Tim and Jeremy go Gangsta.
Yesterday morning Eli woke up between 5:30 and 6 a.m. Normally, this isn’t a problem because we supply a secondary binkie in his bed for him to find. He chats for a minute, finds the binkie and hangs out in the bed for another half hour to 45 minutes until I am coherent enough to be standing.
Yesterday morning however, Eli couldn’t find or lost the second binkie (don’t ask me how the first always ends up in the middle of his bedroom floor for me to step on when I come in in the mornings, because I DON’T KNOW!) and to entertain himself while I caught a few more snoozes, he started singing to himself the ABCs.
There are few things that get you going as a parent more than your kid singing the ABC song in his cute little kid lisp. So I was resting in bed listening to him over the monitor sing and was thinking this was a pretty good way to start my day. Then he sang it again. Then he sang it again. And again. And Again. And AGAIN.
By the time we were eating breakfast he had progressed to what I now call the William Shatner interpretive vocal stylings version of the ABC song.
“A……B……C….(imagine large hand gestures here)…. ….. D (furrowed brow here)…(another thoughtful pause here) E….,” and so on until you get to LMNOP which comes out sounding like, “EllaminnowPEE!” with a wild back and forth head wobble. The whole thing ends off with a hushed, “Now…I’ve…said…my…A…B…C…s” If you’ve ever heard Shatner do “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” this is what this version sounds like. He didn’t know why I thought it was so funny, but he laughed along with me, which of course, made it even funnier. After that first round of hilarity, we continued to get ready for him to go to Mother’s Morning Out.
While we were driving to the church, he came up with a new version of the song which I call his Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World” version. It’s in a much deeper voice that he normally uses, is sort of gravelly and there are lots of teeth involved. This particular version cracked me up even more and I laughed about it all morning long.
Fast forward to this morning. We were sitting at the breakfast table and since Stephen is out of town, Rachel is staying at our house for my moral support. So we are eating our cereal, Rachel and I are having some fairly random before caffeine conversation and Eli starts in on the Sesame Street “Manamana” song. He’s doing the “manamana’s” and then waiting for me to do the “do-do-do-do’s” with a look on his face that clearly says, “You’re missing your cues, Mom. Keep up!” (He’s not rolling his eyes yet but I can so see it coming.) Then Rachel is laughing at us and trying to do the “manamana’s” as well and soon we were all laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. Trust me, there were lots of really loud “MA-NA-MA-NAs!!” going on.
It’s all even funnier in that Ha-Ha!-the-universe-will-get-you kind of way when I say that I never intended to listen to kid’s music or let my kid dictate what I would listen to, especially in the car. All I can tell you is that I’ve always wanted to be a backup singer. I just didn’t know it would be for a two year old singing, “Do-do-do-do-dos” or that I would think it was so much fun.
Several years ago, while we were living in North Carolina I did a lot of yoga. There are many benefits of yoga; a lot are physical in nature, some are of a decidedly more spiritual kind. One of the best things it did for me spiritually was to make me to slow down and breathe. Until you slow down regularly you have no idea how fast you live your life. Taking an hour to do yoga causes you to slow down during the rest of your day and enjoy lots of little things.
One of the things I decided to do to remember those little things was to start a joy list. Here are some excerpts from my list. Some are serious, some won’t mean much to you, and some are downright silly but maybe it will help you to slow down and think about what you would put on your own joy list.
1. Stephen’s laugh
4. the smell of lavender
7. finishing a cross-stitch piece
9. making bread
11. talking to my mom for an hour and a half on the phone
14. the beach
17. clothes warm from the dryer
19. watching Chili romp on the floor (our pet Chinchilla who died shortly after moving here)
28. visiting with Alana in Nashville
29. finding a new watch to buy
35. Farscape reruns
54. listening to it rain
67. new friends in a new city
68. old friends in an old city
75. communion at church
77. The Bedroom by Van Gogh
87. new whitie imac
92. movers who pack our stuff for us
105. watching Stephen graduate from Duke
116. seeing Canadian geese in the field by our house
117. Mellow Mushroom Pizza
125. Cirque du Soleil
130. wedding dresses
137. family and friends who help you paint
143. finding out that what you have is better than what you wanted in the first place
144. waiting for the baby
147. my grandma at my house
150. the sun through the blinds making stripes in the kitchen
152. hearing Eli say, “I love Mommy”
So I invite you to share your joy list too. I don’t think any of our lists can ever be too long.
