[Bax and his new 97 cent hat from Old Navy (L) and with his new reading material (and bed head) (R)]
So, this morning, the baxman says to me as I'm changing his diaper, "Baxter has MORE penises!"
"Yeah. I have a big penis and a tiny penis."
Basically, a couple of weeks ago, as I changed his diaper, he informed me – while touching his tiny little erection – that Baxter had a "BIG" penis. He then asked me where his tiny penis went, and then accused me of throwing it away, "Did mama throw Baxter's tiny penis in trash can?"
I explained that it's the same penis – it just gets bigger and smaller. Like a slinky. (It was the only thing I could think of. Give me a break). So, now when he plays with the slinky he stretches it out and then makes it small and says, "BIG slinky and TINY slinky! – like Baxter's penis!"
Yeah, I have NO frikkin idea what I'm doing. When he goes to therapy at age 18 we'll find out how I've scarred him.
So, I'm realizing as I talk to people that I don't see very often, that because I only tend to write in the blog when I'm having a tough time, people probably don't have a very accurate picture of how I'm doing on a day-to-day basis. I know I wrote it long ago – that if I'm not writing, that's a good thing – but I'm also seeing how writing only when I'm "in it" gives a one sided picture of my life.
When things are good, I'm sort of like, "who wants to read about this boring schtuff?" But, in the interest of painting amore complete picture, here's a rough idea of my average day/week.
Weekends: I wake up with Baxter around 6-7 am, fix breakfast, and play/do housework until like 9. We generally do a morning trip to Wegmans ("the choo choo train store – because of the train suspended on a track that bax adores) and Baxter is a charming little bug at grocery stores these days. We talk about every item on the shelves. He greets everyone. Then we do lunch together, I nap while he naps, and then we\'ll visit someone or trek into the city in the afternoon. I feel so chill and content on the weekends now. Not rushing to do anything major. Enjoying my coffee more than I ever used to. Feeling like Mike is somewhere listening to This American Life with me.
I find that I look forward to the most banal aspects of my day – but in a way that brings me significant joy. When I wake up and think about how I get to go in and greet my beautiful boy and drink my morning cup of coffee, I smile. It's that simple.
Weekdays:. Up at 6:30, breakfast. At 7:30, we head up to the master suite. I shower and get ready in the bath off of the bedroom while bax watches Sesame Street. He helps me pick out my outfit. I pack up my stuff, pour some coffee in a travel mug, and leave around 8:20 am to drop Bax off at daycare. Lately I’ve been spending 2-3 days a week on campus at UDel to prepare my classes (which start on Feb 7). It's a 50 min drive from daycare to my office. And I LOVE it. I either make long overdue phone calls, or – most recently – shake my groove thing to Justin Timberlake or Beck, sipping coffee as my lead foot and I travel at about 80 down 295.
Being on campus makes me happy. Not only is my office sunny and big, but the people there are already like family. Practical joking, insults, and lots of laughs. Lately, prepping the syllabi for my courses has been a joy. I love what I do, really. And I guess that's about it.
Tuesdays are my favorite days of the week. I see my therapist at 9 am to clear out the muck, head to a coffee shop in Collingswood where I meet up with my dear friend Heide (who works from home as a graphic designer). We crank work out and gossip over yummy coffee drinks. At 1 pm we pack it up and go next door for a yin/vinyasa yoga class taught by Heide's friends who own the studio. By 2:45 we're back at the coffee shop to get in another hour or so of work before picking up our kids from daycare. Dreamy.
The tough time usually comes after Baxter goes to sleep at 7:30. If I don't have something planned, then the hours from 7:30 until 10:30 can start to bring me down. But I try to have folks over, work out on my elliptical, or get some work done.
More than anything, I feel a profound absence of restlessness. Before I met Mike I was pretty anxious in all aspects of life. But when I met him, much of it disappeared, except anxiety about school which continued to get my knickers all up in a twist. And then Baxter came and I was keyed up. Pretty frikkin keyed up. But... not anymore.
Kirk and I talk a lot about how nothing freaks us out. When you go through something like this, particularly after spending such an unpredictable chaotic time in the hospital just waiting and waiting to know if your life is going to look like you thought it was or not – it changes how you approach every day. I'm not afraid of anything. My OCD (is the door locked? Am I sure? Is the toaster off? Am I sure) has taken a back seat. I don't fear much – except the occasional fear of spending my days without a partner. I'm not worried about academic success anymore. I'm not worried about tenure. I'm not worried about whether every decision I make is going to be the deciding factor between Baxter turning into a productive member of society or a criminal.
It's as if Mike's illness and death gave me the gift that he wanted me to have more than anything: peace and calm. My colleague Scott calls it "big mind." And who knows if I ever could have attained this without having endured this entire last year. But it is perhaps the greatest gift Mike could ever have given me – other than Baxter, of course.
I had a dream a few months ago that I never wrote about, but that I think about often. It was less of a dream than a state of semi-conscious mind-wandering. It was sometime during the night – I emerged from sleep and couldn't figure out whether it was an afternoon nap or the middle of the night. Didn't know where I was either. The more I thought, the more elusive the answers became. Then the questions multiplied. Am I married? I don't know. Am I a mother? I don't know. Am I a boy or a girl? No idea.
And while at first I started trying to chase down the answers to the questions, I then made a decision to just sit in this sort of sleepy yet awake state, content in the not-knowing. Does it matter if I don't know where I am, when it is, or even who I am? Not so much, no. I just lay there in my comfy bed and realized that even without the answers to these seemingly essential questions, I was fine. I felt like I was floating there in space with nothing except the presence of my body and my breath.
Independent of all of these externalities, I am me and I am here.
So now, in those rare instances when I do start spinning around or obsessing about something or freaking out about how I don't know if I'll ever be married again, I can sometimes figure out how to get back to that floating place. And it all sort of disappears.