Tag Archives: george

the big One

13 Dec

One year ago this evening, we were on a snowy freeway, heading home from a day in Anacortes, making jokes about giving birth in a snowbank on the side of the road. When I awoke at nearly 3:00am — fewer than six hours after arriving safely home — I had no idea that I’d be a mother before the sun came up.

That morning, my body’s efficiency — my own innate and unwavering knowledge of what to do (or what to allow my body to continue doing) amazed me. Being so totally powerless to biology, to oneself isn’t something I’d have guessed I’d enjoy, but I got out of that birthing tub feeling like I could do it all again, immediately, and love it just as much. My birth experience was a lucky one: short, comfortable, in the most perfect venue I could imagine (can you think of a hospital that would welcome an already-pushing woman with a warm bath, dim lights and candles? Or a home birth you don’t have to clean up [yes, this heavily influenced my decision; I am lazy]? Didn’t think so.). Of course, the luckiest part of my birth was the result: the tiny, bald grouch we got to take home.

Every day of motherhood, at least so far, is different. Some are so good I feel almost as triumphant as I did when they first plopped George onto my chest and I knew I had done it. But those days wouldn’t be so great without the converse: the sleep-deprived, rainy, shit-on-your-clothes days when you’re begging an infant, please, just tell me what to do. I’ve found, though, that despite the insistence that I’d forget childbirth — the “so the species can go on” half-joke that serves only as one of many sexist scare tactics pregnant women and mothers face — what I’m forgetting instead are those regrettable, difficult why-won’t-you-end days, in favor of the wins.

This year, I’ve gotten to know myself in a different way. I’ve become less self-conscious in order to be present with my child. I’ve made stupid faces and funny noises and sung in public and been (mostly) unconcerned with how I look to all but one little person. I’ve changed my expectations, let my sleep, my free time and my body be temporarily hijacked. And, you know what? I’m doing a good job. He’s a happy, loving, trusting, communicative, confident boy. Not afraid to make friends with strangers, proficient signer who’s finding his words, giver of unsolicited kisses, giggler and enthusiastic try-er of anything.

The way we all begin is common by definition, and in the past I may have been tempted to apologize for parenthood’s inherent cliché, but having a child has given me an appreciation for our individualities, for the fact that we each have a story. George’s started a year ago and I’m a lucky sucker for getting to be a part of it every day. Celebrating birthdays is one of my favorite things to do, and this is the big one. The big One.

Happy birthday, chicken. I love you the most.

(black and white photos by Tiffany Burke. Hire her; she rules.)



15 Nov

Dear George,

You’re under the weather, lately. Getting some molars, disagreeing with kiwi, sleeping funny and copping major attitudes.

You’ve started pushing me away when I’ve pissed you off, smacking me in the face for taking away whatever it was you wanted to put in your mouth.

Sometimes it drives me crazy. Nobody likes getting slapped in the face. But this newfound will of yours makes the times you reach for me, the unsolicited fly-by kisses, the resting of your head on my knee that much sweeter.

You shake your head yes and no. You greet the cats every morning when we (finally) get up and around with an “at, at, AT!” When you think we’ve missed your emphatic ‘all done’ sign, you garble it — “AHH DAA!” You say ma ma mamamamama. You gag on anything sweet.

You are my favorite and my best and I can’t wait to hear what else you have to say.

Happy eleven months.

the best costume for the day

23 Oct

Today we went to the pumpkin patch. I had never been to a pumpkin patch, at least not one that I remembered. This one kind of blew my mind: apple pull-aparts with caramel and ice cream, photo-ops a plenty, a rocking horse corral, chickens(!) and a contraption that lead a goat through a path into the air where it stopped to take a nap and your child could ring a bell furiously from a seemingly related station on the ground. What? I know!

The farm was huge and beautiful, with an apple orchard where you could choose an apple and eat it straight from the tree for a mere 25 cents, which is a markup of about ten percent from the grocery store down the street from my house that sells exactly the same apples. If you care about those things. But I don’t! So we did that.

