Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Blog: 4 Broad Minds

Dear Readers, I hope you will come visit the new blog I started with some writer friends, 4 Broad Minds. I post there once a month. But don't worry, I will continue to post here on a weekly basis also.

As a thank you, a photo of my ridiculously adorable Pug (emphasis on ridiculous):

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Reset Button

Blissed out--alone--at the beach

After the trip to Mexico, having a cold, hosting a baptism party for 50 people at my home, then a week of Daniel not sleeping well (day or night), I felt utterly depleted – physically, mentally, emotionally. When I found myself crying at 6 a.m. last Thursday, I knew something had to give. I texted Carl and requested to spend the next night away, alone. He said yes—bless him. I didn’t know where I would go, just that I needed to be in a house where Daniel was not, in hope of getting the first good night’s sleep in what felt like a century. I needed to hit the reset button.

Just knowing that a break was on the horizon – the immediate horizon—helped so much. The next day D was pretty chill. (I swear, he’s his most charming when he knows I’m going to be leaving.) I had dinner with Carl, then took off, tires squealing as I made my getaway. I listened to loud music without worrying about waking the baby. Arriving at the shore at 9 p.m., I pumped milk—no escaping that at the moment—watched some silly TV, and went to sleep by 11.

I woke up—pause for effect—9 hours later.

As if it didn’t already feel like the best morning of my life, it slowly dawned on me that no one needed me to do anything. I didn’t have to feed anyone, change anyone, walk anyone. I could just…well, be. It was glorious.

After a quick stop at the beach, I had a blessed breakfast of buckwheat pancakes, smothered in butter, a side of pork roll, perfectly grilled, and bottomless coffee. I poked into a few stores, bought some fudge for my amazing husband. Then off to a massage, where I luxuriated in the feeling of being pampered, of being cared for, with no expectation in return. (Other than payment, which I was happy to provide.) I followed that up with a pedicure, mostly just so I wouldn’t have to move for another hour. I ate lunch at the counter of Mack & Manco’s, watching the ocean through the window, then wandered the boardwalk. I spent a few more precious moments at the beach, just because I can never get enough of the salt air, the crashing waves, the sandpipers scurrying, the sun penetrating to my very heart. I left feeling refreshed, renewed. Yes, reset.

I came home to a sick baby. Poor little guy has his first cold. Which meant another week of very little sleep for any of us. By Thursday, I was ready for another escape. Had I opened Pandora’s Box by my one glorious day to myself? Knowing it’s not realistic, or even desired, to be away one night every week, I had the idea of Carl and I alternating nights taking care of Daniel, until the sleep strike ends. So last night, I was here, with my family, but in another room, where I slept blissfully for 8 straight hours with a loud fan to block any noise. I woke up refreshed, renewed, reset. So maybe the answer isn’t waiting for opportunities for grand gestures to myself, but rather, carving out small spaces for myself whenever possible.

How do you hit the reset button for yourself?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Mexico

Cutest passport ever
Some people thought I was crazy to bring my four-month-old son with me to Mexico a few weeks ago. Of course I cleared it with the pediatrician first, and invited my mom to join us, thank God, but why would I do this? Come with me for a few moments to My Mexico, to see for yourself why I return again and again.

Upon your arrival, the bride meets you at the bus station. No matter that her wedding is in three days and she has a million things to do. She comes herself, and remains unruffled when your infant son screams for the entire thirty minute cab ride to her house. Later, as she holds your son so you can eat in peace, she says, “Pobrecito was just so tired from the journey.”

Your host mom has dinner ready when you arrive—homemade tortillas, filled with cheese, topped with freshly made salsa verde and ensalada de nopal—cactus with reputed healing properties. And of course, your favorite—sweet, delicious Mexican Coke in a glass bottle. 

In the morning, the octogenarian abuelita arrives to stay for a few days. After telling a sad story about a fight she’d had with her daughter, she says, while crying, that she is unsure about where she will live. Then your baby appears. When abuelita takes him in her arms, her whole being lights up, her smile shining out of her eyes. She is lost in the pleasure of holding this little one. Seeing her joy warms you from head to toe.

Later, as you walk the baby in the stroller, a passing bus driver honks and yells “Guera” out the window.

In the zocalo, spotting a teeny embroidered shirt you want to buy, you realize you know the woman selling it. She greets you with great warmth, so happy to meet your baby and says, “You must be grateful for this gift from God. Not every woman is granted the privilege of being a mother.”

Asking a woman in the street for directions how to walk to the market, she tells you sternly it’s not safe to do so with the baby. When she can see that you really want to go, she relents slightly and says if you must go, you can take the bus, and tells you how to do it.

A man hops onto the bus, up the stairs and into a seat, loudly joking with the bus driver. He has no legs, so he walks on his hands. No one stares.

Driving to the wedding, the mother of the bride invites the cab driver to the reception, and means it.

At the wedding reception, everyone demands to hold the baby. They comment on how pale he is, how he looks like his father, how he’s a muñeco—a little doll. No one bats an eye when he cries, or when you nurse him. You notice in a new way how children are a part of the landscape, viewed as treasures, not as noisy bothers.

All dressed up for the wedding
Three sisters—ages 18, 15, and 13, adopt you and your son at the wedding reception, following after you, sitting with you while you nurse him, running to get whatever you need from the diaper bag. They can see you need help and they provide it. You’ve never met them before.

You catch your macho host brother wiping away tears as his baby sister says her vows. Later he grabs your hand and pulls you to the dance floor where you shout together, “No pares, sigue sigue.” Nearby, you find everyone from infants in arms to grandmothers, laughing, dancing, singing.

Waking up the morning after the wedding, you learn that not only had the post party continued until 2 a.m. the night before, but that your host mother, the mother of the bride, had made a pot of pozole as large as a keg of beer, for her birthday party, which begins at 11 a.m. and lasts well into the night.

Daniel's abuelitos
At the airport restaurant in Mexico City, you sit, sad and tired, eyes barely opened. The waitress shyly asks if she can hold your son. When you gladly hand him over, the entire staff gathers, passing the baby around, smiling, and laughing.

After returning home, you call your host mom to tell her you’d returned safely. She says, “Ya extraño el llanto de Danielito.” I already miss Daniel’s crying.

The next morning you emerge from the shower, greeted by the baby crying. You look at each other, somewhat shocked that no one has appeared to comfort him. You’re both thinking, when can we go back to Mexico?