Friday, July 20, 2007

Summer Babies

I had three babies in the middle of summer. Three girls. What possessed me to have babies in the height of blistering heat is beyond me.

I remember being hugely pregnant and so hot I thought I was damaging my inner organs somehow. I would cry in cold water baths, glaring at my red, itchy stretch marks, begging God to save me from myself. Here's what I learned: Wailing in the tub to God does no good. If the babies are supposed to be late, they will be late no matter what you promise God in return for a sooner delivery. You just have to heave yourself out of the tub and go watch Wimbledon to make it through the days. And make sure the freezer is stocked with ice cream.

My first baby was nine days late and my second was eleven days late, both in the humid heat of Wisconsin. My third girl but fourth baby was born on her due date but only because I begged to be induced. For the record, my son was induced five days late, but it was February, and I hadn't reached heat-exhausted hysteria yet.

So now my girls are growing up. Now we celebrate all their summer birthdays. They cascade like a waterfall, one after another for an entire month. It starts with the fourth of July and all that hoopla. After the barbecues, fireworks and parades, we start gearing up for Adrienne's birthday. Her most memorable party was her fourth one, where I spent all might making a baby doll cake worthy of serious preservation for all generations. I couldn't keep my eyes open at the party, but that was the cutest darn cake ever.

Then it's time for Leah's birthday--my third girl. Her most memorable was her fourth as well, when we transformed the backyard into a fairy wonderland and all the little girls wore pink and played fairy games. I remember wearing pink myself. I love pink.

Then comes Samantha's birthday, my second daughter. Our sunflowers are always in full bloom on her birthday, and so she has always loved that majestic, cheerful flower. I am sad to say I don't remember in detail any of her parties. She will be upset about this. But I know what we're doing this year. We're going to a space center where the kids get to be in command of a space ship. See, I'm not a total loser, Sammie!

By now it's the second week of August and although it has been a blast, I'm completely partied out and broke. It's kind of like Christmas in the middle of the summer. I always wonder what my son thinks, with all these girls having parties all summer. I hope he doesn't feel bad. I try to make his birthday special in February when it's not hot at all. Plus, he still gets to come to the party and eat birthday cake with melted ice cream.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

July's Fevered Pitch

July has reached its fevered pitch. The siren is sounding! I knew it would. I miss June. There's something about the fireworks in the sky on the 4th of July that changes the tone of the summer from simmer to boil, from leisurely to frantic. With the hotter weather comes wilting flower pots, crankier parents and kids and and more vacations, barbecues, parties and outings. There's more to do and less time to do it.

What really irks me is all the ads for back to school stuff that come in the newspaper. I AM NOT READY TO THINK ABOUT THAT YET, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Like I can even think about buying my kids jeans and long-sleeved shirts when it's 100 degrees out. And when kids see the ads they go bananas and start ranting about how summer just started and how they haven't done ANYTHING FUN AT ALL THE WHOLE SUMMER AND NOW IT'S OVER!!!!

Then you have to calm them down and remind them that there's still five weeks or so, and remind them of all they've done and will still do. But they're still ticked off. Then feel ripped off somehow. Five weeks is nothing, they say. Life isn't fair. School sucks, etc. Blah blah, blah.

I must admit they're sort of right. There isn't as much time to lounge around the pool anymore. There isn't much time to read all the books I want to. There isn't much time to stare at the clouds (wait a minute, there never was time for that.) But isn't that the quintessential thing a child's supposed to do in the summer--lay out in the back yard and stare and the sky? I never really did that as a kid, did you?

And anyway, nowadays if a kid lays on the grass to stare at the clouds, his Mom or Dad is going to freak out and slather the kid with SPF 60 and bug spray from head to toe. He's going to get a lecture about harmful UV rays and told to put on sunglasses. His Mom's going to be watching him out the window to make sure he's safe from things like sprinklers or grass clippings from the neighbor's lawn or a stray pet that might startle the day-dreaming boy. By this time, whatever dreams he is dreaming have been replaced with the worried words of his parents. "I told you we should have signed him up for day camp!"

I have managed to read a couple of cool books lately, though, and I'm trying to sneak in another one when people around the house aren't watching. They know all the things I'm supposed to be doing to get ready for a major family vacation that begins this weekend. They know I really should be exercising or writing instead of reading, but guess what, I can't help myself. I really can't. There are just too many good books out there that I'm dying to read.

I just finished "kira, kira" by Cynthia Kadohata. It's a young adult novel about two Japanese-American sisters living in Iowa and Georgia. I was particularly touched by the loving relationship the two sisters share, even though they are vastly different. It was breath of fresh air.

I'm ready to delve into another one, to calm the sirens of July.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Salt Water

I attended a weight watchers meeting last week where the group leader talked about the power of salt water. She said the key to success in everything depends on our use of salt water. "What?" everyone asked. How could this be?

She explained about three kinds of salt water: The first kind is sweat produced by exercise and work. Second, is the emotional release of tears. Third, is the figurative representation of the ocean and the calmness and rejuvenation we feel when we have getaways from life.

I have had all three kinds of salt water in the last few days. I'm wondering how this is the key to success. I felt great after an 8-mile hike through Targhee National Forest in Idaho on Friday. We identified 20 different kinds of wildflowers, some I'd never seen before! Being away with my husband enjoying the scenery was fabulous R and R. But the tears have come today, and I feel vulnerable and sad. Maybe some good will come from them, I don't know.

I don't cry easily. I don't cry unless something is really affecting me. When I first heard this salt water theory, I wondered how I'd ever put it to the test since my crying sessions are few and far between. They are rarely used as an emotional release. When they come, they are usually the result of an event that has caused sorrow, pain or worry.

I am left still wondering about salt water. It probably has a lot of merit. But I can't see it today. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

June Baby

My good friend Alison had her baby on Friday night. I was quite involved with this pregnancy. I watched her from the beginning weeks when she could hardly keep her head up, to her deliriously happy last few months when she organized, cleaned and prepared for the birth of her son.

Alison has two daughters. The oldest, Camryn, is best friends with my daughter, Leah. I can't count the number of hours they've logged together playing elaborate imagination games, and making horrific messes that they absulutely have no energy to clean.

So when Camryn's baby brother was born, it was almost like it was Leah's brother being born. We went to the hospital on Saturday and Sunday to visit baby Chance. Leah held him with reverence and awe, doing the absolute best job possible so we'd let her hold him again.

Her face was serious but calm as she held the day-old baby. She was thrilled that he sucked the pacifier she got in his mouth and that he calmed right down after. She marveled at his peach-fuzzed head, and that classic newborn smell that makes people go weak at the knees. She was in baby nirvana.

Although it brought back beautiful memories of my own childbirth experiences, I was so glad that I am through with that exhilerating, exhausting phase of my life. That I could breathe in baby Chance's intoxicating newborn smell, and then let him go back to his mom. That Leah can enjoy being around a newborn without me having to actually birth one. Thanks, Alison for giving my daughter an experience I can't.

Alison, you are an amazing, conscientious, beautiful mother. You are a devoted and loyal friend. You looked so royal and regal in in your forest green bathrobe, enthroned in your hospital bed, basking in the miracle of birth. You were absolutely made to have babies.

Congratulations on the birth of a perfect son.