Saturday, October 31, 2009

a tale of two pumpkins

The one I carved

and the one I grew.

Hope you had a great Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


It was very heartening to read this quote from Edwidge Danticat, on how becoming a mother has changed her as a writer: "When your life is layered in a certain way," she said, "you have more in your soul to go to."

As I worry about juggling everything once the baby comes, it's lovely to think of life's new layers in an expansive way rather than a limiting one. More in the soul to go to--I love that.

I added an unexpected new layer to my life today (or at least an unexpected story to tell): I got smacked in the face! Today is Michael's birthday--happy birthday, love!--and we went out to dinner to celebrate. As I was walking back to the table from the restroom, the manager of the restaurant, happened to gesticulate while facing away from me, and his hand flew back straight against my mouth. It was more startling than painful; I thought I was fine, but as soon as I got to the table, I started to cry and then laugh and couldn't stop alternating between the two for quite a while. I felt a bit unhinged--the whole thing was very absurd, but it brought out weird feelings of vulnerability in me. I find myself feeling deeply protective of my pregnant body, so I suppose any breach in safety strikes some primal chord. Eventually I calmed down and we had a lovely dinner, and the manager was very apologetic--he said in his 30 years of restaurant managing, he's never smacked a woman in the face before (a pregnant woman, at that!) He comped my meal, and Michael's birthday dessert, and now I have more in my soul to go to, so it all worked out.

May 36 be the best year for you ever, sweet Michael. You'll have to wait a few weeks for your real present to arrive. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

white hair

My recent posts have been about really lovely things in my life, and while I want to celebrate those things fully, I feel a bit disingenuous because not everything has been rosy around here. I have been having a very difficult time with my 15 year old daughter; I don't want to go into specifics out of respect for her privacy, but needless to say, I have been sprouting a lot of new white hair and have been questioning my parenting a lot lately.

Many of my pregnancy books have sections on preparing your older children for a new baby in the house, but those generally talk about how to deal with toddlers. None of them delve into how to balance a new baby and a defiant teenager. Michael and I are taking a class on parenting teenagers once a week (we're the only people in the group also taking a childbirth preparation class once a week!) and while it's giving us some good tools, I still feel lost and overwhelmed. I trust this phase will pass, but I also know I can't just sit back and wait for that to happen. I tend to be such a go-with-the-flow person, but sometimes the flow is out of whack and decisive action needs to be taken; I keep coming up against my own limitations--I am not a disciplinarian by nature, and am having to stretch myself in ways that are uncomfortable but hopefully will lead to growth for everyone involved. We shall see. Any advice and/or commiseration would be well appreciated--it's always helpful to hear from other people who have been through something similar. Thanks!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Remind me to stay away from Indian trains when I'm about to give birth

See why here (thank goodness those babies survived!)

a tale of two showers

Asher is a lucky boy to be born into such a wonderful circle of family and friends. I know I'm grateful to be part of such a circle.

I've had two baby showers over the last two weeks--both intimate, meaningful events. My friend Nancy organized a shower/mother's blessing at her home on the 4th; she and the other women assembled treated me like such a queen, washing my hands and feet with rosewater, brushing my hair, massaging my neck, singing to me. Each woman presented me with either a poem or story or blessing; each woman also brought a bead which we strung together to make a necklace that I'll wear in labor so I can feel a circle of women supporting me through the experience. My mom chose a bead with a large hole in the center, saying that it would help me visualize dilating "10 meters"--we all had a good laugh imagining that (and hey, it can't hurt to visualize opening that wide. Michael joked later that Asher would come sailing out in a tug boat!) The women also each brought a candle which they'll light when I'm in labor. You can see everyone's hands on my belly here.

This past weekend, a family baby shower was part of a larger weekend celebration for my dad's 90th birthday. Relatives came in from all over the map; it was such a warm, loving weekend, full of connection and laughter and a reminder of how important it is to spend time as a tribe. It's been quite a while since all four of my dad's kids have been in the same place (along with cousins--some of whom showed up as a surprise--and other loved ones) and it felt so good, so right. We made a plan to get together on a yearly basis, just because, even if we don't have any major life events to mark. I want Asher to know all of these wonderful people and am eager to have this yearly gathering to look forward to; it makes me very happy that in the meanwhile, he'll get to enjoy clothes and books and toys and other goodies chosen for him by family members who are so eager to welcome him into the clan.

My dad (who, by the way, is probably the most amazing 90 year old you'll ever meet) talked about how family was a constant presence when he grew up in Chicago--he had tons of relatives within blocks of each other and they spent much of their time together. Now most of those relatives are gone; he is the second oldest of those who remain. I know he aches when he thinks about how scattered we now are geographically--how hard it is to all get together. When it does happen, though, it is such a deep joy. I found myself crying as I drove away from Oceanside last night; my life feels very quiet and small today. I keep reminding myself that the circle is still there--it's just wider, more expansive, than it was when we were all together. And the love at the center is just as strong.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wild Things

Last night, Michael and the kids and I went to a special pre-release screening of Where the Wild Things Are to benefit 826LA. Dave Eggers, Spike Jonze, Catherine Keener and Max Records (who plays Max in the movie) were all on hand to discuss the film--it's always cool to get a behind the scenes look into how something is created (especially something so many years in the making.) The movie was darker and sadder than I had expected, and I found it deeply moving. I know it wasn't just the film that touched me, however.

As I sat next to my beautiful teenage kids--who I rarely get to see at the same time these days--I couldn't help but think about reading Where the Wild Things to them when they were small. Arin will be 19 next Monday, but I can still hear his little toddler voice reading along with me so clearly--he especially loved the part where the wild things "roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth and roll their terrible eyes and show their terrible claws", and would always say the last line of the book "and it was still hot!" with great relish. It's so wild how quickly time passes, how Arin is a grown man now, in college, with a life of his own; I am so proud of the person he has become (and the person he has always been) but sometimes I miss those yummy toddler days.

Of course Asher was thumping around in my belly as I was meditating on the passage of time, the cycle beginning anew. Much of the movie was about the complicated, often tender, mother/son relationship, and it makes me wonder who this little person is, what our connection will be like. The film was honest about childhood emotions in a way that few movies are--it explored the loneliness and rage and heartache that children can feel so acutely (all beautifully portrayed through Max Records' expressive face) and I felt a stab of what I can only describe as grief thinking about some of the feelings Asher may have to face in his life. I only hope that he will grow up feeling safe and loved, and that even if he goes into those dark places, he will know that he has a family who is there for him, both for solace, and for the rejuvenation of a good wild rumpus.