Homestead Happenings: lucky
My hospitalized friend is doing slowly better, transferred out of ICU today with an impressive assortment of tubes snaking off her IV pole.
I should mention that she’s a particularly strong chica. At the beginning of her second trimester she climbed a 14,000 foot mountain (because she wanted to fit that in before the baby came). Towards the end of her 3rd trimester she was still riding her bike, hauling her 4-year old daughter in the bike trailer with bags of groceries swinging from the trailer’s frame. So she’s tough and a little nutty (in just the right way).
The mobilization of the community has been like a beautifully conducted orchestra. Everyone is jumping in with their particular instrument, adding to the spontaneous love jam.
Various mamas have been coming by to nurse the baby (who is staying with auntie and uncle) so wee one doesn’t lose her breastfeeding skills (Wet nurse: it’s not just for 18th century royalty!).
Other Mamas—some who’ve never even met my friend—are pumping for her baby. Mamas without breast pumps are hand-expressing milk. Bags and bottles of the precious stuff are being ferried around town to this 7-day old baby, who is so unbelievably gorgeous, so blameless and new and molded from everything that’s good in this world. It’s virtually impossible to imagine that a crabby toddler utterance will ever escape her lips. (My mom used to look into Col’s depthless newborn eyes and say: “you’re so wise, but soon you’ll forget everything and become very silly.”)
The non-lactating are offering meals, housecleaning and childcare for the two older siblings; everyone wants to help. It’s a barn raising, a love-spangled symphony. Or simply a reminder of how it takes a village to heal a family, and how love-in-action is a powerful force, and also how ovulating women should be very careful around newborn babies. Dan and I will be sleeping in different rooms for the next week.
So. We talked about relaxing around parenthood last week, right? Just in time for me to have a little freak out.
Picking up Col at school last week, one of his classmates came running up to me with the news that Col is the smallest person in the kindergarten class. “Did you know that?” Col’s friend asked. He then instructed Col to stand next to him, demonstrating how my boy’s head landed somewhere in the vicinity of his buddy’s chest. “See!” his classmate said, “he’s really small.”
“Does it matter?” I asked, baring my teeth in the kind of smile the fox gives the hen before pouncing, because I’m five years old too.
My friend Melanie, who is way more relaxed than me, suggested that next time I could say something like, “and who’s the tallest in your class? And who has the longest hair? The darkest eyes? The loudest laugh?”
Col’s never earned a black dot on the growth charts. He’s only a smidge talller than his 3 1/2 year old sister (who is not tall), and I frequently get asked if they’re twins. And mostly I don’t see it anymore. Mostly I see a vibrant child who is full of joy and curiosity. But sometimes I see my son as a full grown man who’s only 5 feet fall and panic rushes into my chest like a tsunami. When I confessed this to a friend, she said “do you think it would really matter, if Col only grew to 5 feet?” I do. I wish it didn’t but I think it does.
“He was a preemie,” I say by way of explanation, when people comment on Col’s size. And I’m not even sure anymore if that explains anything. I just know it can be painful to be different, and Mamas aren’t very good at relaxing when their children are in pain.
But, it is handy that I can still tote Col around on my back at six years old.
::On the homestead::
Col and Rose were given a huge assortment of legos from our 19-year old neighbor who was Col’s age when we moved into this house, which makes me feel about 89 years old. Col constructed rockets and submarines for 5 hours straight one day.
Rose can’t resist sneaking bites of dry oats when we make granola together. I think it’s the sneaking that’s appealing.
We’re still rocking the local salads; this cabbage was harvested in October.
Everyday there is art-making.
We had the downstairs neighbors up for dinner last weekend. They were so cute (is it okay to call 25-year olds cute?) and happy about being served the latest roadkill and sauerkraut. We marinated the elk backstraps so long that they got insanely tender. Dan said “they’re like pats of butter masquerading as meat.” Col spent the whole time hunched over legos, while Rose tried on every leotard she owned and draped herself across various laps. Apparently the downstairs crew was charmed, or broke, because there were several offers to babysit. So I left the kids with Caroline today so I could visit my friend in the hospital.
My friend seemed a little like she was coming down off a bad trip as she recounted the previous week for me. She said, “the good thing about almost dying is when you start to feel better you remember how good it feels to eat food, or walk on the Colorado Trail, or hear music, and you feel so grateful.” She’s very practical, that one. And lucky too. And of course so is Col.
So enjoy your eating this week, your walks and your music, so lucky we are.