The grandest thing happened two nights ago: my husband felt the baby flutter. You can actually feel the little one moving if I hold really still, push a hand firmly against my belly, and wait patiently. The Patient was patient and was greatly rewarded.
I’m feeling much, much better… now the only thing plaguing me is guilt for not working out every morning like I used to. I need to get ON that. I’ve got a rather painful marathon coming up in December and I need to train for it.
I can’t get enough seafood, and I wish I could afford to eat it all day. What’s more, I wish I was allowed to eat it everyday, but you know what they say: too much mercury for mom means a crazy baby, or something like that.
I still need insane amounts of sleep, and I’m still having insane dreams.
We should be able to find out what we’re having next month unless I talk my husband into a quick jaunt into the BIG city to get a fun ultrasound to find out sooner.
This pregnancy has been so different in so many ways, and I’m vowing to do the things I haven’t done before: take pictures every week no matter what I look like, get professional maternity pictures taken, and get an ultrasound done -just for fun.
I’ve come to grips with the reality that I’ll never be able to decorate a nursery for any of my children. When I had the space with my first baby, I didn’t have the money. Since then, I’ve had two kids in one room and again: not enough money. With this baby coming into a 2-bedroom abode, I’m running into the same brick wall: no nursery for baby. It makes me sad when I browse baby things online and see a perfectly organized and decorated nursery. My nesting instinct wants to be ALL OVER that, but I have to pacify it with crocheting and mopping. I used to make me really sad, and dare I say it? really jealous of other gorgeous nurseries.
And then one day, I just didn’t care anymore. Would it be fun? Sure, yeah. Is the baby going to notice or care? Oh, definitely not. Will it live on despite a lack of coordinating bedding and wall decor? Somehow, I think it will. Somehow. My husband and I have other financial goals in mind, given that we’re saving like mad knowing that we can’t live forever in a 2-bedroom house, if for no other reason that when my kids get to be teenagers we will have to separate the boys from the girls.
Or boy from the girls.
Or boys from the girl.
All I know is that while we are saving like mad, it’s important to spend money on priceless things like maternity pictures and newborn pictures. I learned that the hard way: by never getting them done and regretting it forevermore. Do I regret not having nurseries for my older two children? Not a lick. The picture situation? I’m just sick about it… the same way I’m sick about not getting professional wedding pictures taken. But that’s another post for another day.
The grandest thing happened two nights ago: my husband felt the baby flutter. You can actually feel the little one moving if I hold really still, push a hand firmly against my belly, and wait patiently. The Patient was patient and was greatly rewarded.
My husband and I don’t date as often as we should. We’re not exactly the kind of couple that holds Friday night in sacred reserve for each other… maybe we should be, but I just don’t know if we’re creative enough (or rich enough, for that matter) to date every single Friday night and enjoy it. Truth is, sometimes, we want to spend our Friday nights with our kids. And sometimes we want to spend it turning in early because sleep is golden ’round these parts. Anyway, I think we’d get a little stuck in a rut with a Friday routine.
But, but, but: on the flip side, we haven’t been dating at all. Not even a little. Not even a teensy brisk, kid-less stroll down the lane. The other night, I tossed out the idea (that I thought of all by myself but I’m sure someone -probably a thousand someones -have thought of before) that we each write down ten date ideas of our own, cut them apart from each other, put them in a jar, draw one out every Sunday night to be used the coming Friday (or Saturday). This gives us prep time so our dates have a little more meat to them and it also gives us ample time to get a sitter if needed. How many times have we planned a date and put off getting a sitter until it came right down to it and then weren’t able to go out at all? I can’t say for CERTAIN, but 4,539 sounds about right.
Last night after the kids went to bed, we made our lists.
Confession: when I ran out of ideas, I scribbled intently on my page so my husband would think I was full of awesome creativity and not just a blankness.
The funny thing about our lists is that mine is written in huge-o chunky writing and my ideas go into great detail while my husband’s list is short and very much to the point.
I used two pages.
We had one rule: We were allowed to choose whatever we wanted regardless of the other spouse’s feelings. I know that sounds cruel, but we both agreed that we don’t spend enough time focusing on each other’s interests. For example: my husband LOVES gardening and would kill to have me garden with him. I was raised gardening, and so it isn’t fun for me. I like having a garden, but it isn’t FUN for me. It’s WORK. So as one of his date ideas, he wrote “Spend an evening gardening together.” He knows I’d rather not, but it’s important to him so I can suck it up. We’re hoping that in the process we’ll come to love and appreciate each other’s hobbies and interests more. On that note, my husband isn’t exactly thrilled that I wrote down choosing a poem to share with each other. But hey, babe. you love weeding. I love words.
Let’s meet in the middle.
