The Beanstalk

Record of a writer, a family & an adventure.

Month: November, 2013


“… that sanguine expectation of happiness, which is happiness itself.” (Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility)

Always, this time of year fills me up like a water balloon, so full of wonder and anticipation that my seams could explode. I am fond of tradition, holidays, ceremony, meals, gifts, decoration and anything that is heralded as “special” or “festive.” I can credit this in part to my disposition,¬†and in part to my upbringing in which my parents, especially my mom, made a to-do of things, I know now, for our sakes. She was good at making days and seasons feel like monuments.

Mark and I have just begun planning a trip to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary in the Spring and suddenly I find myself waking up with that singular feeling of anticipation. It isn’t that I don’t look forward to the holidays this year, I do! But it isn’t quite the same as it once was. I am not a child, and now I intimately know the real stresses and fears and disquiets of being an adult, a mother, a spouse, a HOME OWNER.

But a vacation. A trip out of this landlocked city with my best friend. No baby, no dog, no work, no lawn, no Y, no dishes, no cleaning supplies, no clutter, no schedule, no responsibility. We are going to NEW YORK CITY (yes, Bradley.) and it is going to be incredible. When we were in the period of trying to get pregnant with Jack we took a five day trip to New York in the winter. It was the most deliriously perfect time of our entire lives. We ate out, shopped, walked for miles, people watched, hunted Cannolis, were entertained on Broadway, sat on the site of my favorite movie of all time (You’ve Got Mail – Cafe Lalo). We did everything that we wanted to do and when our plane touched down in Raleigh afterward I cried. I think I actually mourned. It was this one brilliant spot in a year of dismal gray.

This time we are going in the Spring. It will be warm and I already have a list of musts, and the thing that I keep relishing is this: For me, the trip has already begun to work its magic. The anticipation of it, this loose planning stage, looking forward to those easy going days away has already lightened me. I know that after Christmas, in the long dreary days of winter, I will be anticipating seeing the City, dreaming about it, growing high expectations which some may call dangerous, but I call sublime because for me the experience starts now.

Jane Austen’s words are the truth. My favorite verse in Scripture is Ecclesiastes 3:11 because it affirms this base aspect of my spirit: “He has put eternity into man’s heart…” So we are always longing for eternity, and also already within it. And these glimpses of the good stuff are small evidences of that.

In the spirit of consistency, I must add that Sunday Jack turned 8 months old. The Sunday before that he was baptized and it was a sweet day, reminding me of his spirit, and the hope I have for him to grow up to know Jesus and the Kingdom of God. For him to have this eternity in his heart. Here are some pictures of him from lately.

Chilling outside.


Jack the Garden Gnome for Halloween…



Cleaning house.

On any given day Jack will throw up between five and thirty times. He has always been this way, and my doctor assured me from the onset of my life as a mother that even though it seems like it would have to be damaging to his little body, it in fact is not. He has rolls upon rolls and a barrel chest. He is not malnourished. It is something he will “grow out of.” In the first months, he wore a bib all day every day, changed about once an hour when it was soaked. He has moved away from that volume, but some days he reverts and I feel like I will be cleaning up puke for the rest of my life.

Yesterday, for instance, was a bad day for Jack’s digestion. All day long, cleaning him up, and finally I quit changing his clothes and resorted to cleaning off his shirt with a baby wipe. We had an afternoon of errands to run, and all the way through Target, Pier One, the Consignment stores on Reynolda, Home Goods there is this sort of slow leak running down his chin. It is the quantity that moves me beyond embarrassment and into the realms of damage control, trying to keep it off of merchandise I do not intend to purchase and off of tile floors where someone could have a serious injury. We made it through the day, I was relatively unscathed considering, and we arrived home for him to eat and go down for a nap around four. I picked him up to rock his solid, little body to sleep and MAN, he nailed me. All down my shoulder, neck. Immediately he starts grabbing at my hair and shirt collar, pulling at me and smiling. I kind of yell “When are you going to stop doing this to me?!” and plop him down on the floor with nothing to play with where he starts to cry because he is tired and desperately needs me to help him fall asleep and he has just thrown up for the 30th time. Because I am full of the blackness of humanity, I leave him there and stomp to my room to take off my shirt, put on a new one, rant a little bit, and then return to him. When I pick him up to rock him to sleep and see the little tears in his eyes I recall that he has lived on this planet for just over half of a year, that he does not understand much more than hunger, warmth and the grandiosity of the dog, that throwing up is not something he intentionally does to frustrate me, and apologize to him. A serious apology, like one I would deliver to Mark after a fight caused by my stubbornness. His mouth is hidden behind the pacifier, but I snuggle my nose into his neck and he makes a sound, and I think he forgives me. I pray that God won’t let my meanness damage him too terribly.

The thing that I have a hard time managing is the permanent invasion of personal space. When he is awake, Jack encompasses me. He is nursing, grabbing my hair, pulling my shirt collars (that makes me insane), clenching my lips, my nose, my cheeks with his fingers. He is heavy! And partly mobile and squirmy. And when I’m not touching him I am thinking about him, listening to him babble or cry or try to say my name. “Ma ma ma ma.” If he isn’t in my arms, he is in my present consciousness, even in my dreams, and either way it seems he is always with me, occupying the space of half of my brain. I was not prepared for this part of motherhood, and being a somewhat independent type, I am trying to adjust.

Three months after Jack’s birth, when I could properly walk again, I started to attend a class at the Y that is mostly yoga, but also includes Tai Chi and Pilates. I had never done anything like it, but after the first class I was hooked. This is why: I enter a large room with enormous windows overlooking a park below. I set my mat down at least seven feet away from any other person. I sit on my mat quietly until the class begins. For an hour I am attuned to my own body. I am thinking about the length of my stride, the stretch across my shoulders. I am not thinking about my house, my family, my job or my bank account. It is an hour of physical and mental personal space. This time has become sacred to me.

Last weekend, Mark and I were given the gift of Friday-Sunday with a few friends at a cabin in the mountains. Delivered with the invitation, many months ago, my dear friend said, “Do you think your mom could come keep Jack?” It was an Oh! moment, and I knew that if I said no, that they would have allowed him along, but I knew immediately the answer was that Mark and I needed to go away without him. My mom and dad agreed to come, and the result was the most nourishing forty hours away I have had in a very long time. In the oasis of changing autumn leaves, coffee, food, conversation, uninterrupted sleep, hiking and so much laughter I remembered myself! Does that seem crazy? I remembered what happens when I steal away a bit of uninterrupted personal space, the way that my mind and soul wake up in a different way. I love my son, and I love being a mom. I also love the to read and write, to think and ponder and sit and engage with adults. And I think, although I have no evidence to back it yet, that taking the time for those things will help my children to grow up learning the importance of it as well.