Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hard Sun

I am listening to Hard Sun, an Eddie Vedder track from the film Into the Wild. When Glory and Elena were two weeks old and my mom had gone home, the girls went through a difficult period. And Sam and I were reminded what it meant to pace the floor for hours at night. Except when it was Manny, there was only one baby and two of us. And frequent naptimes during the day. Those weeks with the girls were an unpleasant experience and I remember thinking that this pacing with infants must be God’s way of reminding me that parenthood demands everything. Lay it all down. You think you can hang on to that? Nope. You’ve got to lay that down too.

But you know what? It feels really, really good to be sold out for something. I am a confused and divided person about some of the most important things more often than is comfortable. And even though I have moments where I want to hop in the mini-van and drive into the horizon, I am totally sold out on motherhood and the nurturing of my children. And if it means pacing floors and sopping up pee for the sixth time in one day, it is an easy choice. And there is rest in that.

Oh, but Eddie Vedder. When the girls would scream inconsolably in the middle of the night, Sam and I would take turns coming downstairs to the family room and we would pace in front of a movie. And all the movies we paced in front of were sad and dark and depressing, which did not improve my mood. The three I remember were I Am Robot, Into the Wild, and There Will Be Blood. And now every time I hear Hard Sun, I am back in those moments of helplessness and fatigue. Little Glory was probably six pounds. But really freaking loud. And terribly persistent.

I would say, remind me to watch cheerful, funny movies next time I am pacing the floors. But I don’t plan to pace again, except maybe for my children if ever they find themselves held prisoner by a sleepless baby.

Tonight at dinner, we were listening to a band called Beirut. Manny was sitting at the table finishing his teriyaki (Melissa- I get plenty of take-out despite my better intentions!) and he did the most extraordinary thing. He lifted his chin, closed his eyes, swayed his head back and forth and air drummed through the entire song. I could barely watch. It made me want to laugh uncontrollably. But I don’t want him to censor himself in front of me, so I walked away and stole glimpses here and there, just to make he was still feeling the music.

In Portland, during my dad’s retirement party, I took Manny to the potty and thought, oh no, I have become one of those women who coaches their children loudly in the stall. Another thing I never wanted to be. When we left the stall, there was a young woman in SHORT shorts with TAN legs washing her hands. Manny never saw her face, I don’t think. He turned to me and said, “She’s a pretty girl, huh?”

We went to the wading pool today. Finally. Don’t know why it took us so long. It is blocks away from our house and more shaded than I thought it would be. The girls wore swimsuits for the first time (pictures to come). They had ruffles on their bottoms, which grew substantially with the water. When we changed their diapers later, it looked like we hadn’t changed them for a whole week.

At the wading pool, I saw a baby whose head was the same size as Sam’s. No kidding. There was also a girl running around with goggles on. The water is like eight inches deep. And there was a girl in a fairy swimsuit, complete with a leaf-like skirt, prancing around sharing magic out of her plastic yellow bucket. For Elena, magic meant a Seattle Supersonics ball that she spent the next ten minutes chewing on.

Sam and I walked away asking each other, “Do we look as old as all the other parents there?” We talked this through for several minutes and decided that no, we don’t. Those people are all much, much older than us. Like at least three or four years.

This is a really random post. A series of unrelated thoughts, but in the spirit of things I want to remember, here’s another one.

On our last night at Gearhart on the Oregon Coast, my mom and Mike sent Sam and I to dessert for our 10th wedding anniversary. We left happy, full and with a bag of soft, delicious ice cream for my mom and Mike. On the way back, Sam decided to drive down onto the beach because, for better or worse, you can do that in Gearhart. We had not even gone halfway down when we got stuck in the sand.

Truth be told, I was more worried about the state of the ice cream than anything else, but I didn’t say that to Sam because I knew that would annoy him, as it should. He pushed and pushed the car and I revved and revved, cringing all the while, afraid he was going to throw out his back or something like almost 40 year old people do. The car didn’t budge.

We called Mike to save us. Mike probably could have been a British version of MacGyver. He is very resourceful. Upon arrival, Mike was there to greet the gang of 10 year old children who ultimately pushed our car out of the sand. One part The Little Rascals, one part the cast of the church Nativity play and all bravado, they saved us from an expensive towing bill and the ice cream was still in good form when we arrived back at the house.

My mom gave us a bad time about going to park on the beach and make out for our anniversary. If only we had made it onto the beach. But I still would have been thinking about the ice cream. That makes me laugh. It would make Sam laugh too. It’s good to be loved for who you are. And for ten years? That’s a whole lot of love. And a whole lot of ice cream. More to come. More to come.


Carmen Goetschius said...

More to come! More to come! What a beautiful collection of stories. I love that you mop up pee six times a day, I love that you have a British Macguyver in your life (sp?), that you order teriyaki and care about the state of your ice cream.

Isn't Manny growing into the most charming little boy!?!?

BTW, CUTE pic of you in your profile!!

Alissa Maxwell said...

Amazing the things that will ultimatly remind us of those challenges in the early weeks (months? years?) as parents. You can't plan that Eddie Vedder would forever remind you of pacing wtih a baby! As we are approaching baby #2, I am vividly aware of how much Greg Lang's Sanctuary CD (not one of the baby lullaby CDs we purchased) became the musical symbol that we'd made it through another day with a newborn.

Marilyn Gray said...

Happy 10th! Loved reading about your sand "adventure".

Mark said...

There Will Be Blood? I am so sorry. That movie would depress anyone . . .

Into the Wild on the other hand was a good film, and even, dare I say, a mite hopeful at the end.