Friday, April 29, 2011

Why does grass grow?

I had some alone time with each of the big boys today.  Bee and I did puzzles and read books while Bean was napping and LM was at school, and then LM and I had our standard afternoon "quiet time" while his brothers napped.  I've started a reading project with him, where we read a few chapters from a chapter book each day that I'm there and it makes him so happy that I feel like a super nanny for coming up with the idea.  Our first book is The BFG, by Roald Dahl, and LM loves it.  We read at least thirty pages every afternoon I'm with him (that's a whole lot of attention span for a four-year-old).  Anyway, I tried hard to remember some of the dialogue that goes on between me and the big boys - especially when I'm with them one on one - because it's so hilarious and needs to be shared.

Me: Hey Bee, do you want to do your Thomas puzzle or your dinosaur puzzle?
Bee: Yes I do!
Me: Which one, sweetie?
Bee: Yes I do!
Me: Okayyy, why don't we do Thomas first and then dinosaurs?
Bee: Bee wanna do dinothaur puzzle FIRTHT.
Me: Ok, dinosaurs first it is.

I have no idea why my little guy refers to himself in the third person, but it's hilarious.  I think it's a language developmental stage that kids go through, as they learn to identify first and third person, as well as correct pronouns, but regardless, it's adorable.

Then, this afternoon, the "lunch rush":
"Bee, do NOT pour your water into your plate or you will go sit on the thinking bench."
"LM, sit. on. your. bottom."
"Bean!  Please ingest this!  I am not an endless supply of chopped ham particles for your throwing enjoyment!"
"Caywin, may I pweeze be 'scused?"
"Yes, good boys, let's go wash our hands."

Then Bean and Bee go down for naps, and I spend a good half hour cleaning up after lunch while LM plays and asks me things.  When I finally sat down to have a glass of water, post-cleaning, this was the conversation that played out:
"Caywin, why does grass grow?"
"Well, it's a plant, and plants grow on the earth just like people and animals do."
"But where is it okay to ride your bike on grass?"
<Is that the definition of a non sequitur?  A four-year-old?>
"Um, well, it's probably okay to ride a bike on the grass if you lived in a place where you owned the grass.  Like a house with a lawn."
(Keep in mind, I am trying to describe suburbia to a four-year-old who's been raised in Manhattan.  He doesn't know what a lawn is, unless we're talking about the Great Lawn of Central Park, on which bikes are most definitely not allowed.)
"But why is a bike bad for grass?"
"Because the wheels crush the grass blades and make it hard for them to grow."
"So driving a car would be really, really bad for grass."
"Yes, yes it would."
"But walking on grass doesn't hurt it?  Because our shoes have holes in the bottom?"
"Um...well...technically, I suppose walking on grass does hurt it a little bit, but it recovers okay.  Grass is tough stuff."
"But bikes.  They're not allowed on grass."
"That's right, bud.  Bikes are bad for grass."
End scene.  Note: I don't have a clue who or what mentioned grass, bikes, shoes, cars, etc to LM today or if he just came up with it all on his own.  He's four.  That's all there is to it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Retail Therapy

Alix and I have big plans.  The logical thing we should be planning is our wedding, but that's not really happening.  Something about having it be more than a year away puts a huge damper on any excitement that we might have felt about solidifying plans.  After all, I can't even get my shit together enough to schedule an optometrist appointment so that I can order new contacts -- do you really think I'm forward-thinking enough to plan something that's happening in 2012 when I can't even schedule an appointment during the next two weeks?  And yet, every morning I wake up and think, "Man, these contacts sure are feeling scrubby in my eyes..."  Yeah.  Life fail.  ANYWAY.

