The Tiniest Capen

Tiny Siren

Find the common thread:

  • the One Cup Of Cider rule
  • wearing a shirt
  • sharing building blocks and design control
  • hairbrushing
  • turning off Daniel Tiger
  • the No Snacks If You Reject Dinner Entirely rule
  • bedtime

If you guessed “things Gwyneth has had screaming angry tantrums about today,” you win a set of raw nerves and a headache. 

I gave in on the shirt, because who the hell cares. But the rest… it’s a wonder she has a voice left. 

I’m assuming we’ve reached “threenager”. I could do without it. Fortunately, she’s remarkable the rest of the time. It really does make up for it. I think the snuggles and kisses and conversations and play are like the hormones that flood your body after childbirth – they fog your mind to the reality of the preceding moments and make it possible to do tomorrow. 

Sitcom life, The Tiniest Capen

Once upon a time there was a being, and it met a girl named Felicity Brewer.

The Being needed Felicity, so she chose him for her own. And her love made The Being grow so big, that the Brewers had to leave their home. The Being’s the best friend anyone could know. “He’s the greatest thing ever. I really think so. The Being’s so loyal, he’s there when you call. I love The Being who sought me out!” So they packed up the family car and the Brewers left the city. They moved to Birdwell Island and found many new friends waiting there to greet The Being and Felicity. “The Being’s so much fun, he’s a friend to us all.
I love The Being who sought us out!”

So, that’s obviously a story pitch for a feeder from another dimension who met a girl, confused her with a perception filter and began eating her emotions, then as it gained power convinced her to move to a remote island where the whole village, drawn by its power, came out to meet them and were assimilated as prey.

Or it’s the theme song to Clifford, the Big Red Dog, with names changed to protect the innocent. Your call.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

On Tuesday night, Justin and I left Gwyneth with Kyle (where she happily played hide and seek for at least 2 hours, repeatedly hiding under her bed, which made Kyle’s job a lot easier…) and went out to dinner and a movie. We had a great meal, laughed and clapped at Dr. Strange, and talked. We talked about the Venn Diagram of urban fantasy and space opera themes, and how our various favorites fit into them (the diagram seems to have the following categories: Romance and Sex, Weapon/Fight/Ship porn, Worldbuilding Depth, Metaplot, Character Depth). We talked about Kingdoms of Novitas. We talked about parenting. We talked about life.

We also talked about how I’ve recently increased the dose on my antidepressants, and it seems to be helping. I’m still worried, but I’m acting, whereas for the last few months I was pinned under the anxiety, fully aware of the issues I was facing and unable to find solutions. On Monday I started solving things again. So hooray!

Except then the election happened and the electorate betrayed my belief in who we are as a country. And I spiraled down again, late Tuesday night, after we came back from a perfect evening. I curled into Gwyneth’s bed with her, arm wrapped around her back, my cheek on her head, and wept. And whispered apologies into her sleeping ear. I’m so sorry that I brought you into this world. THIS world. I’m so sorry.

And on Wednesday, having not really slept, I stayed home from work and dealt with myself. I meditated. I did yoga. I went grocery shopping. I cooked. I read. I pet my dog. And I thought.

Here’s where I’ve landed.

Facebook no longer has a place on my phone. If I’m going to check in, I’m doing it sitting at a computer. The echo chamber and the reality channels posing as news are no longer getting pride of place in my personal time. They aren’t going to live in my pocket.

I will do what I can, where I can. That means my family, my friends, my community, and my elected officials. And I will be intentional and thoughtful about voicing my opinions, sharing my concerns, and agitating for change where I can. I will fight for my world. I will fight for my daughter’s world. I will listen to my friend Jill, who is reminding us that social change is possible at the local level, and that the local conversation is what informs the national one.

I will direct my energies in my library into fostering freedom of speech, building an understanding of our governing processes and our history of protest in our student body, and ensuring that everyone — and I mean EVERYONE — feels welcome in Crumb provided that they adhere to actions that support our mission.

And I will not dwell in the horror of what I see in the American people right now. I will remember that Italy has survived Berlusconi, if only barely. I will remember that the Civil Rights Movement was effective. That the Suffragettes succeeded. That feminism is not dead, and that equality is possible. Love can win. I will dwell in that place. Hope is the thing with feathers, and as long as I breathe, I hope.

