Today, I

I had a creative writing teacher in high school who started every class with “Today, I…” statements. Our directive, to write at least 15 sentences beginning with “Today, I (feel, think, believe, know, am, etc.)” served to loosen our minds in preparation for writing. It was also centering, something to which I was oblivious but, considering my excellent teacher, was probably the point. Although I’ve never enjoyed formal writing classes, exercises like this stick with me, serving as a solid platform when everything else is quicksand. Even though I skipped that class all too often, my journals that year and for years after were woven with Today, I…

Things around here are quicksand.

Today, I am anxious about a busy work week.
Today, I was exasperated with RR and I felt terrible about my short temper.
Today, I rushed things when settling into them wouldn’t have been so bad.
Today, I feel frustrated with my body.
Today, I thought I needed time alone but it turns out I just needed quiet.
Today, I slid down slides, rocked on a teeter totter and chased my daughter at the park.
Today, I started the day laughing with my wife and kid at breakfast.
Today, I’m bitter that I don’t have any signs of pregnancy.
Today, I googled “11 days post ovulation” one too many times.
Today, I wished we had plans to go to the beach.
Today, I my wife brought RR and I popcorn (which was the best thing that happened).

Today, I could still be pregnant. I’m probably not. But I could be. Today, I’m postponing disappointment one more day.

Celebrity Status

This will be a shorter post than yesterday’s. Then we can get on to my social anxiety, game night, and baby-making.

I don’t care much for the limelight but being gay in the paper is kind of cool. D and I enjoyed a day of celebrity status as friends and family mentioned they’d seen us on the news. My mom doesn’t usually say much about gayness but is fully supportive of my family and leaves no doubt that D is my wife and RR is her grandchild. She and my dad handled my coming out tolerably well which, I realize, puts me in the lucky minority. That said, they are reserved folks and they don’t talk much about politics. She sent the following email to a list of her conservative friends:

“This is my daughter Meridith and our granddaughter Ruby Reed.  We love them and Debra, the woman who makes their life complete and whole and well just doggone perfect.  There are no strings attached to that love.  No wishing they were something else.  Or things were “different.”  Wait, I wish one thing were different.  I hope in their lifetime this country will see fit to allow them all the rights other loving families have.”

You guys. That’s my MOM. I’m really proud to be her daughter.

Speaking of proud, I’ve had a lot of proud moments in my life. Achievements, awards, recognition – things that made me think, “Wow, this is a great day! I really did something right!” They pale in comparison to the lunch encounter D and I had yesterday.

We were leaving a fast food place – this is not a paleo locale, in case you were wondering 😉 – and walked past a group of construction workers leaving at the same time. I made eye contact with one of them. You know. The kind of eye contact that says, hey you’re gay. I’m gay too. I notice you. I’m happy to see you even though I don’t know you. But the three men behind her? I admit to passing judgement too quickly. They didn’t fit my mental stereotype of what gay advocates look like. But then they started saying things like, “That was really great, man. It’s gonna happen. It’s gotta change. We’re proud of you. They said thank you.

I’ve read other places about the importance of putting a face on the issue. Of telling stories and humanizing. I understand the frustration some folks have when they feel like gay individuals or their supporters are “talking about it too much” or “flaunting it.” Oh, they get so mad about Facebook icons. If you’ve made up your mind about an issue, of course you’re “over it, already.” But it’s not you who is important. It’s the people who don’t know your awesome dad is gay, or the gay coworker you have has become your most reliable friend, or the gay parent in your mother’s group is just. like. you.

I know we made a difference this week. And I don’t mind if I say so myself. We’re pretty damn awesome.

Montessori?

We’re contemplating a switch to a different school.  There are all sorts of reasons why our current one deserves suspicion but the enumeration would range from pointless to outrageous.  Overall, the reasons fall just short of the “act now” range and so we’ve been comfortable maintaining the status quo.  We’re engaged (and if we weren’t, we’d definitely be in the act now stage) but the pile of concerns is beginning to outweigh our desire to push through a fix.

This next school year will be the first year she can attend our Montessori school*.  We’re visiting on Tuesday to see if the values and the pace of the day suit our family.  Our family doctor highly recommends the school and we’re friends with other Montessori fans, including a teacher and parent alums.   Everyone raves about the experience and says “helpful” things like, “RR is where?! She should really move to Montessori.” and “My kids went there and they are spectacular superheroes.  In fact, look right there, our sons are just now saving that old lady from a falling piano!” (and they are).  We’ve read about the philosophy and reviewed our local school’s literature in detail.  Everything – even the ever critical google – seems to be pro–Montessori.  When I try to find information that will help me determine if Montessori is right for RR, I see things like, “Do you want your child to be respectful and independent?”  and “Do you want your child to learn self-motivation and problem solving skills?” Well, no, of course not.  Come to think of it, I think I’d like her best if she just sat there and moaned.  No Montessori for her!

