When I was working long long ago at a Big Four accounting firm, pregnant with my first child, I remember a guy (who always wanted to go to lunch with me; why? Was he actually so desperate for company that he had to hit on a pregnant woman?) who told me his wife always went insane at about 5 months pregnant. I thought at the time: bah! He only has two kids; what kind of sample size is that?
But I think he might have been on to something, because I feel like a total nutcase lately. I have this big question hanging in my head, but that can't explain everything: crying at Disney songs? Crying during the Oscars? They were TERRIBLE this year! What in the freak is wrong with me? And my dear Sylvie has reverted to waking up once, sometimes twice, each night - which means that if I start mentally nit-picking something, I just LIE there. And lie. And lie.
In some ways this pregnancy has been so much easier: I have stayed away from Baby Center Message Boards which cause me to fret about every little blip and bleep, and my (new, hot) doctor does such quick ultrasounds that there really is no room for me to worry or fret; I haven't even had a choroid plexus cyst to obsess over this time. So if there's something to worry about, I will end up being surprised (which is maybe a good thing anyway).
And really, when you have five kids already, you hardly think about the fact that you are having a baby sometime in the hazy future. With your first, that is ALL you think about. And you expect that everyone within your personal five mile radius is thinking about that very fact TOO.
But mentally? This has been the hardest pregnancy ever. Thank goodness I haven't had real issues - a friend had to have gallbladder surgery, for freak's sake, right in mid pregnancy. My issues are just garden variety mental whackness.
OK, winter of 2011-2012. I am pretty much freaking done with you. After seven cases of stomach flu, three ear infections, one case of croup, five or six vanilla colds, and two mystery coughs, you would think I've had my quota. But rounding out this week with a broken arm and now PVT's bronchitis?
That's enough, thank you. And we're actually lucky! All eminently treatable stuff! No one hospitalized or anything awful like that!
But having a vivid imagination takes its toll on my sanity: I think that every cough is the onset of pneumonia; every booger signals RSV; every tummy ache foretells a hospital stay for severe dehydration. Yes, I am nuts.
I don't remember dreading winter until I had children. Now the coming of spring is second only to the Second Coming.
To hasten the onset of spring I am dreaming of this huge, lovely bag:
Wouldn't that be lovely to tote around this spring? And to bring for my stay at the Spa St. Francis?
And girls' Easter dresses:
Gosh, it seems like cheating to drool over all this springy fare when Lent has hardly just begun. My flesh AND my eyes are weak, I guess - but I need something FUN to think about. Much better than thinking about all the possible maladies that could still crop up in March.
So this is embarrassing: I was going to post my Lenten reflections - including what I was going to GO WITHOUT - but 18 jelly beans in, I have ALREADY broken my intentions. AARGH. Here's my excuse: isn't pregnancy just one very very long Lent anyway? I've already given up all the good stuff. But still: can you imagine me for forty days in the desert? What an unmitigated disaster - I can't even go three hours without a Kahlua truffle. Sheesh.
But I CAN try to do something - things - that are positive: go to confession, bring the kids to a Lenten meal at church, go to Stations of the Cross, and make sure that I am more or less trying each day to be a good wife, patient mother and uncomplaining Tulsan.
With this many kids, there are always so many "firsts." And each time, each first is still such a big deal- no matter how many elder siblings have gone through the same thing. Even our jaded older boys gave grudging kudos to our dear Will:
My "baby" boy. Here's a sure way to get me all teary: make me put some 4T boys' clothes in the "Too Small for Will" pile.
It isn't that it "goes by so fast." It's that you can't hold onto those memories of fat baby thighs and all-consuming babyhood, any more than you can cup water in your hands without it seeping through your fingers so very quickly.
Probably the most notable thing about this little fiasco is that I have been a mother for almost nine and a half years, have three boys, and this is our first broken bone.
Well, BONES: she broke her arm below the elbow in two spots. She was lucky she didn't need surgery. Will had a girlfriend over, and Colette was showing off and leapt of the roof of our little playhouse in the game room. Because I am such an awesome mother, at first I blew her off since she has a bit of an overdramatic diva streatk. And I admittedly was a bit pissed, and chided her for jumping off, because we have told them not to jump off, of course. But she wouldn't let me touch her arm; wouldn't get up; didn't even respond to gifts of Zandy Bandz from Will's darling friend. So that's when I knew something was up. And I morphed from annoyed mama to caring saintly let's get some medical help mama.
