Saturday, June 21, 2014

So Far, No Cards

I'm not ordinarily a snoopy person.  I don't read his journal, peruse his mail, or flip through his phone texts.  My husband shares enough with me that I'm not usually digging around for more.

So the other day when I was putting his underwear away (yes, as innocently as that) I saw a plastic bag in the drawer and opened it without thinking.  I found an anniversary card that I assumed was purchased for our upcoming sixth.

And then our anniversary came and went.  My oversize card to him got left in the glove box because I rather vainly didn't want to carry it in and out of the fancy restaurant without a purse.  I left the purse at home because we were on a nice date and I didn't want to be lugging around the three pounds of oversize mommish utility that I call my purse.

The card I thought was for me never appeared.

Then I forgot about the card in the glove box. I think he forgot mine, too.

So here we are, a full week after our anniversary, and we haven't exchanged cards.  We're going to a wedding today.  It could be lovely and romantic to celebrate six years in after watching a new pair launch into year one.  If we remember....

Some of you may think, "That is just sad.  How can you not honor your anniversary enough to give each other cards?"

If you were running a marathon with drink stations at every mile would you think it "just sad" if you forgot to stop at one along the way?

Cards and gifts are nice.  I'm always appreciative.  But marriage is a marathon, and what makes me exponentially happier is to still be in it with this man after six years of some of the best and worst times of our lives.  We honor our commitment and cherish each other at all kinds of junctures along the way.

Yaay Anniversary!  Bigger yay for when he got up to care for our crying son in the middle of the night because this pregnant mama was just too weary to do it. And even though the job entailed a stinky diaper, vomit, and relocating the other one who could not get back to sleep, he returned to bed and gently patted my leg like I was his most favorite person in the world.

With or without a card, what I celebrate is that six years in, that's still true.

So here's to the marathon! Six years in, he's still my favorite, too.
picture by Phil Roeder

Thursday, June 19, 2014

He Still Surprises Me

He ran as fast as his legs could go, farther than I anticipated, with results I could not have seen coming.

Need you ask?  It's Micah.  My wild man.  Today he was my wild water man.

We went to the park (you really should join us if you're local) and I got him out of the stroller and was just digging in the diaper bag for the sunblock and he was gone.  Running full speed for the cement-lined artificial park creek.

I wasn't too worried since I assumed he'd pause at the water's edge and approach with some caution.  All the other toddlers seemed to have gotten the memo.

He plunged in like a man just rescued from the Sahara, with a reckless gusto that surprised me.  And then he just kept running.  What is he doing?!

So of course, I took off running, too.  Before I reached him he did a face plant in the chilly water.  I was momentarily relieved.  This is where he'll stand up sputtering and crying from the shock and fright of being submerged in the water.  This will slow him down, I foolishly thought.

Not Micah.  He got up and just kept going deeper.  Another face plant in deeper water, this time.

When I removed him from the water, he cried bitterly as though all of his happiness hinged on playing in my personal version of a triple shot espresso.

I think we'll be staying with the splash pads for awhile.  I could do without the adrenaline of watching Micah pretend he is some kind of fish boy on a mission.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mutant Ninja Squirrel

In the sci-fi show The 100, the last humans live in space waiting for Earth to become habitable after a huge nuclear fallout.  They send 100 teens down to find out if it is.  When they get to Earth, the kids see a two-headed deer.

I watched a couple of episodes of this, but it didn't stick.

The idea of mutant animals has apparently caught on around here though, because we think we have one living in our yard.

We named him The Mutant Ninja Squirrel and honestly, none of us care for him much.

So let me give you fair warning how you can avoid inviting your own mutant squirrel into your life.  Take caution from our misguided tale:

One snowy spring day I felt sorry for this poor, thin squirrel who obviously couldn't get to his stash of food in our yard, seeing as it was covered by many inches of snow.  In an uncharacteristically charitable act, I tossed out a handful of sunflower seeds onto our deck.  Bill watched with me as he devoured them frantically and said something like, "Poor thing.  Let's give him another."  And in an action I still rue to this day, we did.

He ate every speck.  Getting bolder and bolder to get the ones closest to our sliding glass door as we all watched this little nature video playing out live.

But when he was closest to our door, he turned his head and we all saw this disgusting talon sticking out of the side of his face.  And some weird black stuff hanging off his neck.  It was weird and gross, but I tried to tame my otherwise dramatic revulsion for the sake of my kiddo who was equal parts interested and disgusted.

"Don't worry," Bill assured me when I expressed my distaste for Mutant Squirrel getting chummy on our deck.  "Squirrels have terrible memories.  He'll forget all about us."

We went out of town.  It crossed my mind that our absence would help the squirrel forget all about us.

Days after we got back, Landon began shouting, "Mom!  He's back! Mutant Ninja Squirrel is back!"
And so he was.  Peering into our house like a rodent reincarnation of Oliver Twist.
He seriously creeped me out. He was inches from the glass, paws up, brown eyes entreating us for food.  And ever with that odd and unnatural talon sticking out of his face.

Doesn't nature have ways of dealing with this?  Survival of the fittest or something?

Oh, that's right.  I disrupted the natural order of things by feeding a wild animal as though it were a pet.

Lesson learned.

