Friday, September 28, 2012

Mean Kids

We went to the playground yesterday with some friends. T was the oldest one in our little group, so he gravitated towards the big kids who were already there. I overheard one of these kids telling her friends that T was in her class. She seemed way older than him, but I looked closer and recognized her. She asked me if T's name was Thomas and I told her it was, she marched right up to him and gave him a big hug. It was really sweet.

He's in the preschool room this year, so there are kids his age and a year older. With young children that single year really does make a huge difference in size, I'm reminded of that fact every time I see one of the kids in the toddler room scurry by. Was T really that tiny just last year?

T really wanted to play with the big kids. And the gal in his class told him in no uncertain terms that he could not. She also told him to get off the seesaw because the big kids needed to use it for their game. Her three friends backed her up. He sat there quietly. I didn't know what to do. I told her he really was a big boy, but she insisted 3 was not big enough. I asked her to include him. She said no.

Listen, she's a 4 year old girl. I wish she hadn't been mean to my boy, but I'm not angry at her. I don't know her or her family well, but I actually like her mom a lot and I know she would not be thrilled with her daughter's behavior. I know because if T did it to another kid (and really, isn't it a matter of when?) it would upset me deeply.

This stuff is going to happen. Frankly, this was a mild episode. It really shocked me that I didn't know what to do. How to help my little guy out. We both ended up just quietly going about our business. I did not want to let her bully him off of the seesaw and I could see the confusion on his face, but I was proud that he stood his ground, that he didn't retreat.

Later in the evening we joined Z downtown to grab some dinner before a gallery opening at which he was giving a talk.  We strolled down the sidewalk towards the restaurant together and Z asked T about his day. T said, "The girl in my class was mean to me on the playground." My heart just sank. I didn't know how much of what happened really sunk in with him. I was hoping he didn't understand that she was being unkind. Clearly that was wishful thinking.

Suddenly I found my voice. I told him that the girl was mean to him, that was a fact. He had every right to be hurt by her behavior and I was really sorry that she made him feel bad. I told him he should remember how he felt today when he gets older and there is a young kid on the playground that wants to play with him. I asked him to make the choice to be kind to the little kid, to include him rather than hurt his feelings. Because we need to be nice to each other, we need to treat each other exactly how we want to be treated. We need to give each other a chance, just because someone is younger or different doesn't mean they aren't worth our time.

I don't know that he got it, but I hope he did. I mean, clearly he got her behavior so it isn't a stretch to think he understood what I was telling him. Even if he did get it I know he'll be mean to kids throughout his childhood, dude is not perfect. Hell, he might already be unkind when he's at school. I have no way of knowing how he acts when I'm not watching.

It has surprised me how unsettled I am by the incident. Again, in the greater scheme of things it really wasn't a big deal. But jesus, it's put me through the emotional wringer. The pain I experience when my kid hurts is so extreme that my gut reaction is to do anything in my power to take that hurt away. It's one of the parts of being a Mom that is the most surprising to me. But when I stop and think for a second I realize the kid is going to get hurt. A lot. And it isn't always a bad thing, in fact in some cases it will help him grow. I saw the mother and little girl today and I'm ashamed to admit that the small hurt little girl inside me totally wanted to tell on her. Thankfully I didn't seriously consider it for a second. I do understand she was being completely developmentally appropriate. She was trying to assert her authority among her peers, to show she was one of the big girls (she looked to be the youngest of her group). And before this all happened she did greet T and hug him.

I've had a number of shrinks explain to me that folks who have anxiety disorders generally suffer from acute oversensitivity, which isn't all bad because it often leads to a huge capacity to feel empathy. If I may be so bold, I know I'm hideously oversensitive yet one of my strengths is my ability to put myself in someone else's shoes. I've spent a lot of time since yesterday thinking about what is going on in T's head, but I've also thought about how the hypothetical kid will feel when T is the mean one some day. And how that kid's Mom will feel. I don't want my son to cause that pain every bit as much as I don't want him to feel the pain. But he will. And it won't be because he is some horrible monster, it will be developmentally appropriate. It's where the little girl is right now, she is being normal. Seeing the boy T will become in her actions helps me not overreact to her behavior. Holy shit, the anxiety is helping me right now. And there is a little "turning lemons into lemonade" action for your Friday afternoon.