The date ideas are jarred and ready to go. It looks like we’re set for the next 6 months or so -and we won’t be bored by any means. We’re both excited to try our date ideas (poetry aside, on his part. gardening on mine). I suggested we go to a restaurant and share one large platter of something-or-other, to which he replied without missing a beat, “48 wings from Native New Yorker.”
And the baby inside of my flipped with joy.
We’ll also be making our own popcorn -straight from the kernel -and flavoring it as we choose. My husband loves buttery and salty popcorn. I’m more of a sweet, kettle-corn kind of girl.
He wants me to play Playstation with him.
I want him to make a playlist for me.
And yes -we’re going to make a date out of writing living wills together. It’s not like we’re rolling in assets that need to be divided, but if in the case that one of us should die, there’s certain little trinkets that I want to make sure go to certain people, and my husband feels the same. Might as well make a date of it (black attire optional).
We’re both really excited to make a list of things we want to do together before we die… not that death is a theme in our marriage, but I guess we do talk quite a lot about it. We’ve already outlined our qualifications for potential future spouses should one of us die.
He has to marry someone happy.
I have to marry someone who will take care of me financially.
Between walking the historic downtown area in the city and taking a backwoods drive in the forest, we’re going to have a rollicking good time interrupted by brief periods of gardening, poetry reading, and will writing.
If I was a proper, cute wife… I’d make the jar adorable, but I’m practical. and I’m tired. and husband’s don’t care about cute jars.
Let the games begin!
My favorite authors are all dead. It isn’t a morbid thing to say or think about really. When your passion is a hearty mix of The Past and The Written Word, most of what you come up with is Dead Writers. Don’t think too much about it, will ya? Just accept the fact that, lovely though his work is, Charlie Dickens is NOT putting out anything fresh. What’s written is written, and there is no more. It was that way before I was born, so I have no qualms with it. There’s exactly TWO authors that I adore to no end that live in the present: one is Nora Ephron and the other is Lynne Trusse (a witty Brit).
While you probably haven’t heard of Lynne Trusse, you have heard of Nora. She brought us some of the BEST classic films in the entire world.
Sleepless in Seattle.
You’ve Got Mail.
Julie and Julia.
Don’t you love the dialogue in those movies? Couldn’t you let those movies run in the background of your day all day long and hardly get sick of them? Oh sweet sugary honey nectar to my soul! A good friend of mine once gifted me with one of Nora’s books, “I Feel Bad About My Neck.” In that book, I discovered something I’d only held in vague suspicion: Nora was IT.
She and I wouldn’t have been bosom friends, probably, but we have the same sense of humor. In the book she actually wrote an ENTIRE ESSAY about why she hates purses, and it’s radically hilarious. Purses, for crying out loud. PURR-SEZ. Who does that? What’s more: who does it so well that you can’t stop reading because you might miss something important?
She discusses her children, housing, aging, vanity, divorce, journalism and just about everything that can snuggle betwixt it all, and here’s the thing: it should be boring. It should be boring, but it’s captivating. Who can be 8 to nine months pregnant, find out their husband is cheating on them, meet up with their husband’s mistress’s SPOUSE and then, in a little less than 100 words, make you laugh about it? Nora.
She. Is. IT.
You can imagine my misery when I logged on to the computer last night to find out that she has died. She died yesterday at age 71 from leukemia.
I feel like I’ve lost a friend. Not a close friend… just an extraordinarily talented one. She GAVE me stuff, for crying out loud. Her movies and her books were there to pull me up when I was down. They never failed to lift me up because they were so DANG funny and full of sincerity and heart -all at the same time! They don’t make movies like that much anymore, but NORA did! I could COUNT on her, and her new material was always, always, just wonderful.
And now, like Dickens, it’s gone. But this time, I have qualms. She wasn’t allowed to die because I’d grown accustomed to fresh material from her. Extraordinarily talented people ought to be granted a sort of… immunity from death.
Don’t you think?
My husband doesn’t quite get it. So I asked him how he would feel if Steve Nash died. He said he’d be bummed. Well, I’m bummed.
Bummed out of my mind about the whole thing.
Nora knew about death, you know. She wrote about it.
“I am dancing around the D word, but I don’t mean to be coy. When you cross into your sixties, your odds of dying -or of merely getting horribly sick on the way to dying -spike. Death is a sniper. It strikes people you love, people you like, people you know, it’s everywhere. You could be next. But then you turn out not to be. But then again you could be.
Meanwhile your friends die, and you’re left not just bereft, not just grieving, not just guilty, but utterly helpless. There is nothing you can do. Everybody dies.
‘What is the answer?’ Gertrude Stein asked Alice B. Toklas as Stein was dying.
There was no reply.
‘In that case, what is the question?’ Stein asked.
