Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On the Other Side of the Country

Sam's mom left this morning. She was here for ten days or so, helping with the house and smiling at the baby, paying for dinner, and giving our living room such a thorough vacuuming that I told her she was hired, full-time. She taught us how to paint a room, and we painted Henrietta's: three walls a sort of almond-y color (almonds without shells, mind you) and an accent wall in a color called Eros Pink. I think of the room like a berry-almond tart, now, and sometimes when I pass by I stop and look at it, soaking in how great it is in there. This is a change from how it was before: it was painted this very dark and depressing blue, and sometimes when I'd sit in there to feed the baby, I would stare at the walls and feel like crying, just from the color--it was that bad.

Sneak peak of new nursery, with the almond-berry tart walls. More to come ...
It was lovely to have her here. Henrietta thought she was fabulous, and would start laughing when she was even in her general vicinity. And when I woke up this morning and Sam was already gone to drop his mom off at the airport, I stayed in bed with the baby for a long while, feeling, I realized, depressed she was gone.

Sam and I become increasingly convinced that this living on the other side of the country thing, this being so far from family, is for the birds. And this was even more true tonight, when I brought Henrietta back to her room, after having slept in ours for the last while, and I realized she was a different baby, that she'd changed so much in the time my mother-in-law was here that it was like I was bringing a different kid into that room. She's livelier now. She's five months old, and shockingly close to crawling. I'm beginning to eye things in my house with suspicion, realizing how dangerous they'll be for a baby on the move. She has a range of sounds that gets bigger every day--big, wild sounds that are fascinating to listen to. She can jump in her jumper more efficiently, her little feet dancing beneath her. It's harder to change her diaper, since she's figured out she doesn't actually have to stay still for that part. She's always moving, always interesting in something, her enormous blue eyes wide and taking everything in. She's quicker to smile, and quicker to cry, and her personality seems more developed. I can tell now that if I thought she wore me out before, I had no idea how truly worn out I could be, or how in love. It's blowing my mind how fast this is going. 

I mean, look at this kid. She's charming, is what she is.
Which is why it's extra disappointing that my family and Sam's family are so far away. We're lucky that we get to see them often enough, but even several times a year isn't often enough, when your baby is changing weekly. I want her to smile at both grandmas. I want my mom to read her books, and Sam's mom to say, when she screams just to hear herself scream, "She sounds like a teenager at a Beatles concert!" I want her to know her aunts and uncles, to run around with her cousins, to have sleepovers and eat my dad's exquisite pancakes. We have no immediate plans to move, but today I wish we did. I wish we could pack up our new house, leave behind the berry-almond walls, wrestle the cats into their carriers and the baby into her car seat, and head west. 

11 comments:

Elise said...

I know. Living so far IS for the birds.

Grace said...

Story of my life this winter. Alta needs some other humans and she seems to really like the ones in her family

Amara said...

Exactly. Come over! At least I get my #dailyhp, but that is a pretty cheap substitute.

Giuli said...

It's really sad when they get older, and start begging to see "granny" for the weekend like the other kids in their class. Even though my family can fly for free, we still don't see each other as often as we should. In the short time that we lived in the same town as my mother in law, I relished being able to drop max off at Gramma's house. He acted like he owned the place. She had a shelf for him in the pantry with his favorite snacks, and a drawer with his favorite toys. I wish that I could be selfish and have all of my kid's grandparents in the same vicinity and then they wouldn't miss a thing. I think that southerners who stay so near their family are on to something, don't you?

ginger said...

We moved to the East Coast when my first was 20 months old and didn't return back near family until he was 9 and my fourth was 2. I can't tell you (an don't really need to I suppose...you can imagine) how lovely it is to see grandparents, uncle and auntie weekly...Grandparents eager to have over-nighters and special outings and an uncle who is ecstatic to take 10 and 7 year olds on their first black diamonds. Hopefully all this fun convinces an uncle that it is time for cousins too ;) Anyhow, we did so enjoy are time on the East Coast, but we are oh so very happy that our children's childhood memories will be full of time with extended family (something neither of us had as children).

Where I'm doing lactation counseling now we really recognize the void in most new family's lives that comes from the lack of family and childrearing community. It takes a village you know, and so we're trying to create one. Most every woman who receives a private consult is encouraged to come to our breastfeeding group. We offer it three times a week and get 15-20+ women each time. It is beautiful to see the village forming. One mama cries over not enough milk, so we ask, who else had low milk supply and at least five hands go up. We continue counseling each mama, but at this point they get so much from realizing that we've pulled from the four corners of the city, the other women who can support her through their shared experiences. We have several other groups (sleep support, papas, yoga, and more) and a space that welcomes families to just hang out. I love seeing them all come together to build their community. After all, it is a very new social experiment to have women birth babies and then sit alone in a house with them for years on end.

belann said...

Made this momma cry. Praying hard for that dream to be a reality.

Terry said...

At least we get to see you and the baby in a couple of weeks. We can hardly wait.

Deja said...

Guili, the thought of Max with a snack shelf all his own, walking around like he owns the place warms my heart. I wish you guys had been able to stay.

Ginger, that sounds amazing! I've been trying to find some kind of community like that, and failed. I tried Isis, but it's pretty far from me, and I was very disappointed with their lactation counselor and customer service in general. I'll keep looking for something ...

Unknown said...

It is hard. We are closer then you and it is heartbreaking. I remember when Meesha and Amara and I all lived in the same city and we had sister Fridays...the best ever! Let's move back!

Deja said...

Kira, I was just thinking about Sister Fridays! I wish they were still possible :(

Elizabeth Hegwood said...

I hate it, too. I grew up in the same place where both sets of my grandparents lived and being this far away just seems wrong. I'm not sure we'll ever be there, English profs not really needed on the MS Gulf Coast and all, but I wish for it nearly every day.