miles 2 year b day

I can scarcely believe it’s been two years since that day.  that day that shifted everything and has since been the compass star to my life.  there is something about two years that signifies the real end of babyhood.  it’s fitting, then, that my monthly fertility cycle finally returned just last week.  finally.  his conception, pregnancy, birth and young life have finally come full circle.  I look at the pictures I took today mystified by the mature face and body of my youngest son.

and so it is.  as parents, we are so blessed to be able to greet these new souls.  we see the nature of humans better than anyone.  our children are such beautiful glowing beings that blind us to look upon and burst our hearts open in an instant.

it’s no secret that I am an atheist, realist, pragmatist, pessimist.  yet when it comes to my children, I am more than happy to play the devils advocate and say I don’t know where we come from, where we go.  also, as an aging person, I also can’t shake the nagging feeling that I am an eternal being on a pointed journey.  maybe that’s just the nature of human beings’ oversized brains, always looking for patterns.  or maybe it’s a deeper kind of knowing.  a kind that finds a hard time standing up to the modern world.  yet one that I increasingly feel the pull of.

I try to keep the birthdays of the kids positive and joyful and celebratory.  yet there is always a tugging for me as their mother, with each passing year, of the things I am asked to let go of and relinquish.  more than is reasonable, it sometimes feels like.  each birthday brings elation and conversely, mourning.  they are often also rife with deep reflection, nostalgia, and pangs of the type of love that could cut, it’s so sharp.

after all of the festivities died down, miles was asleep, exhausted.  the older two and I were laying together in bed, and as is often the case, some serious ponderings started in.  discussion of this and that and finally, the subject that often finds its way to my young children’s minds.  how long does a person live?  where do you then go?  where were we before we were…here?  on their birthdays, as is a tradition in waldorf schools, I tell the rainbow bridge story.

the rainbow bridge story is basically a story about how a soul (that child) was looking down on earth from across the rainbow bridge for a family and found a mother (me) and a father (greg) and told their spirit guides that they wanted to join us.  then, after waiting nine months, they crossed the rainbow bridge and came to join our family.  it’s a beautiful story.  I give each story some personalization based on the child and the particular year.

anyways, we were there lying in the darkness and joel asked something about how long a person lives and ruth chimed in that after their lives were done they would go back across the rainbow bridge and then come back again as someone else.  “we already died before, joel, and lived with another family.  then after we cross the rainbow bridge again, we pick a different family.”  he seemed comforted and signaled his acceptance of this by placing his thumb in his mouth and rolling over.  “mom?” ruth asked.  yeah?  I said.  “could you see me coming across the rainbow bridge?”  no, I said, but I can picture it in my head.  “I see me crossing over a rainbow.  not a bridge.”  I nodded into the darkness which she seemed to sense and began to drift off to sleep herself.

on the day of miles birth, the summer air is heavy with moisture, looking like threatening rain.  mulberries are ripe on trees and stain the ground purple and black like ink spots.  today we drove along a country rode and there were so many fireflies in the darkening fields it could take your breath away.  more beautiful than any fireworks display and completely silent.  the heart of summer.

 

gardening glums

Well, it’s just a little unrealistic, as many things are when you have a young family, to try and have a garden.  I mean, you can have a garden, but just be prepared that you won’t actually be able to do any work on it.  First of all, there never seems to be time as by the time Greg gets off work, rides his bike home, we eat dinner and relax for a minute, it’s basically the kids’ bedtime.  That and we are going back to our city of origin pretty much every other weekend for various reasons.  Secondly, any time we can get to the garden plot, it seems like all the kids can do to get in the way, slow things down, or just plain destroy everything.  That and they have the attention span for anything not related to Peppa Pig of about twenty minutes.  Which, believe me, it takes more than 20 minutes to weed, water, plant, and harvest from a garden, especially if you only get over to it around twice a week.

What usually ends up happening is that we will pair some other errand with working at the garden.  Usually, I end up having to take Miles with me grocery shopping while Greg keeps the older two at the garden with him.  Miles in the grocery store is adorable but incredibly cumbersome.  He now refuses to ride in the cart and insists upon walking next to the cart the entire time.  Which is ok for short trips but less than ideal when I am trying to concentrate on a bigger haul.  By the time we leave, I can end up pretty disgruntled and usually proclaim to Greg after we meet him back at the garden: “No more pairing gardening with shopping!”  (Until the next week when the same thing happens:).  Neither of us wants to get “stuck” with Miles.  He’s just so damn unpredictable.  Scratch that.  You can pretty much count on him doing the most random and destructive shit imaginable.  He’s been known to knock out an entire bed of vegetables during five minutes of inattention.

