Thursday, April 5, 2012
Eoin and I are reaching a new stage: comradeship. Yesterday, Ashley worked a long day, and I found myself coping with the two babies for fourteen hours with no adult contact whatsoever. It certainly was an endurance test in parenting, but what helped immensely was realizing that, as much as I was "stuck" with Eoin, he was stuck with me. Trooper that he is, he made the best of it: living in the moment, as kids do, and looking for fun in every nook and cranny of that wet, snowy/rainy spring hump day. We did it, and pretty smoothly, if I do say so myself. (As I must, since there were no other literate witnesses on hand.)
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
A few months ago, if Eoin wanted me to do something with him, he would say, "Come peas," and lead you to it. (Totally irresistible). His vocabulary has since expanded, and he can be more specific. Now he'll say, "Mommy, let's sweep together," as he juggles his mini broom, my grown-up broom, and two dustpans in his hands.
Let's make cake together.
Let's play train together. (This means boarding the couch, and alternating between yelling at an imaginary cow to get off the tracks and miming a horrific crash off a cliff. After the crash, we push the train/couch back on the tracks. Sometimes we have to fix the couch with his pretend tools first, and sometimes Eoin has to "pick me up" to put me back in the train.)
My favourite: Let's snuggle together.
Monday, January 9, 2012
We are human. Eoin, my son, included. We humans have relationships. Eoin, too.
In the lifetime of a human, most of our relationships have very delineated boundaries. For instance, when you meet a cashier up at the Walmart in Corner Brook's Murphy's Square, it's quite normal to learn of that cashier's arthritis, and what time that cashier's next break happens. This is entirely different from the relationship shared with a Burnaby Walmart cashier, in which there is no eye contact, and no superfluous dialogue. In either relationship, you know what to expect. You are no more flattered by the Walmart cashier's intimacy in Murphy's Square than you are offended by his disdain in Burnaby.
Every now and again, though, we humans have encounters that don't follow the script. Boundaries are breached; intimacy is reached.
This is what happened to Eoin over Christmas. He met his uncle Gene.
Yes, yes...of course, Eoin had met his uncle Gene before, but he never met him, met him. Uncle Gene was always the guy manning the barbecue, or drinking a beer with his Poppy, or breaking up his cousins' spat. In the world of Eoin, Gene was just another orbiting satellite.
Until one night over Christmas. On this night, Ashley and I brought Eoin to my sister, Janice, and Gene's house in the hopes that we could put him to bed there, take his sleeping baby brother to our friend's party, and pick Eoin up again in the morning.
We thought: what a great way to partake in some Christmas festivities. Eoin thought: No way are you leaving me in this spooky attic!
We had given up trying to cajole Eoin to sleep when Gene reached out to lift Eoin from my arms. "Let me try," he said. I was shocked, and I'm guessing Eoin felt the same, because he didn't protest as Gene carried him wide-eyed up the stairs to the crib.
For what felt like ages, I milled about downstairs wondering, what on earth is happening up there?? Finally, Gene reappeared.
"I think he needs a Mommy or Daddy," he said.
I rushed up the stairs to rescue my baby. No doubt Eoin was traumatized. His mother had abandoned him to be held hostage in the attic by a virtual stranger!
Except, he wasn't traumatized. He was tucked under the blankets in a bed, rosy-cheeked and heavy-lidded with the heat and the late hour. As I snuggled up next to him, he asked me sleepily, "Where's Gene?"
Eoin didn't, in the end, fall asleep there. It took Ashley and I another hour before we surrendered. Ashley brought Eoin home, and I went to the party on my own. What a waste of time.
Or not. Not to Eoin, anyway. Although I never got the details, besides some mumbling from Gene about petting a fish (??), it was clear that something profound had happened. I'm willing to bet there was some soft, sook-y conversation involved, and probably even some hair-stroking/back-rubbing. Certainly, a bond was forged.
Eoin would ask me, "Where's Gene?" from time to time over the next few days. Then one evening, Janice jammed her van into the snowbank in our driveway, and Gene was sent to our house the following morning to unstick it.
Eoin and I were playing in the living room when Gene appeared in our doorway. Eoin halted and stared openly - similarly to the way one might stare if last summer's fling showed up as "the new guy" at work. I was scurrying around trying to find car keys for Gene.
"That's Mommy," Eoin announced suddenly.
Gene chuckled. I found him the car keys. But later, I wondered, why the introduction?
Did Eoin, finding himself at a loss for words, merely throw out the first thing that popped in his head? Anything to keep the connecting going - come on, we've all done it.
Or was Eoin attempting to further their friendship by introducing his mother, who, at age two, is an inextricable part of his identity? That seems reasonable. Could I describe myself without the "wife of Ashley, mother of Eoin and Daniel" identifiers?