Well, not quite exactly. Here are some questions I am constantly noodling over: Do you splurge or do you hoard? Do you live every day as if it’s your last, or do you save your money on the chance you’ll live twenty more years? Is life too short, or is it going to be too long? Do you work as hard as you can, or do you slow down to smell the roses? And where do carbohydrates fit into all this? Are we really going to have to spend our last years avoiding bread, especially now that bread in America is so unbelievably delicious? And what about chocolate? There’s a question for you, Gertrude Stein -what about chocolate?”
~Nora Ephron, “I Feel Bad About My Neck” 131-132
I hate to see talent like that go, absolutely abhor it. Thank goodness it’s raining today. The weather ought to have the decency to rain. To have the sun shine while Nora lies still would just be, gosh, unforgivably irreverent.
Maybe you didn’t know who Nora was, and now your ignorance is bliss. You can accept the fact that she’s not going to put out anything fresh without so much as a shrug -much like I do with Dickens and Frost and Fitzgerald and Austen.
In which case: lucky you. May you go on enjoying “Sleepless in Seattle” in peace (speaking of which: don’t you love the way she puts movies into movies? In Sleepless it was “A Love Affair to Remember” ~and her shriveled up little legs *sniffle*~ and with “You’ve Got Mail” it was “The Godfather” ~Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday~).
In the meantime, I’m going to tell you that I went into the city today for The Patient to have the stints ripped from his nose. Don’t worry -he came out all right.
I then went on to polish off a plate of mahi-mahi like I hadn’t eaten in 11 years. And then I bought 4 pounds of grapes, 6 pounds of gummi bears, and a green parakeet.
I realize I’m being dramatic here. But let me validate myself by saying I’m not the only one.
And with that, I’ll away. There’s dreary, wet windows that need staring through.
Last night we had a “Tangled” themed Family Home Evening, thanks to the idea I found HERE. I knew the minute I found it that it would be perfect for our family because it was simple and straightforward. The “hard” part was making the crowns, and honestly: I had the most fun with it. If we didn’t live so far away from any kind of store, and if gas prices weren’t so high… I would have just made a quick run into town and bought something.
While I was cleaning the house yesterday, I threw away an empty cereal box and I went through the end of a roll of paper towels. I took the cereal box and the paper towel roll and I went to work.
I free hand cut out the crowns, and then I added cut up pieces of the paper towel rolls to each of them using hot glue. I spray painted them grey.
I had to use whatever I had on hand. I wished I had a more metallic spray paint, but grey worked well enough. When they dried, I embellished each of them with craft scraps I had on hand.
The girl loved hers. She wore it all night.
The boy didn’t come around to liking it until right before bedtime, when a few of the embellishments had come off.
The pictures aren’t the best, but you get the general idea. The kids had a lot of fun with the lesson, and we all snuggled up in blankets to watch a family movie and eat banana pudding and vanilla wafers.
A great end to a great day.
I didn’t tell you that when I came back from the hospital with The Patient in tow, my house was cleaned. That is to say: the babysitter had cleaned my house without being asked. The day before going to the hospital, I was sick all dang day. The house wasn’t filthy, mind you… but a few day’s clutter and dishes had given the kitchen a not-so-pleasant smell. To come home to a clean house and worn out kids was heavenly. I paid her for the sitting AND the cleaning.
And then, like magic, my morning sickness melted away.
Since that day, I’ve felt like Ye Old Self Mostly. Maybe it was Anthony. Maybe he really is an angel of Renaissance proportions… not only does he fix cars, but he fixes morning sickness and inspires babysitters to clean houses. Or maybe all it took for me to pull out of morning sickness was a day away.
But I’m pretty sure it was Angel Anthony.
In any case, I spent the few days after my husband’s surgery sleeping and keeping the house up. Today, as you know, is Monday. Monday I usually clean all day. As you also know, I haven’t been able to clean all day lately, so today with Ye Old Self Mostly in tow I decided to test out my endurance skills.
My house is clean. CLEAN. And I CLEANED IT! I feel exactly like Jane (of Dick and Jane, The Robbers) when she plops dinner on the table and pronounces, “Look at that! I did it! I did it and it’s perfect!”
And then within the month she becomes a criminal.
That’s beside the point.
I just want to tell you that there’s a great feeling that goes along with a clean house when the windows and door are open, letting in the smell of freshly fallen rain. There’s light thunder in the background, barely discernible over Norah Jones comin’ through my media player. Better and better? There’s homemade vanilla wafers just waiting to be baked.
The kids are snuggled up together on the top bunk, streaming Netflix from my phone and listening to the rain outside their open window.
“You okay wiff dat funder, Mom?” The Boy asks… he’s concerned. Thunder can be terrifying, you know.
