I’m imagining, little blog o’ mine, that at some point, I’ll feel the need to address what kept me away for nearly two years to the day, but that is not this post. . .
This one is all about grace–a word that’s on my mind a lot these days. I think about it. I invoke it. I try to embody and enact it. And yes, I’m talking grace of the divine variety. Don’t worry: I haven’t come back with a new soapbox. I prefer to live my faith a la Mr. Rogers (of the ‘hood)–being it and not so much yammerin’ on about it. In fact, this divine grace thing has something to do with that.
This grace is a conscientious, deliberate kindness, offered
even especially to asshats and their like, in the spirit of shared human imperfection in all its glory.
There are two women I know who have this down: my friends Heather and Lee. They had it down before Glennon Doyle Melton started writing about it. They were doing it before I read Brene Brown and Anne Lamott. Some fourteen years ago, they were the women I most admired. I didn’t know why at the time. They were both gorgeous, glowing really–the disgusting kind of beautiful people who could seriously rock a potato sack. They were warm. And they were both loved and beloved by friends, family, colleagues, and students. They were good at everything, and it all looked so damn effortless. I just wanted to be them. . . right down to the purses and hair product (It’s true. They’re that fantastic. Even root-lifter and Coach seem doable.)
But it wasn’t effortless. I know that now. It was grace. It was thoughtful and deliberate, and it meant near-constant mindfulness and attention. And this–THIS–is why grace is such a gift and why I’m trying to add it to my repertoire (where, frankly, it is having a bit of a time squeezing in to the little vacancy between my tendency to call it like I see it and its sibling tendency to want to kick insensitive people in the head). Grace means not only forgiving someone for having a case of the bad-hangover, post-breakup, at-least-I-wish-that-was-my-excuse Mondays. It means holding space for them. It means trying to understand them. It means giving them the extra special bit of whatever they need in that moment because you’ve been grumpy, too, and because we’re not all always at our best and because isn’t it nice when someone gives you some leeway and an understanding pat on the fanny (or back or wherever you happen to prefer your physical reassurance)? It means constantly remembering that this person in this moment is not his words or her attitude or that terrible grimace but is, first and foremost, a person.
Because I’m clumsy and awkward and fantastically flawed–and yes, even an asshat–so many times in any one day, I love having gracious people around. I’ve sought them out. I’ve populated my facebook friends list with them. Grace is where it’s at. But here’s the brutal little nugget of truth about grace: it is a lovely thing to receive, but HolychubbylittlenakedbabyJesus is it hard to give. Especially on days when I’m having my own bout of sourface.
And so, two months early (because this is definitely going to take more than a year), I’m declaring grace to be my word of (late 2013 and) 2014.
And with that, the misadventures are back in action.
Little Asher Man,
What happened? What’s with the crazy number of posts and then dead silence for months? Well, you happened, Mister! You’re a lot of fun right now–a lot more fun, in fact, than blogging or grading or cleaning or. . . really anything that doesn’t involve you. So while you’re awake, we are all about you, you, you, and everything else just has to wait.
But right now, it’s 10:56 a.m. on November 9 (actually, it’s the day before, and I’m blogging during my office hour), and you’ve been out in this world for exactly six months, so it’s time for some documentation:
Nicknames — Grandma calls you her little Toot. Daddy and I call you lots of things: Squirt (still our favorite), AMP, Little Man, Peanut, Peanut Butter, and Squirtopotamus are the most often used ones. Jimpaw and Nana still call you Asher, which is good because otherwise, with all these nicknames, you might not ever learn your real name!
Activities — You LOVE your exersaucer. There’s a light-up, musical chameleon on it that plays repetitive songs about red, yellow, and blue (while lighting up in those colors), and you love making that thing play music. And because you’re teething right now, you love chomping on the wings of the dragonfly, too. You’re so long, though, that you’re about to be too big for that one. You can almost stand up out of the seat. The jumping seat still has some growing room, though, and you’re a pretty big fan of spinning a froggy on that one, so you should be entertained for a while.
