I didn't do a birthday post for Rowena this year. I had all intentions of doing so but confession time...I was having a hard time framing it in a positive light. I am sure some of you are gasping, in a gentrified way, at my bad parenting confession. But three is a hard age, and R has roared into with a vengeance. I also know this has been a rough time for her in terms of adjustment. A new baby sister and "losing me" to the hospital twice in a short period of time has not been easy. However these compassionate understandings are too often lost in the midst of an hour long tantrum, or the demanding whine of a three year old who has no idea what she wants.
When I went to labor with Jude, we really hadn't prepared R. Honestly it was lost in the worry about Jude and my own pit of despair of the Down syndrome stuff. For once, there was not a big rush to get the baby out. I was kind of okay about her just staying put because I had not worked through my own feelings about her having Down syndrome. And I suppose that this manifested in a bit of denial about some of the more practical aspects of giving birth. It wasn't until a week before my MIL came that I started to panic about having some here for the kids, and realizing that R was going to be scared of staying with just about everyone I knew. She had never really been away from me, and barely tolerated going to sleep for H.
Thus when I went from "Oh wow these contractions are getting regular" to "OMFG, I AM IN TRANSITION. MUST LEAVE NOW!" in the time span of about five minutes, I was in no space to comfort R. I do remember she was sobbing in my MIL's arms reaching for me, and I was only barely able to say "I love you and I'll be back." But I didnt' come back for a few days and I'm sure that felt like an eternity to my little girl. She couldn't visit me much because she was loud and our neighbor complained about the noise. Plus she would melt down every time she had to leave wanting me to come home too.
Flash forward a couple of months, and she loses me to the hospital again. This time the hospital swallows not just me but Jude. And when she comes to visit, her sister is hooked up to wires. At least no one complained about her leaving tantrums. Even now when we walk, (we live next door to the hospital) she points out that this was where Jude had a boo boo in her nose.
Every time I feel myself losing it with her, I try to remember how hard this has been over. Replaced as the baby with not just any baby but a baby that has special needs and thus gets a lot of attention from therapists, Drs., etc. And of course all these big things are coupled with just being three. Three...demanding, temperamental, whiny, Yes.
But then after her birthday I realized how easy it was to mire myself in that tragedy, that language, and to let that shape the narrative of R. Since this is a narrative, I can take the story and shape it new. Use new words to show this time of R's life. Because there are good words about this time.
R is vibrant, intense, and funny. Her beautiful self is like a vibrating pulse poised on that line between baby and little girl. She is sensitive, feeling all emotions with a kind of fierceness that is breath taking. She whirls and dances. She climbs and runs. She throws her arms out to embrace us, Jude, cats. She laughs like the universe--huge and expansive. She is determined and sharp. She can not be thrown from her path.
Her humor underlines much of her day. The way she says "no, no, no" in a silly voice escalating in pitch with each no. She sings silly songs and laughs uproariously as them. She likes to dress Jude in dish clothes and giggles at how silly she has made Jude look.
In short, Rowena is difficult, and there are days when my patience is so stretched that I feel fragile. But if I can just move beyond that thin feeling before I shatter, I can see the beauty, the humor, the fierceness of Rowena. I remember that she is also a treasured light bringer to our world. She is the baby who saved me from my self three years ago. She is a warrior princess.