And with that, I’ll leave you. I have a date with my porch, a scraggly, aged blanket, poetry, and herbal tea. The only thing missing is my brother, Steve.
I know we haven’t properly executed FrostWalk yet, but I could sure do with a FrostPlop… right now. on my porch.
Love you man.
For the past three days, The Patient and I have been streaming “Cheers” episodes.
I forgot how funny that show is. I used to watch it when I was a little girl. Watching it got my husband and I talking about the old shows we used to watch as kids.
Saturday morning cartoons topped our list. They used to be so great, didn’t they? What happened? Computers? Technology? All I know is I don’t much like the cartoons that are out now, grand exception given to Phineas and Ferb.
(image via chud.com)
And you can’t mention Saturday Morning Cartoons without bringing up TGIF.
(image via letstalkabout.tv)
Isn’t it romantic to think that we were watching the SAME SHOWS at the SAME TIME without even knowing it (along with millions of others)? And isn’t it also romantic that he was 10 and I was 5? Ha, that’s just weird.
I asked him if he had any shows they watched as a family… he said he couldn’t think of any. But BOY did I have a list!
Wheel of Fortune!
There was always a nice stream of “MASH” episodes and “Bonanza” episodes coming through our tube as well. I do have to say that the thing our family did most together was work, work, work… when it came time to play, play, play we were generally too tired to fuss with it. But sitting together and passing around the popcorn? THAT we could do. And THAT’S exactly what we did.
Breaking news: I didn’t get sick even ONCE yesterday and what’s more: I even had energy. I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for my morning sickness to fade away. With the boy’s pregnancy it never did and all I could do was hope that this pregnancy would be different.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I felt fine. I was tired and I Was hungry, but I wasn’t sick. Then again: I was only 4 weeks. I waited very patiently for my morning sickness to set in. It almost felt like it wouldn’t. Every day I felt fine.
I had started to feel the same way about BEING sick. It almost felt like I would never NOT be sick. And then one day the morning sickness just left.
I’m still hungry. I’m not as tired. I’m still dreaming weird-o dreams (last night I rescued a baby that was crawling across the Interstate and then I found myself sailing through the air with a gaggle of companions and a big red car, so I did what any hero would do: I used the super-human power in my legs to push the red car back down to the Interstate and watched contentedly as my companions, one by one, landed safely inside. I then hopped on a motorcycle and started singing, “Whatever Makes You Feel like Rock Star”).
Am I the only one who thinks of Jack-Jack (the mouse from Cinderella) when I say, “Be Careful.”
All I can hear is that little mouse voice, “Beeee Care-fee!”
Anyway, you know the old saying “Be careful what you wish for. It might just come true”? Goll-lee.
For the past few months, my husband and I haven’t gone on any dates. Things have come up, I’ve been sick, he’s been called in, and on and on and on. What finally came of it was our sitting together and saying, “We need to get outta here for an entire day -just us.” An hour or two away just wouldn’t cut it. Even the girl had joined our cause.
“Mom you needa just go and take Dad and leave us here with someone.” Hear that? She’s ASKING for a sitter! She’s SICK of Mom and Dad! We wanted to do it before my husband’s surgery, but gueesss what?
Things have come up.
I’ve been sick.
He’s been called in to work.
And on. and on. and on.
The day of surgery arrived yesterday. I called a sitter to come over at 5:30 AM so we could be to the hospital by 7 AM. Once at the hospital, my husband was checked in, checked over, stripped, stabbed with needles, covered with warm blankets, and made to feel as comfortable as possible.
I sat by his side while they prepped him for his hour and a half long surgery to straighten his septum (inside his nose) and clean out a bunch of scar tissue and junk that had collected there over his 31 years (thanks in large part to allergies).
Then the nurse asked me to kiss him and they whirled my very nervous husband away. I went to the cafeteria and ate Second Breakfast.
Then I sat in the waiting room and typed up page after page of my great-grandmother’s journal. It was really strange, being alone. I had the ability to eat what I wanted whenever I wanted. I didn’t have to GET anything for anyone. I didn’t have to FIX anything for anyone. I just sat in a soft chair with my computer and typed, typed, typed.
I ate an early lunch approximately 10 minutes before I’d be allowed to see him. I wanted to make sure that I kept myself full. I didn’t want to get sick while I had a patient on my hands.
I waited ten minutes.
My cell phone rang. A nurse on the other line told me that he needed a little longer to come out of the Knock Out Juice. I wasn’t surprised. It always takes my husband a little longer. I should have anticipated it. The last time he was knocked out for double hernia surgery, and the nurse was not even a little bit nice about it.
“You need to sit him up,” she kept telling me. I finally got upset and told her that he WOULD. LATER. And that she needed to leave us alone for a while.
It was refreshing to have a nurse be nice about it.
