Where were we?
Hey, long time no hear. When last we spoke, I was expecting a baby girl, or may have been a proud new mama to daughter Elizabeth. Well, a lot has happened in the past six years. Most of it really good, some not so good. That's life. Regardless, I'm back and looking forward to re-establishing a dialogue with Courier readers. I've missed you all.
So, what's new? Well, I had a girl: one sweet, little blue-eyed bundle who changed our world, as only a baby can. For five full years I doted on her and fussed over her, pouring every bit of patience, knowledge, humor, discipline and personality I had into my little creation. My husband Tim did the same, all the while bringing home the bacon. Now that she's in school, I look back on those early days and I don't know how we survived. Raising a kid is a young person's game. We suspected that. We were right. At 38 and 44, we were not young. And no matter how many times people told us kids keep you young, all we could think was, "Then why do we feel so old?"
Many a night Tim came home from work and barely had put his lunchbox down before I placed our daughter squarely into his capable hands and fled the scene. It was sheer self-preservation on my part. I loved my new full-time job as mama, but knew my limitations. And come 5 p.m., I was ready to punch out for a bit. We laugh about it now, but at the time it was quite bewildering.
Survive, we all did. The highs, the lows and everything in between. Elizabeth rode out whooping cough, Lyme disease, and a random and terrifying cat attack, as well as the swing set strangulation and marble choking incidents of '08 (rough summer).
Over time, I learned many things, including the Heimlich maneuver, nosebleed stoppage, how to enforce a proper timeout (for her, as well as me) and that kids start to lie to their parents even before age 1. It’s shocking, really. I heard myself say things I hadn’t even thought of in decades. These were my parents’ classic lines, that apparently had been locked away in the vault waiting to be retrieved at just the right moment. Incredible. And I was schooled in the poetic justice of having a daughter who is a picky eater, just as I was; the frustrating power struggle that is potty training; and the strength of a bond that develops only when you spend 24/7 thinking about someone other than yourself. Crazy closeness. We read each other's thoughts. And then there’s the love...the deep, boundless and abiding love nothing can touch.
There were days I thought would never end. Days filled with mind-altering frustration that caused me to charm, beg, cajole, growl, shriek, bark, howl and sometimes finally snap. I mean completely flip out and do something crazy like pop your child’s balloon with a hair clip right in front of her face. I'm not proud, but these things happen. Anybody who tells you they don't is a liar.
Public humiliation became a fairly regular occurrence, as my daughter threw tantrums, made random and embarrassing comments to strangers, and I too did stupid things. I found myself in odd jams like the time we locked ourselves in the backseat of my Volkswagen in the Walmart parking lot one warm summer day. Because the child locks were on, I could not get out of the car. And with the infant car seat strapped so securely into the middle of the back seat (thanks, Tim), I was going nowhere fast. I appealed to the kindness of strangers, tapping on the inside of the window and mouthing, "Help me..." when they looked at me. But they all kept walking, assuming I was kidding. After 10 minutes, I was sweaty and laughing like a crazy person, which did nothing to help my case. Finally I had to summon the strength and Cirque de Soleil skills to maneuver over the infant seat (and the live baby) to squeeze into the driver's seat. Needless to say, I disabled the child locks and traded for a larger car soon thereafter.
So this brings us to today. Tim's still working hard, doing plumbing and heating, and marked 25 years with the same company this year. We have four chickens left in our little flock, down from the original 29 chicks we got nine years ago. Our collie dog Angus is doing great, and he thanks you for your support in the recent election. His door is always open, he pledges. Our black cat Lucky still taunts motorists on a daily basis, choosing to sit on the pavement in front of our house instead of roaming the acres of fields that surround our 1820 farmhouse in Waldoboro.
Our newest addition is a 31-year-old pony named Teddy. A Morgan cross, the precious little bay has been with us for 14 months and never put a hoof wrong. But I do have to admit he has been cranky lately. Maybe it's because the weather has turned cold, it gets dark so early and almost all of the green grass is finally gone from the pasture. Today he stormed into his stall and greeted me with ears back, so I threatened to take him to an audition for the next remake of "Grumpy Old Men." I'll tell you, he could give Jack Lemmon a run for his money. He's shaggy and temperamental and unpredictable and full of personality, so we adore him and he fits right in around here.
We got Teddy just a month after Elizabeth started kindergarten. I told my husband a pony would keep her busy and active, teach her responsibility, and make her too tired to chase boys. I think the last part is what got him. He relented and built the stall and fenced our back field.
“You are the best dad ever," I told him. "You are making a 5-year-old girl's dream come true."
But he was onto me.
"More like I'm making a 43-year-old's dream come true," he groused as he hung the stall door.
Hey, I'm not going to lie. With Lizzie going to school, I needed a new project, someone to love and take care of, and someone who needed me as much as I needed them. I lavished love and attention on Teddy, grooming him daily, cleaning his stall twice a day (whether it needed it or not) and bringing him treats. Turns out Teddy didn't really need me around much either, so I got myself a job. I'm working in an elementary school library doing read-alouds and shushing the kids (and myself) regularly. I also am teaching writing to middle-schoolers, and just finished a unit on journalism. I love it and my schedule matches Elizabeth's almost perfectly. Things have changed a lot in the last few years, but I have no regrets. It’s interesting to see how life is evolving and I’m curious to see where the path will lead.
And the beat goes on.
Kris Ferrazza is a former reporter, assistant editor, copy editor and columnist with the Courier newspapers. She lives in Waldoboro.