The big plans we do have are for our bedroom.  We've managed to spruce up the rest of the apartment so that it feels like home: comfy sage green couch, saffron-colored curtains, three bookcases chock-full of books, a steamer trunk for a coffee table, a thrift store fruit basket (that holds Clif bars and a bag of coffee beans), and five (relatively) healthy plants.  We also have fresh flowers in old milk bottles on the table our counter-top on a semi-regular basis, and our new shower curtain is a bright addition to the otherwise very bland bathroom.  The bedroom, on the other hand, is stark and white and reminiscent of a not-very-nice hospital room.  The two windows look into air shafts, so there's no natural light, and the entire room is painted the kind of bright white that only picket fences should be painted.  We splurged on a nice sheet/duvet set for the bed and we have a giant hunk of furniture called a dry sink (it's a cross between a dresser and a cupboard and we drove it all the way from West Virginia half-stuffed into the trunk of my Honda Civic - that's a story full of foul language and should be saved for another time.).
This is not the best picture, but it does explain a bit better what a dry sink is.  Especially one with a cat in the top.
It was a longggg drive from West Virginia to New York.
Since there's no natural light in the room, we depend on the electric kind.  Our floor lamp that we've been using came with the apartment.  This should be indicative of the quality of said lamp - if someone actively left it behind when moving, it's probably not the best specimen.  But hey, it worked, and it made light.  We also had a bedside lamp that I've had since I was in middle school.  It's been with me all through college and it's here to stay.  The base and the shade came from two different places, but I love it.  It doesn't give off a whole lot of light though, and when the floor lamp that came with the apartment broke, it was time to buy a new one.  THIS is what we got:
Now, you all are free to hate it.  I, on the other hand, freaking. love. it.  It has globes.  It's pretty.  It's the perfect lamp for a girls' room.  We even charmed the hardware store into giving us a 10% discount on it.  (The truth is, we have no idea why they offered us a discount, but we're just going to pretend it's because we're cute and nice and not because they were just pumped to have sold something so big.)  Rupert only barked at the lamp for oh, about half an hour.  Other plans for the room include: painting it lavender, getting curtains, installing shelves on the wall, rearranging our pictures, putting down a throw rug, and decorating the shelves with some of the books that don't fit on our other shelves, as well as filling them artistically with pictures and pretty, meaningful tchotchkes.

Other than the hardware store (insert funny lesbian/hardware store joke here), we spend money at the nearest thrift store.  It is indicative of how much I love my two new dresses that I'm willing to post pictures of myself in them on here.  I know that I look like something chewed me up and spit me out.  Get over it and look at the dresses.  They each have pockets.
It got hot in the room (new lamp --> lots of heat) so I had to put my hair back up for the last picture.  And then the photoshoot ended and I put on pajamas.  Back to my natural state.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Visual Update

When I got home from work on my last day with Monkey, this is what awaited me when I walked in the door
and this...

and then we went here for lunch....

all of which helped.  Marginally.

On Easter Sunday, Alix and I didn't do anything special.  She had studying to do, and I just wanted to get out of the apartment.  We joined forces and went to Central Park.  Here are the ingredients to a fun Sunday:
The Great Lawn
A cool beverage
Some light reading
A funny t-shirt
Being with the one you love.

I saw this on the wall of a store in Cambridge, MA:

I dreamed that life was happiness.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I served and found in service
happiness is found.

-Rabindranth Tagore, Indian Poet

It would be really wonderful if I had something intelligent, relevant, or even cohesive to write here.  But, I don't.  Suffice it to say that things around these parts have been really, really hard lately.  I haven't gotten into them on this blog (or anywhere, or with anyone, practically), but maybe that will change in the future.  In the meantime, I've tied a knot at the end of my rope and I'm hanging on as best as I can.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Missing What's Gone

I slipped tonight.  I was trying to feed Bean his dinner while the boys' father was busy preparing real food for the rest of the family (i.e., not pureed peas, rice cereal, and tiny chunks of broccoli and chicken).  Bean was distracted, too hungry to focus on his food even though it was right in front of him, and looking over his shoulder at one of his brothers racing by.  I made kissing noises to get his attention, sitting with the spoon poised to enter his mouth.  No luck, so I cooed Monkey's name without even thinking.  Unsurprisingly, I still got no response from Bean.  My throat caught, and in seconds, my eyes filled with tears.  In that moment, I missed my little man so much.  I miss how he ate so precisely, I miss how he snuggled into me while I fed him his bottles, I miss how he splashed gleefully in his bathtub, all the while looking to me for confirmation of how funny he was.  He wouldn't laugh until I laughed, just to be sure I was watching him being silly.

