Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Mostly the boyos haven't had issues with their immunizations, but they got a couple of new vacs on Monday and today, Wednesday, they have been running fevers like nobody's business. A little Tylenol this afternoon and some Motrin this evening have helped, but their temps have been enough to make this mama nervous. Gus had a rectal temp of 102.2 this afternoon and Sam was 101.8. Just before bed, Gus was 102.4 and Sam was 103.5. (Yikes!) I called Humongous HMO's advice nurse this afternoon and quizzed her about it. She said that fevers on Day 2 with the pneumococcal immunization were very common and no biggie in general. She advised us to keep tabs on it and call if (a) either of them got up to 106 (106!!! She said it so casually, too. You could make toast on a forehead like that!) or if they hadn't gone down by 11 a.m. tomorrow. So we shall see.

I stripped the boys down this afternoon to just a diaper and pair of shorts (so the diaper actually stays on, ha ha) and that helped. They perked up after the Tylenol, too, and ate well and ran around and played. So really, I think they're fine. But it is disconcerting to put your hand on a child's forehead and have the impulse to jerk it back because you think you'll get burned. I opened their bedroom window and put a fan in it to draw in the cool night air (it was up to about a hundred here today but it cools down to around 60 every night). (My old typing teacher would be so disappointed in me. I'm blogging in the dark here, and every time I want a numeral or parentheses-- have you noticed I live for the opportunity to use parentheses? -- I have to bend down to peek at the keyboard. OTOH, my old typing teacher told me that some people never learned the touch typing system and for quite a time she thought I would be one of them, so perhaps not.)

In other news, my dad got here tonight. Finally. After about a zillion issues with his airline. It was hard for me to see him looking so tired and old, but I guess I should just be glad he is here at all, since he is pushing 80. He walks like our nearly 19-yo cat Ursus, sort of bent over a bit and watching where he puts his feet. But it was still lovely to see him and give him a big hug.

I don't know if I mentioned or not that D is leaving for Russia on Saturday? No, I didn't buy him the ticket ... he is going to be teaching a class there for three weeks, and I miss him already. He swears he is going to behave. I am not at all worried about him philandering but he does trust people too much, and I'm a bit concerned he'll meet some overly friendly Russians, go out drinking, and get rolled for his money. I hope, hope, hope not.

So my dad will be here for a couple of weeks, helping with the boys. I doubt he'll change any diapers, but at least I'll be able to get out of the house for 20 minutes or so to take a walk. And the company will be nice. I adore our boys but when the conversation is limited to mama, dada, baby (Sam says baby clear as a bell these days!), bur bur (for bird), dee gah (kitty cat) and various squawks with all kinds of meaning -- I guess -- it's nice to have some adult conversation, just to round things out.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mother's Day photo

Well, the post I just put up is a bit of a downer (despite its somewhat positive message) so I think we need a great pic to counteract it! Here is one of my new favorite photos of the boys, from Mother's Day. Sam is on the left; Gus on the right.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Gray is an interesting color

First, let me say thanks to those of you who posted support here, and also a couple of my friends who emailed me directly. I can't say how much I appreciate your support. And thank you all for not saying, "Gee, what a piece of trash you are for staying with an alcolic husband!" Which, honestly, I feared I might hear.

I've been continuing to think about this issue, and really, it is a spectrum of gray. I suppose many people would see it in black and white but I'm living it, and it looks gray to me.

On the pale pearlescent gray side, like the lining of an iridescent shell, is our life together when D is not drinking. Honestly, it's pretty darned good. For one thing, he agrees with me that children are best brought up at home by mommy (assuming that you can financially swing it, which luckily we can). And staying at home here with Gus and Sam has been an incandescently joyful experience for me. I can't think too much about it at any one time because I start to tear up. I tiptoe into the boys' bedroom at night to check on them, and when I lay my hand gently on their little backs, just to feel their breathing, I get a rush of joy that runs through me like heroin. They are ridiculously beautiful, and so ornery and funny and silly and unique and wonderful. I have never memorized anyone's features as I have theirs. I know their little faces better than my own now. And I am profoundly grateful that my husband goes to work without complaint and understands that the work I am doing at home with our boys is every bit as important as the work he performs to keep us financially afloat.

