Wednesday, May 28, 2008

All good things...

Six days from now the school year will be over and I'll be a free woman for ten glorious weeks. Summer break truly is one of the best perks we teachers get, and this time of year almost feels like vacation already because the students have taken their finals and are just doing busywork-type assignments and watching (mostly relevant) movies while we feverishly grade papers and finalize their grades. Even though my inbox is full and I have piles of books and personal items to pack up and take home in the next few days, the overall mood is so relaxed that it's hard not to get sucked into feeling like it's summer already.

However, it's also a sad time of year since I love my students and won't see many of them again once they graduate and move on to bigger and better things. I've found myself tearing up in class on more than one occasion because really, these kids are amazing. With remarkably few exceptions they're interesting, well-behaved, inquisitive young people; and while they drive me crazy on a daily basis I absolutely adore being their teacher.

So while I'm looking forward to being a pseudo-stay at home mom until the next year starts in August, I'm more than a little maudlin at the thought of saying goodbye to "my" kids next Tuesday and leaving this job I love, even for a much-needed break.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Roller coaster

First, please keep Kathleen in your thoughts. She's very ill and needs all the good thoughts and prayers you can send.

Second, what a roller coaster week this has been. Awful, awful news from every corner just keeps raining down, and I'm honestly afraid to pick up the phone when it rings because at this point I've received at least three calls in the last 24 hours that have reduced me to tears. I don't want to talk about it right now because I'm still processing (besides which, some of the news isn't mine to share) but that post will be coming at some point in the future.

Third, I've decided that a roller coaster is the perfect metaphor for the first year of parenthood. Big shocker, right? A: that the English teacher searches for metaphors for her life, and B: that the metaphor is an old, tired one. Hear me out, though!

Pregnancy is the looooooooong ride up to the top of the first drop. You think you're never going to get there, you're nervous and excited the whole time, and then BOOM! You drop!

(that's birth, by the way)

The initial 10-15 seconds of the ride, where you're disoriented and screaming, are the first months of your baby's life. Everything is new, you can't anticipate your next move, and you feel like you're going to fall off and/or throw up the entire time.

Then you start getting used to the jerkiness of the ride and begin really enjoying it. You can anticipate some of the curves, you might even have a chance to glance outside of the ride and see the water feature or popcorn stand nearby, and life is good. Sure, you're still on a roller coaster, but it's not new and strange anymore. Those are months four through 12.

Then, of course, the ride stops and you're forced to get off, shaky and dizzy, which I assume is a good analogy for moving from babyhood into the toddler years when everything changes again.

In case you can't tell from my above analysis, I'm feeling pretty confident about parenthood right about now. Life is (generally) predictable, and every once in awhile Luke makes a breakthrough that feels exactly like a lull in the ride. Case in point, he can now put himself to sleep.

For any non-parents reading this, putting oneself to sleep is a milestone that can never come early enough. After spending months and months nursing, rocking, singing, cajoling, and begging a baby to fall deeply enough asleep to be put down in his/her crib without waking back up again; it feels like clouds lifting and angels singing when one night you put down your baby awake (after spending WAAAAAAAY too much time on the above activities and giving up in sheer frustration) only to have him/her roll over and fall fast asleep.

Luke has now put himself to sleep several nights in a row, and I am loving it. LOVING IT. I know full well that I'm probably jinxing it by writing this, but I don't care. Every one of these little milestones, every one of these little things that he can do on his own, feels like the roller coaster slowing down. That doesn't mean it's stopped, or that parenthood gets easier, but it's getting more predictable. More normal. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

My first Mother's Day was wonderful. The three of us celebrated yesterday since Juan was working today, and Luke and I spent the "official" day together shopping, playing, and enjoying each other. It was a great day, but a rather eventful one for a number of reasons.

The Good: Luke was sitting on my lap playing with a stuffed toy and he kept pushing it at my mouth. After three or four nosefulls of Lamaze firefly, I finally realized that he wanted me to kiss the toy. I always make a game of having his toys kiss him (complete with big "MWAH!" sound effects) and he was mimicking me. He's never done that before, and he started cracking up as soon as I started giving the toy kisses. He'd put it near my mouth, I'd give it a big "MWAH!" kiss, and he'd laugh. Then I'd laugh, which would make him laugh harder, and so on and so forth. I think it was the first time we've shared a laugh like that, and it was wonderful.

The Bad: My grandmother isn't doing too well, and I'm really worried about her.

The Ugly: We got the green light from the pediatrician to start Luke on table foods, but I'm not sure he's ready. We tried two different Stage 3 (meaning small chunks of soft foods mixed in with purees) foods today and he gagged and vomited on both of them. He clearly has major issues with texture, and part of me wonders if he's just not ready yet. The other part, of course, thinks that it's very likely that he needs to continue to try new textures (he did okay with just one or two small pieces mixed in with a more runny puree) or else he'll never get used to them.

So, that was Mother's Day.