Wednesday, May 20, 2009
This photo is perfect because it shows me getting eaten alive by my child. I am both in pain from his sharp teeth and fingernails and in rapture from the love. My face is both beautifully smiling and grotesquely grimacing. You can see my wrinkles. I am embracing the great joy of my life - my baby, right outside the door on Stanford campus where I am currently taking a Lit class that makes me want to go back to school. My last baby is weaned, and I vascillate frequently and dramatically between giddiness (from the freedom of never gestating, birthing or nursing a baby again) and grief (from the sorrow of never gestating, birthing or nursing a baby again). My body has done its sacred work and it's over now. I am sleeping through the night again, running early in the morning with friends, volunteering at the kids' school, going out to my class and girls' nights and dates with Erik in the evenings... I am as happy as I have ever been. And yet I ache every day and have to fight the urge to sit Stone down when he tries to walk. I can't wait for him to be old enough that we can all go on all the rides at Disneyland, but I still cry every time I think about him not nursing any more. Why is it so complicated to be a woman?
I was spraying sunblock onto the kids last week when Lindsay ran in, announcing, "Mom, you've got to stop using spray cans! They contribute to global warming." Lindsay is eight years old, and ready to take on all the world's issues. I literally can not keep up with her appetite for books - she brings novels home from the library and reads through bus rides, meals and play time until she finishes them the same day. It's darling to hear her occasionally pronounce words wrong that she knows in print, but has never heard used (she said someone was a "lunatic," for example, emphasis on the "a") or use old-fashioned grammar if she's been reading Dickens or Twain or something. The only thing that can get Lindsay's nose out of a book is riding her bike or scooter or playing with friends. Or practicing the piano! She started studying at Christie Peery Skousen's academy a few months ago, and told me that "Aura Lee" is the most beautiful melody she's ever heard. She loves to play it, and my heart bursts when I hear her using expressive dynamics or figuring out music by ear.
Last night we were talking about what our body is made of (skin, bones, muscle, etc.), and Lucy knew all sorts of amazing facts. Then she quizzed us "and what is each ear made of?" "What?" we asked. "Half a falafel!! Hahahahaha!!" And off she ran. This is classic Lucy - she'll be wearing a beautiful dress with jewelry and flowers in her hair ("Is it okay if I'm more like Glinda than Elphaba?" she asked me once), and if you say "you look gorgeous" she'll reward you with a weird facial contortion and a burst of jibberish. She loves to make people laugh (especially her little brother, who laughs harder with Lucy than with anyone else). Lucy also loves climbing on every conceivable surface, and her jaw dropped in delight when I told her that some people love Gymnastics so much (and work so hard at it) that they start to go to more than one class per week. She tells me she doesn't want to do ballet (despite her dancer's body and crazy-flexible feet), but she can rock out to ABBA's "Man After Midnight" like you've never seen. Lucy loves money (she'll do any chore for a quarter), she does an incredible British accent, she gives tight, heartfelt hugs, and writes love notes to all of us almost every day.
I just started reading the book "The Spirited Child" and wondered who gave the author permission to write Sophie's biography. It describes "spirited children" as "normal... but more." I was just reading Sophie's journal, remembering that as an infant she would laugh and cry hysterically with no warning and for no understandable reason. Then at 1 year old she used to study my mouth as I talked, craving expression and acquiring signs and words as fast as we could feed them to her. One day at 22 months old, she took my face in her little hands and said: "I want to be an astronomer and look at stars with a telescope." She still laughs hysterically, she still throws tantrums your nervous system will never forget, and she still frequently takes my face in her hands and articulates the yearnings of her soul. Also, she loves ABBA music, mermaids, and nachos, and today she said "I don't like flip flops because they give my foot a wedgie."
Stone is a toothy, laughy stair-climber who has discovered how to throw balls and ride our bathroom scale like it's a rodeo bull. He also loves pushing around his favorite red plastic car and sneaking into bathrooms to splash in the toilet water. Discovering how excited we get when he imitates us, he has mastered "bye-bye" waving, kissing, talking on the phone ("Uh?" he intones, like "hello?"), and all the actions of patty-cake (though only sometimes in the right order). He has taken 5 steps several times each day this week, and my favorite development happened tonight: Lindsay had gotten hurt and was crying hard, and Stoney speed-crawled up to her, pulled himself up on her leg and reached up for her to hold him. She picked him up and he planted an unsolicited open-mouth "Mmmaaaaa" kiss on her cheek and laid his head down on her shoulder.
This year Erik and I celebrate 14 years of in-loveness, 10 years of marriage, 8 years as parents, and 1 year of parenting our complete family. Stone is weaned, sleeping throught the night, and starting to walk, and a new phase of life is beginning. We are no longer bearing children - just raising them. The next 20 years are going to be awesome!