-attack. We will see what the future brings for my little girl, and only then will I know if she will give a little bit to her poor over analyzing Mommy.
I sure hope so.

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