Tag Archives: Mommyland

Two Years, Too Much Love

“To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and when the time comes to let it go, let it go.”

~Mary Oliver, In Blackwater Woods

“So here’s to a child, who is joyful and clever. Happy Day. Happy Year. Happy Always and Ever.”

~Sandra Boynton, Happy Birthday, Little Pookie

Happy 2nd birthday to O, my sweet sweet boy. (How are you already 2? How has it only been 2 years?)

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What’s Your “Almost” Name?

A close friend just had her big baby boy (over 9 lbs!) last night. I am so excited, of course, for her and her family. But I’m also dying to know The Name. I love when friends either don’t know or don’t share a name, because of the anticipation and then the joyous announcement. Our son didn’t have a name until they forced us to pick one when they kicked us out of the hospital. We had a few top choices, but I wanted to see him and pick the name that “fit” him. Well, he looked like a grumpy old man. Luckily, we decided to give him a name that we loved, a name that symbolized who I wanted him to be, rather than naming him a name that would fit a grumpy old man.

The name game is a huge part of any pregnancy. Hell, it’s a huge part of any girl’s life. Very few of us girls didn’t spend time playing dress up and trying on different personas and names, or naming our dolls, or later, naming our children with our first boyfriends. (For the record, I was always Brittany Maddox, my Barbies were always Lindsay or Charlotte or Samantha, my Cabbage Patch kid was Franny Kay, and my children were going to be named Skye Paige and Jordan Michael). But once you get pregnant, the name game takes on a heightened urgency. Now’s your chance, to get out those lists and name books and bestow upon your child the perfect name, the name you always wanted, the name that will complete this picture of this child you’ve been imagining for ten months.

But then. The impending importance dampens the fun somewhat. I can’t really name my child West or Wilder, can I? What kind of a child am I creating here, a poet or a baseball player or a future Supreme Court Justice? We want a name that isn’t ugly or trendy, that isn’t too popular nor too “out there,” a name that people hear and think, now that’s a perfect name. We read Nameberry and pore over the social security lists and family trees and think of our favorite books and musicians and Things That Mean Something To Us.

I have a friend, let’s call her Stephanie, that tells the story of how she named her daughter. Stephanie was down to two names, Celine and Sophie. Her friend said, “Call her to the phone. I need to hear them out loud.” So Stephanie says, “Soooophie, phone!” The friend said, “Could be fat. Next?” Stephanie then called, “Celiiine, phone!” Her friend: “Most popular girl in school. Done.” Even though we know this is silly (and that Sophies are far from fat!), it’s what we do. And yes, she named her daughter Celine.

But really, in the end, does it matter? The difference between a Brooks and a Jake, or a Caden or an Aiden is negligible. I mean, Gwyneth Paltrow has an unwieldy and dorky name and look at her. It didn’t hold her back or turn her into a sickly child that is relegated to her bed, sadly staring out the window at the other children playing outside, her long once-blonde hair wrapped in a braid round and round the crown of her head. (For some reason, this is what I think of when I hear the name “Gwyneth.”) According to the smart guys that wrote Freakonomics, names don’t matter all that much or dictate how successful you might become.

Still. I’m reminded of a hysterical conversation a close friend and I had once. By hysterical I mean that we had too much wine, and therefore we found this conversation hysterical. I’m pretty sure if you’d been sitting next to us, you would have been rolling your eyes at us, the giggling drunk girls in the corner. No matter. This girl and I are kindred spirits. Both lawyers, both avid readers, both writers. We share a love for the written word, sarcasm, fantastic shoes, and happy hours. We have the ability to watch someone enter a room, look at each other, and come to the exact same conclusion without saying a word. Needless to say, we found each other in law school pretty quickly, two girls who desperately needed someone else that understood the importance of the latest episode of Friends  and The O.C. (yes, both were still on, thank you very much), read Vogue and The New Yorker regularly, knew the difference between a Choo and a Louboutin, and still wanted to read books by Atwood and Roth and Eugenides. Have you met many law students? The fact that even one existed was a huge miracle.