The routine is the same - I feed Bean his dinner, then give him a bath, towelling off his downy head and making raspberries on his Buddha belly as I zip him into some fleecy pajamas and then snuggle him while I bring him to his crib.  But, oh, it's so, so different.  Bean thinks I'm nice enough, he guesses.  After all, I make him laugh and I kiss him and love on him, but he knows his mom is where it's at (This is as it should be.  I know that.)  Monkey, on the other hand, soaked up my love like a dry sponge.  He sank into my arms and knew - even at 13 months - what me raising my eyebrows at him meant.  He needed me.  Every ounce of me.  And I gave it to him, all of me, I gave and gave and gave.  And oh, I miss that so much.  I miss him tonight.  And the tears I've been holding back for two weeks are running down my face tonight. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sand, Rain, and FLAMES

Such is the day in the life of a nanny with three little boys. 

(Side note: Betcha guys didn't quite know what you were getting yourselves into with this blog, huh?  Since I am no longer caring for the equivalent of a bread loaf -- we all know how much I love the itty bitty ones, but they're sort of like loaves of bread that eat, poop, and sleep -- there are a lot more nanny stories coming your way now that I have actual conversations with my charges.)

There comes a crucial time of day, after the little boys nap, post-snack but pre-dinner, when it is imperative to "do something."  Staying in the house idly is not an option because chaos will ensue.  Quickly.  So even though we only have approximately one hour before we need to be home again in time for Bean's dinner, we go through the whole process of schlepping three squirmy boys into shoes, coats, and the stroller to exit the house for forty-five minutes.  It might not seem worth the effort, but believe me, the alternative is much worse.  Since it was raining today, most other reasonable people decided to stay inside.  Jeeze, what kind of nanny takes three small children outside in the drizzling rain when she could just line them up nicely on the couch for a quick viewing of Sesame Street before dinner?  THIS ONE.  So there we are, riding three boys on one stroller, to one of my favorite playgrounds that the boys had never been to before.  When we got there, it was blessedly empty.  (Did I mention it was spitting rain and most reasonable people were smart enough to not be outside?  Yeah, not us.)  I let the older ones out and told them to do whatever they pleased and breathed a sigh of relief as Bean and I were able to quietly wander around the playground while his older brothers climbed every ladder and slid down every (wet) slide.  Until, of course, the imaginations started working and LM came up with A Plan.
"Caywin!  Um, um, um, me and Bee are going to be firefighters, okay?  And you and Bean need to be in a burning building and we're going to be firefighters!  And we're going to save you!  Okay?!"
"Alright, sounds like a good idea, bud.  Gimme one second."
<Bean and I wander over to some sort of isolated play structure and stand inside.  I notice, with a quiet sigh, the crowds of people walking past the playground (this is New York, after all).  I clear my throat.>
"HELP MEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!  BEAN AND I ARE BURNING UP IN A HORRIBLE FLAMING BUILDING!!!!! Fireman LM and Fireman Bee!  Can you come save us???!!!"
<Passersby double-take.  I take a deep breath and keep yelling. Loudly.>
 Firemen LM and Bee gleefully run over, pulling their imaginary hoses behind them.  Fireman LM makes loud whooshing noises as he puts out the fire and Fireman Bee helpfully holds out a small paw for me and Bean to cling to as we escape the burning building.  In case you're wondering, Bean has found this entire experience slightly more interesting than the snot bubble in his left nostril.  Once we are safe and the flames are utterly extinguished, the game ends.
"Caywin!  Can we do that again???!!!"
Sigh.  Only about 2323489084309 more times.  And then it was two minute warning.  Then one minute warning.  Then "Who-can-touch-the-stroller-the-fastest-wins!"  And then the four of us made our sloppy, rainy way home, flush with the contentment that only putting out fires can bring.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Was There Blood?

