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The small man and I made a trip to the pediatrician’s office a little while ago for his three year old check up. The nurse asked us the usual stream of questions; the ones about about his eating habits, how he speaks (or a better question would be if he ever stops), sleeping, if he puts on his own pants (which, ahem, he can…but normally doesn’t), and if he had an imaginary friend. Imaginary friend? Is this a milestone of childhood? I don’t ever recall having an imaginary friend. I remember imagining that my toys were friends, but they were tangible objects that I spoke to and cuddled and pretended were real. They weren’t a non-existent entity that I named and spoke to and spoke about. My Jude had always done the same, naming and speaking to his toys, but never had what would be considered an imaginary friend. This is what I told to the nurse and this is what she quickly typed into the computer and then never mentioned again. She didn’t seem too vexed by it, but I sort of kind of was. The small mister, who has hit every development goal spot on and whom I stare at in amazement as he recounts every detail of his day, and as he uses terms like, “Doomed” correctly, was maybe possibly not doing something that he maybe possibly should be doing.

And then, the very next day, Brokelynn showed up.

Brokelynn is five then one then three. We don’t know what his hair looks like or his face, or even how tall he is. I don’t pry. Brokelynn became an inhabitant of our household after the new babe showed up, and then after the trauma of a doctors trip that included three shots. I assumed that Brokelynn would become the whipping boy. Spilled juice and torn paper and snips out of the rug could all fall on Brokelynn. I assumed that this was what imaginary friends were for. Instead, when nuts or sprinkles or something else messy ended up on the floor I jokeingly turned to the small man and asked, “Did Brokelynn do this?”, and he replied, “No, I did.”

Instead, Brokelynn exists as a kind of fair-weather friend. He shows up sometimes when we get snacks. Jude pours out juice and takes an extra cup, “For Brokelynn”. In the morning Brokelynn sometimes walks out of dreams. Sometimes he joins us for a swim. But mostly he just kind of hovers around, someone that exists and doesn’t exist and who I thought would mean more than he seems to mean.

Sometimes, all of the time, I’m sure that Brokelynn exists because Delila exists. It is at these moments that I close my eyes and in my mind the words, “What have I done what have I done what have I done” echo like rain drops. It is not that Brokelynn is bad, or even abnormal, obviously he is a part of childhood that is so normal that he is included in the three year old check-up, but he is also a very viable mark of a very huge disruption in my three year olds life. I think of us before. Our cuddle time and our walks and the talks we had that were so much more deep and important that all the talks I’ve ever had before him, and then I look down at the sweet little person in my arms, who I can’t seem to stop looking at and smiling at and cuddling, and know that those moments will never be the same.

I know in some ways that a sibling is a wonderful asset to a single child. But, I’ve never been an only child. All I ever knew was having an older sister, having someone. Most of the time I think that it’s okay. The small man seems happy, he wants to hold the baby and to kiss her and is interested in the things she does. But then, when we snuggle up in the big bed at night, things are different. The small new baby squirms and squiggles, and even though I know that she’s okay some instinct inside of me says that I need to pull her in close and pat her back and feed her until she’s calm and content and sleeping. At this time I turn, and my back is to the little man and he’s sort of alone there when once not too long ago he was the one in my arms that I was cuddling to sleep. And sometimes he cries and yells. Sometimes he gets out of bed and plays and jumps and wakes everyone up and I cry and yell. But then there are the sometimes that I whisper to him, “Come snuggle with us” and he lies on the other side of Delila, so that we’re kind of this little family sandwich with the baby between us, and then he wraps his arms around her so that he can grasp on to me, and he kisses her, and he whispers back, “I love you mommy, so much.”

And then I close my eyes and I think, “Maybe it will be okay, Maybe it will all be okay.”

Image

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Delila

Surprise Surprise Starlight Eyes

That up there is my little internet secret, making her second debut, the first being her round little face’s appearance on Facebook.

