Friday, February 27, 2009

Henry Said

Men and women have different styles of conversing, to be sure, but

toddlers take the difference to a whole other level. Henry has said some funny things this week. Among them:
-Bubba and I were talking about potty training. Henry was listening, and said eagerly, "I want to go on the potty train!"
-Henry has been a little obsessed with the movie Wall-E. So I guess it wasn't surprising that, when we dropped Bubba off at work and Bubba told Henry to "Be nice to mommy," Henry responded with ,"Be nice to Wall-E."
-Yesterday Henry volunteered to say the blessing for breakfast. It was hard to make out exactly what he was praying for, although I did hear the phrases "astronauts in space" and "Lightening McQueen on the road."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

He said, She said

From The Dangerous Book for Boys comes some apt advice for boys in regards to talking to girls: "Remember that girls are as nervous around you as you are around them, if you can imagine such a thing. They think and act rather differently to you, but without them life would be one long football locker room."

Bubba and I got over conversational nervousness a long time ago - but we still do think and act rather differently from each other. And sometimes, I think that Bubba forgets that when talking to me, he's not in the locker room, and I forget that I'm not in the midst of playing "Girl Talk" with my friends. Take, for example, our recent exchanges:

He says: I read a really interesting Paul Krugman article today.

She says: The baby has been kicking like crazy.

He says: I'd like to learn more about Keynsian economics.

She says: I wonder if we should buy a new bouncy chair for the baby.

He says: I'm curious to see how effective the economic stimulus plan will be.

She says: I'm hungry.

He says: I can't believe you don't care about the economic crisis!

She says: I can't believe you don't care about the baby!

For me, my pregnancy is the most important, pressing issue in my life right now, and so naturally it's what I want to talk about. For Bubba, the state of the economy is the most important, pressing issue in the whole world right now, and so naturally it's what he wants to talk about. And I know it's a generalization, but it does seem that women want to talk about internal, personal issues and men want to talk about external, impersonal issues. And that's not all bad. In fact, it's probably a good thing. We can help balance each other out, so instead of being stuck on opposite ends of the internal/external spectrum, we both end up somewhere closer to the middle.

Still, sometimes it's hard to get the conversational teeter-totter to balance. Take, for example, the game of 20 questions Bubba and I played on a trip to Des Moines. Neither one of us were able to guess the correct answer in 20 questions - even though we both hinted that it was something "really easy and obvious." And in hindsight, both answers were. And what were these really easy and obvious answers? Bubba's - the stimulus bill. Mine - an umbilical cord.

I don't know what is located between the football locker room and a rousing game of "Girl Talk," but if you do, let us know. I think if Bubba and I could meet there, we could have a really good conversation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

If only...

Driving Bubba to work yesterday, I passed this White Castle, and suddenly, I knew exactly what I want to do for Valentines Day. Is White Castle classy? You bet. Romantic? Not a doubt. I just hope they still have a table left...

Sorry, Geoff, hope this doesn't make you jealous. I guess this year you and Traci will just have to settle for Woody's again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Motherhood Induced Schizophrenia

In the form of novelist Stephenie Meyer, about two things I am absolutely certain: I desperately don't want to be pregnant anymore. And I'm absolutely terrified to have another baby. I'm starting to find that motherhood is producing these diametrically opposed feelings more and more often. One moment I am blissfully dreaming about how sweet it will be to have a little baby girl, and the next I am panicked about how I will balance Henry's demands to play cars, the baby's demands to be fed, and my demands to shower and sleep. (Note: Bubba's demands are definitely an afterthought).

Motherhood may be unique in its ability to fracture a seemingly normal woman into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I've definitely experienced ups and downs in other realms of my life - but the ups and downs of marriage or work are nothing compared to the rollercoaster ride of motherhood. I can go from entirely loving motherhood (watching Henry's pure joy in pushing a shopping cart), to completely loathing it (watching in pure terror as Henry knocks down a grocery store display), and back to entirely loving it again (watching Henry's sweet face as he apologizes) - all in the course of one shopping trip. Similar scenarios are played and replayed several times a day.

I suppose one reason for the conflicting feelings that motherhood produces is that motherhood itself has inherent contrasts. I am at once a guardian of a child of God and a janitor responsible for dirty diapers, clothes, and bodies. I am at once the vessel of a new life and lumbering, large, and awkward. I endure both temper tantrums and endless hugs; I experience both drudgery and boundless wonder; I feel the greatest frustration and the deepest love.

I am hoping that my pregnancy has amplified my swinging moods. Henry has definitely noticed my strange behaviour and, seeking a barometer of my moods, will often tentatively ask, "Mommy happy?" He asked this the other day when, in an attempt to take a much needed rest, I foolishly supplied him with a cookie sheet full of flour for him to use to play with his toy diggers. I congratulated myself on my ingenuity as I lay down on the bed, and Henry was busily distracted for nearly half an hour. When I went to check on him in the kitchen, I found that it is certainly not a wise idea to leave a 2 year old alone with a small mountain of flour. Henry noticed my crestfallen face as I observed the disaster in the kitchen and asked, quietly, "Mommy happy?"

My answer to that question now is certainly different then it was at the time, but as I think of my little Henry, his incredibly beautiful face and his boundless curiosity and energy, I'd have to say that yes, Henry, Mommy's happy. A little crazy, but happy.