What my husband said in a pretend conversation with the guy who almost ran him over during his run downtown this afternoon:
“You want a slice-a this beefcake? You’re gonna need a fork, buddy.”
I thought it was precious.
Birdy doing several “silly walks” all around the wide ledges of the Parthenon, including a totally kick-ass robot walk that would make the Beastie Boys stand up and cheer. Intergalactic, planetary! (that is not Bird in the photo. That is not even my photo. But that is the Parthenon.)
Lunch time, Bird and I standing at the edge of the duck pond at the park, sans bread, when a sweet little girl came over to us and offered Birdy the top of a hamburger bun from her duck-bread stash. We said thank you, the girl moved on, and Birdy sat there for a second, staring at the bun.
She looked up at me and whispered, “Mom, can I eat this?”
20 minutes spent staring at, wondering about, and discussing in great detail a dead squirrel on the side of the walking path.
And most wonderful:
My Bird can read!
Fat Cat Rat Hat Splat! Can Ran Stand Pants! Hop Pop Stop!
After a grumpy little incident involving my Bird, my mom, and a pair of brand new jeans, Bird and I had this exchange at bedtime.
Mama: You know, when someone gives you a gift you don’t really like, most of the time you just say “thank you” and move on.
Mama: So you don’t hurt the person’s feelings. Think about how you would feel if you gave someone a present and they said they didn’t like it.
Bird: Oh. It would hurt my feelings. Ok.
Mama: So… what if I gave you… a hat you didn’t really like?
Bird: I would say “thank you.”
Mama: What if I gave you… a really ugly shirt?
Bird: I would say “thank you.”
(( long pause ))
Bird: What if I gave you a fart?
Mama: Well, I guess I’d have to say “thank you.”
(( long pause, giggles))
Bird: I just farted, mom.
Working from Home:
WOW, my friends. It’s everything I dreamed it could be. And I just learned how to nurse in the moby, so YEAH. One sweet month of livin ‘ the dream before I’m back to wearing real pants, remembering my key code and doing my designated week of office kitchen duty. That’s gonna hurt.
She Has a Home
Mystery solved: neighborhood-wandering chicken (who survived the cold snap! aw snap!) is the tragic result of a chicken escape that happened to my corner neighbors. Except the chicken was to be a gift, so the neighbors aren’t exactly eager to get her back, as they never intended to own her. They tell me that the only way to catch a chicken is to wait until it’s asleep and then sneak up on it and grab it, so… not bloody likely. Looks like I’ll be cleaning chicken shit off my sidewalk for a good long while, or until the chicken meets with whatever natural predators a chicken might encounter 18 blocks from the smack-middle of a major metropolitan area. I must say it satisfies my country-livin’ yearnings to see her pecking and scratching around outside the kitchen window every morning.
And speaking of urban living:
My friend J. recently tried to help me understand why in the holy hell one would live 30 miles away from one’s workplace, explaining that he really didn’t mind his super long-ass commute to work, or the traffic, or the fact that he puts in the equivalent of almost one extra work day each week just getting there and back. He said that on that very morning, he had left his subdivision and continued his commute through a stretch of hills and farmland, where a light morning fog was just beginning to lift over the giant, stoic hay bales dotting the fields. And something about a deer or a fox or a magical unicorn that inspired him to turn up the Dave Matthews, sip his Starbucks Mochachino and really JAM.
One morning, I saw a dude gracefully drop trou and take a shit in a garbage can on the Main Street Bridge, like it was nothing. Salut!
Things go missing sometimes:
I almost surely popped a box of granola bars in the library drop box along with my library books by mistake. (Hey, it happens.) Later, there was some discrepancy at the Library about books I had not returned, which I swore up and down I had returned. I defended my honor by stating that I absolutely remembered returning those books, because I returned them with a box of granola bars! See!?! DO YOU NOT REMEMBER MY GRANOLA BARS, LIBARY GUY? WERE THEY DELICIOUS? HUH? WERE THEY?
And then, I found the books under Birdy’s bed. And the granola bars in the car.
And showed my true crazy to the library guy in one short vignette.
Pretty Much What I Expected When I Said I’d Bear his Children:
This weekend I walked in on A. in the living room drinking a bloody mary, dancing around with Birdy and watching the Humpty Dance on YouTube. A true peach, my friends.
