Finding Happy

The baby is finally asleep, and there are a million more pressing things I need to be doing right now, but I’ve had a moment of clarity that demands stopping everything and considering it.

A couple months ago, my father came to town for a few days. I hadn’t seen him since Collin was born. My father and I have a very special relationship: we “get” each other in a way very few other people in this world do, if at all. We sat together in my brand new living room, watching Collin crawl happily, silhouetted by the rain outside the window. I wasn’t surprised, but I wasn’t prepared for what he asked me:

“So, are you happy?”

What? Am I what?

I had such a strange reaction to that question. My first inner response was a gushing, “Oh my god, YES!!” but there was something beneath that, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, which prevented those words from coming out. I thought perhaps I was just reacting to the stress of the move, but that question stayed with me.

Am I happy? 

So, it took me a couple of months, but I’m finally ready to answer that question. And the short answer is: yes, I’m happy. I’m very, very happy.  However, this season of my life, mothering a baby for the first time, is not always easy, and it’s not always fun, and it’s not always happy. I’ve presently got some sort of cold, which always irritates my asthma, and to alleviate the breathing troubles, Husband suggested I hole up under a blanket with the humidifier. I did, and felt much better afterward, but I think more than the humidity, I was healed by hiding under a blanket, zoning out, and letting someone else be responsible for my life for a little while. I realize I’d been wanting to do just that for almost 11 months now.

It’s a trade off, this motherhood business. This is my life’s calling, this is what I’ve always wanted to do, this is what I was born to do. No career will ever make me as happy as being with Collin, even when he is making me crazy. And boy, are there moments when I feel crazy.

But happily crazy.

(Not) Remembering the details

I’ve realized that, despite being the kind of hoarder mom that saves sample newborn diapers (for what? So I can whip it out of a box to show Collin one day? “Look what your butt could have once squeezed into!”), I have not kept a baby book. What? Why?

Isn’t that what every mom is supposed to do? Isn’t that breaking some sort of Mom Law?

Collin’s baby book consists of a box in the closet, labeled “Collin’s Stuff,” where everything Collin-related gets shoved and forgotten. Until that magical “one day” where I’ll have time to do something with dusty baby shower cards. It saddens me to think that I never recorded any of his milestones in a book for him to read one day, especially now that he has hit the mac daddy of baby milestones and (shhhh) he’s walking.

Yes, it’s true. While Husband and I lay in a heap on the floor, Collin toddles all around us, picking up socks to put in Husband’s mouth. If you want to see the happiest baby in the world, take him for a walk down the street, holding only one of his little hands. Let him stop and whack the flowers. Let him flap his free arm and squeal in delight as he stomps his moccasin-clad foot in the neighbor’s manicured yard. If you want to see the saddest baby in the world, pick him up and take him inside. Although, it occurred to me after I came home from work last night to see him zipping around the living room, that he really isn’t a baby anymore. He’s a toddler. My baby is a toddler. Suddenly, I’m asking the same bewildered question I had asked when I first found out I was pregnant, “How did this happen?” (Well, OK, we know how… )

I know baby books are supposed to be the place you highlight your child’s accomplishments, but I feel like I do that all day long, every day, to everyone who talks to me. I am obnoxious, I’m sure. I’m likely to answer, “How are you?” with, “Oh, Collin is doing great!” I’m sure, if I were to keep a baby book, it would be the star spangled banner of baby books. It would never contain segments of actual day-to-day life, such as:

“Today I watched cat hair drift across the floor while I wondered if the poopy smell was coming from the litter box or the diaper.”

Or:

“Today I managed to cook and prepare rice with one hand while holding Collin in the other, only to have him stare right at me while he rapidly stuck his tongue in and out so said rice would avalanche all over the place.”

If you guessed that both those things happened today, you would be right. I suppose this blog would be my version of Collin’s baby book. Or my Facebook page, which should just be renamed Collinbook. In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter so much if Collin won’t be able to look back and know the exact nanosecond he sat up for the first time. He will be able to look back and know how much he was loved, cherished, adored. He’ll know he was my best friend, my confidant, my play mate, and my boss. He was, and always will be, my world.

Who let Spring in?

Today was one of those gorgoeous days where it would have been an absolute crime to stay indoors. Spring has sprung, so unexpectedly, that I feel as if I could liken it to trudging home after a long night in the cold to open your front door and SURPRISE! Spring jumps out from behind the couch in a party hat, blowing a noise maker.

