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  • Writer's pictureJoan King

Maya and her butterfly

11 week old Maya flaps her hands at a big crinkly butterfly. She’s so close to grabbing it but still can’t always seem to get her fist open. When I first got that butterfly I was dismayed at how ugly it was, but now I see it in a whole new light. The high contrast, the noises it makes - they’re all perfect for her and every day she learns to enjoy it in a new way.


When she’s awake, we rotate around the small living room in our San Francisco apartment. We play with her butterfly on the floor, then her foot piano while she sits in her bouncer, and then finally she hangs out in a rocker and looks dreamily up at a mobile of little white bears. She seems to be entertained, but I feel guilty each time that she sees the same face and hears the same things each time she’s awake. My husband and I moved to SF for work before we were even engaged, excited to be at the center of the tech scene and in a big vibrant city. 5 years later, the reality of living far from our families, our villages, is hitting us.





His family, and much of my extended family live across the country, in Maryland. Mine live up and down the West Coast, with my parents in Seattle, and my siblings in Portland and LA. Our parents came out to help us during the first two months of Maya’s life, but now that they’re gone, the distance, everyone’s schedules, and time differences make it hard for us to talk often. We’re lucky if we can find time to FaceTime a couple times a week.


It seems like an eternity until we’ll see them again at the holidays, and sad to think that after that Maya will only see them a couple times a year at best. They got to see a snapshot in time of her as an infant, but are missing her day to day development, how she can grab and hold her butterfly a little more confidently each day. Will she even like it anymore by the time we see them again? It’s hard to fathom how different she’ll be as a 6 month old.


It’s so important to us that Maya remembers their faces and voices. We want her to always feel loved by her village, even if they’re not here to play with her in person. We hung pictures of them in her room and show her them when she wakes up. We also asked them to record short video messages, which we compiled into one video and play for her throughout the day. Whenever we can we FaceTime with them, even if it’s just for a few minutes. We post stories of her on her Instagram account so they can see what new things she’s doing today.


We hope that by making an effort to bring her people to her every day, we can make sure she remembers that she’s part of a big loving family. Maybe someday she’ll think it’s cool that people followed her progress with her butterfly from all across the country.

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