Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Station Eleven

Something about this time around with a new baby has been hitting me differently; there are two of them, yet I have had way more time and inclination for reading!  With August, it was about SIX MONTHS before I was able to follow a book to its conclusion, whereas I had several books done within Bash's first few weeks.  I'm trying to make a conscious effort to not check my phone an hour before going to sleep (and, when I'm feeling super virtuous, I leave it to charge upstairs while hanging with JP when the kids are finally in bed), and am not poring over our baby books for answers to the teeniest questions this time.  More time for fiction is always a plus!

My most recent favorite read has been Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.  You know I love my post-apocolyptic novels set in the near future, and this one is even better because there are no zombies in it!  Mandel's story follows Kirsten, a 23-year-old woman who performs in the Traveling Symphony, moving from settlement to settlement in a world devastated by a pandemic.  The Georgia Flu (country, not state) decimated the world's population, and the Symphony lives by the creed, 'Because survival is insufficient.'  Kirsten and her pack perform Shakespeare and play Beethoven concertos for small camps around the Great Lakes.  Woven throughout this plot is Kirsten's backstory, which involves the wildly successful Arthur Leander, his wife, and best friend. 

It's a tightly-written book that left me feeling unsettled- in the best way.  It's magical to be transported by an idea that feels dangerously plausible; poor JP was reminded several times of our emergency plan, and I'm still feeling the urge to stock our basement with extra canned goods and blankets so that we'll be prepared for an event like the one in Station Eleven.  Mandel dives into what's worth saving in life, what luck and hard work really provide for us, and the ties that bind us all.  

Monday, August 10, 2015

Making it Look Easy

I've been debating writing a post on this, because it's a bit of a mixed bag for me.  A few friends have mentioned in passing, 'You make having two kids look so easy!' or 'What a perfect life you have!' and it's meant as a compliment.  I should say, it seems like it's meant as a compliment.  And, while I see the kind place they're coming from and know it's in no way meant as a jab at me, those words fill me with a sense of dread.

I have a two-year-old, so this sight of him on the ground in tears is pretty much a given at least a few times a week.  Sometimes a few times a day.  Generally, though, people don't want to see pictures of that.
And it's not always a private show just for me.  August had a meltdown at the GA Aquarium when I told him we had to go home.

There was a several-week stretch when Bash would only nap while nursing next to me.  Which meant, on top of not sleeping when the baby sleeps, I either dealt with a fussy baby or a fussy toddler who wanted my undivided attention (currently being eaten up by said sleeping baby).  That's an exhausting time that my playground group didn't get to witness.

And, as much as I adore August, he's not really great with knowing people's pain thresholds.  He's really good at clocking my head with his while sitting in my lap for story times.  Don't even get me started on how much laundry is being done in this house; between a toddler trying to feed himself drippy yogurt and a baby spitting up like its his job (which, I guess it kind of is), it's rare that we each go through only one outfit a day.

Then there's the guilt.  August can quote passages from several Disney and Pixar films, at the young age of 2, and Bash loves to stare at the TV screen.  But how else am I supposed to get time to prep dinner or let the dog out?

Don't misunderstand me: I LOVE my kids, my husband, my life in general.  I appreciate that I can stay home and that we can afford to have me do it.  I am incredibly lucky to be married to a man who puts his family before pretty much everything.  (Except Spanish futbol, but that's another conversation entirely.)  Being a stay at home mom is the best fit for us at this stage; I didn't have a full-fledged career when I had August, so didn't have anything I was passionately looking forward to returning to after a maternity leave.

But you would think that being a stay at home mom has basically lobotomized me that way some parties and dinners go.  Because I don't work outside the home, it's as though I couldn't possibly have anything to contribute to a conversation; an IRS employee has more clout at an event than I do.  There have been more occasions than I'd care to mention which have led to me relegated to a corner, sipping wine by myself, while other people talk about their careers.  I have stuff to talk about, too!  I've read fascinating books, watched thought-provoking films and TV shows, am up on current events!  That's got to be way more interesting than talking about tax brackets and business plans, right?

So much of my life is awesome and we have a lot of laughs and smiles.  These boys are 65% an absolute joy, and 35% thoroughly exhausting and frustrating.  I have a lot of help, though, and should be totally upfront about that.  Since he was 16 months old, August has been in some sort of daycare/preschool/summer camp situation a couple mornings a week so I can get time with just one kid, and we have people who clean our house once a week.  We also have a mother-in-law who watched the boys every so often, and a great babysitter for date nights.  THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT.  These people have been worth their weight in gold.  So it really does take a village to make one person's job look 'easy'.

This 'picture perfect life' is more complex and interesting than that title would lead you to believe.  When I really dig down, my issue is that, if this is what easy and perfect look like, why do I have so many frustrating encounters with people who aren't parents or stay at home parents?  Am I allowed to vent about my kids' bad sleeping habits, or will that pop the bubble?  If I admit to struggling more days of the week than not, will I get the brush-off?  And, even when things aren't picture perfect, am I allowed to still enjoy it?  One of my favorite pictures of the boys so far (nearly six months into brotherhood) is this one of August very gingerly pulling a booger out of Bash's nose.  Gross?  Yes.  Endearing and gentle?  Absolutely.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Our Week in Photos

 Bash is so happy to get loving from his aunts!

One of my favorite visitors to the house is always Haley.  She stopped in last weekend, and we took her for a morning out on the town!  Well, actually just to a railway museum in Duluth, where we rode a mini 1950s train around a couple of times.  She wore Bash the whole time; what a lovely gesture!  He was very well entertained.

Mia got some loving, too.

 And August tried on his handmade superhero cape from Auntie Haley!  It really made that castle building go so much more smoothly ;)

 This little man and his smiles.  I just love watching him develop.

August missed his nap one afternoon, so made up for it by sleeping in the stroller on a Trader Joe's run a few hours later.  He never sleeps in the stroller!  This was so awesome!

 We checked out some fire trucks one evening, and August couldn't have been happier to be held by his papa while looking at them.  It doesn't take much some days.

Just two cool guys, hanging out at city hall.

 Bash has been eating solids!  While he sits in the high chair, August kind of titters around him, climbing on the rungs, playing with his toys, and holding Bash's hand.  It's pretty precious.

 I love how Bash fell asleep during one of our morning runs this week.  Doesn't it look like he's posing for a boy band portrait?

This little Italian chef has been hanging out in our dining room (I don't really know where to put him, so it's as good a place as any), and August has decided that they're friends.  I came around the corner Thursday afternoon and he was hugging it out.  Nice kid.