the adorable tiny people

December 17, 2010

Babies. Even though I have had one for 1.25 years now, I have hardly blogged about motherhood. Which is quite odd considering how important it is to me. And in my new life, as a law student, which is also ending just about now, it’s a huge part of my identity. I am “the one with the baby.” Not the only one, mind you, but one of them. That’s how people who do not know me at school might know me. Which is a funny thing, all things considered.

I always knew I would probably have kids, but I was honestly never that excited about it. It seemed like a lot of work, and like a big loss of independence, and a major sleep depriver. I have always cherished my independence, even in marriage. I don’t like being too attached to anyone, not because I want the freedom to pursue other relationships, but I just enjoy being alone sometimes. I like peace and quiet. It’s when I can sit quietly, drink a cup of coffee, write a little blog post. I don’t want to go everywhere with someone else. I also love to travel, and were I richer, I don’t really think I would have nicer things in my house, I would just travel more. I would see more things, go more places, meet more people.

But when I turned 30, I really wanted to move in the general kids direction, because I knew I did not want to wait until I (re)started my career or was over 35 or whatever. So we had a baby.

September 9, 2009.

December 2010.

Changed my life? Yup, but in totally different ways that I expected.

Before Gabriel, I never really got why some people went so crazy for babies. They don’t “do” anything, and sometimes they aren’t even that cute. And they cry, and they smell sometimes, and there’s a lot of poop and snot and drool involved, and you have to like, teach them stuff. But that’s so not the whole story. Because they are amazing.

A good friend used to comment on how newborn Gabriel would sometimes look so human. I mean, obviously, right? But there’s something in that description. The fact that babies are tiny, primitive beings, untrained, undeveloped versions of us, especially the first year. They suck, and they eat, and they stare, and they scare easily, and their little tummies hurt, but then they start to focus on objects, they smile, they babble, they hold their heads up, they grab things, and somehow, because at birth they are developmentally like a tiny baby mouse, all sleepy and wrinkly and strange, they just get more and more human, and it’s amazing.

And truthfully, until I had my own, I never got that. And now, ha, I want all the babies. I want to hold them, especially the tiny ones. They are too funny to me. And their tiny developmental steps are so great. And I never even liked babies before. So that’s what’s really changed.

Do I have less independence? Heck yeah, but I still have a lot more than I thought I would. I used to just like getting out and going to browse a book store or take a walk on my own. Now, I still do those things, but I get to see them also through Gabriel’s eyes too. Lots of things are better. You interact with more people when there’s a baby around. It breaks the ice. He smiles at random strangers, you chat, laugh, etc. We ride the bus a lot in Madison, which is the funniest because Gabriel will attempt eye contact with everyone on the bus, which often involves long bouts of staring.

In many ways, Gabriel makes my daily life less mundane. We can have a little adventure just going to school – a bus ride, a little walk, a trip to see professors who remember him when he was tiny, walking the halls, cheering up the stressed students. I know I am lucky. He takes good naps, I can survive on much less sleep than I imagined, and he’s a very good child in public. Sometimes it’s a total hassle, but it couldn’t be any other way. It’s just another human that needs you, and you have to make the most of it.


the denouement

December 5, 2010

Friday and Saturday the snow fell, accumulating for the first time this year. When we got up yesterday, I opened the blind so Gabey could look outside. He went: “Ooooooooooohhhh.” Super adorable. We went and looked out the porch window, overlooking the chilling lake, black ducks huddled together, snow very gently falling. He wanted to touch the snowflakes.

This little bit of snow really had to fall. It’s the universe effecting parallelism. During my 1L exam period, we had a huge snowstorm. There was talk of campus closing, but I don’t think it happened that year. I remember trekking to school for my first law school exam, enjoying the quiet morning, the snow falling, the solitude of walking alone. Last year, we had the biggest snowstorm in years during the finals period. The campus and the city basically shut down for a whole day. No buses, no work for most people, everyone in the streets, digging out, making snowmen, enjoying a real, old-fashioned snow day. We put Gabey in a big, furry, aquamarine bunny snow suit. We left our car in its curbside snow cave and walked a mile to meet some friends for brunch. It was fabulous.

This year, just a little snow. And it did not interrupt anyone’s finals. It just made things a little prettier. In Wisconsin, snow is generally beloved in December. It’s in February that we resent it, restless for the next season.

 

This morning I took my last law school final ever. I have never been less prepared for a test. At least that’s how I felt. Still, I took it pass-fail, and though I had my doubts about this last night, I do feel at this point like I passed. I have been doing almost nothing but writing for the past month. First I had a 30-page research paper draft, then an eight-page memo, immediately followed by an appellate brief that ended up being 30 pages. I also wrote probably 30-4o pages of response and essay-type papers this semester. I mean, I like writing, but come on. Scheduling fail a little bit. Ahhhh well, it is really almost over now.

There’s just rewriting the memo, revising my research paper, arguing my appellate brief and then, lord help me, another six-page reflection essay. But it’s nothing compared to the insanity of the last few days. Which is why, waking up yesterday morning and watching the snow with Gabey was extra sweet. I should have been working all day again, but he was with F or the babysitter most of the week. So yesterday we just got to hang out, playing, watching some cartoons, reading books, enjoying the view.