I'm not sure if you think nursing is a competitive sport, or if you think you ought to be accomplishing more than one thing at a time. If that second things is to cause me pain and exhaustion than kudos, I believe you have this multi-tasking thing down already.
So here's a newsflash for you darlin', I know you're just a baby and don't know this yet so I'll fill you in. NIGHT TIME IS FOR SLEEPING! I know, it's totally shocking, but really it is. You should be sleeping right now, not wandering around on the floor looking sweet and following me around with your eyes forcing me to meet your gaze so you can flash your adorable grin at me.
Your post midnight climbing episode has resulted in you being completely awake and quite happy about it. Your daddy and I may never have s*x again. So shut up and go to sleep at nights if you want any more siblings.
This is totally turning into a baby blog.
Goodnight, I hope.
There is a little boy named CJ who lives with the would be musicians. It’s a big Filipino family in that little apartment, his uncle and aunt and mom and one or maybe two babies. He looks sometimes as though he’s lost in the shuffle. The first day he was here, he found his way into my house to play almost instantly and my husband asked him some innocent questions about his dad. “My dad doesn’t live with us because he doesn’t work and has no money.”
The GH responded with characteristic compassion and said, “You must miss him huh? I know I would miss my dad.”
CJ gave him a half nod and a brave chin tuck in response at which point I think the GH adopted him in his heart. He comes here often, showing up without notice, and disappearing just as quickly. He performs bigger than life Broadway style tap dances for the Baby whenever he sees her looking his way. He brings out his brand new toys to show to the other boys, and then slinks away when they start playing with the toys instead of him, his ready smile replaced by a carefully guarded look that hides whatever hurt or disappointment he is feeling.
Two nights ago I volunteered to bring him swimming with us. We always go and he always watches wistfully as we walk away. I figure it must be hard being the only kid surrounded by busy grown ups and babies so I invited him along. He waited for an hour, nearly bursting with excitement. He brought with him two masks, one to share with the Boy and one for himself. He was easy to watch and fun to have with us.
The next night the Boy asked if we could invite his friend over for dinner and I agreed. As I got dinner ready the boys played together with CJ outside, all of them running in and out over and over again. When we sat down to dinner CJ kept hopefully popping his head in around the perpetually open front door, laughing and smiling and being silly for those sitting down for dinner. I didn’t send him away, but I found myself hoping that he would get the point soon and go home so that we could eat in peace. He eventually did.
Later that night as I was cleaning up I saw the one piece of leftover fish sitting there on the plate, uneaten, and not likely to keep. Remorse kicked me in the stomach as I realized that it should have been CJ’s. Opportunity was banging on my door every time he popped his bright face in through it, and I had slammed it shut. I have it in my power to help a child feel less lonely. It wouldn’t be all that hard for me to include one more in the crazy mix of kids that we have here, especially such a quiet and unassuming one. But what it might mean to him…I resolved right there that the next time he pokes his head through our door I’ll be inviting him in.
You can't talk yet, except to say, "muumumumumumumummmmm," or "dadadadadadadadadada," but you have perfected the use of the raspberry. You use it the way grown ups use cuss words, with great vehemence. If you wake up in the middle of the night and you are not happy about it, you sit up and go, "BTHHHHHP!!!" over and over again before breaking into a wail. You also use it when we take away something you think we should let you eat, or we stop you from going places. You tell us off by yelling, "You bthhp and bththp and bthhping bthhpers."
I have not had such a content baby. You spend hours just quietly hanging out on the floor and I sometimes forget that you are awake because you're so quiet. That happens most often when you find table scraps to chew on. Your not at all impressed with the rice porridge and bananas I'm feeding you. You've been supplementing your diet with spicy black bean and chili chicken, cheese, dog food, spicy ground beef and rice noodles. All found under the table before I have a chance to clean up. You have now figured out that you siblings are the messiest eaters and so you will wait under the table while they eat, like a dog, and pounce on the morsels that fall from their forks. Yesterday it was whole cheese tortellini that you managed to swallow before I could fish it out. I'm thinking we need a dog, just to give you some competition.
I love that your hair is starting to turn red. I was born with red hair and I like the idea of having a mini me around. Finally a baby that looks like me. It's as fascinating as having children who look so different.