Some people may be a little confused as to why I never officially announced her, why my rounded belly and widened hips never showed up on their news feed, or why the first pictures of her, nestled inside of my womb were never proudly displayed. I’ll be honest, I’m not exactly sure. My first pregnancy was so public. I displayed my growing belly, my ultrasound pictures, the name my partner and I picked, love songs to my little boy. As I contemplated all of this it just felt too personal. This was mine, she was mine, and as many feelings I may have hurt by deciding not to share, I wanted to keep the little ball of human safe and secret and hidden deep inside of me.

As a result of my secrecy, or maybe just because she was tiny and petite inside of me and didn’t begin to show herself until she was nearly fully formed, I felt like maybe she didn’t exist outside of my body and maybe I didn’t exist outside of housing her. I tried to remember how I felt through my pregnancy with my sweet boy, how I felt not myself, full and round and exposed in public. This wasn’t the same. I forgot that the roundness of my body existed and along with it forgot that a tiny person would soon be naked and squawking her way into this world. I went where I needed to go and did what I needed to do and carted the Jude bug around. Squawking seemed appropriate, as her little body felt like wings that flapped and shifted and settled into my hips. The little Wren.

Her birth was nearly as secret as her formation. It happened early Tuesday morning, 1:35 am August 21st, nine days before her expected due date. It seemed like something was tight inside of me, but as I waited and snuggled the wee boy I figured I had hours left for the tightening to progress. I ran a bath and laid down in it. When I was in labor with the boy everything I read told me that water would sooth my body and the baby inside of it. When I was in labor with the boy this was not true. This time as soon as I laid myself down something that felt like the word calm surrounded me and something that sounded like thunder cracked outside. As the rain came down I wrapped around the tight little ball of my body and talked to the baby, “Little birdy, together, we’ll do this together”. By the time I realized this was “labor for real” I had about enough time to cry out to my father, hop in the car, and crawl through the emergency room door before the nurse on call delivered my little, surprisingly quiet, bird. At six lbs and 5 oz she seemed like a dream with tiny little feet that I couldn’t help but trace over and over.

So, no epidural this time either. Go figure.

Our little family is settling in together. The small mister needs maybe a little time to adjust, but that’s okay, maybe I do too. Our little bird is just as sweet and chirpy as she was in the womb.

Us

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So, how do you all feel about this season?

I’m pretty conflicted about it. The babe is going to be bombarded with piles of stuff stuff stuff. I can’t help myself. This is the first year that I know he’ll be excited about Christmas, about presents, and I want to feel excited too. It’s selfish, I know that, but I don’t mind. It’s so hard for me to hold on to something happy about Christmas that I’m not going to let this go. It took me so long to let myself feel happy, to tell myself that happy is okay, that I don’t really want to admit that I’m spending money that I can’t really spend to give the babe things that maybe possibly he doesn’t even want. All because I want the smile. The squeals of joy. The, “Christmas! Presents!”, that will come when he wakes up.

Three years ago sister and I went from store to store scouting out unique gifts. We made plans, we split the cost, and we wrote both our names on the package. It’s hard for me now to write just mine, and so on every gift I write, “From Jude.”

The gifts may not be healthy. I know it’s not a tradition I want to start with the babe, piles of meaningless things that I bought. But I know too that a lot of them will be fun for us both to play with, a lot of them will encourage outdoor play, and a lot of them will be tossed to the side. I wish that I had spent time making them. I wanted to make puppets and a puppet house and a cardboard kingdom. I guess it’s okay though. Christmas doesn’t have to be the only time for gifts and fun.

We spent yesterday at the plant nursery looking for herbs and playing in the “Jungle”. We looked for lions and the babe swam in the gravel.

The babe with his can full of gravel

Passion Fruit blossom

What's that over there?

A lovely green anole, deceased at the park

I know my pictures kind of stink, they’re blurry and out of the phone (not even an Iphone at that!), but I like to look at them and I hope you do too 🙂

I look forward to the rest of this season and the rest of the year. I look forward to Christmas and presents and cookies and I feel happy. Happy. I hope all of you out there do too.

