Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Just a Little Baby Meltdown

Until a few days ago, Ted was home six days in six weeks. Work stuff. Necessary. I didn't want to complain (um, at least here, but boy did a few gracious friends and neighbors hear about it). But after about four weeks, it started to get really hard. My patience was wearing thin with the almost-3-year-old living upstairs. We were officially really tired of each other. I may have, just maybe, at one point, while in the car, in response to my son's loud exclamations of "huh?!" simply because he knows it gets on my nerves, raised my voice to what some might say just may have pushed my volume level into the category of "yell." I think it was something like, "Just. Stop. Talking. NOW!"

I immediately felt guilty. And I mean, bad guilty. Like wanting to pull over on the side of the freeway and apologize guilty. Except that Abe didn't completely stop with the yelled, "huh?!"s. He just whispered them, which continued to annoy me. I apologized when we got home. So did he.

But I was still frazzled, coming apart at the seams, as they say. I felt like a weakling. I kept reminding myself of all the military families whose spouses are in harm's way for months at a time, with limited communication. One of those couples was at church Sunday, and I joined the standing ovation when he was recognized, tears welling up in my eyes whenever I see a soldier come home. At least my spouse was just one state away and available by phone and skype all day long. I felt like a sissy for wanting to crumble under the "demands" of one measly preschooler. So many have it harder.

Abe forgives easily. Though he'll probably still yell "huh?!" at you thousands of times in the car.

One night last week, before Ted got home, after I'd put Abe to bed, I sat at my computer with wine and hulu. I watched an episode of Parenthood. One of the characters missed out on the first five years of his son's life. In this one scene, the mother of his son sits him down on her couch and shows him the video of their son's birth. His eyes widen, amazed. He slowly smiles, not able to take his eyes off the screen. His eyes fill with tears.

My eyes widened. I couldn't take them from the screen either. The river rushed forth, down to my chest. I was suddenly filled with gratitude for so many things. Euphoria came bounding through my front door.

I wrote through the sobbing, something incoherent to Ted, edited a little bit here:

"And I stay up too late at night and think about my friends and my former students and my love for them, all these people in my life, like neighbors who stop by to test the cookies I'd made as a thank-you gift for the Ethiopian wife who stayed up all night making food for people she'd never met...and I'm overcome. The dam has broken, man. I'm sobbing now. My life is so blessed. It really is. What is going on? Just sitting here thinking about my life and the places I've been and the people I've been able to know and who bother to stay in touch with me, and I feel so full and so lucky and simply overcome with the love of the people in my life, my neighbors, my friends, people very far away who I may never see again...and yep, more tears at THAT thought: all my friends I may not see again. When will I see them again?

Our daughter too, someone alive and yet to meet. And my heart is so huge and breaking and filled with these people that have simply broken me for my love for them. Such beautiful people in this world I know, who I love so. And when will we meet again? When?

I am overcome. My current life is a tedium of minutia yet I dream of big things and through it all I'm so thankful. And tearful. And really snotty."

This was a week ago today. Thursday, Ted came home. In the nick of time, I think, bearing coconut from a work-trip to Hawaii.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Home Sings Me of Sweet Things

So that I could type this, I wiped from my hands the tears that got there from having been wiped from the entire left side of my face all the way into the nostril. That was awkward. This post by Julie is not.

GO HERE. Take five minutes. Be moved. If your Monday is lacking soul, this will fill the void.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Extrovert...just to a point.

Three little girls fighting in the front yard about who gets to be the mommy. It's an age-old question really. No brainer about who's the dad; Abe is the only boy around. Lots of yelling, very shrill yelling.

The father turns in my direction, his back to the fight. Shrugs both his shoulders. Asks me with furrowed brows, "What they sayin' Mom?" Then turns back to the girls, shouts, "Stop fighting! Stop fighting!"
The following day, the reluctant father escaped the shackles of shared parenthood with three bickering girls to spend a large portion of the day with a girl about a year younger than him.

While the kids did stuff like this:
I reveled in finding an Audrey Hepburn-esque sweater on a consignment sale rack. A meander through an independent bookstore located in an old train car. 12 oz cup of Stumptown Holler Blend and biting into the crispy goodness of a cherry handpie, the flaky sugary bits falling all over my new sweater, the one I immediately put on post purchase because I'd been feeling frumpy for weeks now and oh what a girly sweater can do to lift a mood. Hail and rain storm while parked outside Powell's bookstore, talking with one of my oldest and dearest friends from high school. Ordering a book for a friend, then the serendipity of seeing Olive Kitteridge displayed, a book I'd forgotten the title of that had just been recommended to me the night before. Home. Logging into my public library account and placing holds on books I've been wanting to read. Reading blogs. Reading the New York Times, whole articles from start to finish. A bike ride in the sun through my neighborhood, peddling fast enough to get my heart pumping but not so fast to break a sweat. Perfect.

