Thursday, February 26, 2009

This week in grief

It's been almost six weeks now and most of the time I am holding up fine. I think about my son all the time, but it's an undercurrent as I go about my day. I no longer can quite keep track of how many weeks pregnant I would be. But there are always moments, things I see or hear or read that tip me unexpectedly into a puddle of sorrow and regret.

Most recently it was the song "For Good" from Wicked. Looking at the lyrics now, they strike me as trite, but they hit a nerve nonetheless. Because I do wonder, often, what Lesson I am supposed to have learned from this experience. Is it presumptuous, or just premature, to think that I should take something away, that I deserve to get something out of it? That I ought to be wise enough to figure out what that something is? Is that too much pressure for my baby's tiny shoulders, or my own?

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return

Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you

You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend

I may not know exactly how far along I should be now, but I do picture, often, what would be happening now if our boy had lived, what I'd be doing and feeling. I expect I always will. I see three paths, three versions of my life--the one where I have a healthy, typical pregnancy and baby; the one where I have a child with disabilities, and am suddenly thrust into a new world of medical and educational and emotional challenges; and the one where I am missing a child. It's all very Sliding Doors.

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good
--lyrics by Stephen Schwartz

Changed for good? That much is clear, even if not much else is.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Locker room rules for young ladies

1. Step directly from street shoes/socks into flip-flops.

2. Ohmygod please wear the flip-flops.

3. Remember? About the flip-flops? Okay.

4. Rinse off under the shower before you get into the pool. For this to be effective water droplets need to actually touch your body.

5. Rinse off again after you exit the pool. Wash your hair with shampoo if you don't want it to turn green.

6. Even if you want it to turn green, I don't. So shampoo.

7. Keep towel from dragging in the puddles on the floor.

8. Eew eew eew eew please keep the towel off the floor!

It's time for another session of swimming lessons! Yay.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chair by the window, please

Isn't that the sweetest face you've ever seen! That's my girl. Ninety-five percent of the time, she is a lovely member of the family. She doesn't shed much (just twice a year, and then it's rather exciting to take her outside and brush her and be astonished at all of the fluff we send into the breeze, you're welcome little birds for the ultrasoft nests). She tolerates kid antics, or walks away from them without a grudge. She makes me feel safe when I am home alone at night and keeps me company when I am home alone during the day.

Yes, she does steal food from the children, but she also cleans up all crumbs and spills for me, so it's kind of a wash. I am still working on forgiving her for one particular incident, though. Our first Christmas in Mayberry, we decided to have a party for our new friends and neighbors. I was 6 months pregnant with Opie at the time. My husband (aka the hermit) had no interest in helping host this shindig so I had most of the food catered. But the one thing I made myself was a freaking TON of cookies. Now, not only am I not a very good cook, I am s-l-o-w. It takes me forever to do the simplest thing. I spent an entire week of post-bedtime evenings baking. Did I mention I was 6 months pregnant at the time? By the end of the week I could barely stand.

The day of the party, I put all of my precious cookies on serving trays. To keep them cool and out of reach of toddlers, I stashed them on our screened porch, which was closed up for the winter. Just before the party began we started bringing the trays into the dining room.

And then someone left the door to the porch open. Allowing canine access. Said canine polished off an entire tray of my baked goods. You can imagine my hormonally enhanced reaction.

Oh, you better believe I served all the other trays, even though there was no guarantee they hadn't been contaminated with doggie spit.

Tell your own messy, naughty pet story--it's a Parent Bloggers Network blog blast. I don't think you're going to beat the Great Baby Oil Caper, though.

P.S. You know that chair in the picture is covered by a sheet, right? That's not really what my living room chair looks like? OK, just so we are clear.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The potty problem

For the record, the following do not motivate my son to use the toilet:
  • Effusive praise
  • Moderate praise
  • Barely perceptible praise
  • Threats of violence (no, of course not)
  • Candy
  • Stickers
  • Toys
  • Money
  • A kid-sized potty
  • A kid-sized potty seat insert
  • Just a regular potty like we all use
  • Choosing and buying his own underwear
  • Being allowed to wear underwear
  • Not being allowed to wear underwear
  • Wearing soaking wet underwear
  • Being one of the only kids in his class not in underwear

I started off very laidback. But the kid is going to be FOUR in six weeks. What the hell?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Double wordless score

Does it count as wordless if you post a picture that contains words? Well, who cares. This is a list of what the children plan to do this weekend. #3: "Punching Dad on the but[t]."

I'm wordless over here too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm like a stereotypical sitcom husband

I missed my anniversary again. My blog-iversary, that is. Actually, I checked my archives and it appears that I've never acknowledged it, so maybe we have an agreement, my blog and I, that we consider anniversaries a Hallmark holiday, and we don't celebrate them, at least in public.

So, never mind? Well, I'll just whisper in your ear that it's been (a little more than) three years since Mayberry Mom first arrived on the blogging scene. Together we've traveled to BlogHer, documented far more cute kid stories than a scrapbook ever could, succumbed to the lure of Twitter, quit a job, launched a freelance career (not to mention a second blog), and most importantly, collected a truly beautiful group of friends. Thank you for reading.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The no-school, no child care haiku

Flog me with a wet
muffler: I want some new snow
to cover the dirt.

Happy Presidents' Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fine. Well, sort of. You know.

People want to know how I am. How I really am. I appreciate the thought and I wish I could answer them.

I am happy not to be spending every waking moment with a painful, hormone-induced headache.

I am sad when I see my son's face and wonder what his brother would have looked like.

