WHEN you have a daughter, pretty much one thing is guaranteed: Mommy will always look for reasons to doll the little one up.
On ordinary days, the conversation can go like this:
Wife: Is it too warm? It feels too warm? It’s kinda hot today, don’t you think? The sun’s extra hot today.
Me: Yes, you can dress Isay up in a summer outfit.
Imagine if Halloween is just around the corner. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when the wife was scrolling down her iPhone screen looking at pictures of Halloween costumes. She picked out a Snow White outfit and said, “Isay would look really cute in this.”
Which was my cue to reply: “You know there’s a Halloween party at the office. Maybe we ca..”
So it was pretty much settled. Isay was going to make her first public appearance at the office Halloween party for kids.
I HAD just finished my associate editor’s duties for the regular sports section and was about to close a special issue when I decided to take a break and grab a bite. It was 9 in the evening and there were a couple of fastfood joints still open, just a few blocks away from the office.
I walked to one of them, stood in line to order food and then carried my tray to a nearby long table. I stabbed a plastic straw into a large cup of orange juice, sprinkled a little salt over the fries and was peeling the greasy wrap off my burger when I vaguely noticed two other people share my long table. As I dug my teeth into the burger, I fished my phone out of my pocket, swiped off the locked screen and tapped on my photos app. As I always do when having dinner alone, I scrolled through pictures of Isay. Isay smiling. Isay sleeping. Isay raising a fist.
I was probably smiling like an idiot because one of the people at my table leaned back and caught a glimpse of my phone.
“Yup, my first,” I told him. His female companion forked a piece of chicken into her mouth, smiled and looked at me.
I tend to be socially awkward in situations like this so when there was the slightest hint of uncomfortable dead air, I flipped the phone around to give them a view of the photo on the screen. Isay pointing to her nose.
“Cute,” the female said, more perfunctory than sincere.
ONE of my most favorite things on earth nowadays is watching Isay sleep.
There are very few things in this world that can compare to the sight of a little innocent girl lost in some dreamland that you cannot even fathom. She has a look that has just the right mix of vulnerability, contentment and bliss that makes you sigh like nothing else can and creates a sense of envy inside you.
Only a child can sleep with that “measure of calm and peace that all of us seek and never really find.”
The only thing we can do is stay awake at night, keep our eyes open and stare admiringly at those who can.
I HAVE always been fascinated with the word “perfect.”
My fascination centers on my inability to find a suitable exact opposite for the word perfect. It is one of the rare adjectives that doesn’t have one. Bright has dark. Good has evil. Quiet has loud. Perfect? None. Imperfect? Flawed? Not quite.
Take a perfect circle, for example. Warp any small part of its diameter. Already, it is flawed. But is it the exact opposite of perfection? Imagine a face perfect in its beauty. Add a blemish or two. Imperfect. But would the blemished face stand as the exact opposite of its perfect state? No. On the end of the spectrum opposite perfect lies perfectly imperfect.
Fascinating right? That the only opposite for perfect is some sort of grotesque form of perfection.
ONE of the situations where I am of use when it comes to raising Isay is rocking her to sleep. I have learned to change soiled nappies but still make a few mistakes here and there. I have learned to bottle- and cup-feed her, but we make quite a mess sometimes. Bathing her is still life’s next big adventure. But rocking her to sleep, I’ve got that pretty down pat.
I cradle her securely in my arms and then feel out cues as to what she wants. A lot of times, Isay wants you to walk her around. She gets restless even if you sway her from side-to-side or gently rock her. Sometimes, she wants you to carry her upright, her chubby cheeks resting on the shoulder. If she’s in a good mood, you can just set her down on the bed or in her crib and she’ll go to sleep on her own.
The one constant thing through all this? She wants to hear you. Whether it’s singing, humming, reading the Desiderata or narrating a fairy tale, the sound of your voice reassures her a lot and makes her sleeping easier.
With that in mind, let me share you the songs I love to sing to her when it’s time for her to grab a few winks.
I’VE been chronicling Isay’s journey in this world via different platforms. I have a little baby journal where I write letters to the little bugger when I feel like it. Lately, that means once a month—on her monthsary date. There are photos in the journal too. Over at Facebook, I have a public album where I post one photo a day, a selfie with Isay accompanied by random thought balloons.
In almost all of those photos, I make up comments that she cracks based on how she looks in the picture. What’s unwritten, but implied, is my end of the conversation.
It will be too much of a hassle to import the whole set (as of this writing, Isay’s been with me for 74 days already) so I’ve decided to share some of the best ones in this post. And then from hereon, I’ll try coming up with a best for the week based on the likes each photo gets.