Field Day

Craig and I went to Jack’s school Field Day yesterday.  It was a gorgeous spring day in the South – clear blue skies, temps in the low 80s.  I strapped Craig into the ergo baby carrier, put a blanket over his exposed skin (but failed to put sunblock on my own . . . DUH), and we trooped all over the athletic fields of Jack’s little school, watching kids frolic and compete and have a blast.

I love Jack’s school.  This Field Day was well-organized, fun, an important day of exercise and competition and enjoyment, despite the academic pressure to study for standardized tests.  (DOWN WITH COMMON CORE!  But that’s another post for another day.)

The kids all divided up by grade, and started the day with a fun run.  Fifth grade boys ran first, then fifth grade girls, then fourth grade boys, and on and on down until kindergarten was last.  The other children were permitted to mill about on the field and cheer each other on, but the kindergarten classes had to be contained on the bleachers.  They had a DJ and huge speakers blasting fun and very loud music.  Craig fussed a bit, but I held his ears and moved away from the noise, and he simmered down.

There's my boy, waiting for the kindergarteners' chance at the fun run.

There’s my boy, waiting for the kindergarteners’ chance at the fun run.

Boys on one side, girls on the other!  Here is Jack, in a sea of kindergarten boys.

Boys on one side, girls on the other! Here is Jack, in a sea of kindergarten boys.  That little boy on the bottom right with the necklace  was the boy who won, by a landslide.  Jack was maybe a third of the way back.  But more importantly, he wasn’t mad that he didn’t win!

The children had clearly been coached on How to Be A Good Sport.  They solemnly lectured me on the following important truths, truths that each child independently recited verbatim: “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose;” “The only important thing is to have fun;” “We cheer for every team.”  It was super cute, and the coaching apparently worked, because nobody cried about losing and nobody crowed when they won.  This is a big deal especially for our Jack, who has traditionally been THE WORST when we play family board games.  He was great on this day . . . I think our brainwashing (and his teacher’s), plus the maturity of being Almost Six, have all worked in tandem to create a pretty good sport where once there was a little brat flipping over the gameboard in fury when he lost.

After the fun run, we had a snack in the shade of a dogwood tree (all set out and ready for us in a labeled area of the playing field, which is a pretty big organizational accomplishment when you have about 40 different classrooms that all need their ice chests dragged to various spots right on time).  Then each grade level rotated through several different relay games set up in different areas of the fields.  I.e. each class lines up at a starting line.  When the starting gun goes off, the first kid throws on some pool floaties, runs across the field to run twice around a cone, then comes back and transfers the floaties to the next kid in line.  That sort of thing.

Jack, being fierce.

Jack, being fierce.

One of the rotations was a free play in an area full of bouncy castles and inflatable slides.  The kids took off their shoes and lined them up against the fence, then ran around the orange dirt in their socks, getting completely filthy and having a blast.  Craig and I defected to the dugout during this one, getting some shade and a much-needed nap.  I chatted to Jack’s classmate’s grandma, who had just married off her daughter and showed me dozens of pictures of the wedding and told me happily all about the glorious day.

Craig snoozes in the shade of the dugout

Craig snoozes in the shade of the dugout

I tried to do the perfect blend of supervising, and also hanging back and letting the kids just be themselves on a fun day.  It was really a special thing to be a fly on the wall and watch Jack interact with his classmates.  As has been true in every one of his classes so far, Jack is really popular and well-liked.  Kids want to sit by him, kids hug him and joke with him, and he is really kind to them all.  They have fun.  This makes my heart sing, it really does.  You can measure a person’s happiness by the quality of his friendships – and by that measure, Jack is a pretty happy boy.  He’s good at making friends, good at being a friend, and I just love knowing that.

Jack's class won this particular relay - the bounce relay!

Jack’s class won this particular relay – the bounce relay!

All smiles.

All smiles.  This is the girl whose momma got married last weekend, and whose grandma showed me all the pix.

