Wednesday, June 25, 2008

this is my life

Sometimes I wonder if I can keep doing this, being a full-time mom. It can be so tiring, emotionally draining, without much space to reenergize. Sometimes I wonder if this is how I want to spend my life, wonder what kind of life I would want to have instead. But then I remember that this isn't my whole life--just this stretch of time. My role as a mom is going to change as the kids grow; the amount of time I have to myself is going to increase, as well as my personal space. Eventually.

Today I got both kids down for naps and my aunt said she'd stay in the house with them while they slept. So I put on my bathing suit and rode my bike to the beach and swam with M, no kids to watch. It was heavenly. Riding a bike feels like ultimate freedom right now because there's no space on it for anyone but myself. I went again later, initially to tell my cousins when dinner is, but then I rode on by myself for awhile.

On the beach folks sit in circles, their chairs all facing in, telling stories. The sun is dim, thin clouds a gauzy screen as I ride on the packed sand by the shore. A dad picks up a toddler and swings him overhead. I can't hear anything but ocean and wind; it's like watching those old home movies, everything more picturesque without the minutiae of sound. I think that this man's life will change too--his kids will get older at the same pace as mine. We will have adolescents, teenagers. I believe people when they tell me it happens all too quickly. But today there are four children under four in our beach house. Next year there may be five; the year after, six. It's loud, it's busy. It's tiring and charming and tonight my cousin Danny recorded a video of Frances and Henry playing ring around the rosy together, Frances holding Henry's hands and gazing with awe up into his 3-year-old face as he chanted the rhyme. They were pure loveliness.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

beach week

I'm at the beach which is wonderful in its beachy way, but also not so relaxing with little kids, it turns out. Of course, there are grandparents and cousins and aunts here which makes things much much much easier, but I still can't lie back in a chair on the beach, close my eyes, and listen to the waves. M said he feels very relaxed and like he's having a break, that he loves the time to play w/ F in the sand. But I play with her all the time. Playing with her is not a break from anything for me. I think the problem, however, is that I feel like I still should be primarily responsible for the kids. But perhaps I should just let go of that and realize that the other folks here who are helping with the kids (dad, grandma, aunt J,) want to be doing this, and I should just let them. I should indeed close my eyes on the beach once in a while and trust that (1) other folks will make sure the kids are safe, and (2) I'm not burdening others by letting go.

This is the essential problem with the "family vacation." My fantasies about a caribbean vacation with just M have amped up.

I still can't find my camera. Maybe the movers stole it. (I don't really believe that...) But I might have to buy an inexpensive one until mine turns up. I'm missing documenting the early months of Clark's life! He's already going to want to know why his baby book is much less attended to than F's.--and then to have no pictures! I now fully understand why there are many fewer mementos of the 2nd and 3rd kid, and it's not due to a lost camera.

When we were having so much trouble getting pregnant I would look at the toddlers on the beach and I would feel this ache, thinking how wonderful and sweet it would be to be at the beach with my husband and child. And it is, of course, but not in that warm glow of love kind of way that I imagined. Reality always has sharper edges than you expect, comes laden with the struggle and tantrums and leaky diapers as well as the joy. It's important to remember that it's the combination of the two that makes it so worthwhile.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I'm obsessing. Right now I'm obsessing about the neighborhood we've moved into--wondering if we made the wrong choice. I don't actually think we did, but I'm not fully comfortable here yet and it's probably just my loneliness and feeling displaced. It's so white collar here! Every lawn is completely pristine and manicured and I've realized this is not just because everyone is concerned with appearances and spends enormous amounts of energy mowing; it's because everyone spends enormous amounts of money contracting somebody else to do their mowing. Since there's no traffic (our street is only one long block--doesn't go through to anywhere), the noise during the day is the riding mowers and weed wackers and blowers at one house or another. (At least there are no gun shots.) The only other noise comes from screeching kids in back yard pools. How did I end up here? The safety I feel is a great relief. I can leave my door open when I go to the neighbor's. I don't assess every person walking down the street. I leave kids toys in the front without worrying they will disappear. If I leave a sleeping child in the car while I lug in the groceries I don't worry she'll be stolen. The guard I can let down is a cool breeze.

This feeling of awkwardness about the white collarness has something to do with my idea of myself. I don't think I yet think of myself as grown up, and this neighborhood is certainly full of grownups. How do I make friends with them? Do I want to make friends with them? Who are they anyway?

But then, I've met neighbors already, and I like them. Four (four!) of the houses just across the street from us have little kids which will be wonderful for my kids and for me too, won't it? I hope so. I believe so, but then my doubt creeps in and I'm obsessing again. When I told M that the neighborhood felt so white collar he said, "that's what you are." Which is true I suppose.

But this idea of grownupness is all wrong anyway. I am myself, not a grownup or a child, but just me. And my theories about the other folks in this neighborhood are just that--my theories. They are not their projections of themselves, as I don't know them yet. It's all my doing, these labels and judgments. (and what do I think it means to be a grownup anyway?)

