To catch one summer cold may be regarded as misfortune; to catch two looks like carelessness.
Sunday: the day Pip found a new driver and I realized I know more about the Quidditch World Cup than the Real World Cup.
Tell me things about toddlers escaping from cribs and how to ease the tradition. The dreaded day has come for this climber lad.
She sat…staring at Verrocchio’s statue of Doubting Thomas poking at Christ’s wound in a niche outside the church. That was the Christian way to deal with doubt: open yourself up to being poked at.
— Jo Walton, My Real Children
I’m not always brave enough for that — either as poker or pokee, but I’d like to be.
Lately, I’ve been feeling normal. In a lot of ways, actually, but especially my body. And that’s pretty abnormal. My cycle’s back, and this is likely our last week of weaning. (OK, I keep saying that.) But seriously: for the first time in two and a half years, my body’s (almost) mine again.
I remember longing for this autonomy as I snuffled through my first unmedicated pregnant head cold. And it’s awesome going jeans shopping for jeans close to my old size. And it’s awesomer still not being perpetually ravenous, because while I’m long past the postpartum days of granola bars on the nightstand and juice in the shower, forgetting a snack is no longer a crisis situation.
I remember years ago saying something to a pregnant friend — who’d puked and snoozed and waddled her way through a couple trimesters — about how awful it all must be. And she paused, and then she surprised me, and maybe herself: “But it’s awfully interesting.” I’ve found that to be true, too. Now I’m back to the boring, and I’m surprised just how dull it feels. And the mundane facts of my normal body I forgot, like, oh, I guess my hair is back to being instantly filthy now. (Guess I forgot to note and appreciate that hormonal perk when I was regularly vomiting.)
It’s not over, I know. I know for years still Pip will think of my body as his property, a jungle gym, a source of solace, a repository of freckles that need poking, but it won’t be the same until I’m occupied again with a new little life. And mostly I’m not in a rush, but I’m also glad this probably isn’t the end of the road.
My body all by itself can feel like a lonely prospect.
- Me: I can see if there are backroads I could manage. But I haven't interstated in five years.
- Sister: I could try to drive back if you want.
- Me: It's ok. Do you have your license and insurance now?
- Sister: Haha no I don't good point.
- We are a couple of really good drivers, you guys.
In which we showcase a variety of weird smiles that prove our kinship.
I like to be good at things. In high school, I took APs with exams I thought I could pass, and I did. In college, I majored in a subject I found interesting but also not too hard. In my working life, I haven’t really been over my head.
But there’s no entry level easing in for motherhood. I don’t think you can start out being good at motherhood. Anyway, I didn’t. And this post is not to say that I’m good at it now. I am still bad at motherhood in lots of ways, and fail on a daily basis in matters that seem so much more important than a school test or a work project. That’s hard for me, accepting that I can’t be perfect in my daily 9-to-5 life as a semi-stay-at-home mom.
But on the other hand, being a stay-at-home mom also means I GET to fail. I get to be bad at stuff. Before I had Pip, it had been years since I picked up a crayon, decades since I tried my hand at wiffle ball. (The picture above is him insisting that I try again.) I really only sang at church. I didn’t do a lot of athletic stuff because I’ve never been good at athletic stuff. My life had gotten grown up and small, hemmed in by my strengths and weaknesses.
Being at home with a kid allows — even sometimes demands — that you do all kinds of things you’re bad at. While sometimes that’s unspeakably stressful, those moments of coloring and learning about trucks and singing off-key — those are the good times.
Lately I’ve been seeing the Valley with new eyes. Not all the time, mind you, but in bursts and snatches. I’m not sure why. Is it because I spend my days with Pip, who’s still capable of rediscovering things constantly? Is it the aftermath of a couple dreamy little vacations last month, granting me tourist eyes?
We’ve lived in the Valley five years now. We’ve watched the swamp cabbage break out in a riot of green, pollen cloud the pond, the ferns turn to rust, time and again.
Slowly walking the trail with Pippin in his stroller, the same runners lap us like we’re standing still. Sometimes it feels like we are.
Last year on this bench, I’d pause in our trek around the pond and, if the weather was warm enough, I’d pull Pippin from his stroller and nurse him as we watched the water lap against the muddy bank.
This year he’s big enough to sit by himself and take in the view. This time next year, we’ll probably still be walking this slow circuit, but the following year, there’s a real chance we’ll be gone, John’s PhD leading us on to our next adventure.
I feel so impatient for that next chapter, but on days like this, I find myself wondering — can I find the hope to soak up these last days, to believe they truly are the last?
I was making granola and listening to the usual wail fest that’s been playing around noon for the last almost two weeks, where Pip stands in his crib and hollers MAMA and then moans, and then almost falls asleep, and then hollers HELP ME, until I eventually cave and rescue him. And today, without warning, after fifteen minutes of weaker and weaker protests, HE WENT TO SLEEP.
I feel like a wizard.
I may have taken a slurp of maple syrup in victory.
I didn’t do anything different today, unless giving him a pillow and showing him how to use it did the trick. I think we just finally wandered back out the other side of this sleep regression.
I don’t mean to brag, because I hate when other parents brag, but I am being quiet as a mouse and that makes it hard to bask in celebration without blogging. So here is my small, quiet basking.