PHANTASTIC

RR is having an amazing moment. ZOO, she pointed out in a book. In another, BOO she said, pleased as punch to have noticed it. GO, she said, reading the newspaper. And it actually said go. It wasn’t a memorized book. There wasn’t a picture she guessed at. It said go, she read go, and oh my god, SHE’S READING. I find words all over the house and I’m never sure if she knows she put them there or if it’s a coincidence.

Ruby

During a rare bath (she might be reading but she is filthy, I admit it), I stuck a foam G and O on the door and she shrieked with glee. I added a F and a R for kicks and when I told her it was frog she nearly fell over she laughed so hard. And then she took the PH that had been hanging out in the vicinity and smacked them in front. LOOK MAMA, she said, STILL FROG!

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You guys. HOLY SHIT.

I’d like to say this has kicked off a week alone in fine fashion (Debra has gone off to move my parents’ belongings into their house here) but the glory of last night’s bath was dampened by this morning’s argument about whether or not I had paused Curious George or turned it off altogether. This on the heels of being told that she would be hungry forever because I wouldn’t let her have a cookie before supper. She’ll be hungry forever, but she is starting to READ.

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Trying to Get to Spring with a Clear Heart

Not being pregnant is something I can’t complain about to the people around me. Not only would it be a surprise:

I’m so sad I couldn’t get pregnant…
Oh! You were trying?

But I’m not sure what I’d expect to happen. There’s nothing to be sorry about and I don’t want to talk about how amazing it would have felt to carry a child. I don’t want to have to list all the reasons why RR being the only is the best thing ever, just to make myself feel better. I don’t want to feel selfish, which I absolutely do, ever time I’m jealous of someone else who, on the surface, appears to have come up pregnant just by thinking about it.

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I wish I wasn’t though. Jealous. I also wish I didn’t have so many (or any) pregnant coworkers. I wish the next season wasn’t summer, when there are no more coats and sweaters to keep coming attractions under wraps. That’s a lot of wishing about things I can’t change.

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I’d like to know when I’ll stop feeling that pang – parts frustration, loss, disappointment, even a little bit of wondering why we didn’t do more or try harder. I’d like to know when I’ll stop noting where my cycle is and having the second of mourning on the 15th of the month. So perfect. But not. Obviously not. I’d like to know when the balance will tip permanently in favor of not being pregnant.

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This sounds sad. but I’m mostly just noticing it. I wish I wasn’t, but there it is. Lots of other things are going on and I’m excited to talk about those instead, but I just had to get those words out first.

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Nine Years Worth

While celebrating our ninth anniversary over lunch today, my wife and I were talking about our favorite trips and vacations.

There was the midnight run to Virginia Beach early in our relationship. A lazy evening on the couch turned into late night pizza on a pier.

Visiting the Grand Canyon and Wupatki Ruins in the Painted Desert, one of my most favorite places in the world. That evening in the hotel wasn’t too shabby either.

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Every trip to the Outer Banks: honeymoon, pre-baby, post-cancer, thanksgivings. Every last one.

The less-than-24 hours in San Francisco before my grandmother’s funeral, sleeping baby strapped on as we hung off the side of a cable car. I packed as much of the two years I lived there into the time we had, but there are still plenty of hidden staircases and tiny restaurants for next time.

RRSF

This time last year, Baltimore’s dolphins and Philadelphia’s cannolis (and a desperation St. Pat’s dinner at Hooters with our two-year-old).

Driving to Wyoming through Wisconsin and South Dakota and back through Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, featuring the Grand Old Opry, the badlands, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, cheese curds, the Roanoke Star, a highway porn shop, a bloody hotel room, and cases of Fat Tire.

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Freshest on our minds was last month’s trip to an isolated cabin in the Blue Ridge. While I wouldn’t have sought a location without internet access or cell reception, the fact that we didn’t have the former and could only occasionally get the latter probably made the hot tub steamier, the strawberries sweeter, and the sex spicier. I know, you have innocent ears. You’ll recover. We didn’t just romp though, we hiked, jumped streams, explored, and meditated by the river. We returned absolutely refreshed. For my part, it was exactly what was needed.

Traveling with my wife is one of the things I love best about being married to her. She’s wonderful and amazing and I’m incredibly lucky. And incredibly in love. Another nine years to come? I hope it’s far more than that.

 

Splish Splash

 

 

 

 

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The other day I was looking for one place in the house that didn’t have another person or animal in it. See that? It’s the world’s tiniest bathroom. And a giant cat. There is no space.

