This is the longest stretch yet where I haven’t written. And as expected, much has happened. I won’t even try to grasp all that’s transpired. The growing Celia has done. The adventures we’ve had. The best I’ll do is give you a quick list:
• We hiked mountains in Montana, then left for farm-country in Illinois;
• Visited the Zoo in Chicago where Celia went crazy about the giraffes and the beavers (who’d have guessed, of all things, that the beavers would be the best event?);
• Celia learned how to clap her hands;
• I wrote a new song about clapping hands;
• Celia took her first (and only) step;
• We got back to Montana and took Celia to a hot springs, where she swallowed water and met other kids;
• Michelle got sick for a few days, so I was on Daddy-Duty all day long for a couple days;
That last one was particularly challenging. I love that daughter of mine, but being on Daddy-Duty for the entire day was tiring. I’m not talking about being rested, although I wasn’t, but really it came down to mental fatigue – being at the baby’s level of thought all day long. Sure, I took her out for sushi, took her to friends’ houses, took her on long walks and jogs, but she definitely missed her Mama. I think I have a new appreciation for Michelle’s efforts with Celia. It’s exhausting to be with her so much of the day. No wonder she looks forward to me arriving home from work so much!
The time we spent in Illinois with Michelle’s family was surprisingly enjoyable. Michelle said it went better than any other time she can remember. I bet it was because of having me and the baby there. It completely diffuses things; gives people something to focus on completely outside of themselves. Celia got an awful lot of attention on that trip. I’m glad it’s not always like that, but it was good for her to meet all of them and I was thankful.
I found the mentality there a bit restrictive compared to my home-town, and definitely compared to our current lives. For example, I went for a long run with the baby. It’s a small farm-town, and I ran through the streets till I hit farms, then got turned around and had to ask for directions. By the time I got back, I’d been gone for over two hours, and when I told Michelle’s family how far I’d gone someone said, “You went that far?!” then turned to Celia and said, “You poor baby! Your Daddy took you out so far!”
I just shook my head and was thankful that we don’t live in Illinois. Poor baby? As if! She’s getting front-row, street-level exposure to every neighborhood we travel to. This is a gift and a privilege, not a problem.
But despite all that, I felt appreciated and loved, and we had a magnificent time. It’s amazing to me how quickly Celia is maturing. Today she gave me this smirk and a look as if she was thinking, “I know everything that’s going on right now,” and I was shocked. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was; was it the smirk? The way she raised her eyebrows at me? Or the twinkle in her eye…? But I know that she knows what’s going on. She understands what I’m telling her now. I just know it.
And I love it.