Purls of love

This weekend, I decided to undertake Mission Impossible.  Otherwise known as, “Operation Get Rid of the Stuff We No Longer Need.”

I started with baby bottles, nursing accessories and bibs that were no longer needed.  I found countless pacifiers sprinkled throughout the house.  My son hasn’t used a paci since he was 9 months old but I just couldn’t bring myself to part ways with them until now.  I tackled Chip’s overflowing dresser, which still contained clothes for 0-6 months.  Then I moved on to the toys scattered throughout the house.

I cleaned.  I purged.  I filled huge, Goodwill-destined garbage balls full of clothes, toys and baby paraphernalia.  Some bags were earmarked for the trash; others for family members of friends.  Mission Impossible was off to a good start.

But when I got to my daughter’s room, I came to a screeching halt.  Because there, nestled in the back of her dresser drawers, I discovered the neatly folded pile of The Sweaters.

The Sweaters are all that remain of my brief foray into knitting a few years back.  And as I took each tiny garment out, I quickly forgot about the organizing and purging.

Instead, I ventured down memory lane.    And I realized each sweater, poncho and tiny little hat held special significance for me.

Like the first piece of clothing I ever made for one of my children.  My first knitting project, actually.  I still remember ripping out rows upon rows of laboriously knit stitches and redoing them until I got it right.

Or sweaters knit for special occasions.  Like Valentine’s Day:

Or Christmas:

Or ones that were just used for doing yardwork:

Really kid? This sweater took me months to complete, and you're wearing it to mow the lawn? Really??

And probably a dozen other creations that I forget to get pictures of when they still fit her.  Yeah.  When I got to the stack of The Sweaters, all of my good intentions to purge and get rid of things no longer used just flew out the window.

I don’t need them anymore.  She’s long since outgrown them.  But I just can’t bear to part ways with them.

They symbolize late nights curled up on the couch; the quiet only being interrupted by the clicking of two needles together.  Well, that and a few choice swear words thrown in here and there when a mistake was discovered.

They are mementos of a pigtailed little toddler who actually wore skirts.  And who still let me dress her.

Clearly, they are reminders of just how much time I had on my hands when I had just had one child.  (Hello!  I haven’t picked up a knitting needle since Chip was born.)

They are labors of my love.

So I created a new bag.  One especially reserved for The Sweaters.   It lies in the back of her closet.

Waiting.

For just the right person to give them to.  Or for a day when I get particularly un-sentimental and decide to finally send them to Goodwill.

Or maybe they’re waiting for the day when they’re finally worn again.  By a niece, perhaps?  Or maybe, if I’m lucky, by a granddaughter?  I can only hope.

For the time being, though, the bag sits in the back of my daughter’s closet.

It is special.  It contains sweaters.  And a lot of love.

Five Years Ago

It seems like ages ago.  But it was only five years.

Five years ago, at about this time of night, we were headed to the hospital.  We were full of excitement, trepidation, and worry.  We were headed into the unknown.  And five years later, parenthood is still full of unknowns.  And excitement.  And worry.

Five years ago, we were a couple of kids playing house.  And five years later, I sometimes still feel like we’re playing house.  The only difference is, we’re no longer the only ones in it.  And the house is a lot louder now.

Five years ago, I had just finished a long day at work.  I was dog tired.  And five years later, I recognize the true meaning of tiredness.

Five years ago, we were anxiously waiting for time to speed by.  After months of waiting, we were ready for her to arrive, and for our family to finally begin.  And five years later, I find myself asking for time to stop.  How can she be five already?  It doesn’t seem plausible.

Five years ago, we knew everything.  We were so sure of ourselves, our marriage, and what we believed.  And five years later, we admit that we’re learning.  And that we will never truly know an iota of what we should know.

Five years ago, the car was packed.  A brand new carseat was installed, checked, and triple-checked.  Bags were packed with tiny newborn clothes.  And five years later, I find myself packing the car once again.  With two dozen Rapunzel-decorated cupcakes frosted in her favorite colors.  And treat bags with trinkets fit for a gaggle of preschoolers.