So you’d think, no matter our names, we’d be friends, right? Hmmm. I’m not so sure. So the silly conversation centered on our “almost” names. You know, the names that your parents considered bestowing on you but decided not to. Mine was Julie. Hers was Miranda. We shared these names, and in the exact same instant said, “Oh, Julie would NEVER be friends with Miranda. And Miranda would HATE Julie!”

We knew instantly that Julie would have been a superficial, narrow-minded cheerleader, a girl that never wanted to leave Texas and wouldn’t read anything BUT US Weekly. (We read US Weekly, yes, but we also read the newspapers. It’s a balance thing). Julie would tolerate Miranda, but would find her too serious and boring.

Miranda would have despised Julie for her popularity and easy way in life, for the way she didn’t question anything and could be friends with people that said stupid things. Miranda would never read US Weekly and would probably only read novels by dead French or Russian men. Miranda would get out of Texas the first chance she got and would never ever twirl her hair for a boy.

Of course, this is silly and we are who we are. But I think we touched on something. Those versions of Julie and Miranda are facets of who we actually are, a version of ourselves that could have been. There are elements of Julie and Miranda in me, as in my friend. What we sussed out were those extreme elements, those parts of us that we are afraid might have taken over our lives.

Whether or not actually naming me Julie and her Miranda would have led us in different directions, of course who knows. But I’m glad I’m not Julie. I’m glad she’s not Miranda. I’m glad that we have both of us in there, that we can understand the fun of a little low brow culture, and also recognize the importance of  expanding your mind and having different experiences. I’m glad I found her in law school, that she and I got kicked out of a Bible study for asking if we could bring wine, and that we also started the best book club I’ve ever been part of.

What is in a name? Who knows? But have you ever wondered if you’d be a different person if you had a different name? What was your “almost” name? Would you change your name if you could?

For the record, I love my name and am very glad that my parents picked it. Now my middle name, that’s a different story.

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Scenes From A Doctor’s Office

I am seated comfortably on the couch waiting for my appointment. I pull out my new Kindle, feeling very smug that I remembered to bring it because 1) the only magazines available are parenting magazines, and 2) it just looks really cool to be sitting around reading on your Kindle. I feel very calm and organized and well-read. (By the way, I’m reading The Weird Sisters and it’s fantastic so far. So good that I am wishing I had a physical book so I can underline all of the good sentences. The highlight thing doesn’t really do it for me. But the dictionary function is all kinds of awesome.)

The door opens and two women enter. They are both short and squat, so they look as tall as they are wide. Kind of like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. I only mean this physically, I don’t know about intellectually. One is very pregnant, the other is not. Although there is an entire empty couch across from me and various chairs, the pregnant lady (I’ll call her “Dee”) beelines for the other end of the couch I’m sitting on. Well, she doesn’t beeline because let’s face it, none of us can move that fast while carrying a human being in our gut. But she does move with great purpose. The not pregnant lady (I’ll call her “Dum”) rushes to position the pillow behind Dee before she sits down. Apparently, this is Dee’s favorite spot and she likes her pillow just so.

I smile nicely at the pair of them, even though I generally like my personal space. But it’s 3 o’clock on a Monday afternoon, I just quit my job and have nowhere to be, and I’ve got my Kindle and my new I-phone and I’m pretty zen these days.

In my book, Bean is hulling the strawberries. I use my nifty dictionary function to look up that word and then look up calyx and then corona and corolla and so on. This dictionary function is addictive. I am so engrossed that I miss the beginning of the Tweedles conversation, but when Dum makes a sudden shaking movement that sends me up into the air on my end of the couch, I am forced to look up and eavesdrop.

The sudden motion was Dum ripping the band out of her hair and shaking her head vigorously. She then very daintily places her fingers on her forehead and begins to gingerly push around on her head.

Dee is on her mobile device. It’s not an I phone or an Android but some inbetween version as far as I can tell. Bigger than a cell phone. Not as big as an I Pad. Dee pushes a few buttons and stares intently at the screen.

Dum suddenly stops her hands as if she’s receiving a message. “Here,” she says. “My head hurts here.”

“Is that where you hit your head?” asks Dee.

“No,” says Dum. “I hit the back of my head. But my head hurts in the front, like when I get my headaches.”

I wait for Dee to ask if this is one of her normal headaches, but she doesn’t. Apparently, Dee is neither a doctor nor a lawyer nor a logical one.

Dee squints. “Well, it says here it could be a concussion. Or a tumor. Are you seeing black spots?”

Dum is still softly pulling at different parts of her head. She is a large woman, but she moves very gracefully, sort of like a fat ballerina. She seems to point her fingers, if that’s even possible.

“Hmmm, only when I stare at the sun. Does that count?” Dum answers.

Dee doesn’t answer immediately. Is this something she has to think about? My wonderful book has long been forgotten. I had no idea you could diagnose brain injuries via your cell phone. What did we do before Web MD?

I am waiting with bated breath to find out if Dum does indeed have a brain injury or if she’s just slightly stupid (does Web MD diagnose stupidity?) when Dee interrupts her own diagnosing to answer her phone. The ringtone is a quacking duck.

“TONY? IS EVERYTHING OK?” Dee yells into the phone. “It’s Tony, at Sammy’s school,” she loud whispers to Dum. Yes, Dee, we all know who it is.

Dum giggles. “You’re yelling,” she says sweetly, as if it’s a cute quirk of Dee’s personality. Dee shrugs.

“WHO GOT BIT? SAMMY GOT BIT OR SAMMY BIT SOMEONE?” Dee yells. “Someone bit Sammy,” she says to Dum. She apparently is going to give Dum a play by play of her own phone call, even though everyone in the waiting room can hear her.

“SOMEONE BIT SAMMY? BUT HE DIDN’T BITE BACK? OK, IS HE OK?”

Dum opens her mouth wide, like she is shocked. “Is Sammy ok?” she whispers to Dee. Dee holds up her finger, as if to say wait for it. Dum grabs her hand to hold it, showing her support. Now I’m thinking that Dum has quite the crush on our girl Dee.

Dee gets off the phone and puts in her purse, the brain injury apparently forgotten. She makes a big show of closing her purse, sighing loudly, folding her free head over her forehead.

“He’s okay,” she finally tells Dum.

Dum exhales loudly. “Thank God,” she says. “Sammy is just a sweet, sweet boy.”

“He is,” Dee agrees. “You know, there’s a biter at his school, but it’s not Sammy. I know who it is, but I’m not supposed to know.”

Dum then tries to guess various potential suspects at Sammy’s school. Dee finally gives up the information. Some kid named Jordan. Boy? Girl? Who knows.

Dum again tells Dee how sweet and precious Sammy is. “You got really lucky,” she tells Dee. “He’s really so much sweeter than all the other kids.”

Dee nods. “He never bites at school. He bites me at home, but I just pinch him back on his arm, as hard as he’s biting me and he usually stops.”

Dum laughs. “That Sammy. Such a trouble-maker. So precious. He reminds me of Mom.”

Ah. They are sisters! The similar squatness, the hand holding, the closeness, the pillow puffing, now all seems sweet rather than the creepy Single White Female crazy vibe I was getting.

Unfortunately, my name is called at this moment and I am whisked away, never to know whether Dum does indeed have a brain injury, or if Dee has other genius parenting tips that I can take note of.

Morale of this story? Besides, don’t be so loud in a public place that you become the unwitting fodder for a bored writer’s blog post? It’s that people always surprise you. And are never what they seem. Which is what keeps life interesting.

Thank you ladies, for thoroughly entertaining me.

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I’m Not Waiting for Ultimately Ever After

I love our house, but I hate our kitchen. It’s not a secret, when we bought the house we knew we’d have to do something about it eventually. The house was built in the 1930’s, but the kitchen has been redone. Somewhat. The last time I believe was in the 1980’s, judging by the age of the appliances. Besides the old appliances, and the small space, it has cornflower blue formica counters and blue speckled lineoleum that, no matter how many times it gets swept, mopped, or cleaned, looks dirty.