His doctor came out and told me she had cleaned out quite a lot more than she had anticipated. She was genuinely concerned. There wasn’t really anything technical or mechanical about the way she spoke to me. She made it VERY clear that as soon as he healed up and was feeling better, he needed to get right back into her office to get his allergy problem under control.
So we will, and it was really nice to see a doctor care.
The call finally came that my patient was ready to see me.
See the tube in his hand? It was a fancy sucking machine that he could put in his mouth and it would take the drainage that was invading his mouth and dispose of it in a quart-sized plastic tub… it was BLOOD.
The quart-sized plastic tub was nearly full. And apparently it was the second one he’d filled. AND he was on his second fancy sucking tube. The other one got fully clogged. With BLOOD.
“Don’t freak out,” said the nurse, “It’s mostly water.”
BLOOD RED water.
I didn’t freak out. I just felt horrible for him. I rubbed his feet and made him laugh. I helped him get dressed, and I pulled the car ’round the front of the hospital entrance so I could load him in the passenger’s seat.
We went to Sonic for some ice (and in my case Second Lunch), and then we went to Wal-Mart for some soft foods and ice packs.
I was only in the store for a little while, I swear. But the car started heating up (it didn’t overheat) so my husband turned it off.
And, like a dear, it refused to turn back on.
So there we were, a man fresh out of surgery with strict instructions to NOT DO ANYTHING, a pregnant woman and a dead car in Wal-Mart’s parking lot.
I popped the hood open.
The air filter had fallen off. My husband tried to put it back on. I got angry with him and made him sit down. I called my brother and explained the situation to him. He began to ready the big tow truck to come and fetch us.
I then called my Dad’s cousin who lived nearby and asked her if I could bring my bleeding husband to her house for an hour or two while we waited for the tow truck. While we were waiting for her to come and get us, a man came over and asked if he could help.
“Yes!” I said, “Yes, if you can!” The man didn’t exactly look, well, “safe.” Not exactly someone you’d approach, I guess.
“I just need to get this air filter back on, and I can’t. My husband just had surgery and he can’t…” I tried to explain.
“No problem. Do you have a screwdriver?” I checked my car kit which is a safety tool equipped with lights and several tools… and ALL of the tools were missing. Of course they were.
“Sorry,” I said, “I can run inside and buy one.”
“No need to spend money,” he held up his hand. His friend made his way over with a penny, and they used that instead. He made sure we had someone coming to pick us up, congratulated us on our little one on the way, and then Anthony walked away.
Within minutes, my Dad’s cousin was there.
By some miracle (maybe Anthony was an angel?) the car STARTED. We carefully followed my Dad’s cousin to her home, took my husband inside to rest, and left the hood propped open to cool it off.
And there we camped for over an hour.
I called the sitter (who by this time had been with my children for over 12 hours), and I called my parents. I arranged to have my parents come and relieve our sitter, and after visiting with my Dad’s cousin and cutting up some potatoes so I didn’t feel absolutely useless… we were able to drive home without ANY problems.
We even got to use our Air Conditioner.
Even more miraculous? I didn’t get sick even once yesterday. Must’ve been all my Second Meals. I MIGHT be growing a Hobbit.
Even MORE MORE miraculous? As we drove home and my husband had his head tilted back and I rattled on about this and that and we giggled and laughed, my husband spoke from just under the mound of gauze that was catching the drainage from his nose.
“I had a lot of fun today,” he said, and then he spit blood into a cup.
Gosh, it MUST be love.
As we drove home, I asked him “If you had seen Anthony, the guy who helped us, stranded in the same way we were… would you have offered to help him?”
“It depends,” he said, “But probably not.”
And we both hung our heads in shame. Well, not literally because I was driving and he had been specifically instructed NOT to hang his head. But our souls were dropping in shame. It looks like it’s time for us to change our ways.
In the end we got an entire day away… no kids! After their bath and scriptures, we said our family prayers.
“Bless Dolly,” my daughter said (Dolly is my cousin who is actually named Annelie and who babysat the kids for us), “And bless that Mom and Dad could need to leave again so we can have Dolly again.”
Well, at least my husband and I will always have each other… even if the kids have had enough of us.
PS: as we visited with my Dad’s cousin, my husband told her that I was a captivating story teller. You know that feeling you get when someone tells you you’re beautiful? Multiply that by one THOUSAND… and that’s the way it made me feel. He really knows how to get me.
I hate being serious.
There’s very few things I can be serious about, and I happen to think it’s a very good thing. Life can’t be taken seriously, see, or we’d all end up in the nut house. Laughter, a talent we are inherently born with, would become unlearned as our years went on and before we knew it: children would be running things clean up until they grew up enough to forget how to laugh as well.
