Memories

My sweet Sunshine, you are currently rifling through a box full of spices in the kitchen, tasting some containers before dropping them at your feet, while others are tossed over your shoulder without so much as a cursory glance.  I’m not certain of your criteria, but you do seem to have a system.  I love to watch you explore–touching and tasting absolutely everything–cataloguing your environment with the precision and care of a scientist.

I folded and put away most of your nine month footies today because the necklines are beginning to stretch and your tiny toes are pressing uncomfortably against the feet.  It hurts every time–putting away bits of the present that somehow, without my noticing right away, became the past.  It is so strange that these moments which are molding and redefining me as a person and a mother, you will not remember.

You will not remember how I shrieked with joy when you took your first, wobbly steps or how I cried in relief and squeezed you tight after fishing that wad of drool-soaked paper out of your mouth.  You will not remember crawling around the yard, picking dandelions and trying to eat pebbles under my watchful eye.  You will not remember dancing in front of the oven door, giggling at your reflection.  You will not remember the way you turn diaper changes into the baby version of a greased pig contest.  You will not remember throwing all the spices out of the box.  And you will not remember your silly mama, sitting at the kitchen table, crying while she writes you love letters from your babyhood.

And oh how I love you, my baby.  Though our time together this way is short, one day, in the not so distant future, we’ll be making memories you can keep.  Until then, I will continue writing (and crying) you a path back through the years to the curious, determined, and much-loved baby you are so that while you may not remember, you can at least have a glimpse of your sweet, small self through your mama’s eyes.

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My Mama Bear

Today is my very first Mother’s Day.  My loves have run to the store while I laze about in pajamas drinking coffee and writing on our couch (Yes! Our couch is in the house!!  But that’s a post for another day).  In other words, I think Mother’s Day is a day I’m going to like.  I had planned to write about how much I love being a mother, but all the words swirling around in my soul at present moment are about my own mama, so here goes.

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(Me eating cookie dough while Mama Bear is attempting to make actual cookies)

I have always loved you, mama.  Yes, even that time I called you a butthole (mere moments before dad put a bar of soap in my mouth) for grounding me when I was sure it was completely the brothers’ fault.  Yes, even when you used to use the Vulcan death pinch on my shoulder to get me to leave church quietly when I was misbehaving.  And yes, even that time in high school when you told me you believed me that I wasn’t doing drugs but I was going to be at the wrong place at the wrong time one day and I was so angry I called a friend and spent twenty minutes reciting everything I didn’t like about you, not knowing you could hear.  Only to be picked up by the police two weeks later.  At least I really wasn’t lying about the drugs, right?

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And I have never doubted your love for me.  After all, I remember you singing songs with me in the car while we went to the hot springs and everyone else was at school and work.   I remember your hugs (always and still the best) smelled like your violet perfume when I was growing up.  I remember you cheering me on at basketball games–a sport neither of us particularly understood or cared for.  I remember you taking me to every mall on the I-5 corridor looking for the perfect prom dress and shoes.  I remember you crying when I tried to sing in church a few months after surgery to remove my thyroid cancer and I couldn’t.  I remember you buying me a blanket that felt like my dogs’ fur when I was in radioactive iodine isolation.  I remember declaring I was going on a spirit quest and while everyone else looked at me oddly and said nothing, you sewed me a medicine bag.  I remember too many memories of you showing your love to list them here.

It’s strange to think that no matter how much we love someone or how well we know them, there are always parts and pieces we never get to see.  Having a daughter of my own, has given me new eyes and, with them, I see a facet of you I haven’t before.  You are incredible.  And not just for keeping four, adventuresome but not always wise, children alive into adulthood.

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How you managed to create so much love, fun, and happiness with so little under such difficult conditions over the years is nothing short of magic.  How you did all that while working and going to school, I will never understand.  I already admired your strength.  I already thought you were warm and giving.  I already thought I knew you.  But this one baby has broken my heart with love and fear and when I think of you now, with all of us and all we’ve been through, I am in awe of your warmth, humor, resilience, and grace.

