Archive for April, 2012

Growing (What is Essential)

There are plants growing in the playroom.  I am fond of them.  The leaves on some of the new plants are beginning to push from the soil, some still tucked embryonically inside the shells of the seeds from which they grow.  They are tender, and I turn the playroom heat up when my husband is not home to warm them.  Yesterday, the room was so hot that I thought I’d burn my feet on the floor tiles.  The plants grew, I swear, almost visibly in the heat.

 I spray them with water, I turn them to face the sunlight.  I protect them from my toddler’s curious hands.  And I protect some of them from his feet:   the small garlic plants sprouted from garlic bulbs bought at a farmer’s market this summer (fat, pungent bulbs) just went into the garden this morning.  Michael found a worm in the soil, and he scooped small fistfuls of dirt into his mouth.  I let him enjoy the almost-spring air without boundaries, but stopped him from stepping on the new garlic like I will someday prevent him from manhandling a younger sibling.  The garlic plants, with their tiny shoots, look so vulnerable in the big garden.  But the smell, as I transplanted them from the egg carton I’d started them in—full of flavor, rich with anticipation of meals to come.

I examine the plants—seedlings, I suppose they are—nearly every day.  I delight in finding new roots shooting through the outside of the pellets I’ve planted them in.  And I watch them, carefully, when the heat is on.  Slowly, slowly, slowly, they unfold their tiny leaves.  It is like watching Michael:  mindlessly dull, yes, but charged with the excitement of what might happen next, or someday, or eventually. 

And I bring them more water, more heat, more attention.  I can’t help but worry, already, about how they might fare when I finally put them all into the big garden.  But really, the big garden is the reason why I’ve started them in the first place.  So I guess my anxiety is not about their fate.  It is about mine. 

Letting those seedlings go will only prove that they can do it on their own.  If all goes as planned, they will show that I am not essential.






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More Than Michael

As we leave church today, Baby Daddy (more commonly and less interestingly known as Husband) and I let Michael waddle around outside, like always. We slowly make our way over to a playground, where lots of bigger kids are running around. BD holds Michael up to the fence so he can watch the big kids, and next thing I know, he puts Michael down on the other side of the fence.

Suddenly, there are not a bunch of kids on this playground. There are wild, hulking beasts who, at any moment will run over my sweet baby boy.

“Go get him!” I yell at Baby Daddy. While BD saunters slowly around the fence towards the gate, I watch Michael walking slowly across the woodchips. He is completely oblivious to the dangers that surround him, and I concentrate on looking mean and protective so that maybe the wild animals (I mean, other children) will see me, across the fence, and then notice Michael and not eat him (I mean, knock into him).

Baby Daddy makes it onto the playground and to Michael’s side with no major mishaps (okay, no mishaps whatsoever), and when I no longer feel my frown of fury is needed, I walk over to the gate too.

“I know you feel all protective of Michael,” Baby Daddy tells me, as my blood pressure slowly returns to normal. “But what happens with Jaxon when Michael is one of those big kids?”

“Michael will protect him!” I say. He’ll say, ‘Hey, guys, watch out for my little brother!’”

Let me pause the story here for a moment. Michael is not a big brother, not even to a fetus or an embryo or a blastocyst. (I’m sure.) Jaxon is not a real person, not even a fetus or an embryo or a blastocyst. (Admission: I really just like saying “blastocyst” in my head.)

Jaxon is the nom de jour of Michael’s future, hypothetical, and currently imaginary, younger sibling. Jaxon goes by many names; most fondly and most often, by Henry. Naming our future children, we’ve found, makes parenting hypotheticals more interesting. Anyway.

Baby Daddy stops walking and looks at me. “Really, Kellan? Have you ever HAD a big brother?”

Nope, I haven’t. Baby Daddy both HAS and IS a big brother so I guess he knows.

But it gets me thinking about siblings. See, I was so excited to be a big sister. I remember begging to change diapers, give baths, or babysit. Of course I want another child (cute baby clothes!, tiny little diapers!, etc. etc.), but even more than that, I want to give Michael the gift of having a sibling. I want him to have that relationship with someone: who does an only child roll his eyes to when his mom sings off key on the way to the grocery store?

My sister visited for a long weekend recently. It felt so nice to have her stay with us; there is something familiar about a sibling, someone who grew up with you and with whom you lived overlapping childhoods. I worked with her to revise a paper for one of her last college classes, and I was struck by how grown up she’d become. And I was struck by how I missed little things about her, like how she would wake me up early when I was home from college on breaks so I could do her hair before she went to high school. We were not close enough in age to be very close, but we always got along well enough. In a way, I was in awe of her: this girl, five years younger than me, had a certain poise and confidence that I always admired.


This turned out a little sappier than it should have. Let’s just say, my sister is awesome, and I’m a better person because she’s in my life.

I want Michael to be a big brother someday so he has someone to beat up on and pull harmless (you hear that, Michael? HARMLESS) pranks on. Someone to wrestle with and get sent outside with. Someone to stay up at night giggling with when I just want to have a glass of wine and a bubble bath and maybe some time alone with Baby Daddy.

So Jaxon, here’s a little message for you: maybe, just maybe, we’re ready for you. So tell your big brother that Mommy and Daddy need some alone time.

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