Tessa is two years old today. Two years ago a stork delivered her to earth and threw everything into focus for me and Nekos. And not just, "Woah, we have a howling baby to take care of, and how do you swaddle, again?" (although there was lots of that), but "Woah, we have so many things to take care of": the safekeeping of our marriage, our dreams, our careers, our friendships and ourselves.
We've seen Tessa through this first 730 days, watched her and encouraged her and made mistakes and held her chubby, tiny hand as she's learned to hold her head up, roll over, sit up, hold her own bottle, stand up, use her imagination, walk, feed herself with a fork and spoon, draw a picture, talk, ask questions, jump, pet a doggie, and express love and affection for others. She inspires in me more pride and undiluted joy than anything else I've known. When she yawns, I still lean in to smell her breath, warm and sweet. And in darker hours, I think I couldn't go on without her. Before I climb into bed each night, I open the door to her room and tiptoe in to look at her once more, splayed out in her crib. I touch her forehead, hot with sweat and smile down at her face mashed into her favorite grimy blanket (once white, now gray). She sleeps deeply. She isn't worried about a thing at all.
I'd say motherhood has been 90 percent great, and besides her hysterics in the car and some heinous tantrums, most of that 10 percent bad isn't even Tessa's fault; it's been more about me beating myself up for not living up to the ideal of perfect motherhood that I once held. I'm working steadily toward telling that ideal to kiss my ass because I'm pretty sure that perfect mothers don't have any fun at all and neither do their kids, and I also think that these supermoms are supermoms at a cost, which is the sacrificing of themselves. As Tessa has grown and learned and changed, so have I. But I haven't changed too much.
When I was pregnant with Tessa, I didn't know how I would feel about having a kid. I was thrilled, sure, but nervous about feeling saddled by too much responsibility or that my life would change too drastically. I was elated to find that life only got better, especially if I was willing to devote time and energy to the people and things I loved before Tessa arrived: my husband, girlfriends, writing, traveling, beer-drinking on patios, clothes, sewing, reading, and on and on. So, wow, what a journey. I'm so ready for all the rest of it, Tessa Jean in tow.
Here are some pictures of us at the zoo this morning: