Today. She has not been herself.
She hasn't slept well the last three nights and hasn't napped as well as she normally does. Normally, almost since the beginning, I can always, regardless of whatever kind of day we're having, count on two 1-hr naps where at the very least she'll babble quietly and then sleep. I know I've been lucky but I don't need any guilt about this, ok? It's often the only thing I can count on in this emotional roller-coaster called What the Hell Was I Thinking Signing up for Stay at Home Motherhood? Some days these naps are the only things that get me through.
Today. She has screamed through both nap times, taking herself to the point of hyperventilating, and then, after I finally think she's settling down, purposely lodging her foot or knee between the rails of her crib, getting stuck in an awkward standing position. Which of course would make a sane baby scream.
I haven't slept well in three weeks and the resulting tension in my jaw and skull has built past the help of pain-relievers or that one random (though long) Saturday afternoon rest. There is so much anger pulsing against my temples. I want to scream back at her. The worst part is that I want to make her obey. Which of course is not the point. I've been reminding myself over and over, all day today, that it's the job of a toddler to push their boundaries--that this is what they are supposed to do at this point in their development--and that it's my job as the mother to simply give the same calm response every single time and hold out a fraction longer than she does. I know that I'm wanting the cheap thrill of being Drill Sergeant Mama because it's easier. I know all of this. It doesn't help--so please don't try to placate me. And also? Even if I DID call in some help right now, chances are she would be an absolute angel. She only pitches these kinds of fits with me or Jeffrey.
I'm so tired and done. DONE. Whoever came in the night, three nights ago, and switched out my loving, compliant, and sweet child with their little horror....I swear that I've done nothing in my life to deserve this. Nothing. A pox on you.
Anyone know where I can get a cheap one-way ticket to Duluth? Frankly, anywhere 1,000+ miles away will do....
Today. She has not been herself.
I just finished a dinner of my favorite summer salad: fresh spinach, thinly sliced red onion, big ripe strawberries, a sprinkling of feta cheese, and some thinly sliced grilled steak (this time with a sea-salt rosemary crust), topped with a little poppyseed dressing. Yum.
I'm drinking red wine and thinking that my three-hour nap in the middle of the day (thanks to my mom, who played with Pea) was the best thing to happen to me since.... I don't know, maybe love. I needed it that badly. Three weeks with hardly any sleep as my body does some sort of random hormonal adjustment. I imagine it going something like this: "Gee, we're not pregnant anymore for real! Gee, we're not breastfeeding anymore either! Gee, we're still getting all our vitamins, though, and eating very well! So how else can we mess with her? I know--take away her much-needed rest!"
I'm drinking red wine and thinking about tomorrow's music. (Jeffrey and I are in charge of the music for our church). I'm also thinking about how good the rest of those strawberries will taste with the vanilla ice cream that's in the freezer.
I'm tired and happy and content. Every time I say I'm content--that I'm at peace with the details of my life--something happens. A test, I guess. Last time I declared that I was happy and content my car had a nervous breakdown. It was interesting and it was expensive (very expensive, in my world) but for the most part I stayed calm. Right now, all that's rattling around my brain are the details of home-building and the last minute things to find/acquire/buy....
Posted by Annagrace at 9:01 PM
Check it out.
Posted by Annagrace at 1:56 PM
My family drove down for the last two days of our vacation and the fun began all over again. Pea has the best uncle and auntie in the whole world (I'm not lying!) and a doting Grammi and it was so fun to all be together and to celebrate Jeffrey's and my brother's birthday (two days apart).
Here's the final batch of vacation photos.
In a perfect world, I would spend one week out of each month at the beach. All year long, any season. But I guess in a perfect world I would also spend a week each month in the mountains and a week lodged in the heart of some major metropolitan area and then a week in my big, rambling house out in the country, with lots of big porches and shade trees and old quilts and fresh eggs and milk. A girl can dream, can't she?
Posted by Annagrace at 1:56 PM
Today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of my father. From AIDS. My difficult, complicated father. The more his internal world spun out of control the more he controlled ours--my sister, brother, mother and me. He was abusive and harsh. He was a genius. He was brilliant with music, words, art. He could see things in the future--things that would then happen, just like that--but he often couldn't understand, much less deal with, the present. He abused me, beginning when I was just a bit older than Penelope. He died in a way that no one, no one, deserves.
I'm going out tonight with some good friends, just to be and to be with people that love me. I feel like I've processed most of the ugly, obvious parts of my growing up. Of course there will always be more layers and deeper things to understand and figure out. I will always need truth to speak into the darkness and call things as they really are. I will always need grace to pull me back from the memories of pain and speak life to me.