Another Mr. Popular on this particular day was Craig.  The children ADORED him, all of them.  They tickled his feet, rubbed his head, stroked his little legs (poking out of the baby carrier I wore him in for most of the day).  Eventually, when my lower back was on fire from carrying him, I went to the car to get the car-seat and put him in that.  I set him on the ground, and he was like an industrial strength magnet, pulling all of the children towards him.   He’s a trooper and didn’t mind at all, he’s used to being manhandled by his brothers.

Watching the giant soccer ball race from the dugout.

Watching the giant soccer ball race from the dugout.

Our little princess borrows a hat from a friend, who holds him for me to give my aching back a break.

Our little princess borrows a hat from a friend, who holds him for me to give my aching back a break.

Anyway, we had a great time.  I’ve enjoyed my little taste of being a stay at home mom.  I’ve never had any qualms about working as a lawyer, and I still don’t.  But this little three month lark has been fun.  I imagine SAHMs would enjoy the odd day when they leave the kids with a babysitter, put on professional clothes, and go do something totally adult, like take a class, attend a meeting of a charitable organization they volunteer for, freelance . . .   (Whether they get to do these things with any regularity is another question, but my point is I think they’d like to, at least once in a while.  Or at least I would, in their shoes.)  Similarly, I’ve enjoyed hanging up the suits for a bit and seeing what life is like when I can go to every elementary school function and support the teacher, when I get to hang with the boys as soon as they get home from school – when my whole, sole job is to take care of these chitlins and this house.  It was a nice little window into that alternate life.  I don’t pine for it, and I don’t feel guilty that my kids don’t have a stay-at-home parent . . . but I did enjoy playing at it for a little while.

And now, we are on the down slope to the end of the year.  Jack’s about to be a first grader, Liam is entering preK 4.  What a fun time of life for us, what a blast.  Love my boys.

Posted in Alabama, Domestic Bliss, Jack, Tex | 1 Comment

Untitled

We had some very bad weather down here the other day.  I woke with the baby at 4 am, put on the local weather station while I nursed him on the couch.  The very young weather man tracked the tornadoes and flash floods on a map, calmly telling folks in certain counties to seek shelter immediately, stay away from windows and cover themselves with pillows or mattresses.  They are so calm, they must take classes in how to stay calm and soothing.  He never named our county, which is a blessing.  I would hate to drag the kids from their beds in the middle of the night and force them to huddle in the pantry, our ‘storm shelter’.  (It is the only first floor room in the house with no windows.  We like the light.)

I held Craig and listened to the rain.  We dozed on and off for the rest of the morning – in my snippets of sleep, I dreamed of calamity.  Downed trees, children trapped in their beds by branches, rain pouring in through holes in the roof.  I dreamed of running around the backyard collecting the toys they had left out there.  I woke with a start to the older boys, sitting at the kitchen table, munching on Nutri Grain bars and complaining about the rain.  The dog was whimpering under the coffee table.  Craig was drooling all over my shirt.  All our trees were still standing, looking freshly washed, a fetching deep green in the off-color morning light.

Last night, it was Liam’s turn to have bad dreams.  He insists they were happy dreams about a friendly alligator, but he woke up screaming with terror.  These days I am sleeping upstairs in the guest bedroom/nursery while we get the baby accustomed to the crib, so I heard Liam scream and called out to him.  He crawled into bed with me and Craig – I curled an arm around each of them, soothing and hushing.  We lay like that for an hour, before it was time to get up.  My arm was prickly pins and needles when I finally roused them out of bed.

Just a few more days til I return to work.  I am uncertain how the mornings will go, undecided about when I should wake up.  I used to wake up at 5 to do yoga and get ready before the boys get up at 6.  Now we have added the complication of Craig’s morning feeding. I am considering having the 4am feeding be my daily wakeup time.  Will it be more painful to wake up for the day then, or will it hurt more to go back to sleep at 4:30 and have the alarm go off in just half an hour?  I may skip the yoga for a while, but my body really needs it.  I am all over aches and pains, shoulders, elbows, knees, and oh my lower back, all taking their sweet time getting over the pregnancy.

