Our Song

Dear Em,

Yesterday, you threw another “mother of all tantrums” – it’s a new phase you’re going through, and we’re still learning to cope and handle it. And you gave me one of the most beautiful moments I’ve had since becoming your mother.

(On Sunday, you screamed and sobbed way past 10 pm and Dada had to join forces with me trying to calm you down, but in vain. It took an hour before it occurred to me to use my reading torch and make patterns on the wall – that got your attention, and we progressed to counting the stars we’ve stuck on the ceiling over your bed. The best part of that night was at 10 minutes to eleven, when you stopped screaming and reached out for your foot to count your toes – they’re the same number, 10, as the stars above your bed, and the same number as your fingers, which you also counted before snuggling beside me in bed. You then fell asleep in the record time of 10 minutes, letting Mommy race to her 11 pm conference call on time.)

Anyway, yesterday, it took me only 30 minutes to get you to calm down (self-yayyy! for Mommy). I held you close as you lashed about and so generously narrated in real-time between sobs, “Throwing Mama, beating Mama, biting Mama!” I started telling you the story of how little you were when you were born, how I held you, and what we did together, just the two of us. And then I sang a song to you last night – a song I used to sing when we were just 10-days old, mother and daughter, right until the time you were 6 months old and we moved here with Dada. It’s a song I’d made up to reassure you about how beautiful your name is, and how beautiful you are to us, because someone had held you and told you that it was a dirty name your Mom had picked, in a bid to pressure us into changing our choice. It’s a song I sang to you whenever we were alone, in between all of the other silliness we shared during those 6 months, because I needed to erase the bad stuff and make you remember the good stuff. And whenever I sang to you, we did these actions, enacting the words in the song – I used to hold your hands and guide you through those actions.

The most beautiful part of yesterday, my dear sweet Em, is that when I sang that old invented song to you (after over a year of never mentioning it), you showed me that you remembered it. You smiled, and you did all the silly little actions to the song, right up to jabbing the air as I recited the letters in your name. You even matched me word-for-word during some parts of the song. Those were a secret only you and I shared, you couldn’t have got that from anywhere else. And you showed me that you had actually listened all those months ago when you were a baby, and held those words somewhere deep in your mind.

On days when I doubt whether sinking my hard-won beautiful career was worth it, whether it will make any difference to how you turn out, I will remember this. I will remind myself that you listened to and retained something I said when you were brand new and didn’t even speak words. And I will try to practice more patience and grace around you (although, I will burp and fart when I absolutely must, but will always say “Excuse me” afterwards). Because if I needed proof that having me around, and what I do for you, makes any difference at all; if I needed proof that you’ll ever bother to remember what I say, you gave it to me. If I needed a thank you, I got that too.

Thank you, JC. Thank you, my dear sweet Em.


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