I've been fluctuating a lot between moments where I really love Natalie's company, to times when I feel like we aren't connecting at all, but rather just existing in the same space. Of course, that is something I have struggled with since she was born really. I feel like too much of our time together isn't good time. So much of the day now seems to be taken up by daily tasks, like preparing meals, diaper changes, naps, and driving to and from places. Even when we are out at an activity or an errand, we aren't focused on each other. At play group or the library, she is more interested in exploring than connecting with me, and I'm often looking for a moment to pick her out a few books or chat with another mom. While I'm providing her with these positive experiences, I still feel a little sad when it gets to be 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I feel like we haven't played together really all day. What makes me sadder is knowing that when the new baby arrives, that will make connecting harder. Now, it happens when it does, but with another baby, I'll have to be more conscious of it and use our time alone more wisely.
But, there have been lots of times recently that I haven't felt that way. For example, yesterday she helped me cook for the first time. She helped stir the frosting for Mike's birthday cake and then later watched us mix the cake batter (I know its Mike's cake, but he helps with the eggs so I don't have to break them. Getting any on my hands can make me itchy). Then this morning, she helped me make him a birthday sign on black poster board with side walk chalk (which was supposed to be for her Easter basket, but oh well, we have more than enough gifts stored away for her at the moment). There are times when I just feel like we are getting so close to having a conversation. Like her saying, "Hi, Momma" to me when I get her up or telling me "No" when I ask if this is where we should put a sticker. I often just marvel at her. She sings now. Sometimes it is the alphabet song. The letters are all wrong, but they are single letter songs with about the right tune. We play patty cake in the bath tub. And of course there is reading books. She continues to pick new favorites, and is starting to ask for them using a word (like Roar for Dinosaur vs Bedtime, Choo Choo for Frieght Train, or No for No, David). Though its a lot less than when she was sick a few weeks back, I still get some nice snuggles in my lap with her while watching TV in the late afternoon or before bed. I love those times the best.
Sometimes I feel like I know her so well. And in all truth, I probably do know her better than anyone else, which is just crazy to think about. But there are still times I feel like I don't know her at all. Times when she is so obviously trying to tell me something, and I have no idea what it is. Or just times when I have no idea what she is thinking about. But I'm the one who knows her new words and skills first, or when her toe nails need clipping, or how many poops she's had in a day, or what her favorite books and hiding spots are. I can only imagine how complicated this feeling of knowing and not knowing your child must become as she gets older.