I am not a cook by nature. Somedays I want to be one. Somedays I just think I should be one, because it’s very hip and healthy to make your own everything. I even subscribe to a blog that is teaching me how to make and can everything from scratch- ketchup, salad dressing, jelly, chicken broth, you name it. It’s all Little House on the The Prairie chic, and I’m mesmerized. So far, I only look at the pictures. I’ve yet to actually attempt to make my own anything. Though I did notice where they sell the jars to put all of the stuff I might make into. Because that’s a big step, actually buying all of the jars to put all of the stuff into.

But I digress. Point is, I don’t cook. I don’t spend happy hours in my kitchen. Nobody gathers in my kitchen. And I blame it on the blue kitchen. It’s so uncomfortable and un-user friendly. There’s no where to properly chop vegetables. There’s nowhere for O to be. There’s nowhere for someone, a friend or neighbor or the Husband, to hang out and chat with me while I chop. There’s no TV, so I can’t cook while watching Diane Sawyer and my glass of wine like I’ve always envisioned. But one day, after we knock down some walls and put in some proper colored counters, then I will finally be able to be the kitchen goddess that I want to be. Or at least cook dinner more often.

I attended a screening of a recent documentary film called “Race To Nowhere” last week at our local elementary school. The filmmaker, a former lawyer turned mother of three, decided to make this film after watching her kids suffer stress-related illnesses due to the ever expanding pressures and expectations of getting good grades, building up your transcript, and getting into a good college.

O is only twenty months old, and I’ve already had multiple conversations about schools. On the playground and at lunch, the moms bat around the pros and cons of public versus private, of when is the best time to push them, of when they should be reading, and so on.  O is still mastering the use of a fork. He is pretty dedicated and the food makes it to his mouth on most tries, but he still makes a huge mess. He still poops in his pants and needs my help to put on his shoes. As far as I can tell, his favorite things are: trucks, cars, trains, squirrels, cheese, mama, dada, and baths. And yet here we are, looking at him and evaluating Who He Will Be. The other mothers and I discuss these things as if we have any idea of what we are talking about. Based on his hobbies at his age, he’ll either be a truck driver, garbage man, zookeeper, Whole Foods cheese specialist or a deep sea diver. You can see how there is little correlation to what a toddler likes and what he’ll eventually be like.

All toddlers like to see how things work, are “into” music, and are at turns unafraid explorers and shy clingy kids that need to hold our hands to do anything. To actually determine what kind of students our kids will be is pretty impossible at this age. And yet, we still do it. We want the best for our kids, we don’t want them to be left behind or left out. The Husband and I have discussed O’s probable strengths and weaknesses tons of times, mostly in that fun way that parents daydream about their kids, while he is still unformed and full of potential. It’s part of the joy of being a parent, watching him develop skills and talents and his own little personality. But what are we passing down to them? What are we teaching them about what’s important in life and their value as human beings? If all we focus on is success and being the best, what are we telling them if they aren’t perfect?

One moment in particular struck me in the film. A young boy, maybe sixteen, was discussing the pressures and the messages he was receiving from his parents and teachers. He said (I’m paraphrasing) that he was working as hard as he could, staying up late doing homework, going to school, doing sports so he could put it on his transcript, joining activities, taking tests and being scheduled for every minute of his childhood- so he could get into a good college, then get a good job and then buy a big house, so that ultimately, he could be happy. He exhaled heavily as he said the word “happy”, as if just the thought of it was too exhausting to contemplate.

Ultimately? This sixteen year old kid, already weary, is waiting till he can buy a big house to be happy. The look on his face was the one that I saw everyday practicing law. The face that I saw when the bravado and the snark and the confidence slipped, when the pressure and the responsibilities and the never-ending race to bigger and better and more overcame them. An empty face.

We all do this. We aren’t happy. But instead of figuring out why we aren’t happy and taking active steps to change our unhappiness into happiness, we put it off onto something else. When we get into that college, get that great job, get a promotion, buy a new car, can afford those Christian Louboutins, after we’ve been to France and Greece and Hawaii, once we finally meet the right guy, get that ring on our finger, have a glorious wedding, get a dog, buy a house, have a kid, get some sleep, have another kid, buy a second home, maybe retire. Then. Then, ultimately, we will be happy.

