Lessons from a dancing baby

After patting down my almost four-month-old son, I let him air dry for a few moments.

standing jHe used those moments to dance. He’s learned many new moves in the two months since I first posted about his love of movement, so it was a joy to witness everything he’s since learned he can do with his body.

“Life is good, huh?” I asked him. He beamed and cooed at me, his version of “yes,” before flailing some more for emphasis.

“You’ve got a bed to lay on, a pillow to rest your head on, a cozy outfit, and Mommy and Daddy hanging out here with you. What’s not to love?” Flailflailflail.

Saying it out loud, I was struck by how simple his list was. His exuberance wasn’t inspired by anything costly or novel, but by the presence of loved ones and simple day-to-day artifacts of human life. In that moment he had–in all moments he has–everything he needs.

I want to live like that. I want to be so involved in the beauty of this moment that I forget any other moment has ever existed or will exist.

Not every moment will be full of typically “wonderful” things, but every moment can indeed be full of wonder.

 

 

 

“Not all black men are saints, but not all white men are innocent.”

“She doesn’t come out and say it, but you know she is talking about a black man.”

“No, you don’t,” I contested my husband as we talked about this post. Our conversation about the single most useful book I have ever read, The Gift of Fear, had taken a turn toward how racial profiling leads people to make incorrect assumptions about safety. “And you know how I know? Because I had that same experience many times over during my Los Angeles bus-riding days, and it was always with creepy white dudes. Always.

“Really?” my husband asked, surprised. As a black man, he’s faced plenty of suspicion based on the color of his skin.

“Yes. 100% of the time. The guy who tried to get me into his car at knife-point, because that was going to happen? Creepy white dude. The guy who was circling the block when I was on the phone with my sister at 2 o’clock in the morning and my phone died and my sister freaked out because she thought I’d been kidnapped and maybe killed? Read more…

Nothing left for the dog

Life was a cakewalk before I had kids. I had to work, eat, sleep, pay bills, and spend a minimal amount of time caring for my dog.

Priorities? Who needed those? Everything would get done with hours left to lounge around eating ice cream and drinking beer while fishing in Warcraft’s beautiful Mulgore.

Now, free time and free energy are extremely rare luxuries. I prioritize each because I must.

Do I ignore the dog because I want to? Heck, no.

I ignore the dog because I have nothing left to give him.

Most days, I don’t even have energy for my husband.

He’s fourth on my list.

No joke.

There’s a list.
Read more…

Kid convos to start a car ride

“Can I play on your phone, Daddy?” asked my four-year-old son a moment ago.

“Nope,” replied Daddy.

“We’re going to play Let’s Talk to Our Family,” I chipped in.

“What’s that?”

“The game where you talk to your family and see how everyone’s doing.”

“I don’t want to play that game.”

“Well, it’s either that or the Quietly Enjoy the Ride one. I guess there’s also the Mope Sullenly game,” I offered.

“How’s that go?”

“You’re too young for that one!” chimed Daddy.

“Yeah, let’s give that one another fifteen years or so.”

If only!

The jumbo-est damn glass of lemonade

My mother was a Dumpster diver.

People throw away computers, TVs, stereos, music, movies, instruments, art, furniture, unworn clothing and all manner of valuable things. My mom, understanding their value, collected them and sold them at frequent garage sales. Her finds paid our bills.

My sole remaining garage sale picture, clearly unedited

My brother salutes me in my sole remaining garage sale picture, clearly unedited

It became more difficult for her to get around as her mental illness progressed. She could only move and sell items small enough to carry on her bike. Gone were the big-ticket items that used to draw customers.

One of the last times I saw her before she died of cancer, I climbed out of a rental car and saw her new sale sign pinned to a tree in her front yard:

JUMBO
SALE

I immediately hated the word “jumbo.” In the context of her meager sale, it accentuated the stark divide between all the possibility present in the once-was and the grimness of my mom’s new reality. Powerless to ease my mom’s suffering, Read more…

No such thing as “just” a dog

“It’s just a dog.”

“It’s just a cat.”

“It’s not like it’s a person.”

I’ve heard these statements about the passing of a pet many times in my life, and they’ve always upset me. I’ve never known quite what to say, but have instead thought, “It seems only right you’ll never know the unconditional love of a pet. You don’t deserve it.”

Words like that seldom improve anything. But words like those written by my best friend in “The Memory of Joy in Present Grief“? They show so beautifully, so achingly, why there’s no “just” about it.

I only met Trudeau the once, when my son and I visited Mackenzie in Colorado. I was initially too entranced by the images of my best friend and son together to pay the dog much mind, but my son was captivated.

And now, I’m glad he was, because I carry a little Trudeau with me now that his own paws can no longer carry him here.

DSC00762

Read more…

Categories: Death, Love, Photos Tags: , , , ,

On SIDS and sleeplessness

For four nights I have slept fitfully on the floor.

As a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old, I went through an ascetic period during which I cleared my room of all possessions save a radio I kept in the window. I hung my clothes in my closet and folded my bedding there, too.

The emptiness of my bedroom was my weapon against the oppressive, messy clutter of the rest of my mom’s house; in that one place, my place, I could feel the joy of emptiness. Sleeping on a hardwood floor was a small price to pay for it.

Eventually my mom forced me to keep a mattress in my room. The mattress was the gateway for having things in my room again. Soon enough, I was surrounded by furniture and knick-knacks, and that was fine, too. I took from my ascetic days a useful ability to fall asleep on almost any surface.

Now, as I try finding sleep in my older son’s room, it’s not physical discomfort that keeps me from restful slumber.

That honor goes to worry.

rock around the clockA few nights ago, my husband and I agreed that our three-month-old son had outgrown his bassinet. His rustling up against its edges was constantly awakening him. Worse, he’d begun flipping onto his belly, dangerous on a not-so-firm mattress in a not-so-sturdy bassinet.

We assembled his crib and gave him a couple of days to acclimate to it before laying him down for his first night’s sleep in it. On Wednesday night, we laid him down for his first night’s crib sleep.

I’d already spent days reading up on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. My son’s risk and protective factors were ingrained in my brain:

  • Male: 1.5 times more likely than a female to die of SIDS
  • Breastfed: Decreased risk
  • African American: Twice as likely as a Caucasian child to succumb to SIDS, whether from genetics or socioeconomic factors isn’t totally clear
  • Sleeps on back: Greatly decreased risk
  • Second child: Higher risk than a first child
  • Smoke-free environment: Decreased risk
  • 3 months old: In the highest risk window, between two and four months

Babies who share rooms with their parents also have a much lower incidence of SIDS, perhaps because the parents are more quickly able to pick up on subtle changes in breathing and sleepy shuffling.

The question suddenly and urgently in mind as my baby slumbered anew in his crib was how long babies should share a room with their parents. That little piece of information wasn’t explicitly stated in a single article I’d read.

I searched for it specifically and found the recommendation was Read more…

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