Who says what?

Novelist, mother, minister, and yoga teacher muses on books, babies, motherhood, and what matters with reverent humor.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Olympic Vacationing

A brief list of where we've visited in our week and a half in Kent.

Leeds Castle
New Romney
Royal Tunbridge Wells
Sutton Valence

(This does not include the many, many, many towns we have driven through giving the children their naps.)

Today we went for a second time to Leeds Castle, a gorgeous place with not just a castle but ponds and walks and open lawns and play structures and swans and peacocks wondering around as well as ducks and geese and birds of all kinds.

Adeline, who has inherited my keen delight in babies, strolled around after a gang of four ducks this afternoon calling them "baby ducks," even though they were full grown. As they approached an enormous, beautiful male peacock, resting in the shade, she said: "There's your mama, ducks. There's your mama." I didn't bother to correct her. I could see how it would make perfect sense to a two-year old mind. Little bird is baby, big bird is mama. Never mind that the pretty peacocks are all male.

We've succeeded in moving up bedtime. From 10:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Oh, the luxury in that last hour of the day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Comforts of Home

Clearly, I'm not a good traveler and while I expected to be homesick on this trip, I did not anticipate exactly what I would be homesick for. I thought I'd miss the comforts of home, but I actually miss the comforts of home.

Well, it's England, and things are smaller here. Like cars and houses and bathrooms. That's fine; it will keep me trim. But what about the small amount of hot water? Or the lack of dishwashers? These people are so evolved they charge a pollution fee if you drive into London. You can drive for eight years on a tank of gas. We're working so hard in America for this kind of enlightenment? It's terrible.

Give me the endless American cars fit to the endless American buts and the wasteful, negligent consumption of everything. It's so, so, so...comfortable.

The children love it. Every time we go into a public bathroom, Adeline squeals with delight: "A little sink!" All the sinks are the right height for the children to wash their hands. We even went for a ride on the world's smallest passenger steam train the other day. Very relaxing, especially compared to the driving which requires constant vigilance and a keen sense of the length of your side mirrors.

I'm not complaining, of course. I would never complain. How can you complain when it stays light until well after ten p.m. in a place where people, in all sincerity, call you "mate?" I don't miss all those awful, rude Americans. Just their very big rental houses with room to turn around in the bathroom. (While helping Ellias in the potty today--wipe his backside if you must know--I heard Daddy say, "You need to move forward a little," to which my son replied, "You have to go out into the hallway so there's room.")

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Travel Delights

I suppose one question might be: how many hours do you spend attempting to get your child to nap before you give up? Is three two many? Because really, at a certain point, you lose track of the goal (sleeping child), and find you've arrived in a twilight zone of repetitive Twinkle Twinkles and monotonous rocking and while you've put YOURSELF to sleep, the child is still awake.

Hmmm, yes, life after jet lag in a new country in a new place with a two year old who's never been in a twin bed before! Most of the past few days has been spent getting the children to sleep, being infuriated that they aren't, and resorting to pathetic methods of bribery because my own coping skills are so poor due to the time change and lack of sleep and the fact that my children will not go to sleep! (You see the terrible circle in all this.)

I'm sure it will get better. In the meantime, my son has been threatened with nothing to eat for a day but cucumbers (my husband's idea), and my daughter, who doesn't have any idea what one is, has been threatened with a spanking. When asked: do you want a spanking? She replied: Yes, and started to giggle.

These are parenting methods that don't work. But what does? Day by day we try things out.

On the upside, it's fifty degrees here and windy and rainy. Maybe there's not just a time change, but a season change as well. This is good for a pregnant woman, I guess. I don't have to worry about swollen feet from the heat, but isn't it June?

Anyway, enough complaining. They have castles here. That makes up for a lot.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

European Vacation

Last time I got back from a trip that required airplane travel, I spent many months saying, in response to the generic questions "How are you?", as long as I'm not on a plane, I'm fine. Because, as it so happens, I would rather be pretty much anywhere but on a plane.

Yet, I will be on a plane in two days for SEVEN (count 'em) hours with my ever-expanding baby belly and my two children all of almost four and two. Does this sound like fun to anyone out there? If it weren't for the pregnancy, I'd sign on for enough medication to get me seriously drooling and out of commission for every last second of that flight.

