Kids

Oct 112013
 

Another orbit around the sun.  39 Feels old. The best present I could think of was for Jyotsna to take all the girls and let me sleep in until about 7:45am. HEAVEN!  The girls and I will go out to an early dinner tonight to my favorite pizza place (Fireworks, in Leesburg)  and I’ll have a beer. I tell you, craziness in my old age!  Mom and Dad are coming this weekend, will be nice for the girls some more hands to keep them occupied.

Nora is now day over 5 weeks old, and we’ve hit some turbulence. She was an angel the first few weeks. but now she’s resisting the sleep at night and showing her persnicketyness.  Third time around we’re obviously much less anxious about the whole thing, we know that this too will pass even if each kid has been different. The fussiness hits a 6-8 week crescendo, and it’ll subside. Annika and Savita still remain relatively doting older sisters. Savi is a bit like Lenny from Mice and Men, not really knowing her own strength when trying to snuggle Nora.  Annika and Savita are blooming as sisters, its fun to see their relationship evolve (and occasionally devolve!) They are entering that age where they start having external activities – ballerina and swim classes, right now – that define our schedule, but we’re trying to keep it light. Plenty of time for that later.

Hard not to feel like you want to take a little stock of your life on your birthday. Work is steady. Although it’s been more than seven years being on my own, it never feels completely settled. It’s okay though, because my career right now necessarily takes a back seat to everything else. For now.

Family is the overwhelming theme of my life right now, yet there are occasional nights I’ll dream that I was still single and seeking…something.  Its not a desire for any one particular thing, but almost like an echo of a habit. (“The Habit of Desire” – great name for a cheesy novel.) They say that your self image lags who you actually are by a few years, so perhaps those dreams are only vestiges of a long held view of the world that no longer applies.  Although we’re currently in the maelstrom of child rearing, as I look around I really couldn’t be happier with where I am. Sure, there are things that could stand changing and the responsibilities that we have always weigh down somewhere in my thinking.  I lament the lack of freedom to sleep in or lay around in our pajamas watching TV all day. but those are surface things, grumbles but not real grievances. For every morning I groan at having being awakened by a bright-eyed Annika at 6:30am after a few short hours of sleep, there will be mornings where I hear her pattering feet approach our door and I happily anticipate the gleeful screams where I pop out from under the covers scaring her. It’s just a different life now, with different rewards.

I’m somewhat aware that this too shall pass soon – the girls will at some point will be too cool for us, and their needs and habits will be less urgently defining our lives. Maybe when I’m 49 I’ll be writing about how I’ll be dreaming about a life defined by potty breaks, diaper genies and arguing over what clothes to wear for school. It’s a fun ride, though.

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 282013
 

We’re in the home stretch in our wait for Nora’s appearance.  J is still working somehow, although this last day was especially tough and she might do partial days for her last two days this week. Given her lack of sleep and discomfort (euphemistically, he said), it’s a wonder she’s even vertical, let alone able to handle the kids and work.

I’m looking forward to having Nora here not only for  the usual reasons but also for some unexpected ones.

Once we decided that we wanted three kids, on my part there was almost a certain urge to get the family “complete”.  Not that any part of having Annika and Savita felt incomplete, but we’ve had to push things off because of logistics/naps/diapers and it’ll be nice to know that time will be coming to an end, even if it’s another couple of years from now. We can now contemplate maybe going somewhere with my brother and his family next year, or think about when we want to start our tour of the national parks, or maybe even go internationally (with other family or not). It’s all because  Annika is past that really difficult logistical stage and it’s so much easier in so many ways. Savita is still a little ways off, but the light at the tunnel is there as well.

The other thing that’s noticeably different is that we dont have the same luxury to focus on Nora as we did for the other kids. Life doesn’t stop and the girls having their own lives, desires and commitments.  Nora is just going to have to deal and adapt, wheras A&S almost warped our lives around them. It’s easy to see how the myriad little life circumstances that are influenced  by birth order affect their personalities.

Anyway, we’re as prepared as we can be. I continue to be =a little worried about how the girls will deal with all the change. Not only Nora’s appearance, but starting a new year of school. Annika has already been through it, of course, but she’s a bit more of an apprehensive personality. Savita will be the challenge – her first time away from us like that, and she’s doing at an earlier age than Annika did. On the other hand she’s more of an adventuresome type – our little daredevil. On the gripping hand, she’ll already feel her place as baby in the family is being usurped.  Consequently we’ve tried to stagger some of the other changes in their lives-  their rooms changed in July, and we changed the car seat layout and added Nora’s car seat last week. There were the expected complaints and hollaring, but they seem used to it now.

