Monday, January 24, 2011

8 months old

official eight month photo

future pianist

Sunday, January 23, 2011

grandma and grandpa's house

Houses are powered by memories. As my husband scrolls through home-for-sale listings, I wonder what memories my son will have, what details will matter to him, and how I can make for him a home that comforts. A home for love.

It's close to a decade since my grandparents were forced by failing health to move to a retirement facility. I lost my grandfather, I may be losing my grandmother, and I find that I miss their old house, more even than I miss the house I grew up in.

It was a warm house with a small kitchen, dish rags hanging from wall-mounted rails, the cookie jar of windmill cookies, a vinyl tablecloth with scotch tape over any cuts, pine cupboards storing well-worn white Tupperware that Grandma had washed by hand thousands of times. It smelled of roasted meat and dish soap.

Grandpa would sit at the table, a small TV playing the news or Matlock or The Bold and The Beautiful. He'd wear thin, white undershirts, gray chest hair showing over the collar, and play solitaire with faded cards. I'd sit on a chair, on my feet, and hope that Grandma was making macaroni and cheese instead of gross vegetables.

I can barely stand how much I miss it. The people, their voices. The room and its smells.

Grandma would read with me, watch Mr. Rodgers, sing "You Are My Sunshine," push me on the swing set outside, play gin and king's corners and old maid. I'd trail after her to the basement to watch her move undershirts and old handkerchiefs from the washer to the dryer, and peek through the small basement windows where I could just see Grandpa planting red geraniums along the house.

I have an anti-photographic memory. I can't really bring faces to mind, not even my husband's when he's sitting next to me. But I can see my grandparents' house, the red berries that fell from the tree over their sidewalk, the jewelry box on my grandmother's dresser, the linen curtains, the gold flowered wallpaper on the bathroom walls. I remember the starchy, powdery detergent smell from Grandma's closet, the sound of the spare refrigerator humming to life, the mirror shelf on the living room wall where stood an artificial rosebud in a slender vase.

Little changed in their house, I could count on that. But now I'll never be there, with them, ever again.

I grieve for the loss of it. There is nothing that can last forever. Places, things, people, even memories. All of it is impermanent, all but love.

Friday, January 21, 2011


It was a hard week.

But we're still laughing.

hungry for baby hands

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

forget juggling

I was writing a comment on J. Elle's post when I realized I had too much to say about being a work-outside-the-home mother.

Coincidentally, the topic comes during a week that makes a very good example of why working and mothering at the same time is, in one inadequate word, hard. Another word is pressure. It's like being squeezed from all sides until I think my head might pop off.

My job is important to me. I like the work, I'm good at it, I enjoy being needed and wanted in a professional capacity, and it's GREAT having reliable income in this economy.

That being said

Nothing -- no great feeling -- comes even within an inch of how desperately wonderful it is to be this baby's mother, how fulfilling it is to care for him, how hard it is to be away from him. I don't care at all (yet?) that being a mother is thankless, and maybe that's my professional-self talking. Maybe if I spent the entirety of every day being mommy-and-only-mommy, I'd feel like dooce and many other stay-at-homes who call it rigorous and tireless and wish they could get a BREAK.

I get that.

But I still want it.

I've said before how incredibly lucky I am, that as a work-outside-the-home mom, I am as close as I can be to a stay-at-home -- work is about ten minutes away, I don't do daycare, and I see him and nurse him during (almost) every lunch hour. Our routine is complicated in order to make it work, and involves a morning schedule and grandparents and a sleep-deprived daddy. But I'll do whatever I can to keep the routine.

All of this will change, and probably soon. For one thing, we may be moving. For another, being the mother of an almost-eight-month-old is a PIECE OF CAKE compared to being the mother of a couple of toddlers, or at least that's the impression I get. Whether you're at home or not.

When it comes to being a full time mother and full time worker, I can't juggle. I just can't. All the balls tumble down, starting with the least important.

I don't wear makeup. I don't do a thing with my hair. I'm just lucky if I'm relatively clean when I leave the bathroom in the morning with a cranky (I have to force him to stay awake) baby. I go to work looking like a hungover college student.

When we need things, I don't make it to the store. I squeeze in some Amazon shopping when we're desperate for diapers. (Thank you, Amazon Mom.) There isn't time for the basics like paying bills, trimming nails, cleaning floors, cooking meals (ha!). My gourmet dinner last night was Kraft Mac 'N Cheese. (I even eat like a hungover college student.)

So if you want to know how to juggle it all, don't ask me. When I'm not doing the paid work, my hands are busy with the baby. I just watch all those pretty balls drop and bounce.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Last night, Fletcher amazed himself. It was one of the best moments I've ever had.

It wasn't all that amazing by itself. Fletcher was about to get into his pajamas, so I had him sitting up in the Pack 'n Play while I covered his eczema spots with lotion. He was very intent on biting down on the playpen, so he grabbed onto the side with both hands.

