Thursday, September 24, 2015

he's always known

it's still one of my favorite parts of motherhood. finn waking up right before the sun comes up, still tired and ready to sleep, coming into our bed and falling back asleep in between the two of us. the three of us fitting on that little bed, and, with surprise, somehow comfortably. he talks now when he first comes in. he asks questions about what we've been dreaming about or what that noise was, or what day it is. and then, like this morning, he turns over, grabs my face with his soft little hands, and falls back asleep.

i stared at his face this morning. the nightlight that we use  when he comes in our room shining behind me. there's still nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby. or little boy.

and he is a little boy now. everyone says the two's are terrible. but no one warns you about the threes. james and i stare at each other and try not to laugh at times. he can be so tough. he can argue like a grown man, and debate like he's been practicing his entire life. he doesn't give up easily. he doesn't like to be helped when he's learning something new, most of the time, but gets frustrated when he isn't quite sure what to do. he is persistent and doesn't forget a thing. and he can hurt your feelings in a second, and then the next realize what he's done and come and wrap his arms around you and kiss you.  and then he's sweet. and sensitive. and understanding. and full of emotions and ideas and theories. his imagination always surprises me and his sense of humor always right on. he's natural and intuitive.

intuitive in the way he knew. i took that pregnancy test a couple months ago to find a positive plus appear in the little box. it was five am, on a weekend vacation with our family, and i crawled back in bed and woke up james, who smiled so big in the dark i could see it. and the next night back at home, i pulled finn out of the bathtub and he looked me in the eyes and said, "there's a baby in your belly".

he just knew.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


"She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together."
-J.D. Salinger 

Friday, April 10, 2015


He's calling me "sister" now. At random times throughout the day. He'll walk into the kitchen while I'm cooking dinner or washing dishes and shout "hey sistor!" in his mini voice that I told James we need to record. I don't ever want to forget the tininess in his voice. I laugh and play along with him, calling him brother, running into the living room chasing him.

Or when we're in the car and he says softly, " I wish someone was back here. They can sit right there" and points over to the empty seat next to him. I almost want to ask him who will sit there, but I'm worried that he'll respond with a brother or sister and so I selfishly keep quiet.

I watched him with his baby cousin a few weeks ago. Asking to hold her. Talking into her face, making his voice sound even higher than it already is, thinking that's the right way to appeal to babies. He asked to feed her, putting her bottle into her mouth and carefully tipping it back. He laughed when she sneezed. He really laughed when she talked in that baby talk that I almost forgot. The babbling and the driveling with spit and slobber. It wasn't until I saw it up close that I realized I missed it, and that I realized Finn will be a great big brother.

But when? We've tried not to rush, relishing in the time that belongs to just the three of us. Bike rides into the evening sun, the three of us. Camping in tents and pop-ups, the three of us. Boat rides and road trips, vacations and adventures, the three of us.  Finn just now reaching a point of new self independence, of becoming this little person filled with opinions and notion. James and I sat the other night in our backyard as we watched him running and playing on his own. He is needing us less. He's sleeping through the night. He's spending some evenings with his grandparents allowing more date nights for me and James. We've had two and a half years with this special boy and us. Just the three of us, growing and learning and I wouldn't have changed or tried to rearrange one second. We've gotten to put our energy into our son. And our marriage. And our new life the three of us. And really, really enjoying it.

And now the time has come when I spot a pregnant woman at the grocery store and can't take my eyes off her belly. The way her hands graze her stomach, the way my hands were always finding my belly when Finn was inside.

Or when we're at the park and I notice a mom with two. The way she's pushing the older one on the swing, while holding a baby on her hip. And then grabbing puffies out of her overflowing diaper bag, while keeping one eye on her toddler about to run down the slide. Am I ready for that? Are we ever ready?

