My online journal.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The melancholy of parenting

Of COURSE everyone tells you how wonderful parenthood is. And they will also tell you how hard it is. The wonderfuls and the difficulties are obvious: the former comes when you gaze at your little creation sleeping soundly and cozily; the latter, when they're screaming and you can't determine why.
But there is something else that comes with parenthood -- something more profound and more difficult, sometimes, to bear than the worst temper tantrum. I think it's melancholy.

It starts the instant you find out you are pregnant. Something *snap!* changes; You Are A Parent, and you can never be the same. Whether that pregnancy results in a healthy baby, or in a miscarriage, or something in between, is immaterial. You've felt the tug, the pull, the ache that is the melancholy.
And immediately, you're forced to start letting go of this creation, this little essence you haven't even seen yet. You can take your vitamins, quit smoking, whatever else you can do... but that's all you can do. The main decisions: boy/girl, tall/short, gay/straight... those are beyond your power. (I suppose someday soon, with genetic selection, these will come into our control, but that's another story for another day.) So you let go.
And, if you are particularly blessed, those little essences get born and keep right on growing. They choose their own way right from the start -- they like this bottle over that one... they sleep, or they don't... they get attached to a blanky, or a stuffed dog...
And you start hearing love songs in a different way. You watch the news of all the dreadful things in the world, with new eyes. You listen, breath held, outside the door of that baby's room, weighing ever-so-carefully whether or not to open that door: you might wake the baby, but at least you'll be sure she's still breathing. And you let go, and learn to trust your baby to make some mistakes and learn along the way.

Someday something a little scary happens, and you're reminded of the fragility of life. Or something a LOT scary happens and all you can do is hug your baby tight and let your tears, and her tears, run together.
Last night I was driving home from picking Lucy up at Dee's and I drove past a guy pointing a gun at another guy on the sidewalk, just three blocks from our house. The police were just arriving and I could NOT get out of there fast enough. I didn't burst into tears until we were inside our garage. It was terrifying.
And it just.
Never.
Ends.

But you do learn to live with the constant fear and worry. It isn't always debilitating; it ebbs and flows. The other part of this melancholy is the guilt, the constant wondering which boils down to infinite permutations of "Am I doing too much or not enough?". Moms who work outside the home have to live with the fact that they sacrifice time with their children. Moms who stay home have to live with the fact that they're not contributing to the family income. And so, so many moms in the compromised space between don't have it any easier.
I try to draw a grid in my head to determine where the needs and wants intersect. (I should probably try paper.) X is money. Y is happiness. What's the critical mass, the perfect recipe? What's the right thing to do? Where's my Magic 8 Ball?
And the days slip by, and I keep plugging along... through projects and meetings, through toodling and feeding. I woke up the other day and Lucy was a little girl. One day, God willing, I'll wake up and she'll be a woman.
And I'll still be melancholy.

I'm on a current-events binge or something.

But I think about these things, because what ELSE am I going to do while sitting in traffic?

Anyway, you know, it's all over the radio how the police chief of Louisiana resigned in the wake of the Katrina disaster, and how the governor of Louisiana is also coming under heat for how the whole thing was handled...
These people were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, I think. I don't believe ANYONE could have handled it any better -- other than possibly never building a major city in such a huge floodplain in the first place. If a disaster like this had waited, say, 20 more years to hit, it would have just been some other people in those same positions. And if these same people had proactively spent billions on having evacuation transportation at-the-ready, then when NO disaster hit, it would look like a huge waste. Look what happened in Texas -- they say too many people evacuated. Give me a break!
So I feel like it's scapegoating to blame these leaders. But maybe that's just the risk you run, when you take a job with such massive responsiblity. It's too big of a job for one person, and if things go right, they're heroes -- and if they go horribly wrong, well, they take the blame.
Whatever. Feel free to tell me if I'm wrong -- I think it's interesting. :)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Rock N Roll Part II

