Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making Things Official


I've cried three times since giving birth to Lily -- when my mother in law left, when my mother left, and on Sunday night. In my world, family departures always merit tears (lots of tears.) Sunday night was just a post-partom upheaval of emotions having to do with everything from my "mushroom haircut" and "front-butt" to being tired of being tired and housebound, to lamenting the cruel irony that just when Henry most needs a good, fun, patient mother, he gets an exhausted, short-tempered, distracted one. A good, wise friend told me that she never felt like a new baby was official 'til she'd had that first post-partom cry. Well, Sunday night left no questions as to Lily's official-ness. I sat in my bed and wailed to Nate, whose final remarks in his consolation/encouragement pep-talk were, "And besides. I really like mushrooms." (I think he's funny.) I felt guilty the whole time I was crying, like the tears and murmuring were a glaring confession of ingratitude. But you know, even things that you pray for, and want, and would never change, are hard. And just because things are hard doesn't mean they're wrong. And the admission of things being hard is not necessarily a sign of ingratitude. Just honesty. So I feel okay about Sunday night's hysterics (and they were -- sniffling, snorting, snotting hysterics.) And I know things are going to get better, easier, more normal at least. A trip to my favorite grocery store and to Target yesterday helped with the cabin fever. The exhaustion will end. My hair will grow past my chin (quickly, I hope.) Exercise (when I can do it again) will help with the front butt (and the overall state of well-being. Nothing clears my head like a long, brisk walk.) Things will never go back to the way they were (my old life was one of the things I was crying for on Sunday,) but we'll find our new normal and we'll be cool with it.

'Til then, though, I've been doing some purposeful exercises in beauty-finding. Henry calls them "Happy Thoughts" and we brainstorm up a whole heap of them at night before he goes to bed to stave off bad dreams. Here are a few I've been thinking about lately:

* My sister and our domestically-gifted friend, Sue, made a monogrammed "quillow" for Lily and it is so precious that I get a little melting sensation every time I use it or even see it. I really should take a picture of it, but this quiet time is fleeting and I'm lazy. (Thanks, Halley and Sue!)

* When my mother in law was here, she made the most divine Hawaiian Haystacks I have ever eaten. (Thanks, Cindy!) They absolutely hit the spot and I've been wanting them ever since. I finally made them last night and I saw to it that we had every yummy topping -- chow mein noodles, pineapple, toasted nuts, green onions, tomatoes, coconut, chopped celery, cheese -- and mmmm! They lived up to every single one of my little taste buds' expectations; I love it when that happens (seldom does when I'm the one cooking.)

* I love the Olympics. Love snuggling up with my man to watch it on the couch while we wait for Lily to fall asleep after her late-evening feeding.

* Love to bury my nose in the wrinkly folds on Lily's neck and just breathe. Sometimes it smells like Johnson & Johnson's lavender chamomile baby wash. Sometimes it smells like slightly sour milk. Either way, I think she's intoxicating.

* I also love it when she roots furiously at my arm, nose, neck, chin -- whatever flesh she's nearest to, looking so desperately for a place that might provide milk.

* Loved it when Henry came out of his room crying last night just a few minutes after we'd put him to bed, announcing through his crocodile tears that he'd had a bad dream. "But how did you have a bad dream if you weren't even sleeping, Henry?" I asked.
"I don't know, mom, I just did."
"What was it about?"
"I don't know that either, I just had one and it was bad."
Hmmmm...I think, I know what we had on our hands was a tired little boy who's still feeling quite confused and a little misplaced after the birth of his baby sister and needs all the love and positive reassurance we can give. So we snuggled. And listed happy thoughts, like fruit-loop necklaces and pajama parties, in his bed.

And today it rained, which is always a happy meteorological change for this home-sick north-westerner. And I was proud of myself when I turned the happy thought of playing in the rain into a happy (and wet) reality of running and twirling barefoot through the puddled streets -- a euphoric Henry matching me step for step, catching heavy droplets in our mouths, the sky's moisture soaking through every layer of our "play clothes." My mushroom hair is still wet.

And I'm still happy

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