Love in the Time of Neck Hair

My husband, Garrett, is a strong man- physically, mentally, and emotionally solid. He’s stoic and steadfast. He’s not overly animated when telling a story or explaining whatever the hell.

Let our two-year-old find a rogue hair growing out of the back of his neck, twirl it around her bony little finger then yank it, though, and he drops to his knees like he’s just been bitten on the left nut by a rabid meth squirrel.

Me: “What happened?”

Garrett: “Your daughter just did some kind of Vulcan nerve pinch or some shit. What the hell? Is there a hair back there or something?”

Me: “There is! It’s a renegade old man hair… want me to pull it out?”

Garrett: “Yeah but get it out on the first try- it seems to be attached to my soul and every pain receptor in my body.”

And although the sadist in me toyed with the idea of not plucking it as aggressively as I would need to in order to free him of his follicular nemesis, I was efficient and relentless in my attack.

And that restraint I, friends, is how you know you truly love someone.

(Also, I made a mental note of the coordinates of the hair’s location. I mean, hair grows back, he’s bound to piss me off at some point, and I need a reliable, surprise weapon. I love the guy but shit happens and I’m a realist.)

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The Stitch

In the grocery store this week:

Older Lady (acknowledging my pregnancy): “When are you due, dear?”

Me: “Sometime in July.”

Older Lady: “Oh you don’t want to tell me an exact date? I understand- you can never be too careful.”

Me: “Oh, no M’am, it’s not that- I’m just not exactly sure. It’ll be a c-section and will be scheduled, I’m just not sure of when in July, really.”

Older Lady: “A c-section- will this be your first one of those?”

Me: “No, it’ll be the seventh.”

Older Lady: “Oh so you never got the benefit of the ‘extra stitch?'”

Me: “I guess not…what’s that?”

Older lady: “Well, after I delivered my son, and this was 40-odd years ago, the doctor turned to my husband and asked “Do you want me to tighten ‘er up for ya?” My husband wasn’t sure what he was asking so he said “What do you mean, doc?” And the doctor says “I can put an extra stitch in here- she’ll be just like a virgin again.” So my husband says “Stitch away, doc!” And I’ll tell ya- I never once regretted getting my cooch tightened up. It really spiced things up for us. Yours should still be nice and tight, though.”

Me (slow blinking): “Yes M’am…uh….I’ve had no complaints, I guess.”

Older Lady: “I hope everything goes well for you, dear.”

Me: “Thank you! This conversation was the highlight of my day!”

Older Lady: “Me too, dear.(Smiles and winks) Brought back some good memories.”

Two things: I pray that old people never stop sharing their stories with me AND I’ll be reminding Garrett what a gift all of these c-sections have been to him. You’re welcome, Garrett.

Magic Man

It was only a matter of time….

Leo: “So you’ve got, like, a real baby in your belly?”

Me: “I do, yes.”

Leo: “How long ’til we meet it?”

Me: “Well, it takes 9 months to grow so you’ve got about 6 more months to wait.”

Leo: “How did you get it in there?”

Me: “Mmmmmmm… oh God. What?”

Leo: “The baby- how’d you, like, get it in there?”

Me: “Uhhhhhh….magic?.”

Leo: “That’s so cool. How did you learn magic?”

Me: “It’s your Dad. He has a magic wand but only his wife can see it.”

Leo: “And you’re his wife?”

Me: “That’s right.”

Leo: “Gotcha.”

You’d think that I’d have a better explanation for a 6-year-old but since they seem not to question magic or ninjas, I went the magic route. He’d never believe that his Dad’s a ninja- ninjas don’t nap.

Grown Up Games

Garrett and I had a couple of completely uneventful whine and tattle-free days away from our normal cyclone of crazy.

It was lovely and weird. Not cleaning messes, wiping asses and refereeing epic sibling battles felt foreign and, as odd as it may sound, bordered on uncomfortable. On more than one occasion, we looked at each other and asked “Should we be DOING something?”.

I was able to read almost an entire book in less than 2 years. I took my time making lunch and dinner. One night, I knowingly left dishes in the kitchen sink. I didn’t set an alarm to wake me either morning and I didn’t remind anyone to finish their eggs at breakfast. I took a long, hot bubble bath and no one knocked on the door- not once. I didn’t have to tune out a single cartoon or obnoxious app. I had only myself to dress. There were no arguments, negotiations or time outs. Garrett was very well-behaved.

All of it was awesome and, somehow, a little agitating. By the time I’d (nearly) convinced myself not to feel guilty or that I was being utterly lazy, it was time to head back home.

