The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crickets, Woodpeckers and Bunk Beds

Sean had set his iphone up as an alarm clock for me, but when I heard the soft rolling of digital bells as day broke I was confused. I waited a moment before stirring, the sounds of crickets through the window punctuated by the rat-tat-tat siren of a woodpecker. Finley was to the right of me, nursing with one hand woven through her tousled hair and the other on my neck, Briar was behind me, curled in a ball parallel to the foot of the bed with her legs touching mine. Sean was gone.

This musical sleeping station thing happens around here, with one parent being traded for a child and another child being added to the mix. After flanking Fin with pillows and covering Briar's bare shoulders, I slipped out of bed and I tiptoed down the hallway to find Sean. The guest room bed was empty, as I passed our room I smiled at Briar and Finley's forms, so tiny and yet, together they seemed so big, so undeniably significant, less babies than people.

I saw him tucked awkwardly, but soundly, in the bottom bunk of the girls' room. The intensity of yesterday still clinging to me, I drank in the sight of him, hands resting on either side of his pillow, elbows poking out, Briar's pink fleece covering him and proclaiming him a father-of-all-girls even while he sleeps. Ave was overhead, a dark tangle of curls and plump lips were all I could see until she turned, then her face flashed at me and she gave a kind of contented sigh as she buried it once again.

There is potent healing in the embrace of a sleeping family, in knowing that the primal hum is running beneath the beating of your own heart, sustaining it when you are weak. Yesterday and so many days before had been spent figuratively huddled in a corner with my arms wrapped around myself.

I was weak and so very scared. Today I am healthy and filled with gratitude. Thanks be to crickets and daybreak, to family and to friends.



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bells On

So, the day is finally here. My colonoscopy is at 1.

Ave's take: Wear a seatbelt, bear down and pretend it's a motorcycle.

I am trying to quell the expectation that the doc is going to pat me on the hip post-probe and say, "Well, as I thought, it was an (insert harmless affliction)."

Sean and I will gleefully hand the cashier a $75 copay and head out for a brilliant, if kinda crampy, sunny Tuesday.

I am preparing for him to say, "Well, as I thought, it was fairly harmless, but we did take a few samples and will have them checked. Should know more in 7-10 business days."

We'll still pay and hold hands, it will still be sunny, I'll still be crampy, but, you know, I want to know.


Funny how I feel like the child today.


Here's what I have been using again and again to make my snorts and chortles chase the worries. Give it a whirl.



Saturday, August 22, 2009


It's not that this is not a magical time, because it is. We are sitting at the eve of a new era; Briar starts kindergarten in less than a month, some 8 blocks away Avery starts preschool and Fin gets a crack at being the only kid. This is the last summer of babies and yet I am without words.

I look at my laptop with an aching, I am desperate to write something down, to mark this time. I come up empty every time, either too nervous to open the dashboard on blogger or too keenly aware that the words I would write would be forced, fake, unworthy.

This is my space to remember and with very few exceptions I have kept it a place that is without artifice or the slightest sliver of something that might make me question it years from now. I think I know what's wrong and I've gone round and round with whether or not to try and push through it.

Too many of you (thank you to each and everyone of you) have written to prod me—

"You ok?"

"Should I be worried?"

"Thinking about you and hoping you are ok."

It's something we do, this checking in on people who've become a part of our routine, whether they know it or not. Look at me, so clearly stalling, even during a post intended to lay it all out there.

I am bleeding. I have been bleeding since just before BlogHer. The bleeding at BlogHer was significant and startling and occurred during my first trip away from my daughters and Sean, whilst sharing a room with two wonderful women I'd never met before.

I've had 3 babies in five years, I have been nursing without pause since September of 2004, I am under incredible stress and I err on the side of anxious. All of these things add up to, "Hmm, have you considered this might be hemorrhoids?"

And I have. And I promise there is nothing that I would like more than to report that I freaked the hell out over some hemorrhoids. Truly.

The thing is, this is a magical time and I have these three beautiful daughters and a husband I adore. I can't help but wonder if I have too much, if this happiness and my health to date has exceeded the good I was supposed to get.

The doctor talked about the things it could be and very candidly put out there that Cancer was a possibility. He later said everything really points to something else, but we can't know yet.

And so I sit, fretting and worrying, willing and bargaining. I imagine new wives and stepmoms, milestones missed and promises not kept. I doubt everything I have done to now, my convictions about organics, my theories on physical activity and fresh air. I want to be calm and have a wait-and-see attitude, but I fear that if I don't prepare I am being irresponsible.

Honestly, I think a part of me thinks that if I share with you how Finley has started catching my eye, cocking her head and saying, "Hai wuh-yuve shoo," and how it literally makes my knees buckle, that that will be it. That time will freeze and the knowing and chronicling of my life with three girls will stall at the first I love you's of my last baby.

I am absolutely terrified and up until now I thought I shouldn't say that, but there it is.

I am bleeding and we don't know why. Tuesday I have a colonoscopy. I am hoping with everything that I have that I'll be back here making you pee with the tales of my handsome doc and the fiberoptic scope he used to establish that the 25+ pounds of little girl goodness I've pushed out of me gave me more than a lifetime of loving.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know, so maybe I could find my way to writing again.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Freezing the Frames

Lately it's felt a bit as if I am suspended in some sort of alternate reality wherein I am unable to get anywhere. I cannot seem to gain purchase at work or at home, at play or asleep. Or just being.

I am fretting over what will inevitably (please, please) be some little thing or another rather than the dark foreboding thing my mind makes it. My worry is quiet and under the surface, but coincides perfectly with an abiding obsession for Briar and Avery with death.

