Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy Six Month Birthday, Stella Rae!

In just six months she's gone from this ...

To this!

I honestly don't remember exactly when she started to smile so much. But I am so delighted that she has. Now she even smiles for the camera, which is weird, wonderful and, somehow, a little heartbreaking. Or it would be heartbreaking if it weren't so genuine. If that sounds odd, I guess I am just worried about my little baby girl performing for us, but there is nothing less than genuine about this little girl.
She loves her mom, she loves me, she loves her cats, and they love her. She still doesn't love to sleep at night, and doesn't love her crib, but she's better about this stuff than she used to be.
The past six months have been the fastest in my life. I remember her birth so vividly, which is a blessing, because unfortunately we didn't get the best photos of her, just her, when she was born. That bothers me, maybe more than it should, but we've more than made up for it since. No one can say this little girl hasn't been well photographed, which is good, because she photographs so well.
Today was her six month doctor's appointment. She got more shots, which she did not enjoy, Randi tells me, screaming and wailing, much more so than last time. The nurse didn't even want to give her the shots, because she was already smitten by little Stella Rae, and didn't want to make her cry. But cry she did. Now she is sleeping, somewhat fitfully.
It's so hard to not be trite, and it's so hard to explain how my life has changed. In some obvious ways it hasn't changed all that much. I still go to work, I still go home after work.
But in other, more significant ways it has, as it must. I realize now that for all the attention a child demands, and how that takes your energy from yourself, you get so much more in return. I still want to write, I still want to create, I still want my name in lights, my talent burning like a meteorite across the sky. But if I do all those things, but fail as a father, than I am simply a failure. Conversely, if I don't do all those things, but succeed as a father, than I have contributed something of worth, love and value to this life. I will not have lived in vain.
I am concerned about imparting the proper values to Stella Rae. A love for justice, among those values. The Jewish concept of sedakah, which most people think of as charity actually translates into justice. As in you are not giving to the poor and unfortunate what it is kind of you to give, but that you are obligated to contribute to eradicate justice. There is a burden on you to amend injustices in this world, and you are not just a person feeding the poor with the leftovers from your table. I agree with this value system, and I want to impart it to Stella, too. As does Randi. I want her to care about those who need justice in this life. Because justice requires wisdom, and compassion for those who can't defend themselves.
Another Jewish concept is Tikkan Olam, which I probably badly misspelled. This is perhaps my favorite Jewish idea. It means to heal the world. Every person has this obligation, too. To make the world whole, or at least as whole, or healed, as you can. We are obligated to make the world a better place than when we found it. How will her talents fit into this? Heaven only knows, but my job is to help her realize her own gifts, and help her see how she can use them for good.
Of course, other traditions share these traditions as well, though they give them different names. No one tradition or religion has a corner on all the good in the world. There is enough good to go around. It is my job to also help her know this.
But these are things to impart later. Because today she is six months old, and our job is to love her, and make her feel it. We try to, every day. We sometimes get frustrated, we still get exhausted and we get flabbergasted at times, too, but we never forget to hold her, hug her, care for her, and make her feel as loved as we know how. We can't parent any other way.
It's the smile that makes it all so much easier, that makes the tiredness, or even occasional frustration melt away. When she smiles as me a warmth spreads all over me, and I realize that I can be surprised by love, again and again. I thought I knew myself well, but I am a different person than I was a little over six months ago. I care more about my family, less about myself.
I know I have more to go in this direction, but I am trying. I am also trying, at the same time, to enhance the parts of me that are key to my happiness and who I am. I do not think these things are incompatible.
Stella, ironically, is quite similar in many ways to how she was in the womb, feisty. But she is more warm that she is feisty.
I wish I had something more wise to say about this auspicious day, but I don't. She gives direction and an urgent sense of purpose to our lives, and made everything richer in ways we couldn't imagine. Just by being herself. I couldn't ask for more, but I am looking forward to what comes.


Michelle said...


I really enjoy the blog.

Martin said...

Happy six months little girl! Happy six months, thoughtful, loving, attentive, appreciative parents! Your writing is a real bright spot :)