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A day ago, or a few days ago, or every day, a woman was out on her lawn on a mattress that she had pulled out and laid in the center because, “I like to sleep in the sun.” And she was doing just that, she was asleep and the sun was pouring down on her and moving its way underneath her skin and making her brown and warm and smell like the earth, and that’s when her boyfriend came around the corner and covered her in gasoline and lit her a flame. Did anyone even hear about this? I like to imagine that as the gasoline poured down her face and over her body she was dreaming of being a little girl in the bathtub when her mama would bathe her. Except, she was full sized and the bathtub was huge and her mama was even huger. As the gasoline ran down her face and over her hair she dreamed of her mama with a big plastic cup and her hand sheilding her eyes. She was singing “Amazing Grace” and the warm water was running down her cheeks and over her shoulders and the bathtime suds were floating in the water around her. When he lit the match and threw it over her body I imagine that she had a brief moment where she thought the sun was just too hot, and that maybe she should go inside and get a glass of sweet tea, but then the flames burned so fast and so hot that her body turned the heat into cold and she considered a blanket, but was just too tired to get one, and so instead she slept and slept and slept inside the warm sunlight.

Things like this have been keeping me up at night. This, and scenes from the Holocaust that I’ve been reading for class, and the chance images of men and women being shot in the streets of some place far far away from me popping up on screen while momma daddy baby and me had dinner. I don’t think I fear for myself or for pain or for death. I feel peaceful about these processes, that this is just a body and that death and life intermingle and get tangled up and are just more pieces of existence and non-existence. But, I worry about the babe. My thoughts center around keeping him safe, away from fear. I worry, if we were taken away somewhere, carted off in the darkness, what would I do? Could I hold on tight enough, sing loud enough, smile convincingly enough to drown out the blanket of fear? I know that I have to let these things go, that they are outside of my control. I know that I need to just relax and enjoy the softness of his cheeks and the way that his breath still smells faintly of milk. And while I love his sweet rolls and the way he clings to me, I do have an inkling of desire for the days when he will be giant and strong and be able to destroy armies and catch bullets in his hands.

What, readers, are your fears? Do you fear the things that go bump in the night?

When I get restless like this I cut my hair. I had my dear Jessie to help me this time.

This is new.

In the sunshine.

Frrriieeeennndddssss

Mon Bebe

More on life later.

 

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Me-12:00

So, I know this face.  This picture didn’t take me aback, I didn’t wonder at the unattractive stranger staring back at me from my parents kitchen.  This is my go to face when I know for sure that I’m not going to pull off cute or alluring or put together.  It’s my, “I’m goofy, love me for the goofy!”, face.  I told myself that I wouldn’t pull this charmer for this blog, but yesterday was a necessity.  Yesterday was the dawn of the aforementioned “Stay up till six in the A.M. just for fun baby and me no sleep ever night.”  I was sleep deprived and hungry and couldn’t find my toothbrush.  I think I deserved a goofy one.

I know I complain about the night of no sleep, but actually it was nice.  I’ve been a night owl most of my life, probably where the little dude gets it, and it was oddly calming to stay up and watch the outdoors brighten while snacking on popcorn and watching cartoons from my childhood, of course with the sweet baby face snuggled up beside me.  He was happy and having fun, so was I.  It made me think a lot about time and all the constraints that life is going to put on the babe, and all of the rules I’ve already had to make for myself.  I feel anxiety over the late hours that we stay up, embarrassed when I have to admit to other mothers how late we usually go to bed.  I even usually shave off a few hours, “Ohhh, he’s in bed by about 10-11, it’s hooorrriibbbllee, I can’t change his schedule.”.  When really this schedule fits us both.  Baby doesn’t follow along with the rules of time.  He sleeps when he’s tired and he plays when he’s not.  He doesn’t understand, “Do this tomorrow”, all he knows is he wants it right now.  The other night when we stayed up I put aside my worries that we would sleep in and miss Gymboree, or that the next day would be wasted.  Instead I just played and enjoyed rolling around in his puppy tent.

