Month Eighty-Six

Dear Husband,

This was a really hard month for me. And it was particularly hard for me because it was a complete bear for you. It felt like everything went wrong this month. Or rather, you felt like everything was going wrong this month.

For starters, you were sick. Not just man-flu slightly inconvenienced but more like the flu but not quite on your deathbed. You were exhausted and irritable. Very short tempered and somewhat sorry for yourself. Which is never a good place to be because I don’t get it. I mean I try to be sympathetic and helpful but ultimately, I don’t know what to do. Your reactions are completely foreign to me. When I am sick, I want to retreat into my own shell. Don’t touch me, don’t talk to me, leave me alone to get better. You want contact though. You want conversation. You want constant consideration. You want connection. You also reserve the right to be pissed off when you don’t get it and frequently, I don’t deliver.

It is of course not that I don’t care. I do. But its not on my radar to behave as I would believe to be out of character because I don’t want those things. And not only do I not want those things but I don’t place the same importance on circumstances as you do. Like the water situation. Our sunroom has been one long continuous saga of rivers across the floor when it rains and drought (which is the proper state of affairs for an indoors space) when it doesn’t. You have been doing a marvellous job of trying to progress the resolution with both the builder and the insurance company but it has been taking its toll. More than you realise. I know it frustrates you completely beyond measure but you also get angry. And not just at the situation or even just at third parties. So it was like adding insult to injury when this month, not only were we dealing with a river down one end of the house, we ended up with a pond up the other. You totally lost it.

After all that talk of reclaiming the bedroom last month, Elliot ended up back in our room for what felt like an indefinite period of time. Which probably just added to the stress that you were already going through. Stress that kept you up late at night watching tv then subsequently falling asleep on the couch until I woke you after one of Elliot’s night feeds. Stress that kept you tense and struggling to maintain your game face. Stress that was unfortunately added to by our car. Here was yet again another thing that was not as it should be and nobody could tell you why. You take the car in for what should be routine work but then you come out with another problem that doesn’t present for anyone but you. It was not a pretty sight. And then there was playgroup.

This was the culmination of months of dreaming and planning and petitioning and prepping. It was late nights taken up with tasks not in your wheelhouse and the constant feeling that you were going it alone. I know that rationally you could see that others were playing a part and that we were not without some tangible forms of support during this time but emotionally, you were not in that space. You couldn’t see the wood for the trees. If that makes sense? Probably not.

Emotionally, you told me you felt as if you were way out in front, trying to run slow enough that others weren’t left behind – or perhaps that was so you could drag us with you. You were swimming upstream. Trying to sow seed on solid ground. You told me you felt alone and you were struggling and it was devastating you. I have mentioned before that you often have two emotional states: everything is fine and my world is falling apart. Which would be fair enough up to a point if you reserved my world is falling apart for someone died or I can’t put three meals a day on the table for my family – not something just fell on my finger and damnit, it hurt.

Again, I just don’t understand. Like you cannot comprehend my seeming lack of a suitable reaction, I cannot make sense of what feels like an overreaction. Everywhere I looked I was hearing stories of people flying across the country to pay vigil at the bedside of a sick parent or other real tragedies and here we were in a nice house and relative good health with friends. Now I can accept that as good as things are for us, they are quite possibly as shit as they have ever been and our displeasure in that state of affairs should not be negated. I also know that you were sick of the Christian response to problems of everything happens for a reason or maybe its part of the plan. You just wanted someone to commiserate with you. Someone to just go yep, it sucks to be you…You wanted things you never told anyone else.

You want people to offer help off their own bat without you telling them what you need. If they were really your friends, they’d know, right? Except, I hate to break it to you, I’ve been married to you for over 7 years and I don’t know how to respond to you when you are in this headspace. Everything I said to you regarding our state of affairs was wrong. Everything. At least it felt that way. If I was responding it was patronising or irritating or stating the obvious or otherwise not helpful at all. If I didn’t respond, I was too wrapped up in myself and being insensitive. It felt like I couldn’t win. It felt like you were sinking deeper and I couldn’t do anything about it. I even started questioning whether you were beginning to fall into a spiral of depression. I’d ask myself when you would go and lie down in bed in the middle of the day if you were just tired and trying to recuperate or running away. I felt like I was letting you down because I can’t be the person you need me to be. I still do a bit.

