I’ve heard it said that North Americans take security for granted, like Guatemalans take the weather for granted.
And I think it’s kinda true.
I’ll never forget my first year here I heard a coffee farmer, named Felipe, share his story. Sitting in the center of a group of white, idealistic college students, he shared how his life had changed since joining this coffee cooperative 7 years earlier. He shared about how he now has a stable income. How he and his wife are working together to grow, pick and roast coffee to earn an income for their family. He by no means is rich by the world’s standards, but he has stability. And in the developing world, stability is worth more than gold when trying to get out of cycle of poverty. While he mentioned things like now he was able to send his kids to school and pour a cement floor to cover the dirt that previously existed, I’ll never forget what we was most proud of:
Y ahora tenemos una puerta.
He nodded his head as if trying to remind himself that it was in fact true.
“When we had saved up a enough, I took down the piece of metal that rested over the doorframe went and bought a real door. With a lock.”
A door. With a lock.
“We slept better after that. We felt safe.”
I had never before been thankful for a door. Never even given it a second thought. I, like probably most of you, I grew up in a house with a door and a lock and an expectation that I was safe. I had never thought about what a door provides. Behind a locked door there is security, rest and peace of mind. Can you imagine for most of your life living in a place where there were not such things? Not sleeping well because you knew someone could easily knock down the corrugated metal that leans on the doorframe. Fearing that anyone, at anytime, could enter your home and take what little you had. I think sometimes those things- the fear, the insecurity and the uncertainty, are what separate the poor from the rich. Those feelings run deep and affect they way you live. I have always had the privilege and security of a door. Even now I live behind two metal doors and a wall. But just outside my neighborhood are doors like the one in this picture. Yesterday while Elena and I walked along, I snapped this picture. Wondering how my life, or her life, would be different if this would have been our front door?
If there was such a thing as the prime of your baby-ness…this would be it. You are in this incredibly fun, interactive, scootin’ and crawlin’ and pullin’ up stage, but not yet waddlin’ around the house. You are curious and observant and content as long as there is something or someone to play with. This month you learned how to take naps while in your stroller and you stopped crying whenever we put you in the carseat, and…drum roll please…you started sleeping in your CRIB at night! And going to SLEEP all by yourself! (can I getta hallelujah?!)
It’s been a big month for you, Elena.
Sometimes I worry that I am going to forget how sweet these days are with you. I take bzillions of pictures and try to send videos to our family back in the states, but there are things that pictures and video can’t capture.
They can’t capture…
the way you burry your head in my neck right after I swoop you up from the bath and wrap your turquoise towel around you.
or the way you grin and wrinkle your nose when Daddy walks in the room.
How even when your eyes are asleep, your little lips keep rooting and looking for something to latch on to.
Or how don’t sit still. You are always moving or looking, or pulling or grabbing.
Or how you squeal with delight, and maybe a little fear, every time I push you on the swing.
Before you grow up and start walking and talking and becoming a big girl, I want to remember you as my baby.
I want to remember:
-your sweet chunky thighs and the way your belly hangs over your diaper. And the wrist rolls. Oh, the wrist rolls.
-how you make kankles look so good.
-how you stare. If there was a contest for a staring game, you would win. hands down. When we take you to a new place you can lock eyes with someone from across the room and just stare them down. It’s unnerving and intense and just what you do.
-how your favorite toys are not really toys. You will search under a pillow or stand up against the couch just to find the remote or Mama’s iphone. You love Daddy’s sunglasses and cardboard paper towel rolls and straws. And you could pick grass all day long if I let you.
- how you like books, but mainly just to chew on. The truth is you are drawn to screens. TV screens, iphone screens, etc, etc. Last week you even figured out how to turn on the TV?!
-how we took you with us to the community where we work. And amidst the heat and humidity and shade of a mango tree you were the happiest I’ve seen you. Swinging back and forth in a hammock, your little bare feet poking out, watching the kids play and your Daddy work. It was one of my favorite days this month.
