I have a confession to make: I am loving this winter. While nearly everyone around me is bemoaning this winter (the snow! and the ice! and then a couple of sunny days followed by more snow!), I am reveling in it. In Florida, we didn’t really have seasons. We had a long, long, long stretch of summer (we’d turn on the AC in April and leave it on through November, people) and a few weeks on either end of “spring” and “fall” (quotation marks indicating the near-ludicrousness of using those terms), but mostly we had summer. Clear blue skies, bright and sunny, 80+ degrees. Which, yes, I can see how that sounds divine. But, wow, did I miss the seasons. True and proper seasons, each lasting approximately three months, coming at particular and predictable times of year, in which you can purchase and wear the right clothes for the right time of year. I can’t tell you how maddening it was to be looking for shorts in October when every merchant (both brick-and-mortar and online) was offering only chunky wool sweaters and fleece-lined jeans. Nor can I adequately explain the mindf*ck of picking out a Christmas tree in shorts and flip flops. So, shake your fist at winter and bemoan it all you want. I’ll be over here giving it a big hug and inviting it to stay for awhile.
I have a (bad) habit of becoming mired in the past, rather than living in the now, or whatever it is the kids say these days. I over sentimentalize, I mourn the past, I focus more on what was than on what will be. It’s always been this way– even when I was very little, I mourned the passage of time with each birthday. And now that we have Henry, well, let’s just say that it hasn’t gotten any easier. I’m trying so hard to remind myself that the best is yet to come, that we’ll have many, many milestones to mark with Henry, but sometimes I’m blindsided with sentimentality. Most recently, I read this post by Natalie, on weaning her own son and how sad she was (is) about it. Now, Henry and I haven’t weaned. The very sight of solid food practically sends him scurrying into the other room. (There’s a whole other post: how is a child of mine so averse to applesauce?) But, oh my goodness, the thought of not having that special time with Henry, him nursing quietly, eyelids fluttering, and me breathing in his scent… Well, it’s enough to make me feel like we’re packing him off to college. It’s odd how certain things trigger my nostalgia, while others don’t. Recently, I went through all of Henry’s baby clothes and sorted them out, setting aside a huge boxful to get rid of and keeping ones we might use again, for another down-the-road child. Nary a tear in sight while I undertook that project, gleefully chucking things into the ‘donate’ pile. But Natalie’s post? Enough to send me into a tailspin of wistful reminiscence. So, I keep forcibly reminding myself to enjoy what I have while I have it and to focus on the present rather than on the past. All the while, though, that other side of me is lying in wait with a box of Kleenex.
I’m slowly, slooooowwwwwlllllyyyyy, regaining portions of my old life back. Henry is 13 months old, folks, and this is how long it has taken me to scrabble back to some semblance of “my” life. I’m still not back to doing yoga every day and I still don’t have a paying job, but I’m finding some space for myself in all this Henry-ness. Lest I sound bitter, let me clarify: I’m not. I love Henry. Period. He is fun and funny and full of laughter and moxie and all things wonderful and delightful. If time travel were possible, I’d totally go have a talk with my twenty-something self and tell her how awesome Henry is. But I digress. Henry was not an easy baby. I’d hear these stories about mythical babies who would sleep in their car seats while their parents ran errands, or babies who would take four-hour naps in the middle of the day. Ha. Haaaaa. Henry was never that baby. He wouldn’t let anybody but me hold him for several months of his early life, and he barely let me put him down, the result of which was that I wound up with De Quervain’s syndrome in both thumbs. He slept in my arms much of the time, for that was the only way he’d actually, you know, nap. When I was teaching, John would hold Henry while he (the baby, that is, not John) screamed and screamed and screamed, the result of which was that I did my teaching prep each night in about half an hour for the next day. It’s amazing my students and I made it through that semester. So, yes, it’s been a long journey, but I’m beginning to find myself again, even as I trip over wooden blocks and giant Legos and plastic toys that go bee baaa baaa baaa beee baa baaa braack. It’s not exactly the life I envisioned. (Obviously because, you know, the academic job market done tanked and all.) But it’s a good life and, in any case, is life ever exactly what we envisioned it would be? And it’s nice to have reached this point, even if it took awhile, because in my darkest hours– when I was grumbling bitterly about how I used to have a life instead of diaper duty and effed-up thumbs– it seemed like I’d never get here. And I find great comfort in that.