Sol has been on this earth for almost 11 months exactly. In her 11 short months of life, Sol has taught me more than I ever thought I could learn. She is the reason that I grow every day, the reason that I strive to be a better person. I am her role model, and her lot in life depends almost solely upon me. She sees me, she watches me, and she will want to be just like me someday. Those are mighty big boots to fill, yo.
In the past year, I've learned that I can use baby wipes to remove eye makeup and to clean the hairspray residue off the bathroom sink. I've learned to hold my breath for about 92 seconds while I'm changing what has to be the most disturbingly gross diaper in the history of the world. I've learned that babies can't have peanut butter, and I've learned what questions need to be asked before deciding on a daycare provider. I've learned that the birth certificate people at the hospital are the most annoyingly in-your-face employees there. I've learned the ins and outs of the legal system as it pertains to custody and child support. I've learned the names of the people at the Friend of the Court, and I've learned that my neighbor's dad is a family law attorney. I've learned that I need to look at the ingredients of butternut squash bisque before I feed it to my vegetarian baby because [oh yes] it contains ground chicken. I've learned to put the carseat on the passenger side of the car so that I can reach back, if need be, and give her a bottle or pacifier. I've learned to carry about 82 bags at once into the house. I've learned that you can flip restaurant high chairs over and cradle your carseat/carrier in them. I've learned that bar coasters make excellent chew toys for teething babies. I've learned that the specially-packaged Gerber applesauce is just unsweetened applesauce [don't waste your money]. I've learned that mirrors can bring a whole new level of entertainment to a baby's eyes. I've learned that anything "gender neutral" automatically leads strangers to believe your child is a boy -- regardless of how many pink accessories you have [black carseat = ohwhatasweetlittleboy!]. I've learned that you're supposed to pick a pediatrician before you go into labor.
Aside from all the practical everyday things, I've learned how to live a better life.
Sweet little Sol teaches me humility. She teaches me to put the needs of others before myself. She comes first -- in everything. She eats, and then I eat. She sleeps, and then I sleep. She shows me the value in serving others, even when it costs me or inconveniences me. She teaches me the worth of lifting others up, especially at their lowest points.
My Sol teaches me to be flexible. She teaches me the merit of putting the dishes off until tomorrow so that I can spend today playing on the floor with her. She teaches me that it's perfectly acceptable to spend all day Saturday in your pajamas, as long as that pajama-clad Saturday is spent with someone you love. She teaches me the importance of balancing things in life. Sol teaches me the infectious nature of a good belly laugh. Sol shows me that there is more to life than the daily grind; there is laughter and love and frivolity to be had. She teaches me to find lighthearted joy in the little things, and wonder in the great things. Watching Sol examine a leaf on the ground, or the frost on a window, or the grain in a hardwood floor -- this teaches me to open my eyes and realize the amazing beauty of the world around me.
Sol encourages me to respect the decisions of others, even when I don't understand them. She opens my eyes to see that everyone has his or her own story; and whether you can see it or not, every heart is breaking or has been broken, and at some point everyone needs a kind word to lift the spirit. Sol teaches me to focus on the good and forget the bad, because each fleeting day goes by far too quickly to be spent in sorrow or anger. She teaches me forgiveness, even when it's incredibly hard. She teaches me patience -- she teaches me to breathe and count to 10 when I'm clenching my jaw and I just-don't-think-I-can-take-any-more.
Sol teaches me to find peace and tranquility in the terrifying silence of dark, lonely nights. She teaches me that loneliness is only temporary; those feelings are not permanent, nor will they ever be. There is always a daughter, a friend, or a sister to pull you out of the depths of solitude. Sol teaches me that there is no such thing as being unwanted. There is always someone, somewhere, who loves and cares for you and wants you for who you are. Sol teaches me hope and faith. She teaches me that we all have a Grand Purpose, and she teaches me that prayers are always answered, even if it takes longer than we would like. Sol teaches me that everything is okay in the end, and if it's not okay, it's not the end. She teaches me that there is always sun over the horizon, regardless of whether I can see it or not. Sol has taught me bravery and courage, and to stand up for things I believe in, even in the face of impossibility. She has taught me that nothing is impossible.
Above all else, Sol teaches me love. She teaches me to fight through the doubt, the evil, the temptation to give up, and she teaches me to prove that love conquers all. Love is ultimately the thing that brings each human to life, and love will always win. Someone once told me that there is no such thing as unconditional love, but Sol has proven him wrong. Sol is on this earth because I loved her, even before I knew her, and she will never know a life without love. If my journey has been to find perfect love, I've arrived. I've found it. Sol is perfect love.