The first (and one of the only) times we had all three of the kids with us at the garden, someone a couple plots over commented on how “well-behaved” the kids were.  I of course started guffawing at this (in my head while outwardly smiling humbly).  Yesterday, the same woman was there only this time she got a real taste of what the kids are more often like.  Ruth started condescending to Joel (who wasn’t doing something just so or said something that wasn’t quite right) who promptly responded by hitting her with a shovel.  Ruth started screaming/crying like she had been stabbed and then spent the entire rest of the time sulking.  Which would have been ok had it been quiet sulking but it was the kind of sulking where the person simply has to share their discontent with everyone within earshot.  Every few minutes, seemed like every few seconds, she would whine, “Can we go?  I’m cold!  I have to go to the bathroom!  Can we get ice cream?” and then tattling on Joel for various offenses.  Joel was a little more agreeable but soon absorbed the mood of his sister and followed suit in the whining to leave.  Meantime, Miles somehow managed to get drenched by the hose and step on and kill various vegetables and started in coming over to me asking for milk in that desperate way he has.  It wasn’t long before Greg and I started snapping at each other.  When I walked over and passed her the hose right before we left, all the garden neighbor woman could offer was, “Well, at least your help is cute.”

By the time we left, Greg and I both felt totally frustrated and stressed.  Needless to say it was less than relaxing and not anywhere close to productive and to top it all off: extremely embarrassing.

This is gardening with small children.

(I’m actually just venting here as it’s the next morning and I’m still miffed at the whole experience.  See?  It’s hard to keep any kind of perspective on things when I am constantly with the kids.  But, just so I don’t leave you with a terribly bitter taste in your mouth, I actually do really enjoy the garden and having the kids help.  There are days when they run and play all over the space, finding puddles to splash in, eating random leaves from plants and digging in dirt.  Actually, yesterday it wasn’t even all bad.  There was a point when all three of the kids started helping me load up a wheelbarrow with dirt.  Even little Miles started picking up big clods with his bare hands and hoisting them into the wheelbarrow.  Ruth planted a tomato plant all by herself which she was very proud of.  Joel was even trying to help me weed and watered a good portion of the garden.  These moments are so fun yet the longer, harder work of the garden, essential to a successful one, is where they get bored, can’t help, and then begin whining.  It’s really hard to strike a balance.  Not to mention, not to lose your cool with them.  That’s life with the kids in a nutshell.  How to keep your own sanity and keep things functioning at a reasonable level while finding ways to include them, pay attention to them and make sure no one gets hurt.  It’s my daily struggle and I am always finding my way.  Making lots of mistakes along the way, you can bet on that.  But hopefully, not making so many that they outweigh the good.)

 

 

 

what’s in a roof color?

Now don’t go thinking that I’m getting all superficial and suburbanite on you, but we’ve lately been obsessed with roof color.  It’s not our fault, believe me!  We can’t afford to move in to a house and immediately start doing work on it!  That’s not us.  Look at our last house.  We lived there for eight years and though we talked a lot about things we might change or fix, we never did a thing but paint a couple walls.  Part of the reason we didn’t think we stood a chance on this particular house was that it obviously needed a new roof and was priced basically right at the top of our budget.  We simply couldn’t afford it.  Until at the last second when the seller threw in the price of a new roof!

The new roof is slated to be put on in mid-August right after or before we will be moving in but other than that, we are just sitting around twiddling our thumbs waiting for the loan to go through.  We can’t lay a finger on it until the closing in late July when it officially changes hands (all we can do is pathetically stalk it, driving by every other day or so oogling the neighborhood and drooling).  The only thing we really can do is pick out a roof color.

That’s why we are so obsessed with something that probably would never otherwise be on our radar.  We even took a trip yesterday driving around looking at other peoples’ roofs after Greg got home from work.

Again, I’m finding similarities with wedding stuff.  I think I remember going through similar indecision about wedding color schemes.  “What personality does our house have?” Greg asked me, “Once we figure out the personality, we can go from there.”