You are driving me nuts.
I love you, lovelovelovelove you, but damn.
The other day, I heard Birdy in the parlor playing with some shoddily-made Christmas crap and doing some loud, frustrated growling that sounded like it would soon become frustrated throwing.
“Bird,” I said, “Maybe when you’re frustrated, you could find something else to say, like ‘RATS!’ “
“Yeah,” said A, how about ‘aw, nuts!’ ?”
She thought for a minute and said, “Or I could say… SHUT!”
There she is, sweet Ophelia Rose. Born at the beginning of December by c-section, 10 days early.
What is the Birth Story?
This could be a long one, due to some medical weirdness in my blood requiring a lot of doctors and a bonus captive period in the hospital a few weeks before she actually came for infusions and other excitement. Boring. Here are the parts that count:
Surprise! I know we’re catching you at the end of your work day, but just wanted to let you know the stars have aligned and your platelets are up and you’re having major abdominal surgery to produce a human tomorrow morning at 9am! Be there or be square! Oh, and don’t eat or drink anything after midnight! Tell your boss! Bye!
2. It turns out that while you lie there on the table, nice and sliced wide open, the hot topic of conversation is Types of Salsa in the Hospital Cafeteria. The anesthesiologist likes the fruity salsas. Turns out there are far more choices since Baja Fresh opened. Residents are all about the roasted corn, and the nurses dig the green chile business. What’s that? Oh, shit! A BABY!
Also, being conscious through surgery in a teaching hospital means listening to the surgeon grill observing students about your innards. “What is this?” is not something you expect to hear from someone who is elbow-deep in your abdominal cavity. Even for the sake of education.
3. …And truly miraculously, it happened again: a perfect baby girl. Generally grunty and squeaky with a bad-ass hunger cry and a voracious appetite, big blinky eyes and a nice baby smell. Oh, we are lucky.
What does Bird think of all this?
Where to begin? She’s huge, for one. A gigantic, sweet and bumbling monster of a child, doing her very very best to not crush or eat this baby out of love or frustration. Always in her face, nose to nose. So much adoration for this tiny new thing, so much curiosity and, alternately, boredom. So much sharing of attention to be done, so much change. Trying so hard to be the big sister we all made such a big deal about. We congratulate her on her kindnesses, on sharing, every victory we can find. We try to be gentle with redirection, give her a little wiggle room. But we also get annoyed. She gets annoyed. We snap. We all act out. We reconcile. We say to each other, “I love you very much, even when you are DRIVING ME BANANAS.” Permission to say that is worth its weight in gold, for all parties involved. I hear it just as much as I say it these days.
Goodness, though. It’s complicated. Sometimes I want to set her out on the front porch and lock the door behind her, sometimes I literally cry over her sweetness and the hard, clumsy work she’s putting into her part of becoming a family of four. Sweet Bird. Oh my.
Are you getting any sleep?
Am I supposed to? Stop asking silly questions. Are you winning the lottery? No? Did you expect to?
How is A. holding up?
Wow. The most wonderful husband/ father/ friend. I hit the spousal jackpot, y’all. This man was born to be a daddy of girls and a partner to a lunatic like me. He is incredibly kind, patient, and so easy to love. And damn cute, eh?
Can we bring a casserole?
And oh, the friends! The best in the whole dang world and beyond. We have eaten well and been so loved. Who says we don’t live near our family?
How were the holidays?
The first in nine years without a single trip to Indiana. Plenty of visitors– two separate shifts of grandparents and family before and after the Main Event, full of joyful company and personal quirks and general holiday drama. But Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were just ours– free to sit around in our jammies and gaze at the baby and play with our (modest) Christmas loot and eat nachos and watch Mary Poppins. I never knew Christmas could be so lovely. Best. Gift. Ever.
How is Maternity Leave?
Oh, man. Livin’ the dream most of the time. Sometimes feels a little solitary, sometimes wonderfully so. Adjusting to the pace of home, re-working my definition of urgency and daily accomplishment, trying to keep the dishes done and the laundry caught up, trying to work in a shower once in a while.
