lost and found: on PowPow and loving things

Last night we lost Harvey's PowPow. I had spent an hour sewing two very minuscule ties, one for each of Harvey and Zion's PowPow dolls, and when it came time to fit the elastic we could only find Zion's Powey. It was getting close to bed time, so I assured Harvey I'd look around the house. The boys went to bed and I looked. And looked and looked and looked.

I found an overdue library book under the couch. I found A LOT of little legos. I didn't find PowPow.

Even thought I was pretty sure he came home from Whole Foods, I went to bed a little panicked.

I spend more time panicking about PowPow then Harvey ever does. Dan makes fun of me, Harvey doesn't care that much, but if I lose track of PowPow it's like we're at DEFCON 5. I like to say it's because I'm the mother and it's my job to keep track of things. It's my job to protect my child from emotional pain.

But that's not even true. It should be his job to keep track of his things, especially if he's going to cart them everywhere all over the world for heaven's sake. And it shouldn't be my job to shield him from emotional trauma. How is that a way to teach him resiliency? How could that prepare him for life?

In truth I'm using PowPow to try to fix my own "issues."

When I was four I lost my favorite lovey, a stuffed bear named teddy. We were driving to New York to visit my grandparents and I had to bring teddy along. Of course, there were a lot of other things I wanted to bring along too: my magnetic writing pad, a dozen books, five other stuffed animals whose names I couldn't remember, along with some random shit I picked off the floor of my bedroom. I walked down the hall with a huge paper bag filled to bursting. My mother frowned and remarked forebodingly "that looks like a lot to keep track of."

I remember the big paper bag at my feet in the car. My toys and books and games spilling out everywhere. Candyland game pieces rolling under the seats. I had everything I could ever imagine wanting.

At some point between Massachusetts and New York I opened the door and teddy fell out. I didn't even realize with all that mess on the floor of the car. Too much visual clutter. I never saw teddy again.

Of course, for a four-year-old this was devastating, but doubly so because I had no one to blame but myself. My mother had frowned at that bag of toys and washed her hands of the matter. It was all on me.

It was my greed that made me lose teddy.

And so now as an adult I keep a careful watch of the toys, the precious ones, while secretly culling the things I can't stand. I walk around with a trash-bag when the kids are out, clearing the visual clutter, as if disposing of things will somehow save me from my own sin of greed. I think of this as a spiritual act, something called simplicity, when in reality it is a hege against my own fear of chaos, of uncertainty, of loss. This is a fucked-up version of minimalism, I know, where I have fewer things not to dis-attach from things, but because certain place-holder things are impossibly SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT.

Meanwhile, greed is something I can't stand in my children. When Harvey tries to steal Zion's dessert, or hoard all the trains, or tell me what he wants for HIS birthday, I turn into some kind of monster nun. "GREED IS A SIN!" I scream. "I WILL NOT HAVE THIS DISGUSTING SIN IN MY HOME!"

Emotional clutter.

So last night, after cleaning the downstairs and not finding anything, I prayed.

God, I said, forgive me for losing teddy. Forgive me for my own greed. And I pray that you'll protect Harvey's heart. Thank you for making him not like me. Thank you for making him him able to move on, to deal with loss, to be a person who doesn't ascribe human emotions to inanimate objects such that he feels a responsibility to them because he has trouble dealing with responsibility to real people.

This morning Dan found PowPow. He was outside on the lawn.

I imagine a magical room where the toys change every day, a heaven shaped after the play space at Whole Foods. In this heaven I sit peacefully and watch my kids play. They play with abandon. They see the toys there, the toys that are new each time they enter, and they love them wildly and passingly. They enjoy the shit out of each toy until it's gone. They enjoy them more even, more violently and more freely, knowing that none of the toys really belongs to them. Knowing that in a day they will be gone.

Holy crap, that is a metaphor for life, isn't it?

where he belongs

Today on Good Friday may we all love our little ones in their little ties. For as long as they get to be little. For as long as we get to love them.

more

this moment

Harvey and Zion in winter clothes looking in the door of the chicken coop

winter reprise

A moment from the week.

6 weeks

Today I am six weeks postpartum. I had a goal of losing all 35lbs of baby weight in six weeks, because my life is built on setting impossible goals and then beating myself up when I'm not a superhero. Suffice it to say I didn't lose 35lbs. But I got within a ten pound range that at least allows me to wear some of my old clothes. Fugly clothes, mom clothes, but not clothes that say MIMI MATERNITY proudly across the tag. Yesterday I put on jeans for the museum, and it was the first time I didn't put on my pants and immediately scream MUFFIN TOP!!!

