It’s the unexpected moments that tell you, without a doubt, that your perspective of the world, your mind, even your heart, has changed. All my life I could never understand why parents marked their children’s birthdays, not just in years, but months, as well. At first blush it seemed to be tied to their offspring’s womb time, the nine months that nature needed to grow and shape a fetus into a baby. Now I see a month measure differently. Now I know better.
Today is Tayech’s seven month mark, her birthday, of sorts. I remembered the moment I saw the date— a strong sans serf numeral 5—beaming boldly from my smart phone’s screen this morning. Tayech, at four months old, back in October, shared her tricks with me ,pulled from her baby arsenal, flopping over from her belly on to her back, and her lovely social smile, working her charms on me in an orphanage in Hossana, a dusty, sparsely populated town three-hours ride from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.
I’d learned how to decipher her moves from a baby development book, Touchpoints: Your Child’s Emotional and Behavioral Development by T. Berry Brazelton. It, like all baby books, are shaped around chapters based on monthly development—from first smiles to the arduous task of learning to sit up, which led to crawling or walking depending on your baby’s perspective on mobility.
I wonder what she can do now? I thought as I foamed milk for my morning cappuccino at the espresso machine. Has she learned to master and control the strength of her back shaping it into sitting up? Or has she developed the motor skills of “the pincher grasp,” the moment when her thumb and index finger began to work together, unlocking a whole new world, taking Tayech from observing the wonder to grasping at it, in the blink of an eye, according to Brazelton. Now soft chunks of hamburger and banana were no longer safe near her grasp. Or has rice, or oats, or strained fruit been added to her diet, too?I wondered.
I sipped my mug of coffee looking out as the orange sunlight spilled across the sleepy cityscape and wondered if her bed time ritual was now set in stone? Her love for her bed? Her nanny?
The thoughts trailed me around the apartment like gnats as I prepared to start my day. On the way to the hall closet, I walked by Tayech’s room, and spotted a dress I’d tossed over the end of her crib. Back in December I’d worked to gather the proper clothing to pack when the time to travel arrived to pick up my daughter. Now the dress seemed lonely and lost.
I paddled into the room, across the carpet, and picked up the navy dress, printed with alternating rows of colorful daisies and comical bumble bees from the stack of clothing. “Six months old,” the label read. I wondered how many of the clothes on the crib and in her wardrobe made for a six month old would fit my now seven month old? Or will she be eight months old when she and I finally cross the ocean?
Good thing most of the dresses, onesies, tiny tees, wee pants, booties and blankets, still have their price tags attached I thought as I closed the bedroom door.