people ask, "how's it going?" "how are you doing?" sometimes it's just words, just part of the dance of social greetings, but sometimes -- particularly if asked by a mom, someone who's been there -- it's asked with some depth behind the eyes, with meaning in the voice. and those times, when it's a real question, i don't really know how to answer. it depends on when i'm asked, what time of day.
so two months out, all i can really answer is this: i feel like a crazy person. i seriously do, i feel like i'm not quite right in the head. i think that's what you call "normal" when you've recently had a baby, but really, it's nuts.
on sunday, for example, i went from optimistic when i woke up, to on the verge of tears within the hour, to cheery and connected at brunch with friends, to exhausted and teary and feeling like i could barely walk from the parking lot at the grocery store, to excited and happy by the time i left, to downtrodden again before bedtime. i think people routinely have variations in their emotions throughout the day, but i'm talking some wild and disorienting swings here. i can't keep up.
the annoying thing is that my brain tricks me into changing my entire world view wth every shift. in a down swing: i don't know how i'm ever going to do this, i feel bad for neglecting the differing needs of both my children while trying to meet the needs of the other, i'm cranky, i'm mean to my husband, i hate that my house is always a mess, and i feel guilty for just trying to get through each day rather than savoring and enjoying each precious moment of hazel's early babyhood. then in an up swing: things are great, i have two sweet adorable girls, i love my supportive husband, we're having an easy time with the transition, and hey, let's make some plans to meet up later this week.
i think being a temporary crazy person is just part of becoming a mom, or becoming a mom for the second or third time. i *know* i'm being crazy, i hear it in my voice. lately larry has been telling me i need to use more care in how i speak to him (sometimes he says it nicely like that, sometimes not), and he's right. i'm cranky, i snap at him for no reason (well, no reason that has to do with him, anyway). sometimes hazel is screaming and not being contented, causing stress hormones to surge through my body (thanks, evolution.), sometimes eva has been whining in my ear for an hour, and sometimes i'm just plain tired. and you know, sometimes i'm honestly just not trying very hard to rein it in because i'm caught in the negative-outlook version of my own reality. and as much as i'm sure it sucks to live with a crazy person, i'd like to point out that it also sucks *being* a crazy person. i prefer my other self, too (the one that's at least somewhat less crazy and snappy).
it's disorienting. emotionally i'm all over the map. physicaly, my body is completely unfamiliar to me. mentally i can hardly keep hold of a train of thought long enough to act on it. and i feel like i've aged about five years so far in 2008. that said, i'm not even terribly concerned. i don't think i'm verging on PPD or even that i've got much of a case of the baby blues (i find that term annoying)... i think this is just how it goes. by necessity you sort of muddle through those first few months, then later you look back and wonder why it's all such a blur. well, because you weren't totally sane at the time, and even if you were, your brain would protect you from remembering it clearly.
so, how's it going?
when asked by someone who actually wants to know, someone who's been there, i can just answer: pretty much the way you'd expect. mostly crazy, and incredible, and making it through. is there any other way?
we spent last week at yosemite for a ewing family reunion. this was a reunion of dick's cousins and their families... since dick was the only surviving child in his family, larry and his brothers (and now the girls) are the only descendants of their grandfather ewing. and now that dick is gone, the link that that portion of the family is broken in a way. i never really thought of it this way until the trip, but this is a quarter of the heritage of my daughters. i know my side fairly well, my mother and my father's families, and we spend a lot of time around larry's mother's family... so i very much appreciated the opportunity to connect with the ewings.
one interesting point is that this branch of my daughter's family goes back the farthest in north america. all of my ancestors came across from europe much more recently -- during my great-grandparents generation early in the 1900s. rita's family similar, i believe. the ewing side goes back to at least 1761... backwards from texas to missouri to kentucky to virginia and so on. that's a bit of a shift in perspective, which really made me rethink my place in american history.
i really enjoyed meeting the extended family. there were about 19 or so ewing first cousins, and they were fairly spread out across the country. i'm not even sure dick had met all of them, and i know larry hadn't, so it could easily have felt like a room full of strangers (about 50 people were in attendance). but what struck me was that it quickly felt more like family -- and it was a really interesting, diverse group of people, the kind of people you want to get to know. by the end of the week, second cousins were playing a game of spoons so raucously in the kitchen it was even louder than the accumulated noise of the many conversations taking place in the rest of the hall as everyone chatted away.
as for the traveling itself, we had a great time exploring yosemite. it felt great to get out and hike (somewhere where it's not 105 degrees), and i always love being in the mountains -- i think that's my reaction to growing up in the flattest part of the entire country. sarah and eva continue in their sibling-like relationship, adoring each other and wanting to spend lots of time together, but eventually antagonizing each other a bit and needing space (i think that's also just part of being three years old). hazel did great on her first plane trip, and other than the fact that she cried in the car up and down the mountain roads, it was a breeze having her along. of course, having gram on the trip for hazel-holding or eva-entertaining certainly helped (a ton! um, can you just fly everywhere we go?) eva is now requesting that we go on "big long hikes" here in austin, with larry carrying her in the kelty pack. hmm, as soon as the temp dials down a bit, we can give that a go.
a great trip, and i'm really glad we went. many thanks to rita for making that happen...
