In some ways it seems like no time at all and in other ways it seems like forever since you were plopped on my chest just after you were born – you were a screamy slithery blob and it didn’t seem like you were really interested in being out in the world. (Thinking about it, you still love to snuggle under three layers of blankets…)
It took us a full 24 hours to negotiate a name for you; your Dad was in favor of something unisex (“Bryce” was at the top of his list) but I liked Corina, Evolène (the name of a village in Switzerland that I’d hiked through on the Haute Route, either just before or just after I got pregnant) and Carys. Eventually I gave him a look that said “I just pushed a baby out of my vagina and I get to pick the name,” and Carys Rowan you became.
I was absolutely determined to refuse all pain medication during the delivery in part because I knew it was a slippery slope from there toward a C-section and there’s no way I could have hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc only eight weeks after major surgery, but also because I wasn’t sure how I would feel about you and didn’t want any unnecessary obstacles in the way of our bonding.
I named you “Carys,” meaning “one who loves and is loved,” in part because I hoped that if I named you that then its meaning would come true.
There were periods in those first few days after you were born when I thought we’d made a terrible decision to have you (and you were a “good” baby!). My hormones were all over the place and we had a mini-celebration on day 10 because it was the first day since you were born that I hadn’t cried. Things did get better over time; people ask me how on earth I did a major backpacking trip when you were eight weeks old but the real honest truth is it was easier for me to do that than to be at home with you by myself.
Sometimes if you’re scared you’ve just gotta keep running until you’re not scared any more.
There aren’t any pictures of me at your first birthday right after you blew out your birthday candles because I was in our bedroom, in tears. I couldn’t believe we’d made it to a year.
And now we’ve made it to two.
People say parenting changes you and it does, in some ways. I have almost an infinite amount of patience for you if I can see that you’re trying to work with me or are having a genuinely hard time. (Rather less patience if you’re actively working against me on something which, I understand, two year-olds are wont to do). Alvin might wish that this patience would better translate itself to my interactions with him, but I guess you can’t have it all.
I’ve kept a diary in various forms over the last couple of years; I wrote intermittently while I was pregnant and every month for your first year, and intermittently again now you’re older. (Most recent entry: your first five-word sentence, which was “No taste good red ones” – you are obsessed with picking blackberries on our hikes and we’ve talked a lot about which ones are edible and which ones aren’t.)
It’s pretty embarrassing to look back now and see some of the entries I wrote while I was still pregnant.
I wished that you wouldn’t be one of those kids who hides behind my leg when you meet new people.
Now I wish that you will follow your own path, and if that includes hiding behind my leg until you’re ready to meet someone then that’s OK.
I hoped you’d be the kind of kid who gets up after they fall and says “I’m OK!”
Now I hope you’ll feel comfortable telling me if you’re not OK, and knowing that I will accept and respect all of your feelings – even the ones you’re not proud of.
I hoped you’d love me as much as you love Alvin.
I guess I don’t have a ton to worry about there, given what percentage of your spoken words each day are the plaintive wail: “Hug Mama!”.
I wouldn’t say I’ve changed so incredibly much as a person, but I hope I’m a better parent now than I could even have conceived of a couple of years ago.
While I would like to claim some incredible transformation on my side I know at least in part that I’m doing a half-decent job at this because you’re easy to love. I don’t doubt that I’d have a much harder time if you weren’t you.
So thanks for being you.
I love you, Carys, and while I’m both nostalgic for all the things we’ve done together that have passed and eager to see what you will become, I try to make the best of both of these things by living just as you do, in the moment.
Which, I’m discovering, is not a bad spot to be in.