I go to pick up my boy, feeling energized and light. Show off the new sweater to my friend. Discover that Abe had walked over two miles and find him like this:

We drive an hour to visit two of Abe's cousins (he has close to 30). Abe loves his family but when I suggest that he go with them to the park to play while I run an quick errand, a tiny frown appears. I come around to his carseat to get him out, notice a quivering bottom lip and tears welling up, now starting to overflow. He grabs my shoulders, pulls me to him, and I ask if he doesn't want to go play? He whispers into my neck as he clings to me, "but I would be sad."

He then says very quietly that he wants to stay with me, and in that moment my heart fills with many things at once--the reminder that my extrovert is still a wee one who needs his mama, the fragility of us humans, our connectedness to each other, the "mama bear" in me who wants to protect the cub from any sadness or pain, the sweetness of knowing that Mr. Independent sometimes needs to snuggle after a few hours away, that I would die without flinching for this small creature with a quivering lip in the backseat of my car.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A few mornings ago having just woken up, we lay in the itty toddler bed and made sock puppets (he still sleeps with my snuggly socks, from way back only one week home when I lost his real snuggly blanket). He named his Potter and mine Duncan. Potter and Duncan got hungry, so Duncan asked Potter what he usually likes to eat.

"Vegetables and dandelion greens."

With a busy day ahead of us, I gave Abe the option of having his hair fixed before we left or just wearing a hat. This is what he chose. He went to the hat box and chose this one. He wore it all morning.

We wandered the aisles of Goodwill eating bell peppers and sugar snap peas, with the promise of Easter candy at check-out. We found a sweet wooden dollhouse for big sister. Abe said he should live in it for a little while.

We took a long walk with friends, one on bike, one in stroller, three on their feet. We threw lots of sticks and rocks and studied maps in a coffeeshop.

We picked up a pizza to take to our neighbor's house for movie-night. At the shop, Abe made friends with everyone in line, telling them he was "almost six."

On our drive home, he says, "Mom? Can I tell you a question? Dogs shouldn't go to get pizza without their moms and dads."

"No? Dogs can't go alone to pick up a pizza?"

"No, Mom. They have to go get pizza only with their moms and dads."

Just so you know.

We watch a little Finding Nemo, then a little Pinocchio, eat a little pizza, drink some milk, tussle over firetrucks, snuggle on couch with mom during the scary parts of Nemo. We stay later then I'd intended on a day with no nap, but it was hard to pull ourselves away with the neighbor's toys and the lovely bottle of wine my neighbor had opened.

When it's time to go home, oh, the sadness. It's been a long day full of good friends and our boy can never get enough. Hugs and kisses for them all. In the door, into the pajamas, brush of teeth, short song, into bed.

On my way out of his room, the question, "Mom? What can we do tomorrow?" Abe is the most extroverted of extroverts, with two introverts as parents. It's good for us all.

Before I hit the hay, I look at the sleeping boy and feel, yep, that ache? Heart expanding. Full. Joy. I blessed my lucky stars.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Surprised by the giddy dancing butterflies in my stomach as we hide eggs in our neighbor's living room, knowing the kids were all downstairs waiting in the basement. We let them in. They run around. I want Abe to find them all. I tell myself to chill out. The joy is too much. The kids sit amongst the spoils of their hunt, eating chocolate and skittles and posing for photos all wearing their ring pops. I snuggle on a big chair with the two little boys to watch Finding Nemo while the big girls give make-overs to the willing adults.

That was Saturday.

We dress in our Sunday clothes. Abe opens his Easter basket, experiences the fun of a pez dispenser and eats chocolate before breakfast. We drive to a shabbily lovely church near the river. We come late so end up on the front row. I listen to the music but don't sing along. The African American woman sitting behind me shouts "A to the men!" at her favorite parts of the sermon. I smile every time. The half-white, half-black pastor preaches his guts out.

These words are sung and I'm fighting back sobs:

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

No power of hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand. Oh, how I love Jesus. I do. I really do.

Abe tells us, in utmost seriousness, on our walk to the car what he learned in church that morning, "Jesus loves me. He got hurt. There was a roller*. He's still hurt. He not get better." At some point a discussion of the resurrection is in our future. Since his uncle's car wreck a week ago, Abe has been very concerned with anyone getting hurt.

From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny. I usually don't live like I believe it. I'm working on that one.
*I think he's talking about the stone that served as a door to the grave, the one that was rolled away.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


One family member survived this crash on Sunday, is in the hospital with broken pelvis (in three places) and damaged lung, but...alive.

Another family member is also in the hospital, newly born, just today. She's tiny and has a beautiful name and beautiful parents who welcomed her into this world on a dramatic spring day in Portland with downpours, thundering hail, and the kind of glowing sunset that turns the world pink for a few sweet minutes.

And someone very far away, unknown yet to us and us to her, is one step closer to being welcomed into our family*. She's experiencing or has experienced a side impact in her life, much like the t-bone crash above, putting her in the circumstances that lead to her becoming our family. These are her ashes. This is what I think about as we begin the wait to find out who she is.

We're here. We're waiting. Praying her wounds can heal and she can bloom in the safe place we offer. God, make us worthy of such a task.

*As of Monday, we're officially on Gladney's waitlist for a referral...finally. We were pretty slow this time round).