I talked once before about daydreaming of becoming a stay at home mom. At that time, it was an idle daydream, and mostly because I was overstressed at work. It passed, and I returned to my default setting: part-time work is perfect for me. I've long felt that I get the best of both worlds. I'm keeping my foot in the door, professionally speaking, but I have afternoons at home with my son. Suddenly, just in the last day or so, I'm again overtaken by the desire to quit my job and stay at home full time. Except rather than an idle daydream, this feels...I don't know what, exactly. It feels so overwhelming, and emotional, and imperative to explore, that I'm taken aback by it. I suppose this will be my attempt to muddle through the feelings.
I planned to be a stay-at-home mother for most of my childhood. I'm fairly sure this had little to nothing to do with my own longings for motherhood, and mostly everything to do with the fact that my mom stayed home. Had my mother bagged groceries at the corner store, that probably would have been my goal as well.
I grew up working class, and the notion that people defined themselves through career choices seemed distant from my family's experience and, frankly, a little silly. After reading a bunch of feminist theory in college, I said to a friend of mine, who also grew up working class: I don't get why these women felt like their jobs would give them a place to develop their true identities. She replied: I know! It's my damn job that prevents me from having any time to develop my true identity! We snickered at that, but it really represents where I come from. My father has spent his entire life working at jobs he hates, so he could feed and house us. He finds meaning in his life, and develops his identity outside of his work. That may sound sad to people who do find meaning through work, but it's a basic reality for most people who work because they have to.
Then, surprise, surprise! I found a line of work that gave great meaning to my life. I love what I do. It does allow me to develop parts of my personality that would otherwise lie dormant. It was a huge surprise to me to find it, and I think part of why it came about was that I was willing to be very poor rather than do work I hated, but it did eventually come, and I really, truly enjoy what I do.
I spent the first year of my son's life saying that I didn't think I'd be a very good stay-at-home mother. I can see myself in the same pajamas three days running. That's not even a stretch to imagine. I'm not much of a housekeeper, to tell you the truth. I don't cook. And I'm often a homebody, plus we'd be pretty broke, and winter is loooooooong round these parts. For some reason all of these very practical concerns are not serving as deterrents in my mind anymore.
Time just seems so short all of a sudden. I want every minute with my baby boy. Last week I took him everywhere I went. We went to parks and libraries, stores and ice cream parlors, out on long walks, and climbing at playgrounds. We had so much fun! And now these weird.....feelings.
Except they're more than just feelings. I've been adding and subtracting numbers from our budget, interest rates on car loans, and months left until final payments, and minus gas for the work commute, and plus a bread maker so I could make homemade bread and stop paying $8 a loaf for the delicious bakery bread we currently eat, and the numbers? They keep getting closer and closer to balancing.
And what will I do if, or when, they do? The question just stops me cold in my tracks. It leaves me a little breathless. It's nothing I ever expected to be asking. I haven't the foggiest idea of how to answer it.
My baby boy wakes from his nap, comes into the living room to find me curled up on the couch with a library book, promptly grabs his own library book from a pile on the floor, commands UP! and snuggles into my lap. He reaches down to pull my blanket up to cover him too, while announcing banky!, then grasps my wrist with one hand and guides it into place so he can put the book into my hand with his other. BOOK MOMMY! he says, with both excitement and expectation (I'll admit I almost never say no to a book), and then as an afterthought adds: wata? We scan the area and see his sippy cup on the floor nearby. I leeeaaannn as far as I can to snag it with my fingers (without losing prime lounging spot on the couch), and toss it up toward him. He misses, but then picks it up and takes a long sip. Then, again: BOOK MOMMY! Just up from a nap, and the child's first instinct is to lie back down, cuddle up with a blanket, and read a book, while sipping from his ever-present water cup.
I officially have a mini-me.
I was nine days overdue, enormous, uncomfortable, and suffered from a severe case of PUP that meant I had to shower three times daily and twice during the night to keep the itching to a manageable level. It was July, and we had one room in our apartment with an air conditioning unit. I spent 24 hours a day in. that. room.
