Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Newsletter: Month Five

Dear Violet,

Today is Father's Day. Dad's very first Father's Day, to be exact. Today is also the day you turn 5 months old. I don't hesitate to say your birth is the defining moment of Dad's life. His love for you is pure joy to behold. I hope you are very much like your Pop as you grow up. Talented, brilliant, passionate and sweet.

You are blowing our minds on a daily basis. Suddenly you are this real live jumping, wiggling, looking and laughing human being. You spend most of your time grinning life right in its big, ugly face, flashing those watermelon pink gums of yours every chance you get. Grinning like a loon at even the smallest of glances from Mama or Pop. Every time you do my heart explodes and I have to stop whatever it is I'm doing and love you up something fierce.

This month you found your feet. All ten toes! Oh, the excitement! And then you were strictly business as you immediately went to work snacking on those tasty toes whenever you noticed them waving around in the air above your face. It's absolutely hilarious watching you bend your tiny body in half, contorting your little limbs into a pretzel, yoga-stylings that would make Madonna green with envy.

A few weeks ago you attended your first gay pride parade. I hope it's not your last. One of the most important qualities I think you can cultivate in this life is compassion for everyone. EVERYONE. We are all created equally. We all deserve equal rights regardless of our skin color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation... none of that matters. What matters is that we are all people and we all deserve the same basic human rights. It sounds simple, doesn't it? It should be but so many people find it so hard, scrabbling for silly justifications for inherent racism or bigotry instilled by religion, shitty parenting and so forth. Hopefully you will see through that kind of talk because it is ALWAYS transparent if you look hard enough. I have a feeling you will. Compassion. The ability to try to walk a mile in the shoes of another AND the desire to. It is one of my biggest hopes for you.

You had your first taste of real food this month. Applesauce. Reviews were mixed on that one. You squinched up your little face and worked your tongue around like a frog trying to catch a fly as applesauce dribbled down your chin. Not sure you dug the tarty overtones. After that I mashed up some avacado, which you loved. This is a good thing because if Mom and Pop could mainline guacamole directly into our veins we would likely do so. I beheld your love of the avacado and immediately began envisioning futures gathered 'round the coffee table snorting lines of guac' and then chasing it down with Pop's famous steak tacos.

You're eating well from your tiny spoon, but utensils aren't really a requirement in this home... just whatever works best. You need look no further than Pop for examples of this type of behavior. Speaking of Daddy, he likes to feed you sweet potatoes. Of course, after that you are rushed directly to the tub. You like to stick your hands in the food and then play with your hair. And ears. And face. And eyeballs.

You really are Daddy's girl. The two of you take the dogs to Dog Canyon every single day. Y'all sing and tell stories and just generally rabble rouse down there as Pop is wont to do. It cracks me up to think about the two of you wandering around amongst the housewives. I'm somewhat surprised one of them hasn't called the cops to report a hairy, hippie-looking man has kidnapped a baby. "He's here at the park now! Yes, now!! The baby seems okay but I think he's insane! He won't stop singing "She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain! Come now! Please hurry. He looks dangerous!"

A couple days ago I had a bad day at work. Dad popped you in the truck and drove out to the news station for a visit. My vision was blurred by tears as I walked into the parking lot but the minute I saw you and Pop life, real life, snapped into focus. Silly work battles slipped by the wayside as you grinned at me from your back seat vantage point and kicked your chubby, legs like a professional swimmer. I realize that I live my life for you now. I work on loving your Pop for you. I want you to have a happy, healthy family and it is within my power to give that to you. I can choose to be an asshole, to fight with your Dad and dwell in negativity. Or I can choose to love your Dad the best I can even when I'm upset, can choose to create the kind of home I never had growing up. That is the biggest gift I can ever give you. Stability, happiness, an example of a loving marriage. I vow to do this. And who wouldn't want to do this? Who wouldn't want those things?

Two weeks ago we were laying sod so you can have a place to play this summer. We were lugging the big clumps of grass around and when I paused to smile at you and nibble your toesies you laughed out loud. I laughed and you laughed back. Then I cried. There Dad and I were sticking our big heads in your face, forcing out laughter like goons in a desperate effort to recreate our daughter's first laugh. Of course you didn't laugh, just looked at us as if we were insane. Which we were. And are. But, my god, I'll do anything to get you to laugh. I always will.

I love to hold you when you're in your diaper. Tender, soft babyskins touching me, your silky hair tickling my nose. I would lay down and die for you without hesitation if it was required. You and I are linked forever. I will always and forever be your Mama and nothing, no one can ever change that.

You're already showing an interest in books. So far your favorite is Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish Three, Four Five Fish! We read it a couple times a day. You'll sit in my lap and look at the book then up at me as I read. Then back to the book and then at me again. You'll reach your sweet, little paw up to stroke the cardboard pages in wonder. This thrills me no end. I hope books will play as important a role in your life as they have in mine. I wouldn't be who I am today without a strong love of reading and literature.

In two weeks you'll take your first plane ride and meet your Dad's brother, the most important person in his life next to you and me. You'll also meet two more grandpas and another grandma. Sounds overwhelming but this is a good thing and here is why: with the amount of grandparents you have you'll really be able to cash in on birthdays and Christmas. Work it, little one. Flash that grin and laugh that laugh, grandparents are suckers for that kind of thing..

You're still bouncing around like a madwoman in your jumper. Aerobic-stylings and dance maneuvers that would make Richard Simmons give up and demand a jelly-filled doughnut. You're turning into such a "big girl". My favorite moments of this past month have been when you first wake up. I get so excited to come to you because now, the second you spot me you grin so big and kick your legs so hard. You're starting to arch your back and push yourself toward me when I go to pick you up and just yesterday you started holding out your arms to me and Pop. I have a hard time sometimes with physical expressions of love but I hope to raise you differently. I hope that you'll always hold out your arms to me because mine will always be open to you.

You are definitely Mommy's girl in that you like to sleep on your tummy. The first thing I do when I get home from work is kick off my shoes and tiptoe into your bedroom. You've taken to curling your legs up underneath you and pointing your cute bum skyward. No matter how centered you are in the crib when we put you down you always end up wriggling your way to the very top until your little face is smashed into the bumper. I must check on you twenty times a night and gently slide you back down to the center of the crib. Yes, I admit, I nudge you a bit or stroke your cheek every single time just to see you move or hear you sigh. Only then can I sleep.

You are dangerous now, little one. You can wiggle out of anywhere and your poor Pop had to find out the hard way. Yesterday he placed you in your car seat and plopped you on the back patio so he could mow the lawn. Every time he'd swing by your neck of the backyard he'd smile and wave. On his next turn around he looked back and there you were, face down on the patio. You'd managed to squirm out of your car seat. Pop lost his shit, likely in a very literal sense. He abandoned the running mower and ran over to pick you up off the ground. You sensed Dad's terror and only then did you squawk out a lusty cry.

You weren't hurt but Dad sure was. He spent the rest of the night lavishing you with EXTRA attention. Bottles, baths, a special crib appearance by Tigger the Tiger. So we've learned that you, little peanut, are much stronger than you look and now must be buckled into everything. Even a car seat sitting on the ground.
I warned Pop there are much more horrifying moments to come. The first knee scrape, the first head bonk, the first set of stitches. But he can't bare to think about his little Violet getting hurt. Poor fella is gonna die of a heart attack before you're in kindergarten.

I'll tell you this about Dad; he's a mad talented musician, a brilliant writer, knowledgeable about so many things and an amazing fisherman but being your dad is by far his biggest talent. He is unbelievable. The two of you together? Unstoppable.

Happy Father's Day, Pop!