The 7/7 Launch Into Motherhood: Everyday Magic, Day 360

With our midwife Ginger right before the birth

22 years ago Daniel was born, catapulting me into the land of no return otherwise known as motherhood. To say it was a difficult birth is like saying our country just experienced a little recession. Labor started with my water breaking while seeing a film at Liberty Hall about the Black Plague, and things went downhill from there. I had envisioned birth as a soiree and so had invited many friends to hang out. It turned out to be opposite, but I was in too much agony to feel like a failed hostess.

Daniel sleeping with his late, wonderful grandpa

Daniel arrived 18 hours later, but in his urgency to get born, he inhaled some amniotic fluid, which meant a trip to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit from the all natural-birthing center. A week later, we took him home, strapped between us in the cab of a red pick-up truck, and while “La Marseillaise” played (it was Bastille Day), we told him, “You’re free! You’re free!”

Fast forward to now: Daniel had graduated from college and is applying for Americorps positions, seeking the path for where he goes next. It’s again 7/7, and tonight we’ll have dinner with some of the people who attended his birth, including his namesake. Two more kids have come as well as numerous cars, a different house, a change of pets, and a whole lot of different used furniture.

When I became a mother, like anyone who crosses into the unknown, I had no idea what I would find. This truth became overwhelmingly evident with Daniel, who didn’t follow what any baby book said to the extent that I actually ripped apart several such books, deeming them unfit for anyone raising a child (only to later discover the next few kids did kind of follow what the books said). What I’ve learned is mainly what I’ve unlearned, and it mostly has to do with how little control parents have (or really, any of us have), particularly when it comes to the arduous, delightful, harrowing and surprising task of shepherding a human through the social constructs of the world. Here’s some of what I now know:

  • Parents are, despite whatever I thought ahead of time, the social seeing eye dogs for their children, teaching them and modeling for them how to navigate the world, and when you have some real issues with reality, this task is like negotiating some of the rings of hell.
  • There’s nothing like someone or something threatening your kid to turn an ordinary woman into an attacking panther.
  • Whatever is budgeted for food needs to be doubled….or tripled…..when the child is between 16-22. Keep on hand plenty of pasta, and expect all large casseroles, good for feeding a dozen, to vanish within a day as someone’s late night snack.
  • My kids are capable of watching truly violent and scary movies without any ill effects. I am not.
  • When it comes to family vacations, the bumper sticker I always wanted to produce is true: “Kids: They Ruin Everything.” Yet it’s also true that I wouldn’t give up any of the family vacations we’ve had (although I might revise a few).
  • There is nothing more heartbreaking than when your kid has a broken heart.
  • There is nothing more exhilarating than when your kid is deeply happy for all the right reasons.
  • Related to the last insight, I don’t want to hear conversations about partying. Luckily, I can go to bed early with earplugs.
  • Most of all, like anything that requires a whole-life, whole-self commitment, motherhood is a spiritual path. That means, the offspring function like the most irrational and demanding guru-like beings cross-pollinated with wild boars.
  • I loved from the very start and still love wandering through the dark house, knowing all my children are sleeping soundly.

In Praise of Homecoming: Everyday Magic, Day 359

Take the mail, for instance, and the irrational thrill of a big pile of envelopes, ferreting out the half of them that instantly go into recycling to find a few lovely surprises (a note from a friend, a $5 gift card for a hardware store) among the bills.

Then all that was in the car that, when ferried into the house, expands exponentially to the point that it’s hard to imagine how it fit in the car, much like looking at any of my children few years after birth and wondering how s/he ever fit in me. I find it’s best to make a mad run for unloading and unpacking everything because if I don’t do it within a few hours of arrival, those lopsided suitcases will sit around various rooms for days.

Sometime in the first 30 minutes home, the animals emerge, first the dog, carrying a shoe to present us with in honor of our homecoming, and then the skin-gangster little kitty, usually meowing furiously before flinging herself in our arms, which makes it tricky to haul boxes and bags. Eventually, the anti-social cat comes out of the shadows and is uncharacteristically affectionate for five minutes before attacking us.

Within a few hours, there’s that glorious moment of sitting down in a good chair, computer on lap, new magazines to my right, animals to my left (the herd settling by my side after escorting me room to room), with a big glass of iced water. Dinner turns out to be rice krispies because anything else is too complex. The radio tells me I’m home through its familiar voice tones. The overgrown gardens wave at me through the windows.