At first, I didn’t realize this truism: toys are scary. I was too busy being sleep deprived after Eli’s birth to notice. Awareness crept up on me, as Eli accumulated more and more toys.
You don’t believe me. I can tell. In fact, you are thinking that I am sleep-deprived and hallucinating. It is true that I am hopped up on cough medicine, but this is no hallucination. Behold: a peep.
This is not the friendly marshmallow candy of yore. This is a gigantic peep, the kind that would stomp around large metropolitan areas when summoned accidentally by Ray Stantz. Peeps may be cute-but-bland when they are but an inch high, but they take on a frightening aspect at these sizes.
Eli, of course, loves his peep.
You may not appreciate just how large and scary the peep is from the above picture. The peep is the size of Eli’s head.
Run! Hide the children!
I’ve been keeping a longhand, personal journal since February 17, 1989. I was 16 when I started writing down my daily insights, insecurities, and idiosyncrasies. I carried it to and from class every day. I spilled drinks on it and wrote in it when class bored me to the edge of sleep. It has been my therapist and sounding board. It has held my wishes and hopes and my realities, no matter how they matched up to those wishes and hopes.
It has seen me through high school, struggling with depression, working through my parent’s divorce, dealing with a unhealthy romantic relationship, college, my move very far away from home, the early days of my marriage to Stephen as a grad student, jobs with odd coworkers, my miscarriage, and the birth of my son.
Through it all is a thread of notes and letters I’ve saved from friends and family. The journal itself has been a friend like no other. One I have, at times, both cherished and resented. I have lugged the boxes that hold these notebooks cross country. They were stored for a time in my dad’s attic. The one gigantic box they have been in since we moved to Alabama has sat beside my desk since before Eli’s birth, mocking me to deal with all those pages.
Today I removed all those pages from all those notebooks and put them in acid free file folders in acid free boxes so I could store them and have a bit more trust that someday when my kid(s) want to, they can read about what Mom’s life was really like.
This last week I visited the blog of a friend that I have been out of touch with for some time. I was shocked and saddened to learn that his marriage ended this past year. This is a person who inhabits many of those pages of my past. Someone who I went to school with, worked with, studied with, goofed off with, laughed with, cried with. He taught me cheerful sarcasm, optimistic pessimism and how to load funny sounds on my Mac. When I realized how much time had passed since I’d heard from him, I wanted to call right away and offer whatever support I could at this very late date. But then there was the moment when I realized that I don’t really know this person anymore. I have a memory of what he was when he was younger. And he is crystalized in my mind. Idealized by youth.
While shifting pages from notebooks to file folders today, I found a card he gave me on my birthday in high school and it was the perfect card from one friend to another. And I knew that I needed to talk to him even if it was uncomfortable for me. That it was the right thing to do and the thing that I wanted to do. I chatted with a mutual friend online and found that he didn’t have a current phone number so I sent an email that said, “let’s catch up if you have time.”
I thought about procrastination as I was cutting pages out of spiral bound notebooks and why I had waited so long to do this job that was so very easy to do. I think I was worried about the emotional fallout of accidentally reading some entries. But I breezed through it. I caught a line here and there and smiled fondly at photos and poetry scribblings. I realized that I was proud of how far I’ve come with the crutch of this particular written friend.
My friend called a bit later as I sat sifting through my college memories. I asked if he remembered me carrying this notebook and he did, of course. One old friend remembering another? I wondered. There was a joke about bathing an elephant and it was suddenly like no time at all had past. I think we reforged the connection of shared life experience. He is the friend from my youth and I am so thankful tonight that he is not still just packed away in the pages of my journal.
I finally, finally got tagged with this so here it is…
Four jobs you have had in your life:
1. library page
2. graphic designer
3. apple computer sales person (I worked for Apple!)
