It’s raining gently on my tender little lettuce and spinach and sugar snap pea and cabbage sprouts. Could life get any better?
Then again, check back in this weekend when it’s supposed to snow. Expect much grimness.
I’ve finally done it! I’ve finally set up a new blog where the comments won’t be irritating! Well, it’s not entirely done, but mostly. I even imported all the archives from this blog, so it’s all there. I’m veeeeerrrrry impressed with myself for that one. Ok, to be honest I didn’t get the archives from June of last year. But that was only the first two weeks of my blogging experience, so I feel ok about letting it go. Actually it’s more that I’m not entirely sure how I got as much of it transferred as I did. I know that if I try fiddling with it any more that I’ll end up with all my archives in Sanskrit or something.
Anyhow, pretty pretty please check out my new site. http://kiwords.blogs.com/ I went with TypePad, so comments should be no problem. I expect commenting up the ying-yang.* Let me know what you think, and please change your bookmarks and keep coming back. Because now I have a stats tracker that actually works and I’ll know if you don’t and I swear I’ll cry.
One morning when I was 22, Easter morning actually, I was in a car accident. It was apparently my fault, but I got a solid whack on the head and don’t remember the moments right before it happened. This is what I do remember.
The steering wheel wrenched out of my hands and spun hot under my palms. The horizon dipped and tilted and I grabbed the wheel and twisted it hard to the right as my car arced up through the air to the left. I stomped on the brakes, fighting for control over wheels that no longer touched the road. As the ground pivoted all the way around and I saw it coming back toward me, above me, I thought, I’m going to die. I can’t die; I haven’t finished reading that book. Then there was the smash of landing, hood down on the road. Metal screamed against blacktop and the air shimmered with shards of broken glass. Everything shuddered to a stop and I realized I was still stomping on the brakes. Trying to, but my foot didn’t quite reach the pedal because I was hanging upside down by my seatbelt. I fumbled for the latch, but my weight against the belt made the button too hard to press. A man’s face appeared at my window. “Are you ok?” I looked at him for a moment, then realized my skirt was hanging down and clapped my hands to my knees to hold it in place. I nodded, embarrassed. “I saw it happen,” he stammered, “you just went up in the air…I’ll go call someone.”
“Wait!” The thought of him leaving me there panicked me. “I’m stuck! I mean, my seat belt! I can’t undo it!”
“I think I should call 911 first or something, I mean, you shouldn’t move, right?”
I was thrashing against the belt now, kicking and twisting in an effort to get loose. I wanted out.
“Please! I can’t undo it! Get me out!”
He looked worried, but reached in and lifted me at the waist with one arm. Then with the other he reached over and released the latch. The belt snapped free and I half-fell, half crawled out the window.
I stood there, blinking shards of glass out of my eyes, looking at my car and the car I hit, trying unsuccessfully to believe what had just happened.
I had to be observed for 24 hours because of the concussion. For days and days I found slivers of glass, pricking my fingers as I ran them through my hair, wedged between my watch and strap. I would reach down to scratch my knee and dislodge a bit that had embedded in my skin as I crawled out.
Eventually I was back to normal. I even went back to driving after a week. I seemed fine, until about three weeks after I’d started driving again. I was borrowing a friend’s car (awfully trusting of him, come to think of it), and on my way home from work someone rear ended me. Now, he was driving a Rabbit and I was driving a Ford Galaxy 500, so you understand who suffered damage. I got out, calmly exchanged information. It seems there was a cop there, I’m not sure. Then I got back in the car and started hyperventilating.
I sobbed and inched my way home, then called a friend to come look at the car. He came over and checked it out, declaring the extent of the damage to be a clean spot on my bumper. Then he suggested we go have dinner. I said fine, but then he tossed me the keys.
“Look, you have to drive. You can’t live a normal life if you’re too afraid to get behind the wheel ever again.”
This went on for some time. Finally I climbed in and started the car. I approached the exit to the street, then made a left turn and drove a lap around the parking lot. He patted my shoulder, and I headed for the exit again.
And turned before I got there.
By the fourth lap around the parking lot, he told me to pull over.
“Look, I know it’s scary –“
“You don’t know! I don’t even know how it happened! How do I know it won’t happen again? I could kill someone!”
“You’re right. I don’t know what could happen. But I promise you this: The reasons to get out there are better than the fears keeping you here.”
Lately I’ve been thinking about that day a lot. He was right – even though that didn’t end up being my last car accident. The reasons to go were better than the fears. So why this memory, now?
I don’t write here about the details of my divorce. It doesn’t matter, because the truth is that I don’t know why. One moment life was one thing and a split second later everything had changed. It was as bewildering as trying to steer wheels that don’t touch the ground. And for days and months and years after I continued to find shards of that loss.
Sometimes events remind me of how that felt. The upcoming meeting with my ex (which was rescheduled for April 28) is one of those events. It’s looming now, and I find myself tightening up, closing down.
But I fight it. I try to remember: The reasons to go on are better than the fears that would hold me here.
