Saturday, April 30, 2011
We had a little playdate with a 7 month old baby girl who looked smaller than our 3 month old Simon. He's our affable little bruiser. Jeff was a huge baby/toddler too, but he ended up more on the bean pole end of things. I am totally celebrating Simon and each and every one of his rolls. My rolls, on the other hand, still working on celebrating those.
Big milestone for our family today: eating dinner out. We treated ourselves to the delectable goodies from the Corner Bakery. Simon slept the whole way through dinner and Sadie was content to play with the salt and pepper shakers. Meanwhile, Jeff and I scarfed down our dinner knowing that at any moment one of our offspring could go off like a bomb. We got through it, though, and might even try it again someday. Maybe we will be embolden enough to try something fancy like the Olive Garden or Chili's.
Friday, April 29, 2011
I have taken great comfort in the theory that the first three months of a baby's life is really a fourth trimester, because it offers some explanation about why it's so damn hard. The first three months: trying to get to know a perfect stranger who just happens to eat from my breast about 8-12 times per day, and the inexplicable crying, and the farting and the exhaustion. It's a tough and sublime 3 months.
So, for all those reasons we celebrate Simon's three-month birthday today. Hopefully, my breast milk is celebration enough for him. Maybe if I eat the leftover playgroup brownies the milk will taste extra sweet for him.
The Earth is celebrating as well because the sun has made an appearance for the first time this week. OH MY GOD, I am so happy to see the sun. Everything seems possible today. I feel like I could get a Ph.D. in neuroscience today. Maybe I can even get through the day without being a martyr or complaining about the previous 5 days of cold rain. When I say anything is possible, I do mean ANYTHING.
It's also Zenia's last day with us. We made her a book of Sadie and Simon pictures and I expressed my gratitude for all she has done for us. She and Sadie are at music class right now while I work on some nap training for Simon. The anxiety is mounting for me about what to tell my firm about my future plans. For one more day I am putting it off because I want to go walk in the sunshine with Simon and show him the glory that is Target on Elston. He's only been once and he slept the whole time. We have to do it proper so he knows the best strategy for attacking the store.
Here's to Simon's 3 months of life, where just about everything has changed. I love him and his chubby cheeks more than I can say. How lucky we are!
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Fast forward about 20 minutes when I return downstairs to Jeff and Sadie having dinner. Bad news, says Jeff. Unfortunately, Dream Nanny is not legally allowed to work in this country. Damn you, Department of Homeland Security. Damn you, legal profession. Jeff and I decided early on that this whole nanny enterprise had to be legitimate. In part, we wanted to pay taxes and be legitimate so we don't lose our law licenses, but also we don't want to participate in exploiting undocumented workers. I know plenty of people who are comfortable with under-the-table payments, but we just don't want to go down that road so another nanny candidate bites the dust.
This is inducing a little bit of apoplexy in me. Zenia's last day is tomorrow. That means, after tomorrow I am the daytime caregiver Monday through Friday. My children should be afraid. What the hell do I know about managing an 8 hour day with 2 kids? How will I go to the bathroom? Who's going to feed them? Oh, I guess me. Who's going to play with them? Me again? Really? All I can tell you right now is that if the sun doesn't come out next week during this little experiment I will have myself committed. In the meantime, I am setting up playdates and looking up activities I can do with the kids so I can maintain my sanity, as fragile as the hold may be.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
But, because I am a survivor and stuck here for now, I am working to make the best of it. I mostly ignore the persistent sogginess of my socks and the extra limpness of my hair due to the humidity and precipitation. It's Wednesday so I woke up with the extra charge of knowing I would get a chance to deal with my unresolved high school issues at play group. I hosted again this week because I have a suspicion that what I put into this whole enterpise is an important ingredient if I hope to get anything out of it. In addition to hosting, I baked brownies. Yes, from a box, but who is this Christie that hosted 4 other mothers and their children, serving hot, moist and delicious brownies? This is not the Christie who used to spend hours surfing the internet at work or "reviewing documents" for a huge litigation case (which means I was probably surfing the internet all day, but billing for it).
