Archive | February, 2012

40 – Over the Hill

23 Feb

So look at me trying to write. Trying to be creative and useful and a wife and a mom and trying to hold a whole family together, failing a whole lot, but maybe making some headway too.

Your dad and I just returned from our now annual trip to Mexico without you because my parents are amazing and watched you for a whole week so we could have some time to fall asleep at 9.00 and wake up at 8.00 and listen to nothing except the sound of the waves. I read four books in five days, which is more than I’ve read in the past year. I missed you last year too and I still clearly remember walking into the house to see you still warm and red from your nap and you called out, “Mama!” and my heart clenched because I had actually forgotten in just five and 1/2 days exactly how your voice sounded. This year, you were much more aware of the fact we were leaving. So much so that you volunteered that you were, “worried about us leaving and were going to cry a lot.” You were also quite concerned that we were not going to come back and so I promised, of course we were coming back and that we would talk to you on the computer so you could see us and chat. You love a good Skype chat. But I missed you even more this year than I thought possible. One of the books I read during the week described the author sitting on her mother’s lap each evening after dinner and I wanted nothing more in that moment than to hold you in my lap and smell your hair and feel you wiggling to get comfortable. I missed your laughs and your funny hand gestures when you want us to follow you. I missed driving around in the car listening to Pumped Up Kicks with you because it is your favorite song at the moment. I know it is a crazy violent song but you sing all the wrong words so I am certain you don’t get the meaning at all.

But I missed you so much I had a panic attack on the last day of our trip. Not a full blown panic attack, but close enough to the one I’ve had once in my life to know that my stomach wasn’t just hurting from something I ate and my head wasn’t spinning because I was possibly dehydrated. It suddenly struck me that I missed you horribly and I told your dad that with a catch in my voice and he knew I wasn’t being flip and said, “I miss him too.” When you were a baby I never had that panicky desire to come running back to you the moment you left my side. I remember Annie Lamott in Operating Instructions talking about the “jungle drums” beating in her ears as she attempts to go to a movie a few months after her son is born. I never had that happen and always wondered what was wrong with me. Even now as you trot off to school each day I don’t feel disoriented without you. But there, so far from home, after not seeing you for five days, I missed you more than I have ever missed you in my life. And as sick as I felt, it was a kind of shock tempered by relief. Relief that I am so unbearably lucky to have you as my son and your dad as my husband. And finally coming home to you the next day and being greeted with your huge hugs and your exclamations for the next three days, “I am SO glad you are home Mama and Dad!” made things feel better too.

I also want to tell you that I love you, which is not anything new, but bears repeating, hourly if necessary. I wish you could read this and know that I love you. That Dad loves you. That we love you beyond belief. Beyond all reason. That we will love you no matter what (my only caveat being that if you decided to go to BYU we will disown you.)

Your first response now if I yell about something, anything is, “But I still love you Mama,” or “Can you smile happily please Mama?” It is like the sharpest knife to my heart every time you say it. I know you are just trying to neutralize the situation as fast as you can but it makes me feel utterly awful about everything. It makes me feel even worse because I know exactly how you are feeling. You are so much a product of your dad and me that you have inherited our ridiculous inability to deal with conflict. Conflict makes me want to run and hide. The first whiff of conflict sends me crawling up a tree trying to distance myself from it and trying to calm myself down enough to know that one fight does not end a marriage or a friendship. One disagreement over where the flour should go in the kitchen is not going to end the world. But I am 37 and I still have this immediate flight reaction to conflict. And yet with this inability to deal with conflict also comes this complete lack of patience and lightening fast reaction to anything I find annoying.

So, I find myself over and over in situations where I am really angry with you because you have not listened to what I have asked you to do 87,947 times in a row. Or you have asked me the same question over and over and I have given the same answer and I am simply tired of trying to explain that a bus is just a bus and there is nothing more I can say to answer your question, “But Mama, why is a bus a bus?” I am certain that one day your philosophy professor in college will be thrilled with your insistence on getting to the bottom of this existential question, but I am not a philosophy professor, I am just your mom. A mom who just wants you to put on your jacket and get your backpack and walk out to the car. Is that so difficult? I won’t answer that because I know that every parent reading this knows that it is that hard to do something that simple.

But I hear your sweet voice saying, “But I still love you Mama,” and I torn in two. I am still angry – sometimes justifiably – and yet you are forcing me to swallow my anger and reassure you that I do love you. And I absolutely hate that you have worried for even a second that I don’t love you. It kills me to think that you worry I don’t care about you. If this is toddler manipulation, it is the very worst form of it because it goes to my worst fears.

I am taking a photography class this month and taking a photo each day of something that corresponds to a letter of the alphabet. It has been very difficult not to just take a picture of you or something related to you since the ratio of Luke to non Luke photos in my iPhoto album must be about 10 to 1. I have done pretty well forcing myself out of my comfort zone but I slipped back to you as a subject a few nights ago. S for sleeping. I think I only have one or two other photos of you sleeping and they are from when you were very small mostly because the fear of waking you up is far greater than my need to document you sleeping. This one I will treasure forever because this is what you look like most nights: your cheeks flushed, Lion tucked under you, your arms and legs all over the place. You are warm and quiet and I whisper to you over and over I love you little bear, sweet dreams little bear, tucking the blankets around you. I am so glad I took the risk of waking you just to remember this particular moment.

I love you.
Sweet dreams.
I love you.
Sweet dreams.
I love you.
Sweet dreams.

Please know that and remember it always.

38/39 – Slip Sliding Away

9 Feb

Every single day I promise myself that I am going to finish this post and then every single day I don’t. I know I have the words in me and I know I need to write them down but there the will to write is not there. And then a friend posted one of those flow charts that everyone loves these days and it was about writing and how you just have to keep writing and it is with that in mind that I am just going to finish this post. And then I am going to keep on writing.

