and pull up a pile of laundry. is it clean or is it dirty? your guess is as good as mine. the locust tree in front of our house, planted over half a century ago by my husband’s two grandfathers, is dropping male flowers all over our lot. tree sperm. our tree is cuming all over us, so to speak, blanketing the drive with a thick, pungent carpet of the stuff, think 1970’s brown-orange carpeting, flecks of mustard yellow. we track it into the house, little soft buds underfoot everywhere. the kitchen, sticking to all of ruth’s toys that she tosses to the floor throughout the day. “we should have a yearly locust party,” greg said to try to make light of the situation as i picked one out of my morning coffee. added to everything else, and it’s the final straw of my sanity strewn about underfoot with the mess. our dust busters battery is on its way out so there’s no helping the situation. may as well make a bed of the stuff and lie down for a snooze with the baby. better than to try to get anything done, the laundry, toys picked up, silly putty unstuck from the rug, crayola marker wiped off the lamp. as soon as you try, joel will inevitably start grunting away anyways, always wanting to be held. and who can blame him? if i was a baby, i would never be put down. who could resist being tucked in next to someone’s heart like a pocket watch, ticking away, little thing, warm and loved? not me. not joel.
here, i’ll pour you a glass of fermenting orange juice. we can sit down and chat with ruth. she might gently pat her brother’s head, kiss him sweetly on the lips, help to change his diaper and then tell greg to “hold ‘this’ (her brother) while mom helps me get on my swimsuit.” what’s that on the side of her head? a self-induced rug burn she gave to herself yesterday after i banished her to her room because i was so furious with her i couldn’t stand to look at her after she yelled in her brothers face and then knocked her knee into his head as she got off my lap. i’ve never felt so mad at ruth. she’s never behaved so badly. she’s heartbroken. as usual, i’m at a loss as to how to deal with the situation.
i put all of my focus and energy on preparing for the birth, ironically, something that took a total of an hour and a half, and nothing into what would come after. i hadn’t so much as sorted the baby clothes before we got home from the hospital. i have done zero investigation into sibling adjustment or raising a two kid family. as usual, i’m running to keep up with what’s happening in my household.
would you like a conglomeration of leftovers? all of the dishes are piled in the sink, but we can eat straight from the container if i hold it between us. what’s still good? what needs to be thrown out? these are questions for people with time, not me and you type people. let’s just smell it and see.
all of the thank you cards are piled, ready to be filled out, addressed, stamped, mailed out. now if i could only discover a tiny time slot in which to write them. i’m immensely grateful, people just don’t know it yet.
i spoke too soon, as i always do, when i told people joel was so much better at breastfeeding than ruth was. it was just too early on in our practice. we hadn’t yet reached the part when he gulps down gallons of air, spits, sputters, and chokes, then cries in frustration so that he can’t even recognize my breast in front of him as his food source. now i remember i used to tell people that breast feeding was like wrestling with my baby. it is this once again. a wrestling match that i always lose, contorting my back into odd geometric shapes to try to get him to latch, sweat rolling down between my breasts, covered in milk, the both of us. “it’s cool in here. i’m gonna turn the air off,” greg says. “touch it and i kill you,” i mumble wrestling with my son in our forty minute to an hour long feeding, one of around ten per day. ruth likes to come and sit on the chair joel and i are on during feedings, wedging herself between my legs, splaying her long body out over me like a blanket. greg comes and goes at leisure. i’m the one shackled by children. “it’s a hard adjustment,” he says. “and it’s all mine,” i say back, feeling the gap between us, it’s depth and width echoing with our words.
hold the baby if you like, or don’t if you don’t. don’t mind his baby acne or the teenaged greasy boy smell permeating from his head. he’s hit early puberty. or something. he’s my son, so he’s beautiful to me no matter what but i understand your grimace. it’s not pretty. his body is already filling out so much. i wonder at how fast his newborn self is leaving us, bit by bit every day. his birth already feels light years away. we barely had time to sit in awe with his brand new self. the joy of a second child is the same. but it collides so much more quickly with the mess of our reality. no time to just sit, hold him, wonder, stare at his tiny face, memorize it. it’s already changed.
don’t mind the potty chair in the living room. the smell of rancid diapers. fingerprinted windows, crusty coffee cups, ring around the tub. you understand. we have two kids now. thanks for stopping by.