Mariel was chewing on the plastic cookie attached to a flexible wand on her walker.
Francisco was in the bathtub.
Where was I? I don’t know- somewhere between the kitchen and the bedroom, cleaning toys, I think.
She looked up. She smiled. “Ma ma ma ma ma ma. Mom. Ma ma ma ma.”
“She’s talking! She said Mama! How do you feel?”
It occurred to me that I’d never questioned what language development really is. I mean, we practice sounds that lead to language, but is language development– in other words, our first word– really only our first word if we know what it means?
I don’t know, so I didn’t know how I felt. I picked her up and held her close to my chest anyway, and smiled. “Mama,” I said, pointing at me. “Papa,” pointing at Francisco. “Mariel,” I said, putting my hand on her warm, sweet cheek.
If you were to take a poll of 10 people who know me well, all 10 people would tell you that I don’t like a mess.
It’s not that I’m obsessively clean (I’m not), but I don’t really enjoy getting my hands dirty and even though I’m the type of person who will wear a pair of jeans four times before I wash them, I don’t like having funky clothing.
As you can imagine, then, our gradual transition from milk to solid food has taken some getting accustomed to.
Babies don’t naturally know they have to chew and swallow, which is why solid food has to be pureed or ground to a fine, thin pulp. Combine the consistency with the type of food they eat–pasty rice cereal and bright orange carrots thus far–and there is absolutely no way that you are coming out the other end of a meal food-free.
Don’t even try to fight this. And don’t assume a bib will is a highly effective food trap. It is, but then your baby turns her body toward yours and you’re chest to chest, with her sticky bib transferring food onto your clean t-shirt.
So here’s how you feed a baby solid food in two simple steps.
1. You set everything–and I do mean everything–aside and you definitely don’t wear anything you want to keep newish.
2. You just give in to the fact that you’re all gonna get messy and that it’s okay. And then you go take a bath.
In other news–but still baby related–I’ve begun writing occasional articles about parenting for Pea in the Podcast. Absolutely nothing qualifies me to write these pieces other than my own bumbling efforts to be a good and cool parent, so if you’re okay with that and you want to read my articles, you can do so here.
That’s the big news, and you can sneak your own peek in this photo:
And yes, I survived the week without Francisco.
It’s worth noting that Mariel did not nap AT ALL while he was away, which he doesn’t exactly believe because she’s been a two nap a day gal since he’s returned. Ay, ay, ay.
It’s been pointed out to me by doting family members (doting on Mariel, not me) that I’ve been lax with this blog. If the blog was a child, they’d have called protective services.
I know this, but strangely, I haven’t been sure what to write. I could simply post (admittedly adorable) photos, but you can find those on Flickr. And I could recount story after story about the kind words people have about Mariel, but I’d be taking advantage of your patience. What’s really important, I’m not sure I have words for just yet. What it’s like to watch someone grow and develop character traits like this:
What it’s like to watch her explore and experience her world for the first time, and through that, to experience a completely different type of love, or to notice changes in yourself and your worldview.
Right now, all the feelings I have are just that- felt- and haven’t made their way into words yet. They will, I know. Eventually.