Running things will do that to a person. I happen to know that first hand because I run things around here. It’s my job -no, MORE than that: it’s my life.
Jobs have a funny way of letting you clock off, take vacations, and get paid. What I do doesn’t offer one little bit of those things… at least, not in the same way. Incidentally, my job is something I’m very serious about.
I’ve never taken my life’s choices lightly. I’ve never been brainwashed into doing something I don’t CHOOSE of my own free will and accord to do. My parents left the world open to me, and I’m very aware of how blessed I really have been in that regard.
When I was very young, I wanted to be a country singer. When I was a little older, I wanted to an archaeologist. I even went through a period where I wanted to solve mysteries. If you laugh, it’s only because you used to believe you were the next Sherlock too.
All through my stages, two things remained.
1) Even as a very small grade schooler, I used to watch my teachers and think, ‘When I’m a teacher, I’ll teach it differently.’ And then I’d proceed to make fake lesson plans in my head (yes, even when I was 6). I didn’t think it was weird -I thought every kid was doing the same thing in their own head.
2) I lived my life in constant awareness that I would someday be a mother. I bought yearbooks from eighth grade to Senior Year -paid for them with cash earned at my own hand for one sole purpose: I wanted my children to have them. I spent hours pouring over my mother’s yearbooks, and I wanted my children to have the same chance. I started putting certain clothing away for my future children, anticipating the mockery that would surely come as they pulled old tattered clothing from a dusty Rubber Maid bin shoved into the farthest corner of the basement. I even went so far as to base certain choices on my impending children: would I ever want to rehash this experience to them? No? Then I’d better not do it.
And that’s just simply IT.
When I was dating my husband, he told me he would never hold me back from what I wanted to do. The feminists out there are calving, I’m sure… but what he was giving me was really a gift. There are a lot of husbands out there who DO hold their wives back, who DON’T let them shine. One of the greatest gifts my husband has given me is the ability to CHOOSE to stay at home with our children.
My mother once said I had a way of starting to make a point and then taking the long way of getting there -so long, in fact that my listeners almost forget what point I’m making (let’s face it: I forget myself half the time) and then I finish.
“Oh yeah,” my mom said, taking on the roll of someone who might be listening to a point I was trying to make, “THAT’S what she was talking about.”
So forgive me a minute while I take the long way ’round The Point.
All peoples are created equal but radically different, and stereotypes are a modern enemy. We all hate them, but we all employ them -even without realizing it. The battle we’re fighting against stereotypes is a losing one, thanks in large part to the media and thanks in larger part to social networking.
My father is a mechanic.
There. See? You just got a stereotypical image in your head. Is the mechanic in your head wearing overalls? Covered in grease? Listening to the radio loudly in the background? Dangling a half-eaten bag of Cheetos from his left hand? Swearing?
That is not my father. Well, some of it applies: the loud music (gotta crank it over all that loud equipment), the Cheetos, and the occasional swearing (well, have YOU ever tried to fix a car?). My father is honest -so honest it would make your head spin. He’s clean cut. His shirts are always tucked in, and he takes pride in his personal appearance. He does an honest job for honest pay, and he doesn’t overcharge.
My mother is a homemaker.
There. See? You just got a stereotypical image in your head. Is the homemaker in your head wearing an apron? Is her hair curled? Is it June Cleaver?
Okay, now we’re just playing a one-sided game of 20 questions.
That also is not my mother. She owns an apron. I know because I used to see it buried in the kitchen linen drawer when I was growing up. I never once saw it on her. She doesn’t live like June Cleaver -aside from being 3 Dimensional, she has a life littered with issues that were never written into June’s script. Well, there were SIX of us kids, you understand, and not one of us behaved like Beaver. Or Wally, for that matter.
Guess what I am?
I am a stay at home mom.
Oh there you go again. You’re picturing me in sweats, aren’t you? I’m not wearing make up and I’m sitting in front of my computer screen while simultaneously eating a bon-bon and barking at my unbathed children to get back inside and get some clothes on, for crying out loud, before the neighbor sees you in all your glory trying to let their dog out.
Okay, the last part of that stereotypical image has some truth to it. A, um, FRIEND of mine told me that story once. She was wearing make up at the time though… I swear it.
What of my dream to become a teacher? Well, I’m living it. I teach constantly: no vacation, no time off, no clocking out, no sick days, no personal leave, no summer break, and NO paycheck.
Am I compensated? You betcha. Monetarily? Forget it because I did a long time ago. I don’t want to get paid for what I do. I don’t NEED to get paid for what I do.
I’m living my dream because I chose to live it. Would anyone who truly wanted to live their dream be concerned about the pay and benefits?
Of course not, said the painter.
Of course not, said the farmer.
OF course not, said the writer.
