Four thoughts on four.

Asher and I had a little date for coffee (me) and milk and a muffin (ok, ok, and a molasses cookie for me too) and he told me things. Things like this:

(in response to a conversation about kindergarten/elementary school/high school and then what’s next?)

Asher: Mama? When I go to college, I’m going to go somewhere really far away.

Mama: You are? I’m going to miss you!

A: Yeah, but you can still drive me to school. You can come too. You can live with me.

M: Can I get that in writing?

A: Will I have to walk up a lot of stairs to go to college?

M: There will be some stairs, but you’ll be big, you’ll be ready for them.

<<<2 minutes of silence looking out the window, thinking almost 4-year-old thoughts>>>

A: Mama? I was just kidding. I don’t want to go to college far away. Not too far.

M: Sounds good. Let’s just think about preschool for now, ok? We’ve got a long, long time to think about getting so big.

A: Yeah, and there’s already a lot of stairs at my school right now.

***

I’ve already confessed that I’m not quite as swept away with the experience of being pregnant this go-round. But in the breakfast buffet of crazy that pregnancy gets us women to sidle up to every morning, it genuinely occurred to me one night this week that this might be it for us. We aren’t making any definitive statements about how many children will be in the Walton family, but just as I’m open to the possibility of one more, I’m also open to the possibility that we’ll start doing life with two and know that we’ve hit our mark. On the one hand, a big part of the reason that I wouldn’t want to have a third baby is that I don’t know that I want to be pregnant again. I was so horrendously sick the first couple of months this time, every day felt like an out-body-experience except not because I was being held captive by my aching skin and turbulent stomach, and I begged Drew to swear to me that he wouldn’t let me forget how much it sucked three years from now when I will have inevitably forgotten. I can’t wait to not be pregnant, right?

On the other hand, I sat on the side of the bed holding my rolling belly and got all weepy crazy-town because I realized that I only have about 6-7 weeks left and I might have taken the whole thing for granted, that just maybe I wanted a do-over. And it made me think that maybe I’m not done and that there is one more little light waiting to join us. And then I shook my head because I don’t want to be pregnant again. And then I shook my head because this experience is, in many ways, what being an adult has been all about for me. And THEN I shook my head because I thought about what all of you reading this are just bursting to tell me:

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Just sit back and enjoy the show, honey. Hush up. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Go on and pack your things up, Crazy, we’re settling down here. You’ll know all of these things when you know them. No more thinking for a while. Shhhhhhhh.

***

We told Asher that he could choose a special name for the baby that is just for our family a couple of months ago, which has actually been kind of great, because we’re able to include this little person in our daily conversation as if he’s already here, which might be helpful for Asher wrapping his mind around the baby-sized asteroid that’s headed toward his paradigm. Asher said that he wanted to call the baby Evo (Velcro was also tossed around for a short while), and so now our daily conversation is peppered with Evo. When Evo’s here, when Evo gets bigger, I’m going to show Evo this…it’s been a way to share his presence in our family, and although the name Evo isn’t going to be on the birth certificate, it sure has been a good starter name.

One night we were talking after bath and I was telling Asher that even though I’m super excited about the baby, I sometimes feel nervous, and that it was ok if he felt nervous too. We were rocking in the chair and I may or may not have been feeling a little proud of myself when I carefully asked Asher if he ever felt nervous about Evo coming. He said in total earnestness,

“Ummm, I mostly feel nervous about bears.”

Well ok then.

***

Hey Mama, wook! I drew our famiwy but we’re worms. We’re four worms and we’re trying to get out of the hole into the sunwight. Wook, it’s you, Papa, me, and Evo!

Four.

All signs, all thoughts, all chalkboard drawings, all everything point to just doing what I want to do best: go with it. Just go with it, Mama.

Per my usual, I actually just want to be more like Asher…delighting in envisioning our family all different ways, totally comfortable with the magic number four, and reaching toward the sunlight, taking it all in one day at a time, and only getting nervous about things that can eat me.

Kids know everything.

Mug

July 2013:

April 2011:

“Intelligence, goodness, humanity, excitement, serenity. Over time, these are the things that change the musculature of your face, as do laughter, and animation, and especially whatever peace you can broker with the person inside.” -Anne Lamott

Raspberry Beret

This post has nothing to do with hats of the french variety or the ’80s, but it does have to do with raspberries, and I wanted all of you to join me in having this song stuck in your head to infinity because I’m generous like that. I love you, Prince.

One of the most exciting discoveries about our new house last summer was finding out that our entire property is surrounded to the max by wild raspberries. We’ve got raspberries for days, and mother nature’s dedicated tree removal last summer just made room for even more raspberries. Eventually we will be overrun, but right now we’re totally on a first date with the thorny bushes, and I can’t stop thinking about them.

So on Saturday we put my sweet visiting sister Julie and her equally darling boyfriend Joe to work and we went on a little raspberry picking expedition. Here they are before being sent to the brier patch:

(Clearly Asher didn’t enjoy their company at all.)