I’d like to respond to a few comments over the last week (good week for comments). First of all, Heather points out that I was supposed to admit she was right and I was wrong. Yet again, she is right and I…well, you get it. So in case there was any doubt, let me announce here publicly before literally…dozens of readers, Heather was right on March 23, 2004 and I was wrong. I was whiny and being a big baby and I don’t know why she puts up with me at all.
Moving on, Josh put this cryptic little comment in; “Yeah, YOU never threw rocks at anyone as a child, now DID you, Ki?” Oh, *cringe*. Ok, here’s that story. When I was about eleven and Josh was about thirteen or so, we were hanging out outside the Catholic school my dad taught at. It was bingo night or something, I dunno. Anyhow, the girl I was hanging out with, Deana, and I were hiding behind things and spying on Josh. Why? Because he was my older brother and we were bored and who knows why kids do anything. Anyhow. Josh was onto our spying, which was awfully annoying to us. Big brothers, I swear. Somehow at that point our innocent game morphed into the sport of throwing rocks at the brother. Now, in my defense, I mostly threw them at his feet. And the one that struck him in the back of the head? Deana threw that one.
But when I saw him clutching his head, with his t-shirt plastered to his back with blood, the fact that I hadn’t thrown that exact rock didn’t comfort me much. What I thought was, “I’ve killed my brother.” I had nightmares for years featuring that picture.
So, Josh, what that means is that when I give lectures about rock throwing, I know whereof I speak. No fair bringing up ancient history to make loved ones feel guilty. Remember that, oh dropper of sons in the ocean.
Mark, you’re welcome to steal any phrases you like of mine. I don’t know why someone who wrote, “The first year’s quarter was to catch your breath, the second to stretch your powers. Change calendars today and soon the clock will snip an hour from sleep” would want me writing his material. I do have to warn you that as a man who has no children, it may sound…different when you say, “I wanted another baby with wild-eyed determination.” But hey, have at it.
Finally Toni and Angela, who kindly nudged me toward submitting things…aw, shucks. Thanks for the encouragement; it means more to me than you know. I’m working on it, I really am. But not as hard as I should. I need all the kicks in the pants I can get.
Everyone who’s commented or emailed me, I have to tell you how much I appreciate the feedback. It’s interesting to me that I never know which entries are going to get the most comments. But whenever you do leave comments, I just love it. During the day I check in shamelessly to see if anyone had anything to say, and when you do I just glow.
I went to see the chiropractor today. I’ve been in far too many car accidents in my life (not ALL of them my fault, I’ll have you know), and so owe my sanity to Dr. Michelle. She’s pregnant with her second child right now, and just amazingly adorable. If Disney made a pregnant character she would look like Dr. Michelle. She has a tidy little basketball of a tummy, and she fairly glows. This despite the fact that she’s just started her third trimester. If she wasn’t so sweet I’d have to hate her.
Anyhow, she was telling me how smooth this pregnancy has been. She feels great and has hardly been sick. I guess she was discussing with a colleague recently the idea that there is a lot of emotional transference between unborn baby and mom – accounting for some of the differences in pregnancies. When she first said that, I started to discount it as crunch granola chiropractor notions. But the more we talked about it the more I started to wonder if there might not be something to that.
When I was pregnant with Tre I was physically pretty much ok. Sick in the beginning, sure, but other than that I was fine. My emotions on the other hand were wild. I remember watching ER one night while my husband was at work. On the show a teenaged girl had smashed up her dad’s car and was fretting over his reaction while her leg was stitched up. I called my husband at work, hysterical. It took him a while to figure out what I was crying about, but what it boiled down to was this; this baby was going to grow up! And DRIVE!
He did his best to comfort me, but really what can you say? And I was forever falling apart over things like that. The day we brought the baby swing home I sat in the living room and cried for hours, because now we owned baby furniture. And we would have some sort of furniture for this child in our house for the next 18 years! Because our lives were changing forever! I called my mom and wept, “What if I screw up with this baby?” Her response, by the way, was a comforting, “Oh…you will. We all do.”
Now I look at Tre and he’s pretty healthy, but he does have the tendency to…stress. He can react to things with an intensity that’s bewildering at times.
Then Max. His gestation should have been the easiest. I was very careful to get ready for him. I ate right for months ahead of time, and I wanted another baby with a wild-eyed determination.
Oh my, was that a rough pregnancy. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I just was swept under. I remember looking out, through the fog of wherever I was, at the people around me. I knew I wasn’t participating fully in conversations, I knew I was hardly there. There was not a thing I could do to keep up with life.
And Max is a complex, deep little soul. I just never know what he’s going to say. I don’t think he knows half the time.
Raphael’s pregnancy should have been difficult. I wasn’t prepared physically or emotionally. But it was fairly easy. Comparatively. I mean, we are talking about building a living human being here. It’s never easy, exactly. But I felt better than I ever had when pregnant. I only threw up once in the whole pregnancy (unless you count labor…I don’t count labor). That was amazing to me. And although I was tired and overwhelmed at times – I mean, it was my third kid – for the most part I felt pretty stable. Sturdy, even.
And here’s my bulldozer Raphael. He’s not what I’d describe as an easy child, but he’s straightforward.
