Tuesday, December 29, 2009

All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teats

There was a time, however brief, that I possessed a chest. It may not have been bountiful, but it was not board-like, either. The first sign of increased cup size manifested itself shortly before the birth of my daughter and lasted through a single suckling year. The bounty returned with my second child. Twenty months later, it is beginning to recede again as my son cuts back to a 2- or 3-times-a-day nursing schedule. Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my boobs the most.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Behavior

We were sitting at the lunch table when The Boss referenced Christmas for the 3,100,068th this week by way of a declaration related to all the presents she would be receiving.

The Partner, who was working from home because nobody else at the office would be there to notice, looked at his offspring in alarm. "Who's getting you a lot of presents?"

"Santa Claus," The Boss said.

"Oh, phew. I was getting worried. I mean, I didn't get you a lot of presents. How do you know Santa will?"

The Boss looked at him with an air of confident--and maybe just a bit withering--excitement. Her cheeks shone reddish pink as if exerted by expectation. She was almost levitating on her bench seat with the force of her glee. Finally, she erupted:

"Because I've been good all damn day!"

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Miracle

The Partner and I have something of a contentious marriage. This is no secret. Most of our fights revolve around the fact that The Partner is right and I am wrong. He had me convinced of this dynamic until two days ago.

My epiphany had roots near the mailbox, at the spot where I picked up two packages sitting together in a clear, plastic bag. I looked at the top package to see my name printed on the front. I will admit that I am not totally faultless in this; I did, as I so often do, fail to think my next action through. I just assumed that the two packages were part of one shipment and that both had been directed to me. I opened the first, then the other. One held a hundred Christmas cards of my own design, ready to be served with a salutation and an address label. The other held Arrested Development, the complete series. I didn't scratch my head for long before closing the lid to the box so that I could see it had not, in fact, been addressed to me--though the status of that DVD set on my Christmas wishlist assured me that I was the gift's final destination.

I made it back into the house to tell The Partner of my blunder. I handed him the violated package. "Oops," I said. "I accidentally opened it."

He glared at me. While I did not exactly misread his expression, I did not understand the gravity of it. So I went on. "And, ha, this is funny...I know about the popcorn popper you got me, too. What were you thinking, leaving it right there in the open?"

The next five minutes were a flurry of boxes and bubble wrap as The Partner threw packing material all around the office amidst declarations that he was "giving up!" He was freakishly serious.

"If you didn't want me to find the popcorn popper, why didn't you hide it?" I inquired.

"Why should I have to hide it? You're not a child!"

I just stood there, open mouthed, in apparent dispute of that assertion. I did not even know how to respond. Finally, I summoned the words. "You left the box in the middle of the office right with everyone else's gifts. I went through them to see what had arrived and how much I was going to have to wrap. I assumed you wouldn't leave any of my presents right there where I could find them."

"What about the fact that the popcorn popper box was on its side, facing the wall?"

"What?" I looked at him with more childlike confusion. "It was facing the wall? What the hell is that supposed to indicate? The box's position means nothing to me! It was in a pile with everything else we are giving for Christmas so I OPENED IT!"

But he insisted I was supposed to know that side-lying boxes, even when in plain sight, were verboten boxes. He attempted to make me feel stupid and wrong in the face of his righteous brilliance. But this is where my epiphany arose fully and in all its splendor. I am not stupid and wrong.

Suddenly 11 years of fighting were called into question. His skillful use of logic and argument had, over time, convinced me of the permanent fault line that was a fissure through my body. He was articulate, reasoned and extremely determined. I was uninformed and confused. His very refusal to ever say "I'm sorry" reinforced his steadfast convictions.

Large issues related to money, parenting and sex have always clouded my understanding with their enormity. But this small argument, I could see through. Easily. It was ridiculous.

Yes, I opened two boxes that I shouldn't have. No, I did not do it on purpose. I refuse to take the blame just because he made no attempt to protect his purchases from my scatterbrained ways.

In the end, though, he ended up giving me one of the best gifts I've ever received. I never would've found it if I didn't accidentally stumble upon Arrested Development and an electric popcorn maker two weeks before Christmas. This gift is the serenity I felt as I listened to him yell and swear and throw things. It's the calmness I experienced in the face of blame. For the first time in my life, I felt 100% certain that The Partner was not right.

And if he is not right about this, the skies are alight with the possibilities of what other untold wonders he may be wrong about. My reality shines with the brightness of countless Christmas lights. I hear the Hallelujah Chorus swell around me. I smell Hot Buttered Rum and I taste victory. Whoever said 'tis better to give than receive never got a doozie like this one.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Gingerbreadman's Junk

I was working on an article at my computer in the kitchen while The Partner and The Boss made gingerbread magic in the dining room behind me. The clack of the computer keys in front of me were my soundtrack until a sound from candyland jarred me out of my reverie.

"That will be his penis," I heard The Boss say.

I did a doubletake. "What?" I demanded.

I heard The Partner stifle a laugh.

This I had to see for myself. I walked into the dining room.

"What?" I repeated.

"A penis," she said.

"Where?" I asked.