I think of growing up with three brothers surrounding me. I was four when my parents had their youngest. I remember them bringing him home. Telling me to sit on their bed, the August sun shining through their window. I was wearing a blue and white sailor outfit. They placed my little brother in my arms and my mouth fell open. This new baby doll. Still today, my baby brother, my best friend.

I write things down so I'll remember. The months of Finn, the milestones. His first crawl across my parents kitchen floor. His first steps a couple weeks before his first birthday. The first pedaling on his tricycle in the June heat, his hair sticky with sweat. I have them written down. Words that fall off my pen and onto the page so I won't forget. But I find myself wanting to relive it all. I want it all back. Every blessed part. 

We have to try.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

dear james

Dear James,
you're away. on business. the first trip that you have had to go on in months. before, you were traveling often around this time of the year, and you kept telling me it won't always be like this. i remember you leaving for a week when finn was a month old. everything still felt so new with finn, i was shaking when you pulled out of the driveway. leaving the two of us standing by the front door of our new little house, i was so nervous watching you go.
now you go away and finn and i fall into our routine. we've been keeping ourselves busy. especially with the opening of the studio, finn has been such a trooper. getting dropped off with your parents, then picked up and dropped off again with my parents. he has such a good spirit, going along with flow, and usually crying each time he has to leave somewhere. he's just like me, terrible with saying good bye. i looked at him in the rearview mirror this morning and could tell he was thinking about something, he makes the same face you do when you're deep in thought. your eyes narrow and your get a little crease between your eyebrows. "mama" he said softly, "dada will come back to you. he will come back to you."
finn has been doing something new the past few days. he's been very concerned about how i am feeling. driving in the car a slow song came on and he asked, "does this song make you sad, mama?" or last night after we got off the phone with you he came up to me and said "you can't kiss dada. are you sad?" it's a new thing with him, asking about how i am feeling. i kind of love it, too. you know how i always like to describe my feelings. you said i'm the only person you know who thinks about the way they are feeling as much as i do. i can't help it.
i've noticed something else with him the past few days. he's turning more into a little boy and less like a toddler. last night i kissed him good, i really pressed my lips hard into his smooth little cheek, and squeezed him. he pulled away and i watched him wipe the kiss off. and you know about him wanting to do everything on his own. this morning, while rushing to get out of the house, he had to walk down each step on his own. every time i held my hand out for him to grab it he pushed it away. in the midst of trying to run out of the house, he made me slow down and watch him, foot by foot, make his way down those twelve steps. he doesn't want to hold my hand more often now. it's kind of a shock.
but then there are times when he still seems like our baby. like early this morning, when he came into our bed at four, and moved in close to me and whispered, "snuggle me, mama" and i wrapped my arms around him and pulled him even closer. he fell asleep and when i looked at his face i pictured him when he was just a couple months old. his little belly rising and falling slowly.
it's hard to believe he'll be three years old in a few months.
i hear him waking up from his nap now. any second he'll start to yell for me. over and over until he hears me close to his door. i haven't told you, but each time he wakes up, unsure of what day it is, he's asked if you are home. "is dada back home now?" he says, his eyes wide and serious. "not yet, but soon" I tell him. we can't wait.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

crib talk

lying with finn, inside his crib, has now become a mandatory part of his sleep routine. we snuggle together on the little mattress and i repeat myself telling him to be quiet and close his eyes until he falls asleep and i somehow climb out of the position i was forcing myself in and sneak out of his room, tip-toeing around the creaky floorboards that i have mentally marked.

and he does the same thing at bedtime now. he says loudly, "ok, i have to make my choice" meaning he has to decide if it is going to be me or his dad who is going to lay with him that night. he usually picks me, but some nights he picks his dad and i give them both a kiss goodnight because i know that james will without a doubt fall asleep in his crib and I'll have to sneak in and wake him up the try not to laugh loud while he pulls himself out of the tiniest bed he's mastered sleeping in. i don't know how he fits. but when i see them on the monitor, james wrapped around finn, the blanket over the top of them, finn's head pressing against j's cheek, it almost looks like that bed was made for the two of them to share. they actually look comfortable.

