I was at work this afternoon and didn't have much going on, so I was gmail-chatting with my friend Dawn. At 2:30 she signed off to go to a meeting and I logged out to go pump for Nico. Before I could get up from my chair, a page went out over the PA system telling everyone to evacuate the building. Figuring it was a badly-timed drill, I called down to the receptionist to ask what the hell was up and he told me there was a gas leak. We're all going to die! (Okay, he didn't say that second part.) I was supposed to pump for Nico and then leave at 3:00 in order to run home and change and then head out to our work booth at the county fair, so I didn't figure I had time to wait on the gas company to show up and suss out the problem. Last time there was an alleged gas leak, we all stood around in the parking lot for 45 minutes and then went back inside. I threw all my pump stuff into my bag, grabbed my purse, and hoofed it, and as soon as I opened my office door, I could smell gas. That office door must be a veritable airlock, because the whole floor and stairwell reeked of gas. I realized that I'd been feeling a bit off for about half an hour, but I had blamed it on not having enough to eat for lunch, not being slowly poisoned at my desk.
I told my coworkers I had to go so they wouldn't think I was trapped inside somewhere when I wasn't standing around outside with everyone else and trotted off to my car. As I was driving away, the firetruck showed up, and that's when I realized what totally would've happened if I hadn't been wasting time talking to Dawn today. If I'd hustled up and gone to pump on time, I would have been in the back room when the evacuation announcement was made, and I can't hear the PA at all back there. I would've just gotten started when the firetruck arrived, which means that either one of my coworkers or one of the firefighters would presumably have burst in to warn me about our impending doom, only to catch me with my boobs out. And as much as "firefighter walks in on busty chick using breast pump" sounds like the setup of a really specific porno, in real life it would've been less porn and more most embarrassing moment of my entire life, including the time I was buzzed by a low-flying aircraft while peeing behind a bush. Thank God for gmail chat, seriously.
This kid, you guys. He's changing so fast that I barely have time to mark each new thing before he's moved on, and it's fun but it's terrifying, too. He's getting faster and faster at his funny little army crawl, and he's also constantly up on hands and knees, rocking and trying to work out how to go forward. We started solids last week, baby oatmeal and applesauce on Wednesday, then bananas and oatmeal on Sunday. He snarfs the food down like it's no big thing at all.
Dinner out with him now is a game of skill, constantly running interference between his shockingly fast little hands and the silverware, the plates, the drinking glasses, the menus. He's nearly out of his carseat, wriggles around in his high chair until it seems like he might find a way to escape, has thoroughly outgrown his swings and bouncy seat and Bumbo chair. He wants to go and see and do and chew, constantly, and when he goes to bed I often find I have just enough time and energy left to clean up from that day's whirlwind, but not to write or read or do much of anything else.
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of the boy he'll become and it's fascinating and heartwrenching all at once. I try to treat every day as a gift, to give him as much of my time as possible, to appreciate all of it as much as I can. He's still my baby, my little one, with pudgy fingers and soft hair and a sweet-smelling neck. But he's rapidly becoming a kid, too, with nimble hands and strong muscles and an independent streak to reckon with. We're learning as we go, he and I, but I think I like it this way.
It's been six months since your birth, and I am in utter shock about it. Half a year! You continue to be the light of my life, the joy of my days. When you were small(er), I wrote about how it felt like I'd slipped into the new skin of motherhood with ease. I still feel that way, and I also believe that you've helped me become a better person. Patience is not a virtue that comes easily to me. I have never been calm or serene by nature. I have worked to foster quiet within myself for several years, and during the time that I carried you, I felt that I was finally moving toward a more calm resting state. There is a well of peace within me that I never knew existed before you arrived to gently shove aside the cover.
These feelings of serenity and contentment continue even as you become more of a whirlwind day by day. I won't say that we never have challenging times, but I nearly always find that my patience for you is deep. This probably sounds like some kind of fake, idealized, glossy-magazine version of motherhood, but I promise, being your mother really is much easier than I ever thought it would be. No one is as surprised as I am, believe me. Even when you're doing your best octopus impression on the changing table so that it's nearly impossible to get all your limbs into your pajamas, it's okay. Even when you snatch my glasses off my face or smack me with a toy as you're waving it around with wild abandon, it's okay. After a lifetime of intensity and quickly rising frustration, I suddenly find that I am a grounded person. Who knew? I hope I can say these things again in the coming months as your personality develops and you continue to assert your independence.