This kid has my whole heart. 

Especially when he's being silly. 

Syracuse as we were leaving downtown last night.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flirt

This morning Z and I were talking about the kind of woman whose only method for communicating with men is to come on to them. He hates dealing with this type of female, especially if they are on the young side because it makes him feel like a dirty old man during every conversation. And Z loves to flirt, loves it. He will flirt with anyone on god's green earth if given the chance in the right setting. But if he is talking about something serious he wants to be able to have a frank and intelligent conversation. Flirting in that context is actually pretty lazy, it's what you do when you don't have anything of substance to say. The point he was making today was he often feels like these women do have things of substance to say, which makes the sexualized way they approach every conversation all the more frustrating.  We both wish we could be completely forthright and just tell these women to cut it out, that they are selling themselves short.

But you know what? Women come by that behavior pretty damn honestly. The message fed to us from birth by the media and through advertising is often that our looks and our sexuality define us. We know better, but the message is so pervasive that is is impossible to escape. Our self worth is measured by how attractive we are. I am lucky that my parents raised me to believe that I was equal to any man in every way. My father discussed his work with us every night around the dinner table. He occasionally had to make presentations at conferences. He would sit my sister and me down and rehearse his speeches on us when we were children, then he'd take the time to listen to our feedback. What a gift he gave us! Yet despite that upbringing I still worry about not being thin enough, pretty enough, I feel useless because I'm so bad at presenting myself as a sexualized being. In a classroom I might be confident, but in social situations I feel like I'll never measure up to the expectations of being a vivacious, attractive, sexy woman. The ubiquitous focus by the media on the sartorial choices of Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin as they ran for office is an obvious example of how you must be more than just brains as a woman. As was the cruel and bizarre focus on Clinton's "cankles" because clearly one cannot run this country without slender and defined ankles. That's what won Obama the election 4 years ago-his Fibularis longus muscles are much more trim and shapely than McCain's.


Wow. I sort of got carried away there and let my feminist show. The point of this whole post was meant to be much fluffier. As Z was headed out the door to work we wrapped up our conversation.

Me, "Oh man, do I do that?"
Z rather dismissively, "No. You don't flirt. Ever."
Me, "But what about back when I was 21? Did I do it then?"
Z, "Karen. No. You do a lot of things really well. You have never been able to flirt. Seriously. Ever. Ever."
My need to overachieve kicked into high gear, even though I know I suck at flirting.
Me, "Jeeze! I can flirt!"
Z, " Really, no. You can't."
Pause.
Z, "Anyway! So we'll meet at the restaurant tonight at 5:30?"
Me, "Ok. And I'm going to flirt with every person I see there."
Z with way more condescension that I was comfortable with, "Fantastic! I really look forward to seeing that!"

So if anyone knows where I can pick up some feminine wiles before 5:30 this evening please shoot me an email....

I'm working on the flirty wink!

I'm cracking myself up here. I think the overachiever in me needs to be satisfied with being silly. I can win a silly contest damn it. I mean, just look at the first picture!

Z just after I caught him flirting with the ice cream cone. He's smooth with the inanimate objects.

Have I mentioned how much we love our local ice cream place?
Also, I could take some serious flirting lessons from this kid.
***UPDATE***
Wow. I did not do a good job communicating how I feel with this one. The first paragraph reads as an indictment of women who would dare to flirt. And that's on me and my bad writing. It isn't what Z and I were talking about. You see, we were talking about a specific woman who makes Z uncomfortable every time they meet. Because they are meeting in a professional capacity. I wanted to be sure to be vague about the details, but by doing so I made sweeping generalizations about women. Listen, flirting is cool. Men do it. Women should be allowed to also do it without stigma. And if I think more about it, this discomfort Z was explaining to me? I've felt that way when I've dealt with men who are flirty while in professional situations and it is every bit as unprofessional and disconcerting. Perhaps because of my own insecurity or because of the power dynamics that exist in cross-gender communication I feel less like men are coming on to me in those situations and more like they are bullying me. But I have a feeling that my reaction is pretty personal, not universal. Across the board I think sexualizing a professional interaction is inappropriate I also do think that some women (and some men) use flirting as a crutch. Perhaps I was so sloppy in expressing myself because I'm jealous of the women who can play the flirting game when I cannot? For the record, I think it important and necessary that women feel empowered to express themselves. Flirting rocks, even if I can't to it myself. I do also think that there are situations in which it isn't appropriate. And perhaps some women use flirting in those situations because of expectations society has placed on the gender in general. Am I digging a deeper hole here? Any ladies out there want to tell me what they think?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Field Trip