We braved the thorns and collected as many berries as we could before the heat made us to knock off and go for a swim. As it turns out, Asher probably doesn’t have a career in berry picking, somehow his mouth kept intercepting his hand, but his stained cheeks and empty bucket told the perfect summer story.

And after eating some and setting some aside for a cake, we spread the first of a couple of batches on a cookie sheet to freeze and then store in smaller batches for the dark days of winter when we’re longing to taste summer again.

That afternoon, I made an angel food cake to take to a potluck (following the recipe and tips in this post, which I found to be really helpful) and then topped it with some fresh whipped cream and some sugar-soaked raspberries. You can check out that post for the cake recipe if you’re so inclined, and I ‘made’ the raspberries by putting them in a bowl and tossing them with a healthy handful of sugar and a little vanilla before letting them sit in the fridge for about 2 hours (more sugar=more syrup, so if you want the syrup to run down the sides of the cake be heavy handed with the sugar). My method for whipped cream is equally strict, I used a pint of whipping cream and added a handful of sugar, some vanilla (a teaspoon-ish?) and a sprinkle of cinnamon to it before whipping it to soft peaks. I spread the whipped cream around the top ring of the cake, added the raspberries and some mint leaves, and called it good. I did all of that, but what I did not do was take a picture, so we’ll just have to imagine it together. It’s so pre-internet 1985 around here today!

If Asher had nicer parents, he would live exclusively on berries, particularly frozen ones, so this was a coup not only because the raspberries are the epitome of summer sunshine flavor happy times, but also because they were 100% free. Win-win!

Happy berry picking, team.

Yellow

Over the holiday weekend, this story from my first pregnancy came up about that only kind of funny time when I sobbed in the Lowes parking lot staring at a dot of drying paint on the top of a paint can because it was dawning on me that I had never considered the possibility that I would give birth to a boy.

In the months leading up to Asher’s gender reveal appointment, I had been telling myself that there was just as much of a chance that we would have a boy as a girl (50%, as it turns out. Funny how that works.) and even though I knew that in my brain, I don’t think I really got it. Consciously and unconsciously, I had worked out a nursery that involved deep raspberry walls with pops of bright green in the room and maybe some greys, we had a girl’s name picked out, and I was mentally working through all of the conversations that I would be having with her through the firsts that lay ahead for both of us. I don’t know that I even had a preference for a girl, it was just where my brain lead me…if I was thinking about parenting a teenager, I was thinking about the challenges that a teenage girl would face. Because, you know, I was one.

So on the day that we went to pick out paint, it’s fair to say that I hadn’t thought once about wall color for a little boy’s room. I was dead set against any kind of blue and impulsively went with yellow. We finished our shopping, but through the whole trip it was all slowly dawning on me that all of those conversations I had been having in my mind with a fabricated 6/12/16/25-year-old girl weren’t relevant anymore. I had to start thinking about all of those talks, those different needs, the different challenges and triumphs through the eyes of a little boy which got the hormone pump churning so that by the time we left the store, I had come to the conclusion that I was completely unfit to raise a little boy. This culminated in a shoulder shaking sob with me choking out, “What if he hates yellow? And I don’t even know what to do about his peniiiiiiiiiiiisssssss.”

In public.

This is what it’s like being me: thinking about paint leads to a philosophical meltdown. Please buy Drew a drink the next time you see him.

Fast forward three years, and on Saturday night, glow-in-the-dark bracelets were being passed around to kids and I heard Asher say, as we always do, “I want that one, because yellow is my favorite!” and that moment in the Lowes parking lot came zooming into focus. Of COURSE Asher’s favorite color is yellow, because I am nothing if not the butt of a cosmic joke or two. I looked at Drew across the fire and said, “Remember the Lowes meltdown? Yellow? Yellow.” And Drew nodded the universal all-knowing parent nod because ya’ll, Asher has a deep devotion to the color yellow. It’s his honest to god favorite color and all that public blubbering that I once did over worrying that I wouldn’t know what a little boy would want? Well that was a clearly a big waste of some good quality alligator tears. Ha ha, Universe. Ha. Ha.

Of course the laser beam clarity of hindsight is shining a light on the plainly obvious almost four years later. Gender aside, I had no idea who I was going to be parenting because this little person was going to come into the world with his or her own agenda and I was just buckling up for the ride. All that time that I spent daydreaming about fabricated conversations with this mythical child was my way of wrapping my brain around one tiny made up version of an unknown future. Now that we’re pacing ourselves through that future, I, of course, can’t imagine it without this little boy and will readily admit to a small sense of relief that we’re having a second boy, because honey, if there is such a thing as knowing this, I know how to anticipate what a little boy will need, and I know that it isn’t really gender specific at all.

But in case you’re wondering, baby number two is getting lovely grey walls. A completely irrelevant detail for the next adventure, and one that thankfully, did not require any public humiliation to choose. Take that Universe. Take that.

POV

Asher has been asking to take pictures lately which makes sense because he lives in a world of people that walk around with rectangles in front of them saying, hold up, I just want to take a picture of this.