The reality is, you may be way out in front trailblazing away because that is the type of person you are. Its not the person I am though. And to allow you that freedom, I totally have your back and can manage the kids and the house but I will never be right beside you doing that, I’ll always be behind you instead. And I know I’m not the best at communicating this with you either. I dislike confrontation and when you snap, I will sometimes withdraw. Ok, I usually withdraw. When I feel out of my depth, I hope you will be in a better frame of mind later and you are none the wiser that I am honestly concerned. I’m sorry if I don’t try hard enough…

To end on a positive note though. Despite all the stress leading up to the playgroup, at least so far, it has been a rip roaring success. Plenty of people have shown up and praised your efforts. As well they might cause everything was pretty awesome I thought. Of course, you hate the limelight and many of them have no idea that you are the playgroup and the whole thing has been your brainchild but it has been wonderful to see it so well received.

It was also wonderful to see you embrace your silly side at the circus. You got us front row seats for the opening night of Cirque Africa which in turn allowed you to get picked for audience participation. You were to mime being a band member and a guitarist no less and you hammed it up beautifully which was great. I know in your head that was purely for Genevieve’s benefit so that she would see it is ok get up and have a go but you got past your own head to do it and I know that. I also know that you were reluctant to let me publish the photos but you acquiesced to one of them so that was cool too.

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Patiently yours,

Your Loving Wife

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Day 237

Dear Elliot,

You have the cutest little pout. Your chin juts forward and your bottom lip comes out and its almost as if you are expressing your intention to become stubborn on purpose. As if to say Mummy, you are not doing exactly what I want you to do so if you don’t have a serious think about that and start behaving appropriately, I am going to have to take matters into my own hands. Or perhaps, ha ha, I’m a baby and you can’t make me do anything.

Occasionally, it seems just like that. I’m pretty sure what it actually is, is that you have an overbite and some new teeth and you have just figured out that if you push your bottom jaw forwards, you can touch your teeth together. It took me a little while to figure it out but there is a subtle clicking sound when you pout so I figure it all feels pretty cool and new.

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So yeah, teeth. You now have five of them. After weeks and weeks of nothing, we finally got the top two teeth in and then in short order, we got one of the side ones on the bottom. Which means you are now a little lopsided. Still very cute though. And less cranky. Although, much like your sister, you are not too distressed by the advent of new teeth. At least when you have something in your mouth. As now that I think about it, one of your play things has a fabric arc on the side and I will often look over to see you just sitting there with it in your mouth.

And speaking of things in your mouth, you love food. You still favour what we eat though, instead of baby food pouches which are unfortunately way more convenient at times. You get a bit cranky when you are hungry – hangry perhaps? But you are funny when you eat. Unlike your sister who had a baby highchair, you get the bumbo with a tray which I think is awesome because we can sit you on top of the bench when we are all seated and you are the same height as us. Without a large chair structure behind you though, you stick your arms and legs straight out and have the wrists and ankles going overtime when you eat as you twirl your extremities about. This goes along with a bit of huffing and puffing between mouthfuls as though you are trying to fill in time because we are going slower than shovelling food into your mouth at a race pace.

It is clear that at present, you also favour your father in terms of palate and appetite but you would prefer to attack your food as though it might disappear at a moment’s notice which is apparently how your father thinks that I eat. You just keep putting it away until it seems as if you have just consumed your weight in food and then you simply stop opening your mouth. You don’t turn your head away so I usually give it a couple of tries to see if you’re not hungry or you are just finishing a mouthful. That is if you are not starting to hide behind your bib which is usually the other sign that you’re done. Well, that and the mmm…mmm…mmm sound.

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It seems that you are starting to try and talk to us as opposed to just crying at us. When you are otherwise not showing any sort of distress as an I’m bored or I’m hungry or I’m tired, you have started to vocalise repeatedly with eh…eh…eh. You can be very loud and insistent if we don’t suitably respond to your overtures. I’m not quite sure if there is a standard sort of response that is required or if you are having completely different conversations with me over time that is all just Greek to me, but we are getting by. I’d say your sister could potentially pick up on some things faster than we do but then you don’t chat so much with her yet. It’s a little more hero worship on your part at the moment.

You clearly adore your sister. You look at her all the time and you think that she is pretty hilarious. Personally I think she makes some pretty loud, annoying and aggressive sounds towards you but clearly you both know that there is no intent there other than to make you laugh which you frequently do. You will not have a bar of her if you were in the middle of being cuddled thank you very much and I have had the audacity to put you down and walk away but when you are otherwise just chillin’ then your sister’s crazy antics amuse you no end.

