Thursday, July 17, 2014

For Kris (who generally doesn't love poetry, but whom I dearly love)


        You are the bread and the knife,
        The crystal goblet and the wine...
        -Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.
You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.

--Billy Collins

Monday, July 7, 2014

To My Sister, On the End of her Freedom and the Beginning of Liberty

Pretty fancy title, eh?  Can't lie, I'm pretty proud of it.  I do so love a good pun.  Or a bad pun.  Any pun, really.  Onward.

A few days ago my amazing little sister had her first baby.  Liberty, aka Libby, the cutest little girl ever born to the Robinson family on July 4th, 2014.  Seriously, she blows the competition away.  It's not even close. Oodles of dark hair, long fingers, a sweet little gassy smile.  She's a doll!  I'm already in love with her and we've never met.  She's a lucky little stinker to have two loving parents who I know will do everything that they can for her.  It's going to be so fun watching their little family develop. 

As far as big sisters go, I was pretty worthless during Sierra's pregnancy.  You know.  She was all like, "Hey, blah blah blah gross thing just happened to me.  Is that normal?  What should I do?"  And I was all, "Hey, yeah, I've never seen a sheep do that, so? Um...check the internet? Watch a chick flick?  No? Good luck."  But now that this baby is here?  I got this!  Brace yourself, sister.  Unsolicited advice INCOMING!

1) Do not park in the spot nearest the store.  This is what idiots do.  Park in the spot closest to the cart return stall.  You will thank me when you are not schlepping Libby's car seat into the store or between the car and the cart return stall.  It just makes sense.

2) Skip the milestones charts: they are the stuff of insomnia and the useless tearing of hair.  Look up early warning signs for developmental delays.  If Libby isn't exhibiting those signs, she's fine.  If she is, get some interventions.  (And she's still fine.)

3) You will tend to think that every amazing thing Libby does is a direct result of your excellent parenting.  It is not.  She would have learned to poop like that with even the basest of parents.  Sorry, but it is true.  This is a good thing to know, because you will also be inclined to fear that every "wrong" or "slow" thing she does is a direct result of your crappy parenting.  It is not.  I can't say that parents have no influence over their kids, but just don't let it all go to your head--or your heart.  Do the best you can to love and provide for Libby and don't think too much about what it all says about you as a parent.  It's not about you.  Keep that in mind. 

4) This too shall pass.  Repeat it.  Then repeat it again.  Give yourself about a year and you'll be amazed at how much of yourself you have back.  Plus (major bonus!) you'll also have the joy that a toddler brings.  No sarcasm.  Toddlers are far cuter than babies.  Trust me on this.  In a few months you will look back at what you were sure were the cutest pictures of the cutest baby ever and be shocked to discover instead that they depict a hideous alien.  Infants just get cuter with age.  A strange but real phenomenon. 

5) Sleep.  This is the oldest advice ever given to new mothers.  There's a reason for that.  Sleep.

6) Speaking of sleep...  If going without it for weeks on end turns you into a homicidal maniac in your mind, this is normal and expected.  I recommend limiting access to dangerous weapons in the middle of the night.  Lock up the pillows (too tempting for smothering your sleeping husband) and hide the Prius keys.  Ok?  Nobody needs you running down innocents in the Walgreen's parking lot. 

7) Ask people for advice.  You are not the first mother in this world and there is absolutely no sense in re-inventing the nappy. 

8) Ignore whatever advice you don't like.  I've been a mother for three years.  Your mother-in-law has been at it for 27 years.  Your mother has 35 years beneath her belt.  The old lady at church has a son twice your age.  The expert mother glaring at your shrieking kid in Walmart and judging your ratty pajamas hasn't had kids yet. For all of our combined wisdom, none of us has been Libby's mommy for so much as a single minute.  You will always hold the expert card where she is concerned.  Whip that sucker out as needed! 

9) Learn to love minutia.  You won't have time to sit around all day worshipping Liberty's feet.  You will have many, many loads of laundry to do.  At first you will spend upwards of six hours per day just sitting in a chair feeding Libby.  Another hour will be for nothing more than wiping that glorious little butt.  In your spare time you'll need to scrounge up something for yourself to eat, carve out a few slender wedges of sleep, and possibly shower (but only on every third "I stink so much I'm making myself nauseous" day).  The times when you offer up these often tedious details as precious gifts of love will be the times when you are most happy.

10)  If you are still reading this, then I suspect that you are not paying enough attention to brilliant piece of advice #5. This might be in support of point #8, but I think it's a gross misapplication.  Seriously, just go to sleep already!    

I'm a proud big sister and auntie.  Sierra, you done good.  Keep it up.  Libby, I'm coming for you in a few weeks!  So is Eden. I'll try to protect you, but I make no guarantees.