Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How dresses can be good for your mental health

My baby twirls.

Granted, it is a slow, wobbly circle that usually ends with her tumbling down and injuring her head. But it is clear that Bettie Anne has the Twirling Instinct.

That's what I focus on. Not the impossible fact that she's almost 1. Why is she growing up? I told her not to. She didn't listen. I think I need to ground her.

Rumor is she even has teeth in there, but I don't know how many. I don't want to know. Because big girls have teeth, and since she was just born yesterday, she can't be a big girl yet.

She walks. Like a mature homo sapiens -- all upright and stuff. We went shopping on Saturday, and she walked through the store and got lost and confused under a clothing rack. This is also very peculiar since she is only three days old.

I am going to have another talk with Bettie tonight and explain to her why she needs to stop getting all grown up. Eleven months and 21 days is sufficient. Good job. She can stop now. Thanks.

Don't get me wrong. I adore the little lady she has become, especially how she rubs her hands together like she is washing them, and how she added in the cheerleader-style spirit fingers to the hand's-up "touchdown" move that Dad taught her for the Superbowl. My heart melts when she rocks her baby-doll while barking like a dog (like a poodle-mommy hybrid), and how she helps me do the laundry by pulling every single item out of all of the drawers.

I proudly watch my baby beginning to make sense out of the machine that we call Earth, but I warn her not to make too much sense out of things, because the unexplainable and indefinable parts are the most interesting.

Any parent knows it's incredible watching your baby define her personality and interests and abilities. And in all practicality, dresses fall much more gorgeously when they aren't bunched up around an immobile infant's milk-logged neck. A two-legged human being means no more dress folds. It means my daughter can experience the magical, floating feeling of a skirt twirling around her legs -- one of our first encounters with creating beauty.

I remember shortly after her birth (the superlative encounter with creating beauty), I was stuck in ICU. I couldn't hold her because I had lost too much blood to move my arms, and I had a thick transfusion tube implanted in my jugular, so I couldn't move my head. Bettie wasn't supposed to be there with me because it was dangerous for a preemie. But a nurse sneaked her down and placed her on my chest.

I remember whispering stuff into her hairy little ears (because she was born with hair on her ears like a monkey), and I told her things that we would do together. Some day, we would go to the park and dance and sing and sit under an apple tree. I told Bettie about twirling and tried to explain its significance, like how it creates a 360-degree, ever-rotating perspective shift and is such a pure form of pleasure. You should make sure you twirl at least three times every day, otherwise you could lose your grip on unreality, I explained.

Now, my baby twirls. All on her own.

I wonder if she absorbed what I told her. Maybe she's trying to show me that we made it; all of the promises I made her are coming true.

We have so much to celebrate on this first birthday. I know that. Remind me again. No dress folds, no dress folds, no tears, silly mama.

I think I need to commit to an extra 21 twirls every day this month. Because my perspective seems to be stuck looking backward.

Photo by Iman Woods.

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