Friday, February 15, 2013
this morning when we were on the phone, I worked hard to keep myself together. It didnt seem right to force you to comfort me when you were still reeling from the news: the tumor in your head has chosen not to remain a still small voice, but is growing to a shout. I cried a bit on the phone, but once we hung up, I broke down. I put my head on the desk and bawled, my tissue stained with mascara and tears.
I keep thinking about The Kid: how much you enjoy her company, how delightful your relationship is and will be--is supposed to be--far into the future. It's not fair! I want that for both of you! Please don't go yet! Please stay and play with my daughter. Let her get to know you. Make her remember you.
Whatever you decide to do regarding treatment, I will support you. It's your head, your brain. I can't blame you for choosing to keep it unaltered by surgeon's blade. But Dad, when you go--whether it's two years or twenty or more--it's too soon. I am not and will not be ready.
I love you,
Sunday, August 12, 2012
She continues to get stronger every day, and is seeing a physical therapist a couple of times a week. She and I have resumed our regular telephone conversations, and she tells me that The Kid's current trouble falling asleep at night is due to the bad karma of my public gloating in this very space. And so, at her urging, I take back my "nanny-nanny-boo-boo" of the last post. Sorry, Em. Please tell Morpheus to take it easy on The Kid. There, Mom, bad karma reversed?
I know that Mom misses the gallery -- or, more specifically, all of her customer-friends. But not even a coma could keep her from doing what she loves, which is why she is working with her friend Michelle Amadeo of Bode Floors to put on what has become an annual event--Summer Camp for grown-ups. I'm pasting the information below. Please consider checking it out if you're around. It should be a good time, and it's for a good cause.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Sure enough, the interrupted sleep came. But at around seven weeks, The Kid started going a full five or six hours after her "bedtime" feed. Since then she has been going longer and longer after her final feed of the night, waking up for fewer and fewer nighttime feedings. Until last week. Last Tuesday night, The Kid went to sleep around 7:30 PM and woke up around 7 the next morning. Since then, she has repeated the performance exactly twice.
I know that her easy sleep habits and her sunny disposition are the result of her inherent personality, not my good parenting, but I cannot help but feel a swell of pride as I put The Kid to bed and resist the urge to call the SAHMnambulist to say "nanny nanny boo boo!"
Thursday, July 19, 2012
When I was in my first year of graduate school, Jonathan Z. Smith, the eminent historian of religions, was invited to give a guest lecture to one of my first year MA classes at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. J.Z. Smith makes quite an impression, with a wild beard and wilder hair. He walks with a cane and fills the room with his presence. He was in my classroom that day to lecture about the importance of place in ritual. The blurb from his book To Take Place (which I read that year) says "Smith stresses the importance of place--in particular, constructed ritual environments--to a proper understanding of the ways in which 'empty' actions become rituals."
I don't remember much of his lecture, from that day, but I do remember an anecdote he told. A scholar of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Professor Smith told us about the time he visited that building with his wife. He described the ancient rooms as chaotic: dark and loud with polyglot prayers of penitent pilgrims and thick with the smell of incense and humanity. His anxiety at the scene was clear even in that Chicago classroom many years and thousands of miles away. He told his wife that must not be the place--it couldn't be the place. She found a monk to confirm--they were, in fact, standing in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the very place about which Smith had studied and written. "Let's go," he said to his wife (I paraphrase my recollection of the story), "this isn't my Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I prefer the clean, perfect model on my desk."
I can remember feeling a sort of self-righteous pity for Professor Smith on that day. A sense that he was so deeply afraid of the mess that is life that he must be choosing not to live.
Then we actually performed it.
The Kid was impeccably behaved throughout the first half of services. She was all smiles and coos. David bought her a tiny yarmulke with strings to tie around her chin. She giggled when we tied it on, tickling her chin as we did so.
First she got annoyed with the strings, batting at them with her hand. A few moments before it was her turn to be the center of attention, she got really annoyed, and made sure everyone knew it. David took her out of the chapel to change her diaper and give her a quick bite to eat. When it was time for her to go up on the bima, she wasn't back yet. When she got back, she was supposed to be passed from grandparent to grandparent to receive blessings from each of them. She wasn't crazy about all that passing.
Still, she received a blessing from each of her six grandparents, and the ceremony really was lovely. I missed the midrash I'd originally planned to read to the assembled, but no one else did. I regretted the fact that though The Kid touched the handle of the Torah, no one ever said the words "as you touched the Torah today, so may the Torah touch your life," but no one else seemed to notice. And as I fell asleep that night, I thought of J.Z. Smith and his Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
I thought about his sterile model sitting on his desk. I imagined it made of a bright white material to showcase the angles of the architecture--a complete contrast to the stone church, gritty with 2000 years of desperation and faith, gratitude and hope--and I felt a new sympathy for Professor Smith. My bright white sterile ceremony that is sitting on my desk is just words on paper. And yet.
The Kid's naming was lovely. She was adorable and beautiful in her fancy dress. The ceremony was dense with meaning and with love. I wouldn't change it. Unlike Professor Smith, I don't prefer the sterile, ideal--in it, The Kid is just words on paper, not my living, breathing, crying, smiling, eating, cooing baby girl. Still, I'm glad I am able to visit the scale model on my desk--even if no one else ever sees it.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
The Kid and I made the drive up to Baltimore from Norfolk so that grandmother and granddaughter could meet. We spent a whole week there. I was the sandwich between my two-month-old, who needs everything from me, and my mom, who needs more help than she might like. It was tiring, for sure, but it was great. The Kid and I slept in the room that was mine when I was a teenager. Mom slept on a bed in the living room on the first floor. I barely left the house all week.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
My sister, the Sahmnambulist, recently came to visit with her son, LO. I can't say that the cousins enjoyed each others' company, though neither was there any ill will. They seemed to be relatively oblivious to one another, truth be told. (Well, except when the Kid was being held by her Aunt Emily (Em, I get props for not saying Auntie Em, right?). LO was a bit put out by the attention his mama was showing to another little one.) It was interesting, though, to compare certain parenting notes with my sis.
Since the Kid was born, I'm realizing how few kids songs I know. There's "This Old Man," though honestly, I don't know what it means to play nick-nack, and am a bit afraid to ask. Also, I have no idea what or where the old man plays nick nack when he plays nine. I just can't remember. I've also got "Hush Little Baby," but that seems to teach the Kid that material possessions are the key to comfort, even as it laments the fleeting nature of those possessions. I'm not ready to have that conversation with my 5-week old.
As a result, I often end up singing contemporary pop music to my Kid to comfort her. Elbow shows up often in my repertoire, as do the Beatles, and for some reason. Simon and Garfunkle.
Emily and I were talking about it while she was here, and we realized that our parents must have also taken to singing contemporary radio fodder as lullabies. That's why Simon & Garfunkle keep surfacing in my mind--specifically "Feeling Groovy." The other late-70s songs that my parents must have sung to me as a child include "Leaving on a Jetplane" and "My baby takes the morning train." Emily confirms the Jetplane memory, though I think maybe the morning train had already left the station by the time she was being soothed to sleep by parental song.
And so it comes back to my Kid. What pop culture reference is going to make her feel nostalgic and maybe a bit sleepy? "Soft Kitty" from Big Bang Theory. It's perfect. It's short and easy to remember, and I can sing it on continuous loop as I try to coax the Kid to sleep. I even wrote new lyrics just for her:
Sleep time, dream time,
Time to go to bed,
Now's the time for you, Kid,
To sleep and rest your head.