I could feel anxiety in my toes this morning. Sometimes, though not always, that’s where it starts. It’s like those cartoons characters who wring their hands with stress, almost maniacally. But I’ve never seen anyone actually do that. For me, it’s much less theatrical, but more realistic—I wring my feet. Point and flex, point and flex, shuffle shuffle shuffle.
It always takes Hudson too long to finish his breakfast—this morning, it’s cottage cheese with a peanut butter chaser. Followed by, because I can’t resist, a graham cracker coated in peanut butter. It is just too gratifying NOT to give him his three favorite foods in succession–or rather, in tandem.
Everything is everywhere right now as we pack to move out of my parents’ basement. It’s not the triumphant move into a bougie condo or a three bedroom single-family home that we were hoping for, but it is a lateral move to a two bedroom apartment with a dishwasher and a flex space.
The way I know I’m not a real writer (yet) is that I can’t create from nothing. I can’t sit down at a desk and tame my brain with a deadline or a word count or a page limit.
This post isn’t a narrative. It’s just a screenshot. A wide pano zoom and a close up of a moment. It’s a sequence of words that forms the image of nine-months-old. Of happy babbles at 5:14 AM. Of little syllables that almost sound like Dad, but for the added J. “Dajd, Dajd, Dajd.”
It’s—inexplicably—an image of apple sauce crust on a forehead. It’s gurgly growls and a little hand on Dad’s nose, and a father waking up, first with a start and then with a smile. It’s the light of the closet, backlighting my boys as father whisks son into the air. It’s the silhouette of noses and upturned grins. It’s a literal silver lining after a disappointing few weeks.
It’s 5:17 AM gurgle giggles, and whimpers from a dog who hasn’t been replaced, but thinks she has. It’s the gentle bounce of four paws joining the fray, and a wet nose probing foreheads with a hearty good morning.
It’s a little boy who has been out longer than he was in. Which isn’t everything. But who has time for everything today?
It is enough.
Lately I’ve been trying to put words to parenthood, and I’ve been coming up empty. I think that’s why so many parents reach for cliches when trying to describe what its like to see their own child grow—the experience of parenthood is just so unwieldy that words elude us. We use the cliche to tame the largeness of the experience, because no one wants to go to the universe and back when they ask, “How’s Hudson doing?”
Maeby is mad at me. Today she made a pass at my chocolate protein bar, which is like a brick of poison for her (because, chocolate kills dogs, and also because Protein gives her urinary tract infections). Being the good mom that I am, I leapt for the protein bar and disentangled it from her jaws. It was an unpleasant experience for both of us; Maeby’s favorite food is chocolate and she really resented my forceful robbery. (To be fair, she robbed me first.).
I think I can be accused of not living fully in the present. In middle school I kept a blog about how excited I was to go to High School, to have a rival school, to heckle the rival basketball team. And yet the second I got to high school, I was always one panic attack away from college stress that I didn’t go to my first basketball game until senior year. And I couldn’t wait for that basketball game to be over, because everyone else knew all the collective heckles and chants, when to stand up, when to stay silent. I spent an hour cheering out of turn.
A colleague at work recently gifted me—or well, technically she gifted Hudson with a copy of the book Harold’s Purple Crayon. The story details a young boy with a large purple crayon that he uses to draw himself into a story. He’s a new protagonist on every page, but in the end, he draws himself a window and a pillow and a bed.