A Monday : breast milk pumping, finances, Halloween, geography, Sound of Music, cool moms.
Mondays can be tough, especially when they follow a Sunday. But I am a firm believer in at least trying to:
find bigger pleasures than expected in tiny moments,
get through the tough moments by imagining how humorous they’ll be to look back at someday, and if you’re going to laugh about it someday, might as well start now, and
summarizing, at the end of the day, especially on challenging days, the moments I’d like to help my brain remember for the long term.
Notes from a Monday
Chapter One : Dialogues between children
I’m saving for either a phone or a laptop,
Which one do you think I should get first?
He ignored the question and announced his own plan.
I’ll probably just save for a laptop,
he said firmly.
I don’t care about phones. I might try and not ever get a phone because I don’t know if I’ll need one.
Author’s note: there was a point in history, pre-2008, where many people did not have smart phones. Before this, there was a point, pre-1998, where many people did not have phones, period. So this viewpoint is in some sense an enlightened idea that could trend over the coming years. Probably will. #nanotechnology?
Chapter Two : Dialogues between adults
Before I was a parent, I looked forward to someday being a father.
Before I was a father, I envisioned many things about the way life would be after becoming a parent.
One of the things I never envisioned, was that someday,
I would be standing in a school hallway, outside a classroom,
with another adult,
the challenges of pumping breast milk;
something of which I speak not so much from a place of personal experience, but have become knowledgeable enough about, in my position as a father of four, to be able to discuss logistically, at least.
I thought in this moment, that this was an interchange worth smiling about,
and thinking about the many ways in which being a dad is different than what you imagine it will be.
And I am also glad, odd though it may sound, to have female friends who are comfortable speaking of such things with me.
I am also thankful for the millions of moms who have gone through the process, over and over, of using their time, their energy, their bodies, to go through this process for the sake of their infant children.
I did not, long ago, envision having these conversations. But parenthood is full of pleasant surprises.
Chapter Three : Distractions, Incorporated
Have you ever wondered why it takes teachers so long to get through material sometimes? This (below) is a microcosm of what it means to be a parent and teacher and the thousand days in which a hope and a plan to efficiently, quickly, effectively knock off a to-do list is derailed. Again and again and again.
So George Vancouver,
she said, pointing to a map of the Pacific Northwest,
was exploring and had a certain city in Washington State named after him. What city would that be?
Is it the city where I live?
A fourth grade girl asked.
What city do you live in?
the teacher asked patiently.
the girl replied.
the teacher said.
Have any of you been to or heard of ‘Gray’s Harbor’ in Washington?
There were non-verbal responses that mostly fell into the category of ‘half nodding, half head shaking,’ to ensure they could safely take either side depending on where they needed to align themselves.
There was another explorer. His name was Robert Gray. He had a geographic feature in Washington named after him. What geographic feature do you think that was?
A boy raised his hand.
I don’t know which one,
he announced eagerly.
But my middle name is Robert, and -
— she rightfully interrupted him.
she said. Gray’s Harbor was named after the explorer Robert Gray.
My middle name is Robert and…
Chapter Four : …any raw asparagus?
On Halloween, I’m going to ring the doorbell,
And when they answer, I’ll say “Trick or treat! I don’t need any candy though, I just wanted to show you my costume.”
Chapter Five : Milk
Becca’s return to work; work which she is skilled at, has an aptitude for, and approaches with the vibrancy of an 18th century missionary. She takes her best skills and her cheeriest attitude to patients, every time - I know this - and I am certain they are grateful for her return.
Yet I know and am aware of, to the degree I am able, of the difficulty involved in a nursing mom heading back to (part time) work.
It’s hard. Especially that first day.
I am very proud of her and the profession she embraces as a mission; the care and affection she has for each of her patients and her determination to bring her best to every interaction and brighten each of their lives during their time together.
But I know it’s tough.
And I know, as I drove in to bring her two-month old for a quick lunchtime boob or two, that working moms balance a lot.
I said, as she crammed into the passenger seat with a bulbous, squirming body fighting to get under shirt.
Chapter Six : …and she probably drinks Pepsi
I like that one teacher okay,
he told his sister.
But I wouldn’t want her to be my teacher because she’s always chewing gum.
(in my life, I have never known an individual more opposed to gum-chewing than this particular child of ours)
Chapter Seven : This Land
“This Land is Your Land,”
the teacher said,
is a great song that reminds us of how awesome and blessed we are to live in this country.
I thought (but did not speak in the moment),
’This Land is Your Land’ was actually written as a sort of counter-response to Irving Berlin’s popular ‘God Bless America.’ Woody Guthrie wrote his song with the idea that America had lost sight of who it was and become a land to the rich and powerful. His song was a song, embraced by many, as a rallying cry for inclusion and a reminder that the country belonged to all, not just the powered and the moneyed. It’s a bit more controversial than its folksy jangle might lead you to believe. And its definitely not a flag-waving, we’re the greatest and biggest and better than everyone anthem.
It’s a good song, and I thought these things at the time, but did not voice them aloud. Sometimes there’s a right time and sometimes there’s a not-so-right time.
Chapter Eight : More thoughts on finances
I’ll probably have two separate jars for saving money,
What are you saving for?
his sister inquired.
One will be for saving up for Greek books.
he informed her.
And the other envelope will be for saving up for other stuff.
Chapter Nine : Uncle Adam and Aunt Eve
Can you believe,
he asked anyone who was listening from the backseat,
that they’re related?
(this was in reference to two classmates)
he said emphatically.
They’re sixth cousins.
That is some impressive genealogical mapping!
I said, and
then we launched into a good discussion on genetics, ancestry, and the interrelationship of humankind.
That is how many of our great dialogues begin.
The foundational importance of being curious and asking questions.
Chapter Ten : Hills
We have been watching The Sound of Music over the last week, and it is difficult to feel too terrible about life when your two-year old is fully engaged with the story and music, and leading the watching party on his feet,
swaying, moving, dancing, directing, and occasionally singing along with the Von Trapps.
Sometimes it’s difficult to feel too terrible about a Monday.
There was some tough stuff too. But those are the things I want to remember.
A few of my favorite things.