But also: YOU SHOULD SEE MY LIST, Y’ALL. Budgets, closets, books, sewing, projects, purging, thrifting, cooking… half of me fighting for long hours of napping and dreamy baby-gazing and the other half barking tasks like a drill Sargent. This is the last maternity leave I’m likely to have– and possibly the most time away from work until I retire*– and both of me (dreamy mama and taskmaster) just want to make the most of it. Sometimes it is an ugly fight, but everyone eventually gets their say, and it tends to cost me my nap.
And what else?
Ran over my own keys in the pet store parking lot this weekned. And you thought it couldn’t be done!
The neighborhood free-range chicken has taken a particular shine to our front yard tree/ garden. As her shitting place.
Lovin’ the MOBY.
And up to my general scheming, as usual. Wheels turning, turning. Always.
Those were my two wavy words to type when I ordered my 7,000th bridal shower gift of the summer on Amazon. Pothole O’Reilly. Sounds like a scruffy little pickpocket.
I was explaining this at the dinner table, and Bird said, “who is Paco O’Reilly?” And yeah, even better.
Bird has been doing this weird exaggerated Southern accent lately, and I can’t decide if I love it for its cleverness and her ability to notice and modify language, or if I hate it because it’s obnoxious and loud and usually repetitive. Both, I guess.
I’m in the middle of a huge project at work. A project which involves a lot of pressure, and a deadline, and a lot of research. And truthfully, I should be at the END of this project, but I have grown to dislike it very much and spend a lot of my work time searching for distraction. Like the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry sit down to write the pilot. In any case. This project. Kicking my lazy, pregnant ass all over the room.
Currently reading: Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. The library sent an email saying the book was overdue. So I went online to renew it, naturally. And it is ON HOLD for another patron, and therefore un-renewable. But! I am loving this book, in a sad and curious way, so I keep making reading promises and making more headway, racing to finish and return just a little bit late. This is my public apology to the next reader: I do hope you are a hopeful and disorganized library patron like me, that you use the hold list as more of a wish list, and that you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that it’s your turn, instead of sitting in your reading chair in the dark all alone, tapping your fingertips on the table until I’m done. Because dammit, I have to finish this book.
If you had been at our house this morning, you would have seen me standing over the washing machine with my arm in almost up to the shoulder, frantically fishing through cold, dark water for my drowned cell phone. Already late for work, you would have heard me say a lot of things to myself. And you would have heard me end with “FUCKING STUPID.”
And then, you would have heard a firm little voice in the kitchen say, “Mom. We don’t say ‘stupid’.”
Ah, my Bird. She is a piddling, dawdling, piddledawdler in the mornings. A. puts up with most of it since I (theoretically, anyway) start my paid workday earlier than he does, and it is more frequently becoming a power struggle/ battle of wits/ tangle of wills between the two of them. They argue like teenagers. He asks her to put on her shoes, she puts on five finger puppets. He askes her to go get dressed, she spends her time jumping on the bed. He asks her to brush her hair, she ends up in a puddle of tears because she’s found her winter coat in the too-small box. He asks her to put on her listening ears, and she says, “I left them at school.” He counts to three. She complies at the final second. And more than a few times, Bird says, “Daddy. Settle down.” Which, if you know my mild-mannered A., is especially funny. Except not to him.
So, about that too-small box. Looks like it’s going to be seeing a lot of action starting this winter– baby #2 is officially a girl. Time to start naming, sorting, wrapping our heads around what’s going on around here. Two girls. Yay and yikes.
No time like the pregnant to over-think some shit: In halfway following a discussion board comment thread, I read the words that push the overthink-buttons of WOH mamas around the country: “evaluate what you give up to go to work and decide if it’s really worth it.” I’ll spare you the details of my rabbit-hole thinking– my ever-changing and always hazy list of gains and losses that never declares a winner.
All this talk of giving up and gaining. Of worth. How much of it is truly about the benefit to the child and how much of it is about having sorted laundry and clean sheets and time to slow-cook a meal? How much is about parenting and how much is about physically being in and keeping up a home? How much is just straight-up personal, on both sides of the decision?
I have wrestled with internal and external voices that both encourage and challenge my choices as a working-away-from-home mama, and I can tell you with complete honesty that sometimes, the desire to be home with my child during the day really does boil down to having naptime to myself and getting some flowers planted. Running an errand in the middle of the day without paying for it with my lunch hour. Spending enough time in my house to clean it and enough time in my neighborhood to enjoy it. And having time for actual, personal, non-facebook connections with my actual, personal friends. That is what I am missing– or feel like I’ve given up– the most right now. I have time with Bird every night, but I haven’t seen some of my dearest friends in months.