So (shocker), it turns out that nannying for two different families, one with three boys under the age of four, and the other with a boy and girl (ages 3 and 1), is rather, shall we say, overwhelming.  Particularly at the beginning, i.e., right now.  Last week, I worked Wednesday for the three-boy family with the mom at my side, learning the routine.  Thursday, I was on my own with them all: two-year-old playdate, four-year-old school pick-up, and two-naps-a-day-10-month-old included.  And oh. my. goodness.  To say I came close to as many meltdowns as the four-year-old is not an exaggeration.  I just have 19 years on him of learning to breathe deeply and think Zen thoughts.

Here's an introduction to "my" boys (I wish I could share their real names, because they're awesome, but it's not ethical, so nicknames are what you're getting.  Deal with it.)

Little Monster: my four-year-old, precocious, hundred miles an hour, big boy helper, tantrum-throwing, pleaseGodgivemepatience buddy.  Little Monster is, in a word, FOUR.  He wants neither of any two choices offered.  He wants the other lunch choice than the one he picked as soon as it's on his plate.  He loves to go outdoors but will dissolve into a full-on tantrum as we prepare for any outing.  To his credit, he is learning, quickly, that I am not a nanny to be messed with.  When I say, "LM, come touch my hand by the time I get to three!  One...two...thr-", he's there.  Usually.  And if he's not, well, we're leaving the playground/park/museum immediately.  And I do mean immediately.  And when I say, "LM, we do not have tantrums at the table.  If you are going to tantrum, go sit on the thinking bench until you are done.", we sometimes stop a tantrum in its tracks.  With a little coaching, this boy gets it:
"But I don't wannntttt grilled cheeeese...!!!"
"LM.  Listen to me.  Do I like that tone of voice?"
"Exactly.  That is your whiny voice, and I really don't like it.  Tell me what you want in a wayyy better voice."
"Caywin, I don't want grilled cheese for lunch.  I want a jelly sandwich."
<Pause, while I wait, patiently but expectantly, eyebrows raised, for the magic word>
"Of course, LM!  Awesome job using your not-whiny voice.  I'd be happy to make you a jelly sandwich."

I live for those moments.  Trust me, there are a. lot. of moments that go more like this:
"LM, we do not tantrum at the table.  Please go sit on the bench if you're going to tantrum."
<Requires assistance getting to bench because tantrum has rendered legs nonfunctional.> the distance, from the bench...:"WaaahhhhhhIdon'twanttobeonthebenchhhhhhhh!!!!!!!"
<Two to five minutes of crying go by, while I studiously ignore LM, unless it involves snapping my fingers at the bench and raising my nanny eyebrows to indicate, without a single spoken word, "Get your bottom back on that bench, NOW.">
<Quiet sniffles.>
"LM, sweetie, why are you on the bench?"
"Because I was having a tantrum at the table."
"That's right, sweet boy.  And you weren't doing what...?"
"Listening to you."
"Exactly.  So what are you going to do from now on?"
"Listen to you."
"Right.  And when I tell you to do something, what do you say?"
"I say, 'Okay, Caywin.'"
"Perfect.  Come on back to the table for a hug and some grilled cheese."

Bumblebee: my two-and-a-half-year-old, always smiling, talks too fast and incoherently for me to understand sometimes, stuck so beautifully between toddler and little boy, sweet, sweet bee.  Bee is the middle child.  He is easy-going, easily distracted from potential trouble-making (as long as LM isn't there to be modeled after), and is quickly worming his snuggle-bug way into my heart.  Bee is lucky to have parents that understand how easy it is to get lost in the shuffle as a middle child and so has two carefully scheduled activities per week, during LM's pre-K hours.  On Tuesdays, he goes to an art class where he comes home with elaborate, feather-covered, paint-dripping creations that must be hung on the wall.  Immediately.  On Thursdays, he has a playdate with another two-year-old from around the block.  They play wonderfully together, sharing toys as well as can be expected.  Whatever LM is doing, Bee is watching like a hawk in order to mimic.  Thus, cutting off tantrums ASAP is crucial because, dear God, two tantrum-ing kids is a circle of hell that Dante better have written about.

