Monday, November 28, 2016

gerunds

That time of motherhood is almost behind me when the ear is not one's own but must always be racked and listening for the child cry, the child call. ~from "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen

I know this sounds terrible, but it's honest: I'm looking forward to what comes next: the part of parenting when my kids clean up after themselves and help with chores and put themselves to bed and can put toothpaste on their toothbrushes and pull on their own pants and pour a bowl of cereal and even use the remote. I am looking forward to being needed less. I think what a lot of women love about motherhood is constantly being needed, but honestly it's what I like least. I love being loved, but not being needed.

The startling part of motherhood was that I was the one being depended on all of a sudden. I was no longer being doted on or looked out for. Now it was my responsibility to do that for other helpless people. Me, helpless myself, helping others! People depending on me! It was a lot--still is: today I forced medicine down Holden's throat and gave him a haircut as he screamed and cried and kicked and punched. Adjustment is not the word because it's so opposite of what I was used to that it wasn't like adjusting at all. It was like starting over, reinventing myself to be what someone else needed.

Some days, I can not believe that I'm not a child, but that I have children. I still remember many scenes of childhood with such clarity it's like I'm there. I remember the emotions with the same intensity. Sometimes I will smell strawberries and cream and remember a dollhouse of this girl I used to play with or I will walk into someone's house and the layout will be the exact same as a girl on my street. When I see one of those battery-operated cars for toddlers I think of this time when I rode on one, trying to outrace these dogs I was vehemently afraid of. Cozy coupes still make me think of Sarah Beth next door, even though my son has had one for years, that is not what I think of. I am a child still: just a grown, but not grown-up one.

I am the one now who acts, rather than the one the acts are done for. I am no longer the receiver, but now am the giver. I am cooking, cleaning, wiping, bathing, reading, organizing, gifting, driving, rocking, holding, nagging. I am all the gerunds, the ones people need. Today I am needing a warm bath and a hot bowl of soup and some apple cider and some ice cream and someone to tell me to "take a load off, go lay down"  or even, "you look terrible, do you feel okay?" but that isn't the way it is for parents. We do and we do and we do and if we ever don't we feel guilty and beat ourselves up and make ourselves even more haggard and run-down.

So I will clean the kitchen now and finish my Cyber Monday shopping and be what is expected of me because I am a parent now, not a kid. But it smells like strawberries and cream and I am thinking of a dollhouse or maybe it's Avon bubble bath, the kind I would use if I was a kid and I was sick and I needed a warm bath. This time of motherhood is almost behind me, and that gives me hope of a time where I'm not needed so much, but still loved with intensity. A time of baths and clean kitchens and not listening for someone to call out and need me.  I will slip back into who I was like a coat I just misplaced for a spell and I will take a long whiff of mothballs and smile.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

morning after

A few weeks ago at the pumpkin patch, we went on the big slide. We had just bought pumpkin cups and could not take them with us so Brandon said, "what will we do with these?" and I told him we would put them in the corner by the fence while we slid. "But what if someone takes them?" he asked, because although he's half my DNA, he's also half Steve's.

"Sometimes you have to believe in the good in people," I replied.
Reluctantly he left his new cup in the corner by the fence and then we slid down the slide over and over again. And when it was time to leave he said, "my new cup!" and he went to retrieve it, and there it was, exactly where we had left it.
"See?" I said. "People are good. You have to remember to trust in that."

That's what I thought of this morning when I woke up and Brandon was in my bed and I explained with tears in my eyes that Clinton didn't win. Although some people are bad, many, many people are good. We have to remember to trust in that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

making history

We woke up early today, dressed, and hit the polls. Steve and I with our two little boys in tow: the boys whose America we were shaping with our votes. I was not a voter until this election, but I recently registered, to be a part of history, to one day tell my children that I voted for our first woman president.

I turned on MSNBC tonight to watch the election results. We watched together as Brian Williams co-anchored with Rachel Maddow, not because she's the token blond reporter but because she is informed and intelligent and deserved the spot. "Clinton! Clinton!" The boys chanted while dancing and spinning. I held Brandon by the shoulders and explained to him why this was so important: how this is the first time in America's history that a woman could become our leader. And I couldn't help the tears that formed in my eyes because women are emotional, it's true, and because politics, like business, are personal, despite what we say.

Although Brandon doesn't understand glass ceilings or that there are people treated as if they're less significant than others, he will one day and when that day comes, I will tell him about how when I was pregnant with him, my employer picked my successor without my help: a male without the relevant experience I had who was hired in at $15K more than I was, a male who on the first day told me he was my new boss and made me feel like nothing.

And I'll tell him about when I got pregnant the next time, with his little brother: how I was working for a different employer and when this chauvinist man who once told me not to hire women because they were emotional or fat people because they were undisciplined heard that I was pregnant, his response was, "post your job."

I'll tell him that I worked in HR and saw all sorts of decisions made that were sexist or racist or bigotted and I would lie in bed at night, unable to sleep or sleeping fitfully, thinking of how unjust it was, even in my dreams.

I will tell him that this election wasn't just about equality between men and women, but also between immigrants and residents and blacks and whites and gays and straights and all sorts of dividing labels we have assigned that shouldn't be important. I will tell my son that one November night in 2016, him and his little brother and I rooted for Clinton and I knew he meant it because he is like me, despite his gender. He is an emotional boy who loves people most of all, and doesn't care that they're different  or if they're similar, either way we are people who deserve to be treated as such: with fairness and without prejudice.

I knew it because never once did he say, "but she's a girl!"

Friday, November 4, 2016

that thirty-something waitress

I am waitressing again, like I did during my undergrad. School means waitressing. It's part-time and I can work nights instead of early mornings like I did at the coffee shop. I am not a morning person. I am not a night person either really. I like 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The rest of the hours I am pretty useless.

A decade has passed since I waited tables and times have changed and I have changed and it is harder now. I have kids at home now that I am missing reading to. People are more skeptical and write Yelp reviews now. You can Google the price of a bottle of wine from your table now. I have run a marathon and put my body through the paces now. I am a hardened mother. I don't get out and talk to the public often so my dialogue is forced, trite.

I am polite because of my raise, but snarky because of my personality. I try to be customer-servicey, but my bite comes in any way. I hate pop now and don't want to refill it more than twice. Don't you know how much sugar that is? In the back of the house, the other servers have cliques that I'm not a part of, inside jokes, complaints about us new people taking their hours or doing our side work wrong or asking questions or not asking questions.

But a job like this--a little one that does not take all my hours from me--allows me to keep writing. It keeps me out of the corporate world, keeps me in the artistic one. My kids don't go to daycare and Brandon is awake to say, "bye!" a hundred times from the driveway when I leave. It's OK. It's a season in my life. I will manage.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

11.3.2016

Brandon Jude, I want to save this day, remember it one day later on.
Not because today is special, but because it's like every other. These will be the days you forget, the blank spots in your memory because they felt mundane. But I want to remember these ordinary days when I was proud of you and loved you not because of an achievement or something you did, but because of who you are: A boy who loves and trusts everyone, who makes me smile, makes me laugh and offers to find my missing keys for me. The boy who thinks flies are called freaking flies because that's what dad says. My boy who calls "All About That Bass" his song and sings every word. My boy who sings and dances and draws. My boy who has the very best traits of me and his father: our artistic, caring, emotional ones. My boy who protects and teaches his little brother, despite the abuse he takes from him. My boy who I overheard telling Asher yesterday, "my mom is my best friend, but you're my very best friend." You want to make us all happy and so far you're doing a hell of a job.