Sentimental fool

February 20, 2013emily No Comments »

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.

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On babies and life

February 14, 2013emily No Comments »

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.

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In Memoriam

December 18, 2012emily No Comments »

I was holding the baby on Friday when I saw the news: a gunman in an elementary school. The reports were confused and rushed at that time. Eighteen children dead. Then twenty. Then reports of fallen teachers. I held Henry tighter. The news coming out of Connecticut was incomprehensible. Children targeted– babies, really, not that many years older than Henry. I held onto my own baby, tighter still, and I wept as my mind reeled. How does this happen? What kind of society is this, in which unspeakable things like this can happen? An acquaintance on Facebook pointed out that on the same day, a number of children in China were stabbed. I held my tongue, but the mother in me wanted to scream. Stabbed, yes. Hurt, yes. Wounded, yes. But fundamentally still alive. Those babies will physically recover, and then the mental and emotional recovery can begin. Even on the day that the shooting took place, people held up the Second Amendment as a defense against cries for gun control. And the historian in me wanted to lash out. The Constitution allows room for a well regulated militia. These were men and women who had fought the British Empire, at the time the most powerful in the world. Written into the Bill of Rights, you can see the historical fingerprints that gave rise to those amendments. They had been forced to house Redcoats in their homes, hence the Third Amendment prohibiting the quartering of soldiers in private homes. They themselves weren’t trained soldiers. These were farmers with pitchforks and teenagers with muskets and when, against all odds, they prevailed, they aimed to protect themselves and their fledgling nation against foreign incursion. “Being necessary to the security of a free state,” they sought to better prepare themselves, should Spain or even Britain again get any ideas. A well regulated militia. Not someone with an assault rifle taking aim at five-year-olds. It’s difficult to see how we’ve strayed so far from where we began, but it’s far too easy to see the results. Twenty children dead. Twenty children who didn’t return home from school on Friday. Twenty children whose families are heartbroken. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain those families are feeling. Anne Lamott once wrote that, before she had her son, she felt she could handle anything, that nothing could absolutely crush her. After she had Sam, that changed. When I think about something like this happening to Henry, I can barely breathe. These families will never be the same again, will never be whole again. Adding insult to injury, some cannot afford the cost of a funeral, and have had to turn to public appeals for donations. My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were lost. I desperately hope something like this will never happen again. The sad reality is, it will.

 

If you are so inclined, please consider donating to the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.

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