The crazy thing is that we all absolutely know this isn’t true. We know shoes and promotions and houses and kids, in and of themselves, don’t make us happy. Those things can provide great moments (the shoes), great memories (the vacations) great love (the kids) but they aren’t magic, this isn’t a fairy tale,  and they don’t instantly transform you into a happy person. Nobody in their right mind actually believes that a house will make you happy. But we still put it off. We don’t think a house will make us happy. We think, well, our kitchen is too small and too blue and I can’t cook the way I want to cook and there’s nowhere for O to be, and it’s making me unhappy. So when I redo our kitchen and it’s bright and airy and open, when I can cook dinner with a glass of wine while watching the ABC nightly news with O sitting at the island coloring, then I will be happy. Until then, I hate this kitchen and I’ll never be happy in it.

We don’t face the fact that actually the reason we are unhappy in the kitchen is because we are trying to do too much. Because we work too much and have very little time in the kitchen and don’t really cook, but we think we should, we think our families should be spending all of these wonderful hours in our kitchens, cooking healthy organic sugar-free meals and singing songs together and having this perfect family life that we envisioned back when we thought we’d be happy when we got the house and the kid. I blame Gwyneth Paltrow, but that’s another post.

I quit my job last week. I don’t know if I will return to work full-time, part-time or at all. I don’t know if I get another job if I will be able to find a better balance. What I do know is that this past week, I’ve been much happier in my terrible blue kitchen. There still isn’t enough room and the appliances are still old and there is nowhere for O to be. And yet, I’ve managed to make a few meals in that terrible kitchen. Ok, so they aren’t gourmet and they aren’t totally organic and I’m sure there’s some processed stuff in there, but still. I wasn’t stressed from work, wasn’t worrying about spending too little time with O, my mind wasn’t racing ahead to what else I needed to do. I just enjoyed the moment. I listened to some Willie Nelson. I watched O push his little cars around our old linoleum floor. He didn’t seem to mind it was ugly and perpetually dirty. Instead of boiling instant pasta, I made lime-cilantro chicken and fresh sweet corn. I cut up vegetables for a salad, actually noticing how vibrant the colors were, the canary yellow bell pepper nestled against the icy white cucumber and the dark blood-red of the tomatoes.

Obviously I am not saying we should all quit our jobs. There is value in hard work and school and jobs and making money and buying houses. But it isn’t the only value in life. I watch O and he’s so happy. I want him to hold on to that happiness. I want him to find something he loves in life. Something that brings him satisfaction, but also something that allows him to have a life. I don’t want him to wait for “ultimately”.

There is so much pressure to be a kid today, but there is also so much pressure to be a parent. How much do we push? How do we teach our kids that they have to work hard, meet deadlines and do their homework, but yet allow them to be individuals and find their own paths, show them that play time is just as important as hard work?

I don’t know. I do know that O mimics every little thing we do. I do know that he’s watching us and looking for us to show him what life is all about. The only I can think of to do is to live the life that I want him to live. To sink into the life that I have now, and stop waiting for things, other things, to “make” me happy. To find a way to make what I love to do my job. To put down my new I-phone and pay attention to him and not have to do five things at once. To encourage him to question and play and explore. To stop waiting for “ultimately”.

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Stuck

O and I had a lovely weekend. Last Saturday, we watched The Wiggles, ate breakfast, took the dog on a walk, went to the toy store, got locked in his bedroom and I had to jump out of the window, went to a birthday party and ate hot dogs and cake.

Yep, you read that right. I somehow managed to lock O and I inside his bedroom on Saturday. Well, there is no “somehow” about it. Our doors are very old and so are the doorknobs. In order to get the door to shut properly, you have to yank it hard. When you do this from the outside, the door is shut tight so that O can’t push it open and the dog can’t nose his way in. When you do this from the inside, apparently, what happens is THAT YOU CAN’T GET OUT. The latch won’t catch and that door isn’t opening. No matter how hard you turn the knob, throw yourself against the door, or plead with the door gods. That door is closed.