"Mama, please you promise you won't go to heaven?"

I tried for a while to dance around it and make like I'd never go to heaven, but then I worried about jinxes and let downs.

"Honey, it's going to be a long, long time before I got to heaven. You'll be a mama and maybe even a grandma before I go."

This worked for a while and then it became, "Mama, I am going to miss you so much when you are in heaven."

I am at my wit's end with lobbing light-hearted answers all the while wondering if I am indeed in a perilous place, due to hear some awful diagnosis, in which case oughtn't I be saying something sage and enduring for the time when I am in fact gone.

"Mama, I said I'll miss you when you're in heaven," lower lip out, petulant and feigning sadness. I think the concept is too much for them to grasp and they only ever really flirt with the idea before it's chased away.

"Girls, I am making every decision I can to be as healthy as I can, for as long as I can. I don't want you to worry about heaven, just remember that no matter where I am I love you more than anything and I miss you."

They smile and ask for snacks and books, puzzles and drinks. I let myself dally in these moments, fetching a cup and singing or goofing at FIn in her highchair, constructing a Diego puzzle and watching their fingers as they test each piece. My peace as I let everything slip away is infectious.

The girls climb over me, faces burrowing in my neck, hands upon my back and sides. We wrap our legs around each other, giggle and spin until it is hard to tell where one ends and another begins. I feel them, eager as I am, to hold these moments, to freeze the emotion and keep the next thing away.

I wish it weren't fear that allowed me to hold on like this, and instead it was simply a defiance, a healthy attitude that boasts, "It's mine for the taking and I'll take it, thank you very much."

And so, much like the roar I charged my friend with, I am now throwing out this other challenge:

Take it. Take the time to yourself, the time with your kids, the $45 mascara, whatever it is, go and claim it.
Not doing so doesn't make you noble, it just makes you empty.

Excuse me, while I go cuddle with the father of my three magnificent sleeping girls.



Monday, August 10, 2009

Living in Sugar Land

Sean and I sat up watching a 2 year old Sugarland concert on Palladia the other night. At first I just smiled, loving the delicious oblivion of cuddling and softly singing along as the girls slept. I'm not sure when the shift happened, but I felt the tug, that unmistakable tightening in your chest and jaw as the tears begin their march from inside to out.

There was no hiding, no turning back. I allowed the tears to come in waves as I watched the lead singer, luminous and irresistible in her exhilaration. I found myself wondering her age, imagining her provenance—
middle child?
small southern town?
parents still married?

It was silly, but as she sang the anthem of little girls emerging from babies to successes I wanted to know her story, the story of her parents. I think it was in that musing that the biggest hit, the mack truck that crumpled me, came- it was in seeing more of my daughters in her than myself.


I remember Alanis blaring from my apartment as Christina showed up with Zima and chips. I remember Ani DiFranco melodically leading us in a chorus of "Fuck you and your untouchable face." Faces of boys, the laughter of girls, the marrow of my unbridled, unworried days. I wept as I thought of the living ahead of each girl. I wondered which girl would date the player, which girl would fall for the badder-than-bad-boy (or girl, makes no never mind), which girl would sit wishing.

I mark time in songs and milestones, but the purest living, the most potent time travel is in going back to moments with our girls. If they're like me, the songs Sean and I play will remind them of their childhood and, one day, some gorgeous woman will be working the stage, maybe slinking maybe stomping, but whatever she's doing will be for them. To them. Their songs, their time.

There is not a part of me that wouldn't give everything I have to ensure that they make it from baby girl to whatever they want.


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Thursday, August 6, 2009

The smell of then

When my grandfather died, I found that I could visit him by peeking my face into the antique cabinet that holds his books. I'd take the delicate handle between my fingers and slip my face between the rough edges of the door. The smell of old paper, gnarly leather and grandpa. I could hear the rustle that used to travel to my room as he read the morning's paper, or the way his whisker whooshed against my face as I pecked him on the cheek. Even as he reached the end, those whiskers and that smell stayed.

I find the same poignancy of time with my face buried in a towel. Sometimes I can go back, my hair behind me long and sun bleached as it was at 16. I can hear the splashes from the pool and the sound of the sliding glass door on its old track. The scent of freshly laundered towels is no sweeter to me than that of a damp cast off that has equal parts must and terry to its smell.

The taste of wet towel takes me to first baths and clenching the towel in my mouth to have every finger and bit of arm free to protect my baby. Camping. Wading pool. Pre-date showers and post-event face washing. Hampers full of towels waiting to be washed or folded make me smile. An easy task of stuffing or folding and a promise of a fresh start ahead.

Last night, unprompted by play or sunscreen I offered Briar a bath without sisters. She looked confused and then delighted. We ran it high and thick with bubbles. She stretched her body as far as it would go and then turned around to do it again the other way. She chirped and flipped and generally delighted in the newness of being the only one again. By the time Finley toddled up the stairs she was ready for the company, Ave soon followed suit. I smiled and giggled as I toweled away bubbles and splashes.

Later as they emerged I felt a lump as I watched, despite a full stack at their disposal, as they shared one towel. It was huge on Fin, reminding me how small she still is, it trailed behind Ave as she carried it more as prop than tool, and then my Briar. She stood, all angles and rosiness, peeking from the duck themed towel. Her hair draped over her shoulder and in one eye as she shucked the towel and ran for her room.

I looked at the towel hungrily, steeped as it was in the this night of firsts and lasts. The water and suds will rinse away, but this night, this now and soon-to-be-then, will stay.