Finally, I went into labor, and the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart immediately. They stayed that way for over an hour, so we went into the natural birthing center and spent another few hours walking the halls, to dilate a sufficient amount before they would officially admit us. I spent eight hours in labor with no epidural, and then another miserable two with pitocin, waiting for an epidural. (My deal was, no pitocin, no epidural, but if you give me pit, you better bring the epidural, right quick! They didn't listen to my deal. While they managed to smuggle the pitocin into both the natural birthing center and my IV against both hospital policy and birth plan, I had to wait for a hospital transfer to get the epidural.) I spent another eight hours in active labor, then two hours pushing with no progress whatsoever, followed by a c-section and three days in the hospital.
The day after I brought my baby boy home I ran into my teenage neighbor on the sidewalk between our homes. Can I see? he asked. I pulled the blanket down from around his face, and held my hard won bundle of joy out for the teenager to inspect. He looked at the baby, then up at me, then back at the baby.
Hmmm, he said. I ain't see none of you in him.
We drive to the babysitter's house in the morning, yelling at each other. Angrily? No, not at all! We just love to yell. HEY! MOMMEH! he shouts with a grin. I shift the rearview mirror so I can gasp in mock shock, making him grin all the more, and then I holler back HEY! BABEH! WHATCHOO YELLIN' AT ME FO? We laugh and we shout all the way there.
When I pick up the toddler in the afternoon, she greets me with: He really likes being loud, doesn't he? As if to prove her point, his eyes light up when he sees me and he shouts: YAH! HA YAH MOMMEH! No karate moves to match the outburst of sound, just the loud, loud sound for it's own sake.
I come home, and tell my husband about it. I haven't taught him about an indoor voice yet, I muse. Have you learned about an indoor voice yet? my husband retorts.
Who does he look like? all the distant relatives would ask over the phone. I couldn't tell, and so I asked the other relatives, who live nearby. And they all agreed: He looks like himself.
But then my husband dug up an old album with his baby pictures, and he looked an awful lot like our son when he was a baby. He had that same button nose, and made similar expressions with his mouth. He looks different now, but there's a clear resemblance in baby pictures.
And as our son has gotten older, he's grown to look more like his father. More people comment on it. No one ever tells me he looks like me, and fewer people are saying that he doesn't resemble either of us. I figure it's only fitting; he's a boy. I wouldn't be a very good looking boy myself, so I don't mind if he looks like his daddy!
Now we tell the faraway relatives that he looks like his dad, which makes them very happy to hear, since it's mostly my husband's family that lives far away.
My sister and I are taking the toddler to the Erie Canal. We pack him in the car and he begins to sing, just nonsense words strung together to the tune in his head. We drive for blocks and blocks through the city before arriving at the on-ramp to the highway, and as I'm making the turn, I notice he's still chatting away amiably in the backseat, though neither of us has spoken to him since we started the drive.
He hasn't shut up since we left the house, has he? I ask my sister.
No, she laughs. He just loves the sound of his own voice!
I didn't work quite as much as I had intended to this week. One of my meetings was canceled, so I didn't go in that day, and we finished up faster than I thought we would on two other days, so I came home earlier than planned. This gave me some extra time to work in my yard, and I'm so happy with the results!
As with the house itself, we have a beautiful yard that was sorely neglected when we moved in. Last year during our April break, the hubs and I made a point of having coffee every morning and then again after lunch to give us enough energy to do yardwork all day long for the week. That was enough time to clear out the accumulation of dead leaves, branches and overgrown weeds, but we didn't have time to do much else. Then when summer came we had a baby who wasn't walking yet, a groundhog large enough to eat the baby (or so I feared), and a number of colonies of bees we discovered living on the property. It was also a very rainy summer, so we didn't spend a lot of time outdoors and our yard was clean, but otherwise ignored.
When we moved in, we brought with us a wooden bench I inherited from my great aunts, a stack of white plastic lawn chairs, and a couple camping chairs. We also had a hammock we received as a wedding gift, but with the yard in such rough shape, we packed it away somewhere and then couldn't remember where it was. As much as I love being outdoors, I must admit we hadn't exactly made the most of our surroundings. And the one area where I am very sensory is with decor. I love decorating; I love making my home warm, welcoming and beautiful. It's important to me that I can feel at peace when I'm at home, and I really enjoy the process of creating that peaceful space, especially in a new place, which this house very much still is, despite that we've been here over a year.
