Tuesday, January 1, 2013

De retour

Well! It's the new year, and we're back from Christmas Visits 2012--which I'm calling Bonaventure's Great Train Adventure. In the course of 12 days, we took a total of 7 trains, including 2 overnights (we got sleeper cars, but the very smallest sleeper cars, and it turns out that these are very small indeed. They certainly put the "ette" in "roomette").

 Bonaventure is now a seasoned traveler; he even brings his own reading material. See:

On train no. 5   

Our trip out (to my folks' state) was pretty good, even though we left our house at 8:30 am and arrived at my mom's at about 4:30 the following afternoon--a long trip, but with only one (9-hour) layover and a relatively comfortable sleeper car. The intermediate journey (from my folks' to TM's) was fine, too, although we had to push our departure back 6 hours because of snow. (The good news was that this meant not have to wake Bonaventure up at 5 am.) The 29-hour return journey (from TM's home) was a bit more agonizing: three trains, one of which had a midnight departure time. We got home at about 5:00 pm on New Year's Eve, unpacked a bit, ate, put B to bed, showered, and collapsed.

Oh, and the visits themselves? Yeah, they were good. Bonaventure got loads of toys, but he's not really old enough to appreciate a lot of them, so they'll last us for a while. And it was such fun to share him with our families. One thing that I didn't anticipate enjoying so much about having a baby was how pleasurable it is to entertain other people with him. Okay, most likely I overestimate how entertained these other people really are--I am unabashedly and unashamedly in love with my little pudding--but honestly, we have a surprisingly sociable guy on our hands. He loves smiling at people. Both TM and I have noticed recently how, when we're out in public with him, he'll look at every single person who walks by with this hopeful little smile, and if they smile back at him, he just beams--a full-on Muppet smile, his mouth as wide open as it can get. It astonishes me that anyone can resist him.

(Here he is grinning at my dad, who is, in his opinion, the funniest--or funniest-looking?--person on the planet:)

Today has been one of those relaxed, easy, post-holiday days. Bonaventure napped more than usual; I did a load of laundry, washed out an apron that's been dirty for too long, and baked cookies; TM fixed some good meals, played with B, and worked on his manuscript. I feel so happy to be home. As, it turns out, I usually do. Lately I keep thinking about how lucky I am: I have a snug little house that I love, am married to a wonderful partner whose conversation I adore, get to snuggle the sweetest baby in the world whenever I want, and make enough money to pretty much buy what I want (our incomes actually aren't very good, certainly well below average for our disciplines and status, but our needs are modest and we have no big, looming expenses at the moment); everyone in my family is apparently in quite good health; I have a job that I find sufficiently interesting and meaningful (no job is always interesting and meaningful, right?); and my own habits are largely healthy and orderly.

That last one sounds a little weird, yes, but I'm thinking about new year's resolutions here, and there aren't many habitual actions that I think I need to worry about too much--I mean, I'm sure I could refine things here and there, but I eat well (with enough treats thrown in to keep me happy), floss daily, and certainly do not need to resolve to be more organized or neater or anything like that. In fact, lightening up could be a good idea.

But, seeing as it's new year's day and all, I'm thinking about what I'd like to have more of in my life, and it's this: enjoyment, or presence; actually living through all of the beautiful moments in each day. It's a habit of mind, not a habit of body, that I'd like to change. While I have concrete things that I'd like to accomplish this year (including dramatically revising Stupid Article, applying for a research-related course release, getting Bonaventure to sleep in his damned crib, and maybe trying again to find an agent for my novel), my resolution for the year is to ease up on the need to be productive and accomplish stuff all the time.

Maternity leave has been good practice. Certainly one doesn't need to have a baby to realize this, but one of the things that caring for Bonaventure has taught me is the importance of letting go of the need to Get Things Done every moment of the day. There have been times, especially early in my leave, when I was worn out and frustrated by my inability to Accomplish; but by the end of the semester, I was much more comfortable with the idea of lying in bed for two hours with Bonaventure sleeping against my side, idly reading a few pages of a book now and again, dozing or letting my mind wander the rest of the time, and occasionally bending down to kiss his fuzzy head. Or sometimes when I'm playing with him and I start to get bored, I remember that he won't even be a baby anymore by this time next year, and suddenly my attention is drawn right back into the moment and the pleasure of watching him grow.

That's what I want to keep with me. And not just when it comes to Bonaventure, but in my moments with TM, with friends, even with myself--the other night I wrote in my diary for just a little while longer than usual, letting myself not be in a hurry, but taking the time to describe things at greater length, even moving the pen a little more slowly than usual across the page. It felt good. I spend too much time straining for what's next; I want to bring myself back to what's now.

Oh, and I should work out or whatever more often, too, of course.


What Now? said...

A great resolution!

Are you starting back to school with the new term? How are you feeling about that?

heu mihi said...

I start back in just under 2 weeks--and I'm feeling ambivalent, as one might expect. On the one hand, it'll be nice to have a wider scope for intellectual and mental activity! And sometimes maternity leave was really boring and exhausting; it'll be great to have daily babysitting. On the other hand, I'll miss being able to just hang out with Bonavenutre all day, and I'm worried about balancing work and family life without getting stressed (hence the resolution).

But summer is only 4 months away!

Maude said...

This was such a nice post. I like how you frame what you want to do and what you learned during maternity leave. I worry that I might get anxious about not getting things done (that is if I can actually get all of fall quarter off for maternity leave), so it's good to know that you allowed yourself to let things go. That's what I did over Christmas--I one we this was going to be the last Christmas for 18 years that we'd have to ourselves, so I've enjoyed not doing anything and not being anxious about that.

How fun that you all travelled by train! Did the little guy enjoy it? I would love to take more train rides!

Oh, that bookstand that you were raving about? Where did you find it? I told the husband I want something like that, but I have no idea where to even look.

Happy New Year!

Maude said...

"I one we this..."? I think that was supposed to read, "Since this would be probably be the last Christmas..."

heu mihi said...

Hi Maude! I stumbled over "I one we this"--thanks for the clarification. :) The train was pretty good. Bonaventure slept OK on the sleeper car (I didn't, because I shared a bed with him and he's a total space hog), and he was very entertained by the people around us. He was getting a little fussy by the end, though, and it was a relief to get home.

The book stand is called a "Levo Bookholder--floor model." It'll turn up in a Google search. A bit pricey, but I've LOVED it--especially when B has fallen asleep on my lap after nursing. And I think that it could have uses beyond the breastfeeding period, too.

Maude said...

I was typing my comment on my iPad and I think I fell victim to some autocorrect thing. But thanks for the info on the bookstand! That's half the price of one that I found, so thank you! I sent a link to the husband. I think there are two things that I really want--a good rocking chair with a nice ottoman and a bookstand. Ok, I guess that's three things. ;)