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?
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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.

Granola, anyone?

I love being a mom in Santa Cruz. I didn’t realize just how much I had absorbed the crunchy mama culture (think Earth Mother) until it hit me one day, while I was wearing my baby in a sling as I concocted homemade laundry detergent. I was wearing aluminum-free deodorant (which, lets be honest, doesn’t really work) and singing a song from Mothersong, a multi-cultural singalong that I take Collin to. At Mothersong, you will be likely to sit in a circle and openly breastfeed while you sing “We love the mother earth” with babies named Hawk and Bear (I’m not kidding. They’re very cute babies).

I love living naturally. I admire other people who live naturally. And, yes, I’ve even acquired a taste for granola. You’re welcome, Santa Cruz.

In other news, we are yet again traveling to Southern California, this time to support my Mom’s partner as she passes from this life. I am anticipating some highly emotional days ahead, hopefully brightened a little by Collin’s sweet smile.

It is what it is: Discovering acceptance.

Lately, I’ve been reminded of my favorite mantra, “I am, what I am, what I am. Thank god I am.”

Finding my place as a mother and as a soul transitioning from youth to midlife has offered insights into paths I never once considered. It has opened windows and closed them. I have become calmer, stronger, perhaps a little wiser. Also, more confused. But that comes with the process, I suppose.

I do not believe in death the way modern Americans perceive it. To me, what we know as death is just a transition from one world to another, a different (perhaps less painful?) form of birth. I used to pride myself in believing I was immune to fearing death. That is, until I became a mother. Suddenly, death had a whole new meaning. Yes, I still view it as a simple transition, but now there is more to it. “What if” swims around my head as I rock my child to sleep at night. What if there was a bad earthquake? What if there was a terrible car accident? What if there was a fire?

What if I lost my husband? What if I lost my child? What if I lost them both? How would I go on?

The impermanence of life has left me humbled. Every day, I thank the Universe for one more day with my beautiful family, for our health and happiness. For our safety. Being a mother has made me realize, despite all the responsibilities I do have, just how much I don’t have control. And if I allow it, I will collapse into myself with worry, crumble beneath the weight of What If? I am only human, but I have the divine capability of choosing my thoughts. I try to remember to think them wisely. Worrying about my future will not protect my future, nor will spending my energy groveling to the Universe in gratefulness for how good I have it now. I need to live boldly, in acceptance of what turns my life may take, and that is how I will honor my life, past, present, and future.

I am, what I am, what I am. Thank god I am.

My little big boy.

Collin is nine months old tomorrow. Nine months?

….

Oh, I’m sorry. I just spaced out a little, because I realized that somehow the little infant I spent 24 hours heaving out of my body is almost a year old. If he’s nine months old, that means in just three months he will be a year!

A year?

Ok, sorry. In all seriousness, I am in love with being a mom of an older baby. Having a young baby is a lot of fun, but I’m finally able to get a thing or two done when Collin sleeps instead of flop on the couch, drained and  exhausted, with a line of drool falling down my chin and an, “I’m sorry, the number you have reached is no longer in service” message running through my head.

I love having an older baby. I love the giant, slobbery baby kisses all over my face. I love the raspberries he blows on my belly. I love that he looks for me when I’m gone, and the way he smears food all over his face when he eats, and the way he talks to us in the backseat of the car. I love when he crawls to me and tries to climb up my legs into my arms. I love the way he waves at everything: the lamp, the cat, the window, the toilet. I love his courage and sense of adventure, but that he still cries for me whenever he’s afraid. I love the way he rolls onto his belly while he sleeps and curls his limbs underneath himself until he looks like a sleepy turtle.

I love Collin for who he is, every minute of the day (and night), and I’m counting on that to help me make it through his toddler years.

Pass the Sudafed, please.

Illness has swept through the house, yet again. We used to have a pretty good track record when it came to illnesses. Husband rarely ever got sick, and when I did, it was usually once or twice in the winter. Nothing major. Now, however, we’re sick at least twice a month. We’re sick so much, it’s boring. We’re sick so much, our colds get colds. Around here, a phone call with your concerned relative might go something like this:

“Hi, honey. You sound sick. Do you still have that cold?”

“Oh, I was better for two days. This is a new one.”