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Another thing that has just started to amuse you is the ability for some toys to make music. We have recently introduced you to some noisy toys that talk and play tunes. Whilst you are still a little unsure of how to make them go on purpose, you will stare at them and pick them up to examine them and when they start to make a sound, you will bop up and down with a big smile on your face like you’re having a little party for one. You have long been able to hit the music buttons on your exersaucer thing but it is only now that you actually seem to be dancing in response to the music. If you like movement and dance as much as your sister then you will be in for some great dance parties when you are a little older. I promise.

Much love,
Mama

Week 196

Dear Genevieve,

You are such a poser. It cracks me up to see all the funny faces you pull when I take photos of you. Sometimes you start to pull faces because your mother has yet again stuck a camera in your face and you are a bit fed up with feeling like a show pony. However, sometimes you are just in a really goofy mood and you put on your “dancing face” so I can click away and save these moments for posterity. Or, you know, your 21st birthday. Either / or.

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You certainly seem to have character in abundance and you enjoy making people laugh and smile. Especially if this is by being cheeky. You have now taken to curtseying when you are prompted to say please. You will open discussion often by saying I want [something] and after a raised eyebrow at worst or an oh really at best, you will revise your statement to a question – can I have [something]? When we point out that you still haven’t managed to appropriately display the manners that we know you possess and which we have most definitely taught you, you float your hands outwards on either side and bob demurely in a sweet curtsey and say something like please can I may have [whatever it is that you want]. Little minx.

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At these points you are somewhat cute. Not so much when I am trying to get out your bedroom door at night. I tell you what baby girl, you just don’t stop talking! Its question after question after question. Usually about a range of things, none of them pertinent to bedtime or particularly significant but nonetheless prolific. I will tell you that you may say one thing before I leave you to go to sleep. I ask you to think about what you are going to say because after that, I am just going to walk out. I want you to make sure you only ask what is the most important to you so that I can escape and then, sucker that I am, I end up answering a question that begets a question that begets a question before you run out of steam or I get fed up and walk out on you talking.

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And when I try to talk over you to enforce the one thing rule, I get Mama, can I just say one more thing? Because you’re not letting me say the thing that I wanted because I just wanted to say that, well…which I also find rather frustrating. You prevaricate like your father my child and fail to get to the point about as often as you make one it seems. If you were less concerned with trying to tell me off because you thought I wasn’t being fair or amenable or accommodating, you might see a little more go your way. Or maybe not. Much as I love you and give in to you an awful lot and just like to please you, sometimes, I am just gonna say no. I am supposed to be your mother not your BFF so they tell me.

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In other news, your father spilled caustic soda all over the bathroom this month which was a catalyst for him buying new toothbrushes for the entire family. This was particularly notable for you because he decided to buy you a Disney princess themes toothbrush head for the electric toothbrush instead of a standard brush. Rather than go into detail about the poisonous chemicals however, we told you that your Batman and your Winnie the Pooh and your George Pig toothbrush (yes, you did have three separate toothbrushes on the go) were old and no longer doing an adequate job. An idea you latched on to like nobody’s business. At least once or twice a day for a week you would tell us all about the new toothbrush that daddy got you because we had to throw out your old toothbrushes as they were old and would not work properly. This was very important and riveting information right there.

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The other thing you have latched onto this month is the live pause on the tv which you use ALL THE TIME. If you have to go to the toilet in the middle of a tv show, you press pause. If you want to find me to come and ask me something, its not before you have hit pause. If you decide you’d like to play with a toy at the same time as you watch tv and have to leave the room to retrieve it, you make sure that you hit pause first. And if we ask you to go and do something, you ask us to press pause for you! I think you should know that we did not have this when I was little Genevieve. You either watched tv or you missed it. You didn’t have a PVR that could record or not at the drop of a hat and you had to weigh up how upset you would be to miss a couple of seconds of tv vs hanging on for the next ad break and darting out to take care of business then. Besides which, its not the end of the world if you miss a minute of tv. Trust me.

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Although, sadistic as I am, I do find it vaguely amusing that you have yet to comprehend that live pause only works while you stay on the same channel. When you decide to channel flick to see if there is anything better on offer, you eliminate the delay in the channel you were previously watching and can no longer return to your place in the original show. You seem to think that I should be sympathetic to your plight when this happens, and yet. First world problems, kid. First world problems.

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But as much as I laugh at you sometimes (that is totally one of the perks of being a parent – I am sure mine laughed at me!) and you can be exasperating, you are a pretty cool chick and I love you big time my little pirate.

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Alles Liebe,
Lexelah