So the first thing we did this week was buy a new patio set. I drove all over town to compare prices and options, and ended up finding a terrific deal at the Christmas Tree Shop, a discount store that I absolutely love. I'm not much of a shopper, but when I shop, I love to dig for discounts! If I won the lottery, I'd still shop at thrift stores. It's the thrill of the dig, and the triumph of the deal! I got a table with four chairs, and a glider for the back porch, and brought a plastic tool bench that my son received as a hand-me-down outside to round out the space and give him a new place to play.
The wooden bench was moved down into a small, square depression in the landscape, where we also put the sandbox we filled this week with new sand, our camping chairs, including a brand new, teeny tiny one for the toddler, a big umbrella in it's base to block the afternoon sun from our eyes, and our hammock, discovered in a box in the basement, now hanging in the corner of the yard, from two fence posts. Sitting on the deck I can look down at the brick red bench and matching red umbrella in it's pale brown base, the bright green turtle sandbox, sand spilling over it's edge, the camping chairs of sun-bleached orange, army green and royal blue, and the hammock woven of deep green and yellow, hanging over clusters of purple forget-me-nots. All the bright colors paint a scene of summer and family, of such life in our yard, and it makes me so happy to see!
My hubby got a wheelbarrow full of curvy landscaping bricks from Freecycle a number of months ago, with no particular project in mind, so I used them to circle the cedar tree next to the deck, and we'll cover the ground inside with mulch, rather than the patchy moss that was the only thing that would grow in it's shade. Trees and bushes are beginning to flower and bud all around the perimeter of the yard, and the hostas that sprout along the front fence line started poking through the soil this week. I've been digging in the dirt, and dragging bricks and rocks through stubborn tree roots, trying to form circles and ovals to best surround the trunk, and stopping to wonder at wildflowers, and digging my toes deep into sand while my toddler plays in various stages of undress rubbing sand on his belly like it's bubbles in a bath, and I feel like a kid in a magical garden that's mine, all mine, to plan and to plant and to grow.
Each morning I sit on the deck with my big mug of coffee, milk and honey, choosing the seat with the best access to the sun, and I look around and smile, and think: what's next? Every day is a grand adventure. And my paycheck is going to be short again in two weeks. *Sigh* I've long had a feeling that my paycheck is destined to be perpetually short. I can't help it. I do love my job, but I keep getting sidetracked on my way into the office. Can I call in sidetracked by a grand adventure? If I can't get paid sick days, can I at least call in Spring?
I think I'm mostly an introvert, although not completely. Being alone tends to energize me, whereas being with lots of people tires me out. And I can go long periods with little social interaction and be fine, whereas I can't go long periods without alone time and still feel sane.
Currently, my social needs are met through family and coworkers, and I seldom to never hang out with actual friends. I'm fine with this set-up for the time being, although I do miss my old friends from high school and college, and jump at the chance to spend time with them when I can, which usually necessitates travel. Fortunately, I'm able to catch up with many of them via facebook. And my introverted side thinks that social media, especially facebook, is perfect for the introvert! Here's why:
You're mostly friends with people you already know from previous points in your life, so you don't have to meet new people, which is (to me) one of the most exhausting parts of socializing. Granted, there are those few "friends" who you only accepted because they clearly graduated from your high school, the year you graduated, and you felt bad enough for having no memory of them whatsoever, so you accepted their friend request, despite the fact that they're effectively total strangers. But for the most part, you already know the people you're facebook friends with.
You don't have to get dressed up (or even dressed!), or leave the comfort of your living room to see what people are up to. And, yes, I know, I know, it's probably good for me to get dressed in nice clothes once in a while for something other than work, but yoga pants? Hoodies? C'mon! Am I the only one who walks in the door and beelines right to the soft cotton happiness that is loungewear? Enough said.
Everything happens on your schedule. Nobody's late, and keeping you waiting. You're not the late one, keeping everyone else waiting. You're not going to miss the baby's "window" of hang out time and feel a crushing sense of disappointment that your only chance at social hour is ruined. Better yet, when you've had enough of people, you can make everyone leave your house immediately with the push of a button. No awkward scenes where you make up excuses explain why you need to leave the get together early, or sit glumly on your couch wondering when everyone else is finally going to leave. I've spent years wishing I could make people disappear with the push of a button, and now I can!
If people are boring, you can simply ignore them. Never comment on a single boring thing they say, and that's not considered rude. If they're offensive, you can even block them from your entire existence and they'll never know. Now, if only this option could somehow be expanded to apply to family reunions...? I think I'm onto something good here! Millions in the making!