Or was Eoin, when he blurted, "That's Mommy," actually succumbing to that age-old urge to share something special with that special someone? Just like Ashley succumbed when, in our courtin' days, he showed up rain-soaked at my house at 11 pm to present me with a bud of jasmine tea that blossomed and bloomed when immersed in hot water - a token from his recent journey to China. (It was beautiful.) Like I succumbed, when, in return, I geek-ily waxed poetic about quantum mechanics (my major) and pressed him to read The Sun Also Rises (my favourite novel). That's what you do when you meet someone extra-ordinary: you show them that secret lookout with the gorgeous view; you play that song that touched your heart; you take them to that little known cafe with the to-die-for cheesecake; or maybe, just maybe (I dare to hope), when you're two, you introduce them to Mommy. Isn't she somethin'?
I guess the reason behind the introduction doesn't matter. What matters is Gene is probably the first friend Eoin made on his own, and definitely the first friend of Eoin's to whom I've had the pleasure of being introduced. May there be many, many more. And so what if I'd already known Gene for over ten years?
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Ashley and I passed our first New Year's Eve with our family complete. We dined at home on french onion soup, sweet potato fries, and raw veggies in an herbed yogurt dip. Then Ashley, Eoin and I went outside and played in the snow. Being outside at night in the wintertime is so exhilarating! When I poked my head inside to listen for Daniel, I found him awake. On went his snowsuit...just in time for Ashley's sparkler display. (Daniel was unimpressed and screeched the entire time.) We came back inside after the sparklers, and I nursed Daniel while Eoin "helped" his dad pop popcorn. We skyped a little with Nana Patsi, and then settled on the living room rug to eat popcorn and read books with Eoin and Daniel. Eoin kindly pointed out the different colours of light bulbs on the tree for us (das a boo one, das a wed one, das a owange one, das a geen one, das a boo one, das a owange one....). We listened to Auld Lang Syne - we love the version from the Sex and the City movie - and then put Eoin to bed. While I nursed Daniel a little more, Ashley broke out the paper and pen to scribe the year's highlights, and outline some wishes for the new year. We're going to put it away to check in with next year. All in all, it was one of the nicest new year's eve I've ever known!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Time and time again, Ashley and I will say to one another, "I love him." Ashley will be sitting quietly, checking his email after dinner, while I stand at the sink washing dishes, and I will be thinking of Eoin. "I love him," I will announce, and Ashley, instantly there with me, in love, will agree, "He's amazing." We will be lying in bed, and I will be sure Ashley is asleep, until his voice in the dark says, "I love him." I know, me too. Ashley will be in the bedroom folding laundry, and handling Eoin's little pants and little shirts will touch him so deeply that he will have to come find me to hug me and say, "I love him." Last night, when I said to Ashley, "I love him," Ashley replied, "It's almost unbearable sometimes, isn't it?" Yes.
What amazes me most about this unbearable, unspeakable love is, it's actually quite ordinary . I go to baby groups and watch other moms, I watch my friends and my family with their children, I watch parents in the grocery store, and I see this love everywhere. This love Ashley and I feel, with a depth and an intensity that we have never known, is, by and large, what everyone feels for their children. And I guess they always have, and I guess they always will.
From childhood until now, I think that I have had an ever darkening world view. As I grew, I seemed to encounter more jealousy, more weakness, more greed, more cruelty, more danger. And then I had Eoin, and my eyes were opened to the immense ocean of love that floats families. As long as there are children, this love will buoy us, and hope will glow on the horizon.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Walking along the seawall last week, on my way to Granville Island, Eoin and I passed a woman seated on the grass at the edge of the path. I'm pretty sure she was practicing laughter yoga, an exercise that takes the wisdom, "laughter is the the best medicine" very seriously. It works on the premise, "Fake it 'til you make it."
"Ha ha ha ha ha, ho ho ho ho ho, aha ha ha ha ha," was blasting across False Creek. The woman, alone on the grass, was laughing like a lunatic.
"Weirdo," I was thinking, just as a couple of energetic, power-walking women were passing me from the opposite direction. They were watching the laughing woman too, only with big smiles on their faces. They chimed in with her, calling out, "Do you mind if we laugh with you?" Surely nothing could have delighted the laughter yogi more, and she called back exuberantly, "You sure can!" and for a moment, the three women shared a genuine chuckle.
It was only a moment. An instant later, the power-walkers were gone, and the woman's laughter was fading behind me. It was then that I noticed that my face was still pinched in a scowl of judgment. I had looked at the laughter yogi and only seen how pathetic she was, whereas the zippy power-walkers had seen an opportunity to have a laugh. Suddenly, I felt like the pathetic one. Instead of optimism, cheer, and good-humour, I chose cynicism. And what did that earn me? No mid-afternoon laughter, no spark of connection with a stranger - just deeper wrinkles. I felt humbled and inspired by the women on the seawall.
I was telling Ashley about this on Sunday, as we were hiking around Elfin Lake in Squamish - telling him about the lesson I'd learned on my walk to Granville Island. In the telling of my story, I mimicked the laughter yogi. My ha-ha-ha's rang out in the woods - I have to admit, my laugh sounded pretty authentic. I caught sight, then, of my baby. Strapped to his father's chest, Eoin had been listening to my story too. His face was broke wide open in a grin. My laughter had tickled him pink, and he was watching me, waiting for more, and poised to join in.
He gets it.