The nine endless months before she was born, I spent every waking moment, and some sleeping ones, dreaming of what he would look like. Yes, he. (All the old wives tales were wrong.)
Then she was born. Though I had to switch names, she was Hannah, not Caleb, and she was the most beautiful baby ever born. Everyone knew it too…or so I assumed everyone believed. I walked through the mall expecting to be stopped by random admirers.
I’d not just imagined what she would look like, I’d imagined who she was: quiet and demure, yet still unravel the room with her sparkle. And she always did what I asked.
My baby, the dream come true. The first night in the hospital, she lay snuggly wrapped in her bassinette. My husband was nearly as exhausted as me from 36 hours call ‘day’ and still awake for fifteen hour labour and delivery, minus the baby birthing part. My baby slept like a baby. I lay in bed wide-eyed, gazing at baby perfection just a foot away. I wanted to lift her to my arms, waken her and stare into those watery blues. But she slept and slept and slept. But after waking from that first night slumber, she didn’t sleep again for another year.
She’s taught me parenting. I was flummoxed by incessant fussing for the first three months. I was confounded with her first toddler temper tantrum in Zellers. I crossed my eyes attempting to teach her to read when she was five. I marvelled that she commanded attention on the playground from her peers, leading them in her games. Every step of the way, she’s been my introduction into a new stage of parenting.
She’s been my experimental child. A thousand ways to parent and I think I’ve tried them all. Once she heard me say she was the experimental child, she understood I was intending to experiment on her. No, no, I clarified: I assumed my parenting approach was correct every time, and then it wasn’t. I’d try a different approach, and it wasn’t quite right again.
She has an independent spirit. She was three when she approached cashiers and purchased things independently. She assumed she was part of adult conversations since she was a pre-teen. She took herself on a five month backpacking tour of Mexico, applied to universities independently and got herself into a university clear across the country.
She has chutzpah. There isn’t anything she’s ever wanted that she didn’t pursue and she assumed she’d be welcomed to do it all. She assumed all she had to do was ask. She assumed everyone would be approachable.
She is empathic. Despite a penchant for being a shoot-from-the-hip person, which doesn’t always strike one as empathic straight away, this kid can listen, make you feel heard, and give a spot-on, wise advice.
She is fun. This kid can bring fun energy to everything she does. Her clever wit, her word savvy, and her ability to be present, makes everything we do together memorable.
This is Hannah.