Other babies that come to visit us and like to just flop on the floor are falling victim to your relentless energy. You like to crawl up to them and kiss them, though it looks like you're trying to bite their chin off, and then you pet and pull and try to stuff them into your mouth whole. Perhaps you mistake mauling people for affection because that's what your sister does to you all the time.
You are always happy, always bright-eyed, and full of life. Your daddy has nicknamed you Squinty, because if you opened your eyes open any wider they might fall out. Don't worry, you'll understand sarcasm when you're older. He's constantly saying to you, "Don't squint so much, open your eyes a little more." You have no idea what he's saying, but he's talking to you so you stare at him wide-eyed, and smile, and bounce on your knees in appreciation while saying, "Da!".
You're fun to have around. I love you.
*I've been trying to take a standing picture to share, but my camera is too stupid slow to capture it yet. I'll post later if I get one.
I take you to the rocker and you nestle into the sling seeking sweet milk, the comfort of familiar scented skin, and breath, and heartbeat. Tonight it isn't enough. You fuss, you struggle against me, against the heat, against your own tired body that wants to melt into me.
We move outside into the sweet night air. It is cooler here and you stop crying. I find my way in the dark. Every star seems visible. A wooden swing is tied to one of the branches of the fruitless mulberry tree. We sit on it and gently push off, you tied tight to my chest by the sling. Your wide eyes stare into the dark night. One or two stars twinkle through the leafy dome that encircles us. Crickets and frogs sing you lullabies. Somewhere a screech owl calls and we float, suspended in the breeze.
The tree moves with our weight, swaying and rustling as though caught in an invisible storm. You rub your sleepy eyes with your fist and lay your head on my shoulder. I rest my face against your hair and breathe in the sweet cinnamon smell of your head, and swing, and breathe, and swing. A white kitten is stalking my dangling feet. She crouches, tail twitching, ready to spring. The dogs have formed a ring around us on the ground, quietly laying their bodies between us and the mystery of the night.
I hear rhythmic snoring from you grandfather's bedroom. A gift of sleep to one who finds it so elusive. You took your first breath in that room. You made your peaceful entry into quiet candlelight and warm scented water, and joy. Your roots are here. Just as surely as this tree's are.
My thighs are aching now as I balance on this narrow plank of wood. The hard corners dig into my flesh. You murmur and burp and then lay your head down once more. Sleep has at last overtaken you, but I keep swinging, willing time to stand still for just a while longer, I don't want this moment to end.
However, that is all changing today. No I'm not registering this blog with adsense.
You see, the Genius Husband has just purchased himself a business. It's a full service travel website. The prices are very competitive, and you can do everything from book plane tickets hotels rental cars and cruises, to send flowers and purchase cars through it. The customer service is guaranteed. And well, since it's good for us if a lot of people use it, and since it is a fantastic site, I'm telling you all about it. And I'm putting up a button in my side bar, which took me a whole hour to learn how to make, good thing it's simple. Oh, and they have 24 hour passport service. I haven't tried it yet, but that would be something wouldn't it?
So, if you are planning a trip of any sort would you mind clicking over there first and checking the prices, and then bookmarking it for future use, and then maybe even telling your friends and family about it? I would be ever so grateful, and you would be very happy too I'm convinced.
Oh, and if you want to learn how to get one of these nifty sites for yourself you can click over to saphirevacations.biz to find out.
We will return to our regular programming shortly. Please forgive this brief interruption.
Signing up for motherhood is like AGREEING to cheerfully become a complete loon for the rest of your span on earth.I have got to get my hands on one of Joshilyn's books sometime and read it, because I laugh every time I read her blog. And they are best seller's and she's like famous or something. (Gotta make another Amazon order, and find time to read.)
Only she would weave motherhood and learning to shoot a gun into one single post.
Historian's tell us that this was a standard way for a woman to send her husband off to battle in Sparta. To tell your husband to die or win, to never surrender was part of the culture. I don't imagine Spartan women were all that different from us in essence, I imagine that they were a bit stronger though. I know if I was sending my husband off to a dangerous situation, however necessary I deemed it, I would hover, I would pine, I would say things like, "Be careful, don't die, come back to us safely, we need you." I think I would be a hindrance, I think I would make it hard for him to concentrate on what he had to do.