Five years ago, our family numbered two.  And five years later, we’ve doubled.  And we have realized that we weren’t truly a family back then.  Not yet.

Five years ago, we stood on the precipice of parenthood.   We thought we knew what love was.  And five years later, we truly know what it is.

Happy Birthday, Bobo.  I still can’t believe you’re a whole hand already.

Fortunately, Unfortunately.

Fortunately, my husband had an opportunity to go to a conference in Orlando.  So we decided it would be the perfect chance to spend some quality time with Bobo, and take her to The Magic Kingdom.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get on the same flights as Jay.

Fortunately, we had a direct, 5 1/2 hour flight, with no layovers.

Unfortunately, we had a direct, 5 1/2 hour flight, with no layovers.

Fortunately, the trip logistics went relatively smoothly.  Sure, some luggage was temporarily “misplaced” by the airlines, and a few meltdowns occurred here and there… but overall, there were no major snafus.

Unfortunately, our lucky streak came to a halting screech around 10 o’clock Sunday night.  That was when Bobo woke up, sick.

Fortunately, Jay took the late shift, and spent a good part of the night holding our daughter’s hair back… while I was able to get a few hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, she was still ralphing the next morning.  We had an early morning flight back home.

Fortunately, I had plenty of plastic bags I had pilfered from the hotel room garbage can.

Unfortunately, I ended up having to use most of them.  In the hotel room.  In the ticketing line.  In the security line.  And a couple of times on the plane.

Fortunately, we found out the hard way that a quick way to get through security is to be the proud owner of a vomiting child.  It was like a parting of the seas.  People gladly moved aside to let us by.  There was no mention of body cavity searches.

And, fortunately, we ran into some good folk on the way home.  Like the woman who inched my bag through the ticketing line while I held my sick daughter.  Or the grandpa who bought us a bottle of water and some hard candy from the sundry store, and then disappeared before I could offer to pay him.

Unfortunately, we also encountered some Grade-A jerks.  Like the businessman who rolled his eyes and made snide comments about having to sit next to a barfing kid on the plane.  Just count your blessings you’re not the one having to holding the bag, buddy.

Fortunately, we made it over 2,000 miles across the country without a single drop of vomit spilled outside the plastic bags.

Unfortunately, not more than 5 minutes after we set foot inside our house, she spewed everywhere.

Fortunately, after a hot bath and some popsicles, she was feeling better.  And, fortunately, Bobo was so exhausted last night, she asked to go to bed at 6 pm.  Fortunately, there were no cookies tossed in the middle of the night, and Bobo woke up feeling like herself again this morning.

Unfortunately, she woke up, feeling like herself this morning…  at 5 am, still on east coast time.

Fortunately, we’re home.  And, as I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, my daughter watching Scooby Doo, I’m glad we’re here.

Home.  It feels like the happiest place on earth.

The Magic Kingdom

There is something magical about this vacation.

And it’s not just the allure of the cartoon characters come to life, the princesses in their glittery ball gowns, or the ability of a $20 bill to disappear quicker than you can say “abracadabra.”  Those things are all magical.

I’m not just talking about the commercial, Disney type of magic.

I’m talking about the things you can’t quantify by tickets, astronomically high prices or wait times in horrendously long lines.

There is the magic in spending quality time with just our daughter.  And seeing it all through her eyes.

There is magic in seeing her joy and amazement in little things I used to take for granted when I traveled.  Flight attendants serving pop from beverage carts – and they even let you keep the whole can!  Mini bottles of lotion in the hotel bathroom.  Pop machines and ice dispensers on every floor.  Eating room service in bed, and not worrying about spilling anything on the covers.

There is magic in 5 hour plane rides where the only things to do are to watch “The Princess Bride,” read countless Shel Silverstein poems and ponder the big questions in life.  Questions like “where does the poop go when you flush on a plane?”

There is magic in watching her ride on Jay’s shoulders, her sticky little blue fingers running through his hair over his head.  She beams as she clutches a bag of cotton candy.  For the first time in a long time, she doesn’t have to share it with anyone.