Now, whenever a week of solid wellness goes by, I begin to look at my watch and wait for it, the Inevitable Cold, and I start appreciating the little things, like breathing out of both nostrils at the same time. I know that, before long, I will yet again become a blubbering fountain of snot and the baby will become a fussing, napless maniac. Collin always seems to come down with his colds overnight. He will be a little clingy and sleepy one day, and then at night I will notice, with each increasing night wakening, that his poor little nose is stuffier and stuffier. He starts coughing and sputtering, tossing and turning. Then, morning will come, and he will sit straight up in bed and look at me with this glazed, disoriented look in his eyes, panting to catch his breath from the boogers that have clogged his nose. He always looks so confused, as if he wants to say, “Why do I feel so lousy?“  And somehow he always looks sadly disheveled, with his hair sticking out in every direction and his nose swollen, runny, and pink. My poor boy.

I’m thinking about ordering a custom “Quarantined”  sign to hang on our door. So what do I do during all this sick time?  I make gallons of chicken soup. Yep, you heard me right. Gallons. There is a whole chicken simmering in two gallons of water in my stock pot right now. On top of that, there is a whole bag of soup from the last round of colds hanging out in the freezer (which wrapped itself around the iron rack shelf and froze like that, so now I have to take the whole shelf out to de-thaw the soup. Lesson learned) along with blocks and blocks of broth that I froze in little square baby food trays. Being sick so much has given me the great opportunity to practice my Jewish mother chicken soup-making skills. I’m not sure why I go so overboard with the soup, other than “overboard” seems to be my style. I will say that nothing makes a sick body feel comforted like a hot bowl of chicken soup. Let’s just hope your stomach isn’t feeling sick, though, because the process of making broth makes the whole house stink to high heaven.
 Come to think of it, it’s possible Collin has a tummy ache, because he has been farting in a way that would make his farty parents proud lately. He is a true member of the family now. Of course, his little baby farts are adorable and smell like cotton candy.

Maybe that last part was a bit of an exaggeration.

Anyway, moving on, when we got back from our visit to Southern California, there was a video baby monitor waiting for us. Huzzah! A video baby monitor! I derive great pleasure from watching Collin sleep, as if I don’t get to do that often enough by co-sleeping with him. Sometimes he will wake up and crawl around in bed, as if looking for me. The down side, though, is that at night the monitor uses night vision, which makes it look as if my baby has a starring role in Paranormal Activity. Sometimes, I watch it a little anxiously, as if something seriously freaky were about to happen. Somehow, I wouldn’t be surprised, as this house is over 100 years old. Don’t make me get all Ghost Busters on your asses, house spirits.

Our lives, here now.

So we’ve been living in our new place for a couple weeks now, and it’s just beginning to feel like home. Or, maybe I’m just beginning to not feel so lost and alone in it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, this is our dream home (until we have more kids and grow out of it), but isn’t there something about a new house that is strange and foreign? I found myself walking into the kitchen at night and feeling the need to say, “Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to intrude…” Do you know what I’m saying? New homes take getting used to. There are new noises at night, new neighbors to get to know, new rhythms of life.

Anyway, we’ve moved most of our stuff over to the new house and settled in, and we’re living out of boxes a lot less, which is nice. It felt like glorified camping for a while. The first day alone with Collin in the new house felt shockingly similar to my first day alone with him EVER after Husband went back to work and my mom went back to Minnesota. I had the “Will it always be this terrifying?!” feeling again, and walked the baby to Whole Foods to meet my friend, V. V is the Winnie the pooh to my Piglet. While I, Piglet, am running in circles crying, “Oh dear! Oh dear!” over the baby gate not fitting in the doorway or the fact that I went to the new house to clean it and forgot all my cleaning supplies, V the Pooh will waltz in and find the most simple (sometimes obvious), yet brilliant solution. To anything. And she’ll make it look easy, and you will be immeasurably relieved and wonder how on earth you have such a great friend. Seriously, everyone needs a V in their lives. So that first day alone in the new house wasn’t so scary after seeing V’s refreshing smile.

In other news, we will most likely be leaving tomorrow to go back to Socal to say goodbye to my mom’s partner, who is losing her battle with cancer. Cancer is such a dirty word. I hate it.