And Sitteth on the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty

*This was drafted on Easter Sunday – not published til days later*

Of late, Jack has been asking questions about death.   I think this is typical for his age – on the cusp of Six.  The world is growing bigger for him these days – he sees more detail when he looks around, has more piercing questions.  The mantle of innocence begins to slip.  The magic of childhood is tenacious, but Six means Knowledge, in leaps and bounds.  Six is the first glimmer of self consciousness while dancing, shame when undressing in public.

Anyway: Death.  Jack and his father were driving along and passed by a cemetery a few months ago.  Jack asked what it was, and the Professor attempted to explain in a way that was truthful, but gentle.  Our eldest has a tendency to be anxious, and despite the Professor’s care in explaining what a graveyard is, the thought of being put in the ground forever was frightening to Jack.  He fixated on the idea, and wanted to talk about it often, especially in the car.  Dozens of conversations followed.  We did our best not to scare him.  We lied a little – just a little – and told him that although all of us would die one day, we would all live a very long time before that happened.  Not to worry, son, you will be an old old man when you die, and live a long and happy life first.  This is a lie we tell ourselves, too.

He’s been working through his thoughts about all of this for a while.  At some point in the evolution of his understanding of death and life, Jack came up with the idea of reincarnation.  It came to him one day, a revelation that he explained to me with great certainty.  When he dies, he now confidently informs me, then he will just come back and start over as a baby.  Liam will come back, too, and Craig, and we will all live together again, just like we do now.  The idea has clearly comforted him, and I let him think it (who’s to say it isn’t true?)  He talks with comfortable certainty of the day he dies and goes right back into Mom’s tummy.  Ready to be born again.

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Jesus is God made flesh, and when I reflect upon Easter, this is the thought that captivates me.  I get hung up on the flesh.  Jesus as zombie – even before zombies were cool, this caught my attention.  He could have returned as a ghost, an angel.  A burning bush, an apparition, a voice, or even a thought planted right in the heads of his grieving followers.  Instead, his body, his decaying flesh, was reinvigorated.  Reconstituted flesh was the chosen message.  His heart pumped.  The sluggish blood moved through the collapsed veins, the lungs opened and drew in air.  Did his joints creak when he woke and moved?  Did he wake slowly, wiggle his toes and crack his knuckles?  Or did he leap from the stone fully awake and refreshed?  Did the sensory stimuli from his newly invigorated body come at him in a mighty wallop?  Was it cold and dark in the tomb – when his eyes opened, could he see a thing, was there any light at all?  Was he happy to be back?  Did he weep, like I imagine I would weep, if given a second chance in this beloved, familiar body of mine?

Some may find my irreverence blasphemous, but herein for me lies the beautiful mystery of Easter.  I try to put my self in that tomb and see the practicalities of how this transformation came to be.  Jesus was a human man.  He died, and his body went through all of the things that a human body does when it dies.  And then he lived again, and his body made alive again was to be, for generations of Christians, the message of hope.   We symbolically eat it once a month at communion.  The Blood of Christ, shed for you.  The Body of Christ, given for you.

God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.  He loved the world.  Heaven is whatever heaven is, and no living person can say.  But here in the world – this world full of fleshy humans dying each day by degrees – the hope of every Christian is bound up in the hairy, human arms of a man who died, too, and then lived.  The solidness of his body in this gorgeous world makes me happy, in the same way that the birds chirping on Easter morning made me happy, in the same way that the plummy firmness of my baby’s cheeks make me happy, the blackness of my middle son’s eyes, the voluminous green ferns in terra cotta pots by the front door, the smell of the porch, newly varnished.

A friend put the following poem on facebook the other day, and how I loved it.  The poet has captured my religion, in a nutshell – I have such a crush on this world, and since God sent Jesus to be a fully human part of it, I think He does, too.  If we have nothing else in common, me and God – we have that.  This Easter, I celebrate my shared love of the corporal with my spiritual Lord.  (And I did go to church today.)

(But Palm Sunday we skipped and went to the beach.)

I Didn’t Go to Church Today
by Ogden Nash

I didn’t go to church today,
I trust the Lord to understand.
The surf was swirling blue and white,
The children swirling on the sand.
He knows, He knows how brief my stay,
How brief this spell of summer weather,
He knows when I am said and done
We’ll have plenty of time together.

Posted in Categorizing Things is Overrated, Holidays and Celebrations | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Categorizing Things is Overrated | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in MILP Roundups | Leave a comment

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