BYOB(aby)

A baby in a bar?
He drinks my milk
as I drink from a pint of
stout, porter, IPA,
or that delicious pumpkin lambic
brewed in upstate New York.
They say, after all, that hops and oats
aid a mother’s milk production.
Hey, that kid got ID?
Do I?
Did anyone check to see
if this girl is old enough
for motherhood?
Twenty-five and childless,
now twenty-six and
in charge of her own life plus that of another.
Men at the bar eye with envy
my husband’s wife and child.
“I wish my wife…” their gazes say
as I free my breast
and feed my child
while calling for another round
and watching the late afternoon light
set the glasses aglow.
A baby in a bar.
We tell people it’s
his Irish and Italian bloodlines –
brought to pubs from birth,
drinking watered down wine from childhood –
that permit his presence here,
but maybe it’s just that
we don’t think our lives ought to be over
yet.
He dozes off,
mid-suckle,
as we chat with regulars
and tip liberally our favorite bartender.
A baby in a bar.
No ID necessary.

journaling: Doing versus Being

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i am an achiever. i achieve. i earned excellent grades and practiced my viola. i was on the honors board in college. on only one occasion did i ever need to ask my parents for my money. i do what i need to. i don’t ask for help and i get things done. i do. i do.

i did.

my husband made over $50,000 last year (at least, before taxes). because he has been in his profession for ten years. because we live in a part of the country where his profession is slightly more valued and where salaries are slightly higher. i made $10,000, not including things like babysitting. my husband makes our life possible. i make it nicer/easier/more luxurious. or so it feels.

i never thought i would be occupation-less at this point.
i never thought i would see the day when washing, drying, and folding laundry would feel like an accomplishment. i ought to be one of those Most Likely to Succeed. and i have. i have “it all.”

but i have spent the past four months learning to be. learning to be compassionate. learning to be patient. learning to recognize my limitations with regard to my priorities. thomas is my priority. above swept floors and clean bathrooms and elegant dinners, thomas is my priority.

in a blog i read, a woman recently described her average morning and asked her readers to share theirs. so i did.

every morning i feed and dress my son and myself well. i feed my dog. i start a fire. i play with my son. i change diapers. i change diapers again. i walk my dog, and every other day i try to make that walk between half an hour and an hour. we play. he naps.

every week, i buy groceries and make nearly all of our meals. i bake bread. i sweep the floors. i wash the dishes. i write. i read. i do yoga. i knit things for our family.

every month, i try to find work editing and proofreading. i babysit on occasion.

right now, i’m trying to simplify our home. soon he’ll be crawling. soon he’ll be walking. soon he’ll be running. i’ll need to “baby proof.” but the first step is clearing away all of the things that don’t need to be here to begin with.

and i am coming to terms with all of it. i am trying to trust myself. i am trying to have faith that i’m doing just what i ought.

that doesn’t make it any easier when he’s gassy and teething and fussing fussing fussing fussing for hours. like now. i hope that explains any incoherence. my head is full of static. what was i saying?

freewrite: The Quiet

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They call it milk-breath, that sweet scent that babies exhale and use to hypnotize their mothers. Not just milk-breath, but sweet cream breath, condensed milk breath, condensed, just like their bodies. Condensed, and concentrated. A potion, a tincture. Everything about him grips my attention, even when he’s still.


Right now he sleeps on my lap, having dozed off after nursing. An afternoon snooze, a rest, a respite. His brain may be whirring, cataloging the infinite lists of new things he is experiencing, and his bones may be growing, lengthening, but his body is limp across my thighs. Every few minutes, a hand or a sockless row of toes grips one of my biceps, like a leaf fluttering in the faintest summer breeze. His breath (condensed creamy milk breath) puffs in and out against my belly (my not-so-condensed belly, still soft from months of weight-bearing expansion, still soft to cushion the baby that lives on the outside instead of the inside but still oh so close). Outside the day is the most warm and beautiful we’ll see all month, but I hesitate to make any more motion than that required to type. He’ll sleep no more than twenty minutes unattended, but on my body, pressed against the skin that once contained him, surrounded by the smells and rhythms he has known from the very very very beginning, he’ll remain for ages, eons, eternity. I wonder if my own scents, my own breath, my pheromones, my common odors, are to him what his baby scents are to me. I wonder if we are equally intoxicating to one another. Or if my scent simply feels like his scent, not mind-altering, but mind-settling, comforting, apple pie or chamomile or fresh cotton sheets.

Either way, I would be a fool to disrupt this, his mini-retreat back to the recreated peace of the womb, so we’ll sit just a bit longer…

freewrite: i sound my barbaric yawp

Like Peter Pan in a temper tantrum...
 

my son sounds his barbaric yawp day and night. he is finding his voice, his voice which cries and snuffles and yells and mutters and hums and chants. “oooooouuuu” he says to his sock monkey. “aaahh” he yips at our dog. “ohh ohh ohh” he intones toward a blank spot on the wall. to the sock i’ve finally finished knitting for him, a colorful ribbon of babble. not often the high-pitched siren of danger that cuts through the universe and through my feral body. just the range and waves of a boy finding ways to communicate how tough it is to coordinate all of the hundreds of muscles in his human body, to process the infinite sensory details that bombard him through five distinct, demanding senses. he is dealing with a tooth that is trying, gas that is trying, a voice that is trying to break through. he wants so badly to stand on his own two feet that he will complain without cease until i hold him there. trying to evolve from amoeba to primate to 21st century homo proteus. the intensity increases until his whole body begins to quiver with frustration, rage, a sense of betrayal. my thoughts are scattered with each of his rattling breaths, focus shot, shattered. i am crumbling –

and so i thrust my breast into his mouth. a few minutes of peace.

In Memoriam I

You cry before waking
at times.
A fierce, wide-open wail
comprised primarily of fear
and anguish.
What is it you are
dreaming of?
What nightmares haunt your brain
through naps that look
so peaceful?
Past digressions of
past lives?
Memories of those who have
trespassed against you?
Or have all of the
names, faces, loves
been washed away with this new life,
leaving behind only
the sediment of
tears, tense fists, and a cry
before waking?