Friday, June 14, 2013

Old Soul


You keep surprising me. Every step of the way. On some level I think I *should* know about toddlers, children, the things they say, the way they grow, the next "milestone" to look for. Yet for all of my "knowledge" about children and child development, you delight me, you surprise me---shock me!----with your brilliant humanity.

We regularly go to the recreation center in town. I go get an hour or 2 of exercise and you go to the "kids room"--the childcare that the center offers. We just started this a few months ago as my need for this bit of self-care finally pushed me to check out the providers and feel out my comfort level with them. In fact, so far, all of the caregivers have been solid, dependable, lovely, competent and nurturing. Hooray!!---any mother knows how important it is to be able to leave their child in a safe and loving place. And this is working out to be a nice way to have baby-steps toward switching from nanny-care to pre-school in the fall.

Well, a few days ago, when I picked you up from the "kid's room", the woman you'd been playing with said to me, "Zora is just dear. She is so very sweet. She's an old soul."

Zora. You are just dear. You are sweet. You are an old soul.

Now, every parent loves to hear someone say good things about their child. There's a universe of complicated meanings embedded in this very idea---what we long for, what we want to take credit for in our children's lives and beings, how we might be living through our children, .....and then I come back to just how good it feels to see your child shine.... But there's more here for me, Zora. Yes, I am filled with pride and happiness hearing another person see your brilliance. Yet I also know that simply being "likable" is going to serve you well in this life. It's a "protective factor"--yes, another clinical concept! As you navigate life, simply being a kid who grown-ups like may bring you valuable and kind guidance, may offer you shelter in times of confusion, may offer you friendship or mentorship that leads to invaluable adventures. For me, Zora, I rest in the possibility that your kind, sweet "old soul" personality may make your journey one that is more joy than hardship. I do not wish no hardship for you--that's another writing for another time--but I admit that I do wish for you that joy will outshine that hardship. When I imagine that your kind way in the world may protect you from hard times, I find some ease. I can turn my mind away from Wendell Berry's "forethought of grief" about "what my life and my children's lives may be". I can rest in the grace of the world. 


And so just what was this woman referring to when she called you an "old soul"? I actually didn't ask her what you'd done or said that day--I just thanked her deeply for her reflections. 

But here's what I see.

When Papa pulled a muscle in his back a few weeks ago, I rubbed his back and neck many many times over the course of a few days. One evening as I was doing so, you pulled yourself away from your toys and came and placed yourself in my lap----as if to take over the backrub. You placed your hands on Papa's neck and gently rubbed. Your words, which were very soft and swaying, were, "Oh, Baby Papa. Oh, Baby Papa, feel better." Your compassion is breathtaking at times like these. It fills me, Zora. It fills me with so much hope. For you. For humanity. 

Old Soul Eyes!

What else do I see?

I see you drawing forth my ability to be present with you as elegantly and sweetly as the Dalai a bustling party at godmother Lisa's house a few weeks back, you gravitated to your favorite place in Lisa's house--the refrigerator with tons of pictures and magnets. I think it was your place of comfort in the midst of lots and lots of unfamiliar, if not friendly, knees. As I stood close to you, looking around the party and giving you about 80% of my attention, you quietly said, "Be here, Mama. See you." Mind you, Zora, you are in a super-fun stage of language development in which when you say "you" you mean "me" so you were saying, "See me." This felt pretty profound. Your ability to look at your parent and speak your need is inspiring. Your young soul has the freedom to be unabashed, to have a "dependency need" that is untouched by shame. This is beautiful. Your young soul is an old soul. 

Be here, Mama. See you. 

Make a wish.....
What else have I seen of your "old soul"? I have seen you take poignant interest in the sadness or discomfort of others. We are swimming at the pool. A baby is crying. You want to go "hold the baby." We read a book and the 
character is sad. You hug the book over and over. You want others to feel good, to feel happy, to be cared for. May this kindness in you never fade. 

What else do I see?

I see a precious human being who, so far, has been given enough love. Enough love so that that is what you are enacting in your small sphere of daily life. You play in the way that a child plays when offered the fortunate opportunity of nature, slow pace, imagination.You hug trees. You could spend an hour walking just 20 yards from our home because there are so many rocks and blades of grass and bugs to take delight in. You do not hurry. You laugh. You love the words "silly" and "crazy". You offer up the words "I love you" in abundance to us who take care of you each day. We are blessed. 