On the walk to school yesterday I called my Mom and asked her for a pep talk. We were going on a field trip to a small organic farm about 40 minutes away. Under the best circumstances I would be freaking out. I feel completely out of control when I have to take transportation with a group, particularly when there isn't a bathroom involved. I feel trapped, sure I'll have an IBS event or an anxiety attack, sure I'll make a huge fool out of myself in front of the group. I was freaking out and to make matters worse I had developed the worst cold I'd had in ages. I am a gigantic baby. I don't handle being sick at all. I bitch, I moan, I tell Z he needs to send for the National Guard. All day I'd been telling myself that there was no way I could go on this trip. Right up until I walked out the door I was positive I'd text my friend who is teaching the class to bail. But I didn't. I left the house and started walking and called my Mommy. Then I called my sister. They both said all the right things. I went on the field trip and I was pretty damn proud of myself.

Mental illness is such a fucking bitch. I act "normal" so much of the time that I fool even myself into believing I am. Then I screw up the courage to do something like sign up for a class and all the sudden I remember how intense the crazy really is. As I told Z about the class and how much I wanted to take it the voice in my head was telling me there was no way I could do it. As I was at the window in the University College office building registering the voice in my head was telling me there was no way I could do it. As I was arranging the child care the voice in my head was telling me there was no way I could do it. As I walked to school that first day the voice in my head told me there was no way I could do it. 

Well, fuck that voice. I totally did it. The first week it felt like I climbed Mount Everest. Unfortunately then the voice told me that I was pathetic for being excited about managing to take a class, something that was not a big deal to most people. She told me that I was sad and embarrassing for celebrating such a teeny tiny success. I've gotten used to the fact that the voice is going to rag on me no matter what it is I do. It sucks, the anxiety sucks. But sometimes stuff sucks. As long as I'm fighting the suckage, acknowledging that it exists, that it isn't going away, working on telling it to go fuck itself, as long as I'm fighting back I'm doing ok.

I take imodium before every class. The first week my babysitter, who is a sophomore at school, told me the shortest way to walk there. It involves a hill that is pure evil. That first day I barely managed the hill, arrived to class a gross sweatball, but I did not shit my pants at school, damn it. Therefore I'm stuck walking that way for the rest of the semester even though I'd like to take a slightly longer yet much flatter route. To walk any other way would jinx my shitless pants record in my anxiety addled mind. I'm accepting that the routine might be helping me manage the anxiety. The huge hill is part of my Wednesdays.

And screw that stupid shrew in my head, I'm proud of myself for going on the trip yesterday. It wasn't exactly fun. We harvested winter squash in a field for an hour and a half. It was hard work, my cold didn't help matters. But it was honest work. It made a pretty important point about the kind of labor that is involved in bringing our food to our tables. It would have been a loss if I'd missed it. I did something that was incredibly hard for me, something even further outside my comfort zone than taking the class in the first place. Damn straight I'm proud of myself.


http://www.grindstonefarm.com/ 


This is most of what we picked. There were about 10 of us and I think it's fair to say we were all pretty proud of ourselves.

This was my 12th anniversary present to Z. A silk bow tie from the 50s. He's very dashing it it...
The first year of my boy's lives I basically dressed them in pjs all the time. Now that C is older I've been putting real clothes on him. Can't get over how cute they look. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tests

Zeke teaches design at the college level. Every year one of his biggest challenges is trying to convince members of the millennial generation, those kids who attended high school during the heyday of No Child Left Behind, that there is no "right" answer. He teaches at an excellent private university. His students are bright and accomplished. And I'm making sweeping generalizations here which are always dangerous, but a lot of his kids are used to being presented with hard facts, studying their asses off, and acing the tests. There aren't a lot of tests in design. They tend to, you know, design stuff.