Then he pulled himself up on his knees, and his face absolutely beamed. He breathed in sharply, a smile blooming across his round face, his eyes lighting up with pleasure. He laughed, and he did it over and over again.

I tried to catch it on video, but as usual I was a bit late. At the very end of this little clip, he finally knelt again for a second and then flopped backward:

He's constantly learning. I was told recently that the reason he's having such a hard time going to sleep when he's so obviously tired is because there's so much to see, do, and learn, and he doesn't want to close his eyes.

He can army crawl the length of a room now. He knows how to get his legs out of the way when he's rolling around furniture. He has a special affinity for remotes and cords, and is strong enough to yank a whole laptop off a table just by grabbing a cord. No matter what he grabs, it takes 0.5 seconds to reach his mouth.

He absolutely hates when we try to wipe clean or put lotion on his face. He wiggles widely during diaper changes. He loves drawstrings, especially on sweatshirts, more than anything else in the world. Necklaces and glasses are up there, though. Looking in the mirror will often bring smiles, as will surprising him (peek-a-boo!) and tickling his sides.

He's more aware than he's ever been. He sees everything that his eyes had once coasted over. Watching him soak up every detail reminds me to stop, slow down, and look. There's a lot of world to see.

smiles within the house of the sick

big eyes. yummy teether.

ready to eat

are those cheeks filling out?

best dad and sock-face

when will this cold be over?

Moon River, Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Moon River, wider than a mile,
I'm crossing you in style some day.
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker,
wherever you're going I'm going your way.
Two drifters off to see the world.
There's such a lot of world to see.
We're after the same rainbow's end -
waiting 'round the bend,
my huckleberry friend, Moon River and me.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Late, random, out of order photos.

baby rump



looking for loose change

mommy's boy



pillow monster

what happens when you grab a blanket corner and roll

reaching for a cold one

bow head

best present = wrapping paper

a gift from daddy

daddy's boy

official 7 month photo

Friday, January 7, 2011


Not all the time, but sometimes, it's good to recognize your own flaws, I think. Hard, but important. Ugly, but helpful for forcing honesty and improving yourself. If I'm being honest, I do it because I'm afraid that if I'm not careful about finding my flaws, I'm going to become (or stay) a person that other people don't want to be around.

I feel or act smug and superior.

I employ false modesty or self-deprecation because it's more acceptable or attractive.

I drag out suffering to draw your sympathy.

I act like/convince myself that things are rough. (No one has ever written better about this tendency than Girl's Gone Child -- I highly recommend her post In Defense of Happiness. " that people could see that I was real and in pain, legitimate.")

I shut you out and refuse to let go of (probably unwarranted) bad moods.

I blame and hate myself when I make mistakes, can't fix what needs fixing, or can't do what needs doing.
The last one stands out from the others, not because it's perceived as worse, but because it's almost perceived as a good thing. Forgiving and accepting when you fall short seems lazy and irresponsible. It's natural to cling to this flaw. It isn't as embarrassing. To me it's the easiest to talk about.

A lot of people don't find value in romance novels, even the bestseller-list ones, but I've always been partial to Nora Roberts. I was re-reading one of her classics (Carnal Innocence), and I came across a passage that jumped out at me. The protagonist, a woman needing a rest from her high-pressure life, had recently shot and killed a madman in self defense.
She would not search for a way to put the blame on herself. She would not agonize over how she could have avoided, prevented, or changed the outcome. That was the old Caroline's weakness, that delusion of self-importance that had made her believe she had the right, the responsibility, the power to bear all burdens [...] No, Caroline Waverly was not going to listen to that sneaky little voice that crept inside her brain to whisper about blame and fault and mistakes.
The delusion of self-importance. To attempt to bear all burdens... to come up inadequate... to be egotistical? I can add it to the list.

A note on real humility:

~ ~ ~

P.S. We're still sick.

P.P.S. We're getting better.

P.P.P.S. Everything we own is now stained amoxicillin-pink.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I had plans for this blog. I was going to post on Christmas about how different the holiday is with a baby. I was going to post on the last day of 2010 about what the year has meant to me, how it has changed everything, how I'm a new person and I will always feel love and warmth for the rest of my life when I think of that year. The Year of Fletcher.

I was going to post a little parade of my favorite 2010 photos. I also was going to post the ton of holiday photos (and a video or two) that we took in the last couple weeks.

But we are sick.

Oh are we sick.

Caring for a sick baby when I'm so sick myself is a new challenge. As one year ended and another began, we had coughing and mucus and screaming and earaches and headaches and congestion and tears. I bounced him and walked with him and cried with him.

Andy came home and took over. I went upstairs and lay back down in bed, listening to Fletcher wail downstairs, and I sobbed. A little for my pain. A little for his.

I have barely slept. My throat is on fire. My face feels like it has been beaten, and my ears hurt more than they ever have. None of it compares with the helplessness, the desperation in his cries and I can't fix it.

Happy New Year, world. I hope things can only get better.