i'm packing for our trip to yosemite, and while larry's out taking care of a last-minute errand for the trip, hazel is talking to herself in the bouncy chair and eva's on the couch watching TV. she's watching "martha stewart crafts", because as i've said before, it has bizarre calming effect on her. trance-like. it's odd. anyway, she generally doesn't watch much TV, but what she does watch is commercial free (sesame street, which does have commercials, but i fast forward through them since they're just at the beginning and end). i know the effect of marketing on children is powerful,and i'd like to stave that off as long as possible ("but i *need* a bratz doll! now with extra-hoochie outfits for a limited time, mamaaaaa!")
well, this is what i get for trying to pack (did i mention we're getting up at 3:30 a.m.?) i was in the kitchen packing airplane snacks, and casually thought that i should go fast-forward through the DIY network commercials i was half-hearing from the other room. oh well, a few commercials won't hurt, i reason. and then i hear:
"mama where are you?"
i'm in here, sweetheart. what do you need?
"mama, we should get one of those things that sprays away stains really easily!"
oh really? (realizing the commercial i was half-hearing was the voice of that oxy clean thumbs-up guy, advertising "oxy clean spray away".)
"uh huh! we should get one. they had a show about it, and it sprays away stains."
wow. see how they suck this stuff up, even when it's not a product that's terribly interesting to kids? in eva's mind, the guy telling her about spray away is exactly the same as martha showing her how to make a charming frame by gluing seashells to the edge. have i ranted yet about how i think marketing directly to children should be illegal? seriously. in fact it *is* illegal in many countries, but in america, instead we've decided to make it an art form. and we're so used to allowing the government to prioritize corporate needs over the needs of our children that we think this is normal. completely immoral practice...
this, by the way, is in part why i'm opposed to licensed characters. even if it's sesame street, even if it's clifford. that's *still* marketing to children. a kid choosing a backpack because it has dora on it over a similar backpack -- they're still using marketing to children to make the sale. which is at best obnoxious. it also reduces imagination, in my opinion, when kids want all their clothing, toys, DVDs, books, etc to be emblazoned with disney's latest movie. lame.
okay, back to packing. :)
she's three! she turned three, and it snuck up on me. she looks so old there, compared to when she was two. but i feel like she's the same person as when she was two... we did all that traveling, life got speedy, i was pregnant, had a baby... who knows how it went by, but it seems like she was *just* two and so how can she be a different person? also, she could talk then, and do so much of what she does now, so though she changed a lot, it snuck up on me. just look at those photos! she was such a baby at 2, though i thought she was big. i'm sure i said that last year too, and i'll say it next year.
i love that it's the same pose though, sneaking into her cake (the same hummingbird cake -- here's her earth ball cake from this year.) she's taller, clearly -- can reach the table a bit easier -- and the other big difference? oh, i spy a baby sister in the background this time around. :)
last night i was holding hazel and she was wearing a sleeper that (somewhat cheesily) says all over it "if they could just stay little" in tiny print. it's subtle, so you don't read it every time you see it -- but i read it and then remembered having read it when eva wore them three years ago, and how it made me sad then. oh, time. it keeps moving.
speaking of that, i have a lot to say that never gets put here. i try to catch up with one-liners but then ramble on, so here's yet another attempt at one-liners:
hazel's been half-sick half her life -- congested the past several weeks, then got eva's cough. oh, preschool! eva was never sick as a baby, now is always half sick, and poor hazel gets it all passed down to her. we might take her in tomorrow to make sure she's okay before we fly to california on saturday (for the ewing reunion). hazel is chunky and starting to coo a bit and smiles -- sweetly at eva, which made me so happy.
eva has an imaginary friend named charlie that she tells us about daily. often this takes the form of trying to process her own experiences, or sometimes just entertainment, or sometimes cute little fibs (we've hit that stage, as i mentioned before). there's also amy, but she's not as prominent as charlie is -- oh, and we often hear about charlie's cousins. the little snippits about charlie are so cute because they are so telling about what she's thinking about her life. i never remember to write them down, but i should.
we went to jackie's wedding in dallas last weekend. both girls did well on the 4 hr drive each way, and eva *loved* the reception, dancing the night away. she danced in larry's arms, fell asleep, he sat down eventually, and she woke up and insisted on more dancing. i danced with her until she fell asleep... this repeated several times, and she made it all the way past midnight.
working backward... before that lora and julie and lilly were here for two weeks. that was so much fun, and i'm still sort of getting over the fact that they're gone. we did a ton of stuff, more than you'd think considering we had a toddler and two babies with us at all times. eva keeps talking about how much she misses lilly and her aunts.
eva's been in school for 10 weeks now, and seems to love it. when i drop her off, she simply turns, asks to give hazel and i each a kiss and a hug, then says says bye. when i pick her up, nowadays she's generally playing with other kids, seemingly integrated into the community there, making friends. and that newfound outgoing nature is either a result of school or just the age she's hit, because it extends beyond school -- today at the pool she was talking to various random kids, and just as often, their moms. (to the point i end up trying to distract her, lest the moms tire of talking to a random toddler.)
though today i was amused to hear one of these moms saying (as i chatted nearby), "oh really? your friend charlie has a floatie like this?" charlie. little do they know...