This idea caught hold a little further when I watched The Unit. Another fictional portrayal of military life, but what caught me was the women in the show, the women who went through things like near attacks and rapes and swindles and bore it all quietly because they didn't want to distract their husbands, because those distractions might make the difference between whether their husband came home again or not.
I know some military wives. Where I live, they are my neighbors, my friends. I know women who gave birth to their first baby while their husband was deployed. I know women who have
been single parents for more than a year, subsisting on letters and phone calls and taking care of everything by themselves. They are very strong women. They have to be. I watch their husband's worry and fuss in the month's before they are deployed, making sure that everything is the way it should be at home so that their families are taken care of while their gone, and I see these women standing up and taking charge of their lives and futures and making plans for the long term, and possible tragedy.
In my never ending quest to understand what is feminine strength, I watch these women and I think that they might be on to something. After all, it's hard to run a household, keep things going seamlessly, or not so seamlessly, often earn an income, and teach nurture discipline and raise children. It takes a lot of work to serve, to anticipate needs, to be kind to those closest to us. It requires organization, administration and multi-tasking abilities to keep house. Especially the the more tasks that are done from scratch; sewing, bread making, knitting, homeschooling, etc. It requires creativity, ingenuity, and discriminatory ability to make life comfortable and even pleasant on a budget. This requires strength and grace, intelligence and discipline, and a cheery demeanor goes a long way to making it all more pleasant.
What I wonder is how these arts ever came to be denigrated by woman in general, and even despised. This is hard work people, this requires strength and character, and that's whether you stay at home or work and come home, making a home is a difficult business that must be learned and practiced in order to succeed. (Something they don't tell girls or boys at school.)
I know women of strength and character who can keep this all going with a smile. They don't
complain, they don't whine, they don't lean on their husbands for strength and assistance with things that, however unfair it feels, end up being their job. They are independent, they are able to make major and minor decisions, they are equals in their partnerships. What I've realized recently is that this is a distinctly feminine way of being strong. As in those movies I watched, this strength and independence frees the men in our lives to be men, to do the work they have to do, and even some of the play that they enjoy and they think is silly. Just like they think spas are silly, or any of our other girlie get-togethers. In a way I think if we want the men in our lives to treat us with respect it's a good idea to be someone that we would respect as well. When we are weak and whiny it's a drag on our husbands, our relationships in general, and our children. It keeps all of us from reaching our full potential.
I have huge respect for those military wives I know who every day live with the possibility of being alone, or are alone, and rise to the challenge. I don't think there is any reason why I or any one else couldn't rise to the same challenge, couldn't find the strength to live the way they do, and stop complaining about the fact that I have it pretty good.
This living gratefully thing is difficult for me. But I've been inspired. I hope it inspires you too.
So yesterday I was calling the last people on the list to make sure they knew about it, and trying to think of anyone that we'd forgotten. My morning went like this.
Pick up phone and head to computer to get phone number.
Put the phone down and rescue small choking size item from baby's mouth. Pick up baby and move her to a place where she can't so easily find breakfast crumbs.
Look for phone.
Stop to tell child who is playing with the baby too exuberantly to stop. Pick up baby who is now crying. Nurse for a while to comfort her. Completely forget about phone call.
Head over to computer, remember phone call. Look for phone again.
Answer 50 million kid questions while looking for phone.
Find phone. Make a mad dash for the computer to avoid interception. Success, make phone call.
Get off phone and put out several small fires, deal with arguments, realize they need lunch.
Go to kitchen and look for lunch food.
Go to bath room to wipe the Girl's bum.
Pick up tired crying baby who needs a nap NOW!
While trying to get the baby to sleep two friends come peeking in at the window. Allow children to run off to the playground with their friends. Decide this is a good time to check the mail and grab keys to follow. Talk to another grown-up at the playground for a few minutes. Get mail, head to leasing office to pick up a package. Drag package, mail, the now sleeping baby and children back to the house.
Put baby down in bed, with the ever so helpful screams from the Girl of MOM, MOM, MOM, in the background. Soothe baby who wakes while hissing at her to be quiet.
Go out and make lunch.
Feed children. Head back to the computer.
