About an hour later, I woke up with the distinct feeling of being wet. “The final indignity has happened,” I thought. “I’ve peed myself.”
I hefted myself out of bed and padded into the bathroom, where I peed again. As I was washing my hands I felt like I was peeing on myself again. I could feel fluid running out.
“Did my water break? I think my water broke,” I said out loud to no one in particular. “Is that what this is? This is not what I thought it would be.”
And, seven years later, that pretty much sums up my journey of motherhood. It is not what I thought it would be. It is so much more of everything, I can’t even explain it.
That day, my life changed forever. At 7:22 PM, Viva rocketed into the world.
A few weeks later
And she’s been rocking my world ever since. But enough about me, because after all, it is her birthday. Here are her specific birthday instructions/requirements:
(1) I must sleep with her, in her tiny little bed, so we can wake up together all snuggly-like
(2) She does not care what she has for her birthday dinner, as long as there is cherry Jello for dessert
(3) She is having a class field trip, so no party at school (huge sigh of relief here)
(4) HOWEVER, she is inviting her entire 1st Grade class over to our house for a party next Saturday (insert nervous breakdown here)
(5) She must also sleep over at Auntie Lola’s Saturday night, so as to wake up at her house Sunday morning for an Easter egg hunt and thus, maximum birthday/Easter-type leveraging of wonderfulness
Ah, my girl. Was there ever one so amazing and superb? Her legs are ten feet long and she can tell you the plot of every SpongeBob episode EVER and sometimes she still does that thing where she says, “Remember when--?” and it’s about something that happened when I wasn’t even there, but she always assumes I am with her, all the time. It’s like she thinks I can see everything she is doing. Not quite in a creepy way, but like we are so connected that I must be able to see everything she does even when I’m not there. Like we are twins or something.
She is slow as molasses on a cold day, and quick as a whip, and all other kinds of similes and metaphors that I won’t bother employing here. She wants to be like all the other kids, and at the same time she wants to be different, and I get it, I really do. She is a complex little person. The other day she said:
“Mom, Ms. C only lets me get CHAPTER books out of the library.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I’m the only kid that has to read chapter books. No one else has to read chapter books.”
“I thought you get to choose whatever book you want,” I said.
“No, Ms. C picks our books,” Viva scowled. (Actually, I believe the process is that the teacher has to approve the books they’re checking out.)
“So what’s wrong with chapter books? Is she picking ones that are too hard for you?”
“NO,” Viva said.
“It’s just that you’re the only one who’s reading them?”
“Yeah,” Viva said. “The other kids get the easy books.”
I finally realized that she thinks the teacher is being hard on her, rather than recognizing her skill level and having her read what’s developmentally appropriate. I then tried to explain to Viva that it’s because she is so good at reading that Ms. C gives her the more advanced books, because she might be bored with the easy books. Viva was still skeptical, and still kind of pissed at being labeled different in some way, even though it’s because she is way beyond her grade level.
She has an innate sense of fairness, and she really could not give a damn what she looks like. Except she better have some cool sneakers on. If she could wear whatever she wanted every day, it would be basketball shorts, a T-shirt and some badass Adidas. She protests having her hair “did,” but refuses to get it cut. She loves the way her hair looks right after she gets out of the shower, and right after it’s been oiled and braided. She has a much higher tolerance for fuzzy edges than I do, and ducks when I try to swipe at her hairline with a brush in the morning.
She hates it when she is not excellent at something the first time she tries it. I mean, she hates it to the point where she will burst into tears and throw a racket down and say, “Tennis is so STUPID anyway!” I mean, like in the moment if she could she would take a flamethrower to the tennis racket, the tennis ball, and all of Wimbledon, Serena Williams be damned. I know that it is only time and a moderate level of maturity that make me a bit more mellow about things like this than she is, but at the same time, it is exasperating.
Three weeks later, she will be bouncing a tennis ball with her racket like she is a pro, rage forgotten. She is a tough cookie, and still a little girl who screams for her parents in the night when she has a bad dream. The Tooth Fairy is no fiction to her. Yesterday, we had a serious conversation about cartoon duck voices (from Donald Duck to the baby duck on Tom and Jerry, we covered the whole pantheon).
She is so distinctly herself. I really lucked out. So happy birthday to Viva, my sweet, smart, ever-growing knockout of a girl.