The seriously gross medical advertising on this site has led me to relocate to Medium.
The seriously gross medical advertising on this site has led me to relocate to Medium.
We should be enjoying this rare and precious time with our children. Except that it’s winter in the Mid-Atlantic and “stuff to do” is thin on the ground. Unlike the mud, which is thick and squelchy and covering just about everything. We’ve hiked, exhausted the playground, and gotten to know every supermarket in a 15-mile radius. We are bored out of our minds.
Until last Saturday, we were also trapped thanks to some archaic Pennsylvania laws. After a Penndot party (yes, really – we brought friends) and a trip to fast tag, we are finally free to roam. Except all points west and north are getting hammered by snow. My sister, who loves Miami’s beaches, said “drive to Florida, get some sun!” But Florida is a solid 20 hours down I-95 and we have two tiny kids that hate the car. So we’re going to Savannah.
It’s going to take three days: we can only swing 5-6 hours of driving per day with the littles; and avoiding I-95 adds three extra hours, one way. It should be worth it. Because I-95 through Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. Plus, we get to use the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It’s 23 miles long! Little One loves bridges and tunnels. He’s stoked.
Besides, I’ve always wanted to go to Savannah. Live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Beautiful old mansions. Cobblestone streets. Late winter highs of 70-75F (21-24C). Artsy people with Southern charm. Yes, please.
The first two-and-a-half months of our US adventure have been difficult. We’re all suffering, except Little Two who is blissfully unaware of our trauma. Leaving your whole world behind with an indefinite return date is daunting, exhausting, depressing. Little One cries every day, longing for his friends and routine. Husband and I are edgy and directionless.
“This was supposed to be an adventure,” I said to husband this morning. “Maybe we’ll find our sense of adventure in Savannah” he replied. The route is planned. Hotels are booked. We leave Sunday. I hear the azaleas are blooming.
Tonight I ate peanut butter toast, a roasted sweet potato, and some Greek yogurt. My other half’s having instant noodles. It’s almost nine o’clock. We’ve had two cooked meals since coming back from the States 10 days ago: a mediocre curry and spaghetti bolognese. It’s all I could muster. Mostly we’ve been eating cereal. There may have been some scrambled eggs. We’ve narrowly averted take-away, but it’s only Wednesday.
Our child is, in the last week, eating almost nothing, having contracted yet another common childhood illness from daycare. We have taken to chasing him around the house with portions of Vegemite toast, bits of avocado, and blueberries. The illness also undermined the sleep training we did after the US trip destroyed the previous sleep training outcomes. Little man’s been in our bed for four nights. No one has slept. Sleep training (read: crying with occasional soothing) started again last night. It’s horrible; little makes you feel like a worse person than letting a baby scream. Tonight he cried for 90 minutes. And so, toast.
The house is quiet now, save the gush of the fireplace and the electronic buzz of modernity. My partner is slurping a little. His noodles must be tasty. We are both fighting the urge to go to bed right now. We’re trying to savour the evening, except of course we’ve scarcely slept the last four or five nights.
Earlier we all stood by the bedroom window and said goodnight to the near full moon. Cold air was seeping in through the glass. It’s freezing outside, a little reminder that winter’s only just ended and, hey, we live in the mountains. It’s a clear night, the stars are epic and the wind is gusting. I’m curled up on the sofa, avoiding bed for some reason, typing at full-ramble, contemplating our future and our firewood supplies. The former looks better than the latter.
Someday we’ll eat dinner again. All of us around the table. I’ll slow cook a curry on Monday, scramble eggs on Tuesday, and simmer stew on Wednesday. We’ll eat vegetables. Hopefully before the greens we have go limp and the mushrooms shrivel up. Little man will make new flavour face and go to sleep with a full tummy and without objection. That’s the dream. It’s a little dream, but it’ll do for now.
It’s seven o’clock. Both of my boys are asleep. Husband is sick; baby Ferbered out in less than 15 minutes. Not bad for our second night*. I’m sipping Peter Lehman’s Portrait and contemplating a broccoli and cheddar omelette. The night is mine. How very odd.