He asked to use my phone in the car to take a picture yesterday and at first I said no because I had visions of him accidentally messaging every contact in my phone with something deeply poetic like, sdjghasldkhaoeurywpeuioh sdighsduhgw0397e8hg;SDKGJ, but then he said, “You just look so cute right now, Mama. I have to take your picture”. Asher for any political office 2014.

So of course I handed him my phone and he passed this back:

I’ve posted before about wondering who Asher sees when he watches us because I never feel like the adult that he presumably assumes that I am. And yet I look at this and see a woman driving. That’s Mama in the front seat, taking us places. A bonafied grownup.

I keep waiting for that switch to flip, when I’ll suddenly feel the age that I am and not be aware of the ages that I’ve been or that I think I will be or that I assume that I still am. I’m only 30 (for a month more, at least) and if I take the time to think about it, I become hyper aware of how overwhelmingly young 30 is, and conversely how not-so-young it is. But my young feeling 30 is, through the eyes of a three-year-old, ancient. I’m just part of the glaum of grownups in Asher’s life with no distinction between my 30 and your 40 and her 20. We’re all tall(er) and authoritative up there in the front seat, and god, don’t we look confident.

You know that kind of ridiculous bumper sticker, I want to be the person my dog thinks I am? I have that sense looking at this picture. I want to be the woman that he caught right there, to cross the great divide between my internal juvenile existence and that external perception, but of course, that’s the rub. I am that woman. In fact, it would seem that the only person who doesn’t get that is me. I’m willing to bet that we all feel that way. We’re so short sighted when it comes to our own reflections, and then a three-year-old takes our picture and poof! Existential crisis solved. Or at least moderately chipped away.

So there it is, team. My recurring theme for the month. I want to be the person my child thinks I am. And not to get all Oprah on you, but I think really what I’m saying is, I want to accept myself for the person that my child knows that I am. Front seat driver’s side flaws and all.

 

 

 

The backseat brain

This post is not about my willingness to ruin various mealtimes with treats and is about how refreshing it is to hang out with children.  Somewhere along the lines here I mentioned a conversation that I had with my cousin about no longer saying “I can’t imagine” in every day conversation because it’s not really true and it’s so limiting in its scope. Hanging out with children only drives that point home, and it’s wildly humbling to realize how much I miss it. I think that I’m creative and then I watch Asher, or any other child, for  three minutes and realize that my brain is basically a barren prairie of creative prairie dog holes by comparison.

Asher1

So the muffin. Asher was cruising along in the backseat the other day, working on a pumpkin muffin and within minutes I hear him saying, “We have to get our tools to dig that giant raisin out of the raisin cave that it’s stuck in!” and then he told me that his finger was the excavator and went to town making digger noises and digging out the giant raisin from its raisin cave. Once that job was done, he starting taking strategic bites until he had fashioned what looked to him like an airplane and proceeded to fly it into his own mouth. This lead to the demolition of the ‘wings’ (as you can imagine, the airplane shape was highly interpretive) and he announced that his muffin now looked like a boulder which lead to a conversation about how rocks can be shaped like anything. In the time that it took to eat a muffin, Asher did a little spelunking, visited a job site, flew through some clouds, and rolled down a hill, all coupled with a completely uninhibited narrative along the way.

Asher2

The thing about living with kids is that we assume that they’re trying to find a place in our world when really, we’re the ones that are getting constantly invited into theirs. I think that my biggest shortcoming as a parent is my persistent desire to manipulate Asher’s day into the blueprint of mine, and without fail, I am reminded that if I just slow down a little, not only does the mind numbing back and forth quiet down, but I get to bear witness to the kind of life that I dream of leading. I would give almost anything to have a day in the imagination land of a three-year-old right now, to see airplane wings in my breakfast, to be able to use my voice to make as many interesting and funny sounds without fear of what anyone might think, to compulsively turn a slow minute into one filled with play. (And who am I kidding? To be forced to take a daily nap.) Where my brain is filled with what ifs and petty thoughts and numbers and self doubt, I can see so clearly in Asher’s eyes that his mind is only filled with absorbing the lights and colors and sounds around him and then using that information to entertain and discern and question.

This is why it’s such a delight to give children something new. It’s why I want to give him muffins and books and toys and sticks and big boxes filled with mailing popcorn, why we take him in the woods and wait patiently as he jumps into the pool again and again and again. Not just because we like seeing his eyes light up or because it’s easy to pacify him, but because I can hand him a rock and in turn he hands me an entirely new perspective…if I’m willing to see it. Lately I feel like I’ve been short on patience and long on the sound of my own voice, so I’m trying to follow his lead back to that place of wonder. Of course my record’s not going to be perfect, but as the far fetched parenting ideals go, I would like the idealism to go down as the majority.

We all know it, but for the record? Kids have it going on. Us tall types are the ones that need to turn our listening ears on.

Here’s to a weekend of play. Of quiet grown up mouths and little kid dreams.