I have 70 lbs of shaking, drooling, clumsy dog trying to fit under this desk with my legs tonight. Who needs the weather man when you’ve got this guy?
I realized this week that I have been misusing (and misunderstanding) a common business term for about five years now. C-suite. Who knew it actually meant people whose titles start with “C”… CEO, CFO, COO, whatever. I thought it meant “C” suite. Like, not quite “A” suite, just down the hall from “B” suite. Like a C-list celebrity. A C-list executive. As in, probably drives a Taurus.
Fortunately, I discovered this on my own, prior to making an ass of myself, though I might have said, “aaaaaah!” under my breath in a meeting when my own personal lightbulb finally went off.
Also at work this week, the bug guy showed up in his poisonous metal backpack, wearing a tie with illustrated bugs on it. Dude. Way to get into it.
I picked Bird up from daycare and she wanted to show me her “ant hill”– a paper plate painted green, topped with a paper cup painted brown. I found the one with her name on it, sitting in a row of identical creations, drying and waiting to have fingerprint ants applied in the morning. Walking home, I told her I really liked her ant hill. “No, mama” she said, “Ant Heel.”
“Oh,” I said. “I always thought it was “Ant hill.”
“No. Ant Hee-Yull. Like the Hee-Yull of your foot. Hee-Yull.”
A. and I are Midwestern to our core, but that girl is all South.
Lyrics to the song Bird sang to me this weekend, with gusto (and wild hand gestures):
I am going to the DOCTORRRRR
And I am bringing my PURRRRRSE!
And in my PURRRRSE
I have some doctor STUUUUUUFFFF!
My brother in law and his fiance visited this weekend, lovely time, etc.
Took Bird to the “Slumber Party” at daycare (Parents’ night out, WOOT!) and finally made it out to this place, which was delightful, and then on to other places closer to home where I ordered additional fine beverages crafted by the first place. We saw friends, we shouted over the crowd, we spent some money. We were OUT and ABOUT, dammit.
When we got back at 11:30, the floor of the daycare was dark and lumpy with sleeping children. And my Bird was the only kid standing up on her mat in her sad little mismatched jammies, watching the door for us to come back. Ouch.
And today, my dear sweet husband has alternated between writhing around in cold sweats and sleeping like a rock. I gave him a mild level of shit about it (attributing his illness to his sinful livin’) until I realized he was burning up with fever and probably dealing with actual illness. Since then I have been really, really nice. And Bird has been even nicer, stroking his hair and bringing him saltines and using every giant plastic tool in her doctor kit. I can’t wait to see which one of us will be the next victim of the sudden puking fever illness!
I have no idea how old I was, but I remember very vividly one night when my brother and I were left in the care of a high school-aged babysitter, staying up (!!) until my parents got home, which probably really peeved the babysitter who, I’m sure, would have preferred to yap on the phone to her BFF or watch one of our four luxurious television channels, or any of the things high school kids did before texting and reality TV and the internet. But we were up. And I remember mom and dad walking in the front door, surprised to see us, and me hugging my mom through her taupe-colored trench coat, and her clothes smelling like smoke because they’d been to a bar. Which I didn’t understand at the time. But I knew when I hugged her this was no church meeting they’d been to– that they were out having some kind of fun that did not involve me in any way, in a place I had never seen or visited, and I felt a little “WTF” about the whole thing, clearly, because I remember it now, in my mid-30s. Mostly I was just happy they were home, and a little weirded out about this secret life of theirs. Which is probably how Bird felt when I zipped up her jacket and put on her shoes and she said, “Mama, what did you do?”
In other news, I am trying to complete the paperwork on a refinance, because DAMN interest rates are low. But I can’t fight the feeling that I’m signing over permissions I don’t understand, like maybe mistakenly joining a cult, or the circus, or becoming an exchange student, or donating my live body to dangerous scientific testing. When they come to collect me and put me in the experimental colony under the volcano, you’ll hear me wailing all the way down the block about how I thought I was dropping a whole point.