"Hey Bee!  Let's get your shoes on to go to the park!"
"...unintelligible...thoes (shoes)...unintelligible...Ross at the park!"
<I take a guess.  I'm often wrong.  And then I guess again.  And again.>
"Let's...get your shoes on so you can meet Ross at the park?"
"Awesome!  Let's do it!"

The great thing about Bee is that when I'm lucky enough to catch him as he's planning to do something against the rules, we can often redirect rather painlessly.
<Bee running for the couch, covered in flour, eyes gleaming with a plan.>
"Bee!" I grab him under the armpits and swing him side-to-side into the kitchen.  "Look at all the flour on your shirt.  Let's get nakeddd!" <giggles ensue> Floured shirt is quickly removed.  "Want to toss it into the washer for me?"
See?  Simple.  Phew.

Bean: my 10-month-old, toothless grinning, wispy blondie baby boy.  Bean is such an easy-going baby, it's unbelievable.  Try as I might, I cannot prevent his older brothers from ever knocking him over or playing too roughly with him, but even when they do, the tears last for literal seconds, and then they're over after a few kisses and raspberries.  He naps like a dream, and loves nothing more than to give huge, open-mouthed kisses.  His giggles are belly laughs and his smile melts my heart.  I will always, always love my Monkey, but Bean is healing a hole in my heart faster than I could have ever imagined.

To end this EPIC post (sorry, guys), I will leave you with my current favorite (and most memorable) conversation with these boys that I've had yet:

As I'm getting the two younger boys strapped into their enormous, unwieldy double-stacked stroller, LM comes up to me as I'm crouched down so he's directly at eye level.  He focuses hard on my face, and then asks, while pointing to my nose piercing, "What's that?"
"It's called a nose ring, sweet-pea.  See how I have earrings in my ears?  It's like an earring for my nose."
<Pause.  Clearly there is some serious thinking going on.  I wait patiently.>
"Was there blood?"
I swallow my giggles hard.  "No, there was no blood.  It hurt a little bit, but not much."
"But there was no blood?!"
"No, LM, no blood.  Sorry to disappoint."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Finding My Place

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees,
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I can't seem to move myself from this position.  I've perfected the art form, over the years, of being masterfully upright, capable, cheerful, and productive when I'm supposed to be (like during my new job that started today, for example) in spite of whatever I'm really feeling inside.  And right now, what I'm mostly feeling is...empty.  Hence the horizontal position of choice.  It's not like there's not a million things I should be doing (all of which, it should be noted, would almost definitely make me feel better).

I could wash, dry, and put away the stack of dishes the size of Montana.
I could go buy a new camera USB cord at the Radio Shack two blocks away since Rupert ate my other one.
I could get coffee at my favorite coffee place, also two blocks away.
Incredibly, I could do both of the above tasks on the same trip.
I could turn on the TV.
I could go to the gym, which I've been avoiding for the last few weeks.
I could make the bed.
I could learn how to use the coffee grinder we bought and thus make my OWN cup of coffee, negating even the necessity of leaving the house for coffee.
I could read one of the two new books on my Kindle.
I could return my library book.
I could read my magazine that came four days ago (I usually devour new magazines the instant I get them).

Instead, I'm here on the couch, listening to the same sad music, in the same sweatpants that I change into the instant I get home every day, drinking a cup of tea that was a monumental effort to make, and trying to be happy about all of the great things I have going on in my life.  But oh, jeeze, it's hard sometimes.  Because right now, all I'm really doing is counting the minutes until it's socially acceptable to get into bed.  So I can sleep until 2 AM (my body's preferred wake-up time), after which I doze fitfully until 5 AM or so, and then get up way too early to start my day.