We’re leaving for the States in 31 hours, give or take. Baby has a bonus day at childcare tomorrow, which means we may even be ready to get in the car and drive to Canberra at two o’clock on Saturday morning. All that’s left is to pack a ton of baby food, toiletries, and hubby’s carry-on; put all the toys away; take out the rubbish and recycling; fuel up the car; and bake some muffins to eat for breakfast. And bring in firewood. And clean. And wax my eyebrows. I’m pretty sure I can knock that over in a morning. Okay, a long morning.
In the meantime, I think I’ll Blurb. Shiraz and picture books, what a Thursday.
*Though it’s our third or fourth try.
Crimson rosellas. Blue fairy wrens. Skies that don’t end; breathtaking stars. A quiet that isn’t silence but is deep and rhythmic and soothing. Crumbling granite mountains. The sheer scale and antiquity of the land and its people.
I will never be the same. You gorgeous, ancient, bizarre, conflicted thing.
This morning, in the pre-dawn dark, I slipped away. To tend the fire. The boys asleep. Quiet.
Day is struggling through Night’s earthbound cloud. The fire staves off winter. Outside the ground is sodden, puddled, still. Quiet.
Like men and baby boys and black cows not yet stirring. I hang laundry by the fire. Tiny socks and little jeans washed, rewashed, long-soaked from four days in the rain.
In our shared bed the baby rolls then crawls then flies from mum to dad and back again. Daddy is a mountain to climb, mummy a shelter for retreat. We to and fro for an hour, dawn now a bright, light grey, until baby gets punchy.
Up. Sunshine finally, finally slipping through the fog. We coffee. It is warm. Baby wanders nude round the lounge room. He carries water bottles and wipes and toys to a bit of wood next to the fireplace and drops them. Bangs them. Listens. Dad calls it his testing platform. He likes the sound of wood and the way it feels under his toes.
Eventually there are clothes – not without resistance – and breakfast. Eggs all around. Conversation. A very noisy little boy. Smiling. Big, big tired shiny-eyed smiles. It’s properly sunny, properly morning.
Nap time. Negotiations fail. We relent. He is asleep fifteen minutes later. We adults continue to morning: dress, shower, dress. I do laundry. Take out the compost. Wipe down the bathroom. Nick slips out for firewood. The fire is filled with fine, white ash and embers. I let it burn out. Let the box cool.
Five hours later, back where I started. Quiet.
Things I should do this morning: wash the dishes, put away the small mountains of laundry on the chaise and the bedroom floor, fold nappies, have a shower, get dressed, hang out laundry (nappies again), eat breakfast, not eat cake.
Things I’ve done this morning: eat breakfast, stare off into space, write blogs. I am definitely still in my pyjamas.
The wind is howling. Outside, our cloth nappies are flapping on the Hills’ Hoist. The house is a stubborn 16C, too cold for the baby to play in the living room but warm enough to make a fire seem ridiculous. I might light one anyway. I will light one. If I can get it to take with all this wind shooting down the chimney and only two bits of kindling.
There’s something about Mondays. Even though I’m not working, even though the days of the week blur together. On Mondays the house is at peak messiness – because there is a laziness infused in Sunday that takes us from tidy house to disaster area in twelve hours. On Mondays Nick goes grudgingly back to work, and I am left alone with the mess and the baby. Mondays are spent cleaning. They are spent re-booting the little one’s sleep schedule after the disruptions of the weekend.
There’s a dull predictability about my weeks that Mondays reinforce: I will clean, the house will get dirty as if by magic; I will lull my son to the edge of sleep and he will mess himself, needing a change, which wakes him all the way up; I will go into town, do too much, and pay for it with a cranky, overtired baby; we will nearly run out of nappies; Nick will suggest beans on toast for dinner but we’ll be out of bread. Motherhood is glorious but often quite boring.
There are a few perks to predictability. One is that baby will sleep in the morning, if not again all day. This means two hours of Tuesday spent gardening, Wednesday writing letters, and Thursday, well, probably cleaning. That’s most mornings. So it goes. Today the clouds are quite literally lined with silver in the eastern sky. The fire took. Baby had a whole nap. I didn’t eat cake for breakfast. Time to get on with Monday.