Monday, April 14, 2014

Goodnight Mush

Breastnap

All day, I think about writing. Words and phrases bubble up in my mind that so perfectly sum up the moment, right now and I know I'll want to remember this little something when my kids are bigger.

Tonight, I think, when they're in bed, I'll write about this. But then the good-nights happen, and the dinner dishes are finally put away, and the library books are stacked up, and the diaper bag is packed with a ridiculous amount of stuff for tomorrow, and I sit down with nothing to say. My thought-filled, wordy brain is a lump of leftover oatmeal between my ears.

What was I going to say? What did I want to write?

It's a cliche, the tired-all-the-time stay-at-home mom. But here I sit, tired. Tired, brain-dead, storyless.

Bath

When I was 18 (and 17 and 16...) I wanted nothing more than to be a filmmaker because I loved visual storytelling and I believed I had something to say. I remember sitting in the computer lab the first week of college, planning out my coursework. I buzzed with the anxiety-joy of it all. I was going to read Victorian literature and take women's studies classes and make movies. My advisor, who insisted we call him by his first name, said, "So you're going to be the next Jane Campion." I totally was. I was going to make deep movies about trauma and women's minds. I was a storyteller.

Even though nothing much had happened to me yet.

I wonder where that came from, thirteen years ago. That powerful sense of having Something to Say. I wish I'd saved some of it for these evenings, now that I've actually had a few experiences that might, with a little Hollywood glossing up, be the jumping-off points for screenplays, short films, pilots.

All day, words fill me. Stories everywhere. But when half the house is sleeping and there's a little creative space around me, I have nothing. The stories must go to bed with my children.

Goodnight, loves. See you in the morning. 

* * *

Oh, wait. Here's something: you know that coconut oil-coffee thing all the crunchy mamas and CrossFitters are doing? I was making it on occasion, but I can't anymore. When Ivy sees coffee going into the blender, she comes running.

The other day, she got herself a cup.

In here?

And I can't not share with her. Because she is a trickster baby and I am in love with her.

Dwink
Engage coffee break.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Well, This Sucks

Sweet Ivy

When Ivy turned one, I couldn't imagine weaning. The idea seemed a little crazy, actually. Despite feeling like I was saying good-bye to my (tiny, brand-new) baby when that first birthday rolled around, I couldn't imagine not nursing. At least, not for a good, long time.

Fast-forward seven months, and I am starting to lose my mind.

Since hitting that year-and-a-half mark and crossing into real, undeniable toddlerhood, Ivy has wanted to nurse all the time and for every imaginable reason. She will ask to nurse when she's hungry; her word for it right now is "mook," and sometimes "muck." (It started out as "mil" which I found more euphonious and almost didn't mind hearing on repeat, rapid-fire, dozens of times a day.) But she also wants to nurse when she's sad, hurt, angry, bored, tired, or happy, or when you've just announced that it's time to change diapers/get dressed/sit in her car seat. This last one is the worst. She had zero interest in nursing five seconds ago, but bring up clothes or transportation and she just has to have milk right now!

All of this, I felt like I could deal with. None of it was my favorite thing in the world, but I was able to shrug and tell myself, Well, she's getting bigger and more independent. It makes sense that Ivy would want to control her environment as much as possible, and a big part of that environment is nursing. But then illness, a growth spurt, the 18-month sleep regression, and insane, horror-movie teething (six teeth at once! gallons of drool! blood blisters!) all hit within a two-week period. Breastfeeding was the only thing that got us through moderately unscathed—but now here I am with an almost 20-month-old child who wants to spend long stretches of every day physically attached to my body.

What started out so sweet and cuddly and "how will I ever give this up?"-dreamy now leaves me feeling trapped and resentful. Especially when the pinching, scratching, hand-in-the-mouth, underarm-fat-twiddling (holy shit sonofabitch that hurts!), foot-to-the-throat nursing starts. I redirect her when she starts to hurt me, but she is persistent. And no matter how recently I cut her fingernails, they're always an inch long and razor sharp.

The one thing that keeps me going—and it really is just one thing, because I am so over this breastfeeding nonsense right now—is the certainty that when Ivy is 20, I will not wish I had held her less when she was a toddler.

Sweet Ivy

Just because I hate breastfeeding right now doesn't mean I'm going to wean Ivy. She's not ready for that, and, if I'm honest with myself, I'm not either. Ivy is growing every day, and our relationship is changing with her. Breastfeeding is a reminder of our connection, easing that transition out of babyhood.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Like a Lagging Baby Tomato

Chicks

About a month ago, I sat down to write about how I had missed writing about Valentine's Day and Ivy's half-birthday—which falls on Valentine's Day—because I had been so consumed with the busyness of boring life-stuff. I hadn't acknowledged my new favorite holiday (I don't know how it happened, but recently I've become a sucker for hearts and flowers) or my girl turning 18 months old because just being an adult is a full-time job.

Ridiculous.

And then came the stomach bug to end all stomach bugs. It started with Ivy. One day, we were all fine and dandy, and the next day our "bedtime routine" consisted of cleaning up two rounds of vomit. She got everything: her bed, herself, Rob, me. I was so worried about her that the next morning, instead of my nice, healthy breakfast with vegetables (I eat vegetables for breakfast now) I had one of those awful "meal replacement" bars and a brownie. And three cups of coffee. Because you know what makes dealing with a sick baby even better? Feeling like ass yourself.

So then I got the stomach bug (thanks in part to my awesome nutritional choices, I'm sure), and Rob got it, and Westley got it, and I really believed it would never end and we would all die in a crying, puking heap in the middle of our filthy house.

But we made it out alive, and there are no words to describe my joy at not being sick right now. My back is a little flared up, but I can deal with that, because I'm not sick and neither is anyone else in my little house. Hallelujah!

Speaking of the house, we got the roof paid for and the budget reset (because the roof took all the money we had saved for other things). But now I've been bitten by the home improvement bug. The backyard is a disgrace. It's all tree debris from three autumns ago and blackberry thorns. The deck is falling apart and there may or may not be raccoons living in it. I want to hire someone to just gut it all and start over—rip it all out and put in native plants that can withstand neglect and being tromped on by children—but I'm worried that it will cost a billion dollars. Twelve years ago, I wanted to make a movie but I was worried that that would cost an actual billion dollars. Now I just want a backyard my kids can safely run around in.

What else was I going to write about?

Children are wonderful and also completely the worst. Especially a certain six year old who is experimenting with backtalk and "tough guy" language. Also especially a certain one-and-a-half year old who wants to be on my body all the time and will bite my knees if I don't pick her up right this instant. These kids are also both so amazing in tiny ways that hit me like a ton of bricks. They shared a bubble bath yesterday for an hour, and actually shared, and it felt so miraculous even though it was completely mundane. Even on terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad days they'll do something so gorgeous, so heart-melting, that I still manage to believe this might all be worth it.

Just now, Westley brought in all of the groceries, about 47 million pounds of produce, by himself while I was putting Ivy down for a much-needed, very late nap. His explanation: "I just wanted to do you a 'flavor.'"

Monkey

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