Boobies

Five months ago today I nursed C for the last time. I miss it. I miss it almost every day.

For the first while I was careful to not be topless around C. Listen, we are a cool-with-nudity family. It is important to Z and me to teach the boys that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to their bodies. That nudity does not always equal sexuality. Not to say we aren’t realistic. We teach boundaries. There was a frightening situation in which the child of an acquaintance was seemingly being groomed for sexual abuse by a childcare provider. Since that time we have quizzed T every month or so, “Who may touch your penis?” we ask. “Me, you guys when you are washing me, Doctor M when she is examining me.” he answers. We remind him that is it. He needs to tell us if anyone else tries, if anyone is making him uncomfortable when they touch his body. It sickens me that we have to have the conversation with him, that people who would prey on children exist, but better face the ugliness in this world than ignore it and not equip him to identify dangerous situations.

More than a month after C was weaned I was stepping into the shower when I heard a great crash, a moment of silence, a wail of pain. I pelted to the sound, dripping water everywhere and found C in a heap on the floor of his room. I swept him into my arms, checking for bumps and blood. He immediately tried to latch on. “No, no, no!” I told him as I laughed and cried and struggled to finish the check to make sure he wasn’t hurt. Dude was scared and looking for comfort and my boobs were right there. Old habits die hard. He was fine, I got him calm and headed back to the shower. That is the last time I remember him trying to nurse.

In the ensuing months my no toplessness rule relaxed. He didn’t have a reaction to seeing my boobs anymore.

Mom left for home early this morning. It is the first day I’m up and about. Still feel like shit, but definitely feel way better than I did just a few days ago. I do not recommend the flu, it really sucks ass.

Z and I were in the basement futzing with a load of laundry. I’d changed pants when I got out of bed, but was still in gross sweaty flu clothes from the waist up so throwing that crap in the wash seemed like a good plan. I grabbed the empty laundry basket and braced my weak legs for the walk from the basement to the second floor. C met me on the staircase coming down from his brother’s room engulfed in a cloud of poop stink. He’s been sneaking off to hide behind the curtain in that room to take a crap these days. I opened with the obvious “Did you poop?” “I pooped!” he crowed. And then he started pointing at my boob. I turned to look at Z. When I turned back his little face was upturned and he was working his mouth, suckling the air. “Mama! Mama!” he cried, pointing at my boobs again. “Baby. There is no more milk in them. No more. All gone.” He was still pointing and on the verge of tears. “Mine!” he shouted in frustration.

I burst out laughing. Had been near tears myself, but seriously? Mine? “Um, no.” I told him. “They are mine” I walked past him and his poop stink (worry not, his Daddo changed him) and got into the shower.

Old habits really do die hard. For both of us. I miss it too, C.

Mom C T

Last Sunday the family went to the Zoo. C ran up to this display and pointed to the skulls shouting, “Mama! Charlie! Thomas!” I get his confusion, those skulls look just like us.

treehouse breastfeeding

Reposting this one. C nursing in our treehouse last summer. When T was tiny Z took photos while I was nursing. I made him delete them. It is such a huge regret. My ideas about nursing and the importance of normalization have evolved so much since then. I regret not documenting that time.

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Twig and Berries

Writing about the Brooklyn Jugs and adventures at various bars in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn has made a bunch of ancient memories come bubbling up to the service.

Did I ever tell you about the time I saw a guy’s dick on the subway?

This one takes place during the same general era as the Lillie’s story. Z and I were living in Prospect Lefferts Garden (Southeast corner of Prospect Park). Z worked at NYU and I worked for a tiny wholesale bakery that over the years hopped around to various professional kitchen sites throughout the city. We started in a cavernous and filthy basement in SoHo, moved to a tiny but tidy storefront in the Meatpacking District across from what would soon be the Spice Market, detoured to a labyrinth catering kitchen in a warehouse in Long Island City for about a year, and returned to the Meatpacking District storefront for a second try.

Commuting from Brooklyn to Queens was pretty straightforward even if I did have to go to Manhattan to get there. I’d hop on the Q at Parkside Ave in Brooklyn and somewhere in Manhattan I’d switch over to the R which I’d take to 36th Street in Queens. Queens. That borough always confused me. With its 36th Street and 36th Avenue and the fact that they intersected. It just didn’t feel right. But the kitchen space was large and clean and the catering company that ran it invited us to eat family meal with them every day. I remember the chef reaming out a cook for not removing the bones from the fish in a dish he prepared for family meal. Chef was not fucking around. He was feeding his people (and us) right. Anything that was put out for consumption was expected to be as excellent as the food they sent to the US Open. I still have a couple of travel coffee mugs they were passing out late summer of ’05 after the Open was done.

So back to the train. If you are a daily commuter in New York you have your system. You wait for the train in the same spot every day. You enter the train through the same set of doors. You have a favorite seat. You have your routine, be it napping or reading or listening to music. You are in a bubble and feel alone even in a crowded car. I think it is how one stays sane in an overwhelming situation. You make order out of chaos. Your world gets manageably small. You recognize the regulars in your car, nod or smile at them but never strike up a conversation. When one of the regulars goes missing you feel a bizarre sense of loss for a stranger you never knew.