Who is the brownie baking woman?
To tell you the truth, I have no freaking idea. I won't pretend to understand where I will end up after I experiment with my identity as mother, as wife, as Betty Effing Crocker. I wish I did know. This period of exploration is fun and excrutiating by turns. I want to know the ending of the story. Am I headed back to work as a practicing lawyer? Am I taking my foot off the gas to spend time with my (most of the time) precious spawn? I always read the end of a book first. I read the ending so I won't be distracted by anticipation or the unknown. It makes me anxious to not know. I read the ending so I can then relax, read the book and enjoy the prose, the stories, the characters.
That's how I feel right now. I just want to know what I am going to decide to do so I can relax, enjoy what soggy days unfold before me and wear my identity with certainty. The flux is so uncomfortable. It's the dark hallway before the next door opens. I hate this hallway. It needs more light and more cheery memorabilia on the wall to distract me from thhe fact I am in the damn hallway.
So, up in the air I dangle. Somewhere between Johnathan Edwards' sinner in the hands of an angry god and an acrobat who's let go of one trapeeze and reaching out for another. I am not sure where I will land, whether the world is led by benevolent forces or if any of this even matters in the Big. Scheme. Of. Things.
All I know is that I bake a mean brownie and that I am starting to like my playgroup.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Social Simon has already created a circle of little people to keep him company. One of his contemporaries is Finn, who is younger than Simon by only 11 days. We are lucky that we get to see Finn regularly and you can see that the boys have it it off swimmingly. I like to say that Finn is Simon's fribling-- like a sibling, but from a friend. I hope he is able to form lifelong friendships, and so far, Finn seems like a nice boy from a good family. Finn is polite-- he says, "excuse me," after he burps-- and he's very considerate -- he only cries when Simon is finished crying.
Many of my friends have kids around Simon and Sadie's ages, which is great fun. We can all swap notes and texts about what is going on with our kids. Having just endured a mini-tantrum from Sadie at Costco, I was sort of relieved to get a message from a friend that her very mild-mannered son threw a bit of a fit when she picked him up to leave the toy store. You know, as Jeff, Sadie and Simon and I tool around the City living our lives, it's easy to think that our kid is the only kid who throws fits, or pinches, or won't sleep longer than 3 hours at a stretch, or spits up after every feeding. I can feel the relief wash over me on a cellular level when I hear from a parent whose child seems totally gentle and drama-free that the same little angel I know can also pull a flip-out in the produce aisle.
I actually got a funny parenting email that made me laugh outloud the other day. The subject line was "Your 21-month old toddler," and what followed was a description of what my dear Sadie is likely to be doing or saying at her stage of development. One line that made me laugh was "toddlers like things just so."
Really? I hadn't noticed. When Sadie screamed and banged her head on the floor because I had a slice of her orange (that actually was MY orange that she co-opted) or when she insists that I take her out of her car seat and NOT Jeff but then changes her mind 4 times in 2 seconds, I think I understand what that email is telling me. We can't always understand her, but we know when we've fucked up because she let's us know with her full lung capacity.
There's a funny line floating around from Tina Fey who was asked her impressions of toddlers. She purportedly said that toddlers are d-bags. When Jeff and I heard that on the radio, we looked at each other and laughed. Hard. You just have to have a toddler to understand that.
And Simon's not getting off scott-free either. Newborns are just toddlers in training. God forbid, if I forget to change his diaper within 3 minutes of one of his gargantuan poops (which he only does once he has a fresh diaper, thank you very much), he screams like I just dipped him in acid. And when he needs a nap? You better back his ass into a crib post haste because he can shriek like a howler monkey. He's a smiley and cuddley dude as long as we follow his simple rules.