There's a lot of good in my life these days - Alix, my family, my friends, my new jobs, my pets, my independence, my freedom, my (relative) health.  But sometimes, even with all those great things, life is fucking hard.  So excuse me while I stay horizontal for just a little while longer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sweet Dreams

Dear Punkin,
Tonight, someone else is putting you to bed.  Actually, I hope you've been in bed now for at least three hours, but who knows.  As I laid you down for your morning nap today, knowing it was the last time I'd feel your sweet, solid, sleepy weight in my arms, my tears splashing down on your face didn't wake you.  As we read books for the last time this afternoon, I tried to memorize the exact way you like to turn the page and the way you say "buh" for book, all the while looking at me for confirmation that I know you mean "book."  When your grandparents arrived to take you for the week, I didn't take it personally that you were too excited to show them your toys than to cuddle one last time with me.  I kissed you, over and over, in that sweet spot where your cheek meets your neck, making you giggle and squirm, and I whispered, fiercely, over and over in your ear, that I loved you, always, forever, no matter what, and that I will never forget you.  And then I gently sat you down, watched you crawl away, knowing that you would never cling to me because you have never doubted that I'd be there.  And now, I will be failing you for the first time.  I won't be there tomorrow when  you wake up.  Or the day after that.  But oh, sweetheart, if only you knew how much I love you.  How much I will always love you and how I will never, in a million years, forget you.  There will be other babies, there will someday be my own babies, but there will never be another you.  Tonight, I'll be singing our lullaby in my head.  Sweet dreams, baby boy.  Sweet dreams.

 Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)
Dragon tales and the "water is wide"
Pirate's sail and lost boys fly
Fish bite moonbeams every night
And I love you

Godspeed, little man

Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels' wings
Sweet dreams

The rocket racer's all tuckered out

Superman's in pajamas on the couch
Goodnight moon, will find the mouse
And I love you

Godspeed, little man

Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels' wings
Sweet dreams

God bless mommy and match box cars

God bless dad and thanks for the stars
God hears "Amen," wherever we are
And I love you

Godspeed, little man

Sweet dreams, little man
Oh my love will fly to you each night on angels wings
Sweet dreams

Friday, April 8, 2011

Light My Fire

Or rather, fill my Kindle.  I'm on a quest for book recommendations.  Now, be forewarned, I am an extremely picky reader.  And an even pickier book purchaser (which, as of right now, is the only way to read books on my free library e-books for me).  So, dear readers, here is your chance to offer up the titles of your favorite books: those that inspired you, gripped you, made you think, made you laugh, made you keep turning the pages late into the night.

In an effort to not waste your time (since I've already explained how picky I am), I'll attempt to draw a vague picture of the kind of books I do like so your recommendations can be of greater use:

Old favorites (I already own these and read them again and again)
The Bean Trees
Pigs in Heaven
White Oleander
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
God-Shaped Hole
The Time Traveler's Wife
Everything is Illuminated
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
The Glass Castle
Baby Catcher
The Cider House Rules
The Red Tent
An Unquiet Mind

Books I've read recently and liked
Water for Elephants
The Help
Bonobo Handshake
The Happiness Project
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (and its sequels)
The Hunger Games (and its sequels)
The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
Half the Sky

Books I've started three million times and can't get through
Under the Banner of Heaven
I Know This Much is True
The Poisonwood Bible
The Great Gatsby
House of God

Okay, so moral of the story (ha) is, I like memoirs, non-fiction, and great novels.  I also like babies (and books about them), sarcasm, and complicated plots.  I hate bad writing, celebrity authors, any book recommendation that Alix has ever had, and anything Oprah endorses.

Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Great Thoughts (that aren't mine)

I'm reading this book right now, called Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert (you know, the one that wrote Eat, Pray, Love).  She's writing about this huge personal study she did into the institution of marriage because while she and Felipe (the man she met in Bali at the end of her year of self-discovery) fell in love and committed themselves to each other, they also vowed never to get married.  Alas, the United States government had other plans and told them that unless they got married, Felipe would never be allowed back in the US. So here these two people are, both in their forties and fifties, both the battle-scarred survivors of horrid divorces, having vowed to never again enter into an institution that they consider to be all kinds of horrible.  And yet, they have to get married.  So Elizabeth, in the exceedingly long interim that it takes the US to figure out when and how Felipe can come back and they can get hitched, goes on this meandering research tour of marriage to find out exactly what are her issues with it and how she can get around them.

It's a great read for so many reasons, but this one particular passage stood out to me because at this moment in my life, I'm having a bit of a personal crisis.  There are two things I desperately want to do with my life.  One is to be a mama (most likely the stay-at-home kind, at least for the first few years of my children's lives), and the other is to become some kind of women's health professional (right now the top contenders are nurse practitioner and midwife).  The problem (at least in my mind), is that I'm doing nothing towards reaching either one of those goals right now.  I'm working, yes, but I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.  Anyway, that's a whole other post.  This one is about a passage in this book that stood out to me because I can identify so much with what Gilbert is saying.  Here it is:

"And this is my beef, by the way, with social conservatives who are always harping about how the most nourishing home for a child is a two-parent household with a mother in the kitchen.  If I - as a beneficiary of that exact formula - will concede that my own life was indeed enriched by that precise familial structure, will the social conservatives please (for once!) concede that this arrangement has always put a disproportionately cumbersome burden on women?  Such a system demands that mothers become selfless to the point of near invisibility in order to construct these exemplary environments for their families.  And might those same social conservatives - instead of just praising mothers as "sacred" and "noble" - be willing to someday join a larger conversation about how we might work together as a society to construct a world where healthy children can be raised and healthy families can prosper without women having to scrape bare the walls of their own souls to do it?"

Amen, sister.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Late Night Dreams

It's no secret that my anxieties keep me awake at night, often for hours at a time.  Every night for the past few weeks, it's taken longer and longer for me to drift off, as I panic about needing to wake up so early (what if my alarm doesn't go off?), needing to interact with my bosses (especially now that I'm finishing my last two weeks), needing to say good-bye to my sweet, darling boy, and wondering, as all twenty-somethings seem to do: what am I doing with my life?!

No, these are not productive or healthy ways to spend one's minutes and hours before sleep, but they're what occupy my mind unless I make a huge effort to replace these thoughts with others.  Last night, as Alix and I laid in bed and I started working myself into another round of useless panic, I stopped myself and quietly asked her, "Can we think about something happy so I can fall asleep?"

"Of course," she said, pausing to think for a minute.  "Let's think about the day when your belly will be so big, it'll be impossible for me to hug you because our unborn child is taking up three quarters of our (not very big) bed."  A slow grin spread across my face and stayed there as we whispered to each other for at least another hour about what it will be like to embark on such a remarkable, terrifying journey.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, there's something very sobering about the fact that pregnancy and parenting will never just "happen" for us.  No matter when it happens, it will be a very deliberate, very expensive, and very labor-intensive (no pun intended) task.  But last night, as we talked of the cradle my father will build for us, the blonde curls that will grace our first child's head, and the knowledge that this person exists because we (plus some generous anonymous sperm donor) created, all I could think about was how happy the idea made me.  No matter what I'm currently doing with my life or what I wind up doing with my life, or what catastrophes come our way, knowing that I've found the person that I want to create and nurture new lives with is a blessing I can't even fully comprehend.  How on earth did I get so lucky?

And then, yes, I fell asleep.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Alright People...

So a pattern has emerged.  When my posts are funny and light-hearted, I get comments and love.  When they're serious and (attempting to be) insightful, I get nothin'.  But here's the deal: if you want to read anything more scintillating than an extremely edited version of my life/thoughts, you're gonna have to accept that when things are shitty around these parts, I can't always pretend to be funny and upbeat.  Now, in all fairness, I try to not write depressing posts all that often.  So can we get some love around here when it's clear that I need it?  Awesome.

