Friday, August 31, 2012

The Power of "Gleep"

Early this evening, I bathed poor scrungy Dragon Girl*. There isn't much of her. It takes about six minutes, once everything is set up. (I don't know why baby-bathing was an hour-plus project with infant He'en. I guess I am reassured this time that a postage-stamp-sized washcloth is unlikely to harm a critter that's built to pass through a birth canal.)

After her bath, I brushed her auburn hair with the little plastic brush that the hospital sent home. With each feathery stroke, I sang a tuneless "brush, brush, brush."

And darned if she didn't smile at me, not once, but three (3) times! Plus, she expressed her appreciation with a little "gleep."

This is a huge deal, because I mostly handle night shifts while Sister Mine handles day shifts. I am not sure how such a tiny scrap of humanity can keep two competent adult females in a state of near-total collapse, but she does, so that's the division of labor.

On the night shift, Dragon Girl often is less than delightful -- although in fairness, I probably am less than delightful myself -- and our conversation is limited to:


Me: "Blurg..."

or, sometimes:

Me: "...mumble...diaper time."


It's not what you'd call a great date.

But, oh, tonight, one precious "gleep," and a promise of more to come.  Those are the moments that keep a new mama together. Thanks, Dragon Girl.


*The baby is so nicknamed because she was born in the Year of the Dragon. Marvelous Tess at Tree Top Thai says that children born in the year of the dragon demonstrate vim, vigor, and lots of go, because, she says, they have hands . . . and feet . . . and wings. With this one, I believe it. I had to pause this entry's development about six times to dance the child around the kitchen. Bless you, Pandora. She particularly likes Depeche Mode.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Long Night's Journey Into Day

This will happen:

One night, you will tenderly feed your offspring in the usual way, at the usual time. You will then blunder to bed (couch/cushion/futon/nest of your choice) and tumble into your usual non-REM sleep of black and utter exhaustion.

[N.B. - of late, I've been waking every two hours for feedings with one eye dry and itchy. This means I've been sleeping with an eye half-open. Yes, that tired. Grossy-gross.]

But this will happen:

When you wake, it will be light outside. Birds will sing. Traffic will rumble. You will look at your clock. A blast of adrenaline will momentarily paralyze you, utterly, utterly. Oh, God, it's morning. You are the world's worst mother. You have slept through all the night feedings. Your offspring has starved, pitifully crying, abandoned, alone, in the cold dark hours.

You will then levitate yourself into furious action and rush to your offspring's side (leaping stairs four at a time if you have stairs in the house). Whereupon you will find said offspring . . .

. . . probably with a pretty squishy diaper . . .

. . . peacefully sleeping . . .

. . . not missing you one little bit.

Behold, a new era has begun.

This hasn't happened yet in this house, either. But it will happen. Hang tough, mamas everywhere.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Arsenic Hour

It's 6:00 p.m., the apex of a time called, variously, "arsenic hour," the "five o'clock jits," or -- of my own devising -- "why, yes, they are for sale; just name your price." He'en is fake-crying in her room, where she has been Time-Outed for unthinkingly spitting on me (2 minutes), plus slamming her door in response to the spitting time-out (5 minutes).

I tried to turn this into a Math Lesson Teachable Moment, but her receptivity was not high. Minutes before, she had added one (1) egg plus two (2) eggs preparatory to making cupcakes, and on her own she had proudly cracked three (3) eggs into a bowl without any shell. How swiftly we plummet from the mountaintop to the laundry, poor kid. Wail! Lament! Occasional pitiful cry of "MOM....myyyyyyyy!" (Beseech me not for help.  Who do you think put you IN there?)

The coked-out hound is throwing herself against the door in a barking frenzy, trying to bite the glass to gain re-entry to the house. She was exiled to the porch after we returned home from the grocery store to find shattered glass all over the kitchen floor. The dog is not in Time Out, per se, but I put her out there so that she didn't run through the glass and cut her pads, and leaving her there seemed a good idea for the nonce.

The baby is the best of the lot, sitting in her little lounger with a friendly blank look, blowing bubbles and waving her limbs in a slow kelplike fashion. Soon, I expect, she will get bored and add her voice to the throng, but for now I've attained a small island of peace. I wonder how long I can leave everybody locked in / locked out before someone calls Child Control and Animal Services . . . or is that Animal Control and Child Services?

Actually, either is fine. Just name your price.

A Beautiful Reversion

Sister Mine has observed that, when you have kids, you discover a bunch of latent things that you suddenly want to pass along. For some, it's a newfound concern with healthy foods or family relationships. For others, it's a near-forgotten coin collection or a near-dormant religion.

With me, apparently, it's playing dress-up.

Long, long before this blog -- which makes it long, long ago indeed -- I was profoundly committed to a closet full of flowing capes, poet shirts, funny hats, full skirts, and scrunchy boots. Of course, that was the 1980s.

Fast-forward through 20 years of very boring suits and heels with matching scarves and bags, and here I am in Mommy-land with the freedom to do, and to wear, whatever I want.

So, with this insane freedom enfolding me, I find myself now profoundly committed to dressing up He'en and dragging her to every Renaissance festival in the tri-state area. Who knew?

He'en loves it, of course. We have much preparatory talk about "Peay Desses" (pretty dresses) and hearing "max" (music). She knows what "road trip" means. And the other month she lisped out - to my heart's delight - "Mommy sooo HAP-py! Mommy go wenfest!"

Yes, Mommy is so unspeakably happy to go to Renfest. We've bought pastries and facepaint. We've ridden elephants. We've tried on endless little princessy hats. She has bumbled around to bagpipes, hopped to hammer dulcimer, and lyrically twirled to lute. I have one great mental picture of her - because I wasn't fast enough with the camera - in her tiny brown-and-red tabard dress, standing in the lanes and staring up from knee-height in delight at six or seven huge barbarians costumed in furs and leathers.

As I watch my little one taking such joy in all this music and motion, I remember who I used to be. It's a chance to remember the good parts without all the angst and squick: the creativity, the colors, the joy of sharing a good day with like-minded people doing something slightly bonkers.

I thought once that I was not ready to stop and be still for a child. Now that I actually have a child, I realize that I haven't stopped at all. Well, I have. But in a good way. It's a stopping of meditation, of examination, of being rather than doing.  It's a stopping, and a quiet backward-moving, in a gentle eddy of life's emotional river. It's a fleeting time and an amazing gift.

And maybe there is some divine forgiveness at work here, too, in the form of a grace-full and entirely unexpected chance to wear Peay Desses once again.

[N.B. - This musing, with an original drafting date of February 26, 2011, seemed a perfect sourdough starter for the new blog.]