We've been celebrating around these parts lately. Last weekend Elka was baptized, followed by an everybody-who-has-a-birthday-in-the-next-few-weeks party for all of my side of the family. My parents and nephew were leaving on their journeys so there was much gift-giving and merry-making. And junk food.
The next week, Elka became 6 weeks old. (Last Thursday, to be exact.) We had Greta's godparents over that evening for cake and ice cream because they had not yet met Elka. It was a really nice time! There's something so charming and fun about spur-of-the-moment get togethers with people you really like. And the charm and fun is heightened when cake, ice cream and coffee are involved.
And then today is Martin's 30th birthday! We've been having a really nice day (with the exception of not making it to morning Mass on time and having to leave and feeling extremely frustrated. But it turned out okay because we were able to drive home and have plenty of time to load up and walk to a different church for a different Mass time.) And this is what brings me to the title of my blog post: Oldness.
I think about oldness a lot. I'm slightly obsessed with aging, the inevitable passing of time, and keeping track of years, minutes, events, etc. that come with a life. Specifically, my life and the way I see other lives through my own eyes. This obsession is almost always really depressing, unfortunately. I feel like my kids are growing up too fast, I feel like the next step of our lives can't possibly be as great as this part, I feel like we're so young and strong and happy and soon we'll all be old and wrinkly and we'll be empty nesters and people will look at us and say "check out those people... they sure are OLD."
Today at church I saw Mr. Klinker. He still mows his lawn, he still smokes his big fat cigar while he fills up his huge car at the gas station, but Mr. Klinker is looking really old. And even though the Klinkers are older than my parents, they aren't THAT much older, so I get to thinking, "Gosh, do my parents look that OLD?!" And then I think (with alarm), "DO I LOOK OLD?!?!?" And I realize that, yes, I do. To little children I am an old person. I am "a mom." I have some wrinkles around my eyes, I have a bigger bottom than I used to have, and I probably have that mom-ish look about me. Maybe not to my peers, but to little children I most definitely am looking like an old person. And in the blink of an eye, it will be more than just a child's perception and I really will be an old person. And my kids will be grown up and moved away and have little children of their own. They won't be hanging from the top of the couch whining at me to stop typing and read them The Tailor of Gloucester for the ninety bazillionth time. (worst Beatrix Potter story EVER, btw.) And even though that scenario sounds pretty good right now, I know that years from now I will feel like I'd do ANYTHING to read that mind-numbing story to them again.
But there's a bright side to this sad obsession of mine and that is that I am getting really good at appreciating my moment-by-moment life. I'm good at stopping to smell the roses, dirty diapers, stinky potato bin that I don't have time to empty because I'm too busy reading storybook after storybook to my children. And yesterday when I was able to slip out by myself for a very, very, very short trip to a coffee shop I listened to a song in the car (Eels) with the line "these could be the good old days" and it made me think that these ARE the good old days! And aren't I lucky to be living them! And even though I'm getting older and Martin's getting older and we'll continue to get older every year, we really aren't THAT old yet (obviously) even though we like to tease each other about it.... and we certainly shouldn't let a 4-year-old's perception of us color the way we feel about ourselves.
So here's a picture of me not being old:
*** The previous part of this post was written on Sunday. Now it is Tuesday ***
I have always used a wrap-style carrier for our babies and have continued to do so with Elka, but this time around I kind of wanted something less time-consuming (since it takes a whole forty-five seconds to tie on a wrap and get the baby into it.) I was really wanting a sling style carrier, but not a ring sling because I've use them and the rings always manage to annoy me. So I broke down and bought myself a New Native carrier and I really love it. It's perfect to just be able to pop her into it and keep moving. Since she's so little and doesn't seem to like lying down in it, it's not the most secure option--I have the wrap for that--but it's perfect for times like this, when I need to chop up my garlic for dinner but Martin is walking the dogs. Also, she just likes to ride around in it and see the world that way. It's pretty cute, actually.
SHE'S pretty cute. And so are Anja and Greta. We've been working our way through the Little House books and have made it all the way to On the Shores of Silver Lake, in which Laura is pretty much a grownup. I think she's sixteen or somewhere around that age. She discovers she has to be a schoolteacher and doesn't want to. We're about halfway through the book and we were reading it yesterday when Anja sighed and said, "I wish we were still on Little House in the Big Woods." I told her we'd put Silver Lake away till she's older and now we are re-reading about Laura's life in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, which is my favorite one of the books anyway, and Anja's too, since Laura is four years old when the story begins. After we read the first chapter, Anja and Greta started to play "butchering day." They got all their stuffed animals and pretended to cut them up. Then they built a fire and laid the animals on top of it to smoke them. And they were talking about salting the meat, too. It was so cute and silly.
Another activity they (Anja especially) have been into lately is paper dolls. But mostly cats. We read these stories about this cat named Jenny Linksy. The stories were written in the 40's and are just about the sweetest, most nonviolent things I've ever read. They are about all these cats who have a special secret Cat Club and Jenny Linksy is a tiny black cat who wears a red scarf always. Anyway, if you want to know more about the stories you can get them on Amazon, but my point is, they are innocent to the point of being boring. And we have made paper dolls of all the cats in the Cat Club--I cut them out and Anja decorates them--along with a paper doll for each of our family members, which don't get played with nearly as often as the cats. Anyway, imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw Anja playing with the paper dolls, arranging the cats carefully and then taking our family members and ripping them into tiny pieces. !?!?!? The cats were chopping up the people to make a birthday cake for Jenny Linksy!! This is NOT the kind of activity these stories advocate!!!!!!!! Truthfully, I think she didn't like the people dolls and was looking for a creative way to get rid of them without hurting my feelings. Because if even a tail gets bent on one of the cats, she cries, but she never has been fond of those people.
Elka is very smiley, but of course I can never catch a photo of it. So here's one of smiling Anja instead, with a birthday donut and the birthday boy himself. Thirty!!