The fuck?  “Personality”?  Naw.  People have personality.  A house don’t have no motherfreakin’ personality.  Now we’ve really gone over the yuppy duppy deep end (I feel like this is going to be a perpetual struggle for me especially because in buying this house, I feel a little like I’m leaving my working class roots behind and in turn, have to somehow resolve feelings of disdain I’ve held for people like Greg and I all my life).  This was one of the down sides in moving into the place that we’ve chosen.  Greg has more of that white collar upbringing behind him so doesn’t have the same struggles, but I was raised by a self-employed carpenter.  I’m extremely proud of my dad and my roots and the neighborhood I was raised in so it’s a little out of my comfort zone to sort of leave that behind and live what some might call a step up from my parents.  Makes me feel a little bit like a big phony (probably especially because it’s not even me earning a decent living, or any living at all, it’s Greg.  I’m just along for the ride).

Not only that, but I’m having to deal with the reality that my dad was incredibly skilled at what he did whereas people like Greg (not to put down my husband, he is also an incredibly dedicated and passionate worker) just say and do the right things, have the right connections and that’s the difference between being able to send your kids to top schools, living in a safe area and comfortably affording your lifestyle and living paycheck to paycheck and always struggling to pay bills.

Life is not fair.  Or as my mom is always fond of saying, “Life sucks and then you die.”  Eloquent, I know.  Grama always did have a way with words:)

In the meantime, will somebody please explain the difference in contrast between “faded cedar” and “Brownwood”?  Man, this yuppy thing is hard to get the hang of:)

apartment chronicles

Despite the fact that apartment living is met with a seemingly universal shudder of revulsion by most of society, it’s honestly been fine.  Better than fine.  It’s actually been rather great.  In fact I’m finding myself so comfortable, there is a part of me that is resistant to moving back into a house.  Or maybe I just don’t want to move at all again.

You see, moving brings you out of your comfort zone on many levels.  It brings everything into question.  What is the purpose of my life?  Who am I?  Where am I going and why?  I have been likening buying a house with getting married.  Greg and I were content to live as we were, as boyfriend and girlfriend.  We were comfortable and fine with our feelings in regards to our relationship, which ranged from blissed out to ambivalent to morose.  Then, throw in the idea of marriage and all of a sudden, you start questioning everything.  What does it mean about us if we are married?  Who are we as a married couple?  If we fight and get bored with each other, does that mean we shouldn’t get married?  Doubting everything.  Feeling lost and ill prepared to make a decision and a commitment.  Actually, now that I think about it, I had similar feelings right before each of the kids were born.  So, I guess it is with any major life transition.  I wish people would talk about the realities of these things more instead of just putting up the false pretense of being perfectly confident and secure in their life choices.  People are annoying.  Scratch that.  Our culture is annoyingly competitive and superficial.  As a consequence of this, people are left to struggle with real emotions alone and in secret while outwardly pretending everything is peachy.

That’s my rant for today.  I deplore you, people, keep.  It.  Real.  I’m so tired of all this phony bologna.  Forget looking like you’ve got it down.  Let’s be honest: none of us has got it down.  None of us knows what the hell we are even doing here on this spinning rock barreling through space.  We’re all just space dust.  Big bang.  Look it up.

At the very least, if we have no idea why we’re here, we can at least embrace the things that make us human and bring us fulfillment.  Being in social situations, having a place.  Making connections with others.  Finding our strengths, talents, or interests and pursuing those.  Living balanced, being healthy.  Being outside, having a relationship with the natural world.  All the while, navigating the eternal compromise of humanity: how to get our needs and wants met while living in close proximity to others with limited resources.  This is what a human is, is it not?  Is this not the root of all societies and religions and cultures?

Less competition: that’s what we need.  Unfortunately, we are a generation raised on commercials.  From infancy, we’ve watched “perfect” people on television sets exist in an idealized fantasy life and have been in a constant state of comparison all our lives, always looking at them and looking back at ourselves and yearning for these things (whatever they are) that would make our lives better, would somehow bring wholeness and fulfillment not realizing all the while it was a capitalist lie conditioning us to become perpetually dissatisfied, competitive, ultra-consumers that our economy would rely on in the future.  Conspiracy theory much?

If we had less competition, there would be less need to look like we’ve all got it together and there would be room for discussion of the real experiences surrounding getting married, having a baby, moving/buying a house.   We would all feel much more accepted, validated and normal.  Wouldn’t that be revolutionary?  What would the economy do with a bunch of self-satisfied citizens that no longer had to buy a new purse to feel validated but could instead just open up their mouths and let their humanity out and form real connections with each other?  It would be like the great depression all over again.  Stocks and markets plummeting.  People getting back to basics.  The return of handmade things, gardening, austerity, appreciation for the things that, once all the excess is stripped away, actually sustain us.  Real, meaningful work.  Simple surroundings.  Relying on connections with others.  Hmmm.