Case in point? Last night we celebrated Passover and tomorrow we celebrate Easter. I think this Passover was my best ever. On the menu: Gefilte fish (that only I ate), matzo brei (that was sweetened, so Husband would actually eat it and say, “Mmm!’ instead of “Um…is it supposed to be this bland?”), charoset, roasted chicken, browned cabbage and onion with horseradish (that only I ate. More for me!).

 Let me say this loud and proud: I. Love. Passover. But I ESPECIALLY love Passover as an adult. As a kid, you celebrate Passover by sitting for a billion years at a dinner table in your nicest dress while the adults get drunker and drunker, someone reads in Hebrew, and you make faces at the other kids to amuse yourself when you think the grown-ups aren’t looking. When it’s finally time to eat, you are just starving enough to try the weird Passover food staring back at you from the table.  As an adult, YOU’RE the one getting drunk, and suddenly the Seder is a lot more enjoyable. Screw reciting Hebrew, instead you read the Passover story from your baby’s My First Passover picture book, and all that weird food is now DELICIOUS and reminds you of your childhood. Aaahhh. Best part of my Passover? I made way too much food, and now I have tons of leftovers. Which I am eating right now: it’s the seder all over again! Lechaim! All the food turned out great this year, no thanks to Martha Stewart, who thinks she knows anything about Jewish food. The directions for matzo brei on her website said to leave it on the frying pan undisturbed for five minutes, which sounds fine, until you find yourself asking, “What’s burning?” By then, it’s too late. Thanks a lot, Martha.

But anyway, back to the present. It was a beautiful day today, and like the good Jew that I am, I took my son to see the Easter Bunny. The whole affair turned out much better than I thought it would, remembering the time Collin met Santa Claus: picture a slightly haggard old man who kind of looked like he had just dug his way out of prison with a spoon and my terrified, screaming baby. Most of the pictures were of Santa looking grim, holding a red-in-the-face, forehead vein throbbing hysterical infant. So, that’s what I was looking forward to. Luckily, the Easter Bunny was slightly less frightening, though adorably sad in his corny, tired costume with the big bunny head that slumped forward, making him look as if he were hanging his head in shame. Our friends brought their baby along, who is so deliciously plump that I’ve made it my personal ritual to kiss her sweet buddha belly every time I see her. Her memories of me will mostly consist of me invading her personal space, I’m sure. I’ll be certain to refrain from our routine when she’s fifteen. In the meantime, aren’t babies irresistably smoochy? Is it just me?

Are we having fun yet?

It’s his party, and I’ll cry if I want to.

Is it a shock to anybody that I’ve started planning Collin’s first birthday a month ago? (He’s currently ten months old. Just for the record). It’s going to be Elmo themed, because Elmo has always been Collin’s BFF (After MooMoo, of course). Collin’s first birthday has been pretty much the focus of my life lately, always hovering around in the back of my head, much like his baby shower did. I have fantasized about it since I was pregnant, possibly even before that. His first birthday seems to be where all my motherhood fantasies convene, and I picture Collin giddy, surrounded by friends, enjoying his little one-year-old life. I also picture perfect weather, perfect homemade decorations, and perfect homemade food.

Hmm…could it be that I am setting myself up for disappointment? No, not really. I pictured the same thing for his Welcome-To-Earth party at the beach, in which I was having a near panic attack because we were late (as usual) but no one even came for the first thirty minutes, then it was so packed at the beach that I couldn’t find a picnic table (some nice people let me use one of theirs). I spent the first half of the party snapping postpardomly at poor Husband, and then I accidentally tugged Collin’s newborn ear while putting his hat on and made him SCREAM inconsolably just as guests started to arrive. On top of all that, the sunny day at the beach I imagined was freezing cold until the party was over and we were walking back to our car, when the clouds parted, the sun suddenly shined merrily, and (I kid you not) dolphins began leaping happily along the shore. I don’t remember anything else about that day. I probably went home and ate a pound of chocolate while I pumped in front of Netflix. But, I digress; my point was that when I look at pictures of that party, the one I had such high hopes for and went nothing like I had planned, I am filled with nostalgia and love for that tiny baby in his nerd sweater sniffling in my arms. The party was to celebrate the fact that he was born, and that in itself made it a great party. And hey, we even saw some dolphins.