"Here," The Boss said. She pointed to a small bead, edible and red, that she'd stuck under the gingerbreadman's crotch.

All I could do was nod, thoughtfully. What I was thinking about was how hard I could laugh and still maintain some semblance of maturity. Apparently I gave The Boss just enough convulsive laughter to glom onto. She loves an appreciative audience.

"Penis." She let it rip once more, her tone short and emphatic. She looked up at me with an arched eyebrow. I half expected her to launch into a chorus of penispenispenispenis, but it appears she's gotten too sophisticated. She left it at that.

And I left the room to go write about it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Oh Damn

Here's the thing about Number Two: he's gruff. When he's nursing, I can't look down at him too long without my face being slapped away by his hand. Over the course of the day, whenever he finds something awry, he will point at it and shout "oh, damn!" Repeatedly. Part of me would like to believe that's not what he's actually saying, but it's obviously the sentiment and more than likely the curse.

He's huggy, though. He wraps his arms around my leg willy-nilly as we go about our business. He kisses with his bottom lip sticking out and fat. He hangs onto is sister like he's hanging on for life. He says thanks.

He's an enigma. That's not to say I know any parent who's got his or her child all figured out. It's just that, in my limited experience as the mother of two, I see him as the child who plays it closest to the vest. He's the one with more words than he lets on; he's the one who chooses them slyly.

He's nineteen months old and I can already tell I'm never going to figure him out.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Maybe Santa Drives a Caddy

Santa Claus came to the town green yesterday, bringing with him red- and green-sweatered elves eerily reminiscent of local middle school students. The Boss went moony, her eyes full and shining at the sight of him. I was more discerning, raising an eyebrow at the rough outline of what seemed like foam padding underneath the worn red velveteen and the belt held in place with a paper clip.

"Where's his sleigh?" The Boss whispered to me.

I looked around. "Hmm, I don't know." I cast a long glance to the roof of the historic grange building around which we were assembled for the tree lighting. "No sleigh there. Maybe it's on the other side?"

The Boss was skeptical. She stared at the roofline, as if willing a magical Christmas menagerie to appear. She did a full body pout that started with the crease of her forehead and ended with heels stomping into the ground. "Humph," she breathed out. "Not even a single reindeer."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Moon Sees the Somebody I Would Like to See

I have two babies born under a full moon. Naysayers cite coincidence; I have more faith in the pull of that celestial mother globe.

My first birth story is lit by the moon, its natural image pervading a tale that turned mostly medical when I looked away from the light.

"The half hour ride to the hospital at 2 a.m. was black, peaceful and portentous. I was becoming more aware by the second that I was taking a one-way trip out of my old life. I was attuned to every shadow, every curve of the road, every shard of moonlight that lead the way. The Dixie Chicks sung “Landslide” on the radio and I was overwhelmed. Then the hospital was on my right, and I looked at the elongated glass fa├žade of the state-of-the-art facility that I had driven by so many times, never knowing when I’d end up inside, but always aware that I would not come out the same.

We walked in the emergency entrance as directed by the on-call doctor and signed in. A Women and Infants nurse was dispatched as our escort. On our way to the labor and delivery wing, we wound through an emergency ward of moaners, pukers and passed-out invalids presumably drawn in by the pull of that full moon. “This is much worse than usual,” said the nurse. 'I’m glad you’re not having contractions so we can just get through here fast.'”

My research now indicates that the moon's effect is focused on the amniotic fluids. Just as she influences the earth's tides, she has reach into the wet parts of ourselves. In an article about the moon's effect on natural childbirth, author David Rose writes that, as a woman's body readies itself for birth, "the amniotic sac becomes distended to the point where it will easily burst if put under pressure. Under normal circumstances, the pressure of labor contractions bursts the sac. During a full moon, the pressure caused by the moon’s effect on the water inside the sac can cause the same things to happen, but without the accompanying contractions."

He goes on to say that "natural childbirth doesn’t always move forward and with no other signs of labor present, the obstetrician may decide to induce the birth." His own study of the personal stories of women he knows found that of 8 women with births set into motion when their water broke at the full moon, there were no contractions present in five of them.

It is no official study by any means, but it sheds so much (moon)light on my own experience. My water broke in a slow trickle in the afternoon before the full moon. Absolutely no contractions accompanied the rupture until they were brought on forcibly by Pitocin 20 hours later. I was led to believe this slow leak with no contractions was a somewhat odd occurrence, but I should've trusted my body and nature more than that. Nothing is new under the sun...or the moon.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Whoomp (There It Is)

Number Two has precious few words. I might worry about it more if he didn't do things like shout out "Whoomp, there it is" at random intervals over the course of the day. He heard the song one time, a week and a half ago, and up it pops in casual conversation to this day. I will admit that it sounds more like "Whoop, deer-is," but for a 19-month-old whose entire vocabulary consists of "ball," "dog," "dad," and "thanks," there is something impressive about his grasp of the Tag Team concept.

"I'm taking it back to the old school,
'Cause I'm an old fool who's so cool"

(Seriously, though, doesn't he look about 19 years old in this picture?)