Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day 2014: The Taste of Stolen Chicken

1. Waking up at 5:00am to your shrieks and finding, as I nursed you in the dark, the entire upper right side of your body wet from urine.  In the half chambers between sleeping and waking, trying to determine how loose your diaper was and at what bizarre angle your little penis must have been at to have achieved wetness in that location.

2. Waking at 8:00, glad to stretch and roll to my side and think at least two or three thoughts before descending into the fray.

3.  The pride on Thisbe's face as she stood in her brown fleece sleeper pajamas, gesturing with outstretched hand to the three different cards she'd made for me.  Spirals of flourescent glitter on one, a hand print on another, and a drawing of her "when she is old enough to go out on her own" looking fancy in flowing hair and crown.

4. A stainless steel mug filled with a Dunn Bros. latte that Daddy arrived with at 8:15.  The way the latte stayed warm all morning.

5. Watching you take little butt scoots across Gak and Ampa's hardwood floor.  Tracking your movement by the number of floorboards you crossed.  Three.

6. Your sister, nestled into my lap (while you slept), her pointer finger (smudged with black marker) tracking below the words as she read them: "Look, Sally, look!" or "Spot can jump. Spot can jump down."

7. Daddy entering at 10:45 with roses and words of praise about uncle John's sermon (sneaking into the State Fair, something about how Jesus is the gate, how we have to be sheep that help one another)

8. Sitting at the table with Gak and Ampa and Greg and Agnes and Michael, Big Bowl take out in front of all of us, realizing that no one had actually paid for the food (Peter thought Ricki paid over the phone--she had not).

9. The taste of stolen yellow curry chicken.

10.  A walk below the warm gray sky.  Your coos and hums floating up, the breeze catching puffs from your stroller tray and sending them flying.

11.  Gak claiming that she would NOT cook today and then setting out a fruit salad with canteloupe and pineapple and blueberries and raspberries, a coffee cake that she "just wanted" to bake three days ago, a green salad, mimosas, and bread.  In addition to the stolen food from Big Bowl.

12. A beeswax candle, violets pressed to the smooth yellow side.

13. Yehwah, Agnes's friend who Gak invited to lunch because she didn't have a mother to be with.

14. Playing with you and your sister in the late afternoon at Way park.  74 degrees and sunny skies.  Your father off buying sandwiches.  I pushed you in the swing while Thisbe jumped off the side of the slide, then the jungle gym, then the stone wall.

15. And then Thisbe said, "I'm going to ride my bike without training wheels now" so Daddy took them off.  And where, two weeks ago, she had been wobbly, certain she'd fall--today she simply got onto the bike and rode, steadily, as though something inside her had righted itself.

It is such a gift, to be a Mama to you both.  This quieter truth sometimes gets drowned out by the louder truths of exhaustion and explosive poops and whining and frustration and dirty carpets and sticky refrigerators and impatient shrieks.  Mamahood is a gift.

This weekend, we had a baby shower for Auntie Martha.  In a little book we made for her, of lullabies and blessings, I wrote for her the lyrics to the song Dumbo's Mama sings to baby Dumbo.  The song comes when the Mama has been put into elephant jail and Dumbo is feeling horribly alone.  So she sneaks her trunk though the bars of the prison and rocks him against her wrinkled grey skin.

All through the summer of 2009 and again in the summer of 2013, I sang that song to your sister and to you as I walked and walked, ("Baby mine, don't you cry / Baby mine, dry your eyes") through the heat and the waiting, ("Rest your head close to my heart") so full of desire to meet you and for our time together to begin ("Never to part / Baby of mine")

September 3rd, 2009
July 31st, 2013

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Problem with Desire

Spring has been lazy and surly this week, draping us with clouds and drizzle, scattershot snow and pane-rattling wind.  The end of the semester is in sight and we're itchy to be there.  We imagine it will be a place of sun and loosening, of gin and tonics on the back porch while Thisbe collects pine cones and weeds in a wicker basket.  Our first attempt at welcoming spring was not particularly attractive.  In my head I saw my baby giggling on the green grass while my daughter drew flowers with sidewalk chalk.  Instead I got matted brown grass, a seasonally uninspired blanket, a grumpy baby, and a daughter whose high heels and leggings made her look vaguely like a cheap hooker.  Why is she trying to balance on a rake?  I don't know.  I only know that the pictures everyone else was posting of spring on Facebook looked decidedly more attractive than our best attempts.