I dearly love dressing George for these sorts of outings. Wondering which jacket, romper, hat or t-shirt will become one of his signature pieces — the kind you look back on in photos and remember wearing — is such great fun. This was no exception, and since I knew we’d be taking lots of pictures of him, his little baby BFFs and us as a family, I made sure his outfit was representative of what he normally wears but still festive. I tried to do the same for myself, but there’s just no competing with a vintage Izod hooded, argyle sweater. Without further ado, here we are, as style-y as we get with any regularity:

I simply can’t bring myself to take a straight-on, posed photo of myself, you guys. Those who do this monthly or weekly, my hat is off to you.

On me:
t-shirt: art in the age of mechanical reproduction
cords: old navy
jacket: Ralph Lauren, from Macy’s
sneakers (almost dead, alas): Jack Purcell, from (I think) Famous Footwear, like 3 years ago
sunglasses: F21

On George:
sweater: vintage IZOD, Value Village
pants: Target
onesie: Carter’s, but probably from Value Village
legwarmers: mama-made, from some ladies’ cashmere socks
shoes: Robeez, hand-me-downs

ten months

14 Oct

Dear George,

Everywhere we went this past month, people asked how old you were.

Nine months, I would say.

Oh, big boy! they’d reply, almost invariably.

Big boy, indeed. Happy birthday, chicken.



28 Sep

In the past few weeks, the weather has taken the most wonderful Autumnal turn. I feel like this is possibly happening earlier than usual, and is the universe’s polite way of saying please, for the love of god, stop wearing those stretched out tank tops. George’s current legging collection can no longer contain his fat little thighs and all the pants I made him a couple of months ago are too tight around the bum. With a new crop of t-shirts recently acquired, all he really needed for Fall were some snuggly pants. My mom’s boyfriend gave me a very generous birthday gift of money to be spent at Joann, and with it I’ve gotten started on a few things that I hope will carry this little butterball through until December, when it’ll be time to bust out the fleece.

Exhibit A:

Some birch-printy, black flannel-lined pants that are notably less clownish than what he’s been sporting all summer.

Exhibit B:

Some navy flannel-lined overalls with wooden buttons, modeled after some that a dear friend and amazing seamstress made for George that he has, regrettably, worn twice and outgrown.
I didn’t use a pattern for either, having made so many things like this for him already, but I’m still always surprised when a project turns out so nicely.

that was your mother

12 Sep

George, man, you are really tiring me out. These days, I’m lucky to get a brush through my hair which is not even close to the amount of “doing” that my hair requires. Speaking of, I really hope you got your pop’s hair and not mine because despite boys getting a near pass in the grooming department, you still gotta do something and some days there’s just no option but copious bobbypins and a bun. Technically an option for you, but to be honest, not one I would necessarily encourage.

Also, on the papa front: I am beginning to forget what it’s like to have a fluid talk with him. One that isn’t interrupted with baby-juggling and redirection and trailing off, having forgotten what the next conversational turn was to be. Please, kid, don’t misunderstand. Usually one of us is sidetracked by your cuteness. And even when we’re not, it’s okay, because you’re a baby and you’re fun to be around most of the time and when you’re not, well… nobody’s always pleasant company. Including me. In fact, I’m probably pleasant company less often than most. But when my life is so consumed by the baby-related, I’d really kill for a start-to-finish conversation about that New York Times article I read while you were sleeping, or fashion week or what I should do with my 401K money — take it out or leave it in? Anything other than what kind of diapers I now prefer, how to wash them and what they look like after you’ve eaten black beans. I swear, I used to be a reasonably interesting person.
We just celebrated your first Rosh Hashanah. You slept through most of it, and it didn’t go the way I wanted. I was supremely bummed, scared of letting the few traditions I hold dear slip under the wheels of busy-ness, exhaustion, convenience, disinterest. Get rolled over and left for dead. I made no apologies this year; I made no resolutions. But as with most things, time may sort that out. My hope for this year, my thirtieth, is that I’ll reclaim a little of my adultness. Adultness that may never have been fully realized to begin. Ballet will start again, I will get a facial, I will have time and hands enough to keep a tidy house. Maybe. I will eat breakfast again, and work. Deadlines will loom and I’ll meet them. Your papa and I will learn to put you down, will learn that to let you nap alone doesn’t mean we love you any less, even if it really, really pisses you off in the beginning.

You are the burden of my generation
I sure do love you, but let’s get that straight.

