A cold night made way for a sunny day. Tiny white moths flutter around in the glimmer December sunlight. The sycamore trees bare branches reveal themselves, scattered yellow and brown leaves and a shadow, half branch, half leaf lies on the ground under the giant tree. It’s Monday, but it feels like some other day, a day not on the calendar, a new day with a new name. Crunchy leaf day or Amazing Late Fall Breezy Day, or ALFBD for short. Can a new day of the week insert itself here? On what by all historical accounts is a crazy day for many, a worry day, thinking about what to buy, what to give, where to go, when to be there. Can the ALFBD be something magical instead? A dreamy, play in the dirt, look for worms, imagine the future and the past with equal delight. My feet, forty-six years on this earth, my beautiful feet that walk on the dirt, the mud, jump on crunchy leaves. Transform my giant body into a little tiny moth fluttering around the tops of the evergreens, with no apparent direction in mind. It’s a non-stress day on a historical stress day, switched up and served. Accepted and appreciated, I like today.
I did it! I successfully dropped Jack off for his first day of preschool! It worked out perfect because Fiona didn’t have school today, so she got to “come check out Jack’s school”. To make things even cooler, I pulled them to school in their trailer with my bike. It was a quick ride, which felt shorter on my bike than in my car! It’s the most beautiful day ever, again! Fiona and I stayed for maybe fifteen minutes, then I told Jack we were leaving. He said he wanted to go home, but didn’t cry and when I told him the teachers had a special box of toys for this situation, Jack and I hugged, and said “I love you” and we went our separate ways. Fiona was a bit clingy, on our walk up the hill; she wanted me to hold her hand but I couldn’t because I was pushing the bike. I felt guilty for not being able to comfort her, but I had to tell her to toughen up. The transition is complete! Operation Twin Separation a success. I’m using my bike for commuting again, Jack and Fiona are in preschool programs, the birds are singing and the sun is shining. The perfect way to start my birthday week!!!
Yesterday after we got home from our bike ride, our first one, that was SO fun, Jack, Fiona, and I hung out in the back yard. They got their clothes off as quickly as they could, I filled up the kiddie pool, sprayed them with the hose, and gave them popsicles. It felt like I was in a dream. The warm air all around me, watching the birds in the tree’s, babies playing nice, Spring time. I had a dream the night before, two women were singing, “Oh how the world has changed”, then they kissed. I was in a deep, restful sleep. I felt joy, I felt hope, I felt that the world had changed for the better, a deep change. When I woke up I felt re-born, my brain felt amazing. I was so relaxed, it was like all my anxiety was gone, I felt normal. It was the night the clock moved an hour forward. I have been re-born with the spring, shed a layer. Last night the moon was bright yellow. It cast light on everything and shimmered through my bedroom windows. I didn’t sleep as well last night, but am still relaxed.
I want to live in peace. In peace with myself. This is my birthday wish. I am happy and appreciative of my life. I spent so much time worrying about dying, I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my life enjoying living until I die. To let go and be free of the fear of aging, of my body changing. To be free of self-consciousness about this vein or that brown spot. To not obsess over my heart, to know I’m doing the best I can and that’s good enough. I’m ready for fun again. I am ready to honor my anxiety, my difficult times, accept them as they come and move through them because there is always light at the end of any tunnel.
Friday I was to get started on my application for the SFAI alumni show. I cancelled plans with a friend to stay home and work on choosing paintings, taking pictures, and writing an artist statement. I get into my studio about 11:00, let myself work on a few pieces to get through some angst I’m feeling. I had been listening to a radio program where people were calling in and expressing their feelings towards the planned parenthood hearings. A man came on the radio talking about how he thought the government shouldn’t give any money to Planned Parenthood with all his reasons behind why he thought that way, as he was talking I got really mad. I said “fuck you world and your moral highground” That same day someone had posted a video on facebook about a story of a baby who was born with an unformed skull and brain. He was a year old in the video, happy, but has started having seizures. The parents said they know he will die young. When the woman was pregnant the doctors told her she should terminate because of the deformities. At the top of the facebook share the person wrote what “selfless, wonderful people” or something to that regard. It made me angry because I feel that it would have been just as selfless to have an abortion. The baby will probably end up hooked up to machines in a hospital, that’s not quality of life. Now I know these are things I should just ignore, not let them bother me. But I have lots of personal experience with these matters. From a young age my body, pregnancy, and shame were part of me. I wrote about getting pregnant in my piece months ago, Christopher Antonio Homer https://dirtylaundryblog.com/2015/02/19/christopher-antonio-homer/ (I just read my piece thinking it was way longer than it is! That one deserves a lot more attention! I’ll update it, be on the lookout!) I would have done anything to get an abortion but I was scared and hid the pregnancy the whole nine months until I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance to give birth to a baby without a brain, he only lived six weeks. I blocked the experience out of my mind with drugs and alcohol for several years until it was so buried I could go on with my life. The memories came flooding back three years ago during the peek of my journey trying to get pregnant, especially after the miscarriage. The reason it makes me so mad when people say they are against abortion and judge other people is because it’s so personal. The choice is the womans and hers alone. Fertility, having babies, not having babies, being a parent, are all complex and individual decisions that each person needs to make for themselves.
