I'm sitting at my kitchen table right now. A candle is flickering beside me filling the air with the scent of figs and a cup of warm apple cider is steaming beside me. Outside I hear the cold San Francisco wind whipping the yuca frawns around so madly that it sounds like a rattlesnake is shaking his tail on my windowsill.
This Pacific wind is the same one that warmed me on a pre-dawn Maui beach walk with Ada only 36 hours ago.
We were in Maui last week. A funny place to me - Hawai'i. My parents came to vacation here when I was about Ada's age - this was in the mid-70's. My Mom fell in love with the place and returned to Ohio with all sorts of tchotchkes that continued to litter our house until well past the next decade. So Hawai'i, even the modern version, holds a bit of 70's nostalgia for me.
S'okay though - going to Maui. Tough life, but somebody's got to do it ;-)
In all seriousness, we couldn't afford this on our own but as it happened, most of the trip was paid for except my ticket. Tim gave a talk at the Western Neuroradiological Society meeting. He was also schmoozing a bit because a year from now he'll be hardcore looking for a job in a tough market. So a little work and a little play together makes an earnest combination.
|Tim prepares for his talk on the porch with Ada "helping". She is a good helper!|
The best part of the trip was the 2 days I took off of work and that I got 5 whole days in a row to be with my Heart. She was impossibly cute. She was also impossibly stuck on San Francisco times so our days started before 4:00 am. We wandered around the empty hotel lobby. We took long walks on the beach with her strapped to my chest kicking her feet and humming. We had early morning coffee because coffee brewed before dawn smells different. We crept around so as to not wake Tim who had to stay awake for morning talks. Sunrise is a beautiful time.
|Blurry ... just like my mind at 4:30 in the morning as I try to entertain a wide-awake toddler.|
|Tiny feet and tiny flip-flops this cute should be illegal.|
Nevertheless, in times like these I find that very basic functions start to take priority. Take naps, for example; protected, beautiful. It felt wickedly indulgent to lay down with her and slip into that glorious hypnogogic state that gives your mind full permission to rest and quiet down enough to explore thoughts that usually are suppressed or swept away to make room for more practical activities. I love hearing her rhythmic, soft breath just as much now, if not more, than I did when she was a wee baby sharing our bed with us. Back then preventing her from rolling off the bed was as easy as a swaddle. Now the fortress involves several pillows strategically tucked in with the bed sheets.
"This was a different kind of vacation than I've been on in the past," was a thought I heard in my own head over and over again. Situations like when my 15-month-old clung to me like a baby ape in the swimming pool as a newly married couple drifted by in much the same grasp.
I've been that honeymooning couple before. I've been naked swimming in the middle of the night in a pool on St. John's. Done it. And loved it. But we are in a new phase - something different. Perhaps one of those newly married girls was watching me and wishing she was the one with the baby?
We didn't go diving or snorkeling or parasailing like the girl on her cell phone said they did. Instead we went to the beach and the pool and the shopping center for milk and to the aquarium. Ada and I took an hour-long bath together every single day. Tim and I had no long, lingering romantic dinners. Instead we lay facing each other in the king-sized bed before 8 pm, our knees touching and a contented loving curl to our lips. Ada slept in our protective circle so that she wouldn't wiggle to the edge of the bed and down to the floor. There was a luau but I watched the hula dancers alone - Tim took a sleepy baby back to the room to put her to bed.
|Before the luau in her super-cute Hawaiian outfit we got for her from Blue Ginger.|
Ada on the beach - now she is rabid for the water, the waves, the sand. She is desperate to get her feet wet - whooping and hollering the whole time as if there is a complete animated conversation between just her and the sea complete with warm greetings and emphatic points to be made.
|Kills me, this expression on her face does. Like she is determined to take on the whole ocean.|
You might think we got to go snorkeling or even scuba diving but we didn't. The surf was too rough so they wouldn't even rent us snorkeling gear. Oh well. Next time. Instead we went to the Maui Ocean Center and pretended that we had gotten underwater ourselves.
This little working break from reality gave me a sliver of a window through which to recognize something: the mother I imagine I could be. The one who doesn't feel compelled to clean, or pay bills, or answer email. No, this is the one who laughs when she falls in the ocean fully clothed and thinks cheerios on the ground are hysterical. This mother takes long baths with her baby and naps with her. She reads Clap Your Hands over and over and over again. Without the stress of running out the door to work every morning and coming home to the domestic to-do list, I was in unfamiliar territory. I could focus on only her without feeling that constant tug of having something else I should be doing. Not to imply that stay-at-home Moms don't have their own struggles, I know they do. My brief visit to this world was lovely enough that I could imagine myself living here. I like this neighborhood.
To solidify this thought - this vision of myself through new eyes - something I thought was lost was actually found. My mothers day present, which Tim gave me on our special day date, was lost on our trip to NY/OH but was found on this trip. I love wearing it, reaching up to touch it, hearing the bead click against the charm, turning over in my mind how we might fit a fourth name on the silver oval.
On the flight home she spiked a fever. I was fretting -suspended over the Pacific ocean there was no turning the plane around for some Tylenol and there was no flying faster. So I just held her and stroked her vomit- coated hair and turned on the overhead air-blaster. I was scared. Tim and I locked concerned eyes. I whispered, "I love you, Heart" and hummed "Dream a Little Dream of Me". When the plane touched down I thanked God for her and begged for her safety and good health. I am such a Mom. No matter if it's the one I am - just doing my best with all of my limitations and feet of clay - or the one I want to be.
We're home and another full week of work is under my belt - yes, it's taken me that long to write up this post. Tomorrow I leave for a dental conference in Santa Barbara while Tim and Ada hold down the fort here. I'll be back just in time for the Blue Angels show. I can't wait to be back home...lots of visitors, a new camera, the fall season, Halloween, and before you know it all the glory of the Holidays will be here full-on.