this afternoon inside the crib, finn turned over and looked at me, his eyes big and a darker shade of blue, and quietly asked, "mama, can we talk about stuff?" he then went on a ten minute ramble;
"where did this bed come from actually? who made this? it sure is hard... i don't want my snowman to melt...  if a dog jumps on me, will you protect me? will dada protect me? will all my peoples protect me? what does protect mean? oh yes, yes, yes, yes, right. remember fishing?" and then he turned over, closed his eyes while hugging his little stuffed dog, boo, and fell asleep.

Monday, March 9, 2015


Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

First cut

I put it off for two and a half years. I told James we were never cutting it. 

It was time and he did it. He crawled right up in the chair. Got his lollipop. Called his hairdresser "his girl" and said he liked getting his haircut. 

We went to lunch after and I kept staring at his big boy face. His eyes and full cheeks. He looks so handsome. 

On the way home I told him he looked handsome. I watched him fall asleep in the rear view mirror. "Mama" he said right before his eyes closed, "you look handsome, too." 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

the past

like those monsters you were scared of when you were five, now there is something even scarier under your bed. journals from your past. you can't throw them away. you can't put them in the attic of your parents house, they'll get lost or damaged from water, or even worse read by someone, so you keep them with you. throughout your moves from dorm rooms, and little apartments in big cities, and back to your childhood room and then to your first house with your husband and baby son. they're with you. underneath your bed that your aunt gave you as a housewarming gift that makes noise when your toddler son jumps on.

your husband is working late and your son is sleeping. there's nothing on television and you're tired of your book. you peak under the mattress. they're staring at you from their bin. you open one and slowly descend into a world that you left on your own years ago. a world from the start that was filled with such hope. such attraction. such excitement and fire. and then that slowly crumbled with stints of fury and bitterness. such happy words at the start of the little brown journal, happy thoughts and memories...

driving him home after a night we spent together. him getting out of my car and the white sky behind him. his eyes blue and clear. christmas eve with his family. meeting his grandmother and seeing the tiny christmas lights reflecting off her glasses. a blizzard in nyc, drinking whiskey and tea in that little bar downtown and kissing all the way up john street. showers together before work, watching the soap falling over his freckles and birthmarks, laughing loud. the competitions and bets and silly games.

then towards the end of the book. after what seemed like twenty years together. the falling and the failing. the drinking. the hateful words filled with suspicion and doubt. the mistrust. the indecisiveness of where to go and what to do next. that one morning in brooklyn. that one sunday afternoon in the village when we screamed and yelled on the sidewalk and i jumped in a cab alone wishing the driver could drive seven hours west back home to my parents house. the late fights, our breath on fire with alcohol and him grinding his teeth with anger. the slamming doors and the crying.

i snap myself back into reality. a sleeping toddler on the monitor, twisting out of his blankets with his little hand up to his mouth. a text on my phone from my husband done with work and on his way home.  he calls me his love and he means it.

i breathe a sigh of sweet relief. thank god we didn't end up together.

Monday, February 9, 2015

monday inspiration and a cough

"I think it's worth trying to be a mother who delights in who her children are, in their knock-knock jokes and earnest questions. A mother who spends less time obsessing about what will happen, or what has happened and more time reveling in what is." - Ayelet Waldman

finn caught a nasty cold last week. a cold and his first cough. a real cough. the kind that starts in the chest and makes it hard to catch your breath. the first time it happened it gave us both a scare. "that sounded like a real cough" finn said to himself. the past five days i have been coughed on. sneezed on. cried on. slept on. we've spent the days in our little house with tissues and boogie wipes and smoothies and water. my mom always told me that february was the month when all of her kids got sick. i guess finn is just following suit. it's challenging when your kid is sick. the emotional and physical aspect of wanting to be able to fix him right away and feeling helpless that you can't. 
the second day he woke up with a fever and only wanted to lay on me. his body hot and sweaty on my chest, holding his little hands that were radiating heat. he looked up at me with watery eyes, "i'm sorry i can't kiss you right now mama. i caught da real cough" he said sweetly. 
his fever only lasted a day and he's making a turn with the cough and snot. 
i'm dreaming of spring even harder now. be kind to us,  february. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


