We popped into Kris’ office this morning to deliver an important message. She was listening to, at that moment, the Stereo MC’s “Step It Up.”
After delivering our message, Felix asked sweetly, “Mama, are you listening to the dinosaur song?”
He continued, “I like this Dinosaur Train song.”
Mamas running to catch up in 3…2…1…
I invite you to compare:
What’s the german word for “the first time this happened, it was interesting, but now that it’s happened a second time, it’s even more shocking”?
Because it happened last year, too.
Sometime last year (since March), Kris was listening to Beethoven’s Ninth (the Ode to Joy one), doing chores. Felix ran over to his keyboard and pushed the button to play one of the demo songs. This one:
If it sounded identical, it would make more sense to me.
What is this talent of his called, and how on earth can I feed it?
My children don’t have a father. They have two moms, and an anonymous-for-now sperm donor.
(They also have amazing aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors. And I hope one day they’ll have some donor-siblings, but today I’m thinking specifically of their donor.)
The information we know about the donor is a strange mix of intimately detailed and hopelessly limited.
Some of things we know: some basic physiological characteristics and measurements, some resume fluff like education and career, some self-reported interests, a few generations of family health history. One small picture of him as a toddler. Some impressive sperm counts and morphology from a thawed sample.
What we don’t know could fill many a book. We don’t know if he has dimples, or if he needed braces as a teenager, or how much he likes to sing in the shower or dance in the kitchen. We don’t know if he was ever afraid of thunderstorms, or when he got his first passport. We don’t know if he ever thinks of the children that he helped create.
I don’t know how much it matters. The boys are so much their own people — arrived on the scene as completely their own little people — that maybe it doesn’t matter one whit about the meatbags and middlemen that mixed some body fluids to get them started.
I can surmise the donor is pretty smart. I mean, he figured out how to get paid to masturbate, and if that’s not a sliver of the Manly American Dream come true, I don’t know what is.
But half-kidding aside, I can also surmise that the donor is major-league generous. His contribution — however anonymous, or pleasant, or lucrative, or not — made us mothers, the kind of gift that nobody can put a bow on. Not even one of those Lexus-sized Christmas bows.
I can thank KK for making the leap with me, for all the once-in-a-lifetime-ness and the relentless daily grinding of it all. For being brave enough to let her heart burst open, so there’d be room to hold us all.
I can thank our friends and family for the support and patience and love they show us every day, that they show the boys every day.
Sometimes I get a little sad that I can’t thank the donor for his role in the gift, too, for helping me finally find my life’s work.
I spent the morning doing the math. In sum, i spend about 80% of my time wishing I weren’t wishing I were dead. As you can imagine, one doesn’t get much concrete proof of productivity from such endeavors, despite the long hours and dedicated vision.
It just doesn’t translate. It’s hard to sell at cocktail parties. It’s easy to feel invisible.
On a Monday morning when everybody woke up crying, when I’m loading the boys into back into the car after a 1.5-hour driving nap and a trip to Aldi, in the middle of a scorching grocery parking lot on a 90º day, and a lady twice my age offers to take my shopping cart back, and I decline, since I haven’t even been able to unload the bags out yet (babies first, with air conditioning, always), and she says “Don’t worry, I’ll wait,” and she means it.
And when I say “thank you so much, that’s so kind of you to do,” and she says, “You’re doing such a great job. I’m just amazed you’re getting out to the grocery store. It’s the hardest job in the world. You do what you have to do, right? You’re such a good mom.”
That’s when I cry. Instant, ugly cry. And throw two giant bags of groceries in the back of the van, and push my cart into hers. She wouldn’t even keep my quarter. She gave me a hug.
After I blew my nose, and changed the other baby’s diaper, and put him in the carseat, and looked up to thank her again, she and her big white SUV were gone.
She might be a grandma in a handicap parking space, but man, she travels light and fast.
This is not the first time a random-act-of-kindness-lady has made me cry in a parking lot.
Not even the first time in the last 6 months.
On the one hand, that’s just fucking mortifying. But on the other hand, I got a grandma hug out of the deal, and something else to think about for a while.
Moms are legion, and they are awesome. I can’t wait to get my shit together enough to represent.
Real research survey, real puzzling handedness options.
The intimacy I experienced with my body and my developing baby during pregnancy ….became, in a way, a metaphor for how I feel about parenthood—a striking awareness of loss of control, simultaneity of surrendering to change on a moment-to-moment basis while experiencing more joy and more fear than the heart can contain. Pregnancy and parenthood invoke an unprecedented heightening of anxiety—excruciating awareness of vulnerability, altering one’s perspective on the fragility of life, as well as a depth of love that redefines the concept. Why would we erase all of this complexity—the physical and psychological makings and markings of pregnancy and parenthood?
Sixteen months postpartum, I thought that I haven’t been driven to “erase all of the complexity” (ie lose 20 pounds, or 60, Spanx up the twin skin belly, and so on) because even before kids, I didn’t have the standard sexy Barbie body.
I didn’t have even a healthy body before.
And I’ve been a radical feminist since forever, and to hell with the male gaze.
And frankly, I’m just too tired to take on the project of improving my projection.
Today I was reminded that while those ARE all reasons, they’re not ALL the reasons. Zucker’s post, quoted above, struck a gentle chord. It reminded me that the body-and-soul pregnancy experience I lived in and through — in and around and with my children’s bodies — was an Experience. Capital E, and it deserves to be remembered and revered as such.
Carrying and birthing the twins truly was the most carnal and sacred Experience of my life. Never before have I participated in a miracle, at once so engineered and so wild, and I never will again. I treasure it.
I’d never let anyone take the Experience away from me, and I sure as hell am not going to be the one to brush it off, minimize it, or forget about it. So yeah.
Classic monuments get chiseled from granite, cast in bronze, erected in steel, encased in glass.
My mama-ment is flesh and blood, muscle and sweat. It wiggles when I walk or laugh or work. It wraps my babies up in hugs, squeezes and shushes and sways. It’s mere mortal meat, an ephemeral expression of one genetic milemarker in human history. It’s just one of the latest in a line of mama-ments stretching back forever, and forward farther than I can fathom.
I don’t share C.S. Lewis faith, but I return again and again to his apt living house metaphor from Mere Christianity:
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. Уоu thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
Monuments are purposely built big, hard to miss, and impossible to forget. Why should mine be any different? I’ll be proud to rear my children in a “decent little cottage,” but they deserve to remember that they came from a palace.
The babies just slept through the night for the first time in…a month? Please let this be the beginning of the end of this 18 month regression.