The best part of spring so far has been your abrupt change in personality.  You've gone from solemn to salubrious, from whiny to winsome.  You giggle and smile and sing to yourself happily for at least twenty minutes every morning.  After you go to bed at night, Daddy and I often have the kind of conversations that parents of a child can only have with one another, because they are so boring and treacly that can't be shared with others.

Me: Isn't Matteus just SO cute?
Daddy:  He is.  He's adorable.
Me: Don't you just want to gobble him up?  Don't you want to INHALE him?
Daddy: I do.  I do.

We both take sips of wine and stare into the distance and I try to convince Daddy to watch another episode of "The Good Wife."

Then yesterday we took you to your nine month appointment.

You are 18 pounds, 10 ounces; 29 inches; and in possession of a ridiculously large head.  This makes your percentiles 30%, 75%, and 92% respectively.  We were feeling particularly proud because you finally mastered rolling over this week.  You're very proud of this as well.  You sit up like a champ and are well on your way toward mastering the pincer grasp.  Also, you smile and we want to eat you up.

But as the nurse and then Doctor Amy asked us questions about your development, it became increasingly clear that you're running decidedly far behind the average on a number of counts.  You don't creep or crawl.  You don't clap.  You don't say "ma" or "ba" or "da." You don't recognize the word "no" (likely because we never tell you "no" since you can't move).  You don't clap.  The doctor thought that perhaps if you're not moving more substantially in a month we might consider taking you to a physical therapist.

It is tricky when you know in your gut that your baby is healthy, lovely, and normal but there are many outward signs that point to the contrary.  It is particularly tricky when, in your secret heart of hearts, you consider the word "average" to actually mean "primate" and "below average" to mean "protozoan."

So, rationally I know that you're doing things in your own time, that babies develop at their own rates, and that I better get over my baggage so my anxiety doesn't stunt your confidence.  But actually, as per usual, I'm freaking out a little.

Not because I'm worried that you'll never crawl.  Maybe you won't.  Who cares.  Not because I'm worried you'll never walk or talk.  You will.  No doubt.  I think my real worry stems from the fact that the reason you haven't done these things doesn't have anything to do with capability but with desire.

Your sister has no issues with desire.  Sometimes I think she is ONLY desire, covered with a thin sheen of skin and Hello Kitty paraphernalia.  Your father and I, as different as we are, both have a keen sense of our own desires (professional, personal, spiritual, sexual).  But I fear that you, sweet boy, as the only second born in our family, might not be built in the same way.  You have been more content to watch than to act, to sit than to creep, to coo than to talk.

One of the cardinal sins of writing fiction is creating a protagonist who doesn't want anything.  Someone who observes but is impotent about action.  Prufrock for 500 pages.  As parents, we can teach you a great many things: how to brush your teeth and how to practice an instrument until your fingers bleed, the language needed for an apology and the tools needed to change an electrical socket.  We can model a strong work ethic and abundant compassion.  But I'm not certain that we can make you WANT.  I'm not sure that one person can put desire in another person's heart (unless one person is the smoking hot romantic ideal of the other).

I know that an over-abundance of desire can lead to unsavory things; it's not that I want you to be just like us.  It's that I hope you find things in your life, even if they're few and far between, to want so much that you're willing to work, HARD, to obtain those things.  Maybe pulling yourself over six inches of carpet or the articulation of consonant sounds or the slapping of your hands together are not particularly worthy goals.  But I pray that there will be things--ideas or people, problems or images, words or stories that fill you with desire, that will turn the engine of your heart over and over until you have no choice but to go.