You get to learn about the customs and holidays of other socio-cultural subgroups. For example, I hadn't realized today was a special holiday to celebrate the pot-smoker. But facebook knew! And it told me all about it. And then others, apparently suffering under the tyranny of a greater number of stoned and outspoken facebook smokers than I, jumped in to scold the 420ers for their sensimilla oversharing, admonishing them to shut up already, smoke in silence, or abandon the herb all together. Now I can consider myself educated on this controversial new holiday, without having to share any of my snacks with in-person tokers seeking munchies.
I swear, despite my introversion and selfishness with snacks, I do like people. Mainly from afar, but in theory, people are nice and awesome! And especially when they come with on, off and mute! Yay for social networking! And happy 420 pot heads! Although I'll not be joining your celebrations today, I've logged enough couch time in sweatsuits to feel a kindred spirit with your lackadaisical ways! I raise two fingers to you, in the age old sign of peace. And then, even better, I roll over and close my eyes, in the age old sign of nap. No worries, I'm not missing a thing. Facebook can catch me up whenever I awake. As an introvert, all this talk of socialization requires me to recharge!
This might be a rant. I am attempting to avoid a rant, so that I will not be known, subsequent to this post, as the crazy food-hating lady. Sometimes, deep inside, I feel like I might be the crazy food-hating lady. Other times I am absolutely sure I am the crazy food-hating lady.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a sensory person. I'm cerebral. I like to live inside my head. I am often incredibly oblivious to the environment surrounding me, and it takes great effort to tune in and pay attention to my senses. I don't think this is a better way to be; I don't think it's worse. It just is.
Food, obviously, is a sensory experience. Shopping, preparing, eating: all involve the senses, seeing and touching and smelling and--needless to say--tasting. Menu planning, on the other hand, is more cerebral, involving listmaking, comparing, contrasting and planning. Menu planning is my only assigned chore in the arena of feeding our family, and is the only part of food management that I find even tolerable. Besides eating, of course, which is enjoyable, but certainly not worth all the work it entails to get there. When I'm hungry, it's not that I want to eat. It's just that I want NOT to be hungry anymore. If there were a quicker way to get there, I'd take it.
When my next-youngest sister went away to college, she studied environmentalism at a hippie school out west and was exposed to a host of new ideas, some enlightening and some just plain weird. On a summer visit home she told me of a man she had read about who existed on no food whatsoever, just vitamins and herbs. He had determined the exact mix of nutrients the body required to operate and took only these each day. As she told me about him, I couldn't tell if she approved or disapproved of this approach. I was hoping she disapproved, because if she approved, it meant she had gotten too weird out in hippie land. Much to my relief, she disapproved. But over the years, I've found myself thinking with longing about this man and his unorthodox approach to nutrition. While I doubt that it's ideal for the body, which after all was designed to eat food, not pills, I'm envious of the simplicity of popping pills each day with nary a thought to what's for dinner. Think of all the time he saves!
I eat the exact same breakfast every day. Vanilla yogurt, 1 cup, with a quarter cup of granola, same brand, same flavor. For the whole first year I lived with my husband I made smoothies each morning, rinsing the blender immediately afterward and leaving it upside down in the drying rack to await the next morning's use. Another year it was a bagel with peanut butter and orange juice. Do I tire of my formulaic morning meal? No, I do not.
I eat the same lunch every day too, although it varies slightly with the seasons. From April through about October I eat salad. Sometimes I alter the ingredients, but it's typically composed of lettuce, tomatoes, grilled chicken, feta cheese and grated carrots, with Italian dressing. At times I add avocado, or a variety of fresh berries, but for months on end I'll eat the same salad every day.
From October through April, the months when the lettuce tastes terrible in Upstate New York, I eat soup. My husband cooks large batches of a variety of soups, and I freeze them in single serve tupperware containers. Then we keep back-up servings of fresh soup from the grocery store, canned soup, and Ramen noodles. While I don't mind eating the same salad every single day, I've found I need variety in my soup. However, despite the obvious superiority of homemade and fresh soup, or even canned, to Ramen, I find myself choosing Ramen surprisingly often. I know exactly why this is. I have to think about the other kinds more often: earlier in the week to put it on the grocery list, or earlier in the day to take it out of the freezer to defrost. Ramen requires no forethought and almost no preparation: 5 minutes in the microwave and it's good to go. I cannot overstate my deep hatred of thinking about food. The closer my daily meal plan resembles an assembly line, and works like a well-oiled machine, the better.