6 weeks postpartum at the discovery museum

How does one go from maternity sizes to rockin the mom jeans in a matter of weeks? I would like to say something hippy and loving like "Breastfeeding! And holding my babies! And walking outside to take in the presence of the sun!" But the truer story is that losing weight takes real work. Like exercise. Hard sweaty exercise. The kind you can't do pushing a stroller. Here's me in my running clothes yesterday before I forced Dan to watch the kids so I could log a quick two miles.

living the dream

Also it takes going to bed hungry. A lot of going to bed hungry. Because if I go to bed hungry I will post a weight loss the next day, but if I lie in bed thinking about something OTHER than food because my willpower died and I am pleasantly full, God help me in the morning there will be a weight gain on the scale and I will rain down curses on myself and my body and the possibility of having more children ever again.

So whatever. Six weeks. Sarcastic hurray.

Getting in the way of my exercise time, I am working hard on preperations for Easter. In the past month I have spent at least ten hours sewing suits, and that's just for Harvey and Zion; Elijah doesn't have ANYTHING to wear yet. Three days away I'm down to baby's outfit and ties all around, so I can probably acquit myself in five hours or so. That's not including the time it takes to clean the entire house for a massive party and make food for 20 people. That should be a cinch.

still need ties

All this leads me to the inevitable question: What is important? I don't mean generally like "Family is important" because no shit, I spend like EVERY FRIGGIN SECOND with them. But within the scope of housewifery, what is important? Do handmade Easter suits really matter? Do handmade DOLL SUITS really matter? Does it matter if it matters to me? If seeing my children in matching suits gives meaning to my life, and seeing them match their dolls brings us all joy in the way that two hours of sleep does not?

I was reading a book about surviving baby stress, and it was all like: See what you can stop doing! Can you order out more for dinner? Can you pay a housecleaner? Can you get other people to watch your children so you can sleep?

The truth is that as soon as I think of a suggestion I immediately shoot it down. We can't order out because eating healthy food is important. We can't have someone else clean the house because that's part of our hospitality and hospitality is important. I can't sleep because sleeping time is sewing time. EVERYTHING IS SO IMPOSSIBLY IMPORTANT!

I can't think of anything except keep being a superhero.

more

this moment

Leah holding Lijah in the rocking chair, lit by one lamp in the otherwise dark house

peaceful evening

A moment from the week.

sleeping like a baby

When Elijah was born we rejoiced at having an infant who slept as much as the books say newborns are meant to sleep—he might have even been on the high end of the average that first week or two. I definitely had the sense that he was making up for Harvey, our 12-hour-maximum sleeper. (In case you're not familiar with them, I'll let you know that it's hard to have a newborn awake for 12 hours a day; besides sleeping they pretty much only eat—which is naturally limited in duration—and cry. So I felt like we'd earned an easy one.)

Only, as he hit two weeks or so, the dark side of LyeLye's love for sleep emerged. He could sleep for 16 to 18 hours a day, yes; but if he didn't get that much sleep he became less and less happy. And even worse, he's a light sleeper. Since peace and quiet is in short supply in our household he started to build up a sleep debt, which made him fussy, and his fussiness in turn prevented him from settling down to sleep. So the problem compounded itself, and there were moments when we were close to despair.

But happily things have started to look up again the last week. We realized how much sleep the little guy really needs, and made more of an effort to get him those hours. We also made sure to give him plenty of calm-down time in the evenings, which has meant that he's been able to sleep for longer periods over the first part of the night. Oh how we enjoy the three hours—dare we hope for four?!—of uninterrupted sleep the first part of the night; or, of course, of the unencumbered time to get some housework done!

Well-slept, Elijah is the soul of compliance for much of the day. This afternoon, for example, he sat happily in the bouncy seat for what must have been an hour as we stuffed plastic eggs for the big Easter party next weekend. And he's happy on walks in the sling or Bjorn, and rarely complains in the car. Of course, he still tends to get fussy evenings, and he's still an infant—mostly one of us is carrying him, which tends to slow things down. Don't think we have it too easy! (at least, don't think Leah has it too easy: she does all the work). But he is sleeping some. Like a baby.

more