And yet, most of what I'm conscious of right now is just time. Ten years, man. A whole decade. It's starting the hit me, finally, that I will actually have more years without him than I had with him. That might sound like a harsh thing to say of one's father--but the truth is, I never really had a father. I didn't have someone protecting me, loving me, watching out for me, guiding me. I came to terms with my fatherless-ness a long time ago. What is finally starting to reach my heart is the truth that I have the life I always dreamed of. I have an amazing husband who is my partner and best friend, I have a beautiful little girl who is safe and loved and so very happy. I have lovely and amazing friends who speak truth to me, life-giving truth that is gracious and kind. And it's only just begun. There is all this time stretching before me....
I just feel so damn lucky sometimes. I've seen some horrible things and yet I've also had some little and startling glimpses of the beauty that is still very much alive in our ramshackle, broken-down, on the brink of disaster world. I want my life to be part of that beauty. I want to live fully and intensely and learn and discover and always be a part of this community of friends and lives. I want to show people how to embrace their pain, their misunderstandings, their failures, and turn them into something beautiful and honest and hopeful.
I want to take the time I'm being given and use it wisely. Who knows how much more there is? For each of us?
Posted by Annagrace at 7:56 PM
Posted by Annagrace at 8:08 AM
Oh how I love the beach. Or "the coast", as people here in the Northwest like to say. It's funny, isn't it, how you can tell what part of the country someone is from based on how they refer to the edge of earth holding them/us in from all that blue water. I have always preferred the word "sea" to the word "ocean". Sea seems much larger, much more romantic, somehow. Maybe it's the way one vowel-ended syllable can hang in the air for an extended minute like it's waiting for the crisp, consonant ending that never comes. I don't know. Ocean just sounds boxed up, figured out, contained.
We spent five days over the Fourth of July just two blocks from the water. The sea. This was the third year we've vacationed on or very near the Fourth, and the third year that we had perfect seaside vacation weather: warm and even hot sunny days, cool nights tangled with breeze and salt mist. We stayed in the same little house, too.
If you must know, three years ago Penelope was conceived in that very beach town, in that same beach house, exactly on the Fourth of July. Earlier that night, Jeffrey and I had brought a blanket and a bottle of wine down onto the beach and we spent a couple of peaceful, happy hours watching the many fireworks shows exploding up and down the endless miles of sand, their sound a muffled crackling within the roar and crash of the evening tide. Our last summer as the two of us. It wasn't planned that way--it just happened.
I have pictures from that night and we look happy and very young.
Last year when we came, Penelope was only two months old and hated almost every minute in which she got anywhere near the sound or spray of the water, not to mention the wind and the light. She was not a fan and we thought it hilarious, considering her origination, but held out hope for a better time this year. We were not disappointed.
She took off running the moment we set her down on the sand, and when I pointed at the water she picked up speed until I realized that she wasn't going to stop, she was actually going to run right into all that foam and crash and blue and just keep going. And that's when I started running too. As soon as her feet actually hit the water she paused, and I scooped her up and shook the adrenaline out of my legs and arms. The water this far north is almost always ice-cold and I hadn't really been that far behind her, but for two seconds there I had begun to relive every moment in her short life....
The rest of the five days were jam-packed with a whole lot of not much, just the way we like our vacations. Getting up every morning to cloud-hazed skies and discussions of whether it would actually burn off this time (it always did), deliberations about where to go get lattes, what to have for dinner and when to head over to the market, whether to take a long, leisurely shower while the baby was napping or later, when the hours of chasing her in the sun and getting covered in sand and grit and the juice of fresh, sickeningly sweet cherries were done.
I feel so lucky to be able to do this, year after year. To have a partner whose job still pays for this small and necessary luxury of time away together, with no phone calls and emails and emergencies to attend to and networks to fix. Time just to be.
This year we'll be going again before the summer is over and I'm already counting the days.
I don't think I'll ever have to worry about her running away to join the circus. Anyone walking by with a dog, however, could be an issue. Two dogs? Notice how she doesn't even give a thought to who the people are, whether or not their dogs are even nice, and most especially why in tarnation Moses and his Red Sea-parting rod are making a Fourth of July appearance on the Oregon Coast. (Maybe those "God and country" people are finally getting their prayers answered.)
And yes, I did say cherries. Have I mentioned just how much my baby loves them?
She was so happy from a day spent digging in the biggest sandbox ever, being chased into that much water, and then having cherries....well, she pulled out the ol' Penelope Happy Dance and stomped her feet and clapped her hands and sang made-up songs, and bobbed her head up and down. I mean, after that who needs fireworks?
Posted by Annagrace at 11:00 PM