There will be that stretchy kind of post-vacation fatigue to come, coffee to replenish, and a few trips to the grocery store in my future, but upon arrival, I lean back into one of the sweetest moments of the vacation: when it’s all over.

Living With Men Who Love Storms: Everyday Magic, Day 353

The men in my house love storms. Obsessively. Completely. It’s not that I don’t love storms too, but I also love sleep, watching movies and taking many baths. The men in my house, however, are single-minded when a storm is afoot, rushing downstairs with laptops to switch through TV news while turning up the weather radio, all in between running outside to look at the sky and turning out all the lights inside to get a better view.

It used to be the man in my house who loved stormed, but since Daniel moved back in, this storm mania went exponential, each of them calling out to the other, pointing to new websites on the screen or low-hanging clouds in the sky. It can go on for hours, and god help anyone who gets in their way.

Last night, after long discussions about atmospheric instability, why was the big cloud to our south continously roaring, and how unusual it is for such unpredictability to be at the front of a storm, I went to bed. Only to be pulled out of bed ten minutes later. “Caryn, it’s too unstable. Get down to the basement,” Ken said. “Hurry up, Mom,” Daniel called after him. The winds picked up, we heard reports on half-dollar-sized hail near us, and the sky strobe-light-flashed. Both men vanished, but I soon found them sitting on the front porch, bedazzled by the lightning.

Within half an hour, I was back in bed, but not the men in my my house. No matter that the worst part of the storm was on its way to Kansas City, safely east of us. They needed to track that too.

Sleeping Under Four Stories, Four Quilts: Everyday Magic, Day 198

As the temperatures plummeted, I huddled close to cat and man under flannel sheets and four stories of quilt, each one holding its own narrative. The top quilt with its mix of leafy greens, golden stars against the blue batik sky and all manner of other freckled images is the one I made us to celebrate 25 years of marriage, the earth and sky.

The next quilt — squares connected to squares, and some squares divided into Brady Bunch type squares — was made by our cousin Janet with great help from Woody, when he was obviously still alive, and their church in San Diego, then mailed to Diane and Sheldon in Lawrence (now San Francisco) so that they could arrange for various friends from the Jewish center to tie knots in it and make wishes for my total recovery from cancer. Finally, members of my family tied knots and made wishes as they gave me the quilt.

The quilt beneath that was one I hand-sewed, my first buy cialis online no rx quilt, in 1996, in between nursing Forest and settling into this house we designed and help build. Triangles and diamonds in purple, rose and green, this quilt helped bring me home. It also holds the memory of listening to many Native American performers and writers — Sherman Alexie, R. Carlos Nakai and others — as I sat in audiences, sewing. I was a faculty member at Haskell Indian Nations University, where I was honored to be a witness to the lives of my students, who came from over 100 tribes.

The bottom quilt, with its red gingham and snappy little sailboats, was created by Ken’s great-grandmother when he was a boy out of scraps, simplicity and imagination. She made quilts for all her grandchildren, each inch of inch hand-sewn with great care and precision.

We sleep under these four stories forged by friends, family, community and ourselves, and in that sleep, we dream deep in gratitude and amazement.

Blanket Boy Quilted Into Being: Everyday Magic, Day 148

My son Forest lives for fleece. He sleeps between fleece sheets, weighted down with five fleece blankets, while wearing (of course) fleece pajama bottoms. He was born loving fleece, and it makes me wonder if, unbeknown to me, my womb was lined with fleece. In any case, when I determined it was time to make him quilt now that he’s the last man standing, aka last child at home (as in “where did the intense sibs go?“), I knew it needed to have a fleece underside.

And so it does! Op top, I used batik-designed greens and blues to match his name and his eyes, and lined various squares with a great musical note print to match his passions (at least one of them). As I sewed, I tried to relax buy cialis usa into not worrying about his jolting, rocky and crash-and-burn at times adjustment to high school and being the only kid at home, but to sew into the quilt wishes for him. To believe in himself. To know how much he’s loved. To see all the changing blues and greens of the world all the time. To sleep well. To be fully awake in the world.

Last night, he modeled his new quilt and then, although I begged him to put it on top of the pile of fleece and other blankets, insisted on layering it between the fleece blanket closest to him and the many blankets above. He slept beautifully, and for the first time, maybe even, even made his bed today.