I listen to his stories about teaching and I feel slightly superior as a Gen Xer who went to Sarah Lawrence, where the thrust of our education was Think For Yourself! and Write, Write, Write! We actually didn't have tests.

Here's the thing. When it comes to being a Mom I just want the "right" fucking answer. Just tell me what to do, I'll study really hard and I will kill that damn test. But there are no tests. Or there are, but you have no earthly idea when they are going to happen. Every single one is a pop quiz that carries the weight of a final exam. The stuff you think is important might not matter at all, the things you ignore could very well be the most important, and the results won't be in for another 20 years or so.

Yesterday when I went to collect T from school he was not wearing the same sweatpants (Yes, Z's child will only wear sweatpants, or as he calls them sweaterpants. Yes, I find this hilarious.) he had on when I dropped him off. His teacher told me that he had an accident on the playground. That the pee actually pooled in his new Star Wars shoes. They kindly lent him a fetching pair of crocs which he thought were awesome. This was unusual, I can't remember the last time he had a daytime accident-it has been at least a month, but it didn't really feel like a big deal. Today T was not wearing the same sweatpants when I picked him up in the afternoon. Another accident.

I start freaking out inside. What have I done, what haven't I done that I was supposed to do that is causing this? Is it too soon for this much school? He was potty trained 6 months ago. Was he not ready? Should I put him back in diapers? Should I drop by school to take him to pee every few hours? I've decided I've screwed him up because he's peed his pants two days in a row. And it isn't just me, my Mom was concerned when I called her. As was Z when we talked about it.

Unfortunately concern from others felt like an indictment. During my talk with Z he said, "T is a really anxious kid." And my heart just plummeted. I immediately went into defensive mode- "I don't think he's anxious!" Because what I heard was "You, Karen. You. You with your shitty anxiety disorder and atrocious mothering skills. You. You are ruining our child and making him Just. Like. You." Z, as he reminds me on a regular basis, is on my side. I do not need to be defensive with him. He was not criticizing me when he was commenting on our child's disposition. Yet it still feels like a test I have failed. Z's other reaction was that maybe the school day is too long for him. I felt like he was attacking me with that comment even though I'm the one that didn't want to send him to school so much this year. I'm so worked up about this I think he's mad at me for something that he wanted.

I'm kind of glad that last part happened. Because it was so nuts it made me snap out of the "we are failing him" spiral. I realized that we are all being crazy for worrying about what it means that T peed himself two days in a row during his first five days of school, which is a gigantic transition in the life of a three year old. This is not a big deal. We aren't doing anything wrong, he isn't doing anything wrong, school isn't doing anything wrong. He loves it there, he doesn't want to come home when I pick him up. We've talked to him about remembering to go to the bathroom at school. If we make this into a great big hairy deal to him that is when it becomes a problem. At least that is what I'm writing as my answer on the test. Do I get an A?

This beautiful boy is just fine.

We went apple picking on Sunday and there were ponies! 

T and Z in the orchard.

We're also fine. Crazy, but fine. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mommy, Mommy, Mommy

During T's infancy I dreamed about the day he would say 'Mama' and then someday 'Mommy'. It was every bit as amazing as I'd hoped when it finally happened. He couldn't say it enough for me back then. Every time I heard it I felt a tiny bit more like a Mom.

Moms I knew with older kids would occasionally complain about the chorus of 'Mommies' that constantly punctuated their days. I read several blog posts on the topic as well and I was completely incredulous. How could you ever get tired of hearing your child call you Mommy? You see where I'm going here...

He whines it, he makes it into 14 distinct syllables, he says it over and over and over no matter what I'm doing. Yesterday I wanted to pee alone. And by alone I mean with just one of my children. I can't leave them together unsupervised. C is climbing up on everything, T seems to be constantly attempting to maim C. And not to be graphic, but I have my fucking period, so I wasn't feeling like welcoming an audience in the can. I literally ran to the bathroom with C in my arms, trailed by T. I turned the lock and for the next 90 seconds T pounded his fists on the door, wept, explained to me that he needed to be with me while I peed, and somehow managed to scream "Mommy" about 50 times.

People. I just want to urinate in relative peace.

