Archive for October, 2011

The itch

So lately I have been watching this one video of BabyK aged 17 months, making adorable animal sounds and smiling with those huge baby cheeks. My professor said, “sounds like you’ve got the itch! Watch out!” It’s true – I am helpless in the face of us, frozen with head cold and gappy baby teeth, happy and snuggly and in sync. I remember how I felt like he was so grown up then!! And then came three. Oh three, age of defiance and unlocking doors and wandering into alleys. Age of repeating things that shouldn’t be repeated and making comments about the physical characteristics of strangers. Age of sharp, completely unpadded elbows constantly up in my boobage. Why, oh why?!?!

I don’t honestly think that I want another baby. I remember how awful that was, and how awful at it I physically am. I just want a time machine, when I could go back to my squishy, cuddly little baby who was often difficult but never truly defiant. We were bonded back then in a way that my newly independent, cocky preschooler is so not down for. Of course we were, because we saw each other every four hours all damn night. So I want to take that time machine right on back to my 11 hour sleep time window at night.

But he is still there, of course. That little boy is inside my big boy. I didn’t lose him, per se. But I miss him. And much as I enjoy the relaxation that comes with older kid parenting, it brings new worries. For instance, my little kid DOES NOT STOP TALKING. Ever. When he is cold at night he talks constantly in his sleep. But for all this talking and book memorization and scrawling on anything and everything that holds still (and even his parents, on occasion) it seems like the alphabet business is going no where. I haven’t pushed it, I’ve assumed that he will pick it up when he’s ready and done what I think is a moderate amount of coaching and questioning and all that. But I had expected to see a lot more letter recognition after 9 weeks of preschool. He will volunteer the letter of the week a little more readily but still is just grasping at shapes. I also know for a fact that he could count to 10 ages and ages ago – but absolutely, unconditionally refused to count for me under any circumstances. So I figured that was what was going on – the more I push, the less he displays. Then tonight he told me that 3 was M. And I thought, fuck. My mom has a form of dyslexia. Fuck fuck fuck. So then I am sitting, alone and unattended (as always) googling preschool signs of dyslexia. Some he has, some he most definitely doesn’t. For instance, being slow to pick up new words or find the right word. That boy has words for days. Case in point: Right now we are playing the “I say, you say” game. “Mom, I’ll say Boo and you say AHH!” “I will say no and you will say yes.” Etc. etc. about four more times than was amusing. Tonight, I was kind of half listening and I said, “What can I say?” And he said, “You can say ‘Oh Dammit'”. Which is true – I am a grown up and I can say Oh Dammit and that references our earlier conversation from four months ago about how he is a grown up and a baby but not a big boy because he can say oh dammit but he didn’t like to use the potty (his logic, clearly)… but why can’t you tell me what letter I’m pointing at when I know that you spent FIVE DAYS of tracing and talking and games and activity trying to tell you what this letter is? Why don’t you like to trace the letters? Why is today the first day you’ve made anything resembling letters (which they didn’t really, but I got the idea)?

I’m sure it’s nothing. I’m sure he’s going to be just fine at that perfect school that I have yet to select or qualify or pay for, but this. This lurking dread about the next thing to go wrong, the next shoe to drop. The days and then MONTHS that I spent terrified that he was not going to keep breathing on his own, aspirating on his own gastric fluids in the middle of the night, being malnourished, or killing himself with his uncanny ability to acquire the most lethal object in the room in record time. This I don’t think I could handle again. I don’t think I can handle another miscarriage. I don’t think I can handle another nine months of fear, let alone hours of lives on the line. Perhaps I am a coward. Or perhaps I just know more than your average mom. Or perhaps I just feel so amazingly lucky to have this one awesome relatively healthy kid that it seems impossible to imagine being so lucky a second time – and then, being even luckier and hoping to not be in PT for almost 30 weeks, to not have liver failure, to not have a c-section, to not be up all night for two years straight. It seems too much to hope for. Probably because it is.

 

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My Catholic Habit

Lately, it seems like Sunday is a day of anything but rest. Sunday is the day when I wake up feeling angry, frustrated, silenced, unknown and anonymous. Discarded, pushed out, alone. After the massive clusterfuck that was 2006-2008, I actually said that I didn’t believe in God anymore. And then I spent a year singing a mass led by a man whom I find it impossible to respect. I tried. I hoped. I prayed. I sang and sang and sang. In the end, the entire church got handed over to this person, and people who had spent nearly a decade worshiping and loving and living along with us were gone. Scattered. It became increasingly clear that our home was no longer a home. We would no longer attend this church. I flirted with the idea of not attending any church, of embracing the ‘just be a good person’ agnosticism of our friends. I can’t say that I wasn’t delighted by the prospect of never again being judged by the self-appointed ‘Mommy police’ who loved to gloat and criticize and shame me on our every meeting. But i just couldn’t kill that little sprig of hope saying, maybe it could be better. Maybe this is the time when religion seems to really work out. Maybe. So our church shopping adventures began.