The Tiniest Capen

This morning during daycare dropoff, as Miss Molly and Miss Elaina cheerfully managed the slightly special needs kid in Gwyn’s class, I walked out with that kid’s grandma. We both stopped in the office to compliment the teachers to their boss. And then we talked outside for a minute.

The grandma told me how grateful she was that the teachers integrate her grandkid, instead of placating or ignoring the “problem” that he can cause. I told her that when Gwyneth recites the list of children she’ll play with at daycare, she includes him in the list. The grandma said “which means they’re *friends*. He has *friends*.” with wonder in her voice. And then went on to say “sometimes he’s just so far ahead, and sometimes he’s really hard. But if you write him off, you’ll miss out. He won’t miss out. But you will.”

Gwyn’s not gonna miss out.

The Tiniest Capen, Uncategorized, working mother

9000 eternities

Time asleep before I was awoken: 4 hours? Maybe 5?

Time spent calmly talking about how it is nighttime and it is time for sleeping to a balls-to-the-wall hysterically screaming toddler who wanted daddy, a show, to sleep on the couch, Maggie, Daddy, and also another show: 45 minutes? An hour? An eternity? 57 eternities?

Time spent observing same toddler as she eats a bag of popcorn while staring off into space like a zombie: half an eternity. 

Time spent adjusting the zombie toddler’s sleeping arrangements to her satisfaction: 2 eternities. 

Time spent trying to remain calm and comfortable at the toddler’s bedside while she busily tries to stay awake in the face of zombie-level exhaustion: 7 eternities. 

Time at which I finally was horizontal on a soft surface in a silent house: 4 am. 

Two nights running. I can do hard things. I do hard things every day. So let’s do this hard thing. Thursday, watch the fuck out. I have eternities of practice patiently waiting out crazy. 

gratitudejournal, insert emoticon here

Justin has Lyme Disease. (We believe; his doctor does, too, and there’s lots of circumstantial evidence like 3 other people testing positive from the same camping trip, but his test came back negative.) That means that for the last two weeks he’s felt absolutely awful. Exhausted, in pain, feverish, and generally sad and frustrated.

As a side effect, I keep wondering in the dark of night if I also have Lyme Disease. Or maybe mono (which has also been diagnosed in one of our Pennsic companions). Or cancer. Or a heart problem. (I LOVE my late-night anxiety.) Because I’m just tired. So tired. Tired from working, from parenting (Gwyneth is flatly opposed to daycare this year), from taking care of my sick husband, from having my household transition (Maggie went back to college, Zara moved in for the semester), from having my work transition (students are back!), from my own pain issues (bad shoulder times). Just tired. I took a sick day yesterday to take care of Gwyneth so Justin could rest, and I ended up taking two naps — one unplanned for an hour because G wanted to snuggle in the morning, and then in the afternoon while she slept. Both times she got up, and I didn’t even notice. Apparently the second nap she came and told me she was awake and I should wake up and I have absolutely zero recollection of that. I slept straight on through. So my exhaustion means I wonder if I’m silently dying. Thanks, brain.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Last night Justin didn’t have much more energy, but he seemed like himself again. He was laughing. And making sweet jokes. And just… he was there. He was present. He was more than a sad, sick man. He was my partner. My Justin. This morning while I was at the chiropractor he got Gwyneth dressed for school, tortured her with a hairbrush for a while (let’s discuss toddlers and curls, shall we? NO. Let’s not.), and fed her breakfast. And I came home to a kid who was ready for daycare, and a husband who was smiling at me. He still feels like shit, but he’s back.

And just in time; today’s our wedding anniversary. We’ve been married for three years, now. I was 4 months pregnant when we got married, though we’d decided to get married well before Gwyn was conceived. Justin was the most patient partner I could have asked for during my deeply neurotic bouts of worry and concern and perfectionism while I was pregnant, and during my postpartum phase where I was even more uneven. He is an amazing father, and this life is what I wanted. And I have it.

There were the years before we got married, too, though. Those matter, too. We met in 2003, shared a circle of friends for years. We got together romantically in 2009, after the dissolution of our previous relationships. We were both pretty fragile, deeply frustrated, and uncertain about where we were going, at that point — lots of “anywhere but here” in our lives. But there was a whole lot of chemistry, and a whole lot of convergence of values and dreams and goals. We built this relationship on those three pillars, and we’re still building.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It’s our wedding anniversary, but the three years since we got married are just a small part of who we are and what we mean to each other. It’s a marker to celebrate, though, and it represents the entirety of who we are to each other. And I can’t express clearly enough how glad I am to see my Justin emerge from his illness. I missed him. He’s crucial to my well-being. Just being with him and knowing he’s there makes me feel less tired, and less anxious. And that… well. I couldn’t ask for more.

