Monday, April 26, 2004

Easter. A belated post.

The children acknowledged their Easter baskets, sorted their chocolate, and located all plastic, Whopper-filled eggs within the first ten minutes of waking.

And then what.

We’d done the official Easter gathering with my parents Saturday. With the exception of Oldest’s biofather picking her up after lunch for their events, the day was clear. And I felt the Easter letdown settling in.

The Christian holidays are a result of my upbringing, a faith that 12 years of Catholic education managed to beat out of me with a vengeance. When the Jehovah’s Witnesses come to my door with Watchtowers and Bibles, I shake my head kindly and say with the conviction of someone who’s finally come to her senses, “Thanks anyway. We’re not religious.”

But I do envy them the enthusiasm. I said to Husband, “It’s Easter. I want to celebrate something.”

He patted my shoulder kindly. “Well, I’m sure you could walk into any church down the street and celebrate the nailing of a man to a stick.”

“That’s not what I want to celebrate.”

His solution? A nature walk with the girls.

We saw a black snake sunning on a log at the edge of a lake. Youngest expressed a desire to swing from vines. Oldest complained that her feet hurt. And there were dragonflies.

We stopped at a bridge crossing a creek and peered over the splintery wooden rail at the trickle of water passing over smooth stone below.

“Are there fishes?” asked Youngest, clinging to my shirt like a baby gibbon as I held her up to look.

“There might be,” I told her. “Anything’s possible.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

So there's this guy I know. He'd go out of his way for someone he's just met. He stretches himself so thin helping people out that all his own projects always get put aside.

If he sees a little old lady having car trouble, he worries about her for days. "There was someone helping her," I point out. It doesn't make any difference. She looked confused and upset, and that upsets him.

When we lived at the apartment, he was the substitute dad for neighborhood kids at the bus stop in the mornings. One day, one of the supposed tough boys knocked on our door. "I got pushed into the lake," he said, looking on the verge of tears, looking as if for whatever reason he couldn't knock on his own door just then. His socks were soaked. The kid was sent back to the bus stop with dry socks on his feet.

This guy rearranged his entire career to stay home and freelance so he could meet his daughter at the bus stop after school. He makes dinner, does the dishes, shuttles the kids, folds laundry.

And he'd rather spend time talking with his wife after the kids are in bed instead of going out to a movie or to a bar with his friends.

I mean, come on. Of course I married him. This guy is amazing.

So since today is his birthday, I just wanted to let him know that he's the best thing that's ever happened to me. He's my best friend and my true partner.

He also makes really kick-ass coffee, which I think is important to any lasting relationship.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Prayer of the Agnostic 3rd-Grade-Talent-Show-Costume-Sewing Mom

Dear God(s)/(esses):
Please grant me the serenity to imagine for just five minutes that if I were to promise you Never Again, you would enact such divine authority as to prevent my thread from breaking, hems from bunching, etc. long enough for me to sew four stinking, glitter-ridden costumes for a group of children who have long ago lost interest in the whole endeavor.

PS, also please tap me on the shoulder periodically and remind me That’s Good Enough.

Thank you, Amen, etc.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

A friend of a friend had twins four months ago, a boy and a girl.

When they went to pick them up from daycare, they were both napping. Dad woke up the little girl first and tucked her into her carseat. Then he went to wake the little boy. He wasn't breathing.

They did CPR. But he died.

I don't know what I would do if that happened to our family. I really don't. I still put a hand on Youngest's back every night to feel her breathing before I turn off her nightlight. I'm always relieved when I wake her up in the morning, and in the moment before I smooth the hair off her warm forehead, there's always a tiny nagging dread that whispers, What if she isn't sleeping?

I don't think that ever goes away. I feel the same relief every morning when I pat Oldest's shoulder and rub the goosebumps on the arm she's thrown out of the blanket, glad that she pulls away and burrows into her pillow for another five minutes of sleep.

I think if anything ever happened to my kids I might stop breathing too.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I've just returned from the fabric store, which is a strange and surreal place in the middle of a workday. One finds it populated with an odd mix of old ladies making throw-pillows, stay-at-home moms making summer jumpers, one-armed women seeking toggle fasteners, and of course, the huge, construction-site type man in greasy denim overalls who was… actually I don't have any idea what he was doing in a fabric store.

The register girl was the most unlikely of them all. Mid-twenties in a baseball jersey, with long, stringy blonde hair, overweight. And a frantic pattern of cuts on the back of her left hand that simply do not occur without intent. Register girl was either a cutter or was in the habit of backhanding boys with braces.

I sidled up to the register, clutching my fabric, and mumbled, "Excuse me, where do you keep the razor blades?"

"The what?" she asked.

"For my Exacto knife! God! What did you think I was going to do with them? Is it a crime to need razor blades for your Exacto knife? You do sell them, right?"

"Uh, over along the wall," she said, pointing. She did not know where to take this conversation.

"Forget it," I said, plopping my fabric down on the counter. "I'm not in the mood anymore. Can you just check me out?"

When I got back to my car, I gleefully looked over my purchases.

Sequined fabric and a shimmer rayon blend glinted at me from the plastic bag. I am Costume Mom. If you tell me that you and your friends want to try out for the talent show, I will make four of the bad-assedest costumes your school has ever seen. In two weeks!

Soundtrack Dad will not only burn copies of the selected talent show song for you and all your friends, he will edit the track so that it slides just under the three-minute time limit. And then he will print copies of the lyrics.

Heck, it's stuff like this that keeps parents off the streets.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Today's episode: Girl Meets Worm

Just how fast can an eight-year-old go from squeamish, shrieking, worm-hating sissy to devoted worm caretaker and condo-builder?

In about the time it takes her to see that her two-year-old sister is gleefully hogging all the worms.

I was extricating some weeds from a patch of land in which I'm determined to grow something purposeful this season. The girls were enjoying the spring sunshine and jockeying for position on our tree swing.

"Hey, come look at this!" I called to them, shaking a small earthworm free from the roots of a weed onto my gloved palm.

Youngest was the first on the scene. "What?" she called in mid-run.

"It's a worm!" I said, holding it out to her. "Look!"

She did look, peering with suspicion into the hand I held out to her as Oldest trotted up and looked over her shoulder.

Oldest made a face and backed away. "Ew!" But Youngest was intrigued. She giggled as she watched it curl and unwind.

"Do you want to hold it?" I asked.

Following her sister's lead, Youngest backed away and started to whimper.

"Oh no, don't worry." I said to her. I have fond memories of digging up worms as a kid, and I was not about to let a little apprehension get in the way of a cool, wriggling earthworm. Childhood is not complete without it. "Worms are friendly. You can hold them on your hand. Like this, see?"

I took her hand and gently turned the worm onto it. She squealed and laughed.

"Now don't squish him," I said, as she ran back to the tree to rejoin sister and show off her fearlessness.

In about five seconds, Oldest was back kneeling beside me. "I want a worm too! Can you find another one? Are there more? Can I hold them?"

The two girls took the care of their worms very seriously, constructing a complex dwelling out of leaves, twigs, and grass.

I was proud.

Friday, April 02, 2004

I'm feeling behind on everything, and it's depressing. Birthday cards, baby gifts, doctor appointments, taxes, laundry, emails. All the little stuff that really shouldn't be any big deal is ALL seeming like a big deal right now.

I would rather take a nap.

Rather than take five minutes to cross anything off my list, I'd rather sit for five minutes and think about how much I'd rather take a nap than spend five minutes devoted to anything productive.

To make matters worse, I'm on my very last Luden's Wild Cherry throat drop.