I used to wake up to Rachel’s voice two inches from my face as she stood beside my bed wishing me good morning. Before that, I woke to her toddler kisses and wet breath on my face when she climbed into our bed at six in the morning. Now more often I wake to the sound of sisters, connecting happily before making that first connection with Mom or Dad. “There were bells, In the air………” I heard Hannah singing sweetly this morning while she played with her sister. The other morning I heard Rachel explaining the gag reflex to Hannah, “You see, Hannah, when you smell throw up it makes you want to throw up.” This is a fact I had pointed out to Rachel a day earlier after Rachel vomited on my bedroom carpet. She saw me gag when I was cleaning it up and said, “Gee, Mom, I think you’re getting sick, too.” Now here they were, the next morning, playing throw-up together with a yellow salad bowl. Hannah kneeling in front of the yellow salad bowl, not quite getting what throw-up really is, which is ironic, I might add, since she was quite the barf queen when she was a baby.
Late this morning, Hannah watched as I sat on the bathroom floor with Rachel, rubbing her back and holding her belly (the only thing that seemed to soothe her). She didn’t actually throw up, but we spent a good intense hour getting through a wave of what I assume was nausea. Later this afternoon, Hannah quietly beckoned me into the bathroom. “I’m going to throw up,” she announced cheerfully. “Does your tummy hurt?” I asked skeptically. “No.” she responded, patting the tiles of the bathroom, showing me she wanted me to sit in the same position she saw me in with Rachel. She leaned over the toilet bowl and said, “After I’m done, I’m going to get a biiiiiiiiig treat. Like going poo-poo.” We sat for a few seconds. “Are you done?” I asked. She nodded. We got up and went back in the kitchen. “Did you throw up?” her Dad asked. “Yup.” She answered importantly.
Somehow, the stomach flu has not flattened us to the floor today. Rachel’s stomach virus seems to hit about once every 24 hours without a whole lot of trauma in between. (I literally knocked on wood after I wrote that.) Mr. R and I managed to finish cleaning the garage. A BIG deal, considering we haven’t been able to park our cars in the garage since we had our house painted last Christmas. A very long stretch—even for us. As I sat working in the garage it struck me how much easier things have gotten, even on a barfing day. Hannah was sitting at the table in the art room we set up in the garage. Rachel was inside watching Music Man, the garage door propped open so we could hear if anything went wrong. No toddler grabbing things from the shelves. No baby screeching for me with arms stretched out. Six hours out of ten the girls play beautifully together. If I play a part in their pretend games, I only need to play a supporting role, if anything. I’m usually assigned the role of “Grandma,” who occasionally baby-sits while “Mom” goes out. Feeling a little frumpy about playing Grandma once again (No offense to the grandmas our there. If anyone is frumpy, it's me.), I asked if I could be a Princess Grandma. Rachel thought, no. A Queen Grandma would be more appropriate. I protested at first, but then gave myself the role of Queen of England, which amused me greatly. I tried to get the girls to act out nursery rhymes for me, while I recited them in a posh accent, but that fizzled quickly. I just may be losing my touch.
A day earlier, I was feeling playful and put a book on my head, beginning to walk around the room. It reminded me of my sister’s best friend in grade school, who used to run away from her Catholic school to our house, where she’d end up hanging out with me, while my Mom waited for her parents to pick her up. My sisters, who were going to public school, were at school when she’d come. She’d usually teach me lessons that the nuns had taught her, like how to act like a "lady." How to do a sort of curtsey when you pick up your handkerchief. And how to walk with a book on your head. So I was amusing myself the this day thinking of Sis's friend as I placed a book on my head, “Look, I am walking like a…..” I paused. Did I really want to say lady? Thinking, thinking. What I really was feeling was powerful. Yoga has made me feel strong and well balanced, able to hold a book on my head. So I stood there, looking for the right word. Hannah finished the sentence for me: “like a skunk!”
At the same time life seems to be getting easier, other things are shifting, keeping things challenging. Rachel doesn’t nap, so my down time is limited. Right now, she is supposed to be taking a quiet time. Instead she has made her way into this office. I told her if she wanted to stay with me, she had to remember that it was my quiet time, too. She drew, and then made her way back to my desk, picking items up and asking me very sweet questions about them. I began to remind her that quiet time required actual quiet. Finally, I looked at her and smiled. “Are you wanting attention?” She smiled. I held her in my arms, we talked, and then I gave her a project. She is sorting my cards. The girt loves a project, I tell you.
I had a revelation the other day. I realized that I could actually set official rules in the house. I know. I am a slow learner. (Okay, okay, I watched Super Nanny the other night. Joe is a sweetheart). After dinner, I made an announcement. I wrote six rules on a piece of construction paper as I dictated them. One of the rules made Rachel’s eyes light up. Rule #6: Clean Up Messes Before Watching TV. Rachel interpreted this to mean: When you want to watch TV, clean up and your wish shall be granted. When I explained to her yesterday that was not what the rule meant, she actually went to the rule list, read it out loud, and argued her point, as if the list was the Constitution. I made some faces at her and we laughed. This is where “I’m in charge” comes in handy.
Oh, what a lengthy wandering post. What I am really DYING to shout to the world about is this. A new purchase. An extravagant purchase. A new baby really. A Baby Grand. The old Raehan probably wouldn’t have told you about it, but I’m feeling bold in my last week here. I’m throwing my privacy issues to the wind. THIS is what is on my mind while I’m rubbing my daughters back in front of the toilet. This baby.
And my Minnesota roots tell me not to tell you this without apologizing in some way, like to mention that my car is old. Because, well, it is, but also because that’s how I was brought up, feeling apologetic for owning nice things. Tell me you like my sandals, and I’ll tell you I got them half off at a sale. My Dad studied in a monastery and dedicated himself to having a non-materialistic life. That commitment was always part of him. I’ve got all that baggage—good or bad—locked in me.* And really, buying a new piano WAS a very extravagant thing to do, considering not a single one of is a piano virtuoso. But every time I’ve had access to a piano in recent years I’m all over it. I’m thirsting for it. And I have this dream of turning our front room into a music room. The piano hasn’t arrived yet, and my fingers are itching. ITCHING I tell you. The very worrying thing is that as well as my girls play together and often without me, whenever I sit down to play our electric piano, they are all over me and the piano.
Rule #7: When Mama's playing, let her play.
Oh man. I need a lawyer.
*(I re-read this and am realizing that the reason I probably want a music room is because my Dad had one growing up. They had a family band and I used to be fascinated by their music parlor and the lore surrounding it. How odd of me not to see this connection. I wish he could be here to play the piano, his clarinet, or even his accordian. I think move his photo to the piano when we're all set up.)