Friday, July 23, 2010

Drive By

Yesterday would have been Jane's first birthday. And you know what? It was a good day. 

I have lots of thoughts on the matter, and photos, and just a generally awesome post about it all, but I don't have time to set it down. We're trying to get out the door by noon for a weekend in the Adirondacks with a group of excellent friends, and as of not-quite 10 am, Sarah's ready to go. No one else is. And because she's packed, she is leaving a path of household wreckage in her wake. It's her part of maintaining chaos equilibrium. For each thing I accomplish, she creates at least two more tasks for me (like the breakfast experiment involving finding the point of balance between a full bowl of cereal and a water bottle; gravity maintained its perfect record, and I added a bonus load of laundry and kitchen mopping to my list). It's like Sisyphus meets Zeno's paradox. I'm not sure we'll ever escape the math.

But I'm going to try. Which means I must stop yammering about what I need to do and actually, you know, DO IT.

Ooh. The obvious solution occurs to me: anesthesia by Disney. Yes! I may get the packing done AND get a shower to boot. Dare to dream big, friends.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pressing Bruises

So, you know how when you have a bruise you can't help but press it from time to time to find out if it still hurts? That was the agenda item for Sarah today. She unearthed some toys that had been intended for Jane, one of which is a teddy bear that plays a woman singing "Rock-a-bye Baby" when you press its chest (WORST TOY EVER, by the way -- I mean, how can you help but press the chest if you're playing with it? And it's LOUD. And there's no off button. AND there's no access in the toy so you can remove its voice box, which means I will have to perform surgery on the damn thing if Sarah insists on keeping it)... whoa, parenthetical digression. What was I saying?

Oh, right. So, Sarah discovers the most maudlin toy on the face of the planet in the back of the closet and it starts playing Rock-a-bye and cue weeping ("It made me think of Jane!"). But she kept on playing it. And kept on weeping. Repeat at bedtime.

And here's where I'm the worst parent on the planet. I was annoyed. Well, I'm not inhuman, I was really concerned initially. But the longer it went on, and the longer she insisted on playing the damn thing, and the more dramatic the crying became, the harder it was for me to take her grief at face value. She was very deliberately pressing her bruises.

Now, I understand she needed the outlet. Hell, I've been known to do it myself. So I let her cry, I told her the things that I thought she needed to hear (that it's good to let out your emotions; that it's okay to be sad about Jane; that there are things about Jane to be happy about, too; that having a good long cry can make you feel better, etc) but damn, people. She kept intentionally forcing herself to cry. It no longer seemed to be about Jane, but she was using her name as the catalyst. And that pissed me off. I didn't yell at her, but I was definitely getting short with her. Which is awesome, right? "Here, kid, tell me what's bothering you and I will get pissy because you're being four with your emotions."

Ugh. I suck.

But then at bedtime, after a replay of the naptime events, she started talking about how much she dreams about Jane (and Audrey the dog) and how those dreams are special, and that she was going to have a special dream tonight and keep it inside her head just for Jane and not tell anyone about it so it will always be there. And THEN she said, as I was finally about to be able to leave the room, "Good night, my sweet butterfly from Jane." Holy guilt. Guilt guilt guilty guilt guilt.

I'm not worried about Sarah, for the most part. She's a really even-keeled kid, and she's been handling everything well. This is only the second or possibly the third time she's really gotten overwhelmingly emotional in the last six months; usually, she cries a little, but recovers pretty quickly. Wait; should I be worried about that? That's she's not crying enough? How do you know?


Tomorrow will be another day. With luck, she'll have moved on to a new area of fascination, although I will never be able to get rid of the Mawkish Mayor of Tearville (Sarah forgets nothing; that damn bear will be with us for years). And I will carry my guilt with me, diligently pressing that bruise until it fades.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I may live in Vermont, but I'm no commune-dwelling vegan hippie nudist. However, if you were to spend much time in my home, you'd discover pretty quickly that all Sarah wants is to be naked. Naked naked naked. I can usually prevail upon her to keep her unders on (as she tends to call 'em), but really? The kid just likes to be nekkid.

