Sunday, December 5, 2010

The gift of an ordinary day

I'm reading a really sweet book right now called The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother's Memoir by Katrina Kenison. Here is an excerpt:

   "Our photo albums from those days are full of pictures of birthday cakes and holiday celebrations, vacation trips and family adventures, piano recitals and baseball games. But the memories I find myself sifting through the past to find, the ones that I would now give anything to relive, are the ones that no one ever thought to photograph, the ones that came and went as softly as a breeze on a summer afternoon.
    No picture, or home video, or diary entry can begin to capture the nubbly texture, subtle tones, and secret shades of a family's life as it is from one hour, or day, or season, to the next. It has taken a while, but I know it now- the most wonderful gift we had, the gift I've finally learned to cherish above all else, was the gift of all those perfectly ordinary days."

This really speaks to me, because right now my life often feels like a seemingly endless string of ordinary days. Days that are filled with moments of sweetness and moments of frustration, but the effect is more of a song and less of a rock concert. And I sometimes wonder if I will be able to recall the music of this time. Will I be able to access these subtle memories?

Just the other day I used a cloth diaper on Natalie and I haven't used cloth in a long time. When I opened the stinky diaper I was instantly transplanted to a time when I took care of baby Frannie and smelled all of her dirty cloth diapers all of the time. And it was a good scent to me (sorry if that sounds weird) and a good memory, triggered by one diaper. A dirty disposable diaper smells nothing like cloth. It's all chemically. But a dirty cloth diaper has a more natural earthy scent. In that moment it was so nice to be with my baby Frannie again with that strong memory.

I feel the same about my baby Natalie now. Will I be able to experience my baby again? I try to pay attention to the little things about her that I love so much: the softness of cheek, the flash of a smile, head back, neck exposed for tickling. Her soft brown ducky hair that she swings like a wild mop when she shakes her head "No" at me. It's that little sound of her voice when she asks for her grubby pink blanket "bie", says "more" or "tank you", and also the screeching screams that she is so good at sirening too. She can be really stubborn! And that sweet little body. I love a little baby body! The perfect size for carrying and cuddling. The squishiness and little butt, and sweet little legs and feet. Little lips for kissing and freshly sprouted teeth smiling at me. I say the words "I just love havin' a baby" out loud every day. Because I do. Every day I get to hug her and kiss her and change her little diaper and put a sweet little shirt over her head and shove her pudgy feet into sandals. Lord help me remember it all.
It's a play spider!

Adam has traded in his hot temper for a cuddly-wuddly guy. I sometimes feel like I have a Laborador in the house. Before having children I had no idea how much physical touch they need all day long. I am surprised how much of my day is spent rubbing Adam's head, scratching his back, wrestling and tickling him, having him on my lap, and yes, even nipping at his ears. Maybe I'm kind of a doggie myself? Either way he's my puppy dog boy. What kind of little boy would he be without all of the physical touch that he seems to need? Adam is growing up a little bit. I can see it in the way his face is maturing and his tone of voice is changing a little. It's a little bit deeper a little clearer. Just small things probably no one else notices. I also sometimes say that he's a little bit like a grumpy old man. I'll tell people not to pay too much attention to him, because he doesn't like it. If someone says "Hi Adam!" he gets all scowly and grumbles "stwop it" or "no!". But if he warms up to you he's as sweet as can be.
Trying on hats at M&I Surplus with Daddy

Since Frannie has been in school I am learning to let go just a little. A friend of mine told me "You can't always edit their experiences." That was helpful for me because while part of me does want to edit everything, I know that part of my job is also to step back a little and allow her to work her life out a bit on her own. So I am enjoying watching from the sidelines as she navigates friendships and her teacher and classroom. She's always been a social girl who makes friends easily, and so far it's the same. She's also my fashionista who puts together great outfits (in my opinion!) and I am looking forward to the day when she can just pick out my clothes because I know I'll finally be a good dresser when it's in her hands.

These days my ordinary days involve walks to and from school, pushing a heavy stroller with Joe's Os in the cup holders. The kids sometimes all pile in with Adam sitting on Frannie's lap and other times they all want to hop out and run. Natalie stops a lot to inspect life (this is on the way home, since going to school is all about business.) Please forgive another dog comparison but, her behavior on these walks really does remind me of my old dog Herbie with the way she goes to the same plants every time and stops to check them out. There is one that attracts a lot of bees and she loves looking at that one. She hit the same huge red rose every time she passed it until the thing finally died. And of course all the walking gets her little system going and she makes a big constitutional. Just like Herbie! (I know my dad will appreciate this since he remembers this all too clearly!) Once we're home it's homework and snacks and housecleaning and playtime and I Love Lucy time.

I really do cherish these ordinary days.


Iris said...

Your blog is the reason for my recent status update: "Sometimes I daydream of sacrificing my figure (yet again) for another little body...♥"

*crying with a smile* :)

So lovely Jamie. I adore this :)
Your kids are so beautiful, yes they are. It's not just your mommy eyes telling you this, either :D

Shannon said...

Aghghgh - YOU MADE ME CRY.

I loved every second of this post, Jamie. Beautifully written. Beautiful pictures. Beautiful memories. Wonderful reminders.


Jamie said...

Aww...thank you both.

Jamie said...

@Iris- You know what I think! Of course I think a beautiful baby is so worth it. A son or daughter to love and raise is a real blessing. I wanted to tell you too, that most of Francesca's classmates are transfers from other areas: Montclair, Upland, Ontario and other areas of Claremont. It is easy to transfer if you wanted to since I know schooling costs are a concern for you and Gerardo.

Lauren S. said...

What a beautiful post, Jamie! A very good reminder!

Doreen Alvarez Photography 818/298-1217 said...

I'm lovin the new look!