I open my computer to an inbox full of ‘to deal with’ e-mails, three or four drafts saved to the desktop ‘to be continued’ for work, and its been weeks since I’ve been free to create with words.
Behind my computer sits a sippy cup and an unwritten get-well card, my husband’s contacts. Not too much further away is our ‘marriage journal,’ a slim little lineless thing I bought on sale at Anthropologie before we married. We got to write on it last night, between sips of wine (me) and a beer (him). Our last entry was entitled, Paris, 2013.
We read through the Paris entry, which made me cry, because I had written It’s a surprisingly sunny day, and baby girl is kicking. I looked up at Frans with big, wet eyes and said, One year.
Our little burning star is in the next room, sleeping on her belly with her rear end up, her beloved Owly tucked underneath her, thumb in her mouth.
Days away from turning one, she’s my shadow, crawling after me wherever I go, padding after me with a pad, pad, shoosh, shoosh sound. Two pads for the hands, two shooshes for her feet. Her eyes are alive and light, clear. Her eyebrows are interested, her hands turn and clench open and closed when she’s really feeling it. Her favorite musician is Ray Charles, and like eons of babies before her, she was born knowing how to dance. She has a low voice for a little nearly one-year-old, and she uses it often. She loves to have her short, strawberry-blond hair brushed.
I speak with her all day in English, narrating what she sees, what we’re doing. What I see her doing. I try to keep it simple, but throw in some new, descriptive words every now and then. Look at that birdie! I’ll say. He’s a big one, isn’t he? He’s black with a yellow beak. He’s pecking at his dinner. It always sounds like I’m the good mother, teaching her the nuances of our beautiful shared English, but what I’m also doing is practicing on her, recalling words I rarely use in my solitary life of mother and writer, on Facetime or Skype, in e-mails, or in simple conversations in Dutch. I’m savoring my first tongue, sharing it with her like the first spoonfuls of an exquisite meal. I can’t wait to break out plumage, I’ll think.
Her first two real words, interestingly enough, have been poesje (puss-ya) and kijkes (kike-ehz). Kitty and look. Dutch words that her father has murmured to her. Each time she’s said them, she whispers them and then looks surprised and pleased that she found them in time.
Last night, after Frans and I came home after our time out and peeked at the little sleeping figure tucked under the quilt made by her namesake, I said to him All is grace.
We couldn’t have dreamed her up. I couldn’t have dreamed him up. The best things in my life are given, unmerited, and it’s that feeling of gratitude that fills me this morning as I open my computer with time to create something with words.