Thursday, April 26, 2007

Baby Girl Kelley

She was born determined. She has always known what she wanted at any point in her life. She was my first born, and she scared me to death.

I had never been around a baby before, and here I had one of my own! In case you don’t know, babies don’t come with directions. She cried all the time, and couldn’t keep her formula down. She hated me. She was convinced she was going to starve to death, the way she wailed and screamed and gasped and hiccoughed and got all red in the face while I tried to heat her bottle. She refused to sleep more than two hours at a time. When I got up with her at night for yet another feeding, her daddy got up, too, and sat in a chair opposite us, with a couple of towels on his knees, for when she threw up everything she drank.

Strangely enough, it wasn’t the doctor who came to our rescue, but his wife. She called one day and I whined and moaned in her ear and poured out all my troubles, “She won’t sleep, she throws up, she cries all the time. She’s three weeks old, shouldn’t she be sleeping all night? Sob, snuffle, waaaaaaaaaah!” Finally, when I took a breath, she said, “You need a break. We’re going to Springfield to shop day after tomorrow. Four of us. You’ll have a great time. Your mother-in-law will take care of her for you.”

We had a fine day, shopping and generally hanging out. We stopped in Branson for dinner on the way back. Those wonderful women kept me out from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., and by the time I got home I was ready to start over. Especially after the doctor’s wife told me not to pay any attention to her husband, who had said I couldn’t start giving Kell solid food for 6 weeks. “What does he know? He just delivers ‘em.” she said. “It’s about survival – yours. Put a little cereal in her bottle, cut a larger hole in the nipple, and feed her that at bed time.”

So, as soon as it was time for Kell’s bedtime bottle, I enlarged the hole, put some cereal in the formula, mixed it up, and Kell, mommy and daddy had a good night’s sleep, at last. Thereafter, when I had a question on child-rearing, I called the doctor’s wife. She never steered me wrong.

And, guess what? Turns out, Kell didn’t hate me after all. She was just reacting to my nerves. After I got over my fright, we started having a fine time.

She wasn’t the kind of baby who would put up with being hemmed in by either her crib or playpen. She wanted to be free to roam. And, roam she did, in the middle of the night. I never knew where I would find her in the morning. I often found her curled up in the rocking chair in the living room, or under the dining table. She never liked to take naps, so the sandman had to sneak up on her, and I found her once, on the upholstered lid of her toy box, in her closet, sound asleep.

When Jay was a few months old, she started teaching him the ways of the world as she knew it. When he wanted to know something, he hollered for "Sissy", and she would always set him straight. I think she's still doing it.

She may not remember her first date. When she was in Jr. High, a boy asked her to go to a football game with him. His father drove him and I drove her, and they met at the football stadium. When I went back to pick her up, she had a big frown on her face. I asked what was wrong, didn’t she have a good time? She said she had a good time, except “he wouldn’t let go of my hand!”

She edited the high school newspaper and sang in the choir at school and church. She won a scholarship to Drury College, in Springfield, Missouri, and after two years, transferred to the University of Arkansas, where she worked at the Arkansas Press. Later, she received a masters degree from Louisiana Tech.

She met Allen at the UofA, and the more she assured me that it wasn’t serious, the more plans I made for the wedding. Right after the wedding, the Air Force whisked them away to Sacramento and I went into mourning.

She has worked off and on at various editing jobs, but things seem to go most smoothly when she stays at home. She's a natural nurturer and homemaker and her house is always warm and inviting. She's a good cook, too.

She’ll always be my “baby girl”, yet she has taught me so much. Mainly, she has taught me that you are responsible for your own happiness. Every time she has to move to a new place, she starts looking for things she thinks she’ll like about the place. For instance, in Shreveport, she got involved in the local theater group, and appeared in some of their productions. Allen was surprised, but Jay and I always knew she was a ham. I had even called her “my little Sarah Bernhardt” when she was a teen.

Kell has taught me some very valuable lessons about life. When Al was ill, I watched her draw on strengths she didn’t know she had. I admired the way she handled coping with his operations and stayed optimistic through his chemo treatments. It was during this time that I had to finally admit to myself that my little girl was all grown up.

She’s drawing on that same strength while she copes with her MS. She’s meeting the disease head on and learning everything she can about its management. It won't slow her down, because she's still determined.

My little girl. My daughter. Happy Birthday, Kelley!


susan said...

You've every right to be so proud of your girl. And I just learned all sorts of new stuff about her!

Cazzie!!! said...

My brother called me Sissy too, amazing hey.
Lovely story. Loves the fact the wife of the Doctor didn;t put up with crap and told you like it is. Fact is, too many people these days listen and read too much crap when child rearing.
I breastfeed my kids, but I still fed them solids at a young age too.
My second born, who makes my heart melt, was a shit of a baby and he never slept through til he was 4 yrs old. I tell ya, even solids never helped him!!
Happy Birthday to Kell, and you are a great Mum :)

Kell said...

Wow. I'm pretty cool, huh? I had no idea. But if I'm all those wonderful things, it's only because I have a mother who taught me, loved me, and led me.
Thank you.

her indoors said...

she's still your little girl and always will be great post

CarmenSinCity said...

GREAT POST! Happy Birthday Kell!!

Joy Des Jardins said...

Loved this post. You're such a proud mom...and should be. Happy Birthday Kelley!

Tink said...

What a great post! That was really fun to read.

Can you write one like that for me on my birthday? I mean, I know you didn't know me as a baby. But I can fill you in on the details. ;)

Chancy said...

Every daughter needs a Mom like you.

patsy said...

my first born acted the same way for the same reasons. i had taken carry of all my brothers and sisters but i could always give them to mama. no so with my own.

Anonymous said...

She is your daughter, indeed!
Sis 3

Arkansas Songbird said...

What a lovely tribute for your daughter. It was a delightful read.

Arkansas Songbird said...

Had to come back and tell you that I hope you do a post sharing your views on our former governor's good for nothing son. I'm sure you read the front page story on today's Democrat-Gazette. The Boy Scout camp mentioned in the final paragraph is two miles from my front door. I vividly remember the uproar around here when sonny boy tortured and killed the dog. Folks were ready to lynch him.

mjd said...

What a beautiful and loving post. I especially like that you pointed out what you learned from Kell, "that you are responsible for your own happiness." That is a grand lesson.

Happy Birthday to Kell

HoosierGirl5 said...

Very nice, Betty. Your kids have a great mom!

Newt said...

Awww, sniff, that was sweet. You are an entire family of good people.

grannymar said...

Betty you express your feelings very well.

Daughters are treasures and we mothers are fortunate if we have one.

Drunk Drama Queen said...

Sniff...sniff.... that was one of the most moving and beautiful things I have ever read. You inspire me....