Here’s where the cute Mara stories go! I’m actually glad I waited because i have a new one from today. I’ve been kind of a worthless mommy for the last few days because I finally managed to do some real damage to my back with all the time I’ve spent hauling her around. I got a prescription for muscle relaxants and between that and heating pads at night and my electro-convulsant stimulation machine during the day, I get by. I walk stooped over a lot of the time, but I haven’t screamed or cried in front of her during the worst of the sciatic pain, so I consider it a success.
Anyway, this morning she came to sit on my lap (and, as it turned out, eat the rest of my bowl of soup) and we were talking about what she was going to do once she got down. I asked if she’d play with her musical instruments or her blocks, if she’d read. Since I got a strong “no!” for each of these, I asked if she was going to drive a school bus, since school buses seem to be her favorite thing in the world. “No,” she said decisively, “I’m gonna love1′ and then gave me a hug.
We’re getting plenty of whining and crying, for sure, and regular three-year-old petulance, but I had a whole long full-sentence conversation with her during dinner tonight and it no longer seemed particularly noteworthy that she’s talking so much and so well. Her snuggliness is still a constant, but she also understands that I can’t carry her because my back hurts. (I do lift and hold her; I’m kind of choosing my battles.)
It’s “ba-ba-ball” season and she and Lee are watching plenty. She’s learned “DE-FENSE!” (clap, clap) and tonight added, “Bring it, baby!” to her repertoire. Although she defaults to me when it comes to comfort, she and Lee crack each other up. Lee told Mara, “Get on out of here!” and apparently at first Mara looked stricken, feeling rejected, but then she got a little glint in her eye and said, “YOU get on out of here!” and they were both laughing. I had to hear that pretty much non-stop for the last half hour before they went to bed.
Mara’s a very excited eater and generally sings or hums “Yum yum, yum yum yum!” while eating. She’s learned to say, “No, thank you” rather than “yuck!” (mostly) if she doesn’t want something and even improvised, “I don’t wanna, thank you!” the other night to incorporate her own favorite phrase. She took off from the table with a roll on Sunday night and when I told her to come back, saying, “Mara, sweetie, we eat dinner in the dining room,” she immediately chirped out, “Not anymore!”
Lee’s birthmom Alice just called to say she’d gotten the photos we sent. She’s already choosing her “grandma” name and says Mara is “cute as a bug,” which is the exact same phrase we got from my uncle in Europe. We’ve also sent photos to Mara’s social worker to pass on to her mom. I know this isn’t something the other foster family did and isn’t anything that’s expected of us, but it just seems to me that she would feel better seeing for herself that her daughter is healthy and happy even if she’s not working toward getting custody.
We talked to Rowan, too, at last. I was hoping he wouldn’t feel excluded since we now don’t oficially have room for him. He’s excited for us, though, and happy where he is for now. He was thrilled that Mara is from the same housing project he and his foster brother are, though neither of them knows her family. He says he’s glad she’s with us and doing well. He was in good spirits and sounded relaxed, which I always appreciate. There was a post from O Solo Mama tonight that made me think about my relationship with Rowan. Am I deluding myself in considering him “family” and thinking it’s important to him that we remain a part of his life? Am I just playing out my own view of myself and forcing him to follow his role in that? I think not and hope not, but this is something I’m thinking about, Rowan-as-teen-boy versus Rowan-as-part-of-me-being-parental. At any rate, he enjoys talking to us and I think that’s reason enough to keep calling him, regardless of what my other motivations may have been.
And Lee put Mara down to bed in way less time than it’s taken me to write this. It seems like all of a sudden evenings have just opened up now that it only takes her between five and twenty minutes to fall asleep to the point where she can successfully be moved from the rocking chair to bed, rather than up to an hour and sometimes more we were facing in the first week. Shes getting more active about playing with her cuddly toys, including a puppy one of my coworkers gave her, which she has named Puppy. Puppy is the first of her toys to bear a name she chose. Every day she comes up with something new and she understands things better, I can tell.
I’m still pretty much exhausted, which would be the case if I were in this much pain even without a kid in the house. But with all the laundry (oh, man, the laundry!) and cooking and cleaning up after cooking, doing dishes, getting her dressed and dealing with time in the bathroom, plus just being available to her at any time and talking with her all day, well, I’m beat! But today we watched her favorite movie, the documentary Babies, and talked again about all the different ways mommies can be mommies and how babies have different personalities, talking a little about what little I know of her history. I do know her personality now is a sweet one. Her favorite points in the film may be when the Mongolian baby pees and when the Namibian baby walks around with a can on his head like a hat, but her true self comes out when she’s cheering them on as they crawl, stand, walk. “Good job, baby! You did it Yippee!” I couldn’t have said it better myself when looking at her every single day.