The kids were happy to see us but gave us no reprieve.

Within minutes of walking into our home, I was loading the dishwasher and cleaning an unknown substance from the carpet. There was laundry to tackle and crusts to cut off of sandwiches. Norah had a poop.

While tucking Leo into bed that night, he asked “Where did you and Daddy go?”

Me: “We went went out of town for a couple of days.”

Leo: “Why didn’t you take us?”

Me: “It was just a Mom and Dad trip this time, buddy.”

Leo: “Did you have fun?”

Me: “We did, yeah.”

Leo: “Did you go to a fair or something?”

Me: “No, we went to the lake.”

Leo: “What did you do there?”

Me: “Not much. We just hung out with each other.”

Leo: “That’s it? That sounds boring.”

Me: “It was- it was awesome. I missed you guys, though.”

Leo: “What do you mean it was ‘awesome’? You didn’t even DO anything.”

Me: “Exactly. We’re usually doing everything so it was nice to just do nothing for a couple of days.”

Leo: “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. Your life makes me sad. I never want to grow up and not be able to play games and have fun and stuff.”

Me: “We had fun- it’s just a different kind of fun when you grow up.”

Leo: “Did you play games? Like, Twister or something?”

Me: “We totally played Twister! How did you know?”

Leo: “I just know stuff…and that’s the dumbest game in the world so I figured that’s what you played.”

Yeah, kid? It’s not so dumb when it’s Naked Twister, you don’t have to worry about locking a door behind you and then you can take a damn nap afterwards.

That’s not sad- that’s grown- up fun. It is badass, deserving of fireworks and a marching band and incredibly infrequent.

When Sleep Wins and the Baby Finds a Sharpie

Bedtime around here works like a well-oiled machine. The older girls get themselves off to bed, I’m charged with Norah and Garrett takes the boys upstairs.

Last night, Leo asked if we could switch things up- he wanted me to tuck in him and Ronan and read a couple of books.  That sounded great to me so I said to Garrett “Hey, tonight I’m going to take the boys up, okay? If you’ll just lie down with Norah- you guys can get your snuggle on and she should fall asleep pretty easily. I’ll be down after we read some books and say prayers.”

Garrett doesn’t love altering our system but he knows that I love reading to the kids and that Leo was clearly needing some time with me so he begrudgingly agreed. I kissed Norah good night, expecting her to be sleeping peacefully by the time I was downstairs again.

The boys and I snuggled and read books and said prayers. I tucked them in, kissed their cherished little heads and blew them kisses as I closed their door. My heart was full and I was thinking that Garrett and I should start trading off nights with the kids- allowing us to alternate spending those sweet few minutes before sleep with our littlest ones.

As I descended the stairs, however, I was surprised I heard Norah, through our closed bedroom door, giggling. “Awwww, that’s sweet”, I thought to myself “they must be still be playing”.

I opened the door expecting to see a Daddy and his toddler daughter playing ‘airplane’ or tickle monster or something else equally adorable.

Instead, I found Garrett- mouth agape and snoring.Two bedside lamps and the overhead light on. SpongeBob on the television and the volume sitting at about one thousand. My earrings were scattered on the floor and Norah was in her pajama top but no bottoms and was wearing her diaper on her head. She was holding a hot pink Sharpie marker and had lines and lines and lines of that color marker all up and down her legs and on the bottom of her feet.

I walked over to the side of the bed where he  lay domant, resembling a fit and very attractive hibernating bear. I poked him with a stick. “Hey- Sleeping Beauty- what happened? Did Norah overpower you with an ether rag?”

“Huh? What? What’s happening?” he asked all startled like.

“Well, I read to the boys and tucked them in. And you…failed miserably and now there’s a permanent marker covered 2-year-old wearing her diaper as a fedora and likely suffering permanent hearing loss from the volume of the television which is comparable to that of a jet engine all up in this room right now. Oh, and my earrings are, like, everywhere.”

He lifted up onto his elbows, looking thoroughly confused while turning down the volume. “I’m sorry- I guess I dozed off. What can I do?”

Me: “A diaper and getting that marker off her legs would be good.”

Garrett: “Yup- I’m on it.”

Me: “And there’s permanent marker on the comforter and I can’t find a few of my earrings so….”

Garrett: “Well, clearly we’ll need to replace the comforter and you’ll need new earrings.”

Me: “That’s right, honey, that’s exactly right.”

And that’s just one of the ways I’m confident I married the right man- even if he falls asleep as the wheel sometimes.