Also, I think I've opened all the boxes and I still can't find my camera.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

writing rather than napping

The heat finally broke, which is more wonderful than I can explain here. Yes, I'm a steely southern girl who should be used to such excesses but down there is not a building without air conditioning. And this house has none. Usually, I assume, that's not an issue here in NY. Most of the houses we looked at didn't have air, but this past week has been pretty miserable. Now we have a window unit on the first floor and it makes an amazing difference. Getting one on the 2nd floor might make my life complete.

Just a bit ago I put F down for her nap and as I was leaving her room, literally as I was closing the door, I heard Clark waking up. Sigh. He was up more than usual in the night last night so I'm rather jonesing for a nap today, but there it is. Right now he's beside me in his bouncy seat chewing on his hand as I write. He's very cute.

So the girl we hired to sit for us is working out okay. Better than I expected, actually. She's only a temporary fix anyway, as she goes back to school in August, but even for this short time I wasn't sure about her. What's surprising to me is how much anxiety there has been in trying to find someone. I suppose it shouldn't surprise me... I'm choosing someone to take care of my KIDS for crying out loud. When I was a kid sitters were meant only to be sure the kids didn't kill themselves or the house didn't catch fire. I'm not sure anyone expected a sitter to enrich the child's life. But now I want someone who will teach Frances things, help her navigate the world a bit better, blah blah. On one hand I feel this is ridiculous and that it's just the run off from the Baby Boomers and their full toddlers' schedules, the norm they set for parenting. I don't want to be this kind of parent.

Yesterday F and her sitter played outside in the rain. This is one benefit to having a younger person with her... I'm not likely to play in the rain and neither would be someone older. They also recently spent a large amount of time burying and then finding things in the sand box... That's a good life, I think.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

word explosion

Frances is talking now--seriously talking. She's been saying words for ages but suddenly she says all the words, repeats everything everyone says, walks around practicing. It's like a word explosion. It's really cool. The words she's saying are more and more complicated, and she loves 3 syllables. Tonight at dinner she said "ap-pul-sas" over and over. On the way to the Target this afternoon from the back seat Frances would let out a little shriek and then say "outside" because it's an outside voice, as we say around here. And then she'd do it again. Shriek. "Outside." Mitch and I covered our mouths to keep her from hearing us laugh.

Sometimes I wonder if I should have had kids so close together. I do adore the boy, and that's a good thing, because if he were a difficult baby I would wonder this more often. But Frances is having a hard time adjusting... She asks for her sitter in NC every day and every day I have to say, "no, honey. She's far away. She's in North Carolina and we can't see her." And then she asks again. Today she woke up from her nap all a mess, crying in her bed asking for milk and juice. She wouldn't eat lunch which she hadn't had before the nap because she's been going down early these days, and she just couldn't get it together. Wanted to go outside, then wanted the TV, then wanted Dad, then her paci fell out of her mouth because she was crying so much, and she cried about that. I want to help her. I want to help her adjust, but I've got the baby on my boob and sometimes I just can't do anything. M says it helps her learn about what the world's really like, but it just breaks my heart. I get so dejected that I just sit and hold the baby and do nothing--let her carry on and get more and more wound up. Finally today M had to stop working upstairs and come down to jolly her out of her mood, which he did quite well.

She's all off her schedule. She wakes early and wants to take her nap early, but then she's a wreck in the middle of the afternoon. I've been trying to keep her up to push her nap back to its normal time. Yesterday she fell asleep on the living room floor at 10am and slept for an hour. Tomorrow the new sitter is coming and I don't know about her... I'll have to write about that next time. Finding a sitter/nanny for her is harder on me than I thought it would be. Will see how this goes.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I wanted to post a picture here of F on the front steps of the new house but in all this mess I can't find my camera. I can't find a lot of things in the boxes and boxes we have left to open, and in the general clutter that is the just-moved house. It took us ages to find the house phone but now we've got that in place. I have so much I can say here that I don't know exactly what to cover.....

The movers came Friday morning w/ their boxes and fresh can-do attitude (which wilted a bit later in the day), and it was a kind of hurricane watching them get everything we own packed up and onto a truck by 6pm. As is always the case, the move made clear that we have WAY too much stuff things crap. I don't know what it all is. I don't know. Do we need this stuff? It seems to accumulate of its own accord, without my knowledge or will. And now what we have is boxes full of crap, boxes stacked around the house, plus a thin layer of debris made up of pens and toy parts and extension cords and wire hangers and papers that need to be filed or maybe just tossed.

The morning we flew out I went to the house to finish cleaning up and before I left I walked through each room touching the walls and crying deep jagged sobs. But here I am better most of the time. Here I am trying to focus on the positive things, as Mitch tells me to do. There are lots of fun things about the house. We have a laundry chute! Sidewalks! A driveway! A driveway that ends in an actual garage! More than one bathroom! Oh the fun.

More to come. Gotta go feed the babe.