sweetness & dragons & tribes

Lately our kid is an explosion of sweet sweet sweet. He’s an explosion of needy, too, but I’ll save that for another post. For now, the sweet. J’s morning sickness has started with a vengeance (really, it was kicked off with the stomach flu that both she and B got right after B and I got a summer cold; yeah, we’re real treats). Anyway, at the end of a loooooong day of J vomiting and me crawling around trying to occupy the boy with no help and only one working foot, J was crying and saying, “I’m just so thirsty,” and Bram left the room, went to my nightstand, picked up a mug of water, and so so carefully, and so so slowly, carried that water to his pomo, only spilling the tiniest little bit along the way. It almost burst both of our hearts.

Also, he’s getting easy with the smooches and the hugs. And he squeezes when he hugs now! AND, he’s finally attached to two inanimate items: his Waldorf doll, Rudy, and Harvey, the teddy bear we made together when Love Child died. He wants BOTH Rudy AND Harvey at bedtime. And bedtime is the BEST. He curls into our bed between us and we read five or so books together as a family of three, B nestled under one of our arms. Then he rolls happily from our bed into his bed, where he curls up with Rudy under one arm and Harvey under the other. I put one thin blanket on him and curl up next to him. J lays on the edge of our bed and joins us for one song (usually, per B’s request, “Rai-oad” (“I’ve been Working on the Railroad”). Then J smooches him goodnight and turns off the lamp, and B and I play our invisible energy game (moving energy from our hands, ears, mouths, and bellies in a way that only makes sense to him). Then we sing anywhere from one to seven or eight more songs and he falls asleep smiling. Smiling. Never crying. Never sad. And I kiss him. And cover him up with another blanket. And crutch away as quietly as I can. In that space, it doesn’t matter that my foot is broken. That I can’t put weight on it for six more weeks. That I can’t carry him. In that space, my mamahood is whole and uncompromised. It’s the loveliest.

But not everything is lovely. Most of the day right now is just hard. And on top of the normal two-hurt-or-sick-mommies logistical nightmare, it’s been a tough time for friendship. A couple of weeks ago, I asked a very, very close friend if I could come over with Bram for two hours on a Saturday so that J could go to a prenatal appointment with a doula client (since I can’t safely be alone with him for more than an hour or so, just in case he needs something I can’t give him without walking), and it came out that she has found me emotionally exhausting for quite some time. Those were her words, and they’ve stayed with me. I wish she’d picked a different way to ask for a change in our relationship, but what’s true is true. She is who I called when Saul came over a month early and they wouldn’t let me see him. And when we got the call that his birth mom was taking him back after we’d parented him for a month. And from the hospital where my dad was dying. And from home as we waited to miscarry. And from the car when we’d just left Hades’ body and I was still miscarrying and we needed to pull it together for our boy. After J, she was my call. Which is a lot of trauma. And sometimes, I said the wrong things. In visits in the days following my dad’s death. Grief held me and I guess I thoughtlessly hurt her and never knew it. So now she can’t be here for us. And we aren’t there for her. And there’s a huge absence. And now, too, we don’t feel great about asking for things from anyone which, you know, is hard because I can’t walk and J is throwing up and this is a tough, lonesome time. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a burden. Less like an asset to the people I love. It is what it is. These haven’t been easy years. We’ve leaned. We’ve tried to reciprocate in our own ways: building community, offering a hand, being listeners, loving. But now there’s this sense that none of that is visible. That all anyone sees is what messes we’ve been, and how needy. There’s a lot of insecurity. A lot of wishing we could call someone, but being scared to do so for fear that we’re asking too much.*

But thank the gods we’re close to my family because last Saturday, when J had been vomiting for two days and was scared and overwhelmed and couldn’t imagine how we’d get through these next (then) seven weeks, she helped me pack the boy into the car and I drove south and pretty much just showed up on my aunt’s doorstep. And you know what? She and another aunt and both of their daughters just took us in and loved us up. And she runs a daycare, so Bram woke up, and my cousin helped him out of the car seat, and wonderful of wonderful things there was a whole playground just for him, and a side yard full of toddler bikes and cars, every single one of which he tried! And one cousin introduced him to some fish, and another wore him on her back and moved bags and scooters and food into and out of the car without even complaining. And my aunts took care of us. And we felt loved. So there’s that. There’s family. Sweet, good family. I’ve been scared to go down there much since my dad died because the dad-shaped hole gets consuming when I’m too close, but this time, there was just gratitude because I love them, and because they love my boy, and because they’re part of his tribe, and we’re lucky for that.