I’ve got a smile on my face, I can feel my body heating up, the music pumping, and it’s good, I push myself hard, don’t know how long I have. Missed this, feels awesome. I’m lucky, I get to do the whole class, without anyone coming and getting me because of an inconsolable child. I walk into play center, Jack is just starting to cry when I arrive. I grab him and hug him, he’s fine after a second and starts running around. Fiona enjoys herself the whole time she’s here. I’m feeling great. This is a huge accomplishment for us. I started prepping the day before. A reservation made for Play Center, A diaper bag stocked with extra clothes, diapers, squeeze packs of food. The day of I add: fresh food, bottles, water, hats, shoes, toys, hearing aid case, books, (This is seriously what’s in the diaper bag, maybe I went a little over board). Oh, and Tiger and Blue Bear, their lovies, it made all the difference in the world to Jack having Blue Bear. The morning nap is perfect. We’re packed and ready to go, I even dressed the babies in cute clothes. (We usually wear PJ’S) We leave at 10:50, I want to get there early to get us settled in. Traffic! UGH!! It’s gridlock, I try the backway, down Drake, we move at a snail pace for 30 minutes. I’m frustrated, but still have hope. Time is ticking, I’m thinking of a backup plan, I can take a half hour swim (I actually brought my swimsuit) Jack and Fiona are starting to fuss. This really sucks. It’s 11:20, I still have a glimmer of hope as I drive onto the freeway ramp to 101, only two exits and I’m home free. The traffic loosens up, I pull into the parking lot and get a spot right in front. This is crazy. I get the babies into the stroller, roll into Play Center, sign Jack and Fiona in, get to spin only five minutes late and have a great workout. I feel so proud of myself and my children. I feel a new sense of freedom. I buy another $10 smoothie (feeling guilty) sit outside in the sunshine, feed the babies quesadilla and drink my kale and avocado. When I wake up this morning the first thought, I can’t believe It’s time to do it all again. But then I remember, Ramona’s working today, it’s Friday! YEA!
I love my body. 43 years old, the true collector of memory. Everything I’ve been through stored inside, marks on the outside. Scars, brown spots, wrinkles, varicose veins, dry heals, hair, a tattoo, looser skin than a decade ago. On the inside old aches meet new aches. Time to get a mammogram. I feel so exposed. My ovaries are swollen and painful, my uterus is complicated. I am glad both babies already had their morning poop so I can sit here longer. I’m tired, maybe the 2 shots of tequila yesterday wore me out. The coffee doesn’t seem to be helping me, it’s just leaving a gross taste on my tongue because I used too much honey. But I’m still drinking it. My mind is foggy this morning just like the sky outside. The babies are having fun playing together. I feel lucky. I need to stretch my body today. Drink lots of water, take a bath and go for a walk. My bodies tired. My back is sore, I was kneeling this morning with Jack, I went to stand up but he was so heavy I fell to the side. It’s like doing dead lifts everyday all day long. My body is getting so strong. I feel the babies are growing restless, they will be wanting my attention soon. I will need to make breakfast and clean the kitchen. I wish this coffee would give me some energy. I used to think If I was super healthy, ate raw foods, no caffeine, kept my body super pure I would feel so much better. I always felt like I needed to change. Now I feel that way of thinking just puts too much un-needed pressure on myself.