I wish it could stay like this.  I wish I could stay up every night without worrying that I’m a bad mom, or feeling anxiety riddled about all the work that I have yet to get done.  I wish I could hold on to little baby forever and giggle with him and curl up next to him when we are both too exhausted to rock out to The Talking heads anymore.  But I know the real world won’t allow it.  It tells us that we have to conform to it’s system, and that if we don’t, ample sleep medication can be dolled out in coma inducing doses.  I start classes next week, and I know the late night rendezvous full of snack and giggles will come to an anxiety, and tear-filled, stop.  I’ll have to get the babe to bed to do homework, study, write.  I’ll have to be an adult.  And I don’t wanna :(.

Here’s the little guy’s mug shot from the morning.  He looks almost as silly as me :p.

Oh Hai, I'm blurry baby.

 

 

 

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So, this is the picture of the day…

Me-12:00

And my reaction of today was similar to the reaction of yesterday, “Oh God, this is hideous, I have to take another.”.  I literally had to fight myself to put down the phone, and snap another more flattering pick.

My expectations for this one were higher for today.  I put on the makeup, I know, seemingly counterproductive, but sometimes I wear makeup, and sometimes I don’t, and today I did.  I figured it had to be somewhat better than the capture from yesterday, but when I looked at it the picture again failed me.  And I don’t know why.

Today, I realized that the makeup didn’t make a difference.  That i was disappointing and I immediately thought that yesterdays was better and that I may just be “ugly”.

I saw a weird smile, creases around my mouth, too squinty eyes, a too large forehead.  But now, after fretting about it all day and not even wanting to post, it looks kind of beautiful.  As lovely as the one yesterday looked, except in a different way.  I feel like there’s this little change happening behind my eyes.  I feel like I’m beginning to recognize me.

Maybe the smile seems a little tense in this one because I woke up at 7:30 to my mother informing me that her car had been stolen.  I went down to survey her empty spot on the driveway.  Her still in her pajamas, her hands looking like they didn’t know if they should tighten into fists or fly up around her head and into the air.  She sighed and moaned a little.  She looked defeated.

I think that we’re all, but especially my mother, beginning to feel cursed.  Like a pox hovers over us like vultures in the sunshine.  Violated,we have no control and people and things and pets are ripped from our fingertips.  We’re the kid on the playground with the off-brand clothes and the discount haircut.  The skinny one who never learned how to fight, the one the teacher hates for no apparent reason.  The bigger kids take our dump trucks and the teacher laughs at our empty hands and kicks dirt in our faces.

Except, at the end of the day, we smile back.  Even with mud in our teeth we learn how to smile.  My mother is excited about the prospect of driving a rental car.  She laughs about hooligans putting animals in her car, about hobos having sex in there.  Her smile is like my picture.  A little imperfect and a little far from what we imagine a smile should be, but beautiful all the same.

 

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We’ve been spending our rainy days like this:

 

 

 

 

Our toes slide and slip into mud puddles and roll around on the edges building monuments in the clay.  Our fingers find hidden stones.  The ground smells like millions of bacteria waking up for the swollen clouds.

 

I used to want to sleep through the rain.  The pat of it on the glass outside and the muted colors it made of the trees made me feel cozy.  I would wrap up in blankets and spend the day in softly interrupted slumber, the only excuse I needed was; “It was a rainy day.”

Now the rain brings adventure.  Little voice says to me, “It raining”, and then louder, to make sure I understand the significance, “IT RAINING MAMA!”.  And out we go.

When he was very little and covered in rolls of chub I would bathe him in the rain that collected in his baby pool after the summer storms.  The water was always warm and fresh and it was okay if he drank it, and it was okay if it splashed a little in his eyes.  And I never used soap.  I would bathe him in the pool the first day, and then the next we would venture out to watch the mosquito larva dance around like tiny tadpoles on crack.

Now, he bathes himself.

And does a pretty darn good job of it.

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