You still like to listen to music and sing, but lately you’re doing a lot of babbling–your favorite noises being babababa and mamamama. Oh, and the yelling. . . yep — that started this week, too. I think you figured out that you can change the volume and pitch of your voice to tell us off, and you’re making good use of that skill. You’re getting really frustrated lately because you know exactly what parts have to move in order to crawl, but you haven’t synchronized them enough to be mobile just yet. It’s coming, though. And in the meantime, you’re happy to just roll around to your chosen destination. When you don’t want to roll, you like to sit up. Just this week, you started pulling your head forward to get to a sitting position all by yourself. And with every new advance, I get excited and sad at the same time–excited that you’re growing and learning and sad that this is all going by so darn fast. But it’s fun to watch. And I am ALWAYS proud of you.
Oh! And I can’t forget your comfort activity: opening and closing your little fist on all sorts of surfaces–your head, your fuzzy pajamas, your soft blankets, the glider, my fleece jacket, daddy’s smooth dress shirts, the Pack-n-Play pad. You do it constantly while you’re nursing and while you’re getting ready to fall asleep. And because your little fists are still pudgy and dimpled, it’s the most adorable thing ever.
Favorites — Red is still most definitely your favorite color. If it’s red, you’re all about it–even if that means Ohio State football games (we’ll talk about that bad choice later). You LOVE banana. You’re not so in love with rice cereal or apple. . . not even on a red spoon out of a red bowl. And really, you’re not so in love with eating from a spoon either. I think you’re just impatient because you want to get that little belly full faster, but we’re working on it. [Edited to add: We discovered today that the real “problem” is that you’re so independent that you want to hold the spoon yourself. EVERYTHING gets eaten if you get to (help) hold the spoon.] Good thing, too, because we’re expecting those two lower little teeth to show up any day now.
Personality — You are the happiest, sweetest kid I’ve ever known, and that’s not mommy bias. Everyone comments on how happy you are and how much you smile. As soon as you wake up, you’re smiling. When you meet a new person, you smile. When Abby walks into the room, you smile (and sometimes giggle, too). When Daddy comes home, when we play Superman, when I open the back door to get you out of the car, when I ask you any version of “Who’s the _____est kid?!”. . . all smiles. A few people have said that you look like me, but I think it’s all the smiling. You’re affectionate like mommy, too! You like to put both hands on people’s cheeks to show affection, and very recently you’ve started giving open-mouthed slobbery kisses, even to the dog.
As I predicted, you are by far the coolest kid I’ve ever known. And even when you’re teething and constantly hungry from a growth spurt and having a hard time breathing through your snotty little nose, you’re still an easygoing, fun, happy little guy.
And I’m one lucky mama.
You are, without a doubt, the most precious thing I have ever seen. You are adorably happy in the morning. There’s something about that gummy smile on that sleepy face. It is pure sweetness, and it makes any otherwise unattractive morning hour not only tolerable but welcome. Why, hello 4:30. . . so nice to see you!
You’re really starting to hold your head up and look around now, which must be exhilarating for you since you’ve been very interested in the world the entire time you’ve been out in it. Everyone’s always commented about how alert you are, and I love watching your face, knowing you’re taking it all in and figuring out life. That’s a magical thing to watch. And I’m so proud of you and happy for your development, but I’m holding on to every last precious second that head stays on my shoulder because I love our snuggle time.
And the giggles. They’re still rare prizes, and for some reason they tend to happen as you’re falling asleep (which I’ll take as a good sign that you’re enjoying this life business), but they are definitely here. We still haven’t figured out exactly what combination of faces, noises, and movements will consistently earn us one, but your daddy and I are working hard for them because they are stinkin’ precious. Irresistible even. Oh if you knew the power you have. . .
I have to go back to work in eleven days, and don’t I know those days are going to zoom by. It has come so soon, and you’re so much fun right now; I can’t believe we won’t be spending our days together. I’ll get used to it. You will, too. And we’ll both enjoy the time we do get together even more because of it. Plus, you and I both need to do other things. There’s a whole world out there for you to meet and explore–beautiful, kind people for you to befriend; amazing things to learn and experience–it’s all going to contribute to who you become. And I, well. . . I need to go back to doing a job that I’m sure I’ll still be passionate about but that has undoubtedly moved down on my lists of Most Important Things I Do and What I Love Most in the World.