Every year I promise myself that I am going to write a post about Christmas right after the actual day because it is one of those holidays that has such a momentous build up that even two days later it already feels like two weeks have passed. Now Christmas was almost two months ago and it feels like two years ago. The tree is gone, decorations down, you remind me almost daily that the Christmas lights are still up outside the house and my resolution to write more is clearly not being followed. Each month so much happens that I feel like I cannot properly relate it all or distill it down to one perfect moment of parental clarity. Maybe I need to write more, which is a task that is daunting and terrifying and yet sounds immensely satisfying in theory. I suppose I find myself casting about these days for something I can say that I do. Without the garden, I feel at loose ends and directionless. Starting in September there is a great rush of activities – gardening, canning, putting up, getting ready for winter. The birthday season comes and we have parties to attend nearly every weekend. Football season with its games, your birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas, we slide into New Years and suddenly it all stops. Spring and its glorious warmth is still months away. The days slip by but with little show for it except an occasional burst of New Year’s cleaning resolution. Perhaps I could try to write away the rest of winter and when I look up in a few months the ground will be thawing and it will be time to sink my hands into the dirt and drop seeds and buy three more chickens.

The house is quiet again as it always is when you are at school. Christmas break and the weekends you fill the house with the sounds of your I Love Toy Train DVDs, your own train sounds as you circle your trains around the track and newer sounds of pirates fighting and things blowing up. I won’t lie though. After two weeks and two days of your holiday break, I had a spring in my step as we headed back to school. I could totally identify with the line in It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas “and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again…” The parking lot was filled with parents who could barely refrain from looking gleeful and not a few mothers stopped me and began the conversation with, “we survived!” I know it sounds just awful and really, all things considered, the break wasn’t that bad, but you were so clearly thrilled to be back at school with “your kids” and I am thrilled to sit in my house and listen to The Quiet that I think we are both in a good place.

Christmas was, actually, delightful this year as it was the first year since you were born where you really started to get it. Every morning you would bound out bed and race up the stairs saying, “Let’s find Owlie,” Owlie being your Elf on the Shelf that your dad and I managed, miraculously, to move every single night and you seemed somewhat convinced that he actually went back to see Santa every night. You were far less convinced that Owlie actually reported any of your daily transgressions and only told Santa the good things you did that day. Perhaps next year he will have a stronger grasp on your behavior. We went to visit Santa at one of our favorite nurseries, Cactus and Tropicals and after a few moments hesitation, you got on his lap and smilingly told him that you wanted a log cabin set for Christmas. You held tight to this request until a few days before Christmas when you started adding things to the list. I hardened my heart and told you that Santa only brought some of the things you asked for, not all. Your dad, a total softie and way nicer than I am, went out and got a few more Thomas trains for your stocking. The look on your face when you unwrapped them Christmas morning and said, “Just what I asked for!” was priceless and I was so glad that you have such an amazingly kind father.

Your utter delight in the fact that Santa ate the cookie we left out and that the reindeer stopped to drink the bourbon we left on the back step was so charming and sweet that it did make Christmas all the more magical. You stopped and looked at every single gift you received, wanting to play with it right then and there. I think your favorite was a tractor trailer truck and bulldozer combination.

A few days after Christmas, we boarded a plane and headed to California for a whirlwind trip to see your cousins, aunts and uncles and my parents, your beloved Nan and Charlie. You spent two blissful days with your cousins Avery and Birch and my sister Emelie and I could not get over how well you all played together. You were in heaven, knee deep in cars and trains and boys. Every night we would tuck you all into your bunk beds and your aunt and I would sing to you and you would fall asleep in about five minutes because you were so tired from all the playing. I kept thinking of the day I went to get the ultrasound that would tell us if you were a boy or a girl. I talked to Emelie an hour before the appointment saying I was still convinced you were going to be a girl and she said, “But if it’s a boy they can all play together. All the boys. It will be so awesome.” Later the technician, after showing us your fluttering heart and tiny lovely spine said, “It’s a boy. Definitely a boy. DEFINITELY,” and three years later that long ago dream of all the boys playing together came true. It was definitely worth the wait.

I think I keep returning to this idea that I need to write more because you are so much more of a person than you were nearly three and 1/2 years ago when I started writing this blog. That seems like such an obvious statement but I think as a parent you don’t notice as much how much your child has grown until you step back and look at the long view. This past Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday and I realized that it had been four year to the day that I found out I was pregnant. Four years ago I burst into the bedroom at 7.00 in the morning (your father would maintain it was 5.00) yelling, “Oh my God! Does that look like a plus sign to you!?” And right then and there our lives shifted.

Four years ago. I cannot really take in how much has happened since then and now that you are three you say and do so much on a daily basis that I cannot keep track of it all. You say something every day that makes me laugh. You are such a miniature adult in so many ways often correcting me by saying, “Oh. You mean, a cup instead of a glass?” You respond with an enthusiastic “Of course!” when I ask you if you would like some milk or water. The other day you observed that, “there are a lot of big snowmen in this town.” I could easily turn this blog into a daily one filled with funny things that you say, but I don’t really want to do that. I think I will continue always looking forward to how much you will grow into an adult, but to continually be amazed by looking back to see how far we have come. Four years ago I sat on our couch and watched Barack Obama give his first national speech in Iowa and my world changed and I had hope again. Four years later, you sat on the couch with Dad and watched the Iowa caucus results. How could I have this sweet small baby curled in my arms and then four years later have this sweet small boy sprawled on the couch talking about caucuses and how he will be President some day? We have such dreams for you. I hope all of this writing lets you know someday that we loved you from the very beginning.