Jesus and the Jet Pack

In Mass yesterday, Leo was extra squirmy. We spent most of the service reminding him to stop fidgeting, stop kicking the pew in front of us, sit down, stand up, kneel, stand up, kneel, sit down, say his prayers, make the Sign of the Cross, etc.

At one point, we are given to opportunity to silently pray for intentions of others or those on our prayer list. That’s when I looked down to find Leo with his hands folded and his eyes squeezed tightly together. He peaked at me, saw me watching him and then squeezed his eyes shut again.

A few minutes later, he turned to me and Garrett and said in a non-whispered voice “Did you guys see me praying so hard?”

Me: “I did, yes. Thank you for praying.”

Leo (loudly): “Do you want to know what I was praying for?”

Me: “Please stop talking. You can tell me about it after Mass.”

Leo (even louder): “A jet pack. I was praying that Jesus would give me a jet pack, like, right now.”

Garrett (having reached his limit, snapped his fingers twice and motioned for Leo to zip it): “Hey, Buck Rogers, stop talking, turn around and pay attention.”

Leo followed his Dad’s instructions but within a few seconds tugged on my dress. I leaned down to hear what he had to say…

Leo (scowling at Garrett): “Dad shouldn’t cuss in church. I bet Jesus is going to be mad at him. And who is ‘Roger’ anyway?”

You’ll need to replace the ‘B’ in Buck with an ‘F’ to understand what Leo thought he heard.If you’re a younger reader, you might need to Google Buck Rogers.

Leo seemed utterly disappointed when Jesus wasn’t waiting at the bottom of the steps with a jet pack after church. Blaming it all on his perceived sins of his Father.

“I bet I woulda gotten it if Dad hadn’t dropped the ‘F bomb’ and called me Roger. The jet pack needs to come to me, Leo, not Roger. Who the heck is Roger?”

And that’s when we talked about praying for the sick and the poor and not for extravagant personal rocket transporters. And that’s also when he told me to Buck off- he wants that jet pack. Screw this Roger guy- whoever he is.

I’m Not the One to Ask

Sometimes the kids will have some pretty serious questions. Out of nowhere, they’ll ask something deep and profound about about a whole host of things but mostly about life and death and the stuff that happens in between. 

That’s what I thought was happening when Leo posed the question:

“What happens in Heaven?”

Me: “Do you mean what do you do there?”

Leo: “Yeah. Like, how long are you there?”

Me: “Well, if you make it into heaven, you never leave. You get to stay there.”

Leo: “But what if you want to leave? What if you want to go on a vacation or something?”

Me: “I think that no one ever wants to leave because it’s perfect there. It’s like an all the time vacation. There’s no where better to go and your soul is happy all the time and you never feel like you need to find fun or happiness anywhere else.”

Leo: “Well, how do you get around?”

Me: “Like, drive places?”

Leo: “Yeah- how do you get to the store and stuff?”

Me: “Well, there aren’t stores or cars. You’re a soul and you don’t need food or clothes anymore; you don’t have to drive anywhere because everything is fulfilled and provided for you. You won’t want or need anything because everything is perfect. There’s no need for anything you could possibly by at a store or for cars to drive you there.  I know it’s hard to understand. I have lots of questions about Heaven, too. Did I answer your question or make you more confused?”

Leo: “I just want to know if there are beaches and unicorns in Heaven.”

Me: “Beaches and unicorns…that’s super specific. Why do you want to know about those things?”

Leo: “Because these guys on the internet said that there were and that sounds awesome. I could drive a unicorn ’cause it’s not, like, a car. I could just steer it by its horn so I don’t run into people who are playing on the Heaven beach. I wouldn’t have to be 14 or however old you have to be to drive a car and I could be like “Yeah, I’m a little kid goin’ to the beach on my unicorn up here in Heaven, so what? You can’t arrest me ’cause anyone can drive unicorns.” And did you know that unicorns fart rainbows? That’s awesome, too, isn’t it? Rainbow farts.”

Me: “I think we should talk more about Heaven when you’re a little bit older…and not so excitable about farts.”

Leo: “Okay. So, then, there are unicorns and beaches up there. I thought so.”

 

Sometimes their questions are profound and existential. Other times they’re just very simple or practical or inane. I’ve learned that I tend to like his questions best. They’re weird and mostly about farts. I can handle those. I’ll be directing all other questions to Garrett who is much more qualified and refined and has more time to devote to real answers.

I’m busy trying to find the best price on a child’s size 6 t-shirt of a unicorn farting rainbows.