First Jack then Fiona. I am wondering if the smell of the alcohol reminds them of the last time. There’s a delay after the first shot is given, then the face turns beet red, the mouth opens wide, the eyes shut, the cries and screams start. I pick up each baby after their turn to get shots. I hold them close and tell them everything’s O.K. cuddles and tickles, they are fine. AAAAAAHHHH, I take a deep breath of relief, one year vaccinations done. After the two week incubation period I can go out with Jack and Fiona, not worrying about the measles. It’s the first time I’ve brought Jack and Fiona to the doctor by myself. The morning goes smoothly and we’re in the car by 9:40am. We’re calm and we don’t need to rush. The waiting room is filled with sick children wearing face masks. I think to myself we’ve already had so many flu’s and cold’s I’m not going to worry about this today. In the exam room Fiona and Jack point to everything, “Eh” they point to the otoscope “Eh” they point to the door and the light on the ceiling. They point to the drawers with the masks, tongue depressors and alcohol swabs hidden inside. It’s Fiona’s turn for her examination, I take off her clothes, put her on the scale, 20lbs, a lot lighter than Jacks 25. She’s measured, grew 3 inches. Jack was examined last week, while Fiona was home sick. The nurse comes in with the vaccinations. She remembers us from our visit six months ago. I wish I remembered her name, she’s really sweet and gentle and wears a pin that says I speak Baby.
We leave the doctors and I decide to go to the mall for a chai and to let the babies check out the toddler play area. At Peets I see a customer there, an older man who I saw four months earlier. I was sitting outside with Joanne, Jack and Fiona were sleeping in the stroller. This man asked me if the babies call me “Grams.” I said “no, I’m their mother.” He said he was sorry for putting his foot in his mouth. He has a daughter who is pregnant with her second. I am older than her but I’m not sure by how much. While I was trying to have kids as the years went by I would say not after I’m 35, not after 36, not after 40. Jack and Fiona were born when I was 42. I was so worried what other people would think, or more that I would die early like my Mom and her parents and leave the babies too soon. Now I see none of these worries even matter, although as I crouched down and played with my one year old twins in the dingy, dirty carpet, mall play area I felt uncomfortable with the old man and his daughter looking at me. I felt like they were wondering how old I was. Jack went over to visit them and try to get a piece of their Peets treat. The old man asked me when I knew I was having twins. I couldn’t think of the answer, Jack was trying to run out of the play area into the mall. I decided it’s time to leave.
Jack, Fiona, and I go to chipotle and have the best time sharing a quesadilla I feed to them in tiny little pieces. After we buy a frozen yogurt and take our yogurt onto the large fake grass area. I take the babies out of their stroller and have to run and catch them every 2 minutes, they keep running onto the concrete area. I worry they will fall and crack their heads and skin their little knees. I try to entice them with the frozen yogurt. I dip my spoon into the chocolate vanilla swirl yogurt, it’s so good. I give Jack and Fiona tastes, it comes right back out of their mouths, they don’t have the same experience as me. Jack starts to like the raspberries with just a bit of frozen yogurt. We make our shirts all messy, I chase them around the lawn, and we laugh. I’m feeling good. Jack cries once when I start to run from him thinking he’ll chase me. I run back, grab him, spin him around and he looks delighted. I manage to keep the babies awake on the drive home, I’m listening to Sirius new wave, first the Clash then Yaz. We come into the house, play for a while, I give them showers and bottles, and dress them in clean clothes. Then put them down for their nap. Now I am enjoying my time to write.
How will I get through the rest of the day? I am not complaining, I am serious. I pick my baby girl up out of her crib at 7:00 am. She gives me a big smile. I hug her, she coughs, I think it’s just something stuck in her throat. She can’t be sick. She just had the flu a month ago. It’s throw up. I feed her her bottle, she can’t keep it down. I go down to get Jack. His PJ’s are peed. I bring him up naked to let him air out. I take off Fionas diaper too, I’m about to put new diapers and outfits on both babies. Fiona pees on the floor, Jack prances around with his naked body. Fiona starts throwing up again. There’s throw up on the kitchen floor, pieces of bread and cheerios. They have doctors appointments to get the measles shot at 10:45. I don’t bring Fiona. Ramona takes care of Fiona, while I bring Jack to the doctor. Since we’ve been home both babies are crying, Fionas throwing up, and Ramona is sick. I only have one and a half hours left until Ramona goes home. My lap top isn’t working so I have to write this on my IPhone. I’m not complaining. I’m feeling wiped out. I need to do something rejuvenating. Billy is limping, she keeps escaping at night. I don’t have time to work in the studio, unless I do some really quick paintings. Or exercise? What will make me feel like I can handle the rest of the day? Drugs. Just kidding!