I am relieved that the terribly stressful period when we didn't know if our baby would live or die is over.

I am wondering how I will ever get through the month of June.

I am deeply touched by the supportive comments, emails, cards, flowers, plants, gifts, and food we've received.

I am thankful that I no longer have vicious nausea and heartburn 24/7.

I am discouraged that my body is flabby and lumpy with nothing to show for it.

Mostly, I just feel weird. I've never done this before and I don't know how to do it. For three years I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't be having any more babies. I got pretty good at living that way.

Then I was pregnant, and that felt like an altered state, an alternative reality. So not being pregnant feels like a return to normalcy. But denying my son's short life is most certainly not normal.

You see the dilemma.

I'll steal borrow from Casey and tell you that you don't have to tell me you are sorry. She said you could tell her about your favorite sandwich instead. If you want to tell me something, what's your favorite flavor of ice cream? I was sorely tempted by a tub of Americone Dream the other day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How I met your father

Once upon a time (I'm going to tell you a story, or maybe an LSAT practice question) I dated a guy named Glenn. Glenn worked with a woman named Lori. Lori lived with a man named Bob. Bob had some grade-school friends named Mark and Dave. Mark had a college friend named Jeff. Jeff had a business associate named Ron.

Are you following? Sometime after Glenn flew the coop, I went to a party at Bob and Lori's. There I met Mark and Dave. Mark asked for my number. We went out on a date. It was at a comedy club which was apparently having a bl-w j-b theme night. Every single comedian decided to discuss that particular topic. Hi. First date over here. Awkward.

Still, there was at least one other date that I recall before things petered out (pun not really intended), as things do. But occasionally I would see Mark at Bob and Lori's. A few months later, Bob called to say that Ron had given Jeff tickets to a football game, but Jeff couldn't use them; did I want them? I couldn't go to the game but Bob seemed insistent. So I found someone else who could use the tickets. Then I had to meet Jeff at his office building, conveniently located next to mine, to pick up the tickets.

The rest is history. And this past weekend, we (Jeff, Bob, me, and a few others) finally watched Mark get married too. It was definitely the best Jewish-Nicaraguan wedding I've ever attended. Mazel tov!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hmm. Maybe I jumped too soon.

As of yesterday, all of the people that I couldn't stand working with at my old job have been laid off. So here I am eking out a freelance career, constantly wondering if I'll find enough work, tallying up the dumb ways we waste money, thinking about how I should be promoting myself/networking better but am not ... and now I can add "endlessly debating whether I should have just stuck it out at the old job." Of course, a ton of people got laid off there yesterday and it's quite possible that I would have been one of them had I stayed.

To top it off, my lovely boss from that job was laid off from her subsequent job. If I may restate the totally obvious, this economy can #suckit.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sibling shuttle diplomacy

Of the many things that surprise and please me about my children, their relationship with each other tops the list. They truly enjoy each other's company, play together nicely, show mutual affection, and have each other's backs.

Sure, they squabble, but Jo is remarkably patient with Opie's 3-ish-ness, and Opie happily allows himself to be bossed around by his big sister most of the time. If he's having a tantrum, she creeps up next to him and tries to calm him down. Then she runs back and forth between him and the adult on duty, negotiating a truce. Several nights a week, they sleep side by side in the two trundle beds in Opie's room.

Jo recently brought home a worksheet from school called "My Special Feelings." It's a series of sentences that she had to complete: "I am happy when," "I am good at,"I am afraid of." My favorite: "I feel safe when ... my brother hugs me."

See, now this is why I wanted (still want? not sure yet) another one.

Extremely adorable photo filched from my brother and sister-in-law. Topic inspired by this week's Parent Bloggers Network blog blast for the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

From long-ago songs and someday goals

mom and kids readingI am from hardwood floors, from Meyer's Dairy milk in glass bottles, served in wine glasses on special occasions.

I am from glass shelves lined with houseplants watered every Saturday.

I am from black walnut, honeysuckle, lilacs, and grass on a hill.

I am from makers of music, milkers of cows, riders of rails, Beckers and Stephenses, fair skins and blue eyes.

I am from the stubborn and the silent, the peacemaking and the retelling.

From long-ago songs and someday goals.

I am from Sunday Mass with doughnuts after.

I am from the centre, from this side of the Mississippi and that, from braunschweiger and fried mush.

From the prize-winning irises and the fourth commandment, the stroller rolling down Tracy Hill and the dog named Susie.

I am from quilts on my walls, rings on my finger, names handed down from generation to generation. I am a daughter, a sister, a mother before I am anything else.

Thanks to Kate for tagging me with this particularly creative meme, which was a nice challenge for me at a time when the blogging well is a little dry. I do love writing about old family stories.

Thanks also to Magpie for the Tickled Pink award! I think you're the bees' knees, Magpie.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Steelers fanboy

Despite the rough start*, we did have a nice weekend, filled with the usual stuff (birthday party, Sunday school, ice-skating lessons) and capped off by just-the-four-of-us Superbowl party. Given that my parents met and married in Pittsburgh, I rooted for the Steelers and was thus richly rewarded. At one point Opie decided to go shirtless, which (of course, right?) prompted his father to paint his torso with a giant letter S (vaguely visible in the video).

*Thank you for understanding my need to post somber haiku. As Amy so rightly pointed out, this stuff has to come out in bits and pieces and that's what blogs are for.

If you ever tire of it and want the more cheerful version of me, you can always read my Family Fitness blog. Just so's you know.