Before you were born, a friend told me that seeing the world through your eyes would be a wonderful gift, and she was right. Watching you discover your surroundings has been amazing, and seeing your excitement about things that we adults tend to take for granted has opened my eyes anew to the joy of small pleasures. There are so many true firsts for you...your first story time, your first swim, soon your first real foods, first crawl, first tooth, first word, first steps. I'll never be a scrapbooking, baby-book-keeping kind of mother, but I hope you never think that I didn't notice and appreciate all of your milestones and all of your bright-eyed, wonder-filled and wonderful days. I notice. I appreciate. I am so in love with you, I almost can't bear it. Happy six months, little boy. You are truly my greatest adventure.
Ever since we got back from our weekend in Kentucky, my tailbone has been hurting. It's especially painful when I'm sitting on the bed nursing Nico, which is both literally and figuratively a pain in the ass. It came on pretty much overnight and with no apparent cause, and after a trip to the chiropractor on Friday did nothing to alleviate it, I had halfway convinced myself that I have cancer of the tailbone. I spent an embarrassingly long time thinking about how if I did have tailbone cancer and needed radiation, I'd want to ask the doctors if I had time to try for another baby before they zapped me. Dude, I don't know what's wrong with my brain. Anyway, I went back to the chiropractor yesterday and it seems a bit better, so maybe I'm okay. I decided after the ridiculous freakout that if it's still painful next Monday -- two weeks after it started -- I'll call the doctor and get a referral for an X-ray. I kind of might as well, seeing as Nico's birth pretty much blew my deductible and out-of-pocket out of the water for the year.
It really only hurt today when I was driving, which is great since I'm driving 65 miles round-trip each night this week to do a work thing at the county fair. The drive would otherwise be my favorite part of the whole ordeal, since sitting in the heat for three hours each night is not really my thing. I'm also not loving the disruption in my schedule as it relates to Nico. Usually I get off work at 5, pick him up from my parents' house by 5:30 and then we have until bedtime around 8:00 to hang out together. This week I don't get to pick him up until 8:00 and pretty much have to bring him home, give MB 15 minutes or so to hold him, and then take him straight upstairs for his bedtime routine. I do get to keep him a little later in the mornings, but mornings are more hectic by necessity so it's not like we can just chill out together. I miss him more than I expected, I'll admit. I never thought working three hours later would matter so much, but it's kind of sucking. Luckily I only have one more late night this week, and then I get to go back to my regular work schedule for a week before doing another week of late nights.
Sitting around at the booth at the fair has given me more time to keep slogging through The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I'm not really loving it so far, and I'm nearly halfway done. I don't really know where things went off the rails, because I thought the core of the first book (i.e. everything but the Wennerstrom Affazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz) was enjoyable and liked the second one even more. But god, this one. So wordy. I am trying to give it the benefit of the doubt since 1. it was not originally written in English and 2. the author is dead. I want to believe that if Stieg Larsson hadn't died shortly after turning in the manuscripts, an editor would've convinced him to shave off some of the extra wordiness. I also think if I was from Sweden, I'd find stuff like "Martensson left home at 7:40 that morning. He got into his Volvo and drove towards the city but turned off to go across Stora Essingen and Grondal into Sodermalm. He drove down Hornsgatan and across to Bellmansgatan via Brannkyrkagatan. He turned left onto Tavastgatan at the Bishop's Arms pub and parked at the corner." informative rather than eye-glazingly boring.
Speaking of boring, I tried watching Bravo's new show, Work of Art, and I kind of hate it. (Also, I am okay with calling the Top Chef cast "cheftestants," but I heard a commercial with the word "art-testants" and, no. Stop trying to make that happen, Bravo.) Maybe because the kind of artists who want to be on reality TV are by necessity pretentious and over-pleased with themselves. I am contemplating deleting it from my DVR queue and moving on. God knows I have enough shit to watch, especially since I have developed a deep and late-blooming love for So You Think You Can Dance. I'm also just really not loving Ghost Hunters Academy (or, while I'm at it, Ghost Hunters International), despite trying to enjoy it. I don't know why I'm so hesitant to stop watching crappy shows. It's like I'm afraid they'll suddenly become good if I stop watching and then I'll miss out. Something's gotta give, at any rate, because my DVR is starting to resemble my Google reader.