So it’s noon. The husband is at work till at least five. I didn’t bring my phone in O’s room with me, because you know, why would you need a phone to put your kid down for a nap? It’s not like you would need to call for help or anything. We’re stuck, no way out. I pound on the door, yell, hope that my dog is actually Lassie and will either go for help, or at least understand the situation and throw his 90 lb self against the door to open it. My dog hears me, because I hear him enthusiastically thumping his tail on the floor when he hears his name, but either he doesn’t understand me or he wants to see how I will get out of this one.

Ok. So I think, What Would The Husband Do? The husband was in the army. And he always reminds me the motto is “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”. The husband wouldn’t panic and he wouldn’t stay in a stuck room. The husband would also never get stuck inside a room, but no time to think about that. We have to improvise, adapt and overcome.

Only one option. I go out the window. First, I have to wrestle with the stupid child locks on the window. This is the only moment where I truly panic, when the window will only open a few inches. But my clear head prevails and I figure out how to master the child locks. I step out on the roof, at which point O’s screaming goes to Def Com 5. It’s no longer “I don’t wanna nap” whining, it’s full on hysterics. I guess he knows if his mom is climbing out of a window, things aren’t good.

On the roof, which luckily is flat at this part, I yell for help. Nope, nobody is outside to rescue me in my damsel in distress moment. I go back and lean in the window and tell O to calm down, mom’s got it. We’re sucking it up, buddy, it’s the family mantra. He looks at me for a second, then starts screaming again.

The problem is once I jump off the roof (which by the way, does not look as easy from up on the roof as it does from below), then I can’t get back in. Because I lock all the doors in our house like we live in South Central and of course I don’t have any keys hidden. One neighbor has a spare, but what if she’s not home? O will be stuck inside the house alone. But I see no other options, so I jump.

Well, actually, I slide off the roof, scraping my stomach and arms and then dangle off the gutter, and then jump down. But I make it, I’m saving my baby! I run to the neighbors. No one home. Now I’m starting to get nervous. Is this going to be one of those situations where I end up on the news, saying “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time to jump out of the window and leave my toddler alone in the house. I had no idea he would climb out of his crib and start a fire.”

I run down the street. My other neighbor, Mark, is strolling happily like a normal person on a sunny Saturday who HASN’T locked himself and his kids into his own house. Mark looks at me like I’m crazy, but who the hell cares because Mark has a spare key from the previous owner. I grab it like he’s offering me the last beer at last call and run home. It works! I run in the house and go up to open O’s door. He stops crying immediately and gives me a grin and practically jumps into my arms. All is good, Mom has saved the day!

Then I tell him it’s nap time and the crying begins again, but this crying I can handle. I go downstairs and wonder if it’s too early for a martini. I forego the martini, mostly because I don’t know how to make one, that’s the husband’s area of expertise.

And I wonder about how calm I was. Because the door has gotten stuck before, but my husband has been home to open it. But in those seconds before he came to open the door, I would panic and think, “Oh my god, what would I actually do if this door got stuck and the husband wasn’t here and I forgot my phone?” And then I would make sure to keep my phone with me for the next few days, then forget again. But the thought of it would send me into a tailspin. When I wake up at 4 am, these are the things I worry about: How I would get O out of a locked room? If a serial killer/rapist broke into our house, what are my escape routes and how would I get out? If there was a fire, what things do I need to grab immediately? If I went into labor in the car, how would we deliver the baby if we somehow couldn’t make it the five miles to the hospital? If my husband thinks he is going to leave me for another woman, how will I hide the body? I go over and over my plans of action in my mind. But I pretty much assume I will panic and not remember any of these detailed plans.

But in the moment where the thing I was worried about actually happened, I surprised myself. I was calm, I was logical, I did what needed to be done. It was only afterwards that I panicked with what might have been. I thought I was the kind of person that would be emotional and flighty, and I found out I’m actually kind of bad ass. If I was on Lost, I thought I would be Claire, crazy and crying in the jungle. But turns out, I am more Kate-like and can probably totally track wild boars and shoot a gun perfectly and look amazing in clothes I’ve been wearing for 180 days straight.