As for his development, he's found his hands. He sucks them round the clock. It's pretty funny. I was a thumb sucker myself so I was sort of hoping to pass that little habit on to my offspring. I think Simon's going to be our little thumbsucker. He's not looking too interested in rolling onto his stomach or running a 5K, but give him time.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
I am so grateful for this little guy. Yesterday, I had a scare when I drove Simon and I to the gym and only once I got to the gym parking lot did I realize that his car seat was not properly fastened. I stood in the parking lot thanking God that nothing happened on the way to the gym. I really feel like we got lucky. To make up for the bad mommy blunder, on the way home from the gym I refrained from yelling obscenities at the a**holes that cut me off.
Simon seems like he's adapting to life in his crib pretty well. I, on the other hand, sort of want him to want to cuddle with me 24 hours a day (ok, 12, but you know what I mean), but he does seem to be thriving despite my wacky ways.
He took his longest nap ever today, and though it was in the car seat, it gave me hope that one of these nights we will be able to go more than 2.5 or 3 hours between feedings or wakings due to his pretty significant gas. That's how I know these are my kids: their gas could stop traffic. It's funnier at 3:00 p.m. than at 3:00 a.m., but who knew such big sounds and smells out of such little people.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Needless to say, my relationship with the breast pump and the stored milk may be exactly why Simon was so fussy last week at the breast. I kept taking all his meals and putting them in the freezer to be stored until some point within six months. Silly Simon, he didn't give a rat's ass about the horded milk because he was hungry TODAY. RIGHT NOW. Mommy, in her infinite fears about scarcity, was more worried about any potential lack of milk in some distant future moment that may never materialize.
Since the day that I could barely get Simon to latch on for a feeding without screaming like I was forcing him to watch the Glen Beck show, I have gotten my priorities in line. Simon's present needs are most important. Period. Any extra comes only so long as he is not compromised today. There may be less milk in my freezer, but I think Simon's point is well taken: the milk belongs to him and should be offered to him first.
I love how my kids are keeping me in the present. And, it's nice to have room in the freezer for ice cream.
Here are the people I love most in the world. I was actually able to coax a smile out of Sadie for this picture, which is quite noteworthy. Our next trick will be to have both kids smile at the same time.
Last night was Simon's first night in his crib. I was so proud of him sleeping it up in his big boy crib. I was also sad to have him farther away from me. He actually slept better in his crib, just like Sadie did back in the day. I kept going to check on him, so I didn't reap the benefits of all that sleeping, but my little baby boy is growing up! I was afraid he felt lonely or abandoned in his crib, but this morning he was more smiley than ever.
It was very weird to come to bed last night in our room and be able to turn on the light or talk without worrying about waking Simon up. We are in a new era. He's 12 weeks old today. I barely remember life before Simon. I also barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday too, but you get the point I am making.
My favorite moment of this week was this morning when Simon and I went in to get Sadie. She was so excited to see Simon that she begged me to put him in her crib with him. Ever our affable gent, Simon calmly laid in Sadie's crib while she gave him hugs and tried to get him to drink her bottle. It was so peaceful. Sadie was babbling at Simon and Simon was smiling and following Sadie's every move with his eyes. We remained in the peaceful tableaux until Simon realized he was sitting on a diaper with two rounds of dirty poop, whereupon he began to clamor for a little attention in the diaper area.
For the record, I have enjoyed our 11 .9 weeks of having Simon as our roommate. I miss him and embrace the next phase of our family life. Last night I asked Jeff what our family song should be. I suggested "Chocolate Rain," but he said that would "send the wrong message." So, the search is on for a family anthem. Now accepting suggestions.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
It seems like we will "know" her when we see her, but I won't lie, with Zenia's last days ticking down, it's a little scary to not know where our childcare help is going to come from. Today, when out on a walk, I saw some nannies out with babies and I thought about trying to poach them from their owners, but that seemed like bad karma for a process that needs all the good karma it can get. Simon and I were having lunch with some other mothers today and I wished my friend Sara good luck and good wishes for finding the perfect nanny. Overhearing my wish for the perfect nanny, my other friend Ann reminded me that there is no perfect nanny, but there may be "good enough" nanny. We laughed because of course I want the nanny to be both a mother and a perky little sister, as well as knowledgable like a pediatrician, gentle like a female shaman, and reliable like the mailman. Does that person exist? Maybe, but she's probably not looking to be a nanny here in West Bucktown, U.S.A.