And then there’s the Dragon! Which is what we’re calling this new baby because, you know, we’d like her to be fierce so she’ll stick around. (Though J says she can be a little less fierce now, thank you very much.) And of course we mean more like Eliot from Pete’s Dragon than anything scary. Anyway, this new baby probably (please please) has a heartbeat now! A heartbeat! And if you say to Bram, “where’s the Dragon?,” he smiles and runs to his pomo and pats somewhere in the vicinity of her belly. Which is sweet sweet sweet. Our little boy is growing up. And will (please please) be a big brother in April. The thought of which just levels me in all of the ways. Anyway, everyone thinks the Dragon is a girl. Which of course doesn’t mean anything. And J thinks the Dragon is two Dragons, which is hugely unlikely and no doubt born of fear. Because if it were TWO DRAGONS, I’d do a crutches dance of pure happy before noticing that my wife was cowering in the corner in terror. :) All in good time. And maybe fast time? Like, maybe the next six weeks can pass quickly and we’ll find ourselves still with Dragon, and I’ll be walking, and J won’t be sick, and it will be beloved autumn, and there will be wood smoke in the air. I’m not one to wish away time, but if these next six weeks could keep from crawling. If we could have a little more normalcy. I’m ready for the ease and lightness I thought summer would bring.

* I think that some of this is about economy. I mean, if we were well off, we could hire a nanny for the next six weeks. J could work. I could keep my foot up like I’m supposed to. We could be on with Bram, but with just a little help. And all without being a burden on our friends. But we’re muddling through. And we’re lucky too. My mom told me this haunting story about a single mama friend of hers who was a waitress, and when she broke her leg and couldn’t work, her baby went into the foster care system until she was healed and could get him back. So, economy. We’re not in a sweet place, but jesus we’re not there. The horror.

** There’s other news. Worry about J’s mom. And loss. But I’ll let her write what’s right for her there. I’ll only say we’re sending love.

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17 thoughts on “sweetness & dragons & tribes

  1. I have been reading for a while now, since Bram’s birth was celebrated on one of the other queer mama blogs I read. I dont think i have commented before but there have been so many times this year I have wanted to write but have felt like there were not enough words to express all that I was thinking and feeling. The “me too” in regards to multiple losses, to struggling with anxiety, dealing with grief and grad school, and writing, and practicing being present in the life that I do have. I have written countless emails/comments in my head, and yet it didn’t seem enough, particularly as things got harder, and you so clearly have a tight knit community here that loves you. I didn’t know how to step from the shadows. I didnt know what to say. But, this post made it impossible to stay quiet, and I want to say that I wish so much that I could come over and lend you a hand. (Which is maybe a strange thing to hear from a stranger). Alas, I don’t think I am near you (and again there is the whole stranger thing).

    In the meantime, if there is anything i can do from afar, let me know, and know that i am thinking about all of you and do often, wondering how the foot is healing and how B is, and J with morning sickness and how the little dragon is growingb. (I love that you have called her that).

    Also, one more thing, I have also been in the uncomfortable place of feeling needy, though luckily never been confronted with a friendship dilemma like yours. And I think you have made a good point about the role of economics and how this situation would be easier with money. It doesn’t help what you are dealing with in regards to your friendship, and I am sure you have heard this before, but I personally find it always worth repeating: be kind to yourself, as you have been dealing with a lot. And frankly I am amazed with all that you two have survived this year.

  2. I have been reading for a while now, since Bram’s birth was celebrated on one of the other queer mama blogs I read. I dont think i have commented before but there have been so many times this year I have wanted to write but have felt like there were not enough words to express all that I was thinking and feeling. The “me too” in regards to multiple losses, to struggling with anxiety, dealing with grief and grad school, and writing, and practicing being present in the life that I do have. I have written countless emails/comments in my head, and yet it didn’t seem enough, particularly as things got harder, and you so clearly have a tight knit community here that loves you. I didn’t know how to step from the shadows. I didnt know what to say. But, this post made it impossible to stay quiet, and I want to say that I wish so much that I could come over and lend you a hand. (Which is maybe a strange thing to hear from a stranger). Alas, I don’t think I am near you (and again there is the whole stranger thing).

    In the meantime, if there is anything i can do from afar, let me know, and know that i am thinking about all of you and do often, wondering how the foot is healing and how B is, and J with morning sickness and how the little dragon is growingb. (I love that you have called her that).

    Also, one more thing, I have also been in the uncomfortable place of feeling needy, though luckily never been confronted with a friendship dilemma like yours. And I think you have made a good point about the role of economics and how this situation would be easier with money. It doesn’t help what you are dealing with in regards to your friendship, and I am sure you have heard this before, but I personally find it always worth repeating: be kind to yourself, as you have been dealing with a lot. And frankly I am amazed with all that you two have survived this year.

    Finally, Bram is too cute, the story about bringing water melted my heart.

  3. I’m so sorry about your friend. You have been through a whole lot this year, and I am sorry that she can’t see that for what it is and be there for you and wait for the karma to catch up with her and make it worth all the effort (I am not so secretly pleased that all of our babysitting karma has come back to us in spades, for example). But it isn’t you that is the problem, it’s her. Which doesn’t probably help much to hear, since those kinds of friends are like sisters, and the loss is deep. But we will come this weekend to say hi and cheer you up (that accidentally autocorrected to ‘Cher you up’, which is totally on the table if requested), and will bring whatever they offer at the Mint Festival that seems helpful.
    Also, that person notwithstanding, I think most people want to be helpful, and like to feel like they are making a friend feel better. So keep asking.