One morning in the silence of the subway car I happened to glance up from the book I was reading to see a well dressed man walking down the aisle. For a moment I could not process what I was seeing. He had carefully arranged his junk so that both his flaccid penis and rather hairy balls were free from the repressive underwear and pants the rest of us were wearing. His pants were buttoned, the fly was simply gaping open, a passageway for his genetalia that clearly yearned to be free.

I tensed up. You never really know what shit is going to go down on the train, best to be on guard. Not one other person in the half full car said a word, it seemed that everyone was so involved in their routine that they didn’t notice. I quickly looked back to my book and pretended to read until I heard him exit out of the door and into the next car.

A guy with his dick on display walked the length of our train car. After he left I glanced up at my fellow commuters. Not a single person met my eye. Not a twitch of a smile on any of their faces. I was having trouble not laughing hysterically. Did it that just happen? Was I really the only one to notice? Did I suffer some extended hallucination?

The next morning I was reading my book on the train as we chugged along still in Brooklyn. Suddenly I heard a woman talking to her friend. About Mr. Dick-Outside-His-Pants. My head whipped around, “You saw him, too?” I asked. “I didn’t think anyone else noticed!” She laughed. She didn’t think anyone else had noticed either.

I wonder how many of us on the train did notice. Either way I never saw the man again. Man, I miss the fuck out of New York. Not a lot of dull moments.

can we fix it

Of course we get all sorts of great moments in Syracuse as well. WCNY, our local PBS station moved into a fancy new location and had a big party to celebrate yesterday. Even Bob the Builder came.

bob the builder and c

Brave C just strutted right up to Bob for a high five.

too shy for bob

Shy T needed to watch from a distance and cuddle with Daddy.

kombucha

Guess what? I’m brewing Kombucha! Thanks again for the scoby, L! Should be ready to bottle in the next few days.

Sucker Punch

T waltzed into the bathroom as I emerged from the shower. I hid my annoyance at the intrusion and half listened as he chatted in my direction. Suddenly he bellowed, “I HAVE TO POOP!” “Kay, go ahead.”

He continued talking as he took care of business and I continued my morning routine. Eventually he hollered, “I’M DONE!” No idea why he needs to proclaim his plumbing issues at the top of his voice, but there you have it.

“Great!” I replied, kind of pissed that I have to feign enthusiasm as I wipe someone else’s ass. He assumed the position and grasped my naked thigh for balance. I noticed he was staring at it. When I finished he looked up at my face and said, “You are really fat.”

“Listen you fucking asshole. You come into my shower time which by itself is enormously irritating, you fill the bathroom with the horrid smell of your shit, and then you zero in on the thing I’m more self conscious about than any other and go right for the kill? FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU, YOU NASTY LITTLE SHIT!”

Ok.

I didn’t say that.

But I really wanted to.

I took a breath. “Wow. Wow, T. You really hurt my feelings. I’m very upset. It is incredibly mean to call someone fat. You really made me feel terrible. It is unkind to comment on anyone’s weight. You shouldn’t call someone fat. You shouldn’t call someone skinny. It just really isn’t any of your business. Any by the way, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what a person looks like or how big or small they are. What matters is who a person is on the inside.”

He considered me. “Well, aren’t you fat?”

I stood there. Damp and naked and vulnerable. I wanted to cry. Of course he does not understand that my self image is garbage. He doesn’t know that when I look in the mirror I see someone who is morbidly obese. He can’t comprehend mental illness. “Yes!” I want to shout, “Yes, I am fat and disgusting and an embarrassment! You nailed it, my son! You should be as ashamed of me as I am of myself!” And the anxiety, that bitch, she whispered in my ear that technically my BMI is in the overweight category. I’ve got another 10 pounds or so to go before I really can be considered “normal weight”. Wouldn’t it be the most genuine and honest to tell him I am fat?

I stood there and decided to not unload my insecurities on my four year old who wasn’t actually trying to be an asshole. Who was just calling ’em like he saw ’em. Who was learning about new concepts and trying them out in conversation. Who was being a completely normal kid.

“No.” I said. “I’m not fat. I’m not skinny. I’m in the middle. But like I said, size doesn’t matter.”

“Oh. Well, I’m in the middle, too.”

“Great. Now go downstairs.”

It isn’t like I haven’t been waiting for this day basically since he was born. I mean, there was no chance he’d call me skinny when he eventually learned about body types. So now it has happened. It stung like hell. Being a parent is suspiciously like being a grown up. I didn’t lash out, I didn’t wallow. I tried to teach him. I told him what I believe. Unless I am considering my own body. When I look at myself I become the meanest of mean girls. But today for the sake of my son I quieted that horrible bitch inside me, for a moment I tried to cut myself some slack.

It sucked. But life sucks sometimes. And I guess if he is going to call anyone fat I’d rather it be me. I don’t want him to contribute to anyone else’s body image baggage. And hopefully he won’t. Hopefully he saw my hurt and he’ll make different choices in the future.

Jesus fucking christ, parenting. Some days you ask for an awful lot.

t lion

This is a good kid. He is trying to figure the world out. Which is impossible to do without stepping on some toes. But his heart is in the right place. I’m proud of him. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.

blanket assault

Cousin chaos. Just after the photo was taken T tackled his Aunt Kelsey with the blanket. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.

red light

Z got a red glass window somewhere and propped it in front of a window in his shop. For a few amazing minutes in the late afternoon this happens.