Thank you, Zora Gloria. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



One of the great things about you spending so much time with your nanny Lesley is that I can (legitimately) blame her for you being a little weird. See below. 

Love our Lesley so much!

P.S.-----------I say "weird" with deepest affection and unbounded love. You are my light, Zora. Look at that goofy smile!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Emotional Competency * Linguistic Expertise * Proud Parenting

My Little Peach!

It is rare that I call you that, as you are so decidedly a ZORA! We named you Zora in part because it is a strong name. It was the strongest name on our "short list" that we'd arrived at when you were born. We waited to pick a name, wanting to meet you first. Good thing we waited, because after our long long labor, Zora, it was good we'd saved space to make sure you got the strongest name in the Book of Names. Zora. Wow, you are proving yourself. Proving yourself strong. Proving yourself a Zora. At 19 months old, you are strong. Your gaze is strong, your body is strong, and your presence is strong. You have proud parents, Zora. Happy and proud.

I will brag here. I cast aside any self-consciousness about who will read this and find me boastful. You, my dear Little Peach, Zora Peach, are worthy of boasting!

Emotional Competency.

We--you and I---- are a good fit, Zora. There is research about "goodness of fit" between parent and child temperament. I am fortunate to be your parent, in part because our mutual tendency toward emotional expression is becoming evident. Any mother/therapist/mother (my whirling swirling current identity) would be proud to be raising you. At only about 15 or 16 months of age---many weeks ago now-----, you began to turn to me in moments of distress (for example, me not allowing you to have a certain toy at a certain time, for some good reason!), and you said, "Feel sad!" with a poignant and genuine weepy facial expression. I am proud of you, Zora, for your depth of expression, and proud of your Papa and myself for continually taking the time to label and explain emotions to you even as such a tiny and yet-to-be-determined human. You are also accurately labeling things such as "People laughing!" when we walk by jovial bystanders, or "Baby crying!" when we are in ear-shot of a crying babe, or "Silly Zora!" when you want to point out the delightful silly dance that you learned with your nanny Leyley today. I am seeing you grow into an emotionally competent little girl and I am happy. I wish you well in this world. I am proud of you and I am confident that these early emotional building blocks will land you in healthy relationships as an adult. Fingers crossed for you, Zora!

Linguistic Expertise.

I am blown away by you, Zora. Every infant of course emphasizes different aspects of development throughout the course of growth. You, my little friend, have made it easy on your Papa and I in many ways. Different than so many toddlers who have not yet begun to master how to verbally express their needs, you are a tiny "word machine"! Your Papa and I are NOT guessing at what you want or need. We have the ease and pleasure of simply listening to you rattle off your needs, your wants, your delights, your curiosities. At 18 months, you now know more Spanish than either of your parents, thanks to your beloved first best friend, Lesley. Lesley speaks to you in Spanish all day long, playing, singing, dancing, living life with you in Zoraland. A few weeks ago, you said to Lesley, "Quiero mas pizza, por favor." And you regularly talk to me and your Papa in 5 and 6 word sentences, complete with correct verb tenses----distinguishing easily between "walk" "walked" and "walking" as needed. Wow, Zora, in terms of "goodness of fit", you could not please your Papa more with your verbal prowess! He loves explaining complex things to you, and----- I swear I am not misreading you-----you seem rapt with admiration and awe as the two of you "converse" about any number of topics. Goodness of fit on so many levels.

Proud parents.

Have I said enough?

I am consistently moved by your beauty as an emerging human being. So proud. So proud. I love you, my Little Zora Peach.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


So, Zora is becoming quite a wordsmith, and quite a conversationalist. It is quite amazing to see and hear her try to join our conversations. As Mark and I talk and chat, she'll be toddling around and she'll repeat sometimes every 4th or 5th word she hears in our conversation. It's amazing. She is absolutely part of the conversation-----as we stop talking and laugh and acknowledge her so-very-articulate attempts to join us. It makes me wonder how her brain decides which words to repeat---are they the ones that sound most interesting, the easiest ones, the ones she's heard multiple times, or are they the words with some type of emphasis or importance in the sentence? I'm not sure even an expert linguist knows the answer.