It is true that not every problem with our old church belongs to that dude. There is no youth programming at our old church, and therefore, no youth. A handful of people under the age of 10 does not a demanding demographic make. Our active preschooler was bored and we spent the entire hour chasing him instead of enjoying the mass in any way. There were cracks in the golden bowl, so to speak. And then that guy with his manipulative and insulting behavior took a sledgehammer to it. I wasn’t really ready to leave, and I know that Mr. K wasn’t ready either, given the way he steadfastly refuses to attend any new church with me. (Or by himself, for that matter.) For all it’s faults and judging and oldness and lack of opportunities, it was home. It was home in a way beyond understanding. So, why I am searching so hard for a new church? Why does it even matter, when the truth is my religious beliefs can only nominally be described as Catholic?

I don’t know. I have come to believe that attending mass is something that I need, much like exercise or time alone or time with friends, to get myself ballasted against the swells of daily life. It’s not a rational, intellectual exercise. In fact, it is something beyond rational. I need ritual. I need rite. I need to feel the vibration in my sternum of hundreds of people speaking together, joined in a singular purpose for 60 minutes. I need to sing – oh, how I need to sing. I need to be tied to something older and wiser and bigger than myself. When I am stressed, when I am burdened, it soothes me. Except for now, when it all feels so foreign and not homelike enough and I sense my existential loneliness in a new and even more distressing way.

So there it is. I don’t really buy that Mary was ever-virgin, even though I appreciate the ‘virgin meant whole, entire, not in a genital sense’ apologists. I don’t believe that only men should be priests, and I’m deeply mistrustful of ministers of any doctrine and the Catholic¬†hierarchy¬†in particular. I am skeptical as to the meaning of Christ and I steadfastly refuse to believe in Hell as something that exists outside of the immediate here and now. Until we can provide true agency and equality for women, we have no business outlawing abortion and even then… even then I’m not convinced that it couldn’t be a moral choice. A devastating and heartbreaking choice, but not inherently evil. I am deeply frightened and enraged by the Republican Party and the Tea Party in particular. I know there are many who would say without hesitation that these statements mean that I am not a Catholic, that I have no business calling myself a Catholic. And yet… I just can’t quit it. Where is the church that is calling me to come home? Who wants such an unorthodox postmodern liberal feminist as a parishioner? One who believes God has bigger things to worry about than her foul language?

Who wants to be our new family?

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You May Find This Offensive

A man is dead. That is very sad. I am sure that the people who knew him, and loved him, and felt conflictedly ambivalent about him, are all devastated. But I am not sad because he sold me things and now he will not. Someone else is most definitely coming to sell me things. I only own one thing that he sold, and it is a pretty decent thing. It never changed my life. I don’t think his stuff was all that revolutionary. I think his attitude towards the public was often shitty, and the naming of a piece of technology after a feminine hygiene item was somewhat less than inspired. But apparently FB is engaged in group mourning, and because of this ‘new media’ and ‘age of technology’ there is very little I can do about opting out. Or disagreeing. Or saying, hey, you might be overstating the case there just a little bit? But because I am the type of person who actually cares about how my electronic communications are interpreted by those around me, I can’t just actually TYPE that shit. OMG. Seriously. Social media pariah!!

I think this has been building since 9/11. Never forget! Like that day that still lives in infamy? That day that no one born after 1985 even knows about? That day, which actually changed the course of history and the course of national identity and all sorts of things, including the life of my very own grandfather, that day is one to remember. This day, this awful awful day, was a day when lots of innocent people died, heroes lost their lives, and our country hit a slick spot on a downhill slide that we still haven’t shaken. I don’t feel ennobled by that day. I feel saddened, and mostly sickened, by what the day has come to mean in our popular discourse. I agreed with the Salon article that said the 10 year anniversary didn’t really matter because we’d never stopped grieving and using it as a justification for all sorts of ends. But it’s not the kind of thing that you can say on a social media platform, or at least I can’t say it there.

I guess what I’m saying, at 12:19 a.m. on a rough week night, is that I will be boycotting FB on days of national sentiment or cultural importance. Ha ha. No. I will be reading, and getting irritated, and feeling confused and gagged and disenfranchised. Because for all of our collective consciousness and hivemind and millions of ways to express ourselves, I still can’t say what I think for fear of what other people will think of me. Or for fear of what someone else will think when they unearth that sentiment years from now. Long ago in the days of Myspace, lo, so many moons ago, I started blogging in a very timid sort of way. And I got bold. I got bold about speaking my truth and practicing radical honesty and freeing myself from the straitjacket of perfectionism, which I love to bedazzle and worship every hour on the hour. I got stronger, and I needed it, because boy was the shitstorm ever coming for me. Now that the shitstorm has mostly passed, now that I once again (mostly) sleep through the night, what am I doing but trying to cut pieces of myself off so that I can fit back in that damn bedazzled jacket?

I think it’s time for a little more honesty. A lot more truth. Because I am tired of lying and covering and pretending and scrambling and hustling and trying so desperately to fit in. If this just offended the crap out of your RSS Feed, or whatever super-connected mega corporation software that delivers these words to you in a hypersymbiotic platform of the matrix – sorry. Go ahead and unfollow now.

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