Friday, July 31, 2009

An Elephant Sat on My Chest All Night

A certain little boy in our neighborhood celebrated his birthday last night by having a back-yard camp-out for all his pals on the block. Bean's one of his pals. We've always called this boy Baby Kevin because until Peabody came along, he was the youngest among the droves of children who play together just about every day around here, although he just got himself promoted to big brother status a couple of months ago, so he, as he himself is quick to point out whenever the opportunity presents itself, IS NOT A BABY!

But apparently I am.

Because the camp-out last night about brought me to my knees, people. I'm sittin' here at my kitchen counter this morning, listening to Peabody systematically rip apart everything on the main level of the house (only because that's the only level he can get to right now) (lately Peabody's name is MUD -- Mobile Unit of Destruction). Anyway I hear him over there in the pantry feverishly crinkling and shredding up all the paper napkins like a Mama gerbil about to whelp, or whatever gerbils do to produce those eraser-babies of theirs, and THAT IS ALL THAT I HEAR. I do not hear Marfa Speaks. I do not hear a little chipmunky voice sayin' Mamaaaaaa? Can I have my hot cocoa? Can I have my vitamins? Mamaaaaaaaa! Peabody's playin' in the potty! Mamaaaaa, look at this! Look what I made!

For the first morning ever, except for the three times I've left her with Nana because I've HAD TO, I didn't wake up to my sleepy girl climbing into my bed and throwing a little tiny leg and a little tiny arm over me and yawning in my face before happily plugging her two middle fingers into her mouth and scootchin' up real tight for our morning snuggle. AND IT'S PRETTY DARNED EMPTY WITHOUT ALL THAT, PEOPLE.

Al and I went to the party last night, too. All the Moms and Dads attended, ate yummy camp-out food, drank a little, chatted and laughed and watched Baby Kevin (Whoops, there I go again!) open his presents. And then Mr. Adem set up a big old screen right out there in the back yard, in front of the faery-light encrusted play set, and the kids all settled down and lay on the grass under the stars to watch a movie. I could just make out the top of Bean's little head as it stuck out from under a cozy fleece throw.

It's funny how a mother knows her own daughter so well she can tell how she's feeling and what she's thinking just by looking at the top of her head. Didn't even need to see her face. I just knew by the way that fuzzy little noggin looked resting on that pillow.

My Bean was in Kid Heaven.

So I went and gathered up her new red sleeping bag, and I carefully unrolled it inside The Girls Tent, and I unrolled it some more, and I smoothed it out, and I unzipped it and folded a corner back, and then I zipped it back up and smoothed it out again, and pulled at the end to make sure it lined up perfectly parallel to the side of the tent, and then I unzipped a little bit of it again and folded the corner back down. Up, down, folded, unfolded?! (Hyperventilate.)

And then I had this prolonged debate in my head over the extra blanket I'd brought. HER blanket. Should I lay it out flat inside the sleeping bag or fold it at the bottom on the outside? Would she get cold and not know to just pull it up over herself, or if I went ahead and put it INSIDE the bag would she get hot and tangled up and be miserable and not be able to free herself, awkward and alone, there in the dark, without me? (Hyperventilate.)

And then finally I just sat there, inside that stupid tent, with that stupid sleeping bag and that dumb blanket, and I had myself a good old-fashioned internal truth-facing melt-down. MY BABY'S GOING TO SLEEP IN THIS TENT TONIGHT. AND SHE'S GOING TO BE FINE AND HAPPY AND DELIGHTED AND NOT MISS ME AT ALL. AND THAT'S WONDERFUL.


And then I sat back on my heels, took a deep, shuddering breath, and resolutely put the blanket inside the sleeping bag, zipped it up, and forced myself to climb back out of that tent. I said goodnight to my little girl, who payed absolutely NO attention to my brimming tears and didn't even hear the weirdness in my voice caused by the armadillo-sized lump in my throat, and I kissed her cheek, and I kissed Teddy's ear, okay both ears, okay both ears twice and I walked away.