Well, so this weekend, Zora got to go to her first wedding. It was a beautiful wedding on the coast of California, the wedding of dear girlfriends Julie and Michelle----an absolutely amazing union of two women. In their Jewish tradition, there are 7 blessings that close out the ceremony. And Julie and Michelle added one last blessing of their own at the end for MARRIAGE EQUALITY. When that final blessing was read, the officiant said, "And the people say Amen." It was an outdoor wedding and Zora was poking around far far in the back of the ceremony looking at flowers with her Papa while I stood a bit closer so I could see and hear the ritual. At that moment, from behind me, I heard Zora's voice shout, "Amen!" You go, Zora! Makes me think there is perhaps a good bit of wisdom in the words she chooses to repeat.....

Beautiful! Happy! Julie and Michelle!

Mama and Zora at the wedding. 

Mama hanging out with girlfriend Sarai. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Year in the Life of Zora Gloria

Hola, Zora!

I am writing to you while you nap. Time for writing is precious. I have so much to say---just as you do! At 13 months, you have such an eloquent voice! They say that children will emphasize different areas of development at this age---one child may be very very mobile and not necessarily be very interested in talking. Or another child may have exquisite fine motor skills but have very little interest in walking yet. As your head-over-heels parent, I think you are perfect in every aspect, yet you are definitely emphasizing your joy in communicating. Over the past couple months, Papa and I had been recording your words in a journal, but there are just so many new ones every day, that I admit we've stopped recording. A few weeks ago, your word count was around 70 words, and that didn't count the words you know in sign language and the words you know in Spanish (LeyLey, your nanny, who you spend 4 days a week with, talks to you only in Spanish, so by now you definitely know more Spanish than I do) . My point is, you are FUN (one of your new favorite words) and you are talking up a storm with us---with enthusiasm, with emphatic tone when necessary (you get that from Papa), and with sweetness.

And a year has passed since you and I "gritted and graced" our way through Laborland. From Laborland into Zoraland. It is mind-boggling that it has been a year. This is the hardest thing I've ever done. And the best thing I've ever done. In our "yearly letter" we sent out to friends and family at the New Year, I realized my theme was "tired and happy". It has been tiring most certainly. And we are happy. You really are pretty much pure joy, Zora. Even when we are tired beyond tired, even when we don't quite know what you want or what you are trying to do or say, even when you fuss and are in pain from cutting molars and cry much of the night, I want you to know that you are a joy to your Papa and I. We are so happy to be sharing the world with you. The three of us are laughing together daily. Laughing and smiling and learning learning learning. It is so amazing to watch you learn and explore. This journey to bring you into the world and share with you all that we know and all that we are--it is a gift I would not trade for millions upon millions of dollars.

I write to you with the hope that I can share a glimpse of who you are--that you can look back and see baby Zora.

Who is Zora Gloria in her first year?

Zora, you are really sweet. One of your favorite words acquired in the past month or so is "baby". You also know the sign for baby which is to pretend to cradle a baby in your arms and rock it back and forth. Sometimes you will come and set yourself in my lap and snuggle in and say in a gentle tone "baby" so that I will rock you like the sign for baby. And you have come to strongly associate a soft fleece blanket with sleeping and napping so that sometimes, if that blanket is in the middle of the living room floor, you walk over to it, bring yourself down to the floor, press your face into the blanket and just lay there and cuddle, whether it's naptime or not. And you've also come to associate the phrase "kisses from Mama" or "kisses from Papa" with leaning your head in close to facilitate the smooches---sometimes if we are sitting in close together with you on my lap, you don't even wait for one of us to say the "kisses...."---so much so that you've caught me off guard and I end up with a mouthful of your forehead before I realize what you are wanting! There is a softness to your way of being, Zora. You are sweet.

Zora, you are also quite enthusiastic. Another word you've acquired in the past few weeks is "outside"----you say "thside!" And you say it loud. And you say it with a certain demand. You really really like to go outside. One day last week you woke from a nap and when I came into the room to see you sitting up in your crib, you smiled and shouted, "TH-SIDE!" Yes, Zora! We got hats and sunglasses and sunscreen and headed outSIDE!

