This kid is 3.5 years old.
Sometimes I look back on our pictures from Mexico and the Pacific Crossing (and all the mayhem that ensued afterwards) and I marvel.
A lot of the life Lyra was born into is far removed from the reality of our lives now. While Cora has clear memories of sailing, of Rebel Heart, and of places and people in Mexico, Lyra has only the stories we tell her and the photos. So many photos.
Thanks to the digital age, we were spared losing our photos when we lost our home.
Lyra spent the first six months of her life as a lump of love, attached to my breast and with puffy hair and big eyes that quietly took in the world from the perch of my baby carrier. My heart called her 'Joy' in those days. I even mentioned to Eric, perhaps we should consider renaming her. It was joy she brought me, pure and simple.
Month seven was different. Month seven was part of the six weeks we spent in Puerto Escondido, Baja Californa Sur.
It was when we rented an apartment and had the boat on the hook while we waited out hurricane season.
Month seven is when Lyra found her lungs.
She found they worked best at night, especially right at each moment that I would fall back asleep again. Even if I slept right beside her, she would somehow sense once I'd fallen back asleep after yet another nighttime nursing session and she would shriek, splitting my ear drums and dragging me painfully back to consciousness, and back to caring for her. Over and over. All night long. For weeks.
Baja's heat was brutal. We didn't go outside really at all.
We just hunkered down, her and I, for almost six weeks as we awaited for what we hoped would be the last of the tropical storms of the season, and the freedom of being able to leave the pit that was Puerto Escondido.
Eric and Cora would walk once a day to the boat and they'd putter there. Lyra and I stayed put.
The searing heat outside matched the bond that Lyra and I formed during those six weeks of sleep regression (for her), and isolation (for me.)
We were constant companions. Quite literally, bosom buddies. Leaving Puerto Escondido, I was mentally at my breaking point, in fact, it was when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
But this post isn't about me. It's about Lyra. Our little Lyra.
Lyra Lou. Lyra Boo.
She has had many nicknames.
The first time she sucked her thumb was April 15, 2013. The only way I know this date is I happened to remember it was tax day :) The combination of her thumb and her lovey was an excellent self-soothing technique.
As long as she had those two things, and me, Lyra needed nothing more. Until one day, she didn't need me.
I remember the moment clearly. We had moved into the San Diego house (the current one we are in, after the Studio) and Lyra, Cora, and I were walking down the street to meet Eric who was walking home from work. Cora is an incredibly fast runner. She is also much bigger and stronger than Lyra. It used to drive Lyra nuts how Cora would bolt ahead, running up to the corner where she'd spin and then run back to us. Lyra couldn't keep up. She couldn't even try to catch her. Every time Cora did this, which was on every walk, every time, Lyra would first try screaming after her to, 'wait for me, Cora!' and when Cora just kept running, then Lyra would stomp her feet and throw her fists up in frustration and cry.
I'd then have to cajole her forward. 'One day you'll catch up. One day you'll be big enough. One day you will probably beat her.' And then I'd offer her my hand we'd walk together while Cora ran her back-and-forth sprints.
On the particular day I saw her not need me for the first time, we were out doing this walk and I said, again, trying to ease her pain at being left in the dust, "Lyra, do you want to hold my hand?" She had never, NOT ONCE, said no. This time though, she said,
"No, " and paused. She clasped both of her hands together in front of her and kept walking beside me. "I'll hold my OWN hand."
And that was that. That was the beginning of Lyra's very swift move toward autonomy, toward the fierce independence that we know in her today. It was about the same time that she really stopped actively sucking her thumb too. She had found an inner way to self-soothe, on all accounts.
She still loved me though. Of that I was sure. The first time Cora said she wanted to marry someone, she said she wanted to marry her daddy. The first time Lyra said she wanted to marry someone, she said she wanted to marry me.
"Mom, can I marry you?"
"That is so sweet, Lyra. But I'm sorry. I'm already married to daddy. Besides, you can't marry someone in your own family."
Lyra's expressive face and chubby cheeks frowned, signaling her distaste with this response.
"I'll marry daddy then."
"No, again, I'm sorry, but daddy is married to me, and you can't marry someone in your family."
"Okay, I'll marry Cora then."
"Oh buddy, I'm sorry. But you can't marry your sister."
Truly pained at these absolute rebuffs, Lyra sobbed, "but who will marry me?"
I hugged her. "I don't know. Maybe you will find someone one day who you will want to marry, but you don't have to marry if you don't want to."
"I know." Her jaw jutted up in defiance. "I'll marry myself."
Well okay then, Merida (and no, she hadn't seen Brave at that point.)
This is Lyra.
"I will hold my own hand."
"I'll marry myself."
"Me do it! Me!!!"
Eric and I frequently ask ourselves, "what will she do when she is older? What will she do with this inner grit? We long to be able to see her adult life and the amazing things she'll be able to do with such spirit.
Lyra marches to the beat of her own drum. I'm glad she has a family that reads Thoreau, because we'll encourage this for her whole life.
Lyra does an impromptu, interpretive dance, Palomar Mountain Observatory Campground, September, 2015
Her art is unique. It usually involves swirls, circles, amorphous shapes, and little dashes and dots. She can also focus intently on creating. I've been entranced watching her at only age two, focus on a piece of art for up to 25 minutes straight.
She worked on this piece for almost 25 minutes, not even 3 years old at the time. That's a toddler's dedication to art right there.
Lyra also loves to sing, and like Cora, she makes up her own songs spontaneously.
Lyra sings her Princess Song.
A little ditty about fish sticks.
Lyra singing her own Sunshine Song.
Being 2.5 years younger than her older sister matters not at all to Lyra. Whatever Cora is doing, Lyra wants to do.
If Cora is riding a bike, than Lyra is too.
If Cora is in a dock cart, Lyra too!
Cora playing with babies? Lyra too.
"Take a picture of me, mom!"
Does Cora want to play in the yard? So does Lyra.
If Cora dresses up as a queen, Lyra will too.
Tea party? Sure, sister.
Wanna play in a cardboard box? You betcha.
Lyra absolutely idolizes her big sister.
Now that Cora knows how to read, the awe has deepened.
"Cora, will you read me this book?"
"Cora, what does this say?"
"Cora, will you help me write a letter."
Cora helps every time.
To know Lyra, is to love her. More about the goofball that is my youngest daughter in my next post.