Work has been challenging but steady, so I’m going to have to take advantage of the extra hands we have on deck the first few weeks and knock some things out before they go away and it’ s just us.

 

 

May 012012
 

J. went away this weekend to a wedding in Chicago. We would have loved to have gone together, but dragging the kids along was a little too much, so I stayed home with the kids and she went with a friend. She had a fabulous time – missing the kids, natch – and I enjoyed the time with the girls. I was also looking forward to having a Saturday night to myself once the kids were in bed- watching the movies I wanted to watch , sitting around in my underwear, eating pizza and drinking beer. I ended up doing the dishes, drinking diet coke and barely (I nodded off twice, forced myself to continue) making it through “Tinker Tailor Solider Spy” before collapsing in bed.  So much for my big night off!

Still, it was fun but exhausting. Savita is at a particular age where she’s supremely needy. She needs to have you close by, and I think after the second day she must have felt the loss of J. because she was even more vocal in her whininess than usual. She also refused to nap at all in the morning (*very* unusual). Annika did fine – a little more clingy on Saturday than normal, but only in a very subtle way.

The experience, however, reminded me of a  difference between Jyotsna and myself. I love my children, of course. But I’m also a classic introvert in that people *drain* me instead of energizing me. (For a most excellent article, check out this.) Not to say I don’t *like* people, but at the end of the day I need time to myself. Jyotsna is more of an extrovert than she is an introvert (although she has her days), so she seems to have an easier time just hanging with them. I think I deal with this by being a little more directed  in my interactions with the kids; For example, I’d prefer to go out and *do* something with them, like run an errand.  J. is more apt to spend more intentional time with them than I do. It’s obviously not an either/or thing, but I definitely tend to one end of the scale while she is more able to hang out on the other end.

It’s already May. Savita is going to be turning 1 in a few weeks. Seems surreal.

 

 

Nov 112011
 

The fall always puts me in a little more of a contemplative mood. Autumn *is* change, and it’s historical correlation with a new school year or semester primes me to feel that “times are a ‘changin” mood, despite the fact that it’s been more than 15 years where that’s been true. The girls are changing daily.
The 10 year anniversary of 9/11 was a couple of months ago. I’ll never forget where I was – working in the shadow of an airport, crazy with worry about my brother who worked in Manhattan at the time. During that period of time where we didn’t know how he was, I had felt this overwhelming panicky anxiety. I felt *helpless*, unable to do anything save wait and hit redial, over and over again.
Ten years later. That taste of fear is still what I remember. Not just the ordinary fear for one’s self, but the bitter more acrid fear for someone I love. And now I’m starting to realize that being a parent is having to actively deal with that fear, in small ways and large.
I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. The climax of the cold war, where Mutually Assured Destruction was almost considered a probability, not just a possibility. A moribund economy which had an inferiority complex to the Japanese. The stock market crash. Acid rain and Ozone holes. AIDS. Famine in Ethiopia.
The world-that-is-now, looking through the eyes of a parent, is even more frightening. Global warming seems relentless. A now 7 billion strong population all aspiring to Western standards of living, which would be unsustainable. I’m convinced that historians will look at this decade and declare it an inflection point in a shifting global geopolitical landscape.
Security, in whatever form that existed, is even more ephemeral than it was. My girls will not have to compete just with their classmates for jobs, they will be competing with ambitious and hungry peers from all over the world, including China, India, and South America. Even a good education is no guarantee – a quick skim of the 99%ers website catalogues the countless college graduates that would be happy with a job at Starbucks. The traditional twin bastions of security – medicine and law – no longer provide the security that they once did.
What’s a parent to do? Panic? (Check!) All I can really do is have faith. Faith that the world is a bountiful place, for those with the ambition, talent perserverance (and yes, a bit of luck) to pick the fruit that’s there. I assume that my parents had to have a similar faith for me and my brother. And as uneasy a time it was, my childhood never seemed particularly scary. That was simply the way the world was, and I knew no different. So I didn’t spend time worrying about those things that I had no control over (Chloroflurocarbons!), I just worried about the things people my age did. SATs. Whether that Ocean Pacific shirt was still cool to wear. (It wasn’t.) Girls I had crushes on. Whether I was too much of a nerd. (I was.)
So, I hope my girls will be the same. *I* worry. I’m now sure my parents did too. I can only do my best to try to make them safe and provide them the tools and skills to figure it out for themselves.
My close friend posted this quote in her facebook this night, and it’s so appropriate I have to share it here:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself…You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”
– Kahlil Gilbran, The Prophet
I love this. And while I know that the house of tomorrow is a place I cannot dwell, it provides me immense satisfaction to know that my girls will, no matter what how it’s constructed.