Zora, you are silly. The nature-nurture debate aside, we owe some credit to LeyLey, your nanny, for your love of silliness and laughter. LeyLey is about as fun as they come. She is silly with you and you seem to thrive on the laughter that the two of you share. I could be jealous of all of the fun that the two of you have when I am away at work 4 days a week, but that would be a big waste of time and energy. I am so grateful that you have such a joyful playmate. A recent fun game that the two of you play is "Whoa!". This amounts to one of you pretending to fall backward---usually with your back against the couch---- and saying "Whooooaaaaa!" and then giggling like crazy. At this point, you initiate this "game" with Mama and Papa regularly----going over to the couch, leaning way back and throwing your head back, and saying "whoa" and waiting for Mama or Papa to join you. Fun fun, Zora, you are FUN!

Zora, your sleep has been all over the map. In your first few months, your Papa and I thought we'd hit the jackpot with infant sleep. You slept 6 to 8 hour stretches by the time you were only 6 weeks old. That continued into the 3 to 4 month range and we were even getting 10 hour stretches at that point. Then in the fall, those luxurious long stretches became less reliable. By December, we were a bit "disoriented". We were still holding to the idea that you were a great sleeper, but in fact, sleep was hard! You would wake up a lot throughout the night. All hell broke loose when we traveled to the east coast over the holidays. We all slept horribly! And when we returned home in January, yuck--total sleep disruption for weeks and weeks. Your Mama and Papa were grumpy, Zora. I recall that when you were born, one of our friends (who now has adult children) amicably said "And thus commences a year of no sleep!" At the time, I remember Papa being a bit defiant and saying that we would get a good sleeper---he is an optimist in all the best ways. But by January, we were starting to see that indeed, the first year with a baby is a year of no sleep. January through April were 4 months of you getting cold after cold after cold. This meant fairly constant coughing. This meant fairly constantly disturbed sleep. This meant Mama and Papa trading off being the one to sleep in your room so that at least one of would get some sleep. Hard times! And don't forget that I started this entry by saying "tired and happy"---because as much as we wish we got better sleep, when we wake up in the morning and you grin your wide grin and the first thing you say is "Walk, walk, walk!" (meaning get me out of this crib so I can grab your fingers and practice walking!), it turns immediately from a bleary-eyed morning to a fun morning. Tired and happy. Here we are now in June. Sleep is just starting to become less interrupted (Knock on wood, please!) Developmental experts suggest that when major milestones are accomplished, sleep settles into better patterns. With you having become an official "walker" in the past couple weeks, your Papa and I are hoping we are moving toward better sleep! And with that, I think it sounds like your nap is over....

Here's a little visual walk through the past 6 months with you....

Here is your adorable grin when you were about 5 months old.
Here you are with your Baba---having a joyous month of November when she came to take care of you!
Here you are, happy in your Nana's arms, at about 7 months when she came to take care of you for December.

Here you are at about 6 months old coming to terms with the weight of your 99 percentile-sized noggin. 

Remember when we were staying with Kate in Boston over the winter holidays? You were almost 8 months old. We got locked out of Kate's apartment and here we are---hanging out in the stinky entryway for about 3 hours until a locksmith showed up and totally tried to rip us off. Yeah, that was really funny, Zora. 

All I can say is, LeyLey is fun. Here you are "wearing" her hair. 

And here the two of you are again. I know you look a little zoned out in this picture---must be because of all of the fun you've been having up until we got out the camera....! Here you are about 9 months old. 

9 months. Food is fun!

10 months. Out walking with Mama. Behind us are your mountains,  Zora. 

It's pretty easy to love you, Zora. 

These eyes! This was your first overnight camping/climbing trip. We went to Shelf Road with Sarah and David. You were about 10 months old. 

I wish I could say your sleep is always so peaceful This was when we were camping at Shelf Road---Zora sleeping in the Taj Mahal tent of Lisa. 

Almost one year. Laughing with Papa. 

This is at your 1 year birthday party---it was a couple weeks early so that we could celebrate it with Nana and Grampa Lockman who were visiting in late April. Here you are with "your Lisa". Lisa, Lisa, Lisa!!!!

One year birthday party. 

Almost a year old---hanging out on Pearl Street with Grampa. 

More luxurious "outside sleep". Here you are in your PacknPlay at a climbing crag in Boulder Canyon. This was just a few weeks ago---you are just over a year old here. 

That same climbing day--somewhere in Boulder Canyon. 

And here---a favorite spot indeed---the swamp across the street.

 Zora Gloria, I love you.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nana December

Zora Zora My Zora. This is what Papa and I often call you. Zora Zora My Zora. I like to sing it.