This kid is driving me up the fucking wall. That is, until I'm not with him. Then I miss him so much my heart actually aches. The class I am taking has been awesome so far, and it is a wonderful break from the stay at home mom-ness of my life. During the most recent class I heard someone call "Mom" several times. Turns out one of the Chefs has a son who has a work study job in the department and he was there and needed her. It made me miss T so much that tears started to well in my eyes.

T started preschool again last week. He's going a lot this year-Monday-Friday from 9-2:30. Big change from twice a week for 3 hours. His teacher and Z assured me he was ready for so much. And deep down I know he is, it's just that I'm not. I'm not ready to have him gone for lunch 5 days a week forever. Because we aren't going to suddenly have him to go preschool less next year. And the year after that is kindergarden, and next thing we know he'll be off to fucking college. I'm being flip, but it's true. As much as little man is sapping my will to live, um, I mean challenging me right now I'm still struggling with the fact that he is becoming his own person. It's time to start practicing sending him off into the world. Isn't that what school, sleepovers, camp is? Him practicing his independence from us, us practicing letting him go a little?

Damn, it's hard. His preschool has a kind of ease into things day where a parent accompanies each child to the room for an hour to get to know the teachers with about 6 other students. This year I took T. We played with the diggers (of course) and the cool sparkly play dough. And I noticed I could not keep my hands off of him. As we sat on the floor I had him pulled into my lap, I smelled his sweet little head and stroked his hair. I rubbed his back, I kissed him over and over. And then I sort of caught myself. Looked around. Noticed none of the other parents were doing it. Realized I was because it was either that or cry. I missed him already.

This three year old thing is kicking my butt. Zeke's, too. Half the time T is the sweetest kid on the planet, the other half the time he's a sociopath. We aren't worried about it because every three year old we know is the exact same way. There is a big part of me that is breathing a huge sigh of relief about school starting. He can be someone else's nightmare for a bunch of hours every week day. I've been ready for him to go back since about the week after school ended last spring. So it has surprised the hell out of me that it's also been this hard. Yet another lesson I've learned since becoming a parent-I can fervently love and adore the largest pain in my ass while wanting to strangle him. It's a good thing. It's nature's way of making sure I don't feed him to the wolves.

How do you not love a kid who finds the birthday piƱata you couldn't bear to throw away and wonders around the house wearing it?
 Or who refuses to wear clothing other than underwear at home yet is happy to pull my super awesome leopard print snuggie into his brother's stroller in the back yard to warm up.

First day of school! 

Walking towards preschool with Daddy.

He gave up naps for the most part this summer. The second day of school made him pass out. Have I mentioned how much I love his school and teachers? 

Z had to travel for work for several days this week. T was so excited to see him when he came home yesterday. I got a bit of a break from "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!" It sure is easier for me to hear him yell "Daddy!" over and over...





Thursday, September 13, 2012

Twelve Years

By the time last Friday rolled around I was barely holding on in the anxiety department. The crappy thing is I was so far gone that I didn't realize I was anxious. We got the boys to bed and Z was nothing but nice to me. I couldn't even be civil in return. The night was a bust and it only got worse when our carbon monoxide detector started beeping and showing an error sign right at 10:30pm when we were headed to bed. All the windows were open, error clearly didn't mean high levels and Z just wanted to unplug and deal with it in the morning. I lost my shit. Then I made us come up with a safety plan in case we had to evacuate the house. And then we went to bed.

C was up twice in the middle of the night. T came into our bed in the 6am hour, and I vaguely recall hearing him and Z leave the room at some point. But the next thing I knew it was after 8am. I looked out the window and one of the cars was gone. Z had taken both boys to the farmers market and let me sleep.

The night before we didn't have a conversation about how on edge and unreasonable I was. But we haven't been married for 12 years for nothing. He knew exactly what was going on even if I did not, he could have given me a hard time for being a brat, instead he let me sleep in. When I woke up to an empty house I was grateful and ashamed and I finally realized the my anxiety was through the roof.

I continue to try and push myself, to fight the urges to hide at home, to tell the anxiety to fuck off so I can get on with the business of living. But some weeks are still too much. Last Monday was our anniversary, Tuesday evening we had orientation for T's school, Wednesday my folks went home, T went to the dentist for the first time, C has his 12 month well visit and three shots, and in the evening I had class, Thursday a friend and mentor of Z's who I'd never met was driving through town so we had him for dinner, Friday we had a birthday party to attend for a sweet little girl who turned 3, by the time we got to Friday evening I had started to withdraw.