In the meantime, we've all grown rather boisterous about reminding each other to Close the glass door! Because the very last sequel I want for this little story is the one where Mutant Ninja Squirrel runs into the house looking for more treats.

My only hope is that if even one blog reader can avoid a similar woe, it will all be worth it.

Friday, June 13, 2014

On the Train To Pink

 Have you ever let a small, seemingly trivial thought purchase your ticket for a train headed straight for "You-are-probably-overthinking-this-but-you-can't-help-it"?

We analyticals regularly hop on that train when the big stuff happens.  Overthinking-shminking. Big events require more thought.  We have to get our minds wrapped around them.

That's what happened to me this week at the doctor's office when he told me we were having a girl.  I  pictured an adorable little girl and realized I don't know how to French braid.  French braid?  Who am I kidding?!  I don't know how to do a single cute hair style on anyone, including myself.  I have few skills in the arts of beautification.  I don't have contempt for beauty, or for women who take a lot of time and care to maximize theirs, it just hasn't been my thing.

Alll Aboard!  And that's when I got on the train and my thoughts raced away.

So even though these ideas might not be what other moms contemplate upon hearing the joyous news of a little girl, I want to share them anyway, because I think they are a conversation worth having.  

Femininity is such an evolving concept.  Our culture limits beautiful and feminine to what can fit on a glossy magazine page, and tells us all that our approximation to this falsehood is directly tied to our value and desirability.  The closer you get, the better.

But what if I tossed it out years ago?  In middle school I bagged up my name-brand clothes and got off the hamster wheel and said, Enough.  I'll wear what I want and be who I am and forge my own sense of what it means to be a woman.

But that journey is not without its own pain and trial.  Looking for value in a world that tells you that your currency is your sexuality and your success is measured by how much attention you get from others (especially men), is a path I think women all find ourselves on at some point.  Discovering the value in ourselves, separate from external validation, is what sets us up for healthier relationships where we have the most to give and receive.  After a while, it ceases to matter whether I will ever look good in skinny jeans or that my purse is so out-of-date it actually has a special compartment for cds.  I am not defined by my accessories (or lack thereof), my fashion sensibility (or lack thereof), or my ability to make people take notice of me.

Nothing wrong with being well put together, fashionable, and so attractive that people can't help but appreciate that fact.  That's not the point I'm making.

To transition from girl to teen to woman is challenging, fraught with a lot of places to get stuck. No matter how we express our femininity, finding our peace with ourselves is tough.

Then there's the big, daunting question: Can I do it?  Can I help a girl carve out her own sense of femininity, intrinsic worth, and confidence to move forward in a world that wants to push her toward sex but away from healthy sexuality?  Can I let a little girl be her own version of herself instead of trying to create a mini me that thinks just like I do about all the things I feel so deeply?  Can I let her form her own convictions instead of wanting her to parrot the ones that I hewed out of real life experiences, even painful ones?

Put a girl in the mix, and I feel like none of my insecurities will go unchallenged.  No wounds unremembered. No opinions unquestioned.

Even as I come back to this blog post to clean it up and clarify my thoughts, I have already gotten off the analytical train.  No doubt I'll reboard it many times, but for now I'm back to celebrating what having a daughter really, truly is:

picture by Jason Michael
A huge, amazing, unexpected, world-changing gift to us.

So hooray for  pink!  And emerald.  And periwinkle. And cyan.  And burnt sienna.  And any other color our little girl might fancy.  I embrace the adventure.
Even if I can't  help analyzing the implications of it along the way.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When You're Done Having Kids

How do you know you are done having kids?

You give away your maternity clothes.
You get serious about losing weight again.
You give your second-born a middle name that was the runner-up for the first name. No hanging onto it for a third.
You buy a family car that comfortably seats your family, as is.
Then you name the new car one of the names on your girl short list.  No use for that anymore.  Might as well get to enjoy it on something in this family.
You start a small business.
You even buy a house that fits you all, just.

If you are my analytical husband you go completely crazy and take the "C3" (child three) column entirely off the master budget spreadsheet.

And then you take a pregnancy test and find out that you are not, in fact, done having kids after all.

Bring it on, sweet, surprising, wonderful, overwhelming life.  Everybody here is up for the adventure.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Every Generation Has Its Perils

Landon and I were sitting at the table for a "late" night snack when he asked me earnestly, "Mom, do these animal crackers have hydranated oil?"

"I don't know kiddo, why?"

"Dad said that's the kind that kills people."  Bill did make this sweeping statement about hydrogenated oils, but I don't think either of us realized our literal listener was taking it in. 

Poor kid.  I feel his pain.  In my childhood of the eighties, I feared nuclear annihilation from the Cold War.  We did these ridiculous drills in elementary school during which we were supposed to hide under our desks and instructed not to stare at any bizarre mushroom clouds we may see erupting on the horizon.  If you can see a nuclear explosion from your school yard, I suspect you are too close for your actions to matter much.  I would lay awake at night fretting about the fact that we could blow up the earth seven times over. It was all too big and scary for a kid to have to think about.

And now my own sweet little kid thinks we need to watch out for deadly animal crackers.

Ay yigh yigh.  I guess we need a clarifying conversation so that Bill doesn't lose some hard-earned credibility.

In the meantime, I told him no.  No, these crackers looked ok.  And we admired the turtle and owl--both animals we've never eaten before.