What does any of this have to do with apartment living?  You got me.  Just another tangent brought to you by me:)

 

life in the slow lane

This morning, I heard a baby crying.  I had just snuck out of bed to get a jump on the day and was poised with coffee cup in hand, just basking in the quiet emptiness of my semi-speed cleaned living room when I looked up at the clock.  Seven thirty on a Sunday morning, I thought shaking my head.  Typical of little kids, I thought, and: your neighbors hate your guts.  I did feel satisfied though, that for once it wasn’t me and my family disrupting the peace around here and I silently wished to myself that there were more little kids and families around so that we didn’t stick out so much like sore thumbs.  That’s when I realized that the crying that I thought was coming from outside was actually coming from my back bedroom.  It was Miles.  Shit.

Well, that’s just a typical start to a day around here.  No biggie.  He’s just here across my lap, breastfeeding/dozing as I type this.  What do I expect?  This is life in the slow lane.

We have some exciting (terrifying?) news!  I haven’t typed much on the subject of houses.  Number one because I haven’t typed much here at all (see simple life tasks made impossible above) but number two because it sort of happened really fast and has been a whirlwind of emotions and decisions.  Emotional decisions.  Decisional emotions.  We have had an offer accepted on a house!

Originally, someone that had just left this area and knew Greg through work wanted to sell us his house and after seeing it, for a few weeks we were sort of caught up in considerations about it, thinking it might be the house we would end up in.   Finally, I said to Greg that I thought I needed to see some different areas in order to really get a better understanding of other options.  We started working with a realtor and within two days (and after looking at only one house) we had an offer accepted!  Believe me, it’s been a dizzying process.

Our apartment has been really comfortable and has also been a really good experience for us, but we are so grateful and excited about being able to finally settle in somewhere that we can call home.  The house is a small, retro, brick ranch that in many ways reminds us of our old house.  It has been so nice to shift from talking about which area we might settle in and what type of house we might live in to our plans for making this particular house and neighborhood ours.

 

 

When am I gonna learn?

Hmmm.  This seems to be a theme in my journey through parenthood.  I seem to have to keep re-learning the same things over and over again.  Like when Joel becomes an absolute walking talking nightmare that is so angry and destructive, it’s not time to lay down the law.  It’s time to lay down the pillows and bed sheets and take a nap.  God, I wish I would learn that one.  In retrospect, it’s always so obvious but it’s always so hard to think clearly in the heat of the moment.  Then, there’s my perpetual ignorance about Ruth’s temperament.  She’s been super sensitive since she was a baby.  We’re talking seven years here, people, and still, I play the fool.  I’m the freakin’ court jester over here.  Just hand me a hat with jingly bells on it and some juggling balls and watch me dance around like a moron.

Ruth can’t be pushed.  She can’t be persuaded.  She can’t (and shouldn’t be) coerced, though, believe me, I’ve tried all of these things at one time or another and every time, I lose.  Not only does she not do what I am trying to get her to do, she loses trust in me, our relationship suffers and life is just yuck.  This is a lesson I am forever learning and re-learning.  I could give you a million examples from the earliest struggles of trying to get her to eat food as a baby to our most recent blunder: I thought it would be a good idea to sign her up for ballet.  Big mistake.

In my mind, of course, it’s all with the best intensions.  Though I usually shy away from anything traditionally slated for young females, I honestly have a hunch that dance would be something that Ruth would not just be good at, but that would be good for her in turn, being a venue for emotional expression, which is something that she seems to struggle with.  “What’s the harm in trying” I reason.  “Try anything once”.  Plus, I got her to agree, which I took as a sign that perhaps she’s ready to start branching out more now that she’s begun to lose teeth and has reached that magic age of seven.  In Steiner’s view (the father of the philosophy behind Waldorf schools) the age of seven to fourteen is the supposed “heart of childhood”.  So, thought I, time to seize the freakin’ day.

I should have known it was all going to go south when she refused to put on the clothes that we picked out for her to wear to the practice.  I should preface this by saying that Ruth will only usually wear one outfit (she’s extremely particular about clothes) so by the time she had put on the outfit, she was already acting a little out of control, a little like a caged animal ready to tear the shorts and shirt off her body and run screaming naked out of the dance studio.  We persisted, though, and stood waiting for the class to begin.  The teacher was a sweet blond woman (cha-ching!  (This might sound odd, but I think because Ruth’s first ever gymnastics coach was young and blond, she’s partial to this type of adult working with her)) and used a quiet voice and seemed extremely serious (all good signs) yet Ruth refused to go with them to the bar.  That was ok.  I was willing to stand out from the crowd a bit to sit with her on the sidelines to watch.  People always look at us like we’re odd, but I’ve done it enough times that I was ok with it.