So, the search continues. I hope the daughter of the woman we saw today who suffers from acute kidney failure gets well. I can say I may be haunted for a long time by the sadness in her mother's eyes. I feel uncomfortable with seeing the pain and the hunger and the want in these women's eyes, especially if my gut feeling is that it's not a good match. I want them all to find the perfect families, which probably don't exist any more than the perfect nanny. But I still want that for them. I want these women to have stable jobs and loving families and hope and children who are not on dialysis. I know for us, it's not a good sign if I already want to save the person who is being hired to help our family. In fact, that's actually a recipie for disaster. Still, so far we have met 3 lovely women who deserve better than they may be getting in the world and I hope their search ends as successfully as I hope ours does.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Several sites gave various reasons why a baby would go on a nursing strike. It could be teething or illness or your milk may let down too quickly. My personal favorite was the site that said your baby could be angry at you for not spending more time with him. Who thinks like that? I will tell you who: vulnerable mothers trying to juggle work or other children and also tend to a breast feeding infants needs. I know I am trained in the legal field and not the psychology field, but come on-- that has to be projection. Can we all agree to stop projecting onto little babies our own angst, guilt and shame for having bigger lives or not being at the baby's mercy 24 hours a day? You might as well tell mothers that their babies don't like to nurse because you are shitty mothers. Just go all out.
Again, here's the lawyer talking and not the president of early childhood development at Erickson Institute, but is there any way to ever really know what a baby is thinking? It seems like it would be more useful to tell a mother how to get through an alleged nursing strike and not try to heap on more guilt by insinuating that a baby would rather starve than eat from the breast of a mother with a life.
As for Simon, we have a rough 24 hours with the nursing, but some sweet talking by yours truly finally convinced him to sip from his mother's fountain. The milk of human kindness it is probably not, but frankly, I am currently his only game in town, so he wised up and started to suck.
As he lulls himself to sleep right beside me now, I can feel a greater intimacy with him for having really overcome our first big hurdle. We made it through a rough round of shrieking and blood curdling cries and came out the other side. If I could just stay off the internet, maybe next time I won't have to flirt with the idea that Simon hates me and would rather die of dehydration than latch on to me. He's a fiesty little beast, but he's met his match in me. He's got to do more than puncture my ear drum with screaming and refuse my life-giving sustenance to deter my love. Let's hope that he has no more tricks up his sleeve for a while, though.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Tonight we are interviewing our first nanny candidate. I am looking forward to meeting Luz, whose packet included a very impressive resume. I hope she's the Mary Poppins of Bucktown. If not, we have other candidates we are looking at including a woman originally from Algeria. It's exciting to imagine who will come and be a big part of our family very soon. (And by "exciting," I mean nerve-wracking and anxiety-producing.)
Monday, April 18, 2011
Oh how I love his face. He's busting out of his newborn and 0-3 months clothes, which is really hard for me to admit. I can't believe I am already putting away some of his clothes.
He's 11 weeks old and still eating every 3 hours. Night and day. The schedule, roughly, is feeding at 7:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m., 1:00 a.m., 4:00 a.m. and then we start all over again. I really love how consistent he is. He likes to eat every three hours. Period. He doesn't want it at two hours and don't even think about pushing it to four hours. It's predictable. Every now and then I wish for a 5 hour stretch at night (ok, I wish for it every night), but we are making this work, thanks to Jeff and pumping and that cute little face!