4. apple computer repair person
Four movies you would watch over and over:
1. when harry met sally
2. the american president
3. the fifth element
4. office space
Four places you have lived:
1. Sherwood, AR
2. Durham, NC
3. Huntsville, AL (2xs)
4. Arkadelphia, AR (college)
TV shows you love to watch:
1. Veronica Mars
2. Battlestar Galatica
3. Project Runway
Four places you have been on vacation:
1. NY, NY (very best vacation ever)
2. Las Vegas
3. Cape Cod
4. British Columbia
Four websites I visit daily:
Four of my favorite foods:
1. chicken risotto
2. french beef au gratin
3. green curry chicken from downtown thai place
4. homemade chocolate cake with buttercream icing
Four places I would rather be right now:
1. getting a pedicure
2. on the beach
3. in the bookstore
4. on my couch
Four friends who I have tagged that I think will respond:
1. I’m only sending back to Alana
2. oh, wait I could post in my new blog! now the world knows…
1. won’t say my dad’s childhood nickname for me, it’s just that bad
2. mist (what my dad calls me now)
3. midge (gave it to myself and no one calls me this)
4. pimpchilla (story too long to tell, and still no one calls me this)
The other day when I got home, Misty and Eli met me at the door. “He said, ‘I love mommy’ today!” she said excitedly, Eli clinging to her. “Say ‘I love daddy!'”
Eli reached out. “Yaaah!” he shouted and punched me on the shoulder.
It’s good to see that he’s learning to speak both Female and Guy.
We finally have a site (and it’s up and running). Now Stephen and I can go about making the pretty, pretty things for the world to view.
I picked Eli up from his daycare today. Daycare is totally the land of moms and minivans. Whenever I pick him up, I get stares that can be broken down into two categories: Don’t steal my child! and Why don’t you have a job? The former looks come from moms who subtly or not-so-subtly move their children behind them, lest I snatch them away and run, laughing maniacally. The latter looks are an admixture of pity and condescension, as if I am but two steps away from living on the street and feeding Eli the leftover bits of Sterno from a can I found in the trash.
It’s very possible that I’m reading far more into these looks than are meant. I’ll allow that this may be mirroring my own insecurities about mine and Eli’s role. Then another mom is careful to place herself between me and her sticky, drooling offspring and my doubts waft away.
It’s worth it to see the look on Eli’s face when I pick him up. “Daddy!” he called today, toddling towards me. “I play inna dirt!” Of course, he mentioned this after I picked him up.
He’s been all about me today. He and Misty stopped by work this morning to drop off some things I’d forgotten in my rush out the door. “Daddy!” he wailed as Misty whisked him away. According to her, he cried and cried because I didn’t come with him. At dinner tonight, I could barely talk over the shouts of “Daddy? Daddy daddy daddy! DADDY! DAAAADY!” When he injured his finger tonight — something he does three or four times a day — only I could kiss away the hurt.
At every stage of his growth I have thought, this is it. This is the most fun he can ever be. He could stop right here, frozen in amber, never to change again, and I would be happy. But this time I mean it. He’s more vocal than before, better able to wield the tool of language. He’s cute and loving and everything I do is funny. Some day this will come to an end, and he won’t be more fun than ever before. I doubt I’ll realize that we’ve passed that point until we are long past it, with only my memories of him patting my shoulder left.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night, Misty went gallivating about and left me alone with Eli. No one but me to watch over him, take care of him, bathe him and put him to bed.
I’ve done this plenty of times, but each time I feel like I’m staring at the innards of a bomb, one of those movie bombs with the bright red digital display and loud ticking. There are all these wires and I’m supposed to cut one, but I don’t know which one to cut. And Jack Bauer has a gun to my head.
Thankfully, I have a secret weapon: SHOULDERS. Eli will get fussy and I will say, “Shoulders?” while cocking one eyebrown into the air. Immediately Eli is excited, turning around so I can put him on my shoulders and go stomping about the house.
Each time I keep him I think, this is the time that I’ll feel like I know what I’m doing. So far, that hasn’t happened. I need some kind of manual. I can’t believe people let me take care of this person even though I don’t have a clue about what I’m doing.