Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Miracle of Ila

She turns one on Wednesday.  A pink perfect balance of personality.  A fashionista who treasures books, music and wondrous words--just-like-her-mom.  A fierce Yankee fan who dons her pink Yankee cap when a game is on and can throw a ball like Andy Petite--enamoring her father forever.  Her smile is a beacon in the darkest room, blackest moment, bleakest hour.  She embodies my beloved father-in-law, a veritable people person at heart, by dazzling anyone with her sing-songy incessant "Hiiiiiiiiiiii."  to greet all passersby.  She is fiercely determined to get what she wants--what she needs--by any means necessary, and she is a lightening quick learner.  But our girl is so much more, and that is the dilemma.  How to capture the essence of this little miracle in a singular blog post?

I am ashamed to tell you dear readers that before our little Ila arrived I wasn't thrilled at the idea of being a mother again.  The mere thought shrouded me with gray.  As my belly expanded it seem to fill to the brim with dread and resentment.  I had been mothering for 16 years, loving the boys with all I had, but trudging through a mire of mistakes, shooting arrows blindly in the dark.  Motherhood back then seemed to be based on luck... a newbie archer of sorts hoping that some of those arrows would land at least near the target, never feeling like I ever obtained a parenting bulls eye. Yet here I was again loading the bow that I thought I'd be putting away in some dank cobwebby attic in the near future.  It seemed to me that I was moving backwards, but  desperately wanting to move forward. To grow.  To change.  To expand my potential.  To explore new worlds.  To solidify relationships and make new ones.  To travel to far away places.  Giving birth to a baby girl seemed to be the last thing that would allow me to do anything on that list.  Oh my dear readers how WRONG I was.

And perhaps that is what I want you to know most about our little Ila. She is a force, a ball of energy both subliminal and literal.   Backwards is the last direction her presence has allowed.  In fact, I can emphatically say that that 20 pound, 2 feet 3 inch girl  has used her substantial muscle to bring about colossal forward movement to a life I had decided was doomed to be stuck in a bog of repetition for at least 18 more years.
I wanted to grow and so the forces of nature behind Ila's arrival provided me the opportunity. Wanting--no no--needing to parent differently this time around made me realize that I'd have to mature in order to do that. So now, parenting is no longer a childish archery game.  It is an ongoing  mature conversation, a welcomed infinite learning experience.  I am the grown up and I am the guide.  Light years different than the 24 year old first time mother I was eons ago.

I wanted to change, to solidify relationships and so the forces of nature behind Ila's arrival provided me the opportunities.  Forever needing to be in control--needing to hold onto those puppet strings so the earth wouldn't fall into oblivion, Ila threw me a few uncontrollable curve balls.  It started with three months of bed rest-in the middle of a house under construction...the mess and chaos was hive inducing.  (Those of you who are closest to me...stop laughing...the mess was hive inducing even for me....which tells you how large the mess truly was...)  Then she added a heart condition leaving her mother forever exhausted, gasping for breath even after short trips to the bathroom.  But it didn't stop there.  The universe that was in charge of Ila's arrival also threw in failure-to-thrive and a choking incident just to make sure I understood that I couldn't be in charge or control of everything.  And you know what?  All of that misery, changed me for the better.  It helped me to realize that leaning on those who love you is more than okay and more than necessary.  I don't have to do it all, and I don't now.  I will be forever in debt to my sister-in-law, Sandy who lovingly soothed me as I was dealt the blow of a congestive heart failure diagnosis, who let me cry unrelenting tears when the IV was put in . I'm forever grateful to her husband, Bill, who took care of our sweet Ila while I was being admitted to the hospital, getting her to take her first full two ounces of formula, but most of all for bringing Ila and ALL her gear to the cardiac unit even though it was close to midnight because I couldn't rest without her.  I well up with such immense gratitude to my colleagues who visited and cooked and called, and especially to Nurse Janel who spent her evenings with us every night for a month teaching Jeff the ins and outs of fatherhood, cooking and cleaning and most of all comforting.  Letting go also brought me closer to those I call family.  My best friend Sherry flying up from Tampa to "get this house in gear" made me realize the infinite value of a life long friend.   My sister Lanni calling weekly, listening with FULL ear to my fears and dreams and ambitions, loving me for who I am...dirt and all... humbled a hardened me who once espoused that "I didn't need anyone.".  Then there is  Ila's middle name sake, my truly incredible Dr.Speed Dial ,whose constant presence whenever or where ever I needed her, on the couch, in the hospital, in the middle of the night, and in my heart, taught me that true love isn't conditional.  Having Ila meant having to let go and lean, to let others do the doing. What a glorious change.

What about expanding my potential?  Well Ila's arrival has offered me an opportunity for that as well.  While writing has always been a passion, my experiences as a mom of two teenage boys AND a newborn has given me fodder beyond my wildest dreams to pen....and the hopes of doing it professionally.  That led me to partake in my first writing conference in San Francisco (a faraway place).  It led me to start this very blog.  It led me to apply and get hired as a columnist for a popular family website.  Having Ila has opened all kinds of doors and windows of potential.  Without her incandescently cute and special presence in my life, I may be still standing in that bog of repetition mired in the muck of misery shooting arrows into empty air.