Phone rings. Answer. Yes we would love to go swimming with you when the baby wakes up. Decide to get kids into swim wear now.
Dig around for swim suits. Dig some more for swim suits. Order children to find swimsuits. Find all of the floaties and put them in one bag near the door. Let them watch planet Earth.
Try to sort laundry.
Remember that you are making phone calls. Look for phone
It's in the laundry basket. Make another phone call, leave message.
Try to get business cards ordered. Call husband to confirm spellings of stuff. Keep telling children that I am not watching the show so stop asking em questions about it because I don't know the answer. Tell them again, tell them for the hundredth time.
Tell other little boy sticking his head near the window that we will be going to the pool as soon as the baby is awake. Enjoy his shock at my clairvoyance. Enjoy less the path that children now start beating between the pool gate and our front door as they try to wait for their sister to wake up.
Remember the laundry, it needs to be ready to go so I can put it in before we swim. Load up the cart with two loads.
Go back to unfinished business cards.
Run outside to make sure children are still nearby. They cavort excitedly at the pool gate.
Go back to business cards. Mess with placement.
Respond to first child whining, can we go now, can we go now can we go now?
Explain that the baby is still sleeping.
Go back to business cards.
No we can't go yet Baby is still sleeping. No I don't know where your toy is. N0 I can't help you find it. Wait five minutes.
Place business card order.
Get up to help find toy.
Gather newly wakened baby and tuck her under my arm.
While holding her measure out laundry detergent into container. Look for quarters. Realize the quarters are next to the laundry detergent, head back to get them.
Balance baby, laundry cart, and keys on the way out the door. Lock the door.
Get to the pool, ask friend to watch kids for a second while I load the machines. Sit down in the shade to chat for an hour before it's time to fold laundry start making dinner.
Recently I've seen some little girls with chin length bobs that are adorable. I keep staring at the Girl, and her white halo of hair around her perma braids and wondering if I dare give her one too. I hesitate because if I do, that means I won't be able to tie it up for almost a year, and I might miss those braids. I think about it now and again because the hair that was chopped off last summer is chin length now and comes out of the braids and flies around and if I cut it it would finally be all the same length again. And I think about it because she would still look cute, and like all of those other adorable little girls that have perfect short hair cuts.
And that's where I stop. I don't want her to look like all of the other girls. A day will come when she may want nothing else, but for now, I don't want her to blend in with the other girls. Something in my momma heart feels sad at the thought of my special and unique little girl looking and acting just like everyone else. I want her to look like her, I want her to still be unique and special in appearance, even if that is just generally messy little girl braids, and pony tails, and french braids, and all the other things that we do with it when we have the time, that I then leave in for a week.
She has developed a fierce attachment to another little girl. An OLDER girl of 4, who has pretty sparkly dress up shoes and many pieces of costume jewelry. She lets herself be bossed around and guided by this girl, who really enjoys being in charge of play sessions. (As is the case with most first born children I've noticed.) She adores her. It bothers me. Even when this girls is mean to her, which isn't often, she begs to go and play with her again, seconds after I've sent her home for not playing thoughtfully. She cries all day as if her heart is breaking. I was never one to follow when I was little, or big, and so I feel this sort of heaviness as I watch her. I worry, because that's what mothers do. We worry. I worry as I watch her try to impress her friend, and collapse in embarrassed tears when I veto her unreasonable attempts. I worry when I see her sweet and honest nature collide with a friend who tried to tell her that she would sneak her a cookie but not to tell me. Only she did, because she is still honest. I worry that the lovable easygoing personality that she has will land her in trouble some day when I'm not there to help and stand up to her bossy friends for her.
I know she's only three! But this mother brain isn't entirely logical. And so I pray that I can give her what she needs in order to survive without me. I pray that I can somehow instill in her good character, however elusive that quality may be. And I hold her close as much as she will let me, storing it against the day when she may not want me to anymore.
No one said this parenting thing was going to be a cake walk, but no one warned me about the odd aches that will stab at your heart for small and great reasons, the tiny griefs over such small matters, and the occasional feeling of being powerless where it matters most. This would be the journey of trust that began when I was pregnant with the Boy. When I realized that I could not do this alone, and sobbing prayed for help. Peace came, and with it the ability to struggle through the moments that I am overwhelmed by. His name means God is my helper, partly to remind me that I don't have to do this alone, there is help, and to trust the One who loves him more than I can to help us through.
