Saturday, April 27, 2013

Wrestling with Worries

Right before bed, Big Sis summoned me for a private conference.  "I've been worrying," she shared.  We hopped onto my bed together, as is our custom when she needs to talk. 

"I'm worried about bombs and poison gases, Mom.  I mean, what if something like what happened in Boston happens here?  How do you know it won't?  We're learning about the chemicals in water and I'm thinking about how our water could be poisoned, and I can't get it all out of my mind..."  Her anxieties issued from her in a gush. 

I don't know it won't happen here, sweetheart.  I can't promise you it won't.  But I can reassure you that kindnesses in our world are more likely than terrible things.  And while we live every day with the knowledge that accidents happen and sicknesses happen and pain is part of our experience, births also happen, and celebrations, and beauty and wonderfulness are all around us. 

A few more trips from her bedroom for reassurance followed, until we finally sent her back to bed with an assignment to think of a baby girl's name for each letter of the alphabet. 

We're all worried these days, aren't we, though we each feel it and wear it and express it in different ways?  Our daughter, prone to apprehensions and anxious wonderings, was bound to come to us with Boston-inspired concerns and questions.  She devoured a copy of The Hunger Games over spring break, a book I'd hoped she would wait to read, with its poisonous berries and...everything else.  Being displaced right now, between old house and new and on an extended vacation at Mammom's and Bampa's house, provides another source of instability.

I watch my own reactions to news and personal circumstances closely.  Pregnancy--even simply embarking on the journey of parenthood by attempting to conceive or adopt--means stepping onto a landscape of uncertainty and unknowns, new frontiers of hope and worry.  I mark the hurdles:  heartbeat on ultrasound, first trimester completed, negative screening results.  But there's no point of earned complacency in parenthood and life, only comfort in acknowledging the risks and joys associated with vulnerability. 

Disasters and tragedies aren't required to provoke our anxieties--all we need is a convenient temporal basket for our worries.  Moving, and a new house, have been ripe fodder for my over-active imagination at 3:00 AM.  I pictured the deck on our house as higher than it really is, the hillside steeper, with guests tumbling into the canyon in the event of a collapse.  Upstairs windows might be easy for children to fall from.  The canyon could be a nesting ground for rattlesnakes.  Would our house be easy to burglarize?

And then I remembered this week we'd momentarily forgotten to be afraid of North Korea.

So much randomness and unpredictability inspires the desire for us to exert controls on identifiable and accessible areas in our daily lives.  I could put locks on the windows, install an alarm system, forbid the kids from exploring the canyon.  But the worries would only reinvent themselves, seep through cracks in the door frames like poison gases.  There aren't enough sandbags to guard against uncertainty.  And somewhere along the bucket brigade we stop living how we truly want to, with chin up and eyes on the birds twittering on the fence, on the sunset, on the horizon.

So we hold hands, snuggle on the bed, reassure, and resolve.

We're working on managing our fears and anxieties over here.  How about you?  How have worries surfaced?  How do you balance caution with embracing wonder and vulnerability?

P.S.  a shout-out to Jewel, whose song "Hands" made it into the iPod shuffle on my jog this morning, with timely lyrics:

"If I could tell the world just one thing

It would be that we're all OK

And not to worry 'cause worry is wasteful

And useless in times like these
I won't be made useless
I won't be idle with despair..."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

33rd Street: June 2001-April 2013

We left our little bungalow behind last weekend, moving the last remaining items out as our excited buyer began spackling, painting, and making plans for her new abode. 

This was the first house we ever bought, the one whose mortgage we were promised we'd "grow into," as we dumped our change jars and counted every penny.  It's the house with dear neighbors, our amazing Apello pine tree, the yard where fairies fluorished, and rooms which welcomed us, newly married, and our babies. 

We're between houses until wood floors are installed in The New House and kitchen cupboards are painted.  Meanwhile, we've established temporary residence at my parents' house. 

The new house is still The New House.  Soon it will feel like Our Home--but not yet.  Now empty and echo-y, it waits for us to fill spaces and establish new routines, acquaint ourselves with neighbors, and create comfort. 

The girls said their own goodbyes to our beloved home and gardens; their tributes will be featured in a longer, forthcoming post. 

Farewell, sweet habitat. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Plenty of Poetry

I've been *enjoying* 3:00 AM insomnia for the past few months.  Sure, call it my body's way of preparing for a baby who is likely not as predictable as whatever internal alarm clock nudges me from slumber at an eerily consistent hour I can't even celebrate as close to early-morning workout time. 

I generally get up between 5:30 and 6:00, so it's sobering to think of how many hours I have after 3:00 each morning to accomplish something, and how little I actually do, as I snuggle my iPad and scroll through blogs and read articles and play a few rounds of Words with Friends (lather, rinse, repeat...).

Today, though, I used the United States Postal Service website to forward our mail to our new house and signed up for a poem a day via email on the Poetry Foundation's website.  I was so grateful to myself when Marianne Boruch's "Pencil" arrived in my inbox later this morning; I had to share it with an art teacher colleague. 

In the afternoon I spotted another teacher/friend scurrying away from the office who called out, "I just left you a poem!" 

Seriously?  Yes

There was a photocopy of Billy Collins' "The Effort" waiting for me on my keyboard. 

Today felt like a wonderful profusion of poetry, especially since I unearthed a poem I wrote when I was pregnant with Big Sis to publish here today:


Something new is overtaking me
The wonder of you inside
My body a housing,
encasing hope, fantasy,
and infinite possibilities:
The unwitting agent
of change in the world, a new prophet
for the world's devout, I carry you
little moth. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Egg Cake Pops, Executed

We rallied and pulled off our Easter Egg Cake Pops.  Our project was saved from jettisoning by a lucky find in a Costco "Cake Pop" making set, which included colored candy coating discs, cake pop sticks, sprinkles, and a styrofoam platform for propping the pops.  We ditched the cake mix part of the set, because our recipe requires only a package of Oreo cookies and a package of cream cheese, food-processed, chilled, and shaped into eggs by little hands (no baking!).  We dipped them in the melted candy discs, sprinkled them--and then used the remnants of each melted candy color to make frosting swirls on some of the pops.  We nestled the "duds" that fell off their sticks into the paper grass.