And I love it. I love seeing her little bare tush as she runs through the house on her mysterious urgent missions. I love that she has no notion of her body as anything but this amazing contraption that keeps growing and getting stronger and delighting her with what she can do with it. "Look at me!" is the pretty much constant refrain around here. As it should be. A friend of mine once said that if adults could have TA-DA! moments the way little kids do, we'd all be a lot happier.

I used to run around in my unders, too. Or at least topless. But I clearly remember the day I was aware that I was NAKED. It was the summer I turned five. I was going to my friend Mo's house, and I didn't have a shirt on. July in Pennsylvania? Fuhgeddit. Anyway, I was on my way next door, just about to walk through the narrow band of trees separating our houses when... Ohhh. Oh, no. Wait. I'm naked. I gotta get a shirt. And I turned around and ran inside.

Nothing triggered it. No one pointed it out to me. But somehow, I'd eaten from the apple and couldn't close my eyes.

I hope Sarah's moment is still a long time coming. I want her to love her fat little belly (that's what she calls it) and streak around the house and live free of the burden of BODIES and NAKEDNESS and SHAME that seems to be an inheritance most of us can't avoid. I want her to be strong and fierce and free. I know her eyes will be opened some day, but I hope, oh I hope, that when it happens she just doesn't care.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Überdad and the Domestic Goddess

Today, Sarah decided it was Daddy Day. Unbeknownst to her (and it wouldn't have changed her plan one little bit anyway), he is DYING from THE WORST COLD IN THE HISTORY OF EVER. But did that stop him from giving Sarah the best father/daughter day possible? It did not. They had crepes for lunch, went to Toy Story 3 (Sarah got scared and insisted on leaving during a scene that she described thusly: "Mom, Buzz Lightyear had to have a time out" -- you can imagine her horror) and then spent the rest of the day at the pool. How do you beat that? I'll tell you how: you can't. Sorry, Other Dads. Tom won.

And I? I made this house submit, by god. I washed, folded and PUT AWAY (yes, I did!) seven loads of laundry (how do three people generate that much laundry? How? I will wear the same pair of shorts for three days running, so it ain't me). I swept the entire downstairs. I cleaned the kitchen. I watered the garden. I emptied the compost and took out the garbage and recycling. I put everything back where it belonged. And it was good. 

At 6:00, Sarah and Tom made their return. Within moments, the house was garlanded with towels and strewn with sodden swimsuits and abandoned toys. But also filled with Sarah's delight and her stories of the day. And it was good.

Friday, July 2, 2010


So, I was going to post earlier in the week about the surprisingly not-difficult rhubarb jelly I made. And cookies with Sarah. There was BIG EXCITEMENT, people. But then I went away for a couple of days to hang out first with some lovely friends and then with my sister and her girls and I didn't bring my computer (gasp!) and so it just didn't happen.

And then I had to drive home.

Big whoop, right? Just you wait, you cruel-hearted invisibles. When I drive home from my sister's, I have to drive past the exit to the fancy-pants Harvard-affiliated hospital where Jane died. Every time. Unless I wanted to drive around Boston which, ugh. No, no, I save time and wrench my heart. 

I've only had to do it twice since January, but all I can think about are the two panicked drives I had to make: the one on Sunday, when we thought we were about to lose her, and Thursday, when we did. It's about an 18 mile drive. That Sunday night, I got to the hospital in 10 minutes. It was very Italian Job/Gone in 60 Seconds. Really. Ask Tom. That Thursday the same drive took me over an hour. Morning rush hour traffic. In BOSTON. Worst. Drive. Ever. I was out of my head, screaming at the other cars to let me through, driving on the shoulder, pounding on the steering wheel, unable to get to the HOV lane, unable to get to my girl.

That's what I think about every time I go north through Boston. I'm fine once I'm in the tunnel and I love going over the Zakim Bridge, but getting there... Hoo, boy. That drive is not of the fun variety.

Going past the hospital in New Hampshire? No big. It was for so long such a boring, unexceptional part of my day that I don't get a single quell going by. But not Boston. Not going north.

Some day, it'll be an unremarkable drive again. I'll be able to go home without my heart trying to beat through my chest. That'll be a good day.