Instead I made a last minute run to kinko's to photo copy everything I was taking in because I finally read the part that said take copies or they may keep originals for their records. I didn't want them keeping originals of the kids birth certificates and our marriage license so I scrambled to be ready in time to leave. On Friday we went in for the kids to be interviewed for their citizenship certificates, which was a sad failure and another story for another time, so I assumed my interview was at the same place. Until we were on the freeway, 20 minutes away from appointment time, and I happened to glance at the letter again. I braced myself for the inevitable eye roll of death as I told the GH that we were going to the wrong place and would he please step on it and merge onto that other freeway over there because we had to drive another 15 minutes south and we were gonna be late. He really liked that bit of information, it was the pleasant cherry on top of the part where I told him it was at 8 when it was really at 11, and he had to go into work for half an hour and scramble to get everything ready for the painters because he had thought he would be able to go in in the morning after the interview. not have to wait until mid afternoon. And the part where I forgot the file with all of the documents in the stroller in the house and he had to turn around and go back for it. He was really pleased by this time and I honestly don't know when or how I turned into such a ditz. Perhaps I'm just so conflicted about this permanent residence issue because I miss Canada, and I'm subconsciously sabotaging the whole process.
Miraculously we arrived just on time, and the guard at the gate. (Did you know you have to go through a metal detector when you enter a Federal imigration building? Well you do.) what was I saying? Oh yes, the guard at the gate has an uncle in Canada and was very friendly and chatted away with us about how lovely Canada is, and big bears and moose. But we had to hurry because our appointment was now, so we found the right room and checked in at the appropriate counter, and then, as is normal for these situations, we sat down to wait for half an hour and watched CNN. (A mine in Utah caved in, it looked terrible.)
Finally it was our turn and they apologized for the delay, the people in front of us had needed an interpretor, which takes longer. Somehow, unbenownst to me, the Boy had managed to bring with him a gun constructed of pipe cleaners, and a hood with a mask that his aunt sewed for him. We all trailed along behind the adjudicator and entered her office. I saw her glance at the Boy before she said, "How cute." Behind me, the Boy was wearing the hooded mask and brandishing his weapon. The GH looked at him and smiled affectionately while saying, "MY LITTLE TERRORIST!" He said the T word, in an immigration office, to a government employ, and then I died, after whispering, "Don't say that word here."
I guess Americans are allowed to make terrorist jokes in offices, just not at airports, because in spite of the best efforts of my guys to get themselves arrested she approved my application, the green card is in the mail. Finally.
Big sigh of relief.
We both naively thought that it would be easy to chase down our dreams and do what we wanted together. I don't know if he realized how much of a sacrifice it would be for him to support a family, to stay in one place for longer than a year, to be responsible for more than his own well being. It has been a sacrifice for him to see the things he dreamed of doing get further out of reach as time goes by, instead of closer, and to wonder if he'll ever be able to do them. I read once that when woman marries she gives up her life and dreams to support a her husband's and make his dreams hers. I suppose in a more traditional marriage this would be the case, and I have felt some of that death that comes from giving up or compromising on some of the things I imagined in order to make this life together work. But in our case he has given up just as much, perhaps more, of his dreams in order to make this life together thing work. I suppose that is because the things that he dreams of doing aren't necessarily ordinary.
He has a deep heart of compassion, this husband of mine. It is thinly veiled by a sardonic, and cynical exterior perhaps because he has learned that it makes others uncomfortable, perhaps because it makes him uncomfortable. His instinct is to protect and to care for people who are weaker than him. He is a big brother to 7, and a dad to 3 and he is always thinking about what is good for them, to his own hurt on occasion. I love that about him. I also wish that sometimes he would be selfish and rest because he gets cranky when he pushes himself too hard, and I don't like being around cranky people. I don't even like myself when I'm cranky. And then get irritated when he sleeps all day Saturday, aren't I consistent? When I met him he was on his way to India were he took care of street kids and taught English in schools. He saw the street boys in Khatmandu who weren't technically orphans because their parents were still alive. They were usually kicked out by their step fathers, and so they roamed the streets, rolling hash and selling it and scamming tourists to survive. The GH saw them and started making food for them every day, and working with them. He drafted a charter for an NGO that would take care of these boys and teach them trades before he left Nepal. He has wanted to return ever since, but hasn't been able to since we were married. For a while he was thinking of everything in terms of what it meant to someone who didn't have money. He couldn't spend $2000 on something we didn't absolutely need, because that money was enough to dig a well in Africa for a community that had no water. When you see life on these terms it becomes harder to be frivolous. He is generous, to a fault sometimes. And I love that about him too.
