Totoro, Maxine, Dorothea, and Sheepie
Everyone needs a posse of besties, and this is Iris’s. They sleep in the crib with her at night, and in the morning we hear her shriek greetings to them when she notices—a surprise every morning, apparently—that they are sitting there, just waiting for her to wake up and play.
They are also very good as car companions and partners in adventure, and part of the bedtime routine has to be tracking them all down because it’s quite likely Totoro will be half under our bed and Sheepie on the nursery floor, Maxine stuffed in the couch and Dorothea in the bathroom by bedtime.
When Iris is a little older, I can sense some good story-telling opportunities, but in the meantime I like to imagine that Totoro is the shy but good-hearted one, Sheepie jovial and satisfied with life, Dorothea a bit of a daredevil, and Maxine very Julia Flyte. But I may be wrong about that. We’ll have to wait a while to see what Iris thinks.
As for me, I’ve been mopping the kitchen floor and reading All Roads Lead To Austen (because, really, why not?). I started seeing a therapist a bit ago to process a little of the—well, I’ve been staring at the screen trying to come up with a word that is not so dramatic as trauma while still conveying the general awfulness of trying to figure out how to be a mother, deal with colic, and find time to solve logistical puzzles like how to wash an invalid’s hair in the living room with only items found in the house you have lived in for 3 months. All the while, of course, hearing doctors talk about how Carl might never be the same again. Also he was a little strung out on pain meds.
Most of the really colorful craziness went away by itself after a while. I stopped seeing dark shadows on the wall and thinking they were spiders. I started sleeping more. Carl’s injury is still a daily annoyance, but it doesn’t keep him from any of our normal activities. It was tempting (and in fact, it’s what I did all fall) to just try to forget about it and enjoy how much better things were getting.
But that’s not really the brave thing.
Or, ultimately, the comfortable thing.
It’s uncomfortable to have parts of your life you don’t acknowledge, a bit like leaving tacks lying around the carpets of one’s house. I hate the jar of unpleasant and unresolved memories. I would like to stop feeling ashamed of the times I was angry or depressed, of all the times I didn’t know how to make things better and felt singularly responsible for everything. I would like to be on friendly terms with those months—not only to process the bad but to have more peaceable access to the good. There were moments of incredible happiness too.
I’m a list-maker, so thinking about the past has necessitated a few new ones. While walking Iris in the carrier for naps (she couldn’t sleep lying down during her cold), I started a lot of them. Lists for every time period of my life, broadly broken into the different places I’ve lived. Dozens and dozens of memories—whole categories like “making home movies with my brothers” and individual moments too, like fishing the lake with Carlie and the wriggle of the bluegills. Memory has always been important to me. It’s largely why I blog and scrapbook, and quite obviously the only reason to journal. Creative writing may be creative, but you can only really work with the materials—the thoughts and feelings and general experiences—you already have.
I’m not quite sure what to do with all the material I’m amassing. Essays and memoir pieces seem logical, but I’m not sure I have the time or energy to complete anything very demanding, and I’m really sure I don’t need another reason to feel I’m not accomplishing enough in a day. Also I have 30 pages of a manuscript still sitting where I left it before the holidays swallowed us up.
Problems for another day.
In the mean time, Iris, Maxine, and Dorothea require rescuing from the tiny half-step by the entryway that Iris has not quite mastered and is therefore fascinated by. She stands in front of it it, dolls in hand, trying repeatedly to step up, her little feet never rising quite high enough.
Just a good at-home-day with Iris and her posse.