living with the krampus

Today I left my kids to fend for themselves while my mom and I went shopping. The best kind of shopping (or at least a type of shopping that doesn’t fall prey to my constant second-guessing): her money, my devil-on-the-shoulder advice to buy, buy, buy! Actually, there’s nothing nefarious at all about a matron purchasing herself a nice party get-up and a few Christmas gifts for her family. I was pleased to observe I not only directed her to shops she ended up enjoying, but I selected a few items she liked enough to buy. We enjoyed a lunch and hot coffee and quite a bit of great conversation; we never run out of things to talk about, and we don’t mind quietude together either. She’s a good friend to have.

When I got home I had to immediately run back out again on another errand in the rainy, cold car – and in the preternaturally-early darkness, ugh. The kids were kind of staggering around all improperly-nourished and pent up and I felt that pang of guilt I feel whenever I don’t give 100% or have my shit entirely-in-order. When I got back home I finally had a few minutes with just-the-kids and they quite naturally gravitated toward sitting on my lap and bringing me a glass of water. Cozied up against the elements with just one another, the way I like to be.

I hadn’t mentioned the other day but my miniature ER drama hasn’t been the only ill omen in the household; the night before Nels had experienced a fever and a bout of night terrors. I’m thinking the former precipitated the latter, as he hadn’t had such an episode since we lived on Eklund Street. If you haven’t experienced a child of your own going through night terrors, consider yourself fortunate. It’s awful. I wish I didn’t have memories of his voice wound up in tension, his chest fluttering like wet tissue paper, his eyes wide and his mouth trembling. Nothing stops the night terror precisely; in the period of about ten to fifteen minutes he gradually emerges from the dreamstate and is Himself again. He doesn’t seem to remember the specifics of what has plagued him so.

Nels’ fever came and went and for two days he slept a lot and had a few such waking nightmares. When my husband is underslept (often enough) and depressed or stressed (rare, but currently in effect) he is occasionally not terribly helpful when the kids have a night need. Thus my own sleep has been at a “high alert” state which likely any mother or round-the-clock caregiver will relate to. I sometimes think to myself what would it be like for a real vacation, one where I was granted time off from my responsibilities and did not have to worry about food, care, laundry, housework. It’s not even possible for me to think what it might be like. But I don’t need to worry. My day will come, some day.

I sense something is wrong for Nels; he is either growing too fast for his comfort or we are not keeping up with him. Despite this he remains as intuitive and passionate as ever. In a querulous moment tonight after I complained of his behavior (an insistance I cook him food late tonight when I was ready to rest) he interrupted me: “Stop, stop… I need help, I need you to help me!” Patiently (but a bit wearily) I asked him, “What do you need from me?” and he said, “Love, I need love!” and stretched his arms out to me, his face hot and tears streaming down. I accepted him and the resultant embrace lasted and calmed us both. It is incredible to me even in Nels’ darkest moments how much he wants to retain connection and how willing he is to be vulnerable to those who may show a hardened response. I hope he keeps this quality.

As ever I am entirely grateful for family life. Making Christmas presents and anticipating gifts for loved ones is truly an exciting, creative, and exhilerating endeavor. It seems despite this or that and job woes and car problems and bleak – BLEAK – weather, our life is bountiful and joyous and deeply experienced.

a bedtime story from me to you

I’m laying next to Sophie in her room, holding her close. This weekend she had lots of kid company and a busy day so thus a hard time calming after bath. I hold her and soothe her and soon she is curled up, legs intertwined, peaceful. We breathe together for a while and my mind wanders. Then:

Sophie: “Mama, you know what crab’s mouths look like?”

Me: “What?”

Sophie: “Crab’s mouths. You know what crab’s mouths look like?”

Me: “Um…”

Sophie: “They look like pinchers. Like this.” [Soft, clopping sounds as she snaps in the dark. I am speechless.] “I’m going to have a bad dream where I’m on the beach and I’m barefoot, and I’m running and there are crabs buried with only their mouths out and they bite me on my feet.”


Me: “Sophie, that’s really scary.”

Sophie: “Yeah well, I guess I’m going to have that dream.”