I have a few things to celebrate these days.
1. I made 40 years on October 7, in the vernacular of my Cousin T. Hubby’s birthday gift to me was Fela, an amazing show. We were able to see it thanks to my mother-in-law watching the kiddies for us. Mae would have loved the music and dancing, and it’s a reminder that we should get her to the theatre more often. She asked to take drama again this year, and I’m not sure that the school’s program is worth the money they charge for it, especially since they moved the meeting time from aftercare hours to Saturday. I have not taken time to look into a community program yet; it’s on my to-do list. Anyhoo, the kids and I made me a chocolate birthday cake. Chocolate is not my favorite, but Jay said I should have chocolate. I added four candles, one for each decade. Yikes.
2. I braved a pool party with Mae and Jay. I have yet to be sold on the wisdom of pool parties for second-graders. I’m getting there. Water makes me anxious, and kids in water, especially my kids in water is . . . a lot. Hubby takes them to their weekly swim lesson. I took them for the first lesson, and I gasped loudly every time they moved more than two inches away from the instructor, every time she turned her head from their direction, every time they put their face near the water, etc. The original plan for the pool party was that Hubby would take Mae, as the party was for one of her classmates. Then, he was required to work on Saturday, and that left me with two kids and a pool. My youngest sister came along with me for moral support, bless her heart. As it turns out, the kids were wonderful, mine and the rest of them. Mine were actually the least skilled in the water, and it looked like the other thirteen kids started lessons out of the womb. They all played smartly and safely, and the lifeguard had an easy day of it. My anxiety level lessened once I saw how comfortable the kids were in the water. I stopped sweating and my heartache slowed, though I stayed seated at the edge of the pool (the only parent to do so, and I don’t know if that makes me or the other parents nuts).
3. I was proud especially of Mae at the pool party. She doesn’t like to put her face in the water, which has slowed her learning. While her friends were jumping in and diving to the bottom of the pool to get toys, she was quite content to spend most of her time in the 3-foot area. She ventured into the 4-foot area a few times to mingle with her friends, and some of them came to play with her from time to time. I expected her to become whiny about not being with them more, or even worse, try to keep up with them. However, she didn’t mind at all. She practiced swimming with noodles, and was pleased with herself for noodle-swimming into the 4-foot area.
4. We had a long overdue playdate with a family that we’ve known since Mae was three months old, when she and the family’s daughter, S, started daycare on the same day. S also has a little brother, three years old, a great match for Jay. The weather was beautiful yesterday, and the park was full. Mae and Jay had a good time with our friends and the other kids. No interventions, no crises and no meltdowns — such a relief. Later in the day, we met up with a cousin and her daughter, who is eight. She and Mae played well together also. I’m beginning to feel like I can monitor less, which feels a lot like progress.
5. The kids and I were off for Columbus Day, and we were quite productive. Flu vaccination, check. Clean playroom, check. We took some big steps when we cleaned the play room: one and a half bags of broken and neglected toys and whatnot went into the trash, and one bag and one box went to Goodwill. This time, when the trash bags were filled, I took them straight out back to the bin. And, we drove the donations to Goodwill today. In the past, I’d put the bag or box in the garage in case I changed my mind. It’s such a guilt-ridden process, and I accepted today that the guilt is totally self-imposed. Mae has never cared much for stuffed animals and dolls, and she’s had some not-so-nice things to say about both categories when we’ve cleaned up before. Still, I had been keeping the Barbie dolls for when other little girls come over to play, and I decided today that that’s just plain nonsense. Since Mae and Jay had to let go of some stuff, and, as a Libra, I like balance, I purged some things of my own — shoes and clothes that I should have let go of a while back, or never purchased at all. I feel so much lighter!
6. On Wednesday, I’ll join local family to celebrate the life of a great-uncle who passed last week at the age of 98. It was an honor to know him. In a family dominated by women, in terms of numbers as well as presence, he stood out. He was steady, ever-present by my aunt’s side, her partner for 72 years. There have been many men that the family has tolerated, few who were actually accepted, and even less revered like Uncle H. He could get away with joking about my aunt and her sisters’ girth. He always had a lean build and he’d say during a meal, “I won’t eat much, less I’ll get like [Z] and her sisters.” When I moved to DC in 1995 as a poor graduate student, he and Aunt Z helped me get to know the city and more of themselves and the larger family. Although I could have taken the bus or subway to get to their home, Uncle H insisted upon driving me. He was a classic Southern gentleman, always in a shirt and slacks, tie added if he were leaving the house. He’d pick me up in his 1976 Nova, which he probably should not have been driving even at that time. Once at their home, he would walk me around the yard, telling me the scientific and common names of every plant. He was a self-taught horticulturist, and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge as well as his plants, which he propagated in the basement of their home. During those visits, Aunt Z would be in the kitchen, often times cooking something from their garden — squash, greens, tomatoes, peppers. Whenever she called his name or asked for a hand, he’d say “Yes, Dear” or “Whatever you say.” Watching them as a couple was an education for me. When they had been married for fifty-some years, Aunt Z chided him for leaving kitchen cabinet doors open. I was dating Hubby at the time, and I had a light bulb moment. I asked Aunt Z, “Has he always done that?” She chuckled and said yes, in addition to leaving open the bottom drawer of his dresser after he takes out socks, causing her to sometimes trip over the open drawer. And, just like that, I realized that whatever my dude was doing then, he would still be doing 60 years later, and I was just going to have to learn to live with it. They really don’t change.
It’s all good. Since Uncle H went into the hospital in January of this year, Aunt Z has said that she dreams about him every night, even after he passed. I see now why she laughed about the cabinet doors. Hubby and I have a wedding anniversary next month, and I think the kids and I should bake another cake and put seven candles on top, a wish for seven decades.