Repetition becomes habit becomes tapestry. I remember a life without Pickles in the vague sort of way that one remembers a dream. It is vivid at first, weird, meaningful, maybe even interesting, but slowly fades into obscurity. Must not have been that interesting after all.
Definition Morgenmuffel: Not a morning person. Definition Morgenmuffel: Baby Pickles. Her roving hand keeps me half awake for the hour she she spends after 6 am, eyes closed, nursing and rolling and feeling around, nursing and rolling and feeling around. When she does wake up, sun shines from her face. One of the sweetest parts of co-sleeping with kids is waking up next to that sort of smile. (Also: The part where you never have to get up and move from the bed in order to get a woken baby back to sleep. That part may or may not be even better. The jury is still out on my priorities there.)
I stay horizontal for as long as I can while she toddles around the bed. She nurses. If the Beard is home she would throw herself onto his chest and he would pull her beneath the blanket to spoon for the moment’s patience she still has for laying down. He was not home this morning, so after 20 minutes I rolled myself out of bed to get Pickles some milk and me some coffee. Mmm coffee. She hops around on the bed and floor while I click around the internet for a few minutes. Then we both slip into rubber boots for the walk to the bathroom where I have to hide all the toilet brushes before setting her down to play semi-attended for the few minutes we’ll spend there. I always forget to bring along the laundry that I should be shoving into the washer.
After the usual morning dance (getting dressed, new diaper, teeth, hair, face), I load up the bike trailer (snacks, water, rain coats, tools for fixing flats, baby, toys) and pedaled north. I want to go for a ride—with the Beard at work staying home alone with Pickles can get a bit dull—and so pick a friend’s house as a destination. Wandering no longer suits me. Time has become too precious. A bike ride always means time just for me, with Pickles in the back playing notes on a tiny plastic keyboard, time for long naps (hers), and it makes up for the time I might have spent at the gym had the Beard been home to watch her himself. But a destination is necessary to get me out the door.
We arrive after almost two hours on the road, and my friend’s dog is barking, her son in tears. One of those mornings. But eventually our kids settle into entertaining each other, running back and forth across the apartment, passing toy cars back and forth, and we can sit and chat, almost uninterrupted. Add a social element to child care, and it is immediately, infinitely easier. This is where the village comes in. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a village to keep a parent. I will never understand why our culture promotes the isolation of the nuclear family. It’s not making anything easier on anybody.
After lunch I rush back to my bike, hoping to make it home in time for a neighbor to take Pickles for a walk. But it is only my second time riding this route (the first being that very morning), and I still have to stop and look at the map, still make a few wrong turns. I miss my neighbor, and we get home in an hour, too late. Pickles opens her eyes just as we are rounding the path before our Wagen. It is almost 3 pm.
It rains, and I am relieved to have a reason to stay inside. We sing songs (me: singing, Pickles: starting to muddily mimic the movements that go with the words of Twinkle Twinkle and Wind the Bobbin Up), and when Pickles becomes absorbed in removing and inserting a handful of objects into a cup, I read (Unnatural Creatures edited by Neil Gaiman). When she needs my full attention, I put on an audio book (Sabriel by Garth Nix). If I don’t keep something playing, keep my brain somehow stimulated, I get bored of play time faster than you can say Abhorsen. I occasionally flit back to my computer, set up on the dresser, for a quick click around the internet.
Hunger follows, and dinner, which I cook in the kitchen Wagen with Pickles doing laps up and down the room. We eat in the red Wagen after I mop down the rain-wet high chair. We usually eat outside. Pickles eats attentively, her breath even and audible as it always is when she is concentrating. Bratwurst and mashed sweet potatoes (you know you live in Germany when…) disappear into her mouth, and I think of my parents asking me if I had a hollow leg the way I used to put away food as a kid.
Back into rubber boots we walk in circles around the property, following cats, stomping in puddles, going up and down a ramp, until suddenly Pickles is whiny and surly. I sweep her off to home, slip her into a thick diaper and pajamas, and within four minutes of laying down to nurse, she is asleep. I read until I can hold my eyes open no longer, and then I join her, her arm draped across my ribs, pressed together beneath two blankets.
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