Since that day seven years ago we have each disappointed each other, several times. We have not always been to each other what we hoped we would be. And I think that's normal. He continues to be shocked by the depth of emotion I experience and am sometimes engulfed by. He is disturbed by my fragility, sometimes feeling trapped by it. He doesn't understand, he may never. He gets sullen and unresponsive, he hurts my feelings, and I often feel as though he doesn't love me anymore. (When I'm pregnant.) His only answer is that he is still here. He was taught that love is a choice, and an action, and he continues to love by staying with me and working through it. (And I am still here too even when it gets hard for me and I want to run away from it all.) I think that may be the best, thought least romantic kind of love. When a man had set his will behind it and continues doggedly in the course he has set with you, even when the way becomes difficult.
When I was very young I would fantasize about the kind of man I hoped to marry. I ended up developing this very long list of attributes that my future husband should have. I would pray that God would bring me the man on my list. Eventually it occurred to me that a guy as cool as all that would probably want someone pretty spectacular in a wife, would deserve that. Suddenly I found myself praying please help me to become the kind of person who would be a good wife. I wasn't asking to be prettier or sexier, I want to be good, to be kind and patient and strong. The GH is everything I didn't know I needed, and even many of the things on that old list of mine. Recently I realized that I've switched back to wanting him to change, to be different in order to make me happy. Even though I asked myself before I married him if I could be happy with him if he never changed beyond what he was the day I met him. It's a silly and unproductive thing to wish, and a shaky thing to base a relationship on. But I can continue to try to be a good wife to be to him the gift that I want to be, and the help that he deserves. And when I switched to thinking that way again, I suddenly began to notice what a great guy he still is and how blessed I am to have him in my life, how much richer it is because of him. And so I go into this eighth year of marriage wanting to be a better wife, wanting to do this mom and woman thing better and wanting to help him figure out how to achieve his dreams, because I suspect that these are the things that I can do that will bring greater happiness and richness to both of our lives, and who can argue with that?
We almost didn’t spend a lazy afternoon near the waves in the perfect weather, hot sun, cool breeze, and just a touch chilly if we sat too long in the shade. The girl almost missed out on sitting in a sand throne, made just for her near her princess castle, by her aunt, uncle, and brother. She almost didn’t recline regally watching the waves and surveying her faithful and devoted subjects.
The Boy almost didn’t learn how to skim board. How to time your run to coincide with the wave’s highest point on the shore line and then throw the board down and jump on it as it skims across the surface of the shallow water before it recedes. He almost didn’t spend an hour getting better at it so that he was riding it at the end.
I almost didn’t take a walk along the beach with the Baby, gazing at the waves, and birds and jelly fish. I almost didn’t put her little feet in the sand and listen to her shriek and the waves lapped over her feet. I almost missed seeing my son look back at me after a ride as if to say, “Did you see me? Did you see me riding this board like a big boy? Are you proud?” I almost missed him coming toward me dripping wet and covered with sand, grinning from ear to ear in his pleasure. I almost missed the site of my girl curled up on a beach mat happy and tired.
We almost sat at home in an untidy stupor, griping at each other over how tired and cranky we felt. We almost missed out on a wonderful memory of a languid summer afternoon at the beach. I almost swapped crankiness for smiles, pestering for closeness, and irritation for fond interaction with my children.
I’m glad I didn’t.
It was titled I Quit, and in it she resigns from her job as a parent due to the fact the she is not qualified for the job. "Nuff said" It was funny and honest, and I thought liked it enough to put it up there for a perfect post this month. So head on over and have a read.
Be sure to check out the other perfect posts hosted by Suburban Turmoil and Petroville too for some of the best blogging this month.