Isaiah took his first steps yesterday! 13 1/2 months - right on target for my kids. I'm always a little relieved when they start really walking - the proto-ambulatory stage tends to be one of the most dangerous for little people. Toddlers are so top-heavy, they fall right on their faces.
I had thought Isaiah would be an early walker - by the time of his first birthday, he had all the physical skills down - cruising, could stand unassisted, etc... But I did not reckon with creativity, a creativity that obviated the need for joining the homo erectus - he figured out a way to crawl with things in his hands, even both hands. Isaiah managed to create a weird, hunchbacked, Lon Cheney thing in which he used on knuckle and one leg to drag himself across the room with books, toys, etc... One has to imagine that had things evolved a little differently, we'd all be hauling around like that, and "Igor" would be a name of honor.
There was an article in the Sunday Times this week on family life blogs - about how there are thousands of the things, documenting every moment of family life, all giving comic exposure to the funny and dark side of parenthood. Now parenthood is indeed both dark and funny, and I enjoy reading about it in that particular tone. I write about it that way sometimes too. There's nothing in the world that can make you feel so stupid, and amoral and small as bad parenting (and I've done more than my share