Saturday, December 23, 2006

Power Struggle

I recently called BlogMama to propose a topic for her personal blog gratitude365… electricity.

Probably not at the top of your thanksgiving list, but I know over one million people here in the Pacific Northwest have a newfound appreciation for the juice that fuels our overhead lights, garage door openers and furnaces (and a whole slew of other luxuries). While many homes in the greater Seattle area had power restored one, two or three days after the wild wind storm the night of December 14th, we were among the unfortunate few who waited eight days in the dark and cold. Okay, we didn't exactly wait all eight days - the last two nights we stayed in a hotel, but even during those two days the trips home to pick up necessities were chilly and dim.

Living without power has many similarities to camping so the first day or two it was almost fun. During our "camping adventure" we relied heavily on our small woodstove. We used it for heat (the uneven temperatures were frustrating at times), for cooking necessities such as grilled cheese sandwiches and cowboy coffee (water and grounds thrown together into a saucepan and heated to almost boiling), and for entertainment ("Dancing Flames: the Mini-series").

But while I imagined I was Laura Ingalls-Wilder at first, I quickly tired of hauling wood and stoking fires. Those oh-so-important daily toddler routines became impossible and Jeep's moods swung wildly. We tried to be grateful knowing there are so many tougher challenges in life, but patience ran thin all around. The hard-to-penetrate-darkness was the hardest blow for me personally and I felt completely exhausted by 7:30 or 8:00 each night.

This brief challenge brought great respect for pioneers and people who suffer through disasters with losses much greater than the food in a fridge. I am ever so slightly more aware of what is truly important in life (the answer is people, not clean laundry - although clean laundry is very, very nice) and also a tiny bit more aware of all that we take for granted in our easy, electric lives. That being said, the moment the electricity came back on I ran around the house, flipped on every light, turned on the TV, played the radio, cranked up the heat, started the laundry and ran the dishwasher. Ah, the power of power!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cry Baby

I've always been someone who cried easily. I am the target audience for those sappy Hallmark commercials and I've shed a tear in almost every movie I've ever watched. But as a mother I find myself crying in a whole host of new situations. When Jeeper was six weeks old I tried to go grocery shopping but he pitched a huge fit at the store. No matter what I did (rock, shush, bounce, swaddle, sling or even nurse) he wouldn't stop crying and I finally started to cry too - right there in the Safeway floral department. Fortunately it was a quiet weekday so there was no one around. We eventually calmed down and left the store without much notice.

This morning we hit sluggish traffic due to an accident and Jeep got frustrated and started wailing. He was frustrated, mad, and sad all at once and he let me know it. I sang songs, told stories, offered crackers, opened the windows, reasoned, cajoled, pointed out garbage trucks and then started to cry myself. A mama has an instinct to soothe her baby's cry and car seats, traffic, and office hours don't always cooperate with that urge. Once Jeep got to school he settled down within a matter of minutes, but I felt spent all morning. I guess I'm the crybaby!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Green Nails

As more and more of my friends, neighbors, colleagues and associates announce that they are happily expecting, I've been been reflecting on being pregnant. I've decided that my pregnancy was a hike in the gently rolling hills while motherhood is a rock-climbing adventure. In my very-average pregnancy I experienced physical, mental, emotional and spiritual changes that were life-altering, but they happened more gradually than the changes motherhood throws my way.

It is true that pregnancy offers many uncontrollable aspects (Is it a boy or girl? When and how will I go into labor?) but the baby on the inside was a little easier to control than the baby on the outside. Not that Jeep is harder or easier than your average 17 month year old. But when he was inside, even though I couldn't make him eat or sleep or play happily by himself "for a couple of minutes so Mama can go to the bathroom," it didn't really matter because he was inside and I could usually manage to eat or sleep or go to the bathroom in peace. Of course I knew that once my baby arrived I wouldn't be able to eat or sleep or use the bathroom the same way I did before. But having a child has changed the way I do those things as well as every single other thing in my life. And at the same time that I'm trying to operate my life in a whole new way, I'm in an intense relationship with a fascinating person who changes even more quickly than I do - my son.

Today when I picked Jeeper up from his Montessori school, I noticed that he had splotches of green on his hands and under his fingernails. I got a lump in my throat because that green paint residue was a quick and clear reminder that he isn't a baby anymore. He walks and runs and talks on the phone and plays jokes and operates the velcro on his shoes and expresses himself creatively with art supplies. Sure he still wears diapers, nurses and cries sometimes, but make no mistake, he is rappelling his way right into kid-town. And I'm just along for the wonderful and wild ride.