Tuesday, October 25, 2016

365 | do you remember the good old days before the ghost town?

Sunday 4 September 2016 | It's cool enough in the morning to put these beautiful little plaid man shirts I've been collecting for Mads to use (on both kids). 
Monday 5 September 2016, Labor Day | In the last week, Mads has very suddenly taken to potty training, his early resistance completely forgotten. The key seems to be nudity or near-nudity, all day long. I joke with Wolfman that one day, Mads will be an adult man, stripping down completely nude in a public lavatory somewhere, freaking everyone out.
Tuesday 6 September 2016 | Since the arrival of this garden spider at my doorstep, I've decided to work with Spider medicine for the next however long she stays, or however long I need her. I've never made a concentrated effort to bring an animal totem into my life and hold that space. Literally, every time I walk out my door, it is this big, beautiful orb weaver who greets me, as she does every September in recent memory (and this is not my habit toward hyperbole; my sister who lived with me in this house for nearly two years corroborated this fact). This year, I choose to believe she has a message for me.
Wednesday 7 September 2016 | Yesterday, Grandma and I took the kids to the State Farmer's Market, one of my favorite places to spend a morning. I couldn't engage, was not truly present in the moment. I was (mostly) gentle with the children, and Grandma and I had the same good conversation we usually do, but I was preoccupied with dread knowing today I'd be at work, my first training day. Monday I felt a little uncertain when I went in to fill out paper work, and during an afternoon and day off, that uncertainty morphed into full-on unease and disquietude. I don't know if this is the job for me. I want to give the job a chance (the opportunity is, really, a decent one), but, I wonder if it's just a bad fit. Maybe this fear is just new job jitters, cold feet, self-sabotage, or maybe this job is just not me. This morning, to take my mind off my mounting misgivings, I stuck my hands in dirt--repotted a big, twisted jade plant I took off Grandma's hands a year ago. Late last night found me pruning one of my ferns. These plants speak a language I'm not quite fluent in (yet), but I find immersing myself in it therapeutic nonetheless.
Thursday 8 September 2016 | More spider medicine. This jumping spider has taken up residence in our kitchen this week. Mostly, it can be spotted traversing the ceiling, but tonight it ventured onto the stove and counter (where I mistook it for a cookie crumb at first).
Friday 9 September 2016 | Lace.
Sunday 18 September 2016 | I'm trying this new thing, knowing full well that the way I adore and gaze lovingly on my son is the way I once adored and gazed lovingly on my man. Every time I reach out to kiss, caress, hug my child, I'm going to seek out Wolfman and kiss him, caress him, hug him.
Saturday 24 September 2016 | Autumn is here, and in my overgrown side yard, I find spiders' webs draped like dropped lace handkerchiefs.
Sunday 25 September 2016 | Garden Notes: finally broke up and repotted the aloe that used to be in Sierra's bedroom when she lived here. It looked so scraggly, but once I got to work on it, I discovered there was quite a bit of new growth hidden under the lip of the pot. Also, that one little Jade leaf is propagating yet another new plant, and the leaf itself hasn't even shriveled up.
Thursday 29 September 2016 | I took one of the seed pods off the Golden Raintree that borders our property and held it out to Ella. She looked at it for the briefest of moments and then announced, "I don't like that." I was so surprised I didn't ask her to elaborate.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thankful Thursday | heaven is hell in reverse

I wrote on Instagram that in my next life I'm coming back as a Jack O'Lantern mushroom (and then, after that, I might try my hand at being an actual Jack O'Lantern, if I can arrange it). I have hour long lunches at my new job, of which I have mixed feelings. I'd much rather come into work an hour later or leave an hour earlier, to spend just one extra hour a day with my son who is growing up at an alarming rate, than have an hour for lunch. But, I make the best of it. I go on walks, across the parking lot and to the right, where I've stumbled upon a Greenway nestled among apartment buildings and town homes, circling a man-made, muddy brown pond. When you first step off onto the Greenway, the trees canopy a momentarily brick pathway, and everything is sun dappled. The air smells of wildflowers and rotting leaves. There is a wooden bridge, over which I love to hear my steps, particularly in heeled boots. For that hour, name tag and air conditioning and muzak abandoned, I am transported so much further away than my brief walk suggests.

