Monday, December 21, 2009

Passing on.

What finally came to light as I procrastinated about the baby-proofing "project", paralyzed with the angst associated with organizing and clearing out our home - was that I needed to make space. And what festered underneath that simple concept were two, more emotionally loaded, thoughts: I needed to put more stuff in storage and more importantly, that some items needed a new home. The discomfort that had been overshadowing it all started to make sense. It was time for some of Alan's clothes to be passed on to others. Things which I had grown used to seeing in our closet, that comforted me whenever I opened the doors but which also nagged at me in the back of my mind for some time.

So finally the moment came.
I found the courage to donate Alan's suits.

His beautiful, tailored suits that I loved seeing him wear.
The horrendous truth rearing it's head yet again - he doesn't need them anymore. Some of his favorite clothes have been passed over to family members and it gives me joy and satisfaction to see their bodies warm with his touch, and donning his inimitable style. That's ok too, it feels good to have him close by. I will forever hold onto many of his sweaters and tees,it feels good to wear them. I held on to the ties, couldn't get "there" yet, but I knew he'd be annoyed to hear that I had even kept his suits for this long. He would have wanted me to donate them, to have someone else use them, to benefit from them, and so that is what I did.
Pieces of Alan, moving on.
Not an easy task. But it was the right thing to do. Having his suits won't bring him back and I hope, I dream, that he can see some of the doll size frocks and pants and sweaters and coats that dangle from tiny hangers, lovingly, in their place. If Alan could speak he'd comment humorously with his unmistakable, dry wit "Oh... Hmm.. Look at Sus, movin' on in with your clothes - the 'merry widower'" he'd tease me. And I'd say "Noooooo Alannnnn.... It's the baby's clothes... But if you think I should get some for myself....". He still makes me laugh. And cry. I have heard the second year can be harder than the first and all I can say is it remains fresh and tragic and scarring. But his spirit continues to move me with laughing tears and for that I am forever grateful.

Lily currently averages a few shirts each day, as she is regularly drenched with drool, and many of the clothes "on-deck" are hand-me-downs. It is heartwarming to see her wearing items that once clothed other babes we love - they are not only practical but carry with them their own history. I think, I hope, that as others enjoy Alan's clothes they'll sense that another special soul once wore them too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Walking Flower

It seems that Lily is grown up at only nine and a half months. She is weaning herself, she is walking, she dislikes having her face washed and she has little time for stillness. This morning I awoke to her happy chatter, the past few weeks sponsored predominantly by the letter D and once she's up she's ready to go. I, on the other hand, woke up feeling lousy - tired and nauseous and our quiet in bed nursing snuggle gave way to, what she considers, playful bites and frustration that I'm not more pliable. And that is how our conversation goes. "No biting Lily, that hurts Mama", "Ouch Lily! No. No biting." And then we get a bottle. And later, "Where's Mama?! Here's Mama", "See Mama wash wash wash?" "Brush brush brush?" "See Mama's here! See Mama in the shower?" "Mama's putting socks on" "Socks go on feet" "Give to Mama, Lily" and on and on. Mama talk. Lots of it.

And now, Lily is walking. Quite early I might add. I am proud of her development but we/I could have waited.. a bit. She still prefers crawling but she moves with lightening speed and yesterday morning I went into the kitchen and after two minutes noticed "the quiet". I ran in to check on her and my nomadic roamer had pushed open what I thought was a closed bedroom door and was sitting in the bathroom hanging out with a sock. Thank god the cleaning products were recently relocated. Do racing hearts burn calories? Might be an advantage of sorts... But in the past month Lily went from crawling to walking with only a few breaths in between. Her steps are staccato, Frankenstein steps - a bit stiff and they come in clusters of three or four (or more whenever I am not present to witness) and she is quite pleased with herself. She is easily amused and often merely a good dose of standing will do - rocking forward and back on her toes a few times provides plenty of entertainment. When she crawls she enjoys taking a break to clap and look behind to contemplate the distance she's covered,and this morning I had to hide her alligator walker as it was just too early to rouse the neighbors with it's thunderous clap, caused by jaws that open and close to the rhythm of Lily's quickstep. My headache didn't need it either. Feeling sick on top of all of this is a test. Thankfully I had my mother-in-law for the early shift so I chose lying in bed over a shower and headed for work wearily, closing the door on a screaming, tired-sweet-baby-face and wondering if my strength would ever return. Gradually it does, mere thoughts of Lily help to curb the way I feel and if I can ever catch up on some sleep perhaps I'll nip this bug before it fully blooms. But when I feel like this my mind spins, how will I take care of her?, what if she catches it - we don't even have separate bedrooms and share very close quarters and I'm not ready to part from her for even a night other than sleeping on the couch in the other room. It's a desperate feeling because someone more important needs to be taken care of. I can and will do it, but emotionally and physically it can take it's toll. But Lily is resilient, I can even go so far as to say that she's tough. She has her delicate, sweet, soft moments but she is a girl on the go - all smiles, new teeth poking through, drool floodgates open as she glides across the floors and climbs among the furniture. Wipe outs are fairly frequent but she remains relatively unscathed.