Crazy Kicky Baby Part II has decided to rear its teeny little feet this morning. Yup, I sit down at my desk at work with a lovely mug of 1/2-caff coffee, and WHUMP the kicking begins. As if being in the second trimester wasn't awesome enough, with the gobs of energy and stellar mood I've been in (you know the hormones are playing crazy tricks on me when Lucy's cranky whining just makes me giggle and want to hug her), not to mention, as my mother-in-law pointed out yesterday, that my breasts are filling out (YES, that was a bit awkward)... ANYway, as if I wasn't already on Cloud Nine-and-a-Half, I get to feel all this miraculous movement. I like to peek at my tummy when nobody's looking and I can actually *see* a couple of the big thumps. Just amazing.
Last week I made Joel put his hand on my tummy for a bit and he could feel some flutteries, too. Hi Gus! We love you!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Navigation By Joel, Episode XXVII

...In Which Katie's Is On The Way Home From Roseville
OR
The Storm Created A Vortex And Realigned the Highways!

It was Joel’s birthday yesterday, and he had softball, so he was on his way before I even got home with Lucy after work. Around 7:00 Jean, Ellen and I were TRYING to watch “So You Think You Can Dance” and the storm warnings started.

So Joel calls at like 8:00. “We made it! We’re safe!”

Well, thank goodness, I think, that you managed to figure out you shouldn’t be on a softball field when there’s tennis-ball-sized hail and 75-mph winds coming your way. But what I say is:
“I’m glad you called. Where ARE you?”

“Katie’s.”

Let me pause here for a moment. Katie’s is a bar the guys ALWAYS go to after softball. Don’t let Joel remind you of the ONE TIME they didn’t go (which I have to say I do not have even the sketchiest memory of… it might have been the time the bone popped through Jon’s leg-skin and they had to take him to the hospital)… as a rule, they are at Katie’s every week after the game. Now, to fully understand the hilarity of the guys’ ending up at Katie’s last night, you’ll need a little visual aid. Take your left hand and hold it where you can see it. Look at the BACK of your left hand (so your thumb is pointing right). Make a jazz hand – not a wimpy dead-fish hand, really stretch those fingers out. Got it? OK.
The middle knuckle on your thumb – that’s our house.
The knuckle where your middle finger attaches to your hand – that’s the softball field.
The very tip of your middle finger – that’s Katie’s.
The STORM, all lightning and tornadoes and 75-mph winds and tennis-ball-sized hail of it, is coming from the northwest (i.e. just off the tip of your pinky finger).

Well, I think the visual aid speaks for itself. Essentially, Joel and Pat (who lives 2 blocks from us) RAN FOR THEIR LIVES five miles DIRECTLY INTO THE STORM. Gee, it’s a good thing Katie’s was there to save their hides. Hilarious. I won't even mention the tip I got from an insider that said there was a tree down, blocking their route to Katie's, so they had to take an even more circuitous route. Ooops, I just did.

I'm rolling my eyes so enthusiastically, I almost lost a contact lens.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

September days

We're gearing up for fall here in the Gronau family. The weather is still hot, but the temptation to bust out the corduroy pants and long-sleeve shirts is getting difficult to resist.

Lucy is cracking us up every day, as usual -- either in the funny way, or in the "I'm going to the nuthouse" way, just depending on her mood. She has grown astoundingly in the last couple months -- we even had a stranger comment on her being a "big girl" the other day. She really is taking on the look more of a child, than a baby. It's been an amazing transformation. Not much in the way of new physical milestones; she still won't walk unassisted, and those front teeth are still almost completely hidden. But she LOVES to say "Dodo" (her combination of "dog" and "Hobo") and she gabs and gabs at us all the time.

I'm feeling good -- starting to feel Gus (that's what I'm trying to call the new baby) bumping around in there. I've gained at least three pounds in the last 2 weeks but I admit it is VERY difficult to find time to eat dinner each evening. I busted out my first maternity shirt at work today -- it feels really, really good not to have some belly poking out from under my regular shirts. And thanks to some extremely generous loaners from Carol and N. Watson, I'll be one of the best-dressed pregnant women in town. That's important to me, you know. ;)

We're planning a Halloween party at our house on Sunday 10/30 -- if you didn't get an evite, please email me and I'll send one to you. I promise it wasn't a deliberate slight; my pregnant brain is operating at about 35% capacity right now. Oh, yeah, and I lost my cell phone again.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Albatross -- Week 5 Update

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Albatross that day
We’d been “ten-runned” more often than we’d really like to say

Our injuries ran rampant and our muscles all were wailing
We could have writ a sonnet about all the ways we’re ailing:

(There’s Alley Joel’s eyes, of course, and his bride Cara’s neck…
And Pudwell’s diabetes, which he bravely keeps in check…

With Crazy-legs’ hip all askew and brother James just missing…
And Meg suffering from effects of JG’s hugs and kissing.)

