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

Dear Violet,

As I sit here on our living room couch typing this you're over there trying to bounce right out of your little bouncy chair. You are leaping so high into the air you leave the confines of your favorite toy for just a moment before slamming back into the chair with a diaper-cushioned thud. The only time you stop the business of bouncing is if a dog walks by. Then? Silence as you contemplate the wonders that are Max and Milo.

Pop and I were talking last night about how we can literally see your brain turning on. Someone's tiptoeing around up there switching on all the lights, firing the engines, it's all systems go for you, peanut. Your little coconut noggin is constantly on a swivel, checking this out checking that out. And what was THAT noise and, oh my, what's this over here? What's that you're drinking Mom, let me just wrap my fingers in a death grip around that scalding hot mug of coffee you're trying to glug down while I pull your hair as hard as I possibly can. I like hair. Pulling it, especially.

It just keeps getting better and better. You are far and away the best thing Pop and I have ever done. Not just the business of making you but being your parents. At the moment, you define us. You are quite simply the best thing ever.

This has been such a big month for you. Early on you attended your very first birthday party. Everyone passed you around and you were as content as could be. We offered you watermelon for the first time and you lipsmacked it in delight. Just slurped it right down, gumming the pinky insides until your little white dress was pink too. Your favorite moment (and mine) came when a little dog called Otis took a special interest in you. You'd hold out your dimpled hand for him to lick then you'd laugh and laugh and do it all over again.

Your laugh kills me. It's a deep chortle that sometimes sounds as if you've been smoking Pal Mals and throwing back whiskey shots for the majority of your young life. Often, when we're hanging out and I look at you, you'll look back, grin and offer up that boisterous chuckle illustrated with a mouthful of pink gum as if you're acknowledging the deep complexities of humor. Like, gee Mom, isn't it a kick in the pants, you and me hanging here together watching The View? And aren't those women a riot?

Right now you are trying to launch yourself into space from your bouncy whilst emitting some sort of Indian war cry. The pitch of this excited shriek is high enough to alert dolphins from all nations. I looked over at you and flashed my pearly whites and you grinned back and did a little tap dance on the hardwood. Man you're a hoot.

So this month you finally met your Uncle Dave. I have a feeling you're going to really dig Uncle Dave as you get older. He's the kind of fella who doesn't think he's good with kids because he's never been around them. But in fact, kids are drawn to him. He's kind of a big kid himself. He doesn't have that condescending adult quality grown-ups sometimes employ with children. Everyone's the same in his book. You might be an adult who acts like a doof and you might be a kid worth spending hours conversing with, it's all the same to Uncle Dave.

I hope you're a lot like your Dad and Uncle Dave; creative, individualistic, intelligent and talented. You don't have to live your life any way but the way you want to. There are no rules. Society may make rules, but that doesn't mean you have to follow them. I hope you always pave your own way, marching to the beat of your own drum, just like Dad and Uncle Dave.

You also met the rest of your grandparents. Oh boy, little girl do you have a lot of family who is just as crazy about you as crazy can be. And then some, because we're all pretty crazy to begin with. Your GranElaine in Utah takes care of you every single Wednesday and she still can't get enough of you. Grammy Koch held you the entire time we were in Pennsylvania and cried her eyes out the minute it was time to go.

Nana and Pepe were also there. I know! The whole goddamn family and no one was arrested or killed. Can you believe it? Your Pop and I certainly couldn't. Anyway, you met Pepe for the first time and immediately began touching his entire face like a blind woman trying to figure out what someone looks like. You touched Pepe's nose, mouth, eyes, mustache and then you promptly fell asleep on his shoulder. You should have seen the look on this man's face when this tiny girl - a girl who looks exactly like him when he was a baby - fell asleep in his arms. It was lovely. In the years I've known him I don't think I've ever seen him sit so quietly and contentedly.

He spent the rest of the week trying to hold you whenever he could. I'd catch him talking to you in that dashing French accent of his and once I caught him sneaking a hundred dollar bill into your little pocket. It's thrilling to see all these people, many who haven't seen each other in 25 years or so, coming together because of you. This sweet, happy, beautiful child.

While in Pennsylvania we took you to the lake for your first dip in water that wasn't inside your blue, plastic bathtub. I was sure you'd get one marzipan toe in that water and scream yourself hoarse. I don't know why I thought that but I just figured such a big, body of cold water would scare you. It didn't. You loved it but were deadly serious about the entire endeavor. Each time we dipped your legs in you'd kick them hard while concentrating on the water in front of you. By the time we went to Strawberry Lake in Utah a week later you were an old water pro.

I had been so nervous about flying with you and it couldn't have gone better. Basically, you slept the entire time. There was a couple dicey minutes on the plane ride home but I got your Dad calmed down and the much-feared tantrum was narrowly avoided.

It seems you've become mobile overnight. I can't leave you alone for a second. It's freaky sometimes. I'll set you on the center of a king-sized bed, run to get a towel and am back within five seconds to see you preparing to Superman it off the edge. That's some crazy ambulatory skills there when you don't even know how to crawl yet. You're a skooching, rolling champion and I could probably train you to fetch me a pack of cigarettes and a six-pack from 7/11 were I so inclined. Seriously though, I'll wait until you're five and can walk there for Mama's smokes and hooch.

You're also starting to hold your own bottle now and you know exactly what it is. When you spot one headed your way your eyes turn as big as saucers, you breathe really fast and open and close those little lippies like a baby bird waiting for its morning worm. Then you open your arms wide and gather your bottle to you and smooch the nipple like it's a long lost friend. It cracks me up every time.

Oh Violet, I am not a talented enough writer to express to you the impact you've had on my life. I can only tell you I've waited my entire existence to meet you and make friends with you and help shepherd you through this world. I hope to be your friend but I promise you it will never get in the way of me being the best Mom I know how to be. Sometimes that may mean you hate me, but that's going to be okay because whatever is I'll be doing it'll be because I love you so very much. And that's the way it is.

I love you


P.S. I have taken the liberty of placing a copy of the photo below in a secure location to be taken out when/if your boyfriend brings you home after curfew. Oh, I'll do it. Be late and watch me.