Even the husband was proud of me and gave me the highest praise- he said I did exactly what he would have done. He then proceeded to show me how to jump and land if next time I had to do it with O in my arms. You know, like he learned when he jumped out of airplanes.

Now I have something new to worry about at 4 am.

 

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Goodnight Noises Everywhere

O is very particular about his books. He will love one book for weeks, then without any warning, switch allegiance faster than Hugh Hefner switches his “girlfriends”. He loves them and leaves them, this boy, without a backward glance. He’s a bit of a book slut. His first love, Is Your Mama a Llama? still sits on his shelf, its board pages softened by fingertips and the early baby days when it took many readings to get him to settle into sleep. I look wistfully at this book, it’s cover so familiar and lovely. Sometimes I read it to him and sometimes he will indulge me, with a half smile that lets me know that he’s humoring me. Most times he pushes it away impatiently, eager for his new love, one that is shiny and exciting. He is very specific about his favorite books and I never know when he will declare himself back on the market.

The past few nights, he has picked Goodnight Moon. I’ve tried to read him Goodnight Moon before. It’s a classic, of course, but we also got about five copies, so I feel this need to get some use out of at least one. He’s never been interested before, but lately, he pushes aside his most recent favorite, The Night Night Book, for Good Night Moon. He settles quietly in my lap, leans his head against my shoulder and I put my face into his head and breathe in deeply. He smells like O and no one else. With one hand, he points to his favorite objects as I say good night to them. The other hand is wrapped around the tail of his favorite blue dog, and he systematically rubs the tail across his face, sniffing it, or sometimes sticks it in his ear. Occasionally, if he is feeling super affectionate, he will turn and offer me a sniff of his dog’s tail, the ultimate gift from O. It is moments like these that I am so aware of how fleeting time is, that one day he will be sitting across from me at the dinner table, a 10 year old, a teen-ager, a college man, a married man. And I will marvel that this man used to sit in my lap, that he used to be small and warm and fit with me perfectly.

And as I read Good Night Moon I think, I would like to live in this great green room. If you haven’t read it lately, take a peek. The little bunny rabbit is tucked into this cozy bed in the type of room that used to be called a “nursery”, where children slept and played and were sent when they were meant to not be seen or heard. There is a fireplace with a fire, and through the windows are thousands of stars in the midnight blue sky. The only light comes from the fire and the stars and the moon. A grandmother rabbit sits on the other side of the room, rocking and knitting and watching over the boy bunny. There are kittens napping, and a balloon hovering, and a toy house silent and waiting for tomorrow. It is a perfect room to grow up in and you can imagine hours and hours of playtime here. Do you remember what it was like to be a kid, wrapped in a cozy bed, your grandmother watching over you? Do you remember what it felt like to be so safe and so loved, that the only things in your room were beautiful and magical and yours? When the world outside hadn’t entrenched into your little haven of comfort yet.

My Starbucks barista and I had a bit of a philosophical discussion about this very thing this morning. He said that we should take a lesson from our kids and live like them, realizing what is actually worth worrying about and what is okay to shrug off and leave behind. I said, true, but the reason that kids can live like that is because they have us to make sure they feel safe and protected, to make sure rent is paid and food is on the table and the tax man doesn’t come and take away their great green rooms. And he said that’s real talk, girl. That’s some real talk right there.

It is a real purpose, I think, of parents. To create a safe world, to shield them from the drudgery and stress and pain of the outside world, so that they can focus on the business of growing up and discovering themselves and what they love without worrying about the business of the real world. They will worry about the business of the real world soon enough.

I am trying to slow down and cherish the reading of this book, because I know before too long, O will leave the great green room. He will insist on reading The Hungry Caterpillar or Ulysses or Like Water For Chocolate. And it will be another memory, a good memory, but it will also be one step closer to the day when he gets off my lap for good.

Good night O in your great blue room. No matter what the world throws at you, I hope you always have sweet dreams.

O’s List of the Best Good-Night Books (So Far)

Is Your Mama a Llama?

The Going to Bed Book

Time for Bed

Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones

The Night Night Book

Goodnight Moon

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