I am leaning into our schedule more than I did when Sadie was in her "fourth trimester." Not to say I don't despair about wanting more solid sleep, but I went berserk with Sadie's schedule only to find out months later than babies have their own journeys and their own patterns and it's best to roll with it.
Speaking of rolls, someone told me to "check Simon's rolls." Check for what? I shouldn't have asked because the answer was "oozing sores." Ok, why would I need to check for that? Apparently some babies get a yeast infection in their fat rolls and they can get infected. Let's just say that I hope I am connected enough and paying close enough attention to Simon that I would know pretty quickly if he had oozing sores. If I am not, then probably the least of Simon's worries is an oozing sore, which is really saying something.
But, enough about oozing and snoozing.
Let's talk about the snow fall we had in LATE April here in Chicago. On second thought, let's not because I am not interested in upping my dose of Zoloft and too long contemplation on the weather in this region makes me want to pop all sorts of pills. But, for the record, there was snowfall on my deck this morning and I was none too happy about. My very first Chicago winter there was snowfall on April 3, which I thought was absurd and freakish. Now, here we are on April 18 and there was snow accumulation on my grill. Needless to say, we didn't spend much time in the park or strolling through the neighborhood today. What, with the snowfall and all.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Long may these good times last for us all.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Can you see why it's hard to leave this face?
Simon is not afraid to show a full range of emotions, often in the span of about 2 minutes. He gives the most gigantic smiles, and seconds later, here comes that lower lip a trembling and signaling a HUGE CRY is coming.
And I can't say it enough: THOSE CHEEKS. Would you look at those cheeks?
I got to look at them all day today, since Zenia called in sick. I won't lie: that little calling in sick on a Monday routine is a hassle and sort of puts a damper on the love fest I had with Zenia on Friday. It wasn't a huge deal since I am home on leave, but it did mean that Simon came with me to my hair appointment. I can say it's the first time I nursed a baby while getting a hair cut. It's a little nerve wracking to have a wriggly baby in my lap while a woman wielding gigantic scissors stands near my head. I am grateful it was a lovely day so we could go to the park and enjoy meeting some more neighbors. I had a resolution to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger everyday. Today, at the park, I initiated 4 conversations with strangers. That makes me a SUPER STAR.
Could I be any more goal-oriented?
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Here's hoping that the clarity flows and I get a sense of where I am going in the most important areas of my life.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Here's what I learned today: taking a 10-week old baby to a big birthday party where everyone wants to hold him and check him out make produce violent and hysterical crying. (In the baby, which may lead to the same hysterics in the mother.)
But, the light at the end of that tunnel is that said baby may come home and crash from the trauma of partying too hard out in the suburbs of Chicago.
As for Simon, who may or may not be the baby in question, as soon as I was adamant about the swaddling, we decided to try to put him to sleep without the swaddle because he absolutely hated it. He turned beat red and tried to fight out of it every time we put him in it, but I still thought he slept better with it. Because I am so freaking adaptable and easy going, we are experimenting with no swaddles. So far so good.
Mommy is ready for some 10-hour stretches of sleep. She will settle for 5.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
As for Simon himself, he is getting very smiley indeed, even to his less-attractive-than-his-father mother. He still only turns his head to the right, which I am sure is something I should be addressing with little exercises at home, but like the Vitamin D, sometimes I just don't get to it.
I weighed Simon unofficially at the gym this morning and he was 14.5 lbs. Tomorrow is a pediatrician visit so we'll get the official weight that will be recorded in the baby book. I always thought that if a baby got to 12 lbs he/she would sleep through the night. Apparently, that's not true. Simon is still up about 3 times and after 3 or 4 he doesn't sleep so much as kersnuffle. That's the word for all those LOUD ASS infant noises our precious beloved son makes just as I am starting to get back to sleep. I am not kidding you about how loud a kersnuffle is. He sounds like a pug, a breed whose nose is so smushed up that it cannot breathe properly.