When we got home, Al and I quietly went about our normal nightly pre-bed routine. But I left the little lamp in her room on all night long. Nothing could have made me turn that lamp off. It stayed on, a warm, soft glow, ready and waiting for my daughter -- my heart -- all night long.

And I turned the ringer on the phone up RILLYRILLY LOUD. And put it on the bedside table RIGHT NEXT TO MY EAR.

And I lay there most of the night willing that phone to RING, DAMMIT.


Well, the sun crept ever-closer to the horizon, and just as I knew deep in my heart that it wouldn't, the phone never rang. And I got out of my bed as soon as it was light and looked out the window, across the street and down two houses, to where my first-born baby lay asleep in a sleeping bag, in a tent, on the ground, without me.

Gradually, daylight spread like melted butter over and around both of us, her happily waking up beside her friends down the block and me puttering around my kitchen with Peabody at my feet, and among all the conflicting maternal angst and pride and that sense of everything slipping by way too quickly, I knew one thing.

We'd both made it.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Look, I'm Not Altogether Proud of This

Twitter was abuzz yesterday with some of my favorite funny-peoples' ideas for Failed Children's Book Titles. I had to play along. I was helpless to fight it. I'm dieting, so I'd already used up all my will-power for the day feeding Bean Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and not eating any myself.

(Okay I had a spoonful. A serving spoonful. Or two. Okay! I cleaned out the pan with the serving spoon after I served her kid-sized portion. But I DID NOT just blatantly dish myself up a steaming hot bowl and sit down at the table and devour it merrily like I thought I deserved it. I horked it down guiltily over the kitchen sink with a long-handled wooden spoon. And that's not the same thing as eating it at all, as you and I both know.)

Anyway, these are some of the titles I Tweeted. I fully expect many of y'all will quickly come up with some hilarious ones, too, so please share them with me in the comments.

Curious George and the Automatic Meat Grinder with Sausage-Making Attachment

If You Give a Mouse a Feral Cat

Because We're Hoping This One Looks Less Like a Lizard: The Real Reasons Mommy & Daddy Are Having Another Baby

Cloudy with a Chance of Raw Veal Shanks

Guess How Much I'd Love to Sell You to The Gypsies?

Amelia Bedelia Washes the Toaster

Everybody Poops on the Potty: Don't Be Such a Lemming, Kid

Mr. Brown Can Knock Over a Liquor Store And Lead The Cops on a High Speed Chase That Ends in a Shootout at the Mall, Can You?

Caillou - Mob Boss

Curious George Goes To the Morgue

Ganja Weed For Sal

We're Going On A Beer Run

A Child's Complete History of Serial Murder
(A Lift the Flap Book!)

And yes, I know. Some of these are bad. BAD BAD BAD. And disrespectful. And insensitive.

And you laughed. You know you did.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There's a Metaphor Here. I Can Smell It.

Aaaaaaah. It's one of those perfect moments of motherhood - I've got a load of sheets spinning away in the laundry room, in fresh, sudsy water so hot the sun from the window over my kitchen sink's catching and playing with wisps of steam escaping around the washer's lid. Behind me in the family room, Bean and Peabody sit perched on two wooden chairs, side by side, as close as they can be, eatin' dry Cheerios and watchin' Arthur. I've got hot coffee in my mug, my laptop on my fingertips, and a minute - and I do mean a minute, and that's all, knowing these two - to myself.

I should take this time to write about the time we spent down South for my sweet mother-in-law's funeral. Almost every night I lie awake for a time, just turning the vivid and powerful images and details of those days over and over in my mind, trying to get at each of them from every angle. What I saw, and heard, and felt and connected with in those moments feels on some level, inside of me, like it needs unlocking -- like I need to sit down and work at the experience like a tight, dense knot, gradually pulling loose a thread, looking for its beginning and its end, loosening this, following that, until I've unraveled every bit, smoothed it out and lined it up neatly again. I talked about it all with Al, with my Mom, with friends, and yet somehow what I believe lies at the heart of it all -- some deep, rich, amazing wisdom, growth, some vastly important understanding -- continues to elude me.