I eat very little processed food. Probably sounds surprising, given my dislike of food preparation, but I don't. I have a tendency to binge on processed sugary foods, so I just don't buy them. I don't fad diet (South Beach is the only diet I've ever done, or spent a dime on. I bought the book, did the first week, and never looked at it again.); I pretty much don't diet at all. I like to eat whole foods, in season, the less prep the better. A raw food diet sounded like heaven to me because I thought it involved just eating raw food. When I found out there were recipes and prep involved, I lost interest. In a similar vein, when I read about people who claim to live on air alone, I wished I could believe them! Alas, my skepticism won out and I never gave breathatarianism a shot. Intuitive eating sounds to me like the best "diet plan," but it involves paying attention to food, and that's exactly my problem. I find food to be intolerably boring. I took an intuitive eating seminar once, as part of a fitness conference I attended. We had to very, very slowly chew a hershey's kiss while paying close attention to the taste, texture, and sensory experience of chocolate. I found myself thinking that I'd sooner never taste chocolate again than have to think about it so damn much! I'd choose a chef over a housekeeper any day. I don't much like cleaning, but it's never put me into a fury of frustration. Twenty minutes in the kitchen is a living fucking hell. Scrubbing the bathroom is only purgatory.
Imagine, if you will, conversing with the following well-meaning fellow on a regular basis:
Fellow: So what socks are you wearing?
Fellow: What socks are you wearing today? I'm wearing grey sweat socks, with a small navy band around the ankle. Comfortable and sporty. What about you?
You: Um, white.
Fellow: Oh. What socks do you want to wear tomorrow?
Fellow: What socks will you wear tomorrow? It's Sunday, so you'll want something to match your outfit. We should think about what you have planned for the day to be sure your sock selection makes sense. In fact, we should really think about all the socks you might need this week. We might need to go sock shopping! It's spring now, so you'll want some ankle socks for the warmer weather. Have you looked in your drawers lately to see what's in there, sockwise? Do you have a variety of colors? What about organic cotton? Are any of your socks organic cotton? I've heard organic is superior. And there's texture to consider. Are your socks soft enough? Should we go right now, and compare softness between various brands of socks you have on hand? That way we can plan what socks you need to buy to ensure a balance in your weekly sock rotation. Oh! The Sunday paper is coming tomorrow! There will be circulars with sock sales! We can spend 728 hours looking at the Sunday circulars for sock sales and maybe save 27 cents! We could google dress socks right now to see what new styles are out! Want to make a list of different sock possibilities to go with every outfit you've ever owned or may ever own in the future? I have a cooksockbook with gorgeous photographs of a variety of sock options, and I just stumbled on this website about how to make your own socks from scratch, or darn holes in your socks when they're worn. Wanna see it? You know what would be really cool? If we could grow our own cotton, and then use it to make our own socks. Man, I love socks. They are just endlessly fascinating. Don't you agree?
You:*Banging your head on the nearest wall, and praying for a quick loss of consciousness*
************************* That's my husband and I, talking about food, from my perspective. Because every bit of how cerebral I am? He's that sensory. And guess what he loves? Yep. Food.
Tonight I'm on my own for dinner. And I hear a carrot and a glass of water calling my name. If I want to get buck wild and go all gourmet I'll dip that bad boy in some peanut butter. No fuss. No muss. No dishes or discussion. Precisely my kind of meal!
I wouldn't last a month without him, would I?
I'd totally be the crazy, food-hating lady whose toddler ran off to live in a pizza parlor after a week of raw food without preparation, and who later became the first known fatality and only victim drawn in by a roving cult of breathatarians. In the interest of avoiding that certain fate, I'm off to make our weekly menu plan while munching on my carrot. I might even whip up some ranch dressing. After all this tedious talk about food, my culinary gifts have surely expanded! Which means I just might be capable of making ranch dressing with mayonnaise and a mix. God, I hope the directions are right there on the packet. Fuck it; I can already tell it's getting too complicated. I'm going to have that carrot plain.
So I suckered one of my yoga classes into being guinea pigs for my ultimate workout. They're a group of middle aged women, and we've been working out together for over five years. I talked it up, emphasizing the yoga-pilates connection, and de-emphasizing the ultimate ass-kicking part of things, and then let them vote on whether or not we would try it. It was a unanimous yes. Bwa ha ha! I laughed to myself My evil plot will prevail! I will get paid to bust my ass into shape! These women don't know what they're in for!
