November 2009


My family and I were watching the Gorillas at the Toronto Zoo on the weekend.  Seeing the little guy, Nassir, born in September was amazing.  Hanging off his Mom with his long skinny arms.  I’m convinced Leo could take him in a human on primate baby grudge match, but sadly I’m sure he’ll never have the opportunity. 

So they do a cool thing in the gorilla pavilion.  The zookeepers get all the gorillas into a room full of jungle gym equipment while they go into the other big area and hide food in plastic jugs, balls, you know, all the things they find in the jungle.  And then they let them back in so they can find the food using their intelligence and creativity and eat. 

I watched  Charles, a big male trying to get a 1/4 orange out of a mesh-covered foot-long cylinder that was filled with hay.  He was having a tough time with it because his fingers were  the size of bananas and the holes in the mesh weren’t. 

But he had this amazing calm focus as he worked at it.  And worked at it.  And worked at it.

I was watching and thinking – ok by now I’d have yelled, “WHO’S FAT IDEA WAS IT TO HIDE MY LUNCH IN THIS THING???”  And then I watched some more and thought, ok by now i’d have biffed the thing across the room.  Or wrenched it open if I had fingers the size of bananas. 

But not this guy, he focused on getting the orange until he did.  And then he ate the orange, calmly looking around at the silly humans behind the plexiglass.  It was just a task to him.  There was no additional drama or emotion or ‘why is the universe being so mean to me’.  And he was focused on just this task.  He wasn’t talking on the phone while checking his email while eating his lunch.

And then he sat for a bit.  I love to watch them sit.  They sit like small black furry mountains, completely settled into the ground.  They don’t look like they’re uncomfortable or thinking ‘oh my aching hip’, or about to jump up and flee, like people in yoga class sometimes do.  The gorillas are *there*.

I think i need more gorilla mojo in my life.  More single tasking.  More sitting like a mountain.  And more oranges.

 I’ve been trying to get Leo into a schedule.  And it’s the hardest thing to do because it’s like herding babies, he’s still going to sleep when he wants for as long as he wants, there’s really only so much I can do about it.  But I do it in the hopes that he’ll sleep better which will then help me sleep better.  Which will grealy improve my quality of life.

So it means I lose my footloose and fancy free lifestyle of doing what I want and just hauling him around. I wake him up religiously at 7, even though I’d rather let him sleep so I can enjoy my coffee in quietude.  My schedule is his schedule and that’s just the way it’s going to be for a while.

I only clued in yesterday that the time was changing.  So this a.m. in my sleep fogged state when Leo made sounds at 6:00 a.m. (yesterday time) I thought – I gotta get him up to get him on the new time.  So we got up, I fed him, made coffee and changed him.  Then I got Angus up so that he would have an easier time getting up for school tomorrow.  Then I sat down with my coffee and went to change my watch and realize I’ve totally screwed up.

I’ve gone the wrong way.  I was thinking 6 a.m. was 7 but it was actually (gulp) 5.   I’ve woken my kids up way way way too early and now realized they’ll need to stay up late to get on the new time schedule.  And Angus is in that 5 year old stage of talking non-stop.  Even when he needs to pause to find the words he needs next, there’s no pause, there’s no silence, there’s “Mom”, “Mom”, “Mom”  Until I want to say – “yes, i’m listening, because WHAT OTHER CHOICE DO I HAVE???”  but i don’t. 

And so here it is.  It’s the crack of dawn,  it’s dark and rainy outside,  the baby is making happy screamy sounds,  the 5 year old is talking non-stop, I’m barely awake and i realize it’s going to be the longest day of the year.  The Longest.

And I”m really cheesed off at myself for this.  I don’t mess up this royally all that often.  And i don’t mean that as an ego thing, it’s a control freak thing.  I keep my life fairly controlled so that I can maintain the illusion that I’m in control.  Which is why being on baby’s on-schedule schedule is so hard.  But really, the control thing is such an illusion.  It’s only partially true.  Because life happens all the time.  Floods, economic downfalls, baby’s “schedules” and time changes.

But even though I was cheesed off at myself I reminded myself that it doesn’t change who I really am.  You know, life happens but I”m still a roughly organized person whether I mess up the organization or not.  And it’s ok.  Time to let it go and move on.  

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, the who I really am stuff.  Because being  a parent of a baby is so intense.  There’s Baby Management stuff going on all the time.  It feels totally consuming.  But having been through it before I also know it won’t last.  It feels like Who I Am, and it is, I will always be a parent even when my kids are adults, but not  like this.  I will get more of my life back.  My youngest son will one day be able to do stuff for himself.  But for now I’ll enjoy the longest day of the year.