I know. It’s not Thursday. It’s Monday. But for some reason I’ve been so constipated with words, as it were (or weren’t), that I somehow got on a writing jag last night, probably encouraged by the glass of Pinot Noir I drank after the evening feeding — otherwise known as a “writing enema” for all you Creative Writing majors out there. Plus I’m curious if my theory is correct which states that writing is like nursing: the more words you ask for, the more words there are.
Plus, it’s been an interesting couple of days in my parenting life and I didn’t want to take the risk of forgetting it. Because if anyone is at risk for forgetting anything, it’s…um…it’s…aw sue me, I forget who the heck it is…
This all begins on Saturday, which, I’ll just admit to you now, was a low point. Gordon and I were watching TV on the couch with Drew and I was feeling about as sorry for myself as is permitted by Texas law. Gordon was too, to a (much) lesser extent.
“I’m tired,” Gordon said.
I said, “Well I’m cranky and depressed.” (If anyone is REpressed, it’s definitely NOT me.) Actually, if you want to get technical, the term for my particular condition would be “postpartumy.”
“Why are you depressed?”
I think I hated him at that moment. Wasn’t it abundantly obvious?
“I’m fat, tired and I haven’t slept four consecutive hours since July 24th and this…job…never…ends…” I said this probably with my hand to my forehead in very Norma Desmond fashion and I could have sworn that Schindler was playing his violin in the corner behind the infant swing.
“Why don’t we wait for the kids to go down for a nap and then we can get out of here?” Gordon said.
“Where would we go?”
“Joking. I was joking.”
So we ended up going for a walk around the block. (And took both kids with us, so cool your jets, all you Judgy McJudgersons out there.)
That night, Maddie had trouble settling to sleep in her crib. It was 10:45 and she was grunting and fussing and the dreaded two words kept reappearing in my brain: growth spurt? But after much rocking and holding and perhaps a deal or two with the devil, Gordon was able to sooth her into slumber. My eyes closed at about 10:53 p.m.
And they didn’t open again until 4:08 a.m. I sat up straight in bed. “It’s 4!” I yell-whispered!
“Wha?” Poor Gordon, his vows should have read, “for dramatic or for even more dramatic.”
“I haven’t fed her since 10:15!”
And like a sprinter in a relay, Gordon took that piece of information and leapt from the bed before you could say tim-buk-too. He came back into the room in a slightly more casual pace, which told me our child hadn’t died in the night, and asked if we should wake her up to feed her. Was he kidding? I wanted to see how long she would sleep.
The minutes ticked by. My heart was beating fast with pride of my brilliant girl’s accomplishment and sheer gratefulness that I had slept five hours straight.
The trick now was to get MYSELF back to sleep without letting down my milk. (OK, I apologize to my male readers out there who maybe didn’t see that one coming.) And when it has been 6 hours since your last feeding, letting down is a distinct possibility — if you haven’t already created a rice paddy out of your Serta. This would not be problematic except that I have banished all nursing bras and pads from my undergarment portfolio during nighttime sleep. Sure, at the beginning it’s as necessary as a poncho at a watermelon eating contest, but by five weeks it doesn’t matter if you still have Super Soakers for breasts, they are demanding their freedom, and if you have a good mattress pad it seems worth the risk. I lay there trying not to think of anything delicious or sexy — and especially not of that warm bundle of sweetness sleeping so luxuriously in her crib — and finally decided the best course of action would be to think about Excel spreadsheets for the duration until I was mercifully borne away on the wings of sleep.
But it wasn’t 10 minutes of fixating on Page Break Previews that I heard grunting from the nursery. She was awake. As I nursed Thing Two, I looked down at her dark shiny eyes , alert with hunger. I felt exhilarated, like I had just slept until 9 a.m., ingested a Grande Mocha with ginseng, and sprinted a mile; all after having been given a large and rather embarrassing diamond. Needless to say, it was hard to get BACK to sleep after this feeding, but sleep I did, until 7:30. And the angels rejoiced.
If that bit of encouragement wasn’t enough to realign my attitude about newborndon and toddlerdom and all other things making me feel less-than enough, the sweet encounter with the little old man at Baker Brother’s today was the coupe-de-gras.
We were sitting there eating after church, and Drew had taken to shoveling his mac-n-cheese into his mouth like he was on the construction crew of the new 1-30 corridor. We were trying to contain the upheaval while trying to get a bite or two into our own mouths from time to time. I noticed a little old man observing us from a few tables away — he HAD to have been at least 85 years old — and I noticed he kept looking at us and then down at his knarly old hands, as if reflecting on a memory. He was a dapper gent, the kind who crosses his legs at the knee and wears tasseled loafers.
I got up to get a spoon for Drew, whose fork just wasn’t cutting it as a shovel, and nearly body-checked the Little Old Man on my way back to the table — he had apparently gotten up to refill his water.
He stopped me and looked at me with his red watery eyes, saying in a gravely voice, “You two are fabulous parents and your boy is exceptionally bright.”
And then he shuffled past me as if he had only just made a passing comment about the weather.
WHEN DOES THAT EVER HAPPEN??
I can’t remember what my response was, but I wouldn’t put it past me to have said, “REALLY? Could you say that again for the camera?”
I sometimes think that God spoils me too much. I mean, here He is giving me this great family and this great life, and then I subject Him to my complaining and comparing and grousing about all of it, and then He practically bends over backwards to reaffirm and pamper my fragile little heart. It makes me want to swear that I’ll never have a bad attitude ever again, but even I know that’s not going to happen, and he knows all the better. And yet He persists in generosity.
And that, my friends, is what my Pinot Noir simply insisted I tell you this morning.