Thus ends the things that I was ok with.  To make a long and painful story short, she became fidgety and restless with a bunch of false starts to join the class until finally degrading into disrespectful sulking and finally flinging herself to the floor out of frustration for the situation when I had to leave the room with her and then she flew into a rage and started screaming/crying.

As we drove away from the place, like a thief fleeing the scene of the crime, I suffered the usual feelings of being outcast and different and not being able to do things that are “simple” and “normal” that other families seem to be able to do so easily.  I tried not to let these feelings out toward Ruth but failed miserably.  Then, after all the anger, frustration, and tears had subsided, I found myself sitting there astounded with my own stupidity.  Why had I pushed her?  Why?  When will I ever learn my damn lesson and just let her be?

As parents, I believe it’s important to examine our own motives for acting the ways we do towards our children.  We need to confront our own demons or the same unhealthy family patterns will just persist through the generations.  I don’t have the answers.  I am confused and lost and always doing the wrong thing.  But I have hope.  And I am motivated to do well by my kids, whatever that means to me (what I think it means is to help them to be emotionally and spiritually whole people who are able to unleash their gifts into the world and find satisfaction and fulfillment in their lifetimes).  I am always falling short.  But I get up every morning and I try again, damn it.

 

 

time to play the tooth fairy a.k.a. get my ass up early

Well, it’s that time again: time to be the mother-freakin’ tooth fairy.  I hope I’m not alone here.  Every time Ruth has a loose tooth, I start buggin’.  Because guess what?  You may not know this but there is no freakin’ tooth fairy.  Or scratch that, it’s me.  Which sounds like an honor and stuff until she gets another wiggly tooth and then I’m feeling like a major lame wad because, call me your typical millennial parent, but I don’t want to just wad up a dollar like my parents did (what can you even buy any more for a dollar besides a bunch of candy which is exactly what she would want to spend it on, believe me) and shove it under her pillow.  Besides, I never carry cash.  Plus when I sat down to think about it (this is purely figurative language.  I never have time to give serious thought to the home I want to buy, much less how I want to proceed with my tooth fairy duties) I thought that paying cash for baby teeth must be the most capitalist idea of my life.  So, thought I in my brilliance, why not make the gift from the fairy of teeth something a little more meaningful?

That’s all well and good except not only am I ten steps behind at all times but I am also a procrastinator to boot so even when she has a loose tooth, I bide my time.  I put it off.  I tell myself I have loads of days to think of something to leave beneath her pillow.  And some of those teeth do hang on for an incredibly long time.  But it always ends the same.  You’d think by the fourth tooth I would have gotten my act together by now.  Yet here I find myself again, scrambling to beat her awake and frantically looking for SOMEthing to stuff under her pillow before she wakes up.

I fell asleep last night tying to stay awake longer than her because she sleeps like a rock at night but it didn’t work and before long, I was in snoresville, having dream after dream about rushing to put something under her pillow before she woke up.  Then, this morning, Miles woke up for his morning feed and though I could definitely have slept at least an hour more after a very unrestful and sleep-deprived weekend, I yanked myself up out of the bed and found myself scrambling as usual in the early morning light to not make so much noise as to wake her while simultaneously looking for something suitable all with a fussy baby on my hip (of a healthy weight a.k.a. ouch, my back).  This is all pre-coffee mind you.  There were some muttered swear words.  There was some brow sweat as I slowly pushed the stuff under her pillow as her eyelids fluttered (this is all while Miles was still balanced on my hip with his pee soaked bulging diaper threatening to burst like a damn.  But, whew.  I did it.

Our tooth fairy must be Canadian, because he/she always leaves Canadian money, which is cool because we have taken vacations to Canada and is also very convenient because candy stores do not accept foreign currency (mwahaha:).  After we got home from vacation, the fairy left some shells (that looked remarkably like the ones we collected on the beach and brought home with us.  meh).  After that, the fairy seemed to run short on ideas and was leaving strange things like stationary and pinecones.  But this time the fairy was really desperate and stuffed a bunch of felt and a huge skein of yarn under there (I know because I saw it).  Gee, thanks a bunch, fairy, now Ruth is going to expect me to figure out what to do with all of it today.

The things one does to provide some childhood magic and wonder.