    • I can’t believe we get to see you three this weekend! We have to plan! And it’s not a failing of hers. She has been an amazing friend, and the loss is mine, cause and consequence. I’m sorry if I implied otherwise.

  4. Three random things:
    1. I did a special 10 fun things for you this week…actually, I did 15 fun things. You mentioned that you were looking for things to do with B, so I made a list of some of the things I did with my kids when they were little that didn’t involve much getting up and moving around.
    2. As I was reading this, I realized that your kids will be the almost exactly the same distance apart that mine are. It is wonderful, amazing, and fun. The first few months were as one might expect with a colicky/spitty-uppy/cranky baby and a toddler, but now, they love, love, love each other and play together all the time. I still remember the day when they were playing in the basement and I sneaked out to make dinner. It was glorious. You have said that you want kids close together, and this may be further than you imagined, but really….it is quite perfect.
    3. I used to sing “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” to Owen every.single.night, along with a variation of “You Are My Sunshine” and all the verses to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I love that song.

    • I was JUST thinking that B and the Dragon seemed about as far apart as O & L. Awwww! I love that. I thought I wanted closer, but as we ease into this, it seems just absolutely perfect. Also, thank you a million times over for the post! I shared it on FB because my real-world friends needed to see it, but I didn’t reference you since I know it’s an anonymous space. I’ve been meaning to call my friend G’s attention to it anyway, though, because she’s preparing to start homeschooling, and could use your lovely/wise guidance.

  5. I’ve been reading for awhile now and have so much love and respect for your family. You’re doing the best you can, and I think you’re both amazing. Hang in there!

  6. One of life’s greatest difficulties is asking for help. I even see it in the ten year old children who I teach. It is so so very hard to ask for help and to have a request for help turned into an opportunity for a dear dear friend to unload negative feelings on you, is just not fair. I am so sorry that happened. It just isn’t fair. Especially not now. Here you were practicing and requiring extreme vulnerability (which is right up there in levels of hard as asking for help) and she knocked you down when you were already so very much exposed. No wonder you are hesitant to ask again. But what I know is that most people are just aching for a chance to be helpful to those who need it. Especially to a family as kind and as loving as yours. Most people would go out of their way to be there and I hope that you continue to give them that chance. You are surrounded by such goodness and I hope hope hope that goodness will rise above the hurt that your friend caused. Sending you, as always, good thoughts from afar.

    • Thank you, Jess. It is so deeply hard to ask, but for her, it’s also a capacity issue. I have room for more trauma in my life than she does. I should have realized that earlier. This isn’t about her; it’s about me figuring out how to get through these tough times and onto easier ones with as much grace and appropriately sized self as possible. You’re a dear, though, to support us as much as you do. I’m still so so excited that your adoption is final. What a relief for that sweetheart of yours to be legally yours at last.

  7. I’m sorry your friend couldn’t be there for you this time around. It sounds like she’s been there for you a lot over the past year, and I hope that a year of support doesn’t get erased by a perhaps poorly worded statement made in exhaustion and hurt. Good luck navigating your way back to that friendship.

    Take care love, and rely on those around you who still have energy to give. I’m sure there are lots. <3

    • I never meant to imply that I was anything but grateful, nor that this overshadows the sister she’s been. I don’t know if she wants to be here in the future, but if she does, I for sure want her to, and I’d like to keep being there for her too. Thanks for understanding friendship so well.

  8. so much happiness but also pain and frustration in this post — i guess that mirrors life. Since Im a silly optimist, Im going to focus on the former, and congratulate you again on dragon (Im guessing a girl!) and the fact that you get anything at all done with one working foot and toddler that cant be carried. As you said, economic factors are at play, but what you have managed to accomplish is quite impressive!

  9. Hi, dear friend. I’m going to send you a private email, but I do want to say in this space how much I *love* the name Dragon. I don’t know if you and J are familiar with Game of Thrones or the book series by George R.R. Martin, but I will now think of J as the Pomo of Dragons, or Khaleesi. ;-)

  10. I had a similar experience with a close friend. I didn’t realise that anything was wrong until one day she said I had been too intense and needing her too much and she couldn’t be around me any more. I felt devastated, and wished I’d realised how she was feeling because of course I could have leaned on her a bit less. I felt very anxious about all my friendships for a while. I felt that I was needing more than I could give and everyone would get sick of me… but actually sometimes later I found out there were ways I had been giving that I hadn’t really thought about. You are giving. Your blog moves and strengthens me half a world away.

    I feel for J too. That constant sickness is so dreadful! I hope she feels better soon. Sending love to you all. Dragon! What a sweet wonderful name. Grow strong little dragon xx

  11. It was so lovely to see you three this weekend! Seeing the munchkins happily eating chickpeas and making eyes at each other was good for my soul. I’m finally getting the new blog out and dusting it off–come say hi! I’m going to be at tomakefire.wordpress.com from now on. Just don’t tell my mom.

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