I’m Proud of Their Stains

A few weeks ago, I had to take Scout to the pediatrician because I was finding myself unable to combat her raging athletes foot (kids is gross, point 1). When we sat her down on the exam table, infinitely better lit than most of my house, we discovered on her hands:

  • yogurt
  • playground dirt
  • Play Doh
  • paint

(But no fungus there! So that’s something!)

And I thought to myself, looking at my disgusting child, Well, either I’ve become fully negligent, or I’m doing something right.

After some reflection, I kind of lean toward the latter. It doesn’t always feel like it when I’m down in the murder basement / laundry room, trying to remove watercolor paint from khaki or egg yolk from pajamas (why does she like them so underdone, kids is gross, point 2).

But kids should get to be messy. And it’s something I’ve actually gotten better at lately, between an endless, generous flow of hand-me-downs, pregnancy exhaustion that makes arguing over small things not worth it, and a new focus on what is educational and enriching for my kids’ education now that I’m in charge of it.

Not everything they wear will be an heirloom, I tell myself as Pippin absentmindedly chews the collar of his favorite shirt in concentration. Sometimes Scout will con her papa into letting her wear a favorite dress on a day we go down to the park, and it’s not the end of the world if I can’t get every last shadow of playground mulch out of the back of it. Everyday use, my friends.

We have standards, of course. There are rules. I try to keep church clothes fairly pristine, even if I’m not going to iron. (This is partially out of a secret belief that if my kids are cutely dressed enough at church no one will notice their misdeeds.) Even play shirt sleeves may not be used as napkins. After the Summer of the Raging Foot Fungus mentioned above, everyone better be dang sure to wear socks with his or her galoshes Or Else.

So one small measure of the success of our days, these days, is how messy the kids get. Maybe someone has paint on his forehead, or ink on his fingers from fingerprinting criminals. Maybe Scout’s hair has yogurt in it, again. Maybe the dining room table, where we hold school, shows evidence of our bean art or PlayDoh creations or stray crayons. Maybe we are all fairly dusted with flour.

I’m beginning to see stains as evidence of a life well lived.


Nine Years

J and I have been together since we were 17, so young that we still bought our shoes a size up because we were still growing. He was my first kiss, my prom date.

(This post is just pretty much pure self indulgence, I might as well tell you now.)

Pregnancy is a long, hard season for our marriage that concretely builds our reliance and faith in each other, but doesn’t allow for a lot of fun adventures — although this time around, we’ve been having the occasional “date,” when he wakes me up at 9 or 10 so we can watch a little TV  in bed and I can snack before I go back to sleep and he continues with his Functional Human tasks. Party on.

This is the sort of love note we exchange in pregnancy:

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I am the morning sick cat in library school; he is the owl; fetal Pippin is the barf-inducing Charizard. If this wasn’t clear.

For our first anniversary, we took a spontaneous overnight trip to New Orleans and ate rabbit at the fanciest restaurant we could afford. We drank very cheap, very bad champagne in our room, and the next morning we ate beignets and drove through torrential Southern rain on our way back to Tallahassee.

J continues his lifelong quest to sample All the Animals, I squeeze back into my going away dress.

For this, our ninth anniversary, we probably won’t go out because my queasiness gets worse around 4 and I usually go to bed by 7, but my in-laws said they’d babysit for us so we could go out when they’re in town in a couple of weeks, when maybe my body will have finally conceded that it’s second trimester and straightened up.

Pregnancy is a dull time in our marriage, but a time when I see how much we’ve grown since the gawky high school days. That growing up isn’t always fun, but I’m so proud and in love with the bearded papa-man I find myself married to these days, grey at the temples, compassion for wimpy old pregnant me in his every gesture.

For the record, chances of me fitting back into this dress six months postpartum for our ten year next year: 0%.