Well, I'd like to back-track again and say a little bit about last December--even though it is April and you will be 1 year old next month!

What I want to say about December is that your Nana loves you. As described earlier, our original nanny plan fell through, but I still really needed to go back to work in November. As your Papa and I pieced together a plan for people to take care of you while we looked for a nanny for you, your Nana Lockman agreed to be part of the grand plan. Here's the especially sweet part of it, Zora. Nana had her hip replaced in July. This was a really big deal. It was not an easy surgery at all and the recovery, as determined as your Nana is, was pretty grueling. I talked to her on the phone a lot in July and August and September, and there were some pretty rough days--days of wondering if she'd ever feel better and if she'd ever be able to walk normally again.

Around October, when I asked Nana if she thought she could come take care of you for a few weeks in December, she still walked with a cane and had a very hard time with the daily basics of living. And she said, "Yes, get me a ticket. I want to come." And then, as Nana and I talked over the coming weeks, she got more and more motivated to get better so that she could be there for you in December. One day she called me up and told me that she was walking around her house that day carrying a heavy potted plant everywhere she went to simulate what it would be like to have to carry you around. Boy, do I wish I had a picture of that to post here!

So, the grandmas of our family really came to the rescue for you and me in November and December. It was lovely to see how they poured love in to you and how you delighted in being the object of their adoration. We are fortunate indeed! Here are some pictures of you with your Nana, from her December visit to us and then some more from our visit to her a week later for the winter holidays.

These pictures are taken in our backyard when Nana came to stay for a few weeks in December. 

What? MORE kisses? 

This was in Maine over the holidays. You seem to be letting Nana smell your  toes. 

When we visited Maine in December, Nana decided it was time to begin your "crawling boot camp". It was about another 6 weeks before you got up on your hands and knees and crawled. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baba November


Keeping up with the telling of your story is hard! Days are full now that I am back at work and it feels as if there is hardly a moment to do anything such as write here in this blog. In choosing between being WITH you or writing ABOUT you, the choice is clear. So, it's been weeks and weeks since I wrote. I started this entry long ago---it is the story of how we spent November----and am just now finishing it weeks and weeks later.

Zora, as I travel through this life, it is clear to me that families, are, well, pretty full of contradiction. Families have imperfections-----there are some characters you might like a whole lot and then some characters that you'd prefer not to have as neighbors! As I think about the familial "container" that you'll grow up in, my hope and intention is that you grow to love us, your Mama and Papa, and that you grow to love your extended family, as contradictory and imperfect as it is. And my intention is also to be honest with you, as much as is appropriate for each age and stage that you pass through, about who's who in this family. What do I mean, Zora? I mean, let's let love abound. And, at the same time, let us practice acceptance (humor may be necessary along the way!) about what might not be ideal in the family story.

Here's what I'm really trying to say: the narrative that I want to share with you about family is that you, Zora, are surrounded by love. Example? Baba November......

Our first "nanny plan" fell through. I was scheduled to return to work in October, but the situation we'd mapped out ---to share a nanny with another family---did not work. Not at all! While it was momentarily stressful for Papa and I to figure out what to do, you, my little Zora, were blessed to have a very loving grandmother step in to save the day. She came for the WHOLE month of November to be your nanny. (Actually, you have TWO loving grandmothers who stepped in to save the day.....Baba November was followed by Nana December!)

Zora, Baba loves you. She loves you very much.

At 6 months of age, it was pretty intensive work to take care of you. You were learning to be a bit more self-sufficient, but taking care of you was really a very very full-time endeavor. You liked to have constant companionship and attention. You were learning to sit up without help. You made gobs of adorable noises. You loved to reach and grab and explore. You were learning to eat solid food. You were beginning to love music and books. You loved to be held, to go out for walks, and you were a good sleeper, though it was still a good bit of work sometimes to coax you into your naps. Your Baba, who loves you beyond words, did all of these things with you and for you for all of November. What a gift. What a gift to have the two of you get to know each other so well. What a win-win-win situation! Baba got to reside in Zoraland, Mama got to go back to work and not worry about her precious Zora, and Zora got to soak up the bountiful love of her Baba.

Like everyone, we have some imperfections in the family mix. This, however, has been an exquisite moment in Zoraland. Baba November. We will not forget it.