Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old Mom

I am, give or take, about a decade and a half older than nearly all of Demon Baby's peers' moms. At a birthday party, like today, I sit with a smile plastered on my face, having nothing in common with women who still coo over every move their child makes and wax poetic over cute clothes and princess crap. I can't say that 19 years ago, when I had my first child, I was much different. Sure, I played Barbies with her, but most of the time I wanted to claw my eyes out as I dressed Ken and Barbie. I marveled over my daughter and spent most of my waking breaths with her . . . but I was different, I suppose. I was always this eccentric, outside-the-norm, writer-mom with a slightly hippie bent. I've only gotten worse in my old age, dragging my kids to protest rallies and the food bank, and lecturing them on making the world a better place.

When Demon Baby got a kazoo in his goody bag from said birthday party today, I rolled my eyes. Only a young mom not shuddering from kazoo blasts in her ear would give a Demon Baby such a thing. Young moms make homemade Play-do (I did that with Oldest, but not with any of the other three, and I sure as heck am not insane enough to give Demon Baby clay--Lord knows where it will end up . . . and assuredly it won't be pretty). Young moms have the energy to go to the park AND the pool AND make nutritional little sandwiches cut out to look like Mickey Mouse all in one day. I'm lucky if I can survive one of the above.

I'm an old mom. I color my hair every four weeks or so to hide the massive gray. My ass shows the effects of being a writer and sitting making up novels for a living for hours and hours each day. I drink coffee--and lots of it--to keep up with Demon Baby and I am DELIGHTED to the point of tears on the rare occasions he falls asleep early and I find him passed out on a carpet somewhere as it's about the only evening time I get with some quiet and what passes as peace around here, given I have three other kids. And did I mention how much LAUNDRY they all make?

I don't care if his outfits match. If he's wearing clothes, it can be striped pants and a plaid shirt for all I care--I know he's not going to keep it on long anyway. He goes EVERYWHERE commando. And I just don't care. I pick my battles.

All of which sounds terribly cynical. Heck . . . look at the name of this blog.

But it's not. I find moments of sheer joy so exhilarating I feel like my heart will burst out of my chest. When he is enthralled with a worm, or shrieking his delight over things as varied as a guitar solo by the Clash or a dead spider in the bathroom, he forces me into the moment with him, where the rest of the world falls away. He is like a lesson in Buddhism every single day. When he does this plethora of destruction on my house, my appliances, and even my lone pair of dress shoes, I am so uninterested in a perfect-from-the-outside life that I can marvel at his intelligence, his imagination, and his genius.

But most of all . . . he IS his emotions--whether shrieking in anger or laughing with delight or crying with frustration. He can curl in my lap and tell me I am beautiful. He can kiss me, but then wipe off my kiss when I return the favor. And I am aware--painfully so--that THIS is the stuff of life.

A friend of mine passed away this month. His memorial service is next Saturday. I have had four close friends struggle with breast cancer, two with lymphoma. I have buried people I love. I have watched my friends bury their parents. My own dad is now blind. I have struggled and suffered through one child's difficult adolescence and then watched her evolve into graceful adulthood. I have one in high school, and another in middle school. And Demon Baby. I am aware, in the way an old mom can only too poignantly be, that THIS is the stuff of dreams. These moments.

His childhood may not be marked by baby books, where each new tooth is dutifully recorded (gave that up by midway through toddlerhood of Child #2). I may not have quite as many pictures of him. I will most definitely NOT be baking cupcakes. But my life with him is marked by this outrageous desire to grab him fiercely and hold onto his wonderful Demon Baby stage for as long as it lasts, knowing that life can throw us a curveball at any minute. I;ve lived long enough to know that.

I don't care about the mud in my hair, on my pants, or, frankly, in my best shoes. I don't ask how it got there.

I just appreciate that he is who he is. And tired though I am, this is my chance to live, moment to moment, in the incredible life of an incredible child.


KathArine said...


Amy Sue Nathan said...

Isn't it amazing how the lives of others can help us appreciate our own. I traverse this all the time - without a demon baby, because I am so aware of what is important and what is not. What is truly fabulous is being in the moment - even when the moment isn't exactly what you had planned.

Cheryl Kauffman said...

Wonderful post. I wish I could deal better with the dirt in the house, but I have a bit of OCD and have to clean things right away. I know what you mean about the play-do. Our carpet in our family room is covered with a play-do crust. So, this has become the room they can make a mess in. And even though I hate the mess, I love watching my kids have fun with the play-do.

Erica Orloff said...

Thanks, Katharine. NOT that you are old . . . but I thought you might "get" this piece.

Erica Orloff said...

Loss, this week, made me take stock. My friend was not much older than I am. He had Crohn's disease, as I do.


Erica Orloff said...

I try to confine Play-Do to the kitchen table. The dirt gods make a mockery of that.

Melanie Avila said...

Erica, I'm so sorry about your friend. We lost two friends to cancer at the beginning of the year -- both of them within ten years of our age -- while dealing with our own loss, and it really does make you appreciate life.

This is a beautiful post. DB and the rest of your children are luck to have you, and lucky they have this to look back on.

my WV: messenis -- you think? :)

Erica Orloff said...

LOL on the word verification.

And yeah . . . because my friend had the same disease I did, he called me a lot when I was really sick and he encouraged me. To lose him hits me hard . . . it's an awful, incurable disease that has taken a toll on both me, and friends I have met through various support groups or connections. But it's impossible to mourn him without also thinking, "There but for the gace of God go I," as they say.


Robin said...

So sorry about your friend, Erica. That's beyond awful.

I think Demon Baby has the best baby album of all time - this blog! Just think how you're recording his antics. He'll get a ginormous laugh out of this one day, along with hours and hours of pleasure. Who needs a dumb baby tooth, anyway?

spyscribbler said...

Erica, I'm so sorry about your friend! Friends. Amen to this post. That other stuff is just silly, really.

It's funny, a fellow piano teacher and I were just discussing how out of touch we are with today's parents. We just keep looking at the first and second grade parents and going, "Are you kidding me?" And it becomes interesting, because all they can see is right now, and yet you have a long-term view of growing up that they don't. It's very odd. It's weird and disconcerting, because you're "it" and all the parents love you when you're young, and you go through a generation of students and then we're suddenly "old-fashioned." Cripes! We're only in our late thirties!

Erica Orloff said...

I hadn't thought about that, but yeah. I keep thinking, "What will I call it when he becomes a teenager?" But we're a long way off from that. :-)

Erica Orloff said...

I used to do a "Mom and Me" class with my oldest. It was always torturous. I am friendly and so on, but it just always seems as if those picture-perfect-on-the-outside moms know their own kind and the Goth-looking mom dressed in black over there . . . she ain't invited to the tea party. ;-)

laughingwolf said...

i hope you save this somewhere to present to him when he's old enough to truly appreciate this gift you made for him, whether he's 15 or 50... it's the most loving tribute i've seen from a mom to her son!

blessings to you both... actually, to your whole family!


Erica Orloff said...

I actually sometimes wonder . . . when I'm dead . . . my blogs live on, sort of. My grandkids could one day read the musings of the crazy old broad who was their blogging Grandma.
Thanks, LW.

momcat said...

Your demon baby is the exactly the right child for you at this age. And most moms know not to give gifts that are messy or noise. If you choose to get something like that for your own kids then you can accept the consequences of it but being given as a gift, you have to wonder at the ulterior motive behind the gift.