I Am Grateful:
  • for raw apple cider vinegar and its multitude of uses.
  • for the smell of dirt and plants when they're watered.
  • for Brian, our sometimes server at the farmer's market restaurant, who always stops to say hello to Mads on our visits.
  • for the sounds Lunchbox makes padding and tapping around the house, snuffling, groaning his contentment, barking his excitement.
  • for the butcher at Kroger who takes one of the lobsters out of its tank just for Martigan to look at, and who says such kind things about our son, about children in general, and who shared some of his history with us.
  • for the two grizzled men in work vests who send a wandering Mads back to me at the grocery store, telling him, "You better listen to your mama."
  • for headache medicine (that works).
  • to have someone to call when I have a flat tire.
  • whenever my baby giraffe of a niece gets up from a fall so bravely, so tough, without a single tear shed.
  • for days spent with Grandma, and for the way we catch each other's eye whenever the kids say or do something particularly funny, and the way we burst into laughter together
  • when Mads leaps into my arms and then, moments later, leaps into his dad's arms.
  • for Sam Raimi.
  • for conversation with women.
  • for the smooches Mads and Ella give me as I settle them down in bed.
  • to watch movies that scared me as a child and realize they're not frightening at all but silly and fun.
  • for big earrings that sway when I bob my head to music.
  • for Esther Perel.
  • for the smell of fresh-shucked corn and the feel of corn silk.
  • for an internet connection at work.
My menfolk, laying down on the side of the Tobacco Trail to take pictures of fungus.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Disappointed But Not Devastated | (3 is a magic number)

A February fog.

"Disappointed, but not devastated": the official stance Wolfman and I took on my miscarriage in May. (Comparatively, our official stance after the positive pregnancy test results three weeks previous had been, "Shit.")

I had hoped by this time, nearly six months out, my emotions and thoughts on the matter would've settled into something not tidy (never that), but appreciable--a sweaty manuscript I could, at least, grapple with. Instead, I have nothing, mind and heart a complete blank. The emotional landscape of this event in my life is one with neither blue skies nor looming clouds, but awash in white wispy nothing. In the months since my bleeding stopped, I have only grown more numb to the repercussions of my miscarriage, and perhaps part of the reason is because once I'd passed the tissue that could've been my second baby, my period started again exactly one month later. I had no reprieve, my life did not pause, everything moved on as it always has, as if nothing happened. Even my body, which experienced this event more than my mind, did not take an intermission to mourn. The pregnancy was too early, too new, was barely a thing at all. I had only just learned the fact of it before I had another fact to process--the lack of it.

When I carried my first baby, high on pregnancy hormones, I thought I'd be a mother a couple times over, at least. But, after the trauma of birth, the anguish I often felt in that first year with an infant, and the three years (and counting!) of sleeplessness, I realized I didn't want to do this again. For these and so many other reasons, Wolfman and I have made the decision together to join the One-And-Done Club. People ask all the time if we'll have another (unsolicited questions about your fertility and family planning don't stop after having a child), and it is always with complete relief and complete certainty that I say, "Absolutely not." I do not feel shame writing here, for your judgment, that I would not be the caliber of mother I am if I had more than one child. I don't have the patience, stamina, funds, or desire to mother more than just Martigan. He is my one and only.

So when I saw that positive pregnancy test in May, I felt a weird mix of dread and giddiness; it must've been something like mixing uppers and booze (though I'm a good girl and wouldn't know). The dread I've explained, the giddiness, however, is a little harder to qualify. In the weeks leading up to that positive pregnancy test, I'd been struck with an intense baby fever. I made frequent trips to the rack of infant clothes at work, ostensibly to sort and organize, but really I was shopping. I didn't realize I was pregnant, but I somehow knew. That is the only explanation I can find for this sudden, out-of-character desire to fondle tiny sleepers and awe over itty bitty dresses. Pregnancy the first time around was a kind of mystical experience, and my second pregnancy, though short, was the same. I was struck with baby fever because I was struck with a baby. This, I know. (Since the dissolution of that pregnancy, I have had no similar dreaminess over babies and their ephemera.) I want to make clear here that not every pregnant woman will experience those first weeks of fertilization the way I did. I only mention this part of the story because it is part of my story.