Before the internet gets its Montessori feathers ruffled (not you, of course, you are as always moderate and inspired in your thinking), I think it’s a good idea for RR and for us.  Many of our current concerns would evaporate and I expect we’d see her fit right in.  She plays independently, she likes to work, I think she would benefit from being in a classroom with older children.  Overall, the philosophy seems to be in line with our own.  I’d have to get over my aversion to elastic waistband pants though.  I know it’s easier for small children but ugh…

So here are my primary concerns:

  • The school is designed so that some (many?) of the kids will attend for a half-day and the rest is “after-care”.  I’m concerned this climate will mean she’s barely looked after in the afternoons or not stimulated in any way.  I realize this is a holdover opinion from other after school programs I’ve encountered – things reserved for kids whose parents couldn’t or wouldn’t get them and where bullies roamed wild as teachers just waited for pick up time.  We can’t stay at home.  We wish one of us could but, since the illustrious state of Virginia is disinclined to offer us any rights at all, work it is.  In fact, pick-up time is earlier, eliminating the wiggle room we have now.  I don’t want her (or our family) to be considered less than in any way because one of us doesn’t stay at home.  
  • There are an inordinate number of days off.  Huge spans of time.  For example, two full weeks in August.  The full week of Thanksgiving.  Two full weeks around Christmas.  What do people do with their kids during all the days off (and snow days, too)?  We don’t have that much vacation time unless we divide and conquer but then we’d never be able to take any substantial time off as a family.  I know this is coming as we face public school but right now it seems scary and overwhelming.  
  • Finally, I wonder what happens if RR decides she’s not interested in working on specific skills?  I wish I knew how to ask that question without sounding like an asshole but there it is.  I want her to go to school to learn and grow and develop and be the best version of herself but I’m not entirely certain that letting her set the pace will result in a well-rounded child.  This is the child who will tuck herself behind the recliner in her room and read when we have company.  She’s not exactly warm and fuzzy.  

Surely, this is where you tell me that all of my fears are unfounded and that visiting the school is our best bet.  Check.  We’re off to see things in action on Tuesday and, since we have to make a decision on our current school by the 31st, we’ll have to choose sooner rather than later**.  If you know us at all, you know that six months is a normal timeframe for decision making – we don’t waffle, we just like to ponder.  For example, would you believe we’ve been considering Montessori since she was born and we STILL haven’t settled on a position?  Of course you would.  So tell me, do you have any insights?  Did you attend Montessori?  Did/does your child?  What do you do when your child has more days off than you do?  How do you ask the school questions without sounding like an asshole?  But then, isn’t that my perennial question?

* Yes.  It meets the criteria and is affiliated with the organization.

** Lest it sound like we haven’t considered other options, I assure you that we’ve considered a range of the town’s church preschools, nanny situations and independent/specialty schools, an alarming amount of which use comic sans in their communications.

Discmans, Watches and Taping Music from the Radio

Did I ever tell you that my main means of communicating while I was driving back and forth to college was a CB radio?

Oh, yes it was. 10/4 good buddy.

There were no cell phones then, at least, no cell phones in my world.  Frankly, my parents would have been just fine letting me make the six hour trip through the desert with no means of communication at all except that I routinely broke down and had to hitchhike or wander in the dark to the nearest rest stop.  So they smacked the antenna onto the roof and the reciver onto the dash and sent me forth into the world of truckers.

I’ll tell you up front that I want this to be an awesome story about all the great CB talk I heard on my trips, but pretty much all I ever heard was whistling from lonely truckers and the occasional, “smokey ahead.”  I was 18, hot and had no judgement (thus: hitchhiking*).  It wasn’t me that was missing out.  As a result, I still ended up hitching (notably once on Halloween in a pick-up with no less than four rifles in the back window) and holding out hope that one day the CB radio would be my salvation.

Being resourceful, I frequently wore short, breezy skirts on my trips to ensure that I wouldn’t actually have to wait for a ride.  I know.  HOW AM I STILL ALIVE?!

RR will be able to text me instead of hitchhinking on her way to college.  Or better still, that she’ll be able to use an app to get a tow and use a scanable bank card to pay since, like me, she’ll be wearing a tiny skirt with no pockets and won’t have a cent on her.  If she even goes to college (which is another concept that didn’t exist in my household when I went to school).  There are other things she won’t get like rotary phones (we ditched ours before I was old enough to use one) or VCRs (I’m not sure we even own a working one).  Just like you and I, record players will be relegated to the antique and she’ll have no idea that when I first started to use a computer (which wasn’t at birth), the screen was only green text on a black screen.  We bought it at Radio Shack (she won’t know what that is either).

