May 2008

I’ve noticed the passing of time is very different since Walker joined our family. Time would be marked by the movies we saw, something that happened at work, or the books we published. But time chugged along at a fairly steady pace.

But now, time speeds by and is jam-packed with a bunch of new and exciting things, making it feel like ages pass in just a few weeks. It’s crazy to think that it’s only been a few weeks since Walker learned to sit up on his own and now he’s crawling around the house and pulling himself up on furniture.

But a few weeks ago, Walker had another first — acting in his very first play. You see, Walker played “Baby Moses” in our family Passover pageant.

Baby Moses We are blessed with a wonderful extended family through my stepmother, Jane Ginsburg (aka “Grammie Jane”). This is a quite large and very close multi-generation native Californian family so holidays are never lonely. Each year, as April approaches, I get excited thinking about the upcoming Passover celebration at the Hammers. Between 20 and 40 people converge in San Jose to read the story of the freeing of the slaves, the Exodus from Egypt and Moses receiving the Ten Commandments. We read from pre-WWII Haggaddahs, sing songs, and struggle through the Hebrew (my brother, as youngest Hebrew-reading male has had to read the Four Questions for so long…). I remember back when I was one of many kids attending the dinner and have grown up to see many waves of kids attend as babies and mature to be adolescents and young adults. This year, my baby was introduced to the Passover traditions.

A relatively new part of the celebration is the Passover Pageant. Hali organizes the current generation of kids to re-enact the Passover story complete with costumes and props including blue fish-patterned towels representing the Red Sea. Larry and I had discussed whether Walker would be asked to be Baby Moses but Larry wanted to be sure he could give a “shout out” to all the hard work of the Pageant organizers and he made a onesie with a picture of Charleton Heston’s Moses.

Walker shined in the spotlight. He was a very centered actor — sitting patiently in his basket and watching everyone watch him. Daddy played grown up Moses and led everyone around the living room until they found the Promised Land. My eyes welled up with happiness and pride as I watched my boys perform. I was so distracted I forgot to take photos so it’s a good thing cousin Michelle was able to document the moment!

Go JIM! Um, too tired...

Last week was Walker’s first Bay to Breakers. He cheered on our friend Jim, who has a speedy time and despite arriving very early, was not fast enough to catch Walker awake.

First CupcakeThere is more Walker news… He now drinks out of a straw sippy cup and LOVES it. I now no longer fret about him getting enough liquid since he drags his cup as he crawls around. We’re starting him on cow’s milk and yogurt. Can you believe the yogurt SUPPOSEDLY made for babies is packed with sugar? You gotta stay on your toes if you want to keep little people healthy and eating right. Ugh. One more thing to pay attention to…

It’s 27 days until Walker’s first birthday. The time has sped by but it also feels like an eternity since Larry and I went to see movies on Sunday mornings and went to Fresh Choice for lunch. This weekend was spent buying gates and other childproofing supplies and going to our first birthday party! Alex and Maryann threw an awesome birthday brunch for Malcom, Ben, and Walker — three boys who turn 1 within 7 weeks of each other. It was so fun watching the different developmental stages of the boys who ranged from crawling to cruising to walking. Walker wasn’t sure what to do with the little cupcake but thought the icing was fun to squish. Glad he isn’t a sugar addict — yet…


Mimi and Mommy

Dear Mommy.

It’s my first Mother’s Day and I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on what it means to be a mom. It sounds so cliche to say that it’s the hardest but most rewarding job but I suppose it’s the most accurate way of describing what I feel. My life has changed so significantly over the last year. I have permanent circles under my eyes, I’ve foresaken my knowledge of superficial celebrity news, I no longer keep up with my favorite TV shows and I’ve actually canceled my Netflix account. Instead, I’ve watched Walker grow from a bag of wiggles to a little Cheerio-eating boy who reaches up and calls me Mama.

It’s been so much work and I can’t imagine doing it without Larry — someone to watch Walker when I need to shower, make dinner, or take a moment to read something that doesn’t involve infant development. You did it alone. When we were both young, I was five months old an you just 26, we embarked on the mother-daughter journey that was to define so much of our lives. I can’t imagine what it was like for you and we never talked about it. I took it for granted that you did what you had to do. But, boy, I didn’t know. Sheesh. What was it like moving across the country with a tiny baby (who, by all accounts, screamed the entire plane trip from San Francisco to Cincinnati) and start a new life? We moved a lot, just the two of us, and it made us so close. We were best friends and we had so much fun exploring new places and trying new things. It was always so much more fun because we were together.

