So I'm wondering if I'm actually ever, in the foreseeable future, going to be able to finish a blog post. We're in the middle of bedtime again, and the combing the hair wars have begun. Karissa's giving herself a timeout, and I'm feeling like a jerk trying to blog when there's a little girl to be put to bed. So I'm giving up. Again. Instead of trying to write a post catching everyone up on my life in long essay form, I'm going to offer a potpourri of the posts I've started, but not come anywhere close to finishing in the last month or so. Enjoy.
The weekend was a fun one. We threw a little backyard get together for K's 39th on Sunday, and had a nice crowd of people. They day before was a little stressful, as the gazebo we absolutely needed in our direct-sun only backyard didn't go up as smoothly as expected. And of course, it was Saturday morning, with the thing half-built, that we realized that some key pieces were missing. Karissa had to go to another Target (they didn't have any more at the Target near us) to get another gazebo, get the missing pieces out of it, and finish putting it up. So this took most of the day. Then I had the bright idea to take my three year old daughter to a very crowded Trader Joe's for party food.
I don't know if all stores in this chain are the same (although I've had the same experience at both the El Cerrito and SF locations), but Trader Joe's seems to bring out the worst in people. They are beyond impatient, and they seem to think the space they take up is more important than anyone else's. Add to this a child who has no concept of personal space (talks to everyone, touches everyone and everything, grabs onto every cart she sees), and you can imagine my stress level by the time we got into the car to go home. I dropped her and the groceries off, and got the rest of the supplies on my own.
For the last year or so, Julia's been trying to figure out gender in the way that most children do, by asking (usually very loudly) if someone (usually a stranger) is a boy or a girl, a man or a woman. In general, she's gotten much better. Interestingly enough, the first cues she ever used to discern gender were voice cues. Our male friends were particularly delighted when, around the time she turned two, she would shout "That's a man!" as soon as they said hello, and at regular intervals for the duration of their visit. She continues to have trouble with older women and androgynous/gender non-conforming people she does not know/hasn't heard speak. Now she's beginning to take hair lengths and styles of dress into account, which is making things a little more confusing for her at the moment.
I know it's pretty typical for the age, and I assume everyone else does, which is why I'm often surprised at people's reactions. For some people, having their gender questioned can cause confusion, embarrassment, or anxiety, while other people laugh it off or take it in stride. You just never know what someone's reaction will be.
I felt like crawling under a rock when J asked me about the older woman in line at TJ's, well within her earshot. She chuckled, taking a liking to Julia immediately, and took the opportunity to ask her about the food in our cart and which of it she was going to eat. Passing a young woman (ironing board figure, longish blond hair stuffed into a snap cap) on yesterday's walk, however, Julia pointed and said something about his bike. She looked up from her cell phone to bark, "Her bike!" "Sorry, it's the age," I replied, although I must admit my tone was more like, "Back off, *sshole."
As I write this, my gorgeous 10-week old baby is laying in his bouncer, smiling in his sleep. My partner and my daughter are running around the backyard and splashing in the kiddie pool. I am officially sick with some kind of nasty virus that's given me a low grade fever and a very sore throat, something I probably (ironically) picked up at the gym.
If you've read the last few posts (and if you haven't, here's a summary), you know I'm working on a whole body/mind/spirit overhaul, which started once I'd recovered from the birth of my son a few weeks ago, an event I go into in "the other side." I hesitate to call what I went through a "near death" experience. I was in a room full of doctors and nurses, prepared and equipped to handle the hemorrhage that followed my c-section. Death was not a likely outcome. But even so, the experience, and several experiences leading up to it late in my pregnancy, led me to what I can only describe as a revelation.
In life, you can hide or you can show yourself. I've done a bit of both throughout my life, and I know what feels better. Rather than call what I'm doing a make over, I'm trying to take a look at myself and my choices and figure out where I've put up a front. I have to deconstruct the public faces I've created in the past, and give a hard look to what lies underneath.