Because they’re happy -and no paycheck can take the place of happiness no matter how much you joke about it. If I were to miss anything -an.ee.thing that my children had to offer in their preschool years, no paycheck would ever salve that wound… no vacation, no getaway, no new car, no new home, no material anything.
Because everyone is created equally and radically differently, I can say that there are other women out there who don’t share my opinion and THANK GOODNESS for that. We NEED variety. We NEED women who can leave the home. The modern workforce would be in shambles without the Female Presence. Well, maybe not TOTAL shambles, but it wouldn’t be running nearly as efficiently. We can all agree on that.
What brings me to even bothering to blogging the obvious is that it turns out it isn’t obvious.
I thought it was.
But do something for me. Google, “mock stay at home mothers.”
See what comes up? It’s heart wrenching.
Now wait, wait… Google, “mock working mothers.”
See what comes up? Articles mocking STAY at home mothers.
Someone please help me to understand WHY. What’s the cause? What’s the reason? More importantly: what’s the POINT? Should we all, as women, leave our homes to avoid a little mockery? And since when did it become comonplace to add the word “just” before the words “a mom” when someone asks us what we do?
There’s nothing just about it. Really. Nothing.
There’s nothing just about the mockery. There’s nothing just about the hours. There’s nothing just about the toll is takes on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically.
I’m not looking for justice in what I do -I’m simply looking for love. And you know what? I’m finding it. Justice and love rarely shake hands anyway, just ask well-adjusted married couple out there.
I’m not here to parade and stand up for stay at home mothers. I’m not. At least not today. Today I’m just asking the Infinite Void to realize that
Disrespecting someone’s life work is strong evidence of ignorance -no matter what that life’s work may be.
Remember that next time you happen upon a plumber’s crack, and before you snap a picture of it to send to your buddy: ask yourself if you’d switch places with him. Well, would you? Then can that text and buy the man a cake. Heaven knows he’s MORE than earned it.
The same goes for your local Cheeto-loving mechanic.
Forgive me for being serious and for being seriously hurt. In an attempt to lighten the post, I’ll share a priceless picture with you -once in which I’ve debated sharing for one reason only.
My son is n@ked. And yes, I just coded over the word n@ked because I don’t want anyone searching for n@ked kiddos on internet to find my son.
And it goes something like:
I finished helping my son bathe, and I pulled the plug. I turned to get his towel from the back of the door where the towels normally hang. Of course it wasn’t there because OF COURSE it was on the couch with the rest of the clean, unfolded laundry that keeps growing back no matter how far down I chop it.
“Don’t get out of the tub,” I said as the water level dropped drastically, “I’ll be right back.”
And I WAS right back…
It’s amazing the things we forget as adult. We forget how to laugh, for one… and we forget that when we were 3, the bathroom drain was one of the MOST terrifying objects in our world because it had the potential to TAKE us.
Children have a way of reminding us of things like that.
They also have a way of reminding us how to laugh.
Just two of the long list of “benefits” my life’s work offers.
**I can honestly say I’m not putting out a shameless plug for attention when I say, “Please share this post with someone who you think might get a lift from reading it.” I couldn’t care less if one or 100 people read it -so long as one person was touched by it. I just have a hunch that some sweater-wearing stay at home mother out there might possibly be in need of this post. More than likely, that sweater-wearer is myself. Just in case it isn’t, would you mind passing it on? Thanks ever so.**
I sometimes hate listening to myself. I talk so stinking stanking much and most of what I have to say is stinking stanking trivial, but I can’t seem to stop myself. I wish I could. I’m willing to stop. I’m wanting to stop. I’m waiting to stop.
You just read those last three lines in an Alfred P. Doolittle voice, didn’t you. And if you didn’t just then, you are now.
In any case, all I’m trying to say is that I helped my aunt type up my grandfather’s life story as written by his mother. I am named after his mother, and the more I get to know her through stories others tell and the bounty of written goodies she left behind (journals upon journals, skits, life stories, and on and on and ON!)… the more I realize that I’m a lot like her. And “a lot” is an understatement.
“Sometimes when you tell stories, you can leave some details out you know,” my husband once hinted with trepidation. I guess he’s right. Except for ONE thing: no I CAN’T leave some details out. It’s impossible! It’s like being born without that special part of my brain that filters out Things Other People Don’t Care About But That Matter Monumentally To Me.
My great-grandmother Alice had this trait, and my aunt and I giggled at her description of the Christmas Eve night that my grandfather became engaged to my grandmother. It was 1953.
“Christmas Eve 1953 Eugene presented Eleanor with a diamond ring. The engaged couple spent a happy evening at Eugene’s home. There were present Grandfather and Grandmother Smith, Maurine Smith, Ross, Sarah May, Steven, baby Keith, father mother (I love that she left the comma out between herself and her husband), Floyd and Doyle. It was the first time in years that the family had all been together for Christmas. Doyle made a pleasant old Santa and hearts were as gay as the lights and tinsel on the tree.”