And, let's me just marvel at the size of the boogers I pull out of his nose in the morning. I think those account for about .5 lbs of his total weight. They are big and I am almost tempted to save some for the baby book, but even I have to exercise some scrapbooking restraint. It's hard though, because some of those morning boogers are something special and I am not just saying that because I am his mom.
The sweetest time of the day was this evening when Jeff took a business call while Sadie, Simon and I hung out in Simon's room. Sadie experimented with walking around in my flip flops-- I can't say that was exactly a success, but we have all summer to practice. Simon gamely laid on the floor taking it all in and sharing with us some of his more operatic cooes and gurgles. He was pretty fussy all day today, so of course the guessing begins: was it something I ate? did I not hold him enough today? does he have gas? does he know my secret "bad mother" thoughts? is he over tired? was I forcing him to nap when he wasn't tired? is he overstimulated? did we run around too much this morning? should I not have gotten the long-overdue pedicure? I took him to the gym and put him beside me while I got on the stationary bike. He tolerated that for 34 minutes, which was long enough for mommy to sweat and get an endorphine rush. I was operating on the principle that when mama's happy, everyone is happy. Working out makes mama happy.
I write this to remind myself that even the mellowist babies have bad days. Simon was oochie and uncomfortable seeming all day. It doesn't mean I have no breast milk or that I should stop eating all foods except kobe beef. Maybe Simon just needs a little extra patience and compassion today. Just like I may need those tomorrow. Actually, when do I not need extra patience and compassion.
We'll just keep breathing and practicing patience and compassion. They should come in handy when Jeff does an overnight this week and I am solo with the kiddos. If you hear the shrieks and brays of a madwoman, you should know it might be me.
So there is only love and maybe a dash of hysteria.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Simon has rounded (no pun intended) the corner into 9 weeks of life. I have 7 weeks of maternity leave left, which only strikes a minor panic through my heart. I have no idea what is going to happen over these next 7 weeks. I am hoping for more bonding with Simon and more sleeping and smiling from him. I am praying for clarity about my job situation and about how to take steps forward to live the life I want to live, which includes inspiration, balance, fulfilling work, joy, flexibility, creativity, compassion and connection. Does that sound like a legal job to you?
But I digress.
We had a great weekend with Simon and we are enjoying his new sounds. His coos have morphed into a little baby language and I sometimes think he's trying to talk to me. I kiss those lovable cheeks about 100 times per day and that never gets old. Someday he's going to be a lean machine like his daddy, but til then, I get to enjoy every ounce of baby fat.
Here's to another weekend as a mother of two. We met some more neighbors today, which, according to Oprah's special on happiness is a great way to increase joy because people who know their neighbors feel safer and more connected. It was nice to meet some wonderful people in our complex because we had just fled Mapplewood Park after feeling a little intimated by a group of high school girls who were calling each other "hookers."
The continued and variegated joys of urban life.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Little Man Simon was my traveling companion to Texas this week. The purpose of the trip was to help my parents while they watched my sister's two kids: Patrick is 3 and Thomas is 18 months old. They are very adorable little boys, and they are also a handful. My parents have made a bit of a situation with the boys by indulging just about every whim that either of them has ever had. It's pretty funny to watch Patrick boss my parents around all day long, but it was also somewhat scary and heartbreaking to see how tired my parents are after being ultra-permissive grandparents all day long. I really don't like to see that my parents are losing steam at an appropriate pace for 60-year-olds. I want them to be energetic and 30-something forever.
Anyway, my parents sounded like they could use reinforcements, so Simon and I hopped on Southwest Airlines and swooped in. I am not sure we were that much help to my parents, but I did use the iPhone to distract the boys at several critical junctures to avoid altercations over a train set.
I do what I can.
