Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Dull and Slow




Sometimes I try to sound like we’re having fun so that you’ll come and hang out with us.
I admit, while poking at the mushroom risotto he’s made with rice, Parmesan cheese, portabellas and chicken stock. My finger tips are purple from skinning and slicing a blue violet beet for our salad of greens, orange carrot bits and red tomatoes.

I miss him. Sometimes when he’s home, it feels like he’s farther away. His body, --his long slender frame buttoned up in flannel and denim-- is here, but b
efore the round puddles of his deep, dark eyes flickers the vibrant, intoxicating images of a designed world far more interesting, more captivating than the flesh of me and our seven-month-old baby. 

He’s been distracted, yes, unable to sit still when he’s home. He doesn’t find us boring, he tells me.

It feels like we’re boring. I tell him. My chin is shaking. I feel like you don’t like spending time with us.

He just wants to move already! He’s sorry. He has a lot of things that are about to happen and so, he thinks, this is why he hasn’t been very good at being in the present.

We don’t have to sit here staring at the baby when you’re home. We can do things! I like to do things. I want to go out. When you’re here, it makes me think: good! -this is something different. I figure you want to see her and me, to talk and watch baby roll around and put toys in her mouth. I assume this is enough, but it’s completely fine if this isn’t enough. It isn’t really enough for me either.

A little is nice, but too much is…

Dull ...and slow! I get it. I know.


I find myself waiting for him to come home or anticipating his days off. I don’t want to be like this. My daily life shouldn’t revolve around his arrivals and departures. It doesn’t, really. I have other things going on, work I’m making for myself [my potted vegetable and herb garden (much of which has wilted and whitened, baby leaves laying in the dark, organic dirt, dead), my bread baking, my recipe writing, my writing writing, my reading,] but I know his schedule and I’m happy to have him home and so I can’t help but anticipate it; plan around it. His free time, however, must also include alone time. He has his own things, aside from work, things that don't involve me or baby, and that’s good. I'm happy he has hobbies.

Can I have you tonight? I ask. Can we not do our separate things?

Of course.



***

Sunday, we push the stroller up and down our small city’s sunnied sidewalks. Baby kicks her feet, watching the skin of strangers sway and smile, their colorful clothing flap and blur. We buy coconut, pineapple smoothies and while we wait in the warm, steamy bakery, I keep baby happy with melodic talk and tickles and by feeding her bits of a browning banana. Outside, we sip and chew our sweet drinks, walking awhile longer before stepping into a cafĂ© where I change baby's diaper in the bathroom, while my husband orders a salad and an ice coffee for us to share. A corner table by the window is empty and so we sit, passing baby and leafy bites and creamy coffee sips between us. We have no plans, but we're out and out, it so happens, is enough. It's good.   


Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Bath in the Barn


There is a big white bathtub out in the barn. Go use it, I’m told, while we’re away. The barn has a renovated second floor: an open studio with many white framed windows and white washed walls, an office and a bathroom with a white jacuzzi tub, a white shower, a white toilet, white curtains with white lace trim and a white sink. Tonight, after walking the dog and getting warm and sticky from the new Spring sun, I take baby out to the barn with her towel, a green bar of soap in my bathrobe pocket and the brass key on a white string. I run the water warm; strip myself and remove baby's diaper. We stand smiling in the mirror before I step in and sit. She reaches for the porcelain wall, my hair, the spout, my skin. I cradle her so that she can nurse. Then I sit her between my legs, while I wash the sunscreen from her face and hair; carry water to her folds, back and shoulders; and slide my finger between her toes, around her nose and behind her ears. I turn off the water. Quiet. The neighborhood sounds are far from us here. I say, “momma." I say it low. I say it high. I sing it. She stares at me through wet eyelashes. She whispers breathy babbles. She almost says it. I tap my bare chest and repeat it with the syllables. Then I touch her arm and do the same with her name. She doesn’t really say it, but the time away from the distractions of the dog, the telephone, the flour, the dishes, laundry, my book –-this time spent in the tub is precious to me. Naked, we splash, talk, and listen to our echoes as they chase and shadow our spontaneous sounds. I pull the drain, pick her up, stand, dry, diaper. Outside, I lock the white barn door and pass over the grass toward home.

One day, when she’s too old for our bodies to be bare and close, I'll read this to remember the forgotten night when she was just eight months old and we were alone in a barn with a big white bathtub all to ourselves.

Sleepless

She lets out a groan, a deep gut growl that will roll into a holler if I don’t lift her up quickly. So I do, I pick her up and take us to the couch to cuddle and sing quietly until we both drift in and out of sleep like a broken toy boat left on the edge of the shore until the tide tips and takes us away to the deep blue where we sink into sweet, silent sleep.  Later I wake to a sore neck and cranky knees and carry baby back to our bed, but when I lay her beside me,  she wakes and begins grabbing at me like a baker grabs at her dough, pinching my skin and dragging my hair through her sweat-sticky fist again and again. Her eyes are closed so it seems this abuse might be helping, but then I realize it’s keeping her awake, not putting her to sleep, and so again, I am lifting her up and laying her down and she is groaning her deep gut growls that roll into hollers and I am nearly weeping because I don’t know why she won’t just go to sleep. Go to sleeeeeeep, baby. I say, leaning over the mesh walls of her crib. You must be tired. I am so tired. Scott stands then and sends me back to bed, but she won’t let him lay her down either so he is carrying her and rocking her and eventually, he is landing on my warm couch cushion dent. I find them in the dark an hour and a half later. I can’t see them. It's too dark. But I can feel and find their bodies: her belly draped over his belly, her cheek resting on his chest. While I stand there wondering what to do, he wakes. I lift baby and press her head to my shoulder then lay her limp little body back in the middle of our bed. Beside her, he and I collapse and sleep until dawn.

For days, my mind feels like a garden left to weeds, dust and vines, it grows mad from sleeplessness while a hazy caffeine high tangles my thoughts into knots.

We have a nap schedule now. She isn’t a newborn anymore. At seven months old, it seems, she needs structured sleep. Our nights have begun a slow crawl toward a resemblance of serenity…though a tooth is peeking through her pink wet gums as a pretty little porcelain reminder that there will always be something: a tooth, a rash, a bad nap, a fall, a scratch. There will be more tears, hers and mine. Just as there will be rain as well as sunshine.

For now, good night. There is nothing else to write.

I have a very important appointment with my pillow.