Luckily PVT came home to man the front, because I had already brought all five of them to the doctor that morning for Rory's mystery virus.
Two doctors, two x-rays and three hours later, we were back home.
Hopefully there will be no more broken bones during our wild and crazy Mardi Gras celebration here today.
Well, hello you all. Sorry yet again for the sporadic posts. I am continuing to battle my little demons: one day I am just fine and dandy with life's status quo, and the next morning I am planning on liquidating my little IRA left from my days of paid work and buying us all one way tickets out of this town.
The challenge here is I have no idea which chick is going to wake up each day: the relatively happy, calm mother who more or less plows through the poop and the crumbs and the shrieks, or the impatient, teary harridan who cuts off her children mid-sentence while she obsesses over new ways to escape.
Is this what a certified nutcase looks like?
Luckily today was a good day. Suddenly I have some things to look forward to (I know, I know, as if I didn't already): PVT has been plotting a spring break getaway and our annual trip to the Motherland. Amazing what having something to daydream about in the middle of a gray winter - both literally and figuratively, I mean there - can do for one's outlook.
And so you don't write my little corner of the interwebs off as the new hub of manic-depressiveness, a little spring fling for you:
Apparently this little dollop is one of the many treats in Nordstrom's Spring Lookbook, which my MOTHER has received (she spends about $8 at Nordstrom annually, so WTF?) but I have not. So my receipt of this Lookbook is also fervently anticipated.
When, exactly, did Valentine's Day morph from being a holiday where a girl had a reasonable expectation of getting some flowers, chocolates and a romantic dinner out, to being a last minute scramble of coordinating and assembling close to a hundred kiddie baggies for a jillion kiddie Valentine's Day parties? All of my boys were required to decorate Valentine's Day receptacles to hold their many Valentines, and I can tell you that a boy's interest in decorating a Valentine's Day box is about equal to his interest in, say, attending a princess themed tea party. So I thought we had conquered the whole Valentine monster this weekend, when I had the boys write out all their Valentines and decorate some semblance of a love box. Or, with Keane, cajole him into at least writing his name on a box instead of just bringing a Walmart bag.
Colette, on the other hand, is obsessed with her Valentines. She only had eight to prepare, so decided to do extra, and has been carrying them around and stuffing them in so many odd places that this morning I had to actually REDO a few of hers because who knows where they went? And then Rory, right before the bus this morning, decided he wanted to include more candy for his friends in sandwich baggies - Rory taking anything very seriously that involves the quick ingestion of refined sugar - so we scrambled to give his friends MORE candy.
And then! The parties themselves! I had signed up to bring drinks to Will's class, so I had to attend that party. But the older boys' parties were during Sylvie's nap time, and since I really didn't want to pay a sitter to sit with the baby while I go watch my uber-talented 7 and 9 nine year olds EAT COOKIES, I told them I couldn't go to their parties. Oh, the complaints! "You only care about WILL! You never come to anything of OURS!" (Just last week, people, I hired a sitter to go to lunch with my older boys and help in Will's class.) AARGH.
My sole respite from the kiddie Valentine tsunami: PVT's gift of Moonstruck Chocolates
But I just don't feel like feeling guilty. Perhaps because I just read Pamela Druckerman's rather excellent book, "Bringing up Bebe: One Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting," that I'm inclined to think we Americans overdo the whole kiddie thing. While French parents dote on their children, take their educations and diets (of course!) very seriously, and have high expectations of them, they don't let their children subsume their very existence. In fact, they assume that it is both necessary and healthy for parents and children to have a bit of privacy and separateness from each other. So I very much doubt that there are gaggles of French mothers today (do they celebrate Valentine's Day in France?) opening up juice boxes for their kiddies and hovering while they inhale Pixie Stix. No, the French woman just dropped her kiddie off at the neighborhood creche and is out getting various strategic erogenous zones waxed, buying new lacy underthings, and preparing for this evening's romantic five course dinner and a hot night of S-E-X.
Maybe the Frenchies overdo the independence a bit; I would not be thrilled, for example, to send my four year old on a week long camping trip with his classmates. But surely there is a happy middle ground.
Because the thought of many more years of kid-centric Valentine's Day is enough to make me despair of ever needing to wear lacy underthings, ever again.