I’m kind of dreading that first Monday morning back.  I’ll take it easy at first . . . though I’ve gotten half a dozen emails already with anticipatory work – stuff I don’t have to do right now, but which is due within days of my return.  Apparently they cranked up the heat while I was gone, and my fellow associates are gasping for help.

I have things to do before I return, but today I am hiding from them.  I’m cuddling my little baby instead of folding laundry and making freezer meals.  It seems a better use of these precious last few drops of time.

Let’s hope that tonight we all have good sleep, pretty dreams.

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Mothers in the Legal Profession Roundup No. 341

Kate had it this week – and she reveals a new facebook page for the MILPs.  We have entered the area of social media!

Next week, Frenchie Flip makes her hostessing debut.

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Springtime

We have landed in the season of the year when Jack was born.  What a beautiful time that was – April in North Carolina.  During that 2008 maternity leave I would have lunch at a patio table in our backyard, holding him in my lap; take him on long walks through the neighborhood; nurse him on the porch while listening to birds twitter and fishing blossoms out of my long brown hair.  The air was full of flowers.

Liam was born into the wilting heat of summer on the Gulf Coast, so I kept him inside in the AC lest his tiny body overheat.  That leave was not fun – I felt isolated, and suffered a short-lived but intense bout of PPD.  But his subsequent birthday celebrations have been perfect – June lends itself to pool parties, baseball games, lots of early summer outdoor fun.  I look forward to both of their birthdays every year.  I love birthdays and parties and I am way too old to ask people to come celebrate me,* so I live vicariously through my kids.  I’m having a hard time steering Jack into picking a party – we’re going to do something offsite so I don’t have to clean and cook.  It’s time now to send out invites, but he waffles between a party at the movie theater, skating rink, bowling alley, or park.  Ahhh, the dilemmas facing the soon-to-be-six-year-old.  Liam will probably have a park birthday – a cake and some chicken fingers served under the shelter, zillions of four year olds zipping around the playground, and ice-chest full of cokes and juice boxes.  Isn’t this a perfect time of year?  Before the sweaty, heavy misery of July and August sets in?  When summer is still ahead of us, in all its glory?

Craig was born in the icy January freeze, but of course it didn’t last long down here, and its only been slightly chilly most days.  We’ve been out and about taking walks in the neighborhood for the last several weeks, with him wrapped up in a sling close to my body for warmth.  As springtime descends on Lower Alabama, in the herky jerky fashion that is the hallmark of this year’s weird weather, I’ve taken Craig farther afield to explore some great (gentle) hikes and bike paths around the area.  Today it’s warm enough that I may just put him in a diaper so he doesn’t overheat.  We may take our little black dog, though he is a Welsh breed and isn’t so fond of sunny spring days.  Cold and rainy suits his temperament a bit better, and when he gets overheated he just sits himself down and refuses to move.

Two weeks and two days left of my time off, and I’m on a mission to enjoy the glorious outdoors.  I won’t really be able to take any time off from now through Christmas, so I’m rejuvenating and shoring up as if my life depended on it.  I attended a hearing for one of my cases yesterday – drove two hours away to a tiny courthouse in Florida.  I didn’t mind doing it, and it helped a bit that I enjoyed putting on the suit and wheeling out the briefcase and putting on my lawyer hat.  I do love my job, and even though its frenetic pace scares me a bit, I am so much happier leaving my baby to go do this work that I like.  When I left Jack behind all those years ago for a job I deeply dreaded, it was much harder.

The sun and fresh air won’t keep, so I’m off to enjoy it.  Blessings to all of you on this lovely spring day, and I hope it’s lovely where you are as well!  (For any Northern readers, spring will be there before you know it!  Just hang in there!)

*Last year the husband did throw me a little pool party in Clemson, which I very much appreciated!  Just what I wanted – friends, snacks, a little half birthday beer for my preggo self, and an afternoon free of my darling children so I could have grown up conversation.  Plus he bought me some fabulous boots which I wear all the time, so all in all gold stars for the Professor for my 35th.

