From Yesterday

Today is Kid A's third birthday, which means he's been around in our lives now for three years. (That was one of those obvious statements that Chinua likes to call "Rae Observations.") But it really is a strange thing, to have had a child for just three years, three of the shortest and longest years in your life.

On this day three years ago, we were feeling pretty shell-shocked. We were in the hospital, making friends with the nurses who were all pretending they couldn't even pick up our nine-pound baby because he was so heavy. We sat watching episodes of the original Star Trek, back to back on some obscure channel, and stuffing hospital food into our faces. I remember almost every episode. There was this one where they landed on some planet where the King and Queen could make them do anything they wanted, and so they had them performing some twisted carnival scene, I remember it being very bizarre. From time to time I would glance down at my sleeping baby, and would almost have to look away, being so overwhelmed by the rush of love, fear, and disorientation that I felt, looking at him. It was the first day of our family life, and it was the biggest change we've ever made.

It's amazing to think that Kid A has gone from being a little huge-eyed alien baby to the big boy that he is today. Whenever I was walking down Haight Street with my kids, I would almost always come across someone trying to get spare change or sell Street Sheets who oohed and aahed over the kids and then said to me, seriously, "They grow up fast, don't take your eyes off of them." It's everyone's message, because it really is true, you turn your back for an instant and they're out of diapers. Ha. I wish. The truth is that you agonize over wet undies for months before they're out of diapers. But in the greater scheme of things, it really is quick.

So it seems so odd that some days, Elena (the other mom here at the Land) and I are looking at each other every five minutes and asking, "Is it bedtime yet?" because we are so bored and tired that all we want to do is get the crazy tearing around kids into their jammies and tucked into their little beds so we can be real people for just a few hours before we fall exhausted into bed. I absolutely love spending time with my kids. They are the light and joy in my life. Bedtime is still my favourite time of day, though, probably just because enough is enough. Especially with toddlers.

But, as people, we adjust. And I'm amazed at how I have adjusted to being a mom, and to having more work than I've ever had in my life. There are the wonderful perks that go along with being a mom, with having kids, so that you don't even question whether or not it's all worth it. Or, you don't question it more than twice a day. I do remember thinking, when I had given birth to Kid A, and I had lost so much blood that I was as white as a sheet for months, (people told me I had a motherly glow, they didn't know that I just had no blood left in my body, and then, after I got my blood back, no iron. I thought the exhaustion I felt was the result of being a new mom, not realizing that really I was severely anemic, so when I had YaYa and the exhaustion was cut in half I was pleasantly surprised) how could anyone ever have a newborn and a toddler? There's just not enough time in a day. But the wonderful truth about life is that you gently stretch over time (sometimes not so gently) and once I had a 19-month-old and a newborn, it turned out to be not nearly as bad as I thought. And there are days and days when I just can't get enough of the kids, when we are having such a good time together and I keep them up late just to spend time with them because I'm not tired at all and we all just want to cuddle a little longer. Those days are spread out few and far between, but they still happen.

But enough about me, and my transition to motherhood, how about Kid A? He's a big boy. Three is so old. He's a little scientist of a boy, trying to learn how to read, learning and soaking in everything he can. He's sensitive and cautious and ornery. He'll name animals by specific name, that duck is not a duck, it's a mallard duck. That's not a shark, that's a hammerhead shark. I asked him to guess what Elena's baby (due this month) will be named (because she won't tell anyone the name they've picked, not even me, not even though I promise not to even think about it so no one will read my mind) and he said, "Oh, probly India too, (Candace and Jared's new baby's name) or Leaf, or Water, or Sky, (and just as I thought he was the perfect hippie child) or Stroller." Stroller? Hmm. Maybe Chinua and I should remember not to enlist his help in naming our new baby.

He's amazing, in short. Thank you God, for Kid A.

*** After I wrote this, I was able to see footage of the people stranded in the New Orleans Convention Center after Hurricane Katrina. Their babies were hungry and thirsty and I just felt so sad. I'm saying, thank you thank you thank you God for every boring day with my kids. I'm glad for them all.