Monday, November 22, 2010

Tramps Like Us

And just like that?

Mama ran a half-marathon, chickens.

Ha! "Just like that." I saved y'all the details of my training. Some weeks were better than others. Some runs hurt like hell; others felt like I could have continued on for days.

When I started, I could barely jog a mile. I crawled around the local high school track, with J yelling, "Push yourself!"

"I AM!" I growled.

I was.

When I birthed Hendrik (really, I will tell you that story one day), I remember thinking: half-marathon? I can run an ULTRA-marathon! I am a fucking warrior.

And then I fought for every tenth of a mile, until it got easier.

The change is gradual. One day, your lungs feel like fire as you begin your fifth lap. The following week, you realize you've run several miles, unfazed.

One Sunday, your long run is an insurmountable THREE.

Another Sunday, weeks and weeks later, you run 10.2. And you don't die.

The half meant a lot to me. It was nearly six months to the day after I gave birth to my son. I am proud of the physical accomplishment. Running also became very spiritual for me; I would trot along Kelly Drive and tell myself: I run for the crunch of the gravel beneath my feet. I am so thankful that my legs are strong. I'd use the time to reflect. I thought. I wrote blog posts I never had the time to transcribe.

Most importantly: I finished something I started.

When Hendrik was born, I vowed to do better. To be better. And that begins with being a woman of my word.

I accomplished that on Sunday. And because of that, each of the 13.1 miles I ran were filled with joy. I was thinking: I'm doing this! Me!

I've never been an athlete. And I. Was. Runnnnnnnnnning!

I'd like to thank the Academy, but most importantly: my amazing husband. The one who encouraged me each day; who - thanks to road closures - dropped me in the more questionable neighborhoods in Philly, and followed me with his blinkers on until I reached safer ground so I could be sure to get my miles in. The man who forced my family to be there to share in my moment; the man who stood on the course by the finish line snapping my photograph; the man who didn't balk when I ordered the eggs benedict and the brioche french toast at brunch.

His selflessness humbles me. I am eternally grateful.

I did it, you guys. And I feel weightless.

What's next?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Five Months

Last weekend, we braved the open road and took you to Aunt Eden's wedding in Bethel, Maine.

Oh, sweet baby. It did not go well.

I had spent so much time agonizing over the actual logistics of the car ride. I decided it was impossible for you to make the nearly ten-hour trip in one day; so we opted to split the trip on the way up (you seemed to enjoy White River Junction, VT), and on the way home (you were fairly indifferent to Plainville, CT).

The thing is? You did great in the car. You took looong naps. I read you my new favorite book, Chester's Way (a present from Nona about a charming little mouse with OCD), sang Parachute Express songs to you, and just generally entertained you as we careened along. I only spent half of the time in the backseat with you, and you only fussed minimally. You were thrilled to stretch your legs at rest stops, and were perhaps the cutest damn pumpkin in the history of the world in Kennebunkport, Maine.

But when we were there, at the gorgeous ten-room ski villa?

Really wasn't your idea of a good time.

Dad and I have noticed that despite your charming ways with new people - often a stranger's warm smile will stop a crying jag instantaneously - you do not enjoy large crowds. I think you get overstimulated very easily, and since you are so deliciously adorable, the masses are usually all up in your grill, cooing and clapping and doing everything they can to get you to giggle.

There comes a point, my man, when you have had ENOUGH. And you make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that you wish to be leaving. NOW. YESTERDAY. GET ME THE HELL OUT OF DODGE, PARENTS, FOR THE LOVE OF LIONEL.

And so it went on wedding day. (Another pleasant discovery on the trip was that you haven't a clue how to nap in a crib.) Dad and I took you on a two-hour car ride through Grafton State Park, and you slept for most of it. We congratulated ourselves that you had gotten plenty of shut-eye, and would thus be positively angelic by go-time at 4 PM.

We kept you sequestered in our room (calm was the order of the day), and at 3:20 you bestowed upon us a POOP so great - so spectacular, my son - that we could only laugh as we yelled and tossed you about and declared this POOpocalypse. You were finally placed in the tub for the second time that day; your onesie was cut off of you as if you were being prepped for emergency surgery, and the sheets and floor were subsequently sanitized.

Praise Jesus you were not yet in your wedding finery. There would have been no way on earth to save your three piece suit from that onslaught.

When we were finally all presentable - you fussing and whining like any reasonable five-month old in a strange place in a monkey suit - you puked on the altar. And I lost it a little. This is a nightmare, I declared, throwing up my proverbial hands.

Your granddad rushed over with a paper towel just then, and brought me back down to earth. "This is not a nightmare. A nightmare is a sick child..." I relaxed a bit, thanked God for a healthy baby, and settled in for the ceremony. "It's okay if he cries during," said my father-in-law. "He's our grandson."

Cry you did, Hendrik. Lucky for us, Aunt Margie took you in a back room, where only we could make out your siren-like wails as Dad and I read "The Art of Marriage" for Aunt Eden and new Uncle John.

Later, in your warm fleece PJs, you pulled it together so that I could enjoy the toasts and even dinner (thanks to a very kind caterer - it really does take a village). We danced and played, and you charmed the crowd until it was time for bed. At 8:30, I was back at the party, monitor in one hand, prosecco in the other.

By 9:30, you were wailing once again. Your dad went. Something about your cries, though, weren't run of the mill. Your second tooth was pushing through; perhaps it was the teething? The overall discombobulation? The constant stream of people and noise and newness?

We knew the wedding was over for us. Dad and I took turns holding you, rocking you through the worst of it. I finally booted up my laptop and put on Baby Einstein. By 11:30, you were finally asleep. We could hear the guests on the dance floor, shouting the words to Sweet Caroline.

And though I love me some Neil Diamond, kid? I love you and your dad just a little bit more.

Happy Five Months, Hendrik. I love you for saving me the hangover, for never letting me get complacent, and for making us a family.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Party people!

Here I am. It's been like a month. I don't know why. I am just settling into my new life, and pondering the existential ques-

And... my kid is up. This isn't me being cute. Hendrik refuses to nap at home, in his crib. He crazy. He wakes up the moment he's placed gingerly in his crib AND WAILS. The moment you pick him up to comfort him, he smiles at you, puts his hands on your cheeks, and attaches his mouth to your face like a mollusk, whilst cooing. It is wildly adorable, the cheeky bastard.

We're working on this.

And because I can't stomach the one-hand type, I bid you adieu for the moment. I leave you with this.

Aaaaannndddd... boom goes the dynamite.