This isn’t new, of course, but it just occurred to me.  When I watch her pick a different video on an ipad, when I watch her dance with a classmate to the Can Can playing from a dad’s phone, when I realize the ibook I was reading could read to her, I realized that I’m going to sound just like my grandparents.  And not in a “when I was your age we walked to school two miles in the snow waist deep uphill both ways!” but in a “you kids these days” way, which I’m not totally excited about.  Oh well, I have a couple of years to get my crotchety on.  Dammit.  Where IS my cane?

*Remind me to tell you about the cargo van and with the circus clown.

Bulletins For My Daughter: 1

RR,

At our house, we each take a night to decide what we will have for dinner and cook the dinner. Although you are (mostly) exempt from cleaning up after that dinner, you will most certainly be on the cleaning crew for someone else’s night.  If you’re smart, you’ll angle for any night except the dog’s night – he cooks something in the slow cooker every Monday and while it’s super to have hot stew waiting when we come home, he’s a devil about getting the cookpot clean.

So whether you choose to cook spaghetti pie like your Aunt Stephanie (every. single. wednesday. for. three. years.) or turkey tetrazzini like Aunt Elizabeth (rinse, repeat.) you’ll be finding yourself elbows deep in sudsy clean-up a few evenings a week.  On top of it all, we’re going to require the injustice of putting your dishes in the dishwasher at any time of the day or night.  I know, the cruelty.

If you don’t, I might just take a page out of one of my co-workers’ books and inscribe this on the bottom of the sink (found this morning when I very much needed a good laugh.)

Love,
Mama

Waking Up

I have no idea how people do this.  This morning, I dragged myself out of bed at 8:00 but only after stripping off my pajamas so that I would get chilly enough that I had to get up.  I’m mostly a morning person.  I do not usually require nudity to get me out of bed.

I don’t even think we’re sleeping all that badly.  Sure, it isn’t uninterrupted, but RR sleeps in three-hour stretches punctuated by a snack and a diaper change.  There aren’t tantrums or prolonged periods of obnoxiousness.  I know it’s coming, probably tonight, but as of last night, she was still an A plus baby.  We’re each getting up once with her, although she occasionally, like this morning, stretches her 4am hello into a 430 and beyond GOOD MORNING, DAY!!!

But dragging myself out of bed at 8:00 and a 3:00-4:00 pm nap is not going to successfully get me to work.  Fortunately, I negotiated a very reduced schedule through mid-August, but come next Friday, I actually have to get up, dress, be at work by 830 and begin productively working until 500ish.  Holy shit, I’m in trouble.

How does anyone do this?  I’m not even all that distressed about leaving my infant since she’ll still be in my wife’s capable hands but who will wash the bottles?  Who will mix the formula?  Who will kiss her at her diaper changes and curse when she inopportunely pees, again?  Who will make sure she eventually passes out so my wife can sleep?  Who will keep me awake in meetings?  Who will pack my lunch?  Furthermore, who will go to the grocery store?  And, most importantly, will get me out of bed?

I’m a little concerned that we’re going to have to manage all this together when RR goes to daycare at the end of the summer.  Right now, I can’t even imagine manipulating this child into waking up any sooner or eating any later than she plans to.  She may not cry much but she has very firm opinions about what should happen when and she’s never heard of a workday.  We’re in trouble.  I’m in trouble.

RIGHT NOW

Vegas,

I’m a live in the now sort of mom.  I didn’t used to be.  When I was a tiny little squint of a thing I was always thinking of the next big event.  My birthday.  My sisters’ birthdays.  Christmas.  Fourth of July.  Thanksgiving.  Any celebration.  Any party.  Let’s be honest, any time there might be dessert.  I was barely looking at where I was, I was so busy looking at where I wasn’t.  And that’s because where I wasn’t there was always cake.

Now, I’m more of a pretty much only a today or tomorrow mom.  I know it would be sexier to say I am a this second mom, or a minute by minute mom, but I actually am still always 24 hours ahead.  Because let’s fact it, if I lived in this moment, there’d be practically no chance for cake, and if only one thing is certain, it’s that I’m a cake mom.

So all the way through your development so far, I’ve been happy to be right where we were.  Sure, there was a teensy bit of impatience at the 10 day point and some hurry up around the 12 week mark but until now I’ve been happy to appreciate my time with your mother, every last second of quiet and long afternoon lazing around a chilly house.  Well, let’s be honest, that lazing around happened only once, on Saturday, because we’ve been behaving like banshees for months.  But soon you’ll be here and we’ll have to keep the house warmer, we’ll scurry more and banshee less and there won’t be quiet.  Not like it has been.