Simon was a great traveler. His very first blow out EVER from his diaper occurred 30 minutes before we left for the airport. I was grateful that didn't happen after we left for the airport. And, speaking of airport, Mommy and Simon took the blue line train to O'Hare and as soon as I stepped off the train, I realized we were supposed to be at Midway Airport. I was shocked that I made that mistake. More shocking is that Jeff-- Mr. Logistics himself-- didn't realize our mistake. We are definitely still skating close to survival mode. Jeff and I laughed at ourselves and then somehow managed to get me and Simon to Midway in time for the flight. With about 3 minutes to spare.
Sleep deprivation is a very harsh mistress.
Once in Dallas, I got the thrill of a lifetime when my best friend from high school and I were able to meet up at her daughter's soccer game. I can't tell you how happy I was to be able to take Simon to Caruth Park and meet Stephanie's two kids and her husband. I had not seen her since her wedding in the summer of 1999. So many times I came to Dallas wishing to connect with her and meet her children, but I didn't reach out. Lots of people say that are bad at keeping in touch. I say it all the time, and it's historically been true for me.
When there are things about myself I wish I could change (like I wish I could embrace Excel spreadsheets), the top of the list is this character defect about staying in touch. I don't like that I have let fears keep me from experiencing connection with people like Stephanie. We had such a nice visit, and her daughter scored the winning goal of the soccer game, which added to the sense of euphoria swirling around the afternoon. Driving back from the park to my parents' house I was struck with a wave of grief for all I had missed. Specifically with Stephanie. And sadly there are other connections broken because I couldn't take in the possibility that no one needed me to be married or have children or have a dazzling career or a perfect brownie recipe or a size 4 skinny jean. Those were voices in my head that told me I couldn't connect (or reconnect) until some magical time in the future when I would be bulletproof from any feelings of shame or any worry about whether or not I was right in the world. I kept telling myself I could get in touch as soon as I was married or felt more confident or understood myself better or never felt shame. When I was fixed I would have the relationships I always wanted.
I am sad to report that 2 decades went by.
It's bittersweet to report that I wasn't broken in the first place. I had some pretty ill-founded ideas about people and what they wanted from me. Worse than being ill-founded, they were persistent ideas that seemed smart, insightful, obvious and true as I walked the planet thinking about them. I am grateful I began to question these ideas before any more decades went by, but for such a smart lady, it took a while to learn that no one gives a shit what size my jeans are (except for me) and no one was repulsed by me when I was single and not yet a mother.
I actually treasure the grief that I felt driving from Caruth Park back to my parents house. The grief is proof that I had done something different; that I had taken different actions. After reading the Girls From Ames this summer and having a real Come to Jesus with myself about people I loved and missed and wanted to connect with, I was able to ask a mutual friend about how to get in touch with Stephanie. I emailed her this summer and felt happy to be in touch. It was not about having arrived at any specific place in my life, but rather, it was about being done waiting and being ready to offer and receive love. Had I not shown up at this visit, I would have never felt the grief at all. I would have just continued to live in the numb place of "I wish I could connect with my dear high school friend Stephanie," and motored on with a story in my head about how I am "not good at keeping in touch."
Happy as hell to report that I am giving that story the finger. The. Finger.
My hope for Sadie and Simon is that I can raise them to accept love and friendship and to trust their inner lights and to follow the laughter and love from one day to the next so that they can build unbroken lines of friendship no matter what happens along the way. I just hope they can gave the grace to let themselves off the hook and they can examine the stories they tell themselves so they don't have to lose time hiding out waiting to be perfect to show up for love that was there all along.
My hope for myself is that I continue to let the love of other people wash over me even when I am messy, and my brows need some waxing and my hair needs some washing; when I am irrational or lost or pathetic or big and shiny and happy and giddy and in awe of my own blessings. My hope is to show up as myself, with all my ambivalence and my talent and my joy and my sorrows and my yearnings.
My mantra for April is "there is only love." So far it's working, except for that guy who cut me off on Ashland. For that guy there was love and a little bit of rage that he would try to cut off a nice lady like me in a mini-van.
There is only love.