(Paul Simon lovingly quoted with abandon and no permission)

george lejeunesse, freaking out squares since 2009

25 Aug

I should start by saying that it was gut-wrenching just now to look at what search terms brought people to my blog in the past three days, #1 being “jane schaffer died.” Because she did. And so it goes.

I’ve been working on a post about naming and names, unsuccessfully. It’s languishing in my drafts now, having been deleted and rewritten and deleted again, then mumbled out through my fingers, still unsatisfactory for public consumption. The time is coming — has come and gone, some would argue — to give George a Hebrew name. There was no recently deceased person to honor, but now there is, and that’s kind of that. We’ve already discussed the other part of the naming ceremony that we won’t be inflicting (that’s right, inflicting) on our boy and when the whole thing is said and done I’ll be glad to have it over with.
Naming, which I’ve always taken a special delight in, has been an unforeseen area of conflict where George is concerned. While I know I’m not the only one who gets grilled about her kid’s name(s), it seems that people who would otherwise just smile politely at what they consider a stodgy moniker see an open door for debate when it comes to George’s last name. Which is my last name. Which is not his father’s last name. GASP, CHOKE, how could you immasculate your husband — WAIT HE’S NOT EVEN YOUR HUSBAND?!?!?!? that way?
If you only knew, stranger in the grocery line, what other misdeeds I’m capable of.
There are lots of reasons we chose George. My abiding love of George Balanchine, of George Fayne, of Georgia Hubley. The two real, quality people in my life named George and the fact that they are entirely different people with vastly different interests, personalities and body types but both are unmistakably George. Singer as a middle name followed easily, for, dear reader, when you birth this:

It can only be seen as a sign to name him after your favorite writer, your favorite Pole, your favorite Yid and Pulitzer Prize-winning, superstitious, rice pudding-loving sometimes-curmudgeon:

These names are acceptable for most people, charming for some and stodgy for others, but the most common response is “I have a great-uncle named George!” Familiar but not common. Comfortable, I hope.
Sometimes, though. Sometimes people want to hear the whole shebang, to see if it has that certain ring. Does it rival the ring of Kaydynze Austyn Danger (haha; get it?!) Johnson? So I accomodate them. “Your husband must be French!” They say. And then, oh then.
Well, actually, it’s MY last name. (And here, for your reading enjoyment, a conversation that took place at Target, potentially in the same line where a woman who’d just given her toddler a swig of soda asked me Is that one of those slings that kills babies?)
Stranger: Oh, God bless you. Being a single mother must be so hard at your young age (…thanks?)
Me: I’m not a single mother. I have a partner. We just chose to give George my last name.
Stranger: …And your…PARTNER? He didn’t mind?
Me: No more than I’d have minded.
Stranger: Are there lots of boys in his family?
Me: Nope!
Stranger: Why didn’t you hyphenate it? Lots of people are doing that now.
Me: Um, it’s kind of cumbersome…
Stranger: Well, good luck to you! (Shakes head)

And you, I said, though I wanted so badly to throw that three-pack of wipes at her head as she lumbered away.


8 Aug

So far in my parenting experience, I haven’t spent much time around people whose parenting styles differ greatly from mine. Of course — we find people who validate what we know. Or “know.” Whatever. I knew (“knew”) that our trip to see Nathan’s family would bring about the first situation where our choices would be repeatedly questioned, albeit in what I anticipated would be tolerable ways. We are raising George, communicating with George, even being around George in ways very different than Nathan’s family are used to seeing, let alone doing. I can handle it; I am confident in my choices. Right? RIGHT.
Cue the “tips,” on the way home from the airport. Poor George was overtired from his long day of charming everyone half to death and trying to discern if that bizarre smile plastered on his mother’s face was genuine or meant “I am trying not to give you the impression that I am waiting for our impending grisly death.” He needed to sleep. And oh, George’s attributes are many and varied but his sleeping habits are not exactly a selling point if we’re being honest.
“He might surprise you,” Nathan’s mom kept saying, suggesting repeatedly that we just buckle the poor kid back into the carseat that held him captive all day. The thing is, he might’ve — sure. He also might’ve chosen to, rather than sleep, start reciting Shakespeare while strapped into said carseat on the ride home. I didn’t care to test my child one more time on what had already been a very long and very stressful day for all of us.
“I think he might surprise you,” she said one last time. “You would be wrong,” Nathan replied, and we went to Target while Nathan slung George for a nap. Go team.