It may seem that I've made a superficial start of things. Getting my haircut, shopping, hitting the gym. But I've been working on some other things too, things not as conducive to humorous recounting, but things that are probably more at the heart of this whole process.
If you've ever heard the song, "Lady Is a Tramp," you may remember the line (as Ella sings it) "I never bother with people I hate." The song lists a number of things that make the lady a tramp because they're the opposite of what is fashionable or expected. Now, hate's a strong word. There are many people I dislike, it's true, but I try to reserve hating for a very chosen few. But the idea that I have bothered with these people (which I know everyone has to from time to time), even gone to lengths to get them to like or accept me, is telling. Whatever it is I'm trying to get, it's rarely worth having. Recently, when I'm tempted to bother with someone I'm only indifferent to, I think about why and wonder, is there something more valuable I could be doing with my time?
I made a playdate, maybe a month ago, with an acquaintance. During the course of the morning, we started talking about friendship, or rather, where parenting and friendship overlap. I said, straight up, that I wasn't really in the market for any new friends, given the past year and what I've been through since I moved to Berkeley (unconditional friendship). I was thinking about it because a few moments before, my "unfriending" friend, the one who suckerpunched me with a break-up email this past February, had appeared next to me at the park. She'd made a special effort to come up to me, say nice things about my appearance and my new baby, remark on how Julia had grown, and say in a really stilted way how nice it was to see me. I responded in kind ("You look great, too! My, how big your boys are! Great to see you, too!) in what will go down in history as the fakest conversation ever. I spent the rest of the park time swinging Julia on swings, changing the baby's diaper, etc., when my "unfriending" friend comes up to me again. I just wanted to say I'm sorry, she says. I never meant to hurt you. I only wish the best for you and your family. I know we'll see each other again, and I hope we can be friendly. I wanted to say, If you didn't mean to hurt me, why did you? How could you just let me go? Am I worth that little to you? But, instead of being defensive or angry, I was honest.
"It was impossible for me to stop caring about you, but I did what you wanted. I've basically avoided every situation in which we could run into each other. I had a rough pregnancy and some serious challenges with Julia. Under that stress, I must have done something pretty awful to you for you to respond the way you did, so I'm sorry. I wish you the best, too." We made some other small talk, I think, before we went our separate ways, but that was the gist of it. I'm glad she broke the ice, and gave me a general apology, but I still don't know what I did to her. Maybe it's better that way. Maybe it doesn't matter at all.
I'm so tired. I'm bone tired, hit the sack tired. But of course, it's not bedtime yet, because the kids aren't settled. Karissa's in the bedroom with Julia. She'll be in there for fifteen minutes before she comes stomping out and Julia burst into a full on tantrum. Last night, J was dictating the lines Karissa was to say in a scene she wanted to play out, and when K finally says, Shhh, no more talking, the wailing began. And it's mommy's turn. I lay down with Julia, tell the requisite stories, rub her back, and she's asleep. I walk back to the living room and K's rocking the very awake baby boy. "He's hungry again." The minute I have him on my lap, and before any actual nursing can occur, he's asleep too. On the plus side, I feel like I'm really needed and loved by my children. On the other, this mommy-only bedtime routine is wearing me out. Tonight, K's back in the room with Julia and it's quiet enough. The baby keeps faking me out, though. I peek to the pack 'n play and behold, sleeping baby. Then I sit on the couch and type for a solid minute before he starts squeaking and grunting. Back to the pack 'n play, and there he is again, angelic sleeping boy. Take two steps away, snort grunt squeak. So I'm going to try to feed him again and come back to this.
One-handed blogging from the iPhone. It seems like the only way I can actually make it happen these days. My "free time" these days amounts to the time --
Yeah, I didn't even get to finish two sentences on that one. I promise something more cohesive soon, once we're over this crazy transition. Until then, think good thoughts.