Nearly 23 Months, Fiercely so.

February 21, 2011

It’s been months since I’ve written to you.

A week ago I weaned you cold-turkey.  We pulled apart and it hurt us both and now look at you, so independent!  Fiercely independent.  “No, Mom, go back in the house!” You said to me today, after I got off of work, and wanted to check on you and Max.  You and Max go on short walks down to the corner, or the other way across the street and to the basketball hoop.  You two are finally bonding.  Fiercely.

In just a couple of weeks, you’ll be 23 months old.  We’re taking a road trip to San Diego, and then I’m flying by myself to Orlando.  You’ll be fine with your dad.  Though just a couple weeks ago, you still woke and cried for me in the night, now you’re sleeping all night in your own bed, and climbing out all by yourself to find me at my desk.

You talk and talk and talk.  You’re figuring out the articles and prepositions, and you’re starting to get the order of words right.  You like to add “y” to the end of names — Mommy, Daddy, Maxxy, Matchesy.  (You call Matthew, Matches.)

You still love balls.  Fiercely so.

You carry one in one hand always, and only throw a ball if you have an extra. We have a cubby box that is stuffed to the gills with just balls, of every shape and color.  You have a gift of finding balls — a baseball here, a golf ball there.  You will spot an orphan ball across a field at the park, and demand we walk over and pick it up.  You also like to borrow balls from the neighbors’ yards.  I swear we’ll return them all eventually.  You throw them, hit them, kick them, shoot them, dribble them.  You can dribble!

A few nights ago, you wanted to read by yourself.  “Read a book by myself, mama.”  You sat in the big bed, blanket pulled up to your chest, and said the words you remembered from the book we read the night before.

The last few months have been busy, chaotic, up-and-down emotional.  A couple weeks ago, my work friend Caetano died of cancer.  I’m so sad to hear that he’s not here anymore.   He leaves behind his wife and 5 year-old boy, and quadruplet 2-year-olds.  His smile used to light up the office, and if I asked about his wife or kids, his love emanated around the room.  Amazing man, so full of life.  I’m comforted to know that it’s possible to be as positive as Caetano.  I was thinking about him last month, and am left feeling there was something I wanted to ask him.  I wanted to ask about his kids, ask how he is, how he is doing…  RIP good man.

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There was Halloween, and the problem of what to do with baby pumpkins.  Roll them. Stack them. Lick them. Carry them. Throw them.

When the stem was sharp and kept sticking your hand and you’d tell me “hurt” and “sharp” and point to your palm and I figured you would have to find a different way to play with the pumpkins, but finally you had enough. “Hurt sharp cut knife?” You pointed towards the kitchen, wanting me to cut off the point of the stem with a knife.

Too smart.  Solving problems for yourself.  Later you asked the same for the second baby pumpkin, and I sawed off the sharp tip with our old junky serrated knife.

————————————————-

There was Christmas, and you so carefully took care of the tree.  You were not wild nor rebellious, and you took care not to knock all the ornaments off. In fact, I kept the tree (lazily) up until far after New Years.

A week after Christmas, your dad and I got married.

Imagine for a moment: a small intimate family wedding, just the two of us at the county courthouse, with three boys by our sides.  The judge is a county employee, nicely dressed, a light blue cardigan open with a lovely flower brooch at the top button.  The family is led to a back room, windowless, but full of old rusted filing cabinets with labels such as “Marriage Licenses 1906” and I’m charmed.  Precious papers stored here.  Commitments made and broken. Thousands and thousands of families recorded in this one little room.

There are also office chairs back here.  Three of them.  With wheels.

In walk the children.

Do I need to tell you about your brothers?  They’ve always been this way.  Any situation that requires consideration, any situation with even a bit of gravity, whether it be a wedding or a funeral, a napping baby, or gosh, I don’t know, someone recovering with a hangover?  They’re off the walls.

And they wanted to roll on those chairs while bouncing off the walls.  We interrupt the ceremony. The judge interrupts the ceremony. We do the vows twice (maybe she wanted to be doubly sure we’d make it through with these kids).  I tried to be calm to your brothers.

But it was crazy.  And I’m sure we’ll look back at it, and just remember that one sweet second when we could look at each other and say a sweet word.

So that, darling baby, is the reason we don’t have any photos of the day your parents got married.

——————————

Last month, there was a shooting in Arizona where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with the locals outside of a grocery store.  19 people were shot. Six died, including Gabe Zimmerman, who your dad knew and worked with a few years ago at Kinderland.

There was a numbness in our house, a distance.

What can I say?  I can’t express the anger and sadness and helplessness that I feel.  And anger.

——————————

You weren’t sleeping well before.  You’d wake and cry out.  You’d talk in your sleep.  You’d toss and turn.  You’d nurse.  You’d nurse and nurse.  You exhausted me.

And because you weren’t sleeping well, we often had to take you on drives to get you to sleep for a nap.  Especially on weekends, when the house isn’t quiet enough for you to sleep anyway.

——————–

We live in a small town near the river.  On a nap drive in January, I counted 55 vehicles parked on the river.  More than that many men standing on the side of the road, walking down the bank, up to their thighs in the river. A cold winter day, the sun was out, the river down, the water clear. A good day to fish.

Sometimes we take you down West End Road, a back country road, where you can fall asleep while we pass the goats and sheep and cows.  There are great blue herons that hang out down there.  Rows of blackbirds up on the telephone lines.  The pygmy goat munching in the sun.  Brand new baby sheep, fuzzy black legs.

We love it here, fiercely so.

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