Whatever mind games my hormones were playing on me, the very raw truth is that I did not want to have a baby, and I am not in the position to have an abortion, but I was pregnant. I felt sorry for accidentally getting myself knocked up, for putting this burden on my marriage, my relationship with my son, the already shaky foundation of our paycheck-to-paycheck finances. And then, once my first trimester spotting turned into bleeding and tissue-passing, I felt sorry for not wanting that baby and not feeling sad to see it go.

When I told Wolfman I suspected I was miscarrying, he told me in that measured way of his, "This isn't your fault. This isn't my fault. We shouldn't feel guilty." When two magical thinkers build a life together, there is a lot of real estate for guilt. If that wispy, white nothing of my emotional landscape is hiding anything, it is a cloaked ship of guilt. Guilt is the secret wet knot of emotion I've laid a blanket of numbness over in subterfuge. I didn't want a baby, and so that little soul packed her bags and left to try her luck elsewhere.

I don't think about my miscarriage every day. Occasionally, with no warning, the thought does occur to me, Oh yeah... that happened to me, and I feel a kind of passive relief laced with just a pinch of regret. In the moments when we've been struck by some financial blow (which comes often enough), I've said to my husband, "It's a good thing I'm not pregnant," and he has agreed heartily, if a little morbidly. A pregnancy now (a baby in February) certainly would complicate and crowd things, would make our future a little more uncertain and unsteady. We would've made room, in our lives and our hearts, but I'm glad we didn't have to.

I took to Pinterest in the process of writing all this out, to get a snapshot of what miscarriage feels like for other women. It's a sad tag, and my heart ached for the women who ached. I don't ache. When I see women who are about as pregnant as I would've been right now, I think about that potential child. February has always been one of my favorite months for no reason at all, and this coming February I will probably do a lot of thinking about the second child that could have been. That's what Barbara Kingsolver says of miscarriage, that if you ask a woman who's miscarried, "how old would your child be now?" she'll know. I suppose I'll always know, too, but not in any way that breaks my heart. It was all too brief, too unwished for. That's not a kind way to speak about this event in my life, but beginning to end, it was not a kind event.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Madmartigan, 3 Years Old | it's close to midnight, and something evil's lurking in the dark

About Mads, 3 Years 2 Months Old:
  • Mads uses the word "must" often. As in, "you must," or, "I must," or, "Batman must."
  • Mads is obsessed with The Powerpuff Girls. He is Buttercup (Ella is Bubbles; sometimes I get to be Blossom, sometimes I have to be Mojo Jojo).
  • Perhaps because of his Powerpuff obsession (some more responsible parents out there reading this may recognize that Powerpuff Girls is not the most appropriate cartoon for 3-year-olds), Mads has been incredibly physical this month, insisting he is a "fighter," even going so far as to wear socks on his hands (as boxing, or hero gloves) and punching--punching anything, including people. It's been rough. Figuring out a way to harness and direct his physicality, in general, is becoming more and more of a challenge.
  • Every morning Mads starts the day by asking if it's Halloween.
  • "Daddy, I'm so proud of you!" - Mads, when his dad agrees to let him pick out some ice cream at the grocery store.

  • We watch the "Thriller" music video and/or dance to the song daily.
  • Martigan has gone at building (with blocks and legos) hard this month. 
  • He can climb our chain-link fence, in rain boots (photographic evidence below).
  • Mads says, "That's funny, Mommy," and, "You're joking!"
  • Martigan's favorite movies/shows this month: The Powerpuff Girls
  • Martigan's favorite books this month: Tea Rex, Sea Rex, and Camp Rex by Molly Idle and This Orq. He Cave Boy by David Elliott

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