ok, i’m about to break one of the sacred rules of parenting: never compare your children. though, c’mon. how can you not? as an unsure person at large, and an even more unsteady parent, i am very used to comparing myself with others in order to see how strange and weird i actually am when measured against my peers, and surprisingly, a lot of the time, i find i’m shockingly, sometimes disappointingly, normal.
in the same sense, i finally feel validated that ruth was a less than mellow baby. however, i’m not daft enough not to realize that i am a different person than i was when i had ruth and this is possibly coloring the way i see joel. i now know many things i didn’t then. such as, the sky never breaks open, the sun illuminating everything, all of the answers suddenly crystal clear. the sky remains cloudy and grows even more so as time passes and issues with your children become more and more complicated. i’m no longer ignorantly waiting for the day that things get easier, as i did with ruth, i simply take the challenges as they come. now, wearing a baby all day in order to keep the fuss at bay, though not comfortable by any means, doesn’t seem so demanding compared with what parenting ruth has evolved into. micromanaging and constant lines in the sand over everything, weathering her shifting and unstable moods with forced equanimity.
the brother and the sister. as babies, doing what all babies do. snorting similarly, pooping up their backs and all, needing various degrees of rocking, shaking, walking, riding in different contraptions to keep the peace. all that the same. yet, perhaps some differences.
the other day, we were at the farmer’s market. ruth and greg had each had their breakfast hot dog and ruth was doing her usual, running circles around us while taking random bites out of the rhubarb we had purchased. joel was tied to my body in the moby wrap and greg and i were reveling in successfully being out with two kids, which feels like an accomplishment worthy of hero status and threatens to fall apart at any moment. there were clouds on the horizon. the prediction of rain, but we remained stubbornly, willing any precipitation to miss us. alas, our combined will did nothing to dissuade the storm, much the same way that we can never seem to affect ruth much. it began to rain. no problem, said we. just hide under this tree and it will soon pass. it quickly became apparent that it wasn’t passing, but getting worse, wind gusting sideways and the sky opening further. we decided we needed to leave. unfortunately for us, we picked that day to park a good half mile away in the free parking lot instead of the one that is attached to the farmer’s market but costs money. this will not be the last time our cheapness will bite us in the ass.
we took off at a good clip. ruth had been consistently moaning since the sky had darkened and now, her voice rose to panic levels. her face was contorted in fear and anxiety as we jogged through the rain. “oh no, oh no!” she said as greg and i tried to keep things light and say things like, “ruth, it’s just rain,” and “isn’t this fun, getting wet?” she was neither fooled nor persuaded. i looked at greg and shrugged with a mirthful smile. “she inherited my family’s irrational fear of rainstorms.” it was true. i think it all stemmed from my grandmother, the original ruth, but i have an aunt who camps out in the basement any time there is so much as a thunderstorm. i have many vivid memories myself of crouching in a corner of our basement when tornado sirens sounded, though there has never, ever been a tornado anywhere even near our home. she continued to fret.
joel, meanwhile, had not woken up. besides that, his head was thrown back so that his face was aimed straight up into the air. i looked down to see that he was drenched. and still sleeping. meanwhile, ruth was intensifying next to me, saying loudly, “oh man! oh man!” i couldn’t help it. i found myself getting caught up into her panic. it’s in my genes. what can i say? dearborn usually never has anything that even resembles severe weather, but i have to admit. this was a serious rain. we ended up having to take shelter on someone’s porch while greg went to get the car, ruth nearly in tears. joel, face looking like someone dumped a bucket of water on him, still snoozing.
when we finally all climbed into the car, it took ruth a good fifteen minutes to finally calm down and when i peeled joel out of the wrap, he had a stunned look about him, like, “why am i all wet? what did i miss?” greg and i laughed at our seemingly very different children.
does this mean joel is an easy baby? not necessarily and even typing that makes me want to reach over and knock on something wooden so i don’t jinx myself. he could easily make a fool out of me yet. but i’m used to being made a fool of. i’m a parent.