But that is my memory. We have never talked about what you felt. Intellectually, I always knew it was hard. But in the last year, I have gotten a greater appreciation of just how darn difficult it must have been. I mean, simply getting groceries with a little person who flops around from side to side because she can’t sit up straight must have been just the beginning of the challenges you faced.

I gave you such grief as a teenager. And I’m sorry about that. It was tough for both of us being away from friends and family and adding the teacher/student relationship on top of everything else. It’s the natural progression for children to test the boundaries of their parents (which I did at every opportunity) and I was oblivious to how it impacted you. Now, upon reflection, it must have been so difficult not sharing the responsibility with a partner or even just commiserating with someone about my insolence or the latest test to your authority.

And finally, I apologize for haranguing you about what is now one of my favorite activities. Often, when snoozing away a Saturday morning, I would awake to find you sitting in my room and watching me sleep. “Cut it out!” I’d demand. “It’s creepy and strange,” I’d continue. But now I understand. There’s something about watching your child peacefully slumber. I can imagine when Walker is older, and I sneak into his room to watch him snooze for a few moments, I’ll see the small, innocent child who has so much ahead of him and any challenges, worries, and fatigue will melt away for that instant.

Mommy, you are beautiful, intelligent and kind. You taught me to appreciate life, family, and the simple things. Despite our similarities, our lives are so different. I could never have a conversation about the themes of Shakespeare and you never can understand what I do with computers. Life has thrown you so many challenges and you’ve fought so hard to overcome them. Although I may not have always shown it, I have the greatest respect for you. However, in the last few months, my appreciation for your strength has deepened.

On this, my first Mother’s Day, I want to thank you for being my friend, my protector, my teacher, and my Mommy. I hope I will be able to be as much of an inspiration to my family as you are to me.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I got many, many comments about last week’s photo of Walker sleeping on his feet. Not having significant experience with babies, I didn’t realize just how odd this behavior is. I wrongfully assumed that every baby fell asleep in various contortions. But given the incredulous reactions of friends and family, I now know Walker is rather unique. Might we say he wants to get “one more thing” complete before he succumbs to sleep?

While a picture may say 1000 words, I did regret not having the foresight to shoot a bit of video capturing the absurdity of a child snoring while sleeping peacefully, doubled over and resting upon his face.

Today I got one of those rare second-chances. We were on the phone with Grammie Shirley and Walker was exhausted so I put him in his crib for his afternoon nap. (And I must take a moment to mention that this is the very first weekend we were able to keep him on the same schedule as Sofiya’s weektime regimen.) Of course, Walker takes after his Daddy and despite being so very sleepy, he continued to play. But in his sleepy fog he couldn’t decide what to play with so he simply held Bunny Foo Foo and twirled the ears between his little fingers until he nodded off. (I know this because I went in to check on him just as he drifted off to dreamland.) His breathing became deep and regular and his head got heavy and drooped all the way forward to the mattress. The snoring commenced. And I tiptoed out to fetch the camera. The video above was the result. (NOTE to concerned readers: yes, I did unbend him and put him to sleep on his back.)

Walker did have a bit of a fitful nap experience. He awoke 20 minutes later and was definitely not ready to resume his busy day of crawling, pulling himself up, and chasing after disks. Larry rocked him and he’d drift in and out of slumber. I went in and we rocked a bit in the chair until he slept and I put him back in his crib. He stayed asleep long enough for me to download the video from the camera and upload it to YouTube before he awoke again. And again, he was not ready to be awake. We lay down and he rested his little head on my chest and drifted off. We stayed that way for more than an hour.

Now, I really enjoy my sleep. There’s something euphoric about slipping between some soft silky sheets, under a few fluffy comforters, and placing your head upon some big puffy pillows and prepare to meet the Sandman. There are a few occasions that make an already perfect time even better — when I’m bone tired, the room is cool, the bed is toasty warm and I snuggle up next to Larry and fall asleep on his chest. Until Walker, there was nothing better in this world.

I don’t sleep much anymore and I’m grateful to fall into bed regardless of the status of the sheets, comforters, or pillows. And as my sleeping patterns have changed, so has my perception of the perfect sleeping scenario.

Naptime with Walker is beyond what I once considered bliss. When we catch a few zzz’s, we lie down together and try to recharge our batteries. We might hold hands or snooze with our heads gently touching. And naps like today, with the rare full-body snuggles, are tucked away in my head and my heart as what is sweet and wonderful about life.