Eleven

“Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart
until, in our own despair, against our will,
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”
— Aeschylus

I can’t go to bed at night without looking in on my children. I make sure their toes are tucked under blankets. I marvel that my tiny babies — and they were TINY, peanut babies — are suddenly long enough to have toes protruding from blankets.

Eleven years is approximately 4,015 days. Gabriel has been gone for more than 4000 days! That I live in this world where toes need tucked in and someone has been missing for more than 96,000 hours boggles me, especially this time of year. His loss is always and forever.

++

I have no other words for today for now. We are off to Mass, and to a small gravesite after. Six white flowers is not enough to mark four thousands days. But it is all we have.

Because It Feels Good

Inspired by this article by Alice Dreger, which I also shared to Facebook and Twitter. See my FB post for the funniest response ever, mostly because it’s from Dan.

About once or twice a week, Dan and I slip away on a weekend afternoon. We lock the bedroom door and get busy.

And, yes, that’s a euphemism. We’re not cleaning our room or changing the sheets. We’re “changing the sheets.”

Sometimes we time it just right, and the children are otherwise distracted enough to not knock at the door for the duration. More often though, we will hear little feet coming up the stairs — it’s usually Michael at this point — a jiggle of the door handle, then a knock. “Is Mommy in dere?”

We usually claim that we are talking or getting dressed. We ask for about five minutes. (It takes longer than five minutes.) The need on our child’s part is usually not urgent enough to warrant a cessation of activity on our part.

Dan comments sometimes, afterwards, that we are only going to be able to “get away” with this for so long. Flora is already 9. At some point, she and her sister are going to figure out what we are actually doing in there.

To which I say, “So what?”

I was probably 12 when I figured out that *gasp* my parents still had sex with each other! And not to have babies! I felt a little weird about it, sure. It’s weird to think about your parents having sex divorced from procreation. I’m sure Flora, Kate, and Michael are going to feel weird about it, too.

And while while my sex life is none of my children’s business, I think it’s important to communicate that sexual intimacy is important in long-term, loving relationships. And that sex is supposed to feel good, physically, emotionally, even spiritually. The best sex I’ve ever had has been with Dan, and not just the old in-and-out part (although that feels damn good, too). One of the reasons we take the time to go to our bedroom and lock the door is not just so we can make each other feel good. It’s to renew our emotional bonds as well, to acknowledge that we are partners in more than child-rearing and bill paying.

I am fine with my children learning the basics from sex ed and health ed classes. I am not shy about answering their questions about their bodies in age-appropriate ways. I will be sure to communicate to them about why the Catholic church urges its adherents to save sex for marriage.

Sex is a big deal. But it’s not such a big deal that we should scare our children about it, or make it into something embarrassing or dirty. It’s a big deal, and we should make sure our children understand that it’s a big responsibility. That feeling good is okay — it’s great! — it’s something to strive for within our relationships. Feeling good and making your partner feel good is a big deal. It’s not something to take lightly, and it’s not something to be terrified of.

And while it is private, it’s not something to hide. I am glad that Dan and I are still attracted to one another, that we still value each other’s needs and bodies enough to be intimate. We made each other promises on the day we married:

“With this ring, I thee wed; with my body, I thee worship; with all my worldly goods, I thee endow.”

And we will keep those promises until death do us part.

Why do we hesitate to tell our children about the good parts of sex?

Random Thoughts: The Surgery Wrap-Up Edition

A few other thoughts about T&A (tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy):

1. For three or four days after surgery, M’s and Kate’s breath was unbelievably foul. And they aren’t really allowed to brush their teeth right away — plus they aren’t going to want to.

2. Kate barely talked for three days. She whispered a little bit, and gestured a lot. She said it wasn’t because of pain, and since M kept up his constant stream of chatter, I don’t think pain was an issue. Rather, I think she was getting used to how loud her voice was.

3. Both M’s and Kate’s voices went up. Maybe that’s something else Kate had to get used to hearing. It was startling at first: their voices were higher, but also hoarser. Things are starting to smooth out now.

4. The world is a noisy, noisy place. In addition to not speaking, Kate wore earmuffs sometimes, got a couple of headaches when she returned to school — schools are LOUD — and one night came down complaining that she couldn’t sleep because her sister (who had strep throat) was snoring. Dan and I couldn’t help it: we burst out laughing. The number of times Flora came down to complain about Kate’s snoring is countless.

5. No one snores in my house anymore. Well, sometimes Dan, but only if he falls asleep on his back. If I get him to turn on his side, he stops.

6. Be advised that: a) Pain tapers off day 1 through 4, spikes on day 5, and spikes again days 7 to 10. b) At day 10, about 3-4% of the time, there is bleeding (this is what happened with M this weekend). Only about 5% of the time is it serious, but call the ENT just in case. c) The pain radiates. That is, although what is hurting is the surgery site(s), what hurts is the ears or (again, in M’s case) the cheeks.

7. I’m glad that we decided to do Kate’s and M’s surgeries at the same time. When we told people we were doing it that way, most of my friends, who are kind, said I was brave. My family, who is usually also kind but more honest, thought I was crazy. But it compressed the clinginess, the interrupted sleep, the missed work hours to do both children close together.

8. I think I have made this clear, but we could not have done it without massive amounts of support. Someone had to be there at all times for the children, and someone also had to be there for Flora.

9. Social media counts as support. All the good thoughts and prayers and offers to help that came in through my Facebook and Twitter feed — thank you all so much. I couldn’t take some of those offers, especially once Flora got sick, but you all helped me so much by being a line of text away.

10. The support the children got as well once they returned to school was vital. Neither Michael’s daycare nor Kate’s school gave me any problems regarding their activity or dietary restrictions. They didn’t hesitate to welcome them back. Kate’s school was able to administer meds with my direction; Michael’s daycare needed to have one of my in-laws come down if M wanted meds. M didn’t ask for medication at daycare, although he did ask for them once I picked him up.

All-in-all, between surgery, strep, and readmission to the hospital on Saturday, it has been a challenging 10+ days. But I sincerely hope going forward we will be seeing fewer health issues for Kate and M.

I also think that part of Kate’s separation anxiety was tied to the fact that she just couldn’t hear. And she was probably waking up at night because she stopped breathing. That would feel like a nightmare to her. We’ll see how she does behaviorally once she is sleeping through the night again.

What decision have you made recently that felt right but people thought you were either brave or crazy?