I wanted to do all of these things (Ok, not the orientation for T's school-he was there last year so we know the drill), and I'm glad I did to them, even the orientation. Listen, everyone in the world who has kids or who has someone in the household who works in academia had a week every bit as full-the start of the year is always crazy. I continue to be ashamed that doing what most others handle every week makes me want to rock back and forth on the sofa and be left completely alone with a huge bottle of chill pills, a 6-pack of hard cider, and all 8 Harry Potter movies.

It's hard to not hate myself for how much I struggle with the day to day stuff. It's hard to not feel like a burden to Z and the boys. But one of the things that makes it easier is that Z knows me, sometimes he knows me better and faster than I know myself. Even when our marriage was a big pile of bird droppings he still knew me. We saw some pretty bad times about 7 or 8 years ago, I don't think that either of us really understands how and why we (and a battery of therapists) were able to battle back from ending things. It feels like a miracle that he knows me more intimately than anyone else ever has, knows all the shameful and gross things, and not only loves me but likes me. I still don't feel worthy of his affection. He gets pissed whenever I bring it up. He doesn't want me to question him, he wants me to accept what he gives me. Hell, it would piss me off if he needed me to explain the million reasons I wake up wanting to spend the rest of my life with him. I'm glad that he feels like he deserves the love and the like I throw his way. I wish I was more like him.

So that is what I'm grateful for after 12 years of marriage, he knows me. He understands me before I understand myself. And a lot of the time he uses that understanding to be kind to me. He's a good fucking guy.

Happy Anniversary, Z. I love you. Incidentally, I also think you are sexy as hell.

And I'm glad we have these amazing boys together.

And that you do kick ass stuff like refinish the front door. 

The traditional gift for 12 years of marriage is silk. Z hand stitched a blank book for me. It is covered in silk and on the back of all 36 pages he typed a fact including the number 12.
Yes, I do know how lucky I am.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Love New York

Is the feeling of home, of belonging important to you? I spent my childhood chasing that feeling. I romanticized my parent's upbringings-one in a city, one in a coal mining town, neither moved until they were at least in college, surrounded by extended family and friends they knew their whole lives. My high school was my 8th school, and the amount of travel provided me with some pretty extraordinary experiences, but I guess the grass is always greener. I wanted to be more than the new girl, I wanted to be known.

When I first traveled to New York City I was as excited as every other tourist. I was 17 and the unusual circumstances surrounding my upbringing meant that I'd been to Hong Kong, Rome, Sydney, Australia, lived in Wellington, New Zealand before making it to the Big Apple. Something extraordinary happened during the visit (and I mean more extraordinary than getting the flu during the first act of Tommy and spending an hour and a half barfing in the theater bathroom). I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, it felt like home. New York City became the center of my universe and getting there was the only option.

During the decade I lived there it felt right, it felt permanent. Every time we left the city I'd be accompanied by melancholy, a weight on my chest until we got back and I was able to take a full breath again. When Z and I got married it was with the understanding that I wanted to stay in the city for the rest of my life, I wanted to raise any possible kids there, I wanted to be the old lady with the push cart waddling around. Hell, I already had the push cart. That thing rocked for trips to the grocery store.

After September 11th of 2001 I was even more resolved to stay forever. No one was going to scare me away from my home. But over the next few years Z became miserable in the city. It started suffocating him, he wanted to escape. Our marriage was a mess, he didn't want that anymore either. He got into RISD for grad school and I was faced with a decision. Leave the city that was my home or save my marriage. New York was my security blanket, my marriage was awful, and I didn't know if it was even possible to save it. I made the right choice. I became a different person, one who doesn't need a specific place to be happy. But I miss New York every day.

I wanted to write about our anniversary, but on September 11th it's hard to wrap my brain around anything but that day. So the post about Z and me can wait. Z is the great love of my life. But New York is a close second. If we ever hit the lottery (unlikely being we don't play the lottery) the first thing I'll do is buy an apartment there. If I have to choose, I choose Z. It sure would be awesome not to have to choose at all, though.

I still don't know how to feel on this day. Angry. Helpless. Stupid. Insignificant. Lucky. The one emotion that makes sense is my love for the city. It's a great place, no...it's the best place. It owns a pretty big chunk of my heart.