I came home and typed up a lesson plan, compared muscle groups used in strength training versus yoga moves to ensure a full-body workout, found a suitable musical selection. Pretty much everything short of actually doing the workout myself.
The following week we did the workout. They loved it!
My son loves my hair. He always has. Even as a newborn, he would reach out with his tiny fist, grasp a handful of my hair, and draw it down to tickle his face with the ends. It probably would have been cuter had he stuck with that. Unfortunately, he moved on to eating it. Yes, he pulls handfuls of my hair into his mouth and chews on it. I know it's weird; it's even gross. But I don't have the heart to stop him when I see how much happiness it brings him to eat my hair (sans swallowing, I should point out. Just enthusiastic chomping). Hey, it's dead cells, right? What else am I going to do with it (besides, oh, maybe, style it and not have it look like the end of a wild animal's tail?)? And he really, really loves it. Sometimes he tells me, as he reaches back to grab a fistful from the nape of my neck: Mommy hay-yuh! It's nice!
He's been a terrible, terrible sleeper for the past week. Does NOT want to go to bed, does NOT want to go down for a nap, and wakes up after only an hour, instead of his usual three. Last night I even tried bringing him into my bed, out of sheer desperation because I was exhausted and knew I wouldn't be able to sleep through the incessent: Mommeh! Mommeh! Mooommmeeehhh! that he had been calling from his crib for an hour already. I see persistence will be one of his strong suits later in life. *Ahem*
So I brought him into bed with me, hoping that he (and I) would fall asleep quickly (he had already fallen asleep in my husband's arms, then mine, but awoke as soon as we approached the crib in both cases, and did NOT fall back asleep when we left him there) and that my husband could transfer him back to the crib when he came to bed. Instead, we enjoyed the following: He sang the ABC song to me. Hush, I replied. He sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. Shhhhh, sleepy time, I replied. He told me he was a monkey, and began to climb on me, making monkey sounds, interspersed with the words: Monkey! Climb! I told him he needed to lie down and go to sleep right now. He lunged to his feet, stretched his hands above his head, and announced, in a booming and decidedly non-bedtime voice: I A TOWER (TOW-UH)!!! Then he belly flopped onto my increasingly frustrated form and burst into laughter. I believe it was right around this time that I called his father from the living room and asked him to take one more crack at this bedtime thing.
And as my son was carried, crying, from the bed, realizing his days of song, monkeying around and towering were over for the evening, was it his loving mother he cried out for? Well, kind of. His last words before being dispatched to his own bedroom for the final time last night were: MOMMY HAY-YUH! I WANT MOMMY HAY-YUH!
Every day since Monday I have intended to post. I swear, I have. There are a few saved drafts, an idea or three that weren't captured quickly enough and seem to have run off to Mexico to loll in the sand (or maybe they were murdered by drug lords; either way they don't appear to be coming back to me), random pretty turns of phrase that never quite went anywhere, and whole mess of fragmented thoughts that can't make it out of my head and onto this goshdarned computer screen.
Well, at the risk of grossing you out entirely, the short--and true--answer is that they are drowning in the sea of mucus that is my head. Every thought I have, every word I speak, every attempt to impose cohesive narrative upon this messy muck that is life, is struggling mightily to swim through a sticky vat of snot to reach the outside world. And mostly, they are failing. My ideas ain't got nothin' on my sinuses this week. Sorry 'bout that. I am sincerely hoping to rejoin the world of regular posting, as well as nasal breathing, ears that hear and don't pop, and a brain that thinks quickly, like moving through air, rather than v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y slowly like swimming through molasses, very, very soon. Yesterday would work for me, although the cruel gods of allergies, sinus, and vengeance upon my poor soul do not seem to agree.
I've already sacrificed several potentially beautiful posts to these gods, not to mention countless minutes of work time while I suffer silently, staring blankly at my computer with my box of kleenex, weighing the benefits of leaving early to go home and sleep while my son is at the babysitter's against the cost of hours subtracted from my next check but not the babysitter's payment. Alas, I have stayed at work every day, although at what good to anyone I can't imagine.