So, on my first Mother’s Day, I want to tell you again that I love you and to tell you again that I thank you for everything because I truly do.  But I also want to tell you, that this year, I see you a little better, I understand a little more about how much of yourself you have given to us, and I am humbled by all you have accomplished and all that you are.  You are a blessing to our family, Mama Bear, Happy Mother’s Day.  : )

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Angels

There are many types of angels: guardian angels, messenger angels, archangels . . . and angels who swoop in from Oregon to rescue tired mamas from piles of dishes and laundry, watch over sweet babies while their parents have a few hours alone together for the first time in months, and smite ancient, peeling vinyl from bathrooms as well as molding dry wall from laundry rooms.  I call that angel my Mamatu (AKA Carl’s mom).  : )

For the past week, my Mamatu and my niece have been staying with us for a visit.  I was embarrassed before they arrived because our house is so far from being even remotely guest-worthy and with all the appliance/electrical craziness, I had no dishwasher or working dryer until this past Monday.  And even doing what dishes I could during baby nap-times and hanging clothes on the line to dry, I simply could not get ahead.  On the first day of her visit, she just got up, went into the kitchen and cleaned it.  Completely.  Dishes and all.  Over the next few days she breezed through the laundry, removed the nasty vinyl from the master bath, cut the molding drywall out of the laundry room, sanded and caulked the walls, and continued to do the dishes every day of her visit.

It certainly cannot be considered a vacation!!!!!!  But I am eternally grateful for the desperately needed help.  Now that the basics are caught up, I’ve already done the few dishes in the sink this morning and done meal prep for dinner tonight and the baby has only been sleeping for thirty minutes!  She gave me just the boost I needed to (mostly ; ) stay on top of things.  Along with that, she delighted and entertained her granddaughters every day with walks and silly fun, allowing Carl and I a much-needed date and freeing me up to reorganize our bathroom and clothes, removing the things we aren’t using so that we only have a few boxes to contend with each day instead of the fifteen or so we had been living out of for the past month.

In summary, God bless and keep my amazing Mamatu, who came and vanquished the worst of the chaos.

We all love you so very much and promise that the next visit will be more play and less work!  And thank you for the beautiful angel you made for us, every time I look at her, I think of how gracious you are and how much you’ve done to help us kick start a good, new life.  : )
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Temporary Insanity

I was standing in the kitchen when it hit.

Four sleepless nights in.

There were dishes on every square inch of countertop

coats in our chairs

stacks of mail

baby toys

dog harnesses and leashes and toys

an unopened toaster in the center of the table

the recycling overflowing it’s box in the kitchen

the garbage overflowing its can in the entryway

I hadn’t showered

the coffee was gone

I was trying to pick up

but there was nowhere to put anything

I grabbed a Coronita from the fridge

I knew I needed a moment

a quiet moment

a cold, little beer

and everything would look possible again

but there was no opener.

I began to feel a little desperate

rifling through boxes I already knew the openers weren’t in

and wondering for the fiftieth time this week why we didn’t have a key rack yet.

There are openers on ALL of our key chains

yet I couldn’t find a single one.

But I need this little beer!!!!

I need a little moment,

to close my eyes and imagine a completed kitchen, I love

A pantry with shelves

a living room with furniture

just one moment of peace

if I don’t get it . . .

Inspiration struck,

sweet college years

and sweet, ugly counter top we plan to rip out

so I felt no guilt as I held the beer against it’s edge

and slammed the bottom of my fist into the cap

on a grin

as it flew off with a satisfying pop.

Disaster averted.
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Morning Mama Thoughts

My favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is watching her choose where she would like to go and what she would like to do when she gets there.  She used to be limited to where we put her or what toys we presented her with, and now another layer of her personality is coming through.

My least favorite thing about her ability to crawl and stand up is that there are now roughly 10,762 new and exciting ways for her to accidentally maim/injure/kill herself.  I have nicknamed her “suicidal octopus” because I swear she has eight, lightning-fast arms and they’re all reaching for something dangerous!

We are getting closer to the end of nursing and I’m both excited and sad.  On one hand, I will be SO happy to be able to wear whatever I want without thinking about how hard/easy it will be to nurse in.  On the other hand, because my wild child is always on the go, nursing time has been our snuggle time and I wonder if/how she will snuggle when there’s no need to stop and snack in my arms.

I think about my parents all the time.  Having a child of my own puts an entirely different spin on so many of my memories.  Like when I was twelve and I was riding my horse bareback, with a bridle I made out of baling twine and jumping the irrigation canal/all the irrigation pipe in the field.  If I remember right, my dad was supposed to be watching me, but he had to go handle a work emergency so mom came to pick me up.  She was terrified of horses and I remember seeing her white knuckles on the fence as we thundered up the way.  I have always thought that story was hilarious.  Now I can actually imagine the worry and fear she must have felt that I would be hurt.  To my  mother’s credit, she did not punish me; she signed me up for jumping lessons.  : )

Another hilarious thinking of my mom moment came when I was exiting the restroom and passed a woman and her young son going in together.  It struck me for the very first time that my mother actually taught me to use the bathroom!!!!  Thanks, mom.  : )

I am so happy to finally be in a permanent living space.  Every situation we’ve been in since she was born has been temporary.  She’s been shuttled across the country multiple times, spent countless hours in the car while we looked for vehicles, then apartments, then houses.  She seems pretty happy wherever we are, but I think she’ll feel the difference as we get settled.