i'm thinking about preschools in the grey of winter morning, the sun almost up. i hear finn calling me from his room and i'm snapped back to our day ahead. spending the morning together downstairs, making oatmeal and toast, putting together puzzles, painting in the basement in the oversize teeshirt he wears that someone got after they ran a 5k, a prize of cotton.

i think about our time together that we've spent in the mornings. every morning. our routine and our rituals. we walk down the steps holding each other's hand, finn's little feet carefully stepping one after the other, holding onto the railing. "i can do it, mama. and i don't even fall."
our mornings are my favorite. building bridges with his wooden blocks, carefully placing his dinosaurs on the tops of the towers and then knocking them over laughing. the clock keeps ticking but i'm not watching the time. it flows quietly.

but then my mind races forward. to the breaking of winter. to the first signs of spring. like the time i saw a weed coming up in-between cracks in our driveway, the way it feels when spring finally arrives, like it had to crawl through concrete to make it to us. i think about muddy yards, and hikes in the park. then i think about summer. my favorite season. messy hair smelling of chlorine and bare feet with chalk on the bottoms from the driveway. i think about the humidity upstairs in our little house, cotton nightgowns, and the air from our fan blowing overtop of us.

then my mind goes even further. to a birthday party that belongs to a new three year old. how can it be possible that this is the year i will have a three year old? he still seems so new to me. and yet every day he reminds me that he isn't a baby. just this morning when james was leaving for work finn called him back into the room, "dada" he yelled.
"be careful driving because the roads..they could be slipwee" he isn't a baby anymore. he is a toddler. he is a little boy. he is a person filled with sympathy and kindness and he worries about things just like i do, and he problem solves and tries to fix things when they break. he travels with us for seven hours in a car and doesn't complain. who is he?

and so i think of the summer ending, and i think of fall beginning. the smells of the cooling air, the falling leaves and bouquets of pencils and school books. i think of the sounds of school buses coming down the street again. the running of children to the opened doors, parents standing at the top of the driveway waving goodbye. is my son ready for that? how many days a week? where will he go? when does enrollment begin? all the necessary questions filling my head. who will his teacher be? will the other kids be nice to him? but most of all, will he be happy? and selfishly wondering, will i?

people tell me a new routine will be good for him. socializing with other kids his age will be good for him. the lessons and the planning that i'm not equipped with to teach him at home will too, be good for him. i listen to their opinions and advice but i feel my insides turning with anxiety. "he's too little" my mind says. "he's ready" it says one second later.

we have time, i remind myself. today we are stuck in the house, the snow falling outside covering the roads making them slick and icy. we'll stay in together. i'll stop worrying ahead and come fall, we'll have decided what we should do.

but then i picture it, the first day of preschool. watching him in the rear view mirror on the drive to school, wondering how it's this time already. we get to his classroom and he takes his things and puts them in his cubby. he says goodbye to me and i turn and head towards the door. before i get to my car i turn and walk back to his room. standing by the door, i watch him quietly. maybe he's immersed in a project or maybe he's sitting listening to his teacher read a story. i think of all those nights he crawls into our bed, lying in the middle of me and james in the pitch black. he can't see me, but i know he feels me close.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

life lately from the iphone

Finn and I are fighting colds. Fires in the living room, lots of tea and water, vitamins and youtube videos. Cabin fever has hit and I'm dreaming about a trip to our favorite cabin in New York. That cozy little room with it's big window looking over the woods above the cattaraugus creek we hike down to. The tiny kitchen and porch. The hot tub we can sneak into once we get Finn asleep. Let's go.