I’m all nostalgia lately.
Max will be a year old on the 23rd and it’s hard to believe a whole entire year has gone by. Right now, this very second, he’s settling in with his child minder, when I left he was screaming like he’d been poked with a needle. This time last year I was waddling around wondering when we would finally meet him.
This morning I’m pretty sure he said his official first word, Dada. He’s an art fan, obviously. This time last year I had no idea I was about to go through approximately 3 days of labor that would be terrible and hard but would also bring me a super excellent little guy.
This has been the best and hardest year of my life and I’m betting more of the same is ahead.
You always think when you are child free and living life, that your friends who have had kids have needlessly turned all lame. Like why can’t they suck it up and come to this last minute show? Just get a baby sitter, GOD! Except babies are exhausting. Super extra exhausting. They keep you running all day and then they decide to wake up from 2:30 until 5 in the morning and then they start cutting new teeth and they are sad and pathetic and you can’t really do anything about it except cuddle them and feel horrible. And then you realise that you were a total douche before but you don’t worry about it too long because you are exhausted so you just go to bed. Basically. Which is to say, I’m exhausted.
Despite all the tired I’m still going to a show next month. Yo La Tengo are playing at the Barbican and we’re going and Max will get to hang with his Auntie Julia who will probably throw a YouTube disco for him. And the next day I will go off to Paris to meet my friend H and will spend my first baby free day since he was born. It’s going to be pretty weird but I bet it will be pretty awesome too.
And despite the tired (doubly) and the teething, the kid is super excellent. I taught him how to high five. It’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever done.
It’s the last day of the year? How did that happen?
Neither of those sentiments is very original. Sorry, max has been waking most nights at either 2 or 4 lately (although this morning he made it till 6:30ish, knock wood) and my brain is just an inch or so away from being declared dead. And I’m lucky he doesn’t wake up more, as far as baby related things go we’ve been super lucky on the sleep front so long as we don’t talk about the hell week following our return home from America at the beginning of the month.
Anyhow, lucky or not, I’m exhausted right now and typing this as he sits on his play mat trying to eat a rattle with far more interest than he gives any of the actual food I’ve been making him. Occasionally he’ll look up and give me a big gummy smile. It’s pretty excellent.*
We took him to see an exhibit called Death: A Self Portrait at the Wellcome Collection yesterday. Well, really we wanted to see it and he had to come along because he’s a baby and it turns out that you can;t leave them at home unattended (Who knew?). Jeremy was carrying him around the exhibit in the Baby Bjorn and I was roaming free and without a baby strapped to me which is pretty rare these days. It was a pretty morbid exhibit, unsurprisingly, but it was also really cool. A nice mix of old and current pieces from all over the world.
Anyhow, I was walking around minding my own business looking at some pretty excellent, if gruesome pieces when I heard this laughter and there was my kid cracking up at all these dance macabre prints and other various images of death and the dying. I may be raising a tiny goth. Jeremy says he’s too little to understand what he was seeing, but I don’t know, he was just a little too gleeful.
I should probably stock up on eyeliner just in case
*Then it took over 20 minutes for me to put him down for a nap. He clearly knew I was talking about him on the internet and decided to punish me.
Tuesdayy was the 2 year anniversary of my dad’s death. Max and I spent the day together. Other than him, I only talked to the lady who sold me my coffee and my mom. We took a long walk through Nunhead Cemetery and I told him stories about his grandpa. I think maybe they were a little boring because he fell asleep. Today I went to see a movie with some friends at a Watch with Baby thing at the local cinema. Going to the movies always makes me think of my dad because he used to take us with him to his second job as a projectionist most weekends. You don’t even want to know how many times I saw Desperately Seeking Susan and Back to the Future.
Anyhow I was walking along and I got to thinking, I’ve been telling Max lots of stories about Dad but what would I tell my dad about Max? What would I want him to know about his grandson? These are just a few of the things I would want him to know:
- He laughs at fart noises so you would have been very popular.
- He has gray eyes.
- His giggle is joyful and hilarious.
- I can’t believe how beautiful he is. Every day I look at him and I am floored. Did you ever look at Andy and me like this?
- I’m having a hard time deciding what lies to tell him, I wish you were here to help me figure them out.
- He is so cheerful in the mornings, he must take after Mom.
- His burps are huge and epic.
- He loves sticking his tongue out.
- Last week he figured out how to take his socks off.
- He doesn’t know it yet but he misses you already.
I don’t know if next year the 13th of November will be easier or harder, not that I expect it to ever be easy, I just know that this year it was especially bittersweet.
I never thought I’d miss hearing him ask someone to pull his finger or make that lame joke about Fred the Friendly Frog who was responsible for all his burps. But I do. I wish I could roll my eyes behind his back a few more times and I wish I could see Max rolling his eyes behind his grandpa’s back too or at least laughing at the very impressive fart noises I know the old man could make.
October is a shit month. I used to love it. I like autumn and Halloween, I even like the cooler weather and the chance to wear sweaters.
But this October already feels like a minefield of memories from October two years ago when I spent a month back home while my dad was in the hospital. I think a lot about how sad and angry I am that Max will never know his Grandpa.
I think about the day I forgot which word to use for elevator/lift. I think about the day I flew back from Michigan and crying in the airport and trying not to cry at the office. I think about going back to work in mid-November and the endless walks around the block I took, often without a coat on to try to physically cool down and keep myself from losing my cool at my desk. I think about the day I came home early at the start of my second week back to work after he died and how I lay in bed with the cat and watched the snow fall outside.
And I think about the stories I have to tell Max so he can know where he comes from and I wonder if they’ll ever be enough. And I think about the night I woke up with the phone ringing and Mom telling me they were putting him on a ventilator and now I think, ‘That was the start of the end.’ But I didn’t know that then. It all feels like a cheat and it all feels unfair, and it is unfair but my dad would have been the first in line to tell me that no one said life was fair, and then he would have played the world’s smallest violin for me and I would have rolled me eyes and called him an old man and then we would have shared a beer.
And, yeah, I miss him. It sucks.
Max is 4 months old today. This statement is almost unbelievable.
When he was born he weighed an epic 9 lbs. As of Thursday when I took him in for his 16 week vaccinations (a week late, but whatev) he weighs 16 lbs and 4 oz.
He smiles and laughs and makes ridiculous noises. He’s more amazing than I ever could have expected.
He also knows how to rock a moustache.
He sleeps through most nights so hopefully my brain will stop being such a fog soon and I’ll be able to start using my evenings for more than just a thunder run on the dishes and laundry.
Max and I are laying in bed together. He’s sleeping and I should be too, but I’m not even though I’m exhausted. Instead I’m thinking about all the crap I want to do. The knitting that’s half finished, the collection of birth and postnatal stories I want to collect from friends, the writing I want to do, the laundry that needs folding, the milk that needs pumping, etc.
But I’m not doing any of these things. I’m laying here with a snuggly baby looking at the grey clouds moving in. I can’t seem to make myself move this is too nice and he’ll be too big for it soon and all that other stuff can wait another day.