So if it’s true, and there is some exchange of emotions during pregnancy, here’s what I wonder; did I form them with my moods into the babies they were born as, or did the babies they already were form my moods while they grew?
What about you? Were your pregnancies indicative of who your children were? I’m assuming that if you’ve read this far it’s because you’re a mom. Once you’ve been an incubator for a human the subject is inordinately fascinating, isn’t it? Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your experiences.
Raphael learned to climb out of his crib months ago. If I were a good mother, I would have switched him to a big-boy bed by now. But I figure, hey, I’d just have to find a suitably sturdy set of guardrails to keep him from falling out of his bed, and his crib already has these bars all around…sort of like a full set of guard rails! Nice, huh? It has nothing to do with the fact that once he’s out of his crib he’s no longer a baby and my life is utterly, completely devoid of babies. Oh noooo. It’s a practical decision.
Anyhow, my solution has been to keep the side rail of his crib down, so he doesn’t have too far to climb. This works well. He’s safe from falls and clambers in and out with ease.
The problem arises at naptime. He really doesn’t have a concept of time, or sleeping, or any of those abstract details. Most of the time when I put him down for a nap he’s exhausted, and falls asleep within minutes. Then when he wakes up an hour or two later, he climbs out of bed and staggers to the top of the stairs. He doesn't remember sleeping, so he's never sure if his nap is over or not. He tentatively calls out, “Mama? Ah just waked up?” I come and stand at the bottom of the stairs and smile encouragingly up at him, “You sure did, baby! Why don’t you come down here with us?” Mightily relieved, he scampers down the stairs and back into life.
But sometimes when I put him down to nap he doesn’t fall asleep right away. Sometimes he lies there and chatters to himself for a few minutes, then grows bored and climbs out. Today he’d been in bed no more than three minutes when I heard the thump and trot of an escaping small boy. I was already on my way up the stairs when he rounded the corner. His happy expression melted at the sight of me marching his way. He skidded to a stop then worked up his best innocent face. “Mama? Ah waked up?”
“No, son. You didn’t wake up because you didn’t go to sleep.”
“But ah don’ wanna go sweep.”
“I know, but it’s time for your nap. If you don’t sleep you’ll be grumpy and sad.” I leaned over to scoop him up and we headed back to his room. He was clearly not convinced that his nap was not, in fact, over.
“But ah talked and talked an’ den ah waked up!”
“No, you haven’t slept yet. You need to stay in your crib and sleep a little. Sweet dreams, honey.” I deposited him in his crib and pulled his blankets over him. He eyed me suspiciously.
“Mama? Maybe yoo bein’ mean.”
“No, Raphi, I’m not being mean.”
He kicked the covers off and sighed. I turned to go.
“Can yoo cover to me?”
“Ok, I’ll put your covers on you, but this is the last time. You need to sleep.”
“Yoo not bein’ mean?”
“No, I’m not. Sweet dreams, and I’ll see you soon.”
As I turned to go, I heard him mutter to his stuffed giraffe, “She bein’ mean.”
I am unjustly accused.
¶ 3/31/2004 10:17:00 PM
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
The good thing about being cooped up in the car with your kids for long periods is that it gives you a special opportunity to spend time with them. In the quiet and monotony of the car they open up and talk like they rarely will in normal life. That, plus the fact that they sometimes fall asleep. Always a good thing.
Today was such a day. With one thing and another the boys and I spent about three hours in the car. Or, as a rabbit might say, many many hours. There was mass sleeping (everyone but me – again, always a good thing), and there were moments to be cherished. Or at least remembered.
At one point Tre piped up from his seat, “You want to know what Craig James and Zach and I did at the park today?” I had let him ride his bike to the park with the neighbor boys whilst I stayed home and nervously congratulated myself on letting him spread his wings.
“Sure, honey. What did you guys do?”
“We threw rocks at each other.”
Long pause. I was turning this over in my mind, trying to imagine what he could have said that sounded like “we threw rocks at each other,” but actually made sense.
“You threw what?”
“Rocks. Well, those little gravel pieces. We had a gravel fight.”
“We had a gravel fight.” He said it slowly, to compensate for my clear lack of mental ability. “It was fun.”
Another long pause.
“Well, were you guys careful not to throw rocks at faces?”
“Um…” he could tell there was a right answer, and he didn’t think he was about to give it. “Sort of. Not really.”
“Ah. You should do that. Or maybe consider finding something less…rocky to throw at each other.”
I don’t know which of us was more mystified.
At one point we had stopped for some food at Sonic. (I use the term “food” in the most forgiving sense here.) While we were waiting for our order, Mom called my cell phone. This necessitated much passing around of said phone so everyone could talk to her. While Max was talking Raphael started wriggling free of his car seat. I crawled back to disabuse him of the notion that car seats are optional, causing him great mental anguish. He wailed, actual tears streaking his cheeks. I was able to calm him enough to hand him the phone for his turn. He sighed a shuddery sigh and moaned into the phone, “Ah’m just so sad!” When Max heard that he shook his head at me.
“That just hits my heart,” he declared. He smacked an open hand against his chest, right in the middle of where the seat belt crosses it, “It hits my heart right here.”
I nodded in agreement, doubly smitten at the heart.