Peaceful Parenting

Last week, RR smacked me right in the face. Sometimes she gets a wild hair and it sparks in her eyes, flies down her arm, and her hand flies out and whap! Usually you can see it coming. There’s a certain sort of stop in time and, if you’re fast, you can catch her wrist before she catches you. It’s almost as if being three is too much for her little soul and sometimes it spills right out.

My reactions vary in response but they usually fall into the “don’t do that, please” arena and we both go our own ways. I imagine she feels about as chastised as I feel authoritative but since she’s not hitting anyone else, I figure it’s a draw. This is fine with my wife and I but it’s not just my wife and I anymore and so I’m walking the line between what I would do and what my parents think I should do*.

And so there we were, sitting in the frozen moment. RR’s hand is still in the air, her eyes are gleaming, my cheek pink and hot, my parents staring, waiting. RR is waiting, too. Can she do it again? Should she? What will happen? I saw her bicep tense, just a little, and I seized her out of her chair, slung her under my arm and outside we went.

What my parents think happened: Stern language. Getting right. Tears due to being talked to.

What actually happened: We sat on the front steps, her eyes welling with tears, chest starting to heave, and I asked her what she heard. Cars she said. Maybe, mama, a truck. We listened. I asked her what she could see. I pointed out the new stars, the pink in the sky. She showed me a bird on a wire. I asked her what she smelled: sky, trees, cold. I asked her what she felt and ran her fingers over the smooth iron railing. She smiled, trailing little fingertips over the black paint, stopping at the rough spots. I smiled back at her.

I said, please don’t hit me. She thought about it said, okay, stroked my face. She was sincere. We came back in to approving glances from my parents. Discipline, my parents thought – quiet but strict. Agreement, I thought. Peace. A better relationship with my daughter. Success.

 

Note: I recognize that I could ignore my parents completely but I’ll be honest, in every way that involves my mother, the best path is the one that makes me cry the least. I choose not to ignore them.

Reprieve

On Wednesday, my mom left for six weeks and it feels lighter, as if everyone can take a deep breath. I feel awful saying that, but there it is. When she’s there, every moment sits on the edge of a knife. Is what’s happening true? Is it explosive? Am I saying the right thing? What, exactly, IS the right thing? I spent most of my teenage years slipping off the edge and crashing around on the eggshells below. As an adult, I think I’ve got it in hand but living together certainly makes it clear that I pretty well don’t have it in hand. This is not her fault, but it’s evidence of what brain chemistry can do to a family.

I’m taking a meditation class and I’m grateful that I’m able to find that place in my mind where I can just breathe and each moment is just what it is without judgement. Living with my mom is the opposite of that. Every statement could play out a dozen ways in an instant. I never know what (or who) to expect. I’m going to cook dinner could mean a great number of those things, most of which do not result in dinner. It’s hard to let go of anything as a result and that, in itself, antagonizes her. My having an opinion antagonizes her*.

While this is frustrating, it’s not impossible, at least not until you realize that belligerent stampeding has shifted into every part of your life. Even after two months, most of the dishes end up in the wrong cabinets. There is a persistent brown streak showing up on the back of the toilet seat that I clean every morning (if I didn’t, it would stay there indefinitely). The refrigerator and cupboards are bare while the amount of dirt accumulating in the house is stunning which, apparently, is the price we paid for being away over the weekend and not doing all the housework and grocery shopping.

I feel ungrateful and horrible but unbelievably, that’s better than rocking the boat. By the way, my mother has stated that they are planning to stay until June. I’m not sure if that was to get a rise out of me or truth. There’s no way to know for sure that doesn’t involve some sort of slamming door.

 

 

*For instance, she said I could sew curtains for the basement windows. I said that would be nice. She said they need to be blackout curtains and that the only place you can buy blackout fabric is from a place in Evanston, Illinois. I allowed as to how that didn’t seem right – maybe we could call our local shop? She huffed. She insisted that it wasn’t the right kind of fabric. With some prodding, she did check the local store and they carried it. She said she would use our existing curtains. While I wasn’t keen on that, it seemed like less work than trekking through a crocodile filled pit of opinions. She brought home sparkly tan velour and the blackout fabric. I wasn’t able to cover my concern about the velour in time and so she didn’t speak to me until the next day. She did sew the curtains but did not actually attach the blackout fabric to the curtain so it was less sewed and more hung. Have we talked about my feelings surrounding “done right” and “done enough”? I recall saying to her that it was fine if she made curtains but that I did not want them to cover the glass when pulled to the sides. I like light, I said. Please don’t limit the light coming into the basement. She said, of course! The curtains obscure half the window. Your father didn’t want to hang the rods out further, she says, as if I’ve made an unreasonable request in my own home. I want to velcro the curtain to your door, she says over dinner. I balk. This goes on. It’s awful.
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