You know one of the most beautiful things about love? You can never run out of it. You can run out of gas. Your swing runs out of battery power. People can definitely run out of energy. (Dogs do, too. Just wait until you start chasing Abby around. You’ll see.) And it’s a sad truth that, especially in this house, you can run out of yummy treats. But we all have an endless supply of love in our hearts. So even though I’m going back to work and won’t be with you all day every day, and even though I’ll be opening my heart to lots of other people, that will never change how much I love you.
And if that wasn’t true? If there was a limit to how much love we could give?
Then I would save the biggest and best parts of my heart for you.
. . . not funny ha ha. . . funny like interesting and notable and unexpected.
This is the month the dookey* hits the roof. With help from my mom and my half of the tax refund, we’ve made it successfully through all of my months of little-to-no pay (because of the bed rest business) up to now. My savings ran out about two weeks ago, and I just paid bills today, leaving me well short of the funds required to cover my half of the mortgage. Note that this means there’s absolutely nothing left on my side for upcoming childcare expenses, groceries, or other essentials for the month. And because Plump has to make up for the missing chunk of my mortgage payment, he won’t be left with much to work with either.
But this morning we sat on the couch and had coffee while Squirt snoozed in the swing and Abby snoozed in the same position on the couch, and I thought Life has never been better than this.
*Seriously, if I’m going to pull off this grown-up censoring for the kid thing, I’m going to have to come up with my own substitutes because dookey just isn’t doin’ it for me.
This weekend, while Nana and Papaw were busy being entertained by Squirt and the hubs was quietly recovering from what must be heat exhaustion, I started cleaning out my closet. I do this pretty regularly. I mean not regularly enough so that you can just pop into the Plump place and find an immaculately organized closet on any ol’ day but regularly enough that the clothing donation bin knows my car.* I like to throw things out. Purging (of closets, medicine cabinets, the pantry. . . pretty much any potential mess that hides behind doors) makes me feel like a better person. Yes, I know that’s silly and probably something I should get looked at, but instead of questioning or analyzing, I just go with it. I feel better when things are clean and organized. Of course, this purging often occurs in response to a seriously shameful mess. I’m talking the open-the-door-and-get-hit-by-a-soccer-ball-falling-from-the-top-of-the-pile-of-rubble kind of mess. And this weekend’s purging was no exception.
My closet housed fossil record layers of pre-pregnancy summer tops, giant maternity sweaters, both pre-pregnancy and maternity jeans (jumbled into the same quasi-stack), pre-pregnancy (and never again to be worn by my feet) shoes, and a giant pile of whoknowswhat that landed there the last time I had to do a quick clean-up of my room for company. It was worse than any teenager’s closet. Truly. And because I’ve been wearing the same three pairs of pajama pants or maternity capris and alternating the same four tank tops since the baby was born eleven weeks ago (HOLY CRAP), and because in just a couple of weeks I’ll be returning to work (HOLY CRAPOLA), and because breast feeding has killed nearly all thirty-four pounds of the maternity weight but done nothing for the new configuration of soft spots on my body, I really needed to get in there and figure out what seasonally and work-appropriate clothing I had and whether it would fit.
So here’s the problem. . .
After organizing everything into garbage, donation, giant maternity, probably-not-getting-there-again skinny, maybe next summer, and doesn’t-really-fit-right-but-covers-everything-as-it-should piles, I have four pairs of ill-fitting and faded maternity jeans that could be worn to work. . . in a pinch. . . on a tired day when other things are more important than my feelings about how I look. Nope — there’s not another sentence coming to cover the tops. Well, ok — there are two tops that I could wear unbuttoned at the top with a nursing cami under if I had to, but that pretty clearly shows that I’m unable to cover my newly giant breastfeeding boobs. And I have some cardigans that I could throw over something if the heat index weren’t over a hundred degrees and I didn’t mind displaying my newly soft center.
Yeah. What I’m saying here is that I have nothing to wear. But I do have one seriously clean closet.
*Eeep! Correction: the clothing donation bin used to know my car. It has not yet seen the new gifted car from that sweet, sweet Amanda.
The many faces of our little AMP