-how you stick out your tongue and close your eyes, when I try to sneak some guicoy into your mouth. So far we’ve learned that you’re a happier eater when you feed yourself. Which means you make a mess, but there’s not extra cooking, puree-ing, or spooning. So Mama’s just fine with that. You love apples and sweet potatoes, you’ll eat carrots and avocado and could care less about zucchini and guicoy.
-you don’t cry when you get your shots. Your abuela said your Daddy was like that, too. You most certainly don’t get it from me. I flinch just at the thought of needles. However, I think it also might have something to do with the fact that I breastfeed you while Dr. Sandra gives you the shot. I thought this was “normal” but when I asked some of our friends in the US they looked at me funny. So Elena, lucky you, we live in Guatemala, where I pull out the boob for you when you get your shots and everyone is happy.
-Some afternoons around 4pm when Mama is tired and it’s not quite bath-time, but too late to drive into town, we take a walk. Sometimes we look for the big kids who are playing soccer or running around. We stop to watch. You sit memorized in the stroller for 20 minutes, content as can be! So I pull out my phone and do emails, also content as can be Win for both of us. When there are no big kids playing we go hunting for water. You love watching our neighbors water their lawn and it’s a great day when we find a sprinkler going. In fact you seem to just really like water in general. You like washing your hands and playing in the bath and after you’re done eating, I bring a wet washcloth over to wipe off your mouth and you like that too.
Mija, you have always tried to be bigger than you are. When you learned to roll over, you wanted to be able to sit. When you learned how to sit, you wanted to crawl. And now that you’ve learned how to crawl you, you want to be up, standing and walking. Sometimes I want to say, slow down. Stay little. You’re still my baby.
For about 3 months now I have been trying so hard to figure out how to get you to nap in your crib, but this month I just accepted that for now you, you nap best in mama’s arms. So instead of viewing naps as “my time” to get stuff done, I now view naps as “our time” together. Peaceful, sweet and restful. This morning you napped in my arms, nestled against my chest, your sweaty head resting in the fold of my arm, and I just looked at you and marveled. My love for you is deep and wide and like nothing I’ve ever known before. Sometimes it still surprises me, just how much I love you.
All My Love,
I know the idea of a weekly project is to have… umm, weekly pictures & posts. But these days, I always feel a little behind, so why not combine 3 into one, right?
Week 5: My mom was visiting and I snapped this while we strolled around Antigua one morning:
We [...] Continue Reading…
The problem when you juggle too much is your bound to drop something.
And lately, I feel like I’ve been dropping things.
Friendships that I wish I could invest more in, writing that gets drafted in my head but never typed on the screen, boxes of stuff that are (yes, [...] Continue Reading…
It’s week 4 of Project 52: My Town. If you’re new here, every Tuesday I take one photo, once a week of something in my town.
Today it’s our local tortilleria. Most Guatemalans buy fresh tortillas at least once a day if not more! We usually buy them once or [...] Continue Reading…
One of the reasons I love blogging (both reading and posting) is it immediately connects you with a whole new sphere of friends. It’s like walking into someone’s home [...] Continue Reading…
Dear Mija: 7 months
I could write about how you’re on the verge of crawling and how your sweet gummy grin now has TWO tiny teeth poking through. Or I could mention how you love bath time and sticking your hands under the running water and how you’re leaning to [...] Continue Reading…
It’s Tuesday. The day where I post a picture from around my town. It’s something small, a little thing that helps me look around and notice where I live. It sometimes helps this foreign culture feel more familiar. And maybe most importantly it focuses my attention on what is [...] Continue Reading…
There’s a lot of these project 52 ideas going around the blog world. The basic idea is you take one photo a week for an entire year. I know some people are following along here, where you have different theme each week. Other people are doing a picture of [...] Continue Reading…
My word for this year is little. It’s a year about the little things.
I don’t have big plans or huge dreams for this year. Oh, of course I have writing dreams and teaching dreams and places I’d love to travel dreams and big projects that I’d love to finish. [...] Continue Reading…