Alan loved what I thought to be one of my sadder childhood memories - the day we made Native American drums in pre-k and all of the girls had already appropriated the "feminine" Indian names on the walls for their decor before I had gotten to pick one out for myself. They got the good ones: "Little Fawn", "White Deer" "Soft Cloud" - I don't know what - but I ended up with "Red Feather". My mom loved it, Alan did too - but I was disappointed. Still played my drum but never forgot the prettier names I could have had. Luckily, or unluckily, more serious issues dominate my trying moments. And I had a laugh yesterday as Lily stepped forward into my arms - her own drum name came to mind. "Walking Flower". I think Lily (and her dad) would be just fine with that, assertive yet delicate, just as she is.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How it goes.

To say that parenting is hard is an understatement of epic proportions. Being a single parent puts it over the top. The last few weeks I have been struggling to juggle my return to work with being a mother and my time, our time, is now beyond limited. I rush everywhere. Race to work, race home from work. Weekends are more of the same -and all that I can no longer do during the week now fills the list of things that ideally would be accomplished during what once were "days of rest". But the weekend rolls around and the work week continues - 6:15 wake up, 7am Lily breakfast, dress, play, 9am Lily nap #1. I crash on couch for as many winks possible while Lily sleeps. 10:15/10:30, Lily's up, snack, play, lunch at noon, play, nap #2 at 1pm. Again I try to nap or scramble to do things in the apartment while she recharges. 2:30/3pm Lily's up, play, play, fresh air until dark, 4pm snack, play until 5:30, prepare dinner, 5:45/6pm dinner. 6:45 bath, 7pm read, boob, bed by 7:30.
And then "my time" begins.
Or doesn't.
I'm exhausted, and despite the fact that Lily brings me immeasurable happiness and love, I am lonely, depressed and dead tired. I have limited energy for phone calls, bills, it's a miracle if I cook myself something. I know my story mirrors that of other single parents but knowing that has no effect on me. Because all I really want is Alan back. I want him here to see how Lily crawls with such enthusiasm that when she kicks up her back legs they sometimes throw her balance and she tumbles over her arms. I want him to hear her early morning excitement in the dark as she sidesteps along the crib rail to get as close as she can to the bed to wake me. I want him to witness how she shoves broccoli into her mouth catching it as it goes down her wrist with a similar style as the way he ate popcorn. I want him to see how she now gets her own instruments from the bin in music class and holds onto them with vigor should anyone attempt a grab. I want him to see how she stands front and center of class and rolls onto her tiptoes as she listens to the guitar. I want him to hear the clappity clap of her walker as she pushes it more and more quickly down the halls. How I wish her first steps had been into his arms.
I'd love him here to help raise her.
I do have help, and am grateful for it. I do use it so that I can attempt to accomplish the things that must get done. And thankfully they are people who love her with all their heart and she loves her time with them. But when I leave Lily, the guilt and longing remain. And I know it'd be easier if I was doing errands knowing that her other parent was with her. Alan and I were extensions of each other and how I wish that if I cannot be with Lily, that she could be passing the hours of food and naps and play with her dad. It makes my separation from her much more difficult.
And what makes it all most daunting is that the love I feel for her is almost unbearable. Now I understand why my mother always offers me her food if my dish isn't good, why she'd give me her last bite and say she isn't hungry, little sacrifices that run much deeper. Because now nothing else matters more than my daughter. It is an awesome, and frighteningly overwhelming, feeling and how I wish I had Alan with whom to share the love and fear.
Lily in all her zeal seems to miss nothing and for now, that's all that matters.