I am grateful that D took care of me during the long years when I could not have taken care of myself. I am grateful that he still hugs me on demand without question, and makes silly jokes to cheer me up when I need it, and shares a long history with me that mostly makes our life together feel like being wrapped up in a warm woolly bathrobe.

On the medium gray side is his stubborn streak, and his nasty little habit of freezing me out in "non-talking" mode when I've done something to annoy His Highness. I don't think this has anything to do with drinking -- this is just his high-handed father coming out in D. (On the plus side, he doesn't do the non-talking thing much anymore.)

And down in the deep charcoal gray is his drinking nights. But to give him some credit, he never complains about his hangovers, and he always gets up the next morning and pitches right back into the work at hand, whether it's going to his academic job or working on things here at home.

And somewhere in that sea of gray is our children's very existence. I thought for a long, long time about whether we should even have kids. I know what pundits like Dr. Laura would say. She basically doesn't think you should have kids unless things are perfect at home. And there's something to be said for that, except that if you wait for things to be perfect before you do whatever it is you want to do, you'll never get anywhere with anything.

I worry about the boys growing up with a functional drunk for a dad. Obviously, this is a Very Bad Example right in front of their eyes. But I also thought about my own upbringing. My dad smoked like a chimney the whole time I was growing up. I would walk into the living room, and the smoke from his pipe would have settled into a visible layer at about my shoulder height. The walls were all yellow-brown from the smoke. I was sick every winter and lost several weeks of school every year with awful bronchitis. (Looking back, I'm astounded I never had pneumonia. Also, it's a good think I'm not going to school now -- I think they'd fail me on general principles, just for losing so much time.)

Now, statistically, kids of smokers are much more likely to smoke, so you'd expect my brother and I both to do so. Our actual results? My brother also smokes like a chimney. But as for me, you literally could not pay me enough to get me to smoke. I hate smoking with a passion I would never have had if I had not grown up with a dedicated smoker. I would not even date smokers. Smoking is something I've never given consideration to doing, for even two seconds -- even though it was in front of me for all those years.

More to the point, our family was deeply disfunctional in ways I'm not going to get into here, and during much of my childhood, I was very, very unhappy. I was probably clinically depressed from about age five to age 14. Some people would say that my very screwed-up parents should never have had me. And yet... I am here, and glad to be here, despite the flashbacks, the PTSD, the depression, the whatever. I walk this earth and am deeply, outrageously happy to do so. I went out for some exercise this evening and heard the rapidfire outpouring of music from a mockingbird on a telephone pole, far above my head. Whenever I hear a mockingbird, it's like suddenly smelling lemon, or touching pure cashmere. It is a moment of pure beauty, like ringing a chime in my head. How much are moments like that worth? Is it worth going through crap in your childhood to get to a mostly-very-good now? I would argue that it is. I would argue that life itself, just breathing air, is a wonderful thing. (Well, okay, if you're not in serious pain from cancer or some godawful thing like that. All bets are off then.)

Anyway. I may have some apologizing to do to our sons when they are older. I hope not, and I'll try very hard to make sure no apologies are needed. But here they are on this earth, and with any luck they'll stay here and enjoy this world for many years, and I hope they enjoy mockingbirds as much as I do someday.

In a nutshell, I'm trying to say that although my life is not perfect (as detailed in my previous post), I don't want people to think I'm lying about, moaning, "Woe is me!" and being wretched all the time. Nope. I'm severaly irritated only two to three nights a week, and honestly, the severe irritation is limited mostly to the last couple of hours of each evening. My life as a whole does not suck. My life is imperfect, and together we have problems that need some answers -- that may, sadly, be unanswerable -- but for right now we continue to limp along pretty well here in our little three-legged race.