Oh heaven love her.
And that paragraphs brings me to my next subject: Eugene.
I love Eugene.
We all have people in our lives -they’re more IDEALS than actual people, sometimes even if they’re living and breathing smack dab in front of us. Eugene is my Living and Breathing Ideal. He’s flawless unto me. He’s everything a Grandpa should be in my book.
And he has a full head of hair.
And he plays the organ.
AND he faithfully watches Lawrence Welk every Saturday at 7 pm.
Best of all: he doesn’t talk. Did you hear me? He possesses in his single soul the ONE trait I spent half of my childhood TRYING to adopt. Futile days, those. Blindingly futile.
It just makes me admire him all the more.
Eugene is patient. And he’s clever. I mean, he’s REALLY clever because he has more common sense than the entire Continental Congress put togethah.
I guess I’ve waxed rhapsodic long enough for you to get the point. And maybe I’ve waxed rhapsodic long enough for prepare you for what’s coming next… I want to name my child Eugene.
Wait, wait, wait… STOP that. Stop that judging.
Let me guess. When you hear “Eugene” you think
But when I hear Eugene… I think of the most honorable man on the modern earth. I think of a steady hand and a clean soul. Before I get all “gay and light as the tinsel” on ya… let me just say: as I was discussing it with my husband in the wee hours of the morning, I felt a strong something-or-other from the depths of my growing insides that Eugene is just… right.
I decided to do a little research. Grandpa doesn’t talk much, but he answers questions really well.
“Grandpa,” I said to him during a commercial break of the NBA finals (vital detail, that. right?), “Where did your name come from? Did Nunna just like it a lot, or are you named after someone?”
“Oh I was named after someone. The poet. Eugene Field.”
“I’ve never heard of him,” I confessed, the literate within me groaning in shame.
“We used to study him in school… Mother really like his poetry,” he said. So I did what any Information-Age Bot would do, I whipped out my Smart Phone and googled Eugene Field.
Oh wait. I HAVE heard of Eugene Field, apparently. So have you, no doubt.
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe,—
Sailed on a river of crystal light
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring-fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we,”
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe;
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew;
The little stars were the herring-fish
That lived in the beautiful sea.
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish,—
Never afraid are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three,
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam,—
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home:
‘Twas all so pretty a sail, it seemed
As if it could not be;
And some folk thought ’twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea;
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed;
So shut your eyes while Mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:—
“And do you like your name?” I asked. I HAD to ask because I’ve had grandparents specifically instruct me NOT to name my children after them.
“Making a 5 year old dot three i’s in one name is just cruel,” confessed my grandmother G.G. (Virginia).
“Yeah, I always did. Good, strong name,” he said.
Good, strong name.
Flynn Rider disagrees.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And frankly: names can always be changed in the event of one taking up a life of crime.
Though I still think he makes a much better YOUgene.
And here’s the part where I say this: a huge part of me is convinced -utterly CONVINCED -that if I have a Eugene, I’ll always have a Eugene, even when Eugene is gone. Gosh, I hate even TYPING that sentence, and not because it doesn’t make any sense at all but because I don’t want to think about not having Eugene. Ever.
See my head? It’s buried safely and pleasantly in the Utopian Sands of Denial.
Bring me an iced limeade while you’re up, will ya?
I’ll bring this post full circle by saying that I was named after Alice (aka Nunna aka Eugene’s Mother). My name is Alicia. Knowing that I carried on the name (so to speak) of someone like Alice really gave me something higher to aspire to. I didn’t want to sully it, you know. I’ve never heard a single person say anything negative about Alice, and I don’t want to disappoint that legacy. I’m proud of it. I love it when people ask me where my name came from -there’s no shame. Eugene would ALWAYS have that because Eugene, as I mentioned before, is downright amazing.
I must make one last Eugene Confession. I’m hoping that if in the event what I’m sprouting is of the male variety, he’ll turn two and look something like
Who wouldn’t want to kiss those cheeks on a sleeping boy after reading a drowsing rendition of
Then again: it could be a girl and this post would be all for naught. Except for the bit with Grandpa’s kinda-baby picture. THAT bit is timeless.
Incidentally, this movie is also timeless:
Stayed tuned for a Father’s Day weekend report which I’m working on titling. Right now it’s between “Most Wonderfully Full of Fun Weekend Ever: my in-laws are the epitome of awesome” and “You Think You Can Do These Things But You Can’t, Nemo: a summation of a pregnant woman’s inability to realize that spending time with family is more important than making a homemade potato salad.”