Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Red, Plastic Ring (or Let it Go)

A blizzard whipped through Minnesota on Thursday and Friday.  Schools closed, windshields turning into blank pages, vegetation frosted and heavy, cars swishing their rear ends at stop signs.  Inside our house, wadded Kleenx on the end tables and couch arms, on top of the microwave and beside the laundry basket on the carpet.  The good news is that no one is desperately sick.  The bad news is that we all seem to have the same cold--runny nose, cough, sluggish, crabby--so at any given moment, snot is always being wiped from someone's face. 

We all went to Target today.  Thisbe rode standing at the front of the cart.  I bought a latte at the Starbucks inside and I was so incredibly happy when they offered me a small red, plastic, ring that you can attach to your cart to hold your coffee cup.  What an amazing invention.  Thank you, whomever did that.  (I also give thanks for the lovely friend who had Thisbe over for a playdate yesterday when school was closed.  And for the fact that both you and your sister are currently napping.  AND--also renewing my faith in God--for Bethel's Parents Night Out from 3:30-7:30 today.  Hallelujah.)

While I shoveled the eight inches of sow, your father took photos.  Which was especially cruel considering I only seem to have one leg.
Your sister seems to have lost all the coping mechanisms she learned over the past year.  I said she couldn't have cheesy noodles for lunch and she burst into tears.  Daddy said he wouldn't move the small IKEA table for her until she asked nicely (rather than commanding) and she burst into tears.  When she asked for a second PBJ sandwich and I told her she had to finish her hard boiled egg first she burst into tears.  (Well, actually, first she said, "FINE.  THEN I WILL MAKE THE SANDWICH MYSELF."  and I said, "OK, go ahead" and she screamed through her squinty bloodshot eyes "BUT I CAN'T MAKE THE SANDWICH MYSELF.")  Meanwhile, after not pooping for a week, you released a BM of epic proportions.  So much of it was on your back and so little in your diaper that it truly seemed like you'd released the poop out of your 10th vertebrae (T3 vertebrae?  I don't know what I'm talking about).  But I had to balance your naked body on the edge of the sink while Daddy washed your back.  And over the shirrrrr of the water and the screams emanating from Thisbe's room, the sound of the Frozen soundtrack, (Kristen Bell singing "love is an open DOOOOORRRR!!!") which we bought at Target because, well, fuck.  I give up.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


At your six month check-up you were in the 25th percentile for weight, the 50th for height and the 75th for head circumference.  You still can't (or won't roll) though you relish lifting your legs high into the air and bringing your heels down with great force.  You like to suck on the strings of my fleece hoodie.  When you nurse your upper hand is always reaching--to touch my lips or chin or hair, to feel the texture of my sweater or cotton shirt or bare skin.  You get distracted from nursing now and often fling your arm out and turn your head mid gulp to see what your sister is up to.  Your main form of communication is blowing raspberries or shrieking, you have yet to discover how to say "buh" or "ma" or "da."  You cry when Daddy or I hand you to Nanny Barb and put on our coats to leave.  You smile often but are slow to laugh.  You observe.  Measure people.  Bounce.  You still wake once a night to eat but you also devour solid foods during daytime hours; fruits are your favorites.  You tolerate sweet potatoes too, but on the three occasions I tried to feed you peas you blew them all over the kitchen.  

Perhaps most telling, especially as I think about you compared to your sister at this age (which Daddy always cautions me not to do) was your response after you bit my nipple for the first time.  Thisbe did so as well, around six months, and it took me by surprise.  I told her, rather sharply, "no!" and she released the nipple, leaned back, and gave me a huge, shit-eating grin.  When you bit and I told you "no!" you released the nipple, leaned back, stared at me in shock--and then your face crumpled into sobs.  You are far more sensitive than Thiz--loud sounds, separation, a sharp tone--all of these can move you to tears.  And also, the thing I keep forgetting to say somehow, is how incredibly smitten we are with you. In addition to all the facts I've listed above, you're also the gooey abstractions: sweet, delightful, darling, handsome, etc. etc. etc.  We love you to pieces.

February we love far less.  The weekend made me want to staple my eyebrows.  Daddy and I were home both days, all day, with both of you.  And I feel incredibly guilty that I did not enjoy that time very much really at all.  I played Eye Found It with your sister and Daddy played Legos with her; Daddy took you for a walk in your snowsuit and I held you while I stirred the boiling noodles and the bechamel sauce; I bought yogurt and a pork roast and hummus at Cub, Daddy attacked some ice dams on the upstairs widow's walk; Thisbe decided to sleep without her pull-up and promptly wet the bed; Thisbe developed a 100 degree fever and red spider veins across the whites of her eyes; Thisbe performed a rhythmic gymnastics ribbon-twirling dance while singing "Part of Your World"; you bounced in your exersaucer, shrieked or didn't shriek in your high chair, ate sweet potatoes and apples and peaches; Daddy took Thisbe sledding, Daddy took you to church; I gave Thisbe a bath, washed the sheets, folded laundry; we read Aladdin, Lions at Lunchtime, Afternoon in the Amazon; Thisbe watched Peter Pan and Daddy and I watched Sherlock and Parks and Recreation and a little of the Olympics; Daddy wrote a course proposal and I read Hass' essay on Images.  

