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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04


2004-10-22 ... 2:26 p.m.

NOISE BAND OF THE FUTURE

Last night I taught Nora to yell "ONE TWO THREE FOUR!" before banging away on her little electric keyboard, and also to say "THANK YOU!" when she was done. Now we just have to work on "HELLLOOOO CHICAGO!" and the rest of her rock and roll patter. We spent a good hour on the living room floor playing that keyboard with our fingers, our fists, our feet, our noses, our ears (which didn't work so well), and Nora even tried pushing down the keys with her tongue at one point. Then we took the Fisher-Price farm animals and ran them over the keys. The cow played the sharps and flats and the chicken played the others. It was very avant garde. You should come see the next performance.

WARNING: WHINING AHEAD

If you wanted to come see the next performance for between fifteen and twenty hours a week, actually, I would pay you and probably weep with gratitude. Our babysitter, who is charged with playing with Nora three days a week, and keeping her away from LT's home office, is getting a "real" job starting November 1st. We have been scouting around for new childcare ever since she told me, and we found someone. We found someone great, actually. She was going to bring her three-month-old, who seemed like a mellow, happy baby and a lot less competition for Nora than the previous babysitter's toddler. She was normal, nearby, and thought Nora was the bee's knees. And then she writes me saying she has to refuse the job, because she had an asthma attack an hour after leaving our house and her doctor does not recommend working anyplace with a cat. (Cut to my cat with her paw in the air: What. Ever.) So. We are screwed. Or at least we are not passing Go and not collecting the approximately two hundred dollars. That I would gladly pay. To the right person.

Obviously, childcare problems and losing a friend to suicide are not even on the same planet in terms of Suck Level, but the latter has made me more fragile than usual and right now I am unreasonably devastated by this latest development. Being more fragile than usual makes me feel like I am stuck in the mental swamp called I AM FAILING MY DAUGHTER IN ALL KINDS OF WAYS, where I trip over the self-pitying tree roots of WHY CAN'T ANYTHING BE SIMPLE, and am menaced by the panicky alligator of FUCKITY FUCK FUCK WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW. I think it was in the book Unbending Gender (highly recommended) where I read this, and I cannot remember if it was based on anecdote or real evidence, but there was a great passage about how women tend to devalue breadwinning. They devalue it when male partners do it (I cook and clean and you just go to the office) and they devalue it when they do it themselves (I'm at work all day and not contributing as much as I could be to childcare/housework). Now that I type it, that seems like kind of a simplistic blanket statement, but I think it contains a nugget of truth. (MMMM! TRUTH NUGGET!) Sometimes I have to remind myself that BOTH me and LT are doing everything we can to forge our family life, and that it is all equally important, and that my job should not be framed as some depressing "time away from Nora" scenario but rather as the very thing that pays for our mortgage and her health insurance, et cetera. I don't want to act like some cliché Roof-Over-Your-Head-And-Food-On-The-Table 1950s dad, but putting things that way stops me from unnecessary self-flagellation.

HAPPIER THINGS

It has been one year since we met Nora in person. I can't imagine life without her. Every time I have tried to sit down and write about how she has changed things, I just get all stuttery and stammery.

While we were waiting for our referral, of course I thought a lot about what my daughter would be like. The reality is different from, and better than, I ever imagined. Nora is no longer some vague idea in our heads. She is no longer "our baby," as we imagined/projected during the adoption process. We are her family. And she is herself.

I will always remember and honor the fact that Nora had eight months of a life before we met her; that she has a birthmother and birthfather and most likely birth siblings, although we will never meet them. I feel really uncomfortable around some families who have internationally adopted---although the attitude is never articulated, some of them act as if their child sprang full-blown out of the adoption dossier, and his or her history is just a charming anecdote to tell on "Gotcha Day." It bothered me when we were deep in the application process and people would say perfectly well-meaning things like "your daughter is waiting for you in China," even though I knew they meant it in a spiritual, metaphorical way. We were waiting for her. She was sitting in the Social Welfare Institute minding her own business, getting her diaper changed, looking forward to the next bottle. Maybe I am just relentlessly practical and have no sense of cheesy Hallmark-card-quality poetry, but let's be realistic here.

It is a fine balance, and one we will be constantly adjusting throughout our lives. On the one hand, we are Nora's parents and she is our daughter, unquestionably. On the other hand, I would never want to dismiss, in even the most subtle way, her life before us.

BRING IT BACK DOWN TO OUR LEVEL, MIMI

1. I used to see people creeping along the sidewalk, holding a toddler's hand, and I would think: Oh my god I could never walk that slow, that would make me insane. Guess what? Nora and I walk that slow. And I like it.

2. I used to say that I would never refer to myself in the third person, Elmo-style, but sometimes Mommy has to make things clear, right? Nora, this is Mommy's beer. No, Nora can't have any beer. This is Nora's juice. Nora's juice, Mommy's beer. Okay? Okay.

3. I love and appreciate LT more and more all the time. Nora has helped us grow as a couple and has somehow turned us into an actual family unit, and now, on both of our parts, there is a lot less "I cleaned the kitchen last time" and a lot more "What needs doing?"

4. I never anticipated liking Nora as much as I do. I always planned on loving her, but I always pictured myself loving her through a lot of difficulties and irritating behaviors and just normal baby stuff. But dude. Nora is so very cool.

5. Along those lines, I was also not prepared for how much I physically crave Nora, and how I want to be touching her and kissing her and tickling her and holding her in my arms all the freaking time. Everyone pictures themselves kissing and hugging their babies, but the sudden, nearly uncontrollable urges to LICK HER ALL OVER or SHOVE HER IN MY MOUTH kind of took me by surprise.

Happy one year to us.

---mimi smartypants on cloud nine.

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