A lovely friend sent me a lovely book (The Magic of Motherhood) and though it’s hard to find time to read, my favorite line from the early chapters is, “Your body will be a home to your children.”  How very true.  My body doesn’t look or feel quite the way it did before my Sunshine came along but there is no place where she feels as safe and comfortable as my arms.  No other body will do, it’s only mine that gives her such peace and security–how beautiful is that?

She is swinging in the living room, fast asleep while I sip coffee and write.  Occasionally, I look up and her face swings into view.  If I had known before getting pregnant just how much I would feel as a mother, I might have chosen another path.  It’s frightening sometimes, the depth and breadth of it.  What I know now that she’s here is that I’d feel it all a thousand times for just one of her sunny smiles.

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Thursday

I am in the shower taking my time, shaving my legs, washing my hair . . . glad to be rediscovering some semblance of the vanity I knew before months of sporadic bathing and routinely forgetting to brush my teeth–before motherhood, that is.  Out in the kitchen, my husband is dancing to Mambo Italiano with our 8 month old daughter.  When the song ends, the sound of their mingled voices gets closer.  I hear him say, “A is for Astronaut or Aerospace” and in my head, I think “or appaloosa . . .”  She babbles back and they move on to “B.”  This time the word is one I don’t know, likely something to do with space and/or engineering.

Today is swim class day: one of my favorite days of the week.  The pool is always fun and even though the class is short, it wears out my sweet Sunshine for the rest of the day.  Taking a sip of my coffee (another rare treat, shower coffee, usually these days my showers are too short to enjoy a cup of joe), I think about my life a year ago.  I was tired, very pregnant, worried about the future, and so sad to be leaving a life I loved so much for a complete unknown on the other side of the country.  I didn’t enjoy being pregnant and while part of me wanted so badly for her to be born so I didn’t have to be pregnant anymore, another part of me desperately wanted to just stay pregnant forever so nothing would have to change.

In the kitchen, I can hear they’ve moved on to “E,” which is apparently for “Electromagnetism.”  In my head, I think, “or eventing.”  I take another sip of coffee and realize it’s getting late, I should hop out so Carl can head in to work and Sunshine can start her nap.  But before shutting off the water, I stand there just one more minute listening to my new life.  It isn’t perfect.  I still miss my Idahome so much I ache sometimes, and Lord knows I’m going to have to make a friend or two here before I completely forget how to socialize like a normal, adult human.  But the beauty of this new life takes my breath away sometimes.

I knew I was going to love watching Carl be a father, but the reality of it is beyond anything I imagined.  I hoped we would find a house in the country, but our little farm is straight out of a Robert Frost poem.  And I was sure I would love my baby, but what I feel when I hear her little voice babble along with her father’s in the next room makes me wish we had more words for love.  I realize I’ve been standing in the shower crying for several minutes now.  My coffee is cold, but my heart is warm.  Drying off my tears along with the rest of the water, I step out into the chilly bathroom.  Carl comes in to remind me he’s late, the baby reaches her sticky hands out for me with a big, drooly, two-tooth grin, and . . .

I’m happy.

 

The Early, Silent Hours

It’s the early, silent hours I love best.  Sipping my coffee, watching the sun rise, and feeling you thump around in my belly, hopefully without a care, as you knit yourself together from stardust and whatever I’ve been eating lately (mostly fruit and baked potatoes).  I imagine that when you feel finished and decide to arrive, the mornings will only get earlier and less silent, but for now, it’s the most lovely part of my day.  The part where I get to wonder about you without interruptions and can let go of all the fear and anxiety that I’m somehow doing this wrong even though we’ve just gotten started.

What I already feel for you reminds me so much of what I feel for your father.  I want to give you perfection, but all I have is myself. You should know this now, I have made and continue to make a lot of mistakes. I’m confident that your entry into our lives will only provide me with a wealth of new opportunities to be awkward and generally make a mess of things.  That said, I love to have fun, I’m a big fan of compromise, and I’m an expert at letting go (your dad is still working with me on how to hold on), which often works wonders when mistakes are made.

Your father is a riot.  You’re going to love the crazy things he can do with his face, the ridiculous repertoire of noises he can make (the dolphin being one of my personal faves).  And he has no idea how to hold babies, change diapers, etc, so you and I will share a lot of laughs in the early years while he fumbles around.

Well, little love, speaking of your father, the sun is up and it’s time for us to get started on the day.  I say we kick it off right and go jump on the bed right by Daddy’s face while singing Rise and Shine at the tops of our lungs.  He loves that.  ; )
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