Oh hello there sunlight! I apologize for the absence, dear friends; I had a fallow, weepy week. I had been ruminating on some big life stuff for quite a while, and all this introspection finally culminated ba-boom in a big heaping hormonal mess. I couldn't sleep; I felt nauseous; I was snappish with the spawn and PVT. Finally, Thursday I called in an emergency sitter; PVT and I needed to talk - and of course we talk best sans kids over non-nugget-like food in a cozy bistro filled with adult types. Alas, our dinner was interrupted by a) my frequent tearful breakdowns; and b) the sitter calling us to say a kid had smashed a finger in the door.
Finally PVT and I talked, but not after I started multitasking while making dinner last night and mixed the lovely Caesar salad I was making with DOG FOOD. Oh yes. I did. I should have taken a picture, but if I showed you dog food salad on the heels of stuff like this, you will never come back to this stomach-blowing blog again.
So, while some things are up in the air, and some things are simply out of our control, I feel like PVT at least knows what's going on in my warped little universe. And sometimes that makes all the difference in the world - knowing that the one you love the most is really hearing you.
So, you all, I feel like I'm BACK, and of course celebrated in typical MOI fashion by buying this ridiculous cake this morning at our church's "Chocolate Festival" (does your church have a Chocolate Festival? Ah hah! See, there's another reason to go Catholic!):
My baby sister - OK, she's 31 - just called me to say she and her family are being transferred to Alameda this June. Alameda! Right across from San Francisco! Right off the East Bay! Within shouting distance of Napa, and Carmel, and Monterey, and Sausalito...all those spectacular Northern California spots - how wonderful is that?
And then my other baby sister - OK, she's 35 (sorry, rarr) - has an interview at the University of Washington, our alma mater, in a few weeks. Which means...she may be moving back to the Motherland too!
So my whole family might be on the West Coast again? And MOI? I will still be....here. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ahhhhhhhhh.
I am going to try my damnedest not to throw a pity party, but I'll admit I felt like the wind was knocked out of me when I heard about my sister's move. And I know I have no reason to complain, what with our nice house, good schools, no traffic life here. This town is an easy place in which to raise a buttload of kids, which is no small thing. But yet: I have been simply haunted lately by the decision we made to move here almost six years ago. At the time, I was pregnant with my third child; it was in the middle of tax season (never, never make a life-altering decision if you are a CPA in the middle of freaking tax season, you all), and PVT's law partner had just flaked on him. The options for PVT in Portland simply seemed limited at the time. And so he got this job here.
And I was thrilled: justifiably thrilled because I would likely get to stay home with my three baby boys. And I was thrilled - less justifiably - that we would be able to afford a big, lovely, new house! I love my house - I still do. But a house in a place that still doesn't really feel like home is, in the end, just a house.
I think I underestimated my adaptability. I underestimated how much I would miss the all the lush green topography. How I miss hills and mountains! And all the water. All the green, blue water. In Seattle or Portland, you can drive an hour and be sitting on an ocean beach. Drive an hour the other way and you're up in the snowy Cascades. Drive an hour from here and you're in...Oklahoma City. No offense, Oklahoma City.
I grew up playing in the damp, mossy woods around my house, playing crazy made-up games with my sisters. My dad would take us to one of the jillion parks around our house, parks that were filled with meandering trails, huge trees, berry bushes. It slays me that my children are not growing up outdoors like that, getting dirty, stepping on slugs, with a constant pelt of drizzle on their ruddy cheeks. How I wanted them to have that kind of childhood. Why wasn't I thinking about those kind of things when we moved?
Alright, alright. You know I miss Nordstrom too. Even having the option of just going - not buying, PVT, just going! - and fingering the lovely duds and licking the shoes was a big mood lifter. What can I say? I"m as shallow as they come.
Did I make a huge mistake? Should we have waited it out longer in Portland? When you're in your early 30s, nothing feels like it's going to be permanent - yet. But now we are up against 40. Is this it? Will we be here forever?
I can't think in those terms, though - forever. No one can; forever is too unforeseeable, too big. I have to trust that if we are supposed to move back, the The Big Man Upstairs will see to it that PVT finds some magical COO-esque job in Portland, or Seattle.
And meanwhile we're hardly suffering. I must content myself with this still-wonderful life, my silly online shopping, our summer trips back home, and watching this absolutely perfect little tribute to our old hometown.
Doesn't it make you want to move there, too? If only for the entertainment value?