There is magic about floating in the pool with my daughter… her tiny hands clutched around my neck as she makes big wet splashes with her feet.  “I’m swimming!” she exclaims excitedly.  And I let her think she is.

There is magic in the anticipation of taking my child to a place my husband and I had such vivid memories of when we were little.  He will do the teacups with her, so that I don’t blow chunks.  But Bobo and I will rock “It’s a Small World” by ourselves.  And, later, we’ll all yo-yo-ho with the Pirates of the Caribbean.

There is magic in having to put the proverbial beat down on my daughter because, the night before, she is too excited to stay in bed.  There is a tingle in the air, and we can all feel it.  I’m having trouble falling asleep, myself.

The three of us… crammed into a tiny, cluttered hotel room together… trying to drift off to sleep together.  The last time we all slept in the same room was when she was less than a week old.

Tonight, I watched her twirl a lock of her hair between her fingers as her eyes slowly closed shut.  I heard her breathing become slower and more rhythmic, interrupted only by the sporadic sounds of her thumb sucking.  The thumb sucking finally stopped, and she finally fell asleep, exhausted.  No doubt dreaming about tomorrow, and the Magic Kingdom.

Tomorrow, we will spin.  And ride.  And laugh.  And, hopefully, not blow chunks.

It will be magic.

And I can’t wait.

The odd man out

6 years ago. I hold my friend’s newborn baby, and marvel at how tiny and perfect it is.  I listen to her talk about how wonderful motherhood is; how much joy it gives her.  We’re not pregnant yet.  I feel left out.

8 months pregnant. The family is bubbling about an upcoming trip to Mexico.  They invited us to go, but the kicking, writhing little alien in my belly advised me it was better to pass this time.  And so we stay home, and I feel a pang of jealousy when they return and we see their bronzed glows and hear about their adventures.  I feel left out.

6 weeks old. She’s here.  And she will not stop crying.  All day, every day.  No one told me what colic was, or that it would suck this bad.  Meanwhile, my husband “gets” to go to work every day.  But I want to go to the office!  I want to interact with adults!  I want a daily respite from the blood curdling screams!  I feel left out.

9 months old. We’re at Christmas with his family.  I barely get to see anyone because I’m holed up in the spare bedroom breastfeeding and trying to get her to nap.  I scarf down a few bites of dinner in between her meals.  I miss getting to see people open the presents we bought them.  I feel left out.

Toddlerhood. We’re at a wedding.  It’s an hour past her bedtime, but we’ve amped her up with punch and goldfish, trying to delay the inevitable.  As she rubs her eyes and begins to whine, we see that the meltdown is imminent.   We sneak out of the reception before the cake is even cut.  I feel left out.

She’s three now. A colleague drops into town.  At the last minute, he organizes an impromptu happy hour.  I am dying to go sip martinis, and enjoy some real adult conversation like in the good old days.  But I can’t, because I have to leave work to pick her up from preschool.  I feel left out.

And just like that, she’s almost five. We enter her classroom, and she immediately runs over to play with a friend.  She giggles at something her teacher says.  I beckon her back for a hug and kiss.  She looks embarrassed.  “Mom, the other kids are looking,” she says, with an air of annoyance.  She’s a big kid now, and doesn’t want them to think she needs to be babied.  She begrudgingly lets me hug her, and gives me an obligatory peck on the cheek.  Then she scampers off to play.

As I exit the school, I feel left out.

Outside, I stand at the window for a minute to spy in on her.  I watch her laugh, and I am both proud and sad at how independent she’s becoming.

And I realize that it’s beginning.  That those moments of feeling like I’m knee deep in the trenches will ever-so-slowly be replaced by moments of feeling like I’m on the outside, looking in.  She will need me less and less with each passing year.

It’s already beginning.  Even though I don’t want it to.

At that moment, I feel a slight twinge for those years when she needed me, and only me.  When I was the center of her universe.  When I was immersed in all things baby, and the rest of the world went on around us.

When it was just us.  And everyone else was left out.

Mama's Losin' It
#3. A time when you felt left out.