I love you.

#mightyifitkillsme, misc, The Tiniest Capen

Today I…
  • Worked for 6 hours, then left to run errands which I aborted when I got home in the middle of a rainstorm, opting to be useful at home instead. 
  • Did 80% of the needed toy cleanup in G’s room, including all Mystery Piles and Under The Bed. 
  • Played Horse Ride with G with her castle toys, which I expanded to Moose Ride and Bear Ride because I could. 
  • When G asked, I set up painting for her. 
  • Cleaned paint off G and washed brushes with her. 
  • Sorted the pile of mail on the table. 
  • Made dinner for G. (And by “made” I mean “microwaved some chicken, corn, and tater tots. But she’s two. She was thrilled. She ate it all.)
  • Made myself a sandwich. 
  • Washed the few dishes we’d dirtied.
  • Started a load of towels and folded a small load of laundry. 
  • Folded a big load of G laundry, integrated it with the big load Maggie had folded, and put 75% of it away. Because i was interrupted and then I …
  • Diapered and jammied a sleeping kid, because Captain I Don’t Need A Nap passed out at 7, dead to the world, on the couch. 
  • Put a pork roast in the crock pot so it will be pulled pork before morning, for taking to Camp. 
  • Started packing food for camp, and clothes for the family. 

So now I should go work out, but I’m super tempted to just play CivV. I mean, that was a lot of functional adult behavior, right there… I might be done. 

Or maybe I’ll do both. 

insert emoticon here, working mother

Hey, world. PSA for those looking for me this week, and wondering about radio silence.
 
Saturday I spend the day doing laundry, packing, and playing with my kiddo as much as possible. Saturday night I head to Montreal, and Sunday morning we fly to Santa Clara, Cuba, then we drive to Cienfuegos. I’ll be there for a week — coming home next Sunday. I don’t expect to have much useful internet access for most of that week.
 
I’m really, really excited.
 
I really don’t want to leave my daughter.
 
More from the other side.
The Tiniest Capen, working mother

Gwyneth started talking last week. I mean, she’s been talking — communicating verbally — for a year and change. But last week she started speaking English.

This morning Justin made an example of greeting the dog when he wandered out of the bedroom, and Gwyn repeated it perfectly: “Hi, Malcolm!”

And when I came out of the bedroom, dressed for work, she started saying goodbye to me. I told her I was going to get breakfast first, and she said “Mama breakfast first.” When I was done with my sandwich, she asked me if I had my shoes.
“And keys?”
“And a hat? “(No, thank you, mama doesn’t need a hat. Does Gwyn want a hat? “No hat Hen.” Okay then. No hats for anyone.)
“Bye bye mama!” (Then she retrieved my wallet from my purse and handed it to me. “Thank you mama!”)
“A hug?”
“And kiss.”
“Keys?”
“Bye!”

She’s like my own personal imp-powered organizer, a-la Pratchett and Vimes.

#mightyifitkillsme, The Tiniest Capen

I do not love my body right now, but that’s because it’s a reflection of all the things that aren’t really working. I know how to lose the weight I’m carrying, and regain the strength I’ve lost — I just have to choose to do that. And choosing to do it means spending time on different things than I have been spending it on, and that’s hard, and it sucks, and it takes energy that I’m not positive I have and so I live in this body that isn’t who I really want to be because inertia.

But I don’t hate my body. My body does amazing things, and when I want to dress it to look fucking amazing, I do that. I paint my nails and do my hair and makeup because those things make me happy, bring Justin joy, and contribute to the image I’ve crafted of myself for public consumption. And I’m okay with that. I’m equally okay with dirty feet and broken nails because we’ve spent the weekend living under the sky with my toes in the grass, which makes me happy, brings Justin joy, and is a part of who I am.

So you won’t hear me talking about being fat or hating my body unless I’m in a sad, dark, place — and unless I’m way out of my happy place, you’ll never hear me say it when Gwyneth can hear me. Her body is also amazing — strong, healthy, and beautiful for the potential it holds, not the form it takes. She’s going to believe that if it’s the last thing I do on this earth.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

~Sarah Koppelkam