My place is much more crowded and insane and sweet and frustrating since last year. Plus, my place still feels new. We moved into a new house over a year ago in August when I was six months pregnant. I'm still trying to figure out where we put some stuff. The house stays disordered but in a completely different way. Our last house was filled with the tools of partial reconstruction: paint cans, brushes, sawhorses, sawdust, carpet samples, drywall mud, sanders, etc.
Now the floor holds a motorcycle, a fire engine, blocks, a beanbag chair (for falling face first on), an Elmo chair, puzzle pieces, and of course books. All the non-board books are put out of the boys' reach. Apparently, they like to rip off the jacket covers and tear them. Sigh.
Board books are everywhere. I need to start reading Tucker the one Rebecca bought him: Hands are Not for Hitting
. In our case, though, the book should be titled Hands are Not for Pinching
. Poor Parker. He has two places on his face that look like bug bites, but they're Tucker pinches. His pinches are hard to catch because he starts off by hugging Parker, and Parker giggles. It's only when Parker tires of the hug that it turns a little more violent. And it has only happened once that we didn't catch it in time. But still, poor Parker.
Um, back to my place . . . my place is a lot louder than it used to be. Tucker likes to talk . . . a lot . . . loudly. It sounds like he's fussing at first, but he isn't. He just likes the sound of his own voice. In a way, I envy that. I don't like the sound of my voice.
My place is full of distractions. No matter what I'm doing, if I happen to catch Tucker's or Parker's eyes, the chase is on. They both LOVE to be chased. And caught. If I don't catch them fast enough, they'll slow down and look over their shoulder to see what the problem is. Sometimes, Parker will run to me instead of away from me, eager for the part where I catch him and tickle him or catch him and throw him in the air. Yeah, I'm usually ready for that part too. Plus, the giggle that accompanies the catching is awesome.
My place has little free time. I struggle to stay up with my work. And I now have less sympathy than ever for my students who complain about not having enough time to do their work, but their out-of-class entries detail hours of boredom and parties and extracurricular activities. I want to tell them they don't understand what a lack of free time is yet, but I love my life, so I don't want it to sound like complaining. What I didn't realize until now is how much of my free time I devoted to my job. Now, if I don't get work done while I'm at work, I may have an hour or two for it at night, but that's only on a good night. That's assuming the boys go to bed on time, and I've gotten bottles ready earlier in the day, and the clothes from the morning have already been dried and folded and that Wes didn't have late photo shoots.
My world used to be bigger. It used to include summers of teaching in London with side trips to Paris, Edinburgh, Dublin. Now it includes Valdosta State University and my neighborhood with side trips to Whigham, Moultrie, Albany, and Tallahassee. But that's okay. Every time the boys open their eyes, they're learning so much more than I ever learned in any of my trips. And our world will expand beyond the South again when the boys get a little bit older.
My place limits my roles and expands them at the same time. Mom is a new role, one I'm still experimenting with, discovering I'm hands-off in some areas and overly rigid in others. I refuse to lock all the cabinets doors, insisting that the boys can learn what's allowable and what isn't. I refuse to force them to eat foods they don't want, but I will hide the vegetables in the fruit if I can get away with it. I can with Parker but not with Tucker. I'm still a daughter, still a sister--probably better as both now that the kids are born. I talk with my family members more since Tucker and Parker came along. I also need my family more now than I did before. I'm still a wife, still a daughter-in-law, still a professor, still a writing project director, still a writer (barely), still a reader (mostly of magazines, Entertainment Weekly
, and children's books, especially The Napping House
I'm sure I occupy other roles too, but it's 8:34 a.m. My office hours started four minutes ago, so I need to stop writing and be ready to answer last-minute questions from students about their papers that are due Thursday.