On the bright side, I've taken this opportunity to go shopping and acquire everything imaginable for the comfort of my plane ride. I'm usually a Salvation Army kind of girl, but for this trip, it's been brand new all the way. There is some therapy in shopping I've realized. I only wish I could shop on the plane. (And don't tell me I can virtually. I want the distractions of the store.)

Who know how much blogging will get accomplished while we are in England. (I should say: whilst we are in England), though I will certainly try.

In the meantime, send me your good thoughts to keep the plane afloat, free of maniacs-on-board (my children being the exception), and as peaceful as a yoga class. Ommmmmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dancing on the Cervix

You know what I'm thinking of? Lionel Richie, of course. And oh, it is such a feeling, when the little two pound baby tap dances across my cervix. The beauty of a third pregnancy is that, as I no longer have any muscle tone, I get to experience all the wonders of pregnancy a little bit earlier.

Like baby kicks on my cervix. And Braxton Hicks contractions. Which I have been feeling since month four! Imagine that. I keep telling my husband how strong this baby is. I've been able to visually see the kicks for weeks now. Only to find out, after I talked to the midwife, that the reason my next child seems like a Sumo wrestler is because I'M ALL STRETCHED OUT.

Let's hope this comes in really handy during labor when the baby simply falls out of my lax, lazy pelvic muscles. Apparently, no amount of Kegels can combat the taxed muscles of my upper pelvis, not that I don't try. I am a constant Kegel-er.

According to the children, the baby will come out of my belly button. Now THAT I would like to see (as if it weren't amazing enough to have an eight pound person emerge from the vagina). Luckily, my vagina is bigger than my belly button. I hope this is true for the rest of you. But, hey, if it's not, that would be unique and you could probably get your own show on TLC, so everything has an upside.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Mother? Or is it Housewife?

While I have many gifts, cleaning is not one of them. Nor is cooking. I don't consider myself particularly gifted at mothering, but I love it, and my desire to be good at it makes up for some of the actual imperfections (I think. Ask the kids in a decade). But what I didn't realize--apparently I was not paying attention--is that more than half of mothering is, actually, cleaning. (Or is it eighty percent?)

How can that be? I enjoy playing with my children, singing to them, reading to them, taking them to the park, to classes, on play dates, around the yard to look at slugs and other fascinations, so how is that so much of my job has nothing to do with these things? Instead, I am to clean the kitchen and wash the grimy, finger-printed, finger-painted table, and figure out how to vacuum while the children wrestle with each other at my feet, and how to do laundry (not just wash it, but have it dried and folded and PUT AWAY). But you know all this. You do all this: make the doctor appointments and the special shoe shopping trips and peel stickers off the floor and the car and your clothes.

I may be especially handicapped in this area. I have certain friends whose houses simply put me to shame. How do they do it? WHEN do they do it? WHY do they do it? How come I can't do it?

To Hell With All That, a fantastic book of essays, has a piece about the difference between a mother and housewife. (Mothers are housewives and housewives are mothers but the emphasis is different). I am definitely a mother, so why should my household failures bother me so? I mean, is it that bad to clean the floor with my bare feet? Have you done this? Walk around and once the cheerio or the sticker or the old noodle attaches to the bottom of your foot, you peel it off and voila, slightly cleaner floor. I have yet to find the equivalent to this method in cooking. Any ideas?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keep Truckin'

Wouldn't it be nice to have your own personal cheerleader? (Provided she also cleaned house, did laundry, cooked meals and gave professional, therapeutic massages?)

Because then someone would say to you: keep going. You're doing an awesome job.

Sometimes, because I'm like this, I tell myself what a great job I'm doing.

And you know what? I feel much, much better. And then I do a better job.

Now you won't believe me because I haven't been watching you, but I don't doubt that you're doing an awesome job too.

Think of the baseball players. What makes them great? Hitting the ball thirty percent of the time! Talk about setting the bar low. As my husband pointed out, you don't want a surgeon with those kinds of numbers, but a mother? Might be good enough.