Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Baby?

Eighteen years ago today (at 6:11 this morning, to be precise), I became a mother. My daughter arrived one week to the day ahead of schedule -- pretty much the last time she was early for anything in her entire life. I remember sitting in the hospital room, recovering from my Caesarian, with her on the bed in front of me, using parts of my body to measure her, because I knew that it would go by so fast, and that I'd never remember it all. She was from the crook of my elbow to the tip of my fingers long. She was the length of my hand, wrist to middle finger, wide. She looked surprised a lot. She wasn't sure if she'd ever get used to the whole "light and air" thing. She didn't cry much, and only with good reason. She was what my late godmother used to call "a sensible child."

She was born with a thick mane of auburn hair, but it had gone by the time she was two months old, and she stayed fairly bald until she was about 15 months. We were forever mocking her lack of hair in photos, and adorning her melon head with velcro bows, headbands, hats (including one her grandmother bought that had to very long yellow braids), and other various silly headwear -- much of it holiday oriented.

Fortunately, eventually, her hair did grow in, and perhaps because of her baldness, we kept it very long for a very long time. Unfortunately, she is one of those people who has a sensitive scalp that hates to be brushed, so as soon as she had a say in anything beauty-oriented, she had it all hacked off short. She keeps threatening to grow it out again, but so far, its only ever hit the tops of her shoulders, and has spent most of the time since her teen years hovering around the bottom of her ears. All this with a mom who loves long hair.

Her love of offbeat headwear continues, of course. She finds it, I think, a useful way of expressing her moods. Let it now be known that she own many hats. You can take from that whatever want in relation to her moods. But she's still a pretty happy person, by and large.

She's a lot longer than from the crook of my arm to the tips of my fingers, of course. And she's a tad wider than the length of my hand from wrist to middle finger. Her hair is a different color too -- deep auburn red, which sets off the green eyes. It's all gone by in kind of a blur.

For her 18th birthday, her father's getting her a tattoo, while I'm getting her a.... HA! Almost pried it out of me, did you? thought I would fall for the old "give up the gift while blogging about the birthday" gag, did you? Boy, if I had a nickel for every time someone tried that old saw on me. Anyway, she's 18 today. Of course, she ditched school and ran off the amusement park with her boyfriend, but then so might I have, had I not turned 18 on election day, 1976. I see her now, compared to her baby pictures, and I wonder how it happened. She looks so much like my mother, its scary. But its nice -- someone who looks like my mother that I actually get along with. It's kind of cool.

She loves reptiles and hates Oreos (I swear, if she didn't look so much like me, I'd swear I brought me home the wrong baby from the hospital). She can sing and act and draw, she has a great eye for photographs (she took the black-and-white self-portrait above with the snake bracelet -- with real snake, no less -- as well as the portrait of yours truly in my profile). She has strong spiritual and political opinions... and she's a limp-wristed, commie-pinko, bleeding heart liberal (thank you.... thank you very much....). We have our differences, but I'm happy to know her, and I feel lucky to have gotten her in the mom/kid lottery.

So, Happy Birthday, Pussycat. Hope you had a good time at the amusement park. I just have one teensy little question for you -- who are you and what the HELL have you done with my baby?!


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