March 26, 2010


This is what ten months old looks like. Cute, right? This was Beckett last Saturday at a restaurant on Newbury Street, where we went with a friend who was in town for the weekend. It was seventy degrees in Boston that day, perfect for eating outside. Because it was the first really warm day since November, this restaurant was packed to the gills for lunch, which also meant that we waited an hour and a half for a table. But you know what? I didn't even notice. Why? Because this baby is so well behaved in restaurants. I'm not bragging, I swear. I'm just thankful that Beckett has become such a sweet, flexible, and not particularly screechy kid (yet! yet! I know). Because you know what else ten months looks like? He's gone from squishy, immobile, rolly-polly baby to a REAL LIVE PERSON! A person who babbles (albeit incoherently) as if he were carrying on a conversation, with actual inflection and pauses for comment. He whines and moans when he doesn't get what he wants, takes delight in things and laughs out loud. He is, in short, a total joy.

And he has quite the busy social life too. Here he is playing with his friend Meredith, who ties for first as the cutest baby born in the middle of May in 2009. She and Beckett had a ball playing with his activity table a couple of weeks ago. They have come a long way from the little lumps Meredith's mom and I took for walks last summer.

I wanted to write a post about the wonderment and gratitude I feel for the incredible people Beckett has encircled around him. We spent a weekend in New York with my childhood friends at the beginning of the month, and had one of those weekends that felt encased by a warm, pink glow. It was the kind of glow that I took into the next week, until Jim found out that he had lost his job. So things have been a little stressful and a little sad in our house, but we're taking the proverbial lemons and making lemonade, or maybe limoncello. That might do a body and mind some good at this particular moment. It will be fine.

And it's hard to feel totally depressed about the uncertainty of the future when you glance out the window of your kitchen and see the tiny purple heads of several dozen croci pushing out from the muck. Despite the fact that it snowed this morning, spring has officially arrived in Boston and that makes everybody feel a little better.

In a fit of frugality, I decided that we are going to grow our own vegetables and herbs this summer. We have a tiny plot of dirt and I think it would be a fun thing for Beckett to taste something that grew right in our backyard. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing since I've never grown anything more substantive than cherry tomatoes and mint, but I'm sure that we'll figure it out, and hopefully save hundreds of dollars on fresh produce this summer. And since Beckett has proved himself to be quite the vegetable lover (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), I think he'll have a ball with it.

Life is far from perfect right now, but we are trying to focus on the parts of it that feel solid and certain: friends, family, our child, the flowers blooming in our backyard, the art on our walls, and the last fires in our beautiful fireplace. Everything will be okay.

March 5, 2010

Becoming Zen with The Mess

When Beckett was still a newborn and I was on maternity leave, flocks of people came to visit us each week. They brought gifts and food and STAR magazines, and I loved having a revolving door of entertainment during what was essentially a pretty boring time. Don't get me wrong, I loved being home with my baby and I feel nostalgic for that three months together. But in Boston it rained almost every day for nearly all of June and July, so we stayed indoors and I became hooked on

I also cleaned. A lot. Friends came over and marveled at how clean my house was. "How do you do it with a baby?" they would ask. Seriously guys, the kid slept for hours upon hours a day and there is only so much daytime television, book reading, and web surfing a type-a woman can do. So I cleaned and straightened and organized and did laundry and felt productive. I also became a little smug about it. Look at me! I am a new mother and I can keep my house clean. Let me take a moment to give myself a pat on the back.

Even when Beckett started eating solid food(and by solid I mean mashed peas and rice cereal) it wasn't so bad. He was a mess when we were through but my floors looked spotless! What was all this nonsense about babies throwing food? Myyyyyy baby didn't throw food!

Consider me officially taught a lesson. Jim came home from work (he works every other weekend) on Sunday to find me exasperated, tired, and sullen. "I feel like all I did this weekend was clean and do dishes.", I sulked. "Well, that's probably all you did do." Part of my irritation was due to the fact that our upstairs neighbor is having a major plumbing issue, which impacts us in that they have to run a pipe from her apartment through our kitchen. I was anticipating a huge mess, complete with plaster dust (horrible, awful stuff) and wood shavings. We spend 99% of our time in the kitchen with Beckett, so I was dreading this and preemptively cleaning. But the other major part is that Beckett now throws food. Sigh.

I can't tell you how excited I was when he picked up his first puff and put it in his mouth. Hooray! My baby is feeding himself! Awesome, brilliant, amazing, I am freeeeeee! It took him some time to master the art of actually letting go of the food once it got to his mouth, but he got there. When he's hungry, this kid can clear a tray of Cheerios in nothing flat. I'd dance excitedly across the kitchen squealing 'good job!' until my feet hit the first crunch, and crunch, and crunch. Three pulverized Cheerios on a freshly vacuumed floor later and I was starting to lose it juuuuust a little bit. 
Jim takes it hard too because let's be honest here, he is really the one that cleans the kitchen. I just like things to look clean. He actually wants them to be clean. So when he cleans, he cleans. As in, take all the furniture out of the kitchen, sweep, vacuum, then mop the entire floor, dry it, wipe down all counters and surfaces with vinegar and put everything back. I know, he's amazing. But then Beckett throws handfuls of scallop risotto on the floor or wipes his spinach and potato hands along the side of the fridge and we both have to try very hard not to lose it.
He has also gone from doing 'the worm' to really crawling and he is fast! He can get from one side of the den to the other in nothing flat, and his favorite thing to do is head for the pile of books and toys neatly stacked up in the corner and send them tumbling with a swift swipe of his little hand.

Lately I've just felt like I can't keep up with it. But I have to stop, breathe, and give myself permission to have a messy house. I want my child to explore and discover without worrying about making a mess or getting hurt. I have to somehow reconcile the anal part of myself - the part that wants everything to be pretty neat and tidy and gorgeous - and the cancerian part of myself - the part that wants a house that feels comfortable and well-lived. Mostly I just need to accept the mess and not let it take the focus off having fun with my child, at least for now, when teaching him about being neat and tidy is a waste of energy and breath. 

Or maybe it just means watching an episode of Hoarders (A&E) and recognizing that it's not that bad. Deeeep breath.