Posted in Alabama, Jack, Liam, Tex | 3 Comments

Stormy Weather

I hum the old standard to myself, puttering around the house as the rain pours down, whipped in fierce sheets against the side of the house.  ”Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky, stormy weather . . . ”

How lovely life seems, even rainy gloomy thunderstormy life, when I’ve had a reasonable amount of sleep.  Just a couple of days ago the sun was shining on a 65 degree glorious spring day, and nevertheless I walked through the day biting back tears, listless, feeling bleak and depleted.  I tried walking the neighborhood, I tried napping, I tried doing laundry (to feel useful), and then abandoning the laundry (to feel free to rest).  Nothing would do.

But for the past two nights the baby has slept from 8pm til 1am, then nursed and slept again til 4:30, and then we linger together in my big king bed, dozing side by side til some time in the seven o’clock hour.  This may sound like horrifyingly NOT ENOUGH SLEEP to many of my readers, but with a new baby this is heaven.  Two nights in a row of heaven, of 4+ straight hours, enough time for me to get some good REM sleep and wake to his cries refreshed instead of bitterly tired.  And suddenly, though the sun is absent from the sky, it is shining in my heart, and I’m humming my way around the house.  La-dee-daaaaaa, ho hummity hooooo, what shall I do today with all this time before the big boys get out of school?

I have three weeks left of leave.  How quickly it passed!  I knew it would, and yet it still surprises me.  I face my return to work with a mixture of excitement and terror.  I enjoy  my job, and the thought of drafting a summary judgment, prepping for trial (I have a trial this summer), drafting discovery, and even just cleaning out my email in-box fills my little OCD heart with glee.  But the job is high pressure and high stress.  Because of the billable hour – lo, that curse of every law firm lawyer’s life – it is a difficult job in which to succeed when one has small children at home.  I keep it pretty well balanced, day to day, but if I want to bill enough hours to not get fired, enough sleep to not keel over, enough exercise to not have aches and pains in this old body, and enough time to enjoy my lovely sons, then I have no room for error.   One kid gets sick and the whole thing falls apart, and it takes weeks to gather it all back up again, usually at the expense of my own sleep and exercise, which are activities I try very hard to protect.  My profession has a low tolerance for domestic concerns.  (It’s getting better, as more and more of the male lawyers have working wives and thus have to take their turns staying home with a sick kid, or leaving “early” (5:30) to pick up the kid from daycare . . . but it’s still tougher than most on the working parent, no matter what Gwyneth Paltrow says.)  I am deeply anxious about what this new, third son is going to do to my productivity, and thus to my job security.  I am also deeply anxious about leaving him in someone else’s care all day, my own little sweetheart – but we are trying not to think about that.  It makes me a little panicky to think about that, so I wall off the thought.  No need to start weeping this far in advance.

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I started this post a few days ago.  I had a couple of grumpy days and good days in between . . . postpartum hormones and sleep cycles make me bipolar.  Yesterday was one of the good days – a glorious spring day.  I used it to re-pot some houseplants, dig up and throw away all of the outside plants that died in the frost, and buy a new pair of ferns for the two terra cotta pots that flank the front door.  I dug out a bed for some hydrangeas in the backyard and planted them, their giant blue heads nodding over to kiss the top of the mulch.  Walking around Lowe’s earlier in the day with the baby’s car seat perched in the cart on top of a giant bag of cedar mulch, it was difficult for me not to buy All the Flowers.  I resisted, but it was hard.

In the evening, the Professor grilled burgers while the older children bee-bopped around him on the driveway, trying to draw a hopscotch with sidewalk chalk.  In the house I made pasta salad with my hands and rocked Craig’s little rocker with my feet.  He was a touch fussy, so I held him in my lap during dinner.  While attempting to take a bite of my burger, dropped a giant blob of ketchup all over him.  The boys giggled.  After dinner we put on “What Does the Fox Say,” and the boys did air guitar around the kitchen.  I tucked the baby in my arms facing out, and the boys held his hands and danced with him, too.  Then baths, and bed – Craig slept in his crib, for the first time, and did ok.

It is Tuesday.  He gets his shots today.  He’s almost nine weeks old.  Zoom goes time, and I hang on with both hands.

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