If you've heard underground tales of successful sinus removal surgery, please let me in the secret scoop! After this winter I would gladly give up my sense of smell (after all, I haven't experienced it much anyhow), in return for freedom from the achy head and disgusting drainage of the past few months. Perhaps sinuses are like tonsils? If I were only rid of them I would not miss a thing but the suffering they have caused? One can only hope. And, in the meantime, sleep. Which is what I'm going to do now. I wish you nasal passages, clear and dry, and thoughts with unfettered access to air, so they may bloom into sentences, paragraphs, and even posts. Perhaps I will dream of such a paradise! Goodnight, all!
I used to make lists before I traveled. What I would wear each day, accessories and shoes for every outfit, a separate list of toiletries, and maybe another one of reading and writing materials. I'd pack by the list before leaving, and pull it out again to make sure I had everything I'd brought with me before returning home. I love lists, and have been known to write things like: get up on my to-do list, just so I could check it off right away. Making lists is also a way to feel some semblance of control. Travel is notoriously difficult to control, full of surprises and apt to disrupt the most smoothly laid plans. Controlling small things is perhaps my way of maintaining calm in the midst of chaos. Now my lists include things like car friendly toddler snacks, infant tylenol, and an abundant supply of diaper wipes. Listing outfits for a variety of occasions with matching shoes and accessories seems like a silly bit of nostalgia; just thinking about those lists makes me feel young.
But parenthood, I think, is better when I embrace the chaos, rather than constantly struggling to keep it at bay. I'm always trying to walk the thin line between planning, organizing, listmaking, controlling, creating the environment I want for my boy, and letting go to leap into the unknown and follow him where he wanders, honoring the spark of divinity alight in his little soul, standing back and allowing it to grow even (or especially) when it's messy.
Last night I was dreading the trip we're taking for Easter weekend. It was looming before me, a list from hell: loads of laundry, boxes of spring and summer clothes to find and organize so we could pack for the sudden hot spell that's forcasted for the weekend, a naptime to coordinate with driving time, a doctor's appointment in the morning for my husband who's hoping to alleviate the sinus headaches he's been suffering from for weeks now, a trip to the park that seemed increasingly unlikely, and a growing bitterness at all the tasks that would be required of me before we could leave for our trip.
I woke up early this morning and put on a pot of coffee. When it was ready I asked my husband to sit outside with me on the deck while our son played in the yard and we sipped coffee. I watched the morning sun beginning to glow brighter in the sky, felt the air warming around us, and made a decision that is almost always the right one: I decided to chill. When my husband left for the doctor's office, I packed my son in his stroller and we went to the park, putting last things first, not thinking or worrying about laundry, organizing, packing, or coordinating schedules. We spent the morning climbing and sliding and swinging and playing with a puppy who came to visit the park with her owner. I brought a yoga book I've been meaning to peruse and a small notebook to write down ideas to include in a new class format I'm trying out on Monday. We spent a couple hours together enjoying the early April sunshine.
When we got home I pulled out a basket of summery clothes my sister gave me that I haven't taken the time to try on and put away yet. I plucked out a shirt for today, and a dress for Sunday. I scurried up to the storage area behind the attic wall where all the off season clothes are stored. Rather than unpacking and organizing everything, I simply poked through until I saw things I thought would work for this weekend. Then I spotted a large, brightly colored purse that I got as a birthday gift some years ago, and haven't used much since. It looked perfect for Easter. I did the same thing for my son, leafing through clothes with no plan in mind, grabbing whatever looked good, and then tossed it all in a couple of bags. I did no laundry; we didn't coordinate the drive with naptime; spring and summer clothes are exactly where they were before, only messier. But we made it to the park, and we played in the sunshine, and I saw the joy in my boy's eyes while he watched a giant puppy run and jump in the grass. And you know what else? Packing without a list? Tossing accessories and shoes haphazard into brightly colored bags with barely a thought to organizing? Preparing for travel with nary a list? It made me feel young.
Prefers sitting to standing. Prefers lying down to sitting. Prefers daydreaming to almost anything. Requires coffee to achieve basic, everyday life tasks. Possesses an almost supernatural ability to chill. Moves at the speed of light for the amount of time it takes caffeine to travel throughout bloodstream, achieving monumental tasks such as: tidying living room, and starting the laundry. Resumes chilling immediately upon drug exiting the system. Waiting wistfully for the day when reading a book results in a clean house and mattress testers are finally paid what they are so clearly worth.