Frankly child, I’m not a nostalgic sort and I’m getting impatient.  I’ll be happy to trade in our current brand of peace for the incoming make and model so long as it happens RIGHT NOW.  I know insisting that you hurry up please come on already now now now has no impact whatsoever.  You’ll come when you’re ready, when those hormones open the door, and when you’re finished screwing your head into your mother’s cervix.  And I’d probably be happier sitting here peacefully, living in the moment, especially since your due date is a week away.  But Vegas, I’d so like it if you came right now.  Or tonight.  Or even in the morning.  Please?

And it starts…the years of my pleas falling on deaf ears.

Love, Mama

P.S. That’s the first time I ever called myself a mom.  And I cried.

Nursery? Check.

With the exception of my monthly poker game and a trip to buy popsicles, I have stayed in with my very pregnant wife this weekend.  Very, very, 38 weeks and four days pregnant wife.  Considering the weather (HOT) and my aches and pains (MANY) I’m happy to be in watching the Cup games and picking up the scattered clutter in the house.

We accomplished three significant things this week: signing the legal paperwork (a relief), putting away the baby books (ahhhh, peace) and wrapping up the nursery (at last).  While there are no pics of the legal docs or the baby books (hidden, gone, tucked away), here are some photos of our awesome nursery.

14 days

Dear 50% effaced, one centimeter dilated baby Vegas,

I’m nervous and a little green.  I can’t believe you’re on your way and I can’t believe we’re actually going to take care of you.  It’s not like we wouldn’t, I mean, we’re fit.  I promise.  It’s just that I’m pretty sure we’ll be good mothers and terrified that you’ll be a bad baby.  Wait.  That probably already makes me unfit.  I’m worried you’ll be so awful we won’t like you, that’s what everyone tells us anyway.  How frustrating you’ll be, how you won’t sleep, how you’ll scream.  Then, the well-meaning ones say that you’ll make it up to us by gazing into our eyes.  And by this I think they mean your mother’s eyes as she’s feeding you.  I gather you’ll pretty much hate me til you’re 12 and then I’ll hate you, so that’s awesome.

So when I sat down at work this morning, I took a deep breath and it hitched.  It hitched all the way up my spine and through my lungs and sprang out of my eyes in tears.  I’m not at all surprised.  People who get past the glassy eyes keep saying the same things:  Are you ready?  Getting ready?  How is D? and, sometimes, Are you excited?  And I am, Vegas.  I am all of those things.  Ready.  Getting Ready. Excited.  And I also know the answer about your mother, she’s doing just fine.  However, given your mother’s general good humor, “fine” is probably something you should be worried about.  When you’re out here, you’re shooting for “good”, not “fine”.  Got it?

I hear babies live in the moment, which is good, because that’s the way we’ve been doing things around here lately.  I’m eager for you to come, but I’m just as happy you aren’t here yet.  You’ll understand when you’re having kids of your own, or maybe when you ask out your first date.  It’s that kind of queasiness that makes you want to run, but has such a shiny reward at the end that you can’t help but work through it.  I promise the throwing up feeling will go away right after you ask her.  Can you promise me the same thing when you get here?  The before and after are just parts of life.  Just like I’m not mourning my last day of sleeping in (long gone by now, anyway), I’m not celebrating my first moments up with you.  Each thing in its time.  Remember that when you want my banana and I give you a bottle.

Vegas, these are the things I am: terrified excited apprehensive worried happy ill nervous delighted overwhelmed frantic paralyzed joyful.  I’ll bet you can hardly wait to join me.

Mama

Awake and Restless (Again)

I’d say being awake at 3:30 am was nesting, except that it’s not a completely irregular thing.  All it takes is something to wake me up a little past coherent (and sometimes it takes nothing at all) and my mind predictably soars into awareness.

I can feel it coming.  Once I realize I’m awake, then I have to quietly fight to keep from thinking about the baby, a glass of water, the dog, the computer, my wife, work and then…it’s over.  I’m awake and it’s impossible to lay there.  Every sound is sandpaper.

I know she’s having more trouble sleeping and that her wrists sting, her nose is swollen and she probably has to pee.  Tonight, you can throw in a restless dog with inexplicably swollen eyes, fresh sheets (can you believe I get distracted by clean sheets?) and restless anxiety that manifests as noise intolerance, a tight jaw and worry that mosquitoes are biting me.  Vegas, you are in for a treat.

In fact, if he were out here now, this is what I’d tell him: today we said an almost goodbye to your great-grandmother.  It seems like days instead of weeks and my heart breaks for you and for your mother.  Your other great-grandmothers aren’t far behind and it would be terrible to go from three to one (or none) before you get here.  Not even on the same plane of terrible is the heat, your mother’s swollen feet and the unbelievable clutter in the house.  Vegas, honey, I love you, but all your not-so-tiny things are bringing me down.  Or rather, keeping me up.  It’s dawn and I shouldn’t be thinking about your playpen.

That pretty much sums up life right now.  It’s dawn and I shouldn’t be thinking about a playpen.