Do y'all get that? Have you ever experienced anything that went by in a blur but was so blindingly meaningful to you that when it was over you immediately carried within you a change undefinable, so that you felt compelled, driven even, to sort out all the complexities and scrutinize them until you understand WHAT JUST HAPPENED HERE?

That's where I am these days. Inside my own head. On a bit of a mental and emotional island.

Wow. That sounds so overwrought, doesn't it?

Anyway but I won't write about it yet. Can't. Don't have even the first thread pulled loose enough to show you.

But I'm definitely pining to write again and reconnect and be, I don't know, a "blogger?" At least a writer. Again. A part of the community again. A sharer of myself. A part of life. I suppose I'm afraid maybe I'm not who I used to be anymore. I'm not sure if I'm still meant to be funny. I'm not sure if I'm capable. I'm not sure if I even deserve the luxury.

Oh, but this really IS a beautiful moment. A beautiful, light moment with you -- maybe a moment away from the island, or maybe just a moment when I can see my way, in the distance, off the island.

OHMYGRANNY. Now that really does sound overwrought.

But the sheets are clean.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Now Skiddaddle!

I miss y'all! Come visit me at 5 Minutes for Parenting this morning. Pretty please?

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Also, There Are New Pictures of the Kids Over There. I'm Just Sayin'.


Would somebody quickly stomp on the corner of this wind-blown summer and hold it down for me? Feels like these warm, perfect days that are supposed to be lazy and restful and endless are just up and being jerked out from under me, doesn't it to you?

I'm over at 5 Minutes for Parenting today, bein' reflective and doin' arithmetic, apparently.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Hot New Upper Body Work-out: The 30 Minute Prune

With all the spring rain and the unseasonably hot weather we had last month, our little slice of the prairie was beginning to look more like the jungle, so I pruned (That is such a funny word. Prune, prune, prune. Aw, yeah, say it with me now: Prunity-prune-prune ... ) all the shrubs in our yard yesterday and hauled all the trimmings out to the road side.

And this morning I can't lift my hands above my waist. (I think I might be a little out of shape.) (And people? Edward Scissorhands I am not.) (But it doesn't look too bad, really, if you just go ahead and imagine that a strong wind's blowing in from the North whenever you look at it.)

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that blogging was a bit of a challenge earlier today as I had to type standing up at my bathroom counter and could only stretch my forearms out far enough from there to use the keys on the nearest rows of the laptop to my person, which means my entire 5 Minutes for Parenting post had to be comprised solely of "z,x,c,v,b,n,m,<,>,?" and the space bar.

But I did it. Completely vowel-lessly. Right here.

(Oka-a-ay, I used a few vowels. And we'll call the post over there a prologue to what I'm hoping I'll soon be able to write about our trip and Grandma's funeral. Once my arms are fully mobile again, I mean.)

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jiggity Jog

Just a little quickie to tell y'all thanks for the sweet messages of sympathy and condolences. They meant so much to both of us.

We're home again, after a whirl-wind trip down South for Grandma Carrie's funeral, which OHMYGRANNY, I hope to tell y'all all about very soon (I was debating it in my own mind, but Al says I MUST!), after addressing a few more pressing items on my agenda, not the least of which is a trip to the grocery store.

Because we do not have any butter in this house.

Not even a single little pat.

A situation which renders me quite useless in all of my respective roles as a woman.

Knowing that I have plenty of butter on hand for any butter-related activity I may be pressed to pursue, like, say, lying on the sofa reflecting contentendly upon my readily-available ample supply of butter? Well, that's just fundamental to my sense of well-being. Without the firm knowledge that there's a at least couple pounds of butter in the fridge, I'm reduced to an addled, mumbling, hand-wringing mess, just standing forlornly in the kitchen with my eyebrows macrame'ed into one of those monkey-hand bracelets you used to craft-up at summer camp.

Thus the butterlessness must be rectified before I can move on about my life in a confident and, well, lucid fashion.

You can't say I don't have my priorities straight, people.

I'll be back.

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