Starting to pay off

June 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Last night, Lena let me read Charlotte’s Web to her.

I had forgotten how much I loved this book.

The barn was very large. It was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure. It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows. It often had a sort of peaceful smell–as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world. It smelled of grain and of harness dressing and of axle grease and of rubber boots and of new rope. And whenever the cat was given a fish-head to eat, the barn would smell of fish. But mostly it smelled of hay, for there was always hay in the great loft up overhead. And there was always hay being pitched down to the cows and the horses and the sheep.

E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

I grew up with this book and I haven’t opened it or even thought about it in years. And last night, taking off the worn jacket and beginning to read it to Lena, I can’t describe the familiarity of the words to my ear, my wonder, piqued again by these small heroines, and noticing that Lena too, is listening quietly. Here is one of those moments, so whole and tangible, when Lena gives me so much more than motherhood. She’s taking me back. I can’t describe what children’s literature means to me. I grew up reading. Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume. Hatchet, The Giver, Cheaper by the Dozen, Walk Two Moons, I could go on and on and on down to Archie comics that I read every morning while eating cereal. I loved to read, and I still do, and Lena is reminding me how enchanted I was by these books. How much I loved and craved stories, the worlds that these authors created. How much I learned from them.

Although, I was saddened to learn that in the most recent versions of Are You There, God, It’s Me Margaret the elusive “belted sanitary napkins” have been changed to “adhesive sanitary pads”. Not the case when I was growing up, and until I got my period I was still quite under the impression that I too would get to have the little pink belt attached to my…well i think the logistics were still a little unclear at the time.

To Lena,
Thanks for keeping me young.
Now go to bed.


A challenge

May 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

This month has been a little too up and down for my taste. My emotions have been everywhere, my patience with Lena has been everywhere, and it’s time for some centering.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and the thing is, the things that I naturally gravitate towards to settle me, to regroup, just aren’t that happenin’. (Don’t worry, I’m not making excuses…yet.) Running, which I was doing for a while, unfortunately comes second to a busy workday, and Lena. I haven’t yet mastered the art of waking up at 6 to go running before she wakes up. That to me sounds a little more stressful than stress relieving. Knitting, which also was my go to stress reliever, is also not that easy of an option, because Lena doesn’t go to bed at a reasonable hour really, so bedtime, aka the best knitting time, 8-10, is really non-existent. Instead, it’s me counting to ten, fetching water, entertaining various stuffed animals that “just want to give mommy a hug”, and all-but-threatening my child with bodily harm to get her to just stay. in. bed.

What I have been doing instead, is, when I get home from picking Lena up from daycare, siphoning her off to Pops, go upstairs, change into sweatpants, watch an episode of Say Yes to the Dress, going back downstairs, helping briefly with dinner, coralling my kid into bath, fighting her into pajamas, and then finally succumbing to the battle that is bedtime. When she’s finally in bed, around 10:30, and asleep, I proceed to watch at least 3 hours of The Dumbest Show Ever, Yet Oddly Addicting I mean, “Say yes to the dress”, and going to bed, usually past 1, only to wake up the next morning, unrested and not any more ready to start the day than I was the night before. Which is to say, poor everyone that has to interact with me.

I’m slightly exaggerating the above situation. I do cook dinner sometimes. I do go grocery shopping for the fam, but I do just want to be honest for a second, and not pretend that I’m being overly modest nor overly self-deprecating. It is what it is.

So! I need to get back on track. Here’s how I’m going to go about doing it.

1. Walk up the stairs to work. I work on the fifth floor of my building. The stairs are in this beautiful open part of the building where all floors look down into the lobby. I never take the stairs up. Sometimes I take them down, but I’m just used to taking the elevator. It’s just, habit. Not necessarily a bad habit, just a habit. So this week (and I hope this week turns into a month, and then another month, and another), I’m going to walk up the stairs. It’s a little exercise, and it can’t replace running (which I’m still hoping to squeeze in on light days), but it’s a start. It’s also a way to prep my brain for work mode.

2. Cook dinner OR Play with Lena. This is a biggie. I can’t let myself immediately check out as soon as I get home, and the weather has been too gorgeous not to be outside and play with my daughter, or have some quality mother daughter time with my mother in the kitchen. No excuse.

