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Baby’s best friend

Willa was out of sorts yesterday afternoon when she woke up from her second nap. She was standing by the side of her crib, let go of the rail, and fell down. It made her grumpy.

She and I sat down in the recliner next to the crib for a bit of a snuggle, but she was still snuffling.

Brady can’t stand it when Willa is in any kind of distress.

He saw one of her toys on the floor across the room, went and got it, and brought it to her.

“Here, Willa,” he seemed to say. “Have a toy. They always make me feel better.”

And it worked.

As a thank-you, Willa gave Brady two cookies. She thought about eating them herself, but changed her mind (with my help).

Brady and Will


Friends far away

This week’s Daily Post Challenge, “threes,” is an invitation to respond to one of six photographic triptychs.

I scrolled quickly through them, and the last set of photos grabbed me.

I saw the distinctive roofline of the Sydney Opera House and thought, “Australia!”

And then, “Lisa lives there. Well, not in Sydney, but still.”

Just for a moment, the photos, and the thought of Lisa, pushed hard on a sore spot.

The propelling force of my life has been centrifugal. My friendships have been like the steamed kale I put in the Vitamix this morning—hurled away from the center, shredded, splattered up, out, against the sides of the container.

We live in a time of such tremendous mobility. Lisa and I became friends during our first week of college, and now she lives in Australia, and I live in Alaska. Two wonderful adventures.

Given the choice, I suspect Lisa and I would make the same decisions that took us far from home, far from friends, that pushed us to places where we had to recreate our lives, put down new roots, try to make new friends.

But the cost is high, and some days I envy those who stayed closer to home.

Some days I wish I could wrap my fingers around a cup of coffee, look across the table, and have a long talk with a friend who has known me for decades.

Today is one of those days.


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You call that a meltdown?

Reactions from my friends on Facebook to yesterday’s post were variations on a single theme: “You call that a meltdown?”

My favorite comment came from a friend I’ve known since childhood; after a hearty laugh, she said, “I can hear you saying ‘Chill out’ in that snooty tone that means you’re annoyed. If you ever do have an epic tantrum I want it on video and a blow-by-blow description.”

Later on in the thread she said, “Stop envying the front seat. We are the ones with bugs in our teeth when the ride ends!”

Don’t you love having friends like that? Friends who know all your quirks—and still love you? Friends who can laugh at themselves, too?

Yesterday’s post, and the comment thread on Facebook, felt like light on a shadowy part of my soul.

Here’s some of what I said on Facebook:

This is why I write: to expose the critical, controlling, shaming voice to the light, to pry open a window so fresh air can rush into a stuffy room, to let friendly laughter lighten the burden of judgment.

In that moment, in that tiny moment when I lost control, I felt shame way out of proportion to what I’d actually done. And when you live with such a tight rein on yourself, it’s hard to accomplish much that’s worthwhile. There’s a lot of truth in the saying, “well-behaved women rarely make history.And then there’s our scathing, but largely unvoiced judgment of others.

I’m so glad for all my freer, first-car friends. I figure by the time I’m about 80, you all will have helped me loosen up. And I suspect Willa is first-car, all the way. 

I may not often live with bugs in my teeth, but I hope to spend more time in the relaxed and friendly second car, and less in the uptight, self-and-other-judging third.



Please don’t like me

I’ve been trying to figure out if I can change my Facebook settings so I no longer get notifications when someone “likes” a photo or link or status update I’ve posted.

So far, no luck.

Last week, Liesl and I watched the Frontline documentary, “Generation Like,” and it made me want to disconnect from “like” notifications even more.

Here’s the deal. When I see the little white number in the red circle on my phone, I want real interaction with you. When the Facebook tab on my laptop toolbar shows a number in parentheses, I’m hoping you’ve got something to say.

“Liking” has come to mean so many things on Facebook. It’s a nod. It’s a smile. It’s a gentle hand on my shoulder. It’s an acknowledgment that you’ve noticed.

But it’s silent. It’s quick and easy. And it makes me feel like an approval junkie when I get excited by a “like” count.

So please don’t like me. Not unless you really, really like my photo, my link, my status update. And even then, would it be so much harder to type a few words?

Because I’m tired of the drive-by nod, the distracted smile, the easy comfort, the split-second attention.

Let’s be real friends to each other, instead of being stretched thin, “like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The “like”habit is hard to break, but I want to work on it. How about you?


Lesson: let the love in

Shower 1A week ago Saturday, a group of friends gathered to celebrate the new life Liesl and I are bringing into the world.

The food was delicious. There were flowers everywhere—roses and sunflowers, chrysanthemums and lilies. A rainbow decorated the cake—half carrot, half chocolate—honoring the gayby coming in July.

Everywhere I looked, people were deep in conversation, laughing together, enjoying each other’s company. That night when I got home, my Facebook feed was full of shower attendees friending each other.

Liesl and I are very aware of how little we know about this adventure called parenting, so I had asked that people bring advice to share. By the time the invites went out, that had morphed into advice, poetry, songs and more.

At the shower, we all sat in a circle, and one by one, friends shared their advice (or songs, or poems), and then a gift they had purchased or made for the baby. The gifts were wonderful and generous. Their words were priceless.

A few people were brave enough to sing to us. Several shared poems. One person told us that when we travel by air, we should duct tape all our bulky baby gear together into one bundle, so it counts as one huge piece of luggage. Another person, holding his infant son, said that we should always, always, always strap our daughter into her carseat, even if she’s just napping at home—so that we don’t suddenly remember that she’s not buckled as we’re driving down the highway.

Several people reminded us to treasure every moment, because each precious stage passes so fast.

They listened intently to each other. Some of them parents, some of them not, some of them with children long grown, some of them not far ahead of Liesl and me. It was beautiful.

And it almost didn’t happen.

When the friends who hosted the party asked me months ago if there was going to be a shower, I said something like, “I don’t think so.  Probably not.”  And she convinced me that people would want to come.

Still, I struggled with the guest list. Who did I know well enough that it wasn’t presumptuous to invite them? Who likes me enough to come—and come gladly? What if people thought, “Why is she inviting me?”

When I shared these fears, my friends said, “Don’t be ridiculous.” If you’ve read the Harry Potter books, you know that is the perfect way to break fear’s spell.

Invites went out, and a wonderful shower happened.

During the gift and advice giving, I told the group, “Liesl and I are introverts. It’s hard for us to be the center of attention like this. But from the beginning of the plans for this party, it’s been my sense that our daughter needs us to get past that. Our daughter needs us to introduce her to her village. Thank you for being her village.”

As she was leaving the party, one of my friends told me, “These people love you. Let them.”

Lesson learned—and written down, so that I don’t forget.

Photo by Jeanne Devon