We didn’t have much confidence, no boasting did you hear;
We were not sure if we’d be glad – or crying in our beer.

We started Game 1 at the plate, and much to our surprise,
We’d no idea how the sun would burn our tender eyes.

When Lisa was still running late, and her turn came to bat
We squinted, stared and rubbed our eyes: “Great goodness, who is that?”

‘Twas Mary’s mom, and as it goes, she’s Lisa’s mom as well
Thank all the heavens she was there to fill in for a spell.

The game, it plodded right along, our defense fairly true.
We patched together several runs with tape and mud and glue.

Then from the blue, a short fly ball, out to right-center field
And here comes JG trucking in, his body like a shield –

Into the grass he flung himself – our shouts he sure did hear:
He rolled; he stood, and held aloft a perfect blue-stitched sphere.

And though he, and that other Joel, did bash it o’er the wall
The bout was lost – and yet there was one more game of softball

We carried our belongings far across the dewy grass
Just hoping that this other team’d refrain from kicking ass.

We saw the purple socks, we saw the orange pants of SWAT
The pitcher’s cute but truth be told, they weren’t all that hot.

And then a crash, a burst of light – a clang of angel chimes
And in one magic inning, we scored 10 fantastic times.

Jean made some crazy circus catches; Kevin made one too—
But then our defense went and rolled itself in stinky poo.

And then the moment did arise for us to seize the day
To carpe diem, grab the carp, however you will say…

But there, we had it in our hands, and sue me if I lie…
Oh who’d have thought the dang-ed game would finish in a tie?

Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright
(And let’s hope it’s not in the eyes of fielders on the right)

Oh somewhere children laugh and play and hide each other’s shoes...
But we are joyful Albatri – PETE’S SAKES, WE DIDN’T LOSE!!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I'm no political commentator, but...

1. ...this item struck me as funny:
No Smiling for Passport Photos in Germany
Those crazy Germans. Always a laugh riot.

2. ...can we talk about William Rehnquist a bit? The man was what, 114 years old? Obviously dying of cancer? Why on earth would he insist upon maintaining his position as Chief Justice of the highest court in the United States? Couldn't anyone have convinced him it was in the best interest of everyone involved if he just step down, enjoy a few quiet months or weeks at home, relax a little, and reflect on his own legacy before heading up to the big bench in the sky? Me, I'd like to take a while at the end of my life to celebrate life's pleasures and encircle myself with the love of my family and the memories I've made. But I guess that's why people like him get to be Chief Justice, while people like me just linger in Cubicle Hell forever. And really, look at that face. Is that the face of someone who'd derive any bliss from tipping his chair back, sipping on a fuzzy navel and flipping through old family photo albums?

By the bye, we just decided this morning that we're going to Chicago this weekend to celebrate Julie Witt's 30th birthday. See? We're CRAZY! Spontaneous! Fun-loving! It feels like the year 2000 again!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

OK no 12-month photos

Sorry, I can't make it work -- probbly because the photog saved them so I wouldn't pirate them. Which makes sense. OK! Well things are good this week. Well, today anyway. Monday night Lu decided not to sleep but to whine and cry all night -- My Hero Joel stayed up with her and eventually gave her some Baby Tylenol. We figure it's GOT to be those choppers coming in! Really, we can actually feel the sharp edge of one now. They're going to be nice, big, possibly equine front teeth and I'm terrified it's going to change her look entirely. That is, unless it changes her to look more like me. MUAhahahaaa.

We *think* Lucy is starting to say "Dodo" for Hobo these days. It is SO hilarious listening to her jibber-jabber. She has these huge, long, involved conversations with the bathroom door (and it's amazing how she never cries when she rams the door into her OWN foot).

I am about to bust open a Ding-Dong and I am VERY much looking forward to it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

12-month photos

Albatross -- Week 4 Recap

Once upon a time, there was a softball team. This team was young, and strapping, and energetic, and... happy. We were happy. And occasionally victorious.

