Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy birthday Emily

I'd been meaning to get to this entry earlier, but it's been a rough week. First Chloe came down with hives for no apparent reason - they lasted several days, and then Emily became very ill with a virus that has made her miserable with a sore throat, a nasty cough, and frequent vomiting. She's still sick, but she's already seen a doctor twice. We're hoping that by tomorrow we'll see improvement.

If there's one glimmer of light to have emerged from all of this, it is that Daddy has been able to spend some very good time with Emily - sick as she's been. I stayed home with her yesterday and this morning and it's been an unexpected treat.

Emily loves to be happy, and at the right moments, when the Advil was at it's maximum effectiveness, Emily would become who she is at her best, the most innocent, tentative, loveable of creatures. She would follow me around the house, peeking around corners with her coy smile. When I would respond to her in kind, she would give me whatever was in her hand. This is a little game she likes to play - her way of interacting without words. She asks that I take something from her, often a stuffed animal, and then turns to crawl away. After a few steps, she turns back and reaches for what she gave me, naturally expecting me to return her gift. In this way, I assume she's learning how to share and how to trust. She never looks happier than when she's giving something up, or getting something back. It's a connection between us, a give and take relationship.

This is all part of what I learned about Emily these past few days - that is, that she has a subtle, gentle way of imposing herself on us, very unlike her sister who attacks like a bear. I was also reminded of how innocent childhood can be. She's so protected right now, and so it follows, open, honest, sincere. She has no need yet to be any other way.

Most of us with loving, caring families started off this way, I suppose, and it's worth reflecting on the fact that the walls, the defenses, the careful armor we've built around ourselves since very early on wasn't always necessary and certainly isn't our natural state. In our interactions with each other we've built a world that seemingly requires us to be only partly ourselves, sometimes even with the people closest to us. Sometimes this makes sense, and believe me, I don't have any interest in learning the personal intricacies of everyone's lives. But there must be a time and place, now and then, to be as we once were - open, human, beautiful to those who love us.

Happy 1st birthday Emily. May I always remember how you sparkled, even at a year.


  1. Thanks for this, Sean:

    It is difficult to think about how those defenses gradually start to build after someone purposely hurts us either physically or emotionally. We realize that there is meanness too in the world, and we must figure out how to protect ourselves.

    Unfortunately, we lose something precious in the process. But fortunately, the moments when we come closest to getting it back (and yes, we can do that, up to a point) are those moments you have just described when we have the chance to enter a child's little world of glee for a while and experience joy from something so simple as receiving an object from a very small hand. Wow! Keep on finding time to enjoy your girls to the fullest!


  2. Hope everyone is feeling better now. Happy Birthday, Emily!