So I have written what follows in between feeds and am posting this in anticipation of the next — imminent — feed, in the calm before the next milk frenzy. One needy cat sulkily blocking access to most of the keyboard (= one handed typing) and one eye on the clock (= a semi-permanent limbo and state of distraction).
It has been a month (well, a full calendar month yesterday) since Oscar came into the world. And this is where, with a head somehow full of so much and so little, all at once, I write about everything and nothing, go off on strange tangents, share some photos and then bugger off again to hang with Oscar (along with the stuffed toy brigade, the Very Hungry Caterpillar et al) for another month or so.
A lot can happen in a month. Right now we measure progress in grams. Since time began in the outside world for Oscar, he has got a double chin, a birth certificate, his first Christmas decoration. He experienced his first earthquake, huddled nude with me under a doorframe. He outgrew his first onesie (although his granny later pointed out to me that we had in fact shrunk it in the dryer). His repertoire of whimpers and gurgles grows by the day and his signature gesticulations become ever more determined and insistent (some of them even have names… the Randy Orton, the woodpecker, the homie…).
I don’t really know who he looks like. Mostly I just look at him (for hours on end, it seems) and just see him. But in itemising the possible flickers of genetic resemblances, so far we’ve ascertained he has my mouth, Simon’s colouring and Didy’s chin. There’s an air of Poppa Dennis about him. But it’s in the darkest, smallest hours of the morning when I really know he’s all mine. It’s when I’m forced to cajole him into wakefulness for food only for him to unequivocally resist my ministrations – expressively and with every ounce of his being – that I see our greatest similarity so far. Being woken unnecessarily, prematurely, is an outrage. I have felt this strongly all my life. Full, complete and unbroken sleep is one thing I have always fought hard to protect, and I’m proud to see the same force is strong with the little one. (Funnily enough, though, given life’s new Oscar-ness, these lifelong sleep rules have now been rendered null and void. And oddly enough I’m almost completely okay with it.)
There was so much I was going to write about. Like being blindsided by the blizzard of love and anxiety and sheer confusion that comes with new-parentness. Like staring out the hospital window looking at the rain in a state of teary awe, wondering how I would ever explain to Oscar how rain happens, or even what it is. How I would ever explain to this perfectly uncreased blank canvas in my arms what anything is. How for a week, choked up with wonderment and an exquisite sort of pain I’ve never before felt in such madly high doses, I cried just to look at or hold him. (And then when one day I stopped crying, feeling guilty for not crying.) How, in the dead of night, having talked Oscar to sleep by translating a BBC News story on the European financial shitstorm into an allegory about the modern-day fall of Rome (mostly gibberish — a conflation of stories of Trojan horses and grapevines featuring toga-clad heroes and 21st century greed and collapse), the electric breast pump spoke to me. It did. It said the same few words over and over in its whiny motorised incantation — some sort of proclamation about a universal currency (the antipodean equivalent of the Euro, I think… heaven forbid). But it’s all a haze now. And, besides, there isn’t time.
Amidst the chaos, venturing out into the world is a big, big deal. Leaving the house means I get to see great things, like this particularly animated television set, a mere 10 metres from my front door.
And my favourite other discovery, in the week before Oscar was plucked, wrong way round (coming into the world like a rotisserie chicken, according to Simon) from the area below the oilcloth partition (I’m sure there’s a medical name for it, but it looked like good old fashioned oilcloth to me): Salamanca Road artwork.
In the face of so much change, it was wisdom well-timed.
Getting out of the house is good for other reasons, too. It stops me from turning into the Breastpump Whisperer, and from staring at The Sound of Bread album cover and wondering what bread — actual bread — sounds like.
It also gives me more to think about than my extremely prosaic dreams (the best recent examples of which include me finding a rockmelon in the freezer and wondering why anyone would ever think to freeze a rockmelon, and someone referring to Seinfield and me yelling SEINFELD! SEINFELD! at them).
Other distractions have come in the form of Christmas merriment and an attempt to create as many opportunities for reading/story-related media consumption as possible. I have craftily hand-picked magazine articles I always meant to read in my working life, but never found the time (although my relationship with time of late has got particularly strange… so much of it and yet so little), and have positioned the magazines at various stations around the house. I have at the ready on my Kindle a Cleopatra biography (ordinarily I’d find the link for it but I just don’t have the stamina or inclination) and an audio book of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain, which I listen to on the night shift (purchased mostly because it’s 19 hours long, which I felt represented good value for money… although I’m four hours in and starting to wish I’d spent my credits on something a bit more fast paced). By my bed I have Jeffrey Eugenides’ new book, The Marriage Plot (most excellent so far, and a nice wind down from/antidote to a year of studying heavy poststructuralist argument) and Garth Cartwright’s Sweet As, which looks like a good kiwi summer read. Although 30 pages in I’m already wondering if his editor has taken their kiwi summer holiday early and gone fishing… It makes me twitchy and wish I kept a pencil by the side of my bed. But interesting subject matter, nonetheless.
And in the interests of Oscar beginning to appreciate the delights of storytime (poor bugger has no say on the music front though, and has already been forced to take in a random array of musical concoctions), we have been reading stories to him. Not kids’ stories, so much. Things like David Sedaris’ The Santaland Diaries (from Holidays on Ice). Which has made me remember and start to dig out some of my all-time favourite read-out-loud stories. Like David Foster Wallace’s Girl with Curious Hair (from collection of same name), Rick Moody’s The Mansion on the Hill (from Demonology) and Emily Perkins’ Barking (from Not Her Real Name).
And I think that’s all. I know this has no discernible structure. But Oscar stirs and I must away.
Filed under: books, daytoday, family, things I like | 5 Comments