This must have been the spring of '99 or 2000. Just a couple of kids getting drunk on the roof of their apartment with a friend. No worries in the world. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Baby Turned One

So much has happened in the week and a half since I last posted-C turned one, Z and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary, class started, my parents visited, I wrote my first paper since 1999, and I attended my very first state fair where I managed to have an anxiety attack just as we approached the huge butter sculpture. So I'm going to try and do a bunch of shorter posts this week to catch up. I say that now...not sure if it will actually happen.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Very quickly: the class is awesome. As much as I enjoy being in a professional kitchen with its familiar smells and all that stainless steel, I love the seminar component even more. The first readings we discussed were by Wendell Berry and Michael Pollan, so really accessible stuff, but when it comes to the food movement these are the big guys. Food Studies is a relatively new field of interest in academia. There aren't many programs in the US, and one is being developed at SU right now. The class has filled me with excitement and urgency, and I want to figure out how to go to grad school to study food issues.
--------------------------------------------------------------
My sweet baby turned one on August 31st and is now officially a toddler. 
Z and I have pretty much come to the conclusion that we are done in the baby making department. We are older parents, Z will be 40 on his next birthday. If we had started years earlier a third kid would have been a no brainer, but we made different choices and I think they were the best choices for us. The thing is, right now we feel like we are stuck in purgatory. Friends keep telling us it will get less grueling, but we want our life back a little bit. We want an amazing night of sleep every once in a while. We want to not spend over an hour a night getting the boys ready and into bed. We want them to be able to occupy themselves for a few hours and give us a fucking break. What it comes down to is that we just can't wrap our minds around extending this purgatory for two more years.

On Tuesday I happened to see two newborns in my travels. My heart ached so much when I looked at both babies that tears came to my eyes. Forget my heart, my boobs ached. I'm still nursing, but haven't leaked all over the place in public for ages. The milk managed to stay put on Tuesday, but it was close. I want another baby. After spending time with some truly amazing young ladies I'm even getting over my girl baby fear a bit and would kind of like to see if we would get a daughter out of the third try.

But, you know, I also want a pony. Ok, not a pony. Hmm, I also really want an apartment in NYC. And some self confidence. And to dress with elegance and panache. And for really thick, curly, red hair. None of these things are going to magically come true. Which is actually fine because the reality is we are happy in our lives right now in this family. We are happy. It's crazy to type and I sort of feel like I'm jinxing something, but it is true. We are happy, we recognize it, and we feel lucky and grateful. I want another kid, but I want us to get out of purgatory even more. So no third baby for us. Unless it's an accident. In that case I'd like us all to pretend that this post never happened and act super excited and thrilled. Also, who the hell knows? Maybe we change our minds next month. Maybe a third baby is a perfect idea a bit later.

For all three of T's birthdays I've done Star Wars stuff, for Z as much as for him. C was born with a "stork bite" birthmark shaped like a lightening bolt on his forehead. It's fading, but you can still see it. He's my little Harry Potter and that's what I decided to go with when it came to making decorations for his cupcakes. While sipping a hard cider and watching TV I made some sorting hats, snitches, and lightening bolts. 

 Here's the finished product. 

Singing happy birthday to C. T just wanted to get the song over with so he could dig in. He chose a snitch cupcake. We gave C a lightening bolt one to go with his birthmark. 

He loved it.

Our sweet C. He has been an absolute delight. I still don't understand how my anxiety-ridden body produced such a happy little human. He is so straightforward and angst free. His default setting is content. When he gets hurt or frustrated he lets us know, but he is simple to soothe with a hug and a kiss. His joy at seeing us in the morning, or when Z comes home from work makes us feel completely loved. He watches his brother like a hawk; the hero worship has already begun. The two boys can crack each other up over and over. Z and I don't get what's so funny, but we love that they already have inside jokes. I miss him when he is napping. During my first class I watched the clock and when it was his bedtime and my eyes teared up as I imagined Z putting him down. I don't want to miss a single second with this kid. I know he can teach me so much about how to enjoy life. My love for him was immediate, fierce, and will be forever.

So yes, we are stuck in purgatory right now. But honestly, purgatory isn't that bad.