Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Fork in the Road

I ran another half marathon yesterday. This one went about a zillion times better than the last one, and I was within seconds of the goal I'd set for myself this summer. It was a long, hot few months of training, waking up before everyone when the boys got up (ie 5:30ish every morning. Yeah.) and heading out the door with friends or all alone. Doing speedwork and long runs. It wasn't my best ever, but it sure wasn't my worst, either. Overall I'd give myself a B.

I'm finally getting back into shape, running times that I haven't seen since before getting pregnant with E four years ago. Go me, right? There are clothes in my closet with tags on them, bought as grief therapy that now fit, or almost do anyway. O is sleeping through the night, E is settling in to preschool.

But um, here's the thing. Even though I've been working my ass off; even though I am sleeping again; even though I'm nearly done nursing; even though life is starting to settle down a little . . .

You know where I'm going with this, right?

I kind of want to have another baby. And the decision has mostly been made for me that it's not going to happen, but that's where I am.

I know, I know. It's nuts; I was a complete basketcase throughout O's gestation; it's unseemly and greedy to want another baby when I've already got two happy, healthy little boys, like tempting fate.

I keep telling myself that every woman feels like this, no matter if you have a 100%, or my 67%, out-of-the-womb survival rate. I mean, it's the primal need to proliferate, right? How do you KNOW when you're done?

So I'm at this fork in the road. One way takes me back to the start again. Back to worry and any one of a million things going wrong, and no sleep and stress and the possible sweetness and chaos that a new baby brings. Let's not even imagine me actually bringing home a live baby girl, shall we?

And the other way, moving forward with life, moving away from newbornland, getting back into shape and working towards new goals and let's not forget having a good night's sleep at some point. Maybe even, for once, sleeping past 7AM. (Or not--but a girl can dream.)

I'm coming to terms with taking the second path. It is bittersweet, often more bitter than sweet. If I stop to think about it too much my stomach twists into a knot and my head threatens to pop right off my body.  But I can't go on kidding myself much longer. The kidding has gotten me through lots of baby showers and pregnancy announcements and bitty baby girls being born . . . the kidding myself that if only I wanted it, tried hard enough, that could be mine too.


That's where I am right now.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Second Day

My house is so very quiet. The only noises are the occasional clink of the dog's collar tags as he gets more comfortable on the couch and the whooshing wave sounds coming from o's monitor while he naps. And the tickety-tick of my fingers, typing.

He barely looked back today, E. As a matter of fact we walked in and he already knew everything he was supposed to do. Where his outside shoes go, how to put on the inside ones. What his cubby symbol is (the sun) and where to find it. He remembered his teacher's name. He started playing and didn't even care if I was there. When I left he just asked, "why do you have to go home?"

"Because O needs a nap, and you have lots of work to do here. You have lots of playing to do."

"OK. Bye." Back to the trucks he went without barely a glance at me. I made him come back and give me a hug and kiss, but, truth be told, it was more for me.

He is happy. As I sat and watched him play, and interact, and begin to learn the rhythms of the day, I kept thinking that I wanted him to just be happy. And feel safe. And, most importantly, loved. I want others to love him as I do. Til now he's been only with people who love him just because. Because he is ours and he is wonderful and he makes us laugh and sometimes pull at our hair, but mostly because he is him. But every parent feels that, or at least I believe they do. And every parent wants their child to be loved that way by everyone.

He has a place, now, that is apart from me, a separate experience from us, his family. A world that includes him and his friends and teachers and I am not there. That is both unnerving and yet so amazing. His school is everything I want for him--and, quite honestly, if they can get him to eat millet with soy sauce and olive oil, it's worth every penny. When I picked him up on the first day all the children, from his room and the toddler room, were outside with the teachers. Planting pachysandra, harvesting vegetables from the garden, riding tricycles, digging in the sand, rolling tree stumps, playing in the little house. It was a little glimpse of utopia.

E was climbing on a jungley-gym thingy; really a pole with loops sticking out to climb on. He was higher than I let him be when we're on the playground. And he was wearing slippery rain boots. And he was going up and down and up and down, and not holding on quite as tightly as I'd like.

He was having fun and not falling.

He looked over at me and beamed and yelled, "Hi Mom! Look at ME!"

You know this preschool thing is just as much for me as it is for him, right?

So as I sit here in my quiet house, I am trying not to freak out over all the minutiae that needs to get done. I mean, it's the workaday regular old minutiae that always threatens to swallow me whole. It will get done. I am trying to just sit and enjoy this silence. Finally get these thoughts out of my head and written here.

Today is O's 10 month birthday. I started thinking about ordering invites for his first birthday party. Well, I at least put it on my to-do list. One whole year, almost--I know, we're not there yet, but Type-A over here needs to make some plans. When I think about how stressed, anxious, and miserable I was during my pregnancy with O, it amazes me to watch this child, who is the happiest, mellowest, chillest dude on the planet.

Today marks 20 months without Calla. Which is edging ever closer to two years. Which puts her that much farther away from me. I've been wondering, lately, just what I'd do with a girl. I mean, I'm hip-deep in boy land over here. O's wearing all E's old clothes these days, which makes me feel like I'm actually MAKING money on all that spending I've done over these three years.  But with a girl? I mean, I'm all for gender-neutral clothing, but no way girlfriend wouldn't be rocking at least a little bit of froufy pink, right? Someone along the way would have gifted something princess-y and sparkly, diametrically opposed to our truck-festooned sartorial choices we currently are sporting 24/7.

Sigh. If I stop and think too hard about these past 20 months my brain really starts to feel like it will explode.  He is here, she is not. Forever and ever amen. I love my baby boy so much I can hardly stand myself. But I love her too. I still don't get it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First of the First Days

Tomorrow is E's first day of preschool. And I, well, I'm mostly okay.

And so it begins, right? I mean, I used to be on the other side of the equation-in my former life as a Kindergarten teacher, I was the one patting the sobbing parents on the hand, shooing the kids into the classroom, telling the teary-eyed moms and dads to JUST LEAVE, and the kids would be just fine and don't worry.

And they all were fine, eventually. But now it's me. I'm sending my big little boy out into the world--albeit twice a week for a few hours to a place filled with other children and adults who care about said little children. He knows our address and my cell phone number and the ABCs and how to count and colors . . .

But it's still the big world, right? School changes kids. We've had a good run, these past three years. Staying home with E, and then grieving at home after Calla, then being home with baby O and big boy E--it's been fun. (OK, the grieving part's not fun. And the immediate aftermath was horrible. But you know what I mean.) September, for a long while, was adios summer and back to routine. Then for three years it was September who? Whatever! And now it's back to business as usual.

And then in a few weeks he's starting dancing school. My mother-in-law has a studio and my sister-in-law will be teaching his class. But STILL. It's something else.

Like I said, I'm mostly okay with all of this. It's time and he's ready and he'll love it. But it's still a little sad to say goodnight to  my little boy, only to take my big boy out into the world, his new world, tomorrow.

What a difference three years makes.