Preschool, coffee shop, trains

I am sitting in a coffee shop while S is at preschool, trying to find direction. It’s been so long since I’ve had time to let my mind wander, time to tackle my to-do list, time to be creative, that I don’t know where to start. I start to do one thing, hop over to another, watch the clock. This is only my second coffee-shop day, so I haven’t yet found my rhythm, but I will.

I feel ridiculously lucky and privileged. I will soon enough have to begin working again, at least part-time, but for now, I can do things like write a blog post.

Things continue on an upswing. It is no surprise to me that studies show that moving homes is one of the most stressful life experiences, after death and divorce. Disruption to routine is no joke! And disruption of resources. We moved in mid-Feb and in mid-June, and two and a half months after the second move, I still have to remind myself every morning, “You’re home.”

Good people around here. Down-to-earth. Friendly. Can have substantial conversations. Being a native Midwesterner, I definitely do feel at home. Having lived in Brooklyn for about a decade, I look around and see city folks who look like people I could hang out with. I also sometimes hear the slight Appalachian twang and see the beards and flannels that remind me of my childhood and college days. I keep having to pinch myself. Are we really here? Have we found our long-term home? The place where S can grow up, make friends? Where we can form a community?

I realize that things have seemed unstable for so long!

The last step in stability is finding a home we can purchase and just lay down roots. We are loving many things about the house we’ve rented, but it’s becoming increasingly important that our home is our own.

The separation from S on the first day of preschool was bittersweet, of course. My boy. My sweet, sweet little boy. He cried and reached for me, his face bright red, his mouth opened wide and crooked, exactly how he looked the second he was born.

He settled into the teacher’s lap and that’s where he stayed whenever he was outside. Inside, they told me, he enjoyed the elaborate organic snack (around a long table, with candles!), and played with the others, but outside, he needed a lap to nestle into or a hip to cling to. At least for now.

When I picked him up, he smelled of sweet essential oils and organic baked goods. I couldn’t stop breathing him in!

He was very remote and quiet at first, but once we were driving home, he exploded in song. It’s quite possible that I have never seen him so exuberant. Laughing, joking, flirting with me. His fantastic mood continued into the night, and we all three were rolling on the floor with laughter, or running like wild people after one another through the house.

I think the stimulation of preschool opened him to another level of happy.

DH gets S talking about his day by bringing out “Kitty Meow-Meow” and asking S questions in a high-pitched voice. Oh, the babbling S does in response, imitating our inflections, talking in sentences and questions in pre-words! It’s something I wish I could bottle. I can’t seem to capture much of it with a recorder.

I can see him changing. Expressing himself more and more clearly, his unique personality emerging.

I see so much of myself in him. Doesn’t matter that he is a donor egg babe, this boy is so my son.

I see myself the most in his dramatic antics. His hamming it up. He struts. He cocks his head. He runs and squeals, casting flirty looks over his shoulder. He nods exaggeratedly, with coy smile. He tickles me constantly, going, “tiddle-tiddle-de-la-de-la-la-la.” He puffs out his chest and belts out a phrase of a song so exactly that I stop in my tracks. He talks to himself as he plays with his trains, cars, stuffed animals, beginning to give them voices, beginning his long, long life of imaginative play. He takes his crayons and draws wild, expressive lines and circles and dots. “Dot-dot-dot! Dot-dot-dot!” he cries, dotting the page all over with bright color. This boy is in love with life. He is such a tiny person (5th percentile!) with the biggest life force.

But I also see myself (and DH) in him when it comes to his quieter, observant, thoughtful side. He still likes to go to the edge of a yard, room, playground, whatever it is, to see the perimeter, get a lay of the land, observe its goings-on, before delving in. He watches other  kids interact with quiet fascination. He studies the paths of ants and other insects—“bee, bee,” he calls them all—and if an ant crawls on his hand, he doesn’t flick it away, he watches it crawl and goes, “Hmmm,” as if to say, Wow, look at this.

Hmmm, is a big one. Yep, Nope, Hmmm. He gets the Hmmm from me.

He puts his little arms around me and pats my shoulder. “Mama,” he murmurs, utterly content. He presses his forehead to mine and whispers my name. I hope he never, ever, ever stops doing this.

We got teary, DH and I, after he went to bed. Thinking of how wonderful it is to see him grow into himself. But we were also hit with that slight panicky feeling. His babyhood is really now gone, and his toddlerhood will probably go by as quickly.

The other day in the store, he saw one of those collector-edition train magazines over my shoulder and his eyes popped out of his head and his legs started jiggling and he did that giant intake of breath. “Oh my gosh, what is it?” I asked. And then I turned and saw it. Of course bought it. The magazine is half his size (literally) but he wants to take it with him everywhere. He loves to look at the old black-and-whites of old steam trains, at the tiny pictures silver trains coming out of trees, the pencil drawings, the color photos from the 70s–all of it fascinates him. “Choo-choo!” he says over and over. Pointing. There’s another! There’s another! “Choo-choo!”

In the mornings, he goes out onto the sunporch to the wooden Thomas train set that has been in my family for over two decades and plays with the trains. In the afternoon. In the evening. Whenever he can. It’s his all-consuming hobby.

He’s like a retired man with a train collection and aficionado train mag.

Our local pool is right by a train track, and whenever one goes by, he does that eye-pop, leg-jiggle, breath-intake thing. I have to take him out of the baby pool and walk over to the entrance to the pool and hold him up for five minutes while the train goes by. If my arms tire and I start to head back before the train is finished, he looks panicked and says, “Choo choo? Choo choo?” pointing. I always end up staying, pointing along with him, until the caboose.

I want to write that in a card to him someday, when he is old enough to understand the deeper meaning. Dearest baby boy of mine, I will always hold you up and stay with you until the caboose. Love, Mama.



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  1. So sweet. I am feeling this way too, as I just dropped baby girl off for her first day of daycare today. It is hard, but the adapt so quickly, and grow just as fast. Hugs, momma.

  2. Polly

     /  September 2, 2016

    I’m so thankful you remind us occasionally that you used donor eggs. Our RBA IVF baby is 100% biologically ours but if neither of our two remaining embryos result in a take-home baby we will likely be looking at donor eggs. Hearing how completely you adore your son and how unimportant it is that he is not biologically yours give me great comfort.
    P.S. If I haven’t told you before, we used Dr. Shapiro too! :-)

    • He is THE MAN. I love him. He will help you. No it really does not matter—at least not to me. I know others who struggle. But I’m glad I can be a voice of reassurance. I know it sounds corny but I really am glad he’s not my bio baby because if he were he wouldn’t be him, and he is the love of my life.


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