But the season ended, and we went back to our young/strappy/energized lives, and we felt like something was missing. Some team members wisely realized that this something was softball, for Pete's sakes, and went on to play on other teams... or coach... or simply and patiently wait it out until the next season could arrive.

But the rest of us... ah, the rest of us. We grew restless in the off-season, and we sat around and stared at the walls, and thought: Where did we go wrong? What can fill this hole in our hearts? What can soothe the savage beast that roars just under our young and strapping and energetic flesh? Ah! I know! We must need a baby!

So babies we conceived, and babies we had. Boy babies, girl babies... well, girl baby anyway. And those of us who did not have babies? We got married, or engaged, so that some day we could have babies without that pesky social stigma.

And the babies are cute, and the spouses wonderful, but gol' if they don't take a lot of energy to maintain. The diapers! The crawling! The screaming! (And that's just the husbands! Yuk, yuk.) And all that energy has to come from somewhere, and I hate to say it, but... I fear it has come from our defense. Let's face it, we're not the impenetrable wall, the well-oiled machine, the sheer tour de force we may have been a mere 24 months ago.

So there's that. Not to mention the injuries plaguing our marriage- and baby-wracked bodies, and we're a sorry heap of humanity indeed. But! Does the Phoenix not rise from its own ashes?? Does the airline industry not pull itself up by its own plucky bootstraps after the terror of September 11?? Does Terry Mulholland not make a miraculous annual September comeback?? Oh, dear, I've gone too far.

So! We cobble together a team of brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and in-laws and outlaws. Of K(C)aras and Watsons and Vanyos and Gronaus and Ryans and Pats and Joels and people whose nicknames could be K-Matt and... er, one guy named Scott Pudwell. And we drag these pathetic, lost selves to the ballpark every week, and we smile and we feel happy to be out under the lights on a beautiful late-summer evening, and we HIT. Holy Moses, do we hit!! We hit and we run and we run and we hit and THAT, my friends, was a beautiful thing. And you can keep your silver and your gold and your league trophies and your first basemen who can do the splits and your sluggers wearing jazz pants... I will content myself with the Beauty.

See ya next week. :)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Albatross Week 3

Apologies from Meg: this entry was written last Friday but due to red tape surrounding the Labor Day holiday, is just being published today.

A guest blog by the President of the United States of America, GWB.

My fellow Albatri,
A great tragedy has occurred, and I'm not talkin' about the horrors down in the great state of New Orleans... nor am I talkin' about the umpiring at last night's games, although that was an atrocity-ness of pretty epic proportions as well. No, friends, I'm talking about the fact that our Albatross was slaughtered twice despite playing some damn decent ball.

As I was flying over Roseville Central Park field #4 last night, on my way to flying over the disaster in Missisississsippissis... I mean, down south there, and I WAS planning to get out of my helicopter and walk around the area that Hurricane Katariney hit, but it's darn scary down there, I mean, there are so many PEOPLE and they're all starving and dehydrated and someone said something about SEWAGE, and there's just so much WET that I think I'll probably just fly over it all instead; I'm sure I'll be able to see it just fine from the chopper, you know? Heh heh.

Anyways, so I'm flying over Roseville and there, below me like a beacon on a cool fall evening, what did I see? I saw A Thousand Points of Light, my friends. I saw Karen "Trashtalker" Smiley fallin' flat on her face pickin' up a ball.. and comin' up laughin'. I saw Cara "I can't believe I'm finally getting rid of 'Wuertz' and trading it in for 'Christopherson'; is there no justice??" Wuertz throw her glove up to her face in a self-protective maneuver and pluck a screaming line-drive right out of thin air. I saw four home runs, all by fellows named Joel. I saw Crazylegs Watson turning a good solid Texas-league single into a TRIPLE, by God.

And yet there has been slaughter, and it warn't real pretty, but I'm dern proud of y'all and I want y'all to know it. Eight runs in each game, well, that's nothing to sniff at. The tragedy which I aforementioned, er, afore? Let it not hinder your steadfastness in your fight against the Axis of Evil, i.e. Teams Who Might Not Belong in a C/D League. Hang in there and keep havin' a good time. So I have just one word for y'all's next week's games: STRATEGORY.

Sincerely,
GWB