So I’ve been off the cliff’s edge. I fell hard and fast, and I got pretty banged up on the way down. The first year after Charles’ birth was rough, and not much time to come up for air. He’s 18 months old now. I remember when he was just a few months old I would say to myself, I am in survival mode now. Things are crazy but it will pass. Then the feeling of being under water and not being able to catch up with, well, anything–laundry, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, laundry…. dare I even mention friends? Yardwork?? One day it just hit me like a ton of bricks: this is not survival mode. This is not going to pass. This is it. This. Is. It. I felt sick to my stomach.
After over a year, a move, a new city, a new home, I’m happy to be back here at the blog. There’s not really time for it like there was when it was just me and baby Cadel. But we can’t wait for the time to do the things that call us. We’ve got to just do them.
There was a group of Cooper’s hawks that lived in the greenspace abutting our backyard in Seattle, and in the early mornings after Charles’s birth, I’d hear them calling out through the still, quiet air, as though to me alone. Caaw caw Caaaw caw! Caaw caw Caaaw caw! “Are you ready? Are you ready? ,” I heard them say. At the time, the bird call had a sort of ominous sound to my ears. Am I ready? ready??… Oh God… I’m not ready!! Of course I’m not!
Those early days with newborn Charles were filled to the brim with tears–Charles crying for his aching tummy, Cadel crying for his mommy, me crying for all of us. And I often thought of mothers around the world–kindred spirits–trying to do their best for their kids and some days just trying to muddle through.
More than a year has passed since that one day that Cadel baptized his brother with dirt. We have different birds calling through the still morning air in our new green, green backyard. This bird call is different though– less ominous, prettier really, and very distinct. Cheeee che che cheeee che che CHEE CHEE CHEE. You really have to hear it. I’m sure the folks at the Audobon Society could name the bird in a heartbeat. I don’t know the it’s name, but I heed its call every day.
We’ve started a new chapter here in Portland. Cadel is newly four, Charles a year and a half. Dimples and curls and sweet sweet kissable bellies all around. They wrestle daily. They sometimes even share toys. Cadel no longer mentions wanting to get rid of Charles entirely, though he does still remark that he will care for him a lot more when he’s bigger.
Some days we still have tears and tantrums.
Ok, most days.
Some days are very long. Some days I wait for bedtime like a child waiting for school to end for summer, impatiently and with lots eye-rolling and gnashing of teeth and hands on my hips.
Some days I want to bang my head against the wall and tear my hair out.
But it’s also summer now, and I love summer with all my heart. Real and wet and watermelon-stained and pool-scented summer. We have wide open days and wide open spaces that we fill with wandering and digging and chasing and berry-picking and camping and beaches and lakes. We have fruit pies and fresh berry cakes and ice cream. We have this forest of a backyard bursting with lushness and figs and peas and strawberries too, and we have carefree afternoons squirting water at each other and playing hide-and-seek. We have pink cheeks and sun-bleached hair and very tan backs of our necks.
By 5pm most days, I declare a personal cocktail time, a happy hour of sorts. At this time of day, I’ve typically shooed the boys out into the backyard for pre-dinner play. I referee from the kitchen window while I pull together some dinner. But first, a cocktail to sip while I work. Almost always a fresh margarita, because it’s simply the best. I’ve declared it the official drink of summer 2016 at my house. You can make it yours too; I promise you won’t regret it.
It’s crazy easy to make. Here’s how:
1 scant oz. fresh squeezed lime juice (no bottled junk. Don’t even think about it)
1 oz. tequila (whatever you like; I’m partial to gold tequilas)
1 oz. triple sec.
Put a few ice cubes in cocktail shaker. Add all three ingredients. Shake shake shake. Pour over ice in a pretty glass, salted rim optional. If you do want to salt your rim, simply take the squeezed lime and run it around the rim of the glass, then dip in gently in some salt, or sprinkle it on with the glass tipped diagonally downward so as not to spill salt into the glass.
It’s great to have friends and conversation to accompany your happy hour cocktail. But you know, I’ve learned that my own company in my messy kitchen with my bare feet and dirty apron is really just fine. You gotta celebrate those small things–like reaching the end of the day without yelling your brains out at your kids. Or making it through the grocery store without even one meltdown and without your children shoplifting anything. Or even getting your toddler to poo in the potty instead of his diaper. Those kinds of things that don’t make great happy hour conversation in your typical circles.
There was a time I might have felt silly having a drink by myself. Where I am now, in this trench at the base of the cliff, I’m getting more comfortable in my own imperfect company.