Sunday, June 7, 2009
The good mother keeps track of milestones. Often, she does so in a baby book designed just for that purpose; to document the "big days," the days when her baby rolls over or sits up or crawls or walks. Yes, she scribbles it all down: those first steps, that first tooth, that first haircut. Because firsts are important. And there are so many of them. And if the good mother does not maintain a written record of these developmental steps, everything will blur together in the chaos of her mind. So, diligently, the good mother keeps a diary.
I have a big stack of baby books. They are beautifully-bound. The pages are thick and substantial. There are places to insert photos and relics. These books are all empty.
But today Baby had a first worth recording. Her first Starbucks. I took her on a solo afternoon trip around the neighborhood and we ended up at our local Starbucks. As the friendly barista handed me my change, I asked if Baby could have her very own cup. The barista smiled and handed me the smallest Starbucks cup I'd seen. Not a Tall or Grande or Venti. A Short. And when I handed it to Baby, I've never seen a smile so vast on a creature so small. She grabbed the cup. And chewed it. And waved it in the air. And celebrated.
And when Baby fell asleep in her stroller tonight as we ate dinner with my family, I took a picture of that little cup alongside her little feet. So that I would remember this day. This milestone. Those tiny toes. That smile.
And I studied the cup and saw that on the back there was a brilliant quote from novelist Alice Randall.
Mother-love is not inevitable.
The good mother is a great artist ever
creating beauty out of chaos.
And when Husband and I carried our sleepy girls back into our beautifully chaotic home, I clutched Baby and that cup. And I thought: This is what it's all about. It's not about perfectly-penned baby books. It's not about maintaining an immaculate memory. It's not even about those trademark milestones we moms jabber on about. No, it's about the relatively random stories, the unbridled joy borne from a small paper cup and a magical quote. It's about the imperfect artistry that is motherhood and the inescapable chaos that is life. It's about those masterpiece moments we couldn't forget if we tried.