I can't think of any clever way to wrap this up, so here's a great song from the album I'm listening to over and over and over again this week:
The thing that has surprised me most about having a baby is how fast he changes. I was prepared for the "days are long, years are short" phenomenon, but not for the blink-and-miss-it pace that he learns things. In the past few days, Nico has shown an increased interest in playing on the floor. He's always been a wiggly baby, migrating around his crib during the night, but lately there seems to be more intent behind his wriggling. Just last night I was all besotted over him scooching forward about six inches on his blanket to grab a toy. And then this morning, I laid him down on his playmat with his stacking rings beside it and went to brush my teeth. When I came back, he was looking a bit guilty with a trail of destruction in his wake:
(When I left, the set of stacking rings was assembled and standing where the red ring is in this photo.)
Then, when I picked him up from my parents' house after work, Mom said, "You know what he does with those stacking rings? He throws them across the room and then crawls after them."
I decided to test this somewhat outlandish claim for myself. After all, this baby was a sedate little swaddled bundle about five minutes ago. And guys? I think we're in deep shit:
After documenting his new skill for the internets posterity, I read him a few bedtime stories and took him into our room to nurse. He only ate for about five minutes, and then decided he needed to log a bit more crawling practice. I couldn't put him in his crib because I knew he'd scoot down to the end and bonk his head against the bars, so I kept him on my lap, my hand hooked securely at his hip to keep him from motoring off. What followed was like a weird cycle of baby Sun Salutations. He'd bury his face in my lap, poke his butt up into the air, push off with his toes, and raise his head back up. He did this for ten solid minutes -- head down, butt up, push off, head up. Head down, butt up, push off, head up.
I'm kind of excited, but also know that this is pretty much the end of life as we know it. No more skipping a day of sweeping up the dog hair, no more leaving shoes lying around in tempting locales, and no more plunking him down on a blanket long enough to make a sandwich and expecting him to be there when I get back.
Friday again. Not sure how this keeps happening. We had a very nice visit to MB's family down South(ish). We stayed at his aunt and uncle's house on Saturday, and MB's grandparents and mom came over to hang out and visit with Nico. MB's papaw, who declined to hold Nico at the hospital, came straight over and scooped him off my lap. "I told you I'd hold you once you got big enough," he said. "Gimme some sugar." Once the sun was behind the house, I dressed Nico in his tiny swimming trunks and the smallest rash guard I could find (which was still too big) and took him into the above-ground pool. And oh my hell, you guys, he loved it.
I suspected he would since he enjoys splashing in the bath, but even I didn't predict how much he would like it. I had him in a hip sling that my mom made for me out of an old crib sheet because I was worried he'd wiggle out of my arms in the water. He started splashing with one hand, then turned and leaned way down so he could splash with both hands while the whole family stood in the yard laughing and cheering him on. It was a pretty great moment, I have to admit. After a while we stuck him in the float that Julia loaned me for the weekend, and he spent some time splashing and kicking around in it. MB's 18-year-old cousin hadn't met Nico yet, and she came home while we were in the pool. She threw on her bikini and jumped in with us, and we have a video of her blowing bubbles in the water to make Nico laugh. After our swim, I rinsed Nico off in the bathroom sink and put him to bed, and then MB and I stayed up and played guys-against-girls Cranium with his aunt and uncle, his cousin, and her boyfriend.
We don't see them as often as we probably should, and we had a really great visit. Time with them is always time well-spent, slower-paced and comfortable. We get loud and twangy and we eat too much and swear too much and drink too much sweet tea and I'm always a bit sad to leave. No family is perfect, but I really feel like I won the in-law lottery most of the time. In the early years of our marriage, I felt in my gut that this was a family I'd be glad and proud to bring a child into, and so far they are proving me right. From MB's papaw holding my little son in his huge farmer's hands to MB's slightly disreputable second uncle toting Nico around the kitchen on Sunday morning promising him a ride on his motorcycle (just around the yard, with a helmet on) and a pair of Harley boots from Paducah to MB's mom carrying him down to the fence so he could see the horses, the weekend was full of small, sweet moments.
And for his part, Nico was a champion of courting grandparental affection. He was mild-mannered and charming and tolerant of being passed around by people he hasn't seen since he was teeny-tiny, and slept well in two different houses in the playpen we borrowed from my parents. He is totally banking points toward getting his own pony one day.
And dude. DUDE. Look what my kid can do all of a sudden! What the heck are you playing at, child?
They're not quite fireworks, but they'll do. Wishing everyone an early Happy Fourth of July, a belated Happy Canada Day, or just a happy weekend. We're taking Nico to visit his out-of-state family for a few days, but when we get back I think I'll have another book review for you as well as another review via CSN Stores, online merchant of everything from headboards to hula hoops.
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