We did, however, have to get back in the car eventually, and he 25 minute nap at Target was so, SO insufficient. The whining let to hooting led to whimpering led to hey-I-really-mean-it-I’m-about-to-cry. So I shushed. Nathan’s mom kept saying, “He’ll be fine.” (Like, I am sitting 3 inches away but I should just let him cry?)
But I shushed him and shushed and shushed until long after everyone had decided I was annoying and crazy and George was finally asleep, having been put in that state as gently as I could put him while seatbelted, myself. I was proud of my authenticity, my commitment to my child in that moment, glad to have chosen caring for him over convenience or the culture of the car or suggestion or self-consciousness. Us:2 World:0

fear of flying

23 Jul

This post has nothing to do with Erica Jong. Sorry.

We are taking our first family trip via plane next week. To say I’m an uneasy flier is an understatement. Usually, I need to be drugged and/or drunk to get off the ground. This hasn’t always been the case. When I was young, I loved to fly and did often, even alone, comfortably. People like to chat up children traveling solo, and I made a game of lying to my seatmates. Creating new, rather mundane (so as to remain believable) personas was a fun way to pass the time and put one over on the mostly condescending adults who always assumed I was going to visit my grandparents.
Even in childhood, though, I had rules for travel by plane. I never flew on an airline that sounded “American,” which excluded (obviously) American Airlines, USAir, Delta (for the color scheme, ha) and United. These rules have remained fast until now; we will be flying on Delta because tickets for three were about $1000 cheaper than on the cheapest “acceptable” airline. I’ve never flown Delta, but I think it’s safe to assume they don’t have soothing purple lights and fancy, well-dressed boys to serve my liquor ala Virgin/Virgin America.
Wah wah, you are probably saying: This is a first-world problem. And it is! Yes, I have the luxury of choosing from several airlines that likely will not kill me. This fact is little comfort to someone who, somewhere along the line, has developed crippling flight anxiety. I’ve read books about the fear of flying. I’ve looked at websites that offer explanations of “that noise” (as in WHAT WAS THAT NOISE?!) or simplified the facts of turbulence for someone who is not a meteorologist. The funny thing about those websites, though, you guys? They all have links to other “helpful information,” like crash statistics. And photos. And transcripts of black box recordings. THANKS FOR NOTHING, websites.
Since my fear has gotten really bad, I’ve solved the problem with alcohol. Easy! It takes the edge off enough for me to enjoy those purple lights and whatever’s on the TV in front of me. Xanax works even better. So well, in fact, that once, a sweet flight attendant had to wake me up post-flight to say we’d arrived. But here’s where breastfeeding your kid takes an unfortunate turn: no drugs for mama. And while I’d be relatively comfortable having a well-timed drink, dealing with the inevitable nastiness from paternalistic fellow fliers is not gonna decrease my stress.
I can’t overstate my discomfort with taking George on the plane. We’ve gotten him a seat of his own for safety, but I still feel irresponsible for putting him in what I consider to be harm’s way. The higher likelihood of being hurt in a car accident is no consolation, incidentally (lots of people offer this up — seriously?!). I hope that I’m able to enjoy the time spent with Nathan’s family, but I know that I’ll breathe a lot easier when our plane touches down — or rather, when it gets to the gate — back in Seattle. Wish us luck!

(Are you afraid of flying, too? Have you flown with your kid[s]? Help!)

seven months

14 Jul

Dear George,
Seven months ago, the snow was just melting from the first Winter storm of the year. You didn’t fit into any of your clothes. We ate Boomer’s veggie burgers and waffle fries for lunch. We had hamburgers today; your papa was craving them. Maybe his stomach was feeling nostalgic.

You were confused for so long about being a baby. Why were your best friends trying to make you sleep alone? And anyway, why should you sleep when other people are hanging out and having fun? You seemed so frustrated by your inability to communicate with us. But now?

You ba, ga, google, boobs, dadada thhhhhh. You think everything is funny.
Happy seven months, chicken. You’re my very favorite.