I think my favorite moment of the weekend was the fifteen minutes where Thisbe and I lay together on the couch.  She was stroking Dog-Do and I was stroking her hair.  We were half-listening to you and Daddy playing in the next room, half watching the fan orbiting the ceiling, half enjoying the sun glancing off the snow and onto our faces, half thinking our own thoughts.  Thisbe finally said something about the globe sitting on the top of the bookshelf.  Only she didn't call it a globe, she called it "that earth ball" and I liked that.  The pale green of the walls and the red, wool tartan blanket over us.  That was nice.

I love you and Thisbe and Daddy so very much.  I am lucky not only to have you but to have had the privilege to choose this life, the one I'm in.  And I keep choosing it, every day, because it still remains the life that I desire.

But there is something about this time that also makes me want to staple my eyebrows, that makes me sometimes think, when I am alone in the car, of just continuing to drive, onward, until I reach a large body of water.  There is something about this time that makes me feel suddenly old, that makes me feel angry at the friends my age who have chosen not to have children and who suddenly look incredibly vibrant and rather smug about all the freedom they have stuffed in their pockets.  I choose this.  I choose this.  But there are parts of me, parts that like to write and run and read and sit and stare at the ceiling fan, and these parts have been put aside for the moment.  These parts are getting hungry.  Ravenous really.  

We are blessed with gobs of support.  Blessed beyond measure.  Still.  Some days I feel like I am feeding everyone and longing, desperately, to be fed.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Well, little man, I failed on my resolution to blip for the whole month of January because I was run over by the flu.  Last Tuesday I took you to the doctor because, though you were getting better, you still seemed fussy, not quite yourself.  I thought maybe you had an ear infection.  You had an ear infection.  And I could feel something coming to get me too.  Your car seat felt 50 time heavier.  I shook a little extra from the cold.  By 7pm my fever was 102.5.  From Wednesday through Friday, I only made it out of the bed to pee or to nurse you.  And on the few occasions I did venture into the bathroom, the gorgeous sight that awaited me in the mirror was not only the stringy, oily hair, hollowed eye sockets, and wan skin of an ill person but also pink eye.  In both of my eyes.

But this isn't a post about how much it sucks to be sick.  This is a post about what I want for you when you feel really sad or really sick.  Because the sickness happened.  But here is what else happened last week:

After I wrote my last fairly pathetic post about January depression, a lot of friends wrote comments about the post on Facebook (you'll now have to go find out what Facebook is).  And their words made me feel like I wasn't alone.  Then that night a friend knocked on the door out of the blue and brought chocolate cake and wine and tonic water and a hyacinth plant and a hug. Another friend sent a hilarious e-mail about how she wasn't doing too much better and had in fact just poured chocolate syrup directly into a jar of peanut butter.  After I got sick another friend who's a nurse practitioner called in a prescription for eye drops for me and our wonderful neighbor friend brought over potato leek soup and bread and butter for dinner.  Gak came to take care of you one afternoon and in the three hours she was here she also managed to do laundry, water the pants, vacuum the rugs, and make another dinner for us.  When we still needed more care for you (since the nanny cancelled), he called a retired friend from church and asked and do you know what she said?  She said, "I am so happy you called."  No long pause during which she weighed helping to care for a baby against the chances she herself might get sick--she made us feel like we were doing her a favor or something (and I am continuing to pray that she is not sick right now).  And then there was your father, who spent the last week of J-term essentially being a single parent.  Feeding you both breakfast, putting you both to bed, shoveling the 7 inches of snow we apparently received (I haven't yet been outside to confirm this), bringing me water and toast, making trips to Walgreens, and on and on.

And I know there are a lot of others out there who would have helped too.  Who would have been glad to.  So this is a post about community.  It's something I can't really wish for you since it's something you'll have to believe in enough to make happen.  So, sweet boy, even if you are an introverted boy, show up for people.  Reach out to them.  Learn the names of your neighbors.  Go to ECFE classes.  Join a church even if you're not so into God at the moment. When your friends give a reading or play a show or defend their dissertation or run for elected office or give presentations--show up.  Cheer loudly.  Have some friends who are at least 20 years older than you.  Ask them for advice.  Read the local newspaper. Call your sister.  Send her a silly e-card for no reason.  Bring your excess zucchinis to the new person on the block.  Remember to say thank you.

I don't do or haven't done well enough many of the things I just mentioned.  I've especially not been good enough at saying thank you lately.  But this week brought me to my knees.  Literally first.  Then figuratively. 

This week marked the first real moment, too, where my own care of you could not be sufficient.  You turned six months old on January 31st.  And you should know that you are being held, diapered, lifted, supported, rocked, tickled, bounced, and buoyed by many, many hands.  And I am so grateful.