Other things:
1.  I learned tonight that Alix knows how to make pasta in the microwave.  This rivals my own ability to make macaroni and cheese in an electric tea kettle.  (There are some things you learn in college that have nothing to do with academics.)
2.  Has anyone seen the commercial for the newest as-seen-on-tv product...Pajama Jeans?  Please, please make attempts to find it.  (I'm sorry, I'm too lazy to go searching YouTube for a link for you all.)  It is hilarious and makes you want to have a friend who will buy them just so you can see them in person, but not actually have anything to do with them yourself.
3.  The adult equivalent of "The dog ate my homework," is "The dog ate my ____ bill."  Yes, this actually happened to me.  Not sure if my doctor will react to this news with any less skepticism than your average fourth grade teacher.

Alright, folks.  That's the best I can do for you tonight.  I'll leave you with a picture from happier times.  Tucker likes boxes.  A lot.  Especially ones that have sight-holes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Growing Newer Every Day

Today, I was feeling the typical rush one gets from accomplishing those tasks that have been on the to-do list for days (sometimes weeks, in my case).  I filed my taxes, I called my health insurance company and garnered some crucial information about out-of-network mental health coverage (I haz it! With some caveats, of course. Like deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums and other fancy things like that.).  I talked to my bank and successfully argued myself out of an overdraft fee, I picked up a library book that was being held for me, I washed all the dishes, and I watered the plants.  I cleaned up cat vomit, I went on a second part-time nanny job interview, I did some quality nanny/babysitting networking in the coffee shop this morning, and I filed a pile of paperwork into my Important Documents File Folders.  Fueled by caffeine, I chirpily exclaimed to Alix as I dried the wineglasses, "I feel like such a grown-up!"  This isn't the first time I've uttered those words after a day of being particularly productive or accomplishing tasks that are difficult and/or stressful for me.  But then I got to thinking - at what point will I stop occasionally "feeling" like a grown-up and actually be a grown-up?

When I was young, I imagined that once I went to college, I would be "grown up."  Then I realized that college was full of a whole mess of moments where I needed my mom more than I ever had before, and one particular semester of such utter helplessness during which your typical four-year-old was more functional than me.  So I readjusted my expectations, and figured that once I managed to graduate, I would have successfully reached the level of maturity I sought.  Once again, reality kicked me in the gut and my post-grad life has thus far been filled with plenty of material to remind me how far from "grown up" I really am: a messily broken lease, a misguided apartment search, plenty of subway rides in the wrong direction (Manhattan is a grid, people.  There is either uptown or downtown.  It's really not that hard to get it right.  Unless if you're me.), and most recently and most devastating - the failure of my first "real" job.  I have more emotions about quitting than I know what to do with, but right now, what it feels like is a huge gut-sinking-to-my-toes sense of failure.  After all, I went into it with the cockiness only a 22-year-old can muster, believing that I could handle 14-hour-days, hour-long commutes, 65-hour-weeks, unpredictable schedules, and 4 AM wake-ups no problem.  Turns out I was wrong, and all at the expense of my health, my sanity, and my self-confidence.

Trying to piece all of those back together, knowing it was my own undoing that got me to here, is a sobering experience.  So is the realization that all of those supposedly grown-up things I did today were hardly a product of my own blossoming maturity - for example, my mom helped me fill out my taxes last week so all I had to do was ink them in and mail it.  Not so impressive when you know that detail, now is it?  Maybe what the really mature thing to do is for me to accept that there is no moment at which one suddenly becomes an adult.  Maybe my definition of "adult" needs to change as well.  Maybe making the decision to quit was the most mature thing I could have done, given the situation.  And maybe just because I'm lucky enough to have a mother who helps me with my taxes and a partner who hugs me when I pout over the lack of ice cream in the freezer makes me just that - lucky. And maybe just knowing that I'll always have a lot of growing up to do means I'm more of a grown-up than I thought.