Today you are six

My Maxy-Moose, today you are six.

You false-started into the world a few days before 11/18/2008, sending me to Labor and Delivery not once but twice.  On the 17th, I dropped your brother off at Grammy and Papa’s and had a light dinner and chatted through contractions that felt like they were starting to mean business. They kicked into gear as the sun went down, and I labored alone on the green couch, clutching your daddy’s iPod and timing contractions with an app that felt very futuristic.

In the middle of the night, they were three minutes apart and I woke up your dad and he drove me to the hospital. It only took a few hours for you to arrive. I remember resting on my left side and clutching the rail tightly and knowing exactly when it was time to roll onto my back and push. Your dad helped catch you, and it was peaceful even though it hurt. I reached for you and held you and nuzzled your sticky face while you nursed. You were always an easy nursling, even from that first moment we met.

Baby boy, you’ve always been my cuddle bug. You still purse your lips and “sucky face” when you’re sleepy and cuddling. You still carry around the blankies that I used as rags when I nursed you.

You make adorable noises when you’re making believe. You talk to yourself. You talk to everyone. You talk all the time. But you’re shy when you realize people are watching. My birthday wish for you, joyous little boy, is that you move through life without the brakes of self-consciousness. Don’t be shy, precious boy.

And always let me give you kisses.

And never cut your hair.

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On failure

I didn’t write last night because I sat down with my kids and watched Willow and folded so much laundry it no-shit took me the entire movie to finish. And I didn’t even have time to put it away. When I went to bed at the same time the kids did, I thought, “I didn’t post today. I failed.”

Then I thought about how absolutely bullshitty it is to place that much weight on an arbitrary challenge. I’ve blogged more this month than I have in two years, so it’s a success. I spend loads of time writing for others’ gain and very little time writing for the simple joy of expressing myself. This challenge has been challenging, and it’s been very good to have that extra boost that makes me write even when I don’t feel like it. But I’m not going to beat myself up — as strong as that instinct is — just because I wasn’t 100% consistent.

When I sit down and force myself to put words on the page, they’re not always pretty words. But it’s a satisfying feeling, like nailing a particularly stubborn blackhead or riding a bicycle that had gathered dust for too long. I can still do this. And maybe if I do it enough I’ll form a habit and maybe if I form a habit I’ll get back to my fiction and finish my novel and write more novels or short stories or anything that’s for me.

This is going to be a hard week. I might write or I might not, but my mind will be whirring one way or another.

(I HATE PACKING.)

(But I like unpacking?)

A towel with sleeves

My soon-to-be 6-year-old hates getting out of the tub because he doesn’t like to be cold. I dry him as fast as I can, but he still freaks out. The other day he saw a Critter book with Critter in a robe. “HE HAS A TOWEL WITH SLEEVES!” Ever since then, he’s wanted his own sleeve-towel. I ordered him one for his birthday and gave it to him early tonight because he was so cute shivering after his post-soccer shower.

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This kid is such a doll.

Second son

It took me a while to catch on the fact that Moose is pretty smart. Growing up alongside a brother who began talking at 10 months old and mastered full, adult-like sentences before 2 means being plain old smart doesn’t get noticed. I felt like a dick when his preschool teacher said he’d be a good candidate for gifted testing. He wasn’t reading yet, so nothing he was doing felt particularly eventful. I was just happy that everything was developmentally on track and he wasn’t on the fast-track to loads of therapy. It’s an interesting balance raising a neurotypical kid and a kid on the spectrum.

Moose may be neurotypical but he’s anything but typical. I love listening to him starting to read and sounding out words. He tries to write a lot, and it’s so cute. He plays pretend in a way I didn’t experience with his brother, and I find it endlessly entertaining. (Boy he can talk a lot.) He is bright, and also hilariously absent-minded like I was as a kid. His kindergarten teacher says she’s struck by the way he thinks about things and the questions he asks.

I feel so fortunate to have two kids who are very different. I won’t have a girl, but I feel less wistful about that now, because raising two boys doesn’t mean raising two of the same kid. Their personalities are very different. They like a lot of the same things (Sanjay and Craig, Minecraft, Pokemon, Mario Bros.) but the similarities in there. And it’s pretty cool.

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Princess hair

I’m pretty vain about my hair. After cutting it very very short about three and a half (?) years ago, I’ve been growing it out. At first, it was because my then-husband said he didn’t like it. I immediately decided to grow it out, hoping that would make him like me again. (Oof.)

Then, as I started to like it longer, it became my own slow-motion crusade. I’d had short hair for the majority of my 20s. It was was convenient and sassy and cute. But I wanted… princess hair. Not like Rapunzel to the ground, but maybe Belle — enough to pull into a cute ponytail. I’ve kept the same awesome hairstylist through the entire process of growing it out. Today I told her, “It’s almost to my nipples!”

When I had long hair as a teen, I didn’t have any self confidence. My hair was just a curtain to hide behind. I didn’t really know how to style it or take care of it and many many days of swimming had rendered it to approximately the texture of straw. Now, as a 30-something, I can take care of my hair. And the texture has changed a lot with the hormones of two pregnancies. It’s manageable. And it’s fun. Yes, it makes me feel younger to have the same hair length I had in high school. I also just like the way it feels on my shoulders and back. I like that I can still hide behind it if I need to, but most of the time I don’t want to.

I will never have my high school body back, and I don’t want it back. My body grew and nourished children. I have the body of a 34-year-old woman because I have lived for 34 years. My hair might make me feel youthful, but I also recognize that it’s just a silly thing I have the luxury of feeling vain about.

I also won’t pretend like aging is 100% positive. We all age, and I doubt anyone ages without moments of displeasure, whether that’s about looks or age-as-evidence of the inevitable. I don’t think there’s anything bad about wanting to hold onto things that make us feel youthful or feel like we look youthful, even if that means cat-print tights or pigtails or booty shorts or long hair or purple hair or pink raincoats or whatever. I don’t think youth should be about conforming to certain standards — but retaining the joy/fear/wonder of living. And it doesn’t matter what makes us feel young, only that we continue to feel awed by the opportunity to be alive. With good hair.

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Nails

I’ve been growing my nails out since August of 2013. That’s also when I quit coffee and started working out, and I keep swearing it was just a few months ago. But it’s well over a year ago now. Working out hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like. I’m going to yoga fairly often, but work has been a little crazy and I haven’t been going as many times a week as I want to considering I started doing the membership that gives me unlimited classes. (I may have to dial back to pay as I go again.) I was going to Pure Barre for a while but then I ended up liking yoga a lot more. I still love my Barre3 DVDs but I struggle to get motivated when I’m working out in the house.

The nails have been more or less consistent. I’d say every 6-8 weeks or so I screw them all up and start the cycle again. But as long as I keep them filed reasonably short-ish and keep them polished they look like real grownup nails. It’s still a big deal and a marvel to me because I started biting my nails pretty much as soon as I got teeth, and I’ve never been able to quit successfully. I have a serious nail polish collection and I think it’s a huge part of how I stayed consistent with the quitting. I like nail polish! I never got to wear it before. Colors! I still suck at applying it but it’s often a nice little 15 minute break during my day.

Breaks are something I’m really bad at doing unless I’m actually leaving the house for something. I know I should make lunch, stretch, walk around, whatever. But I often end up glued to work in a vortex of focus and stress and it’s a bad habit. I can be a serious workaholic, and I think it’s a combo of desperately fearing not having enough work/income, and finding it easier to focus on work than it is to focus on the emptier aspects of my life. (Like, the parts where I get out and hang out with human beings, or like, kiss boys.)

My nails look good though.