Practical Magic.

Like most kids, I used to believe in all sorts of magic and fairytales and ghost stories.

These days..not so much. I guess I should say not as much. I don’t really believe in psychics or fortune tellers, especially the ones at fairs and carnivals and with neon-lit signs on their windows. I don’t believe in witches, and I’m not sure about ghosts. I have also lost most of the thoughts I had about myself as a kid that would be considered delusions if I now thought them as an adult – like that I was invincible or that I would one day learn to fly or have x-ray vision or read thoughts and move objects with my mind. And I think..that maybe my younger self would be heartbroken to hear (see?) me write these words. Maybe a little. But there’s also the “magic” that we create for ourselves as adults. Sure, life can move really fast and you can walk in your own footprints and sit at the same desk for decades. Or forever. A lot of people do that and a lot of people don’t. And I do believe, and I always will believe, in a certain something. A hum in the air. A God or many gods and goddesses. Destiny and intuition. And mainly, I believe in the strength of humanity to create many of the things we only dream about as kids. ‘Cause that is very much real. And I believe that children are godliness and that so are parents.

And I believe in parental intuition. So very much.

I was scared of Scarlet turning one, almost to the point of panic. And on her first birthday eve, she was sent to the hospital in an ambulance to treat a dog bite. We didn’t get home until the night of her birthday. No cake that day. No presents.

I was scared of Desmond’s birth, almost to the point of panic. And he spent six days in the NICU starting two days after his birth. It all wound up ok, just as in the case of the dog bite, but nothing else has ever made me that freaked out.

This week he turned eight months. And it’s too early to tell how I will react to my beautiful boy turning one. It makes me feel inspired to begin to know the kid that the baby will become. It also makes me feel like sobbing and sobbing until I can’t breathe. I have lost most of the early anxiety I have ever associated with him. And in its place is the normal parental worry and concern, but beautiful intuition, that I will carry for my life with him. The beautiful intuition I discovered at his birth.

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Someone recently asked me if I am vehemently against giving formula to babies. And my surprised response was, “Of course not! I think its invention was vital to humanity and survival and sleep. Why would you think that about me?”

And she pointed out, not the obvious that neither of my kids have ever had even a drop of formula pass their lips, but that Des lived in the NICU for six days only on milk. And I live 35 minutes from the hospital. That was a lot of driving and sleeplessness and wear and tear, and time away from Scarlet, all so that the newborn would be given only milk. And I thought about that for awhile and realized there were a few reasons I was so adamant he only get milk. For one, whether or not he really was sick, I thought milk was his greatest chance of a full recovery if so. Secondly, my body needed to get adjusted to his feeding schedule. And mainly, it was the only way for me to mark him as mine. Most people have a baby in a hospital, have that baby near their side during their whole stay, and then take that baby home after two days or so.

Without knowing when I’d get to take him home, because it did honestly feel like forever for those of you who know that NICU time is measured in eons and not days, it was my chance to be alone with my own baby. Lost with him behind privacy curtains; bonding with him in such a way that skilled surgeons and nurses and other parents and other babies seemed to exist near me and pass by me in hushed and respectful whispers and tones. That was our chance to be mother and son.

I was the only one who could do that for him, and I wanted to remain the only one. Anyone could hold the bottle but only I could supply the food. It may have started me out with him as a bit of a control freak, but heck, I’m allowed.

Although I was robbed of a nice, normal newbornhood, well hell (heck is too mild for this one) I was not robbed of a nice, normal, healthy son. And it’s funny that as he inches closer to one, that I find myself nostalgic for a pink, squishy new baby when I never really enjoyed the one I was given. I guess it’s because it’s how I discovered such earth-bound magic, in him and in myself. With Scarlet, it grew steadily and firmly. With Des, I was smacked with his practical magic right after birth.

I think most of us see our children as heaven-sent, brilliant, dreamy, wonderful, miraculous, beautiful, beautiful creatures.

I am no exception.

Heartstrings.

I’m going to start this out with a positive story. Well first a hey, Happy Valentine’s Day! I like the holiday. It takes many turns along the years. I loved it as a kid when my mom put out a huge cardboard box for us to “mail” our valentines to each other with. Then we’d wake up the next morning to open our valentines and get little presents and eat Lucky Charms. We never really ate Lucky Charms. Only on Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day (clover marshmallows!) and our birthdays, if that was the “junk” cereal we so chose. I loved Valentine’s Day as a teenager when we sent carnations to classmates through messengers. You got singled out in class on Valentine’s Day morning. I always received carnations from my sister and my gay guy friends. I also loved Valentine’s Day as a young adult because it was pretty great if I had a boyfriend, and it was also pretty great (maybe even greater) if I didn’t. I liked the mystery – wondering if something might happen for me.

I generally went through ages four through my twenties always with a crush on someone, or I was in a relationship, or both. (That sounds worse than it was)

I love Valentine’s Day as a wife because I have a Valentine. And I love it as a mother because it’s starting to get very fun for Scarlet as her understanding of holidays grows. It’s not always magical. Sometimes it downright can suck. Even today. I don’t care if it’s “cool” to love Valentine’s Day or hate it. I don’t care about the origins of the holiday or how it’s become all about Hallmark consumerism. So I’m just going to love it with the family and eat some heart-shaped cookies from a friend.

Oh, and Scarlet took one of the valentines her classmate made, licked it, wrote on it in pencil and declared it her own original valentine. She gave it to me and said, “I licked it.” Thanks?

Do you ever have “hanging by a thread” days? I know some people feel that way for weeks or months or years, or worse – for lifetimes. I generally don’t. It’s so temporary sometimes that it can turn in an instant. Yesterday I had a day like that. I felt at my wit’s end. Then I went to Target to get diapers and I got Scarlet another magic wand. She wanted me to open it for her right after we left the store. So I stood by a trashcan to open it, realizing I was blocking the path of a skateboarding boy who was watching us. He may have been ten or eleven. Tops. I apologized and got out of his way and he stopped me and said, “No. I just want you to know that your kids are..so awesome.”

Moments like that take me back from the wit’s end edge.

It changed my whole outlook. Des had had a bad night two nights ago and that always ruins my morale and gets me thinking insane thoughts about putting him alone in a soundproof room for the night, or sleeping in my car. I also start to think that even when he’s 30, he’ll still be in my house giggling and banging a rattle into a crib at some terrible hour. And after this nice exchange with the skateboarding boy, my mind cleared and I thought, “He might have a bad night again. So what? I’ll get up and nurse him even though I always say I won’t. I’ll hug him and love him and when he’s an adult, I’ll come into his room at 3:00 am and bang a drum.” Well at least you know I’m not totally rational. Halfway, maybe.

Maybe many of us are always hanging by one thread, and we just don’t know it. The brink before one missed paycheck, one car repair too many, another freakin’ snowstorm, a sleepless night or a spousal argument. A leaky roof. A bad tantrum. A year of missed paychecks. Half a year of bad tantrums. And then I wonder if that last thread were to be cut, from any of the aforementioned scenarios, would we fall to an untimely death on a hardwood floor? I’d like to believe that instead you band together with other loose or already cut threads and form new material.

Maybe you just fall into a soft, plush pile of friends, family, partners, neighbors, and skateboarding boys in front of Target threads. All together in this soft mess. Heartstrings.