Olive turned nine months old on the 5th. I’m late with her 9 month picture, because I attempted to do them on the actual day and they all sort of ended up looking like this:
Girl was not having it. Probably because we discovered a second tooth trying to bust its way into her smile a few days later. So the pictures have been delayed and I’m almost a week late but hey, they’ll get done.
In the meantime I am looking at this child of mine, this daughter of mine, and am just floored daily by what I see. I have talked about this before and therefore I have probably talked about this here before, but she surprises me. Every day.
I don’t think I realized, when I was pregnant and trying to picture who this little baby would be, that I was imagining a tiny me. Boy or girl, I was imagining me in infant form. And I know that I didn’t consciously realize this because of the surprise I feel every time Olive does something very un-me.
That’s how they measure expectation, did you know that? By surprise. When you exhibit surprise, it is because you expected one thing to happen and another did instead. Like when you expect to come home from work and change into pajamas and burrow into your couch watching trashy tv and eating chips from the bag, but when you walk in your front door exhausted-SURPRISE! Everyone you know in the world is crammed into the living room you forgot to vacuum.
(Relevant to this tangent: I turn thirty this year. 3-0. I would like a surprise party. I have never had a surprise party. I hate planning my own party, I would like a surprise party. How is it a surprise if I am expecting it? I don’t know, I mean figure it out do I have to do everything?)
Anyway, what I am trying to say with this longwinded tangent is that I wasn’t aware that I had expectations for Olive even before I knew she was Olive. I mean it’s probably the worst thing you can do as a parent, to imagine them as a little you and force them to follow in your footsteps, achieving all of the things you couldn’t or didn’t achieve. But here we are. And every single day I sit here and watch my daughter, who is so strong and brave and trusting and motivated and fearless, and I am surprised. Because I don’t feel brave or strong or trusting or motivated, and definitely, definitely not fearless.
I am afraid of a lot. I’m afraid of failure and judgement and being alone. I fear that I am not doing well enough – and what is enough? I have no idea, the standard keeps changing, the bar keeps shifting up and up. I am afraid of overpromising and under delivering, I’m afraid of missing the mark and taking risks and being wrong. I’m especially afraid of what other people think.
But there’s Olive. Busting out teeth left right and centre. Standing up every chance she gets – even, especially after she’s just fallen and whacked her head on the hard floor . Happily lurching from coffee table to sofa, reaching out her hands and trusting that someone will catch her if, when, she falls.
I talk about it all the time, how different she is from me. It never fails to surprise me, and I kind of love it. I love how strong she is. I hope she never loses that. Some fear is good of course, fear is what keeps us from making truly stupid decisions (like bungee jumping. Or face tattoos.) but too much can paralyze you and stop the movement, the happy lurching from place to place.
So. Today I will hopefully take and post her nine months photos, this brave little daughter of mine who has now belonged to the world longer than she belonged just to me. We’ll take pictures and Adam will make faces to get her to smile and I will write in the “Milestones| section of her baby book: You are so strong. And so brave. And you have two teeth! And we love you, we love you so much that we surprise ourselves.