3. No computer in bed. Gosh, Netflix is like, the greatest thing ever invented, right? Wrong. I find now I watch things just to watch something. Especially at night. Especially in bed, and there are all sorts of studies that say how bad it is to have technology right before bed. Holy shit this is right. I just bought “Tiny Wings” and I swear I’ve been dreaming about little birds with tiny wings and rolling hills. I honestly think that Say Yes to the Dress is a huge culprit in my crabby mood. I’m not saying that I’m actively trying to emulate stuck up women trying on and then buying wedding dresses that could be a substantial down payment on a house, but I’m starting to think that this is where it starts. Instead, I’m substituting with the a Craig Johnson book that my mom got on Audible. Also, I just finished Jennifer Egan’s, A visit from the goon squad and it was amazing. I had actually forgotten what it was like to not be able to put down an adult novel. I say “adult” because I will also admit that I read Sarah Dessen’s new book, Whatever Happened to Goodbye in one sitting. Or, as much as one sitting one can have with a three year old around.

4. Cook a vegetarian meal with Alex on a weekday. As a reward for being present with my daughter, I’m going to do myself a favor, and give myself a night off. This is also doing my parents a favor, who will not hesitate to admit it, but they would pretty much rather spend an evening with Lena alone than with me alone. A night off with Alex, plus cooking together. Al and I’s relationship started around food. One of the first text messages he sent me, after we made plans for L and I visiting, was to tell me that he had already bought shitake mushrooms, and would it be okay if we had a simple omlettte for dinner. Soon after, that boy wooed me with amazing lemon and leek risotto, this crazy pear salad with apple cider vinagrette, and the most wonderful crab cakes I have ever tasted. Which we both made. Together. Recently, discovering that we indeed have each other, we’ve resorted to eating…junk. One of our favorite meals with Lena is now, “Pizzawings”, which is when we order, you guessed it, pizza and chicken wings. I can hear Alex now, but it tastes so good… and it does, but it’s not…it’s not helping, let’s just say that. Plus Lena now asks for “the orange things”, because one day we bought a bag of cheetos on a whim. Alex is a great cook, and in Greensboro he’s surrounded by a wealth of exotic ingredients, so we’ve armed ourselves with berbere and injera, and we’re going at it.

Beginning to see a common theme between all of these things? Being more present. I’m seriously about to get that tattooed to my forehead. Be more present, Rachael.

Sometimes I think there’s this constant war going on inside of me. The part of me that wants to feel sorry for myself, that wants to buckle under the pressure, that wants to give up and let the current take me away. And that part is always fighting with the part that is telling me to be strong, stay strong, get over it, and move on. But I think there’s a third part. And that part is having trouble having its voice heard, because it’s got the quietest message, or, more likely, it just doesn’t quite know how to put into words what it’s trying to say. And I think what it’s trying to say is, It’s okay…it’s going to be okay…just go with it. Just go with it. And what kind of message is that, really? Drama-free, quiet, just…go with it.

So, I’m going with it, this week at least. And maybe by the end I will be able to hear that third part a little better. And maybe I’ll even learn a thing or two.

Bedtime update

April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Bedtime still is not going as planned. Lena just waffles from being a good listener to not listening at all, and she’s just figured out if she comes up with fake injuries I go snuggle with her. I believed that she fell out of bed the first time, but at some point I was just like, You’re sleeping in a queen size bed pushed up against the wall, Smalls, and you’re not even asleep. I mean, survival of the fittest, come on.

When Lena falls asleep, the whole world breathes a sigh of relief. And by the whole world I mean me. But that’s how rough bedtime is. It makes me forget everything else that’s going on and I just think that this will never end and my daughter will never go to sleep and I will never sleep again. That’s how melodramatic I am.

But I digress. When Lena falls asleep, all is right in my tiny, tiny world, and I refresh, reboot, and reload. We’re supposed to get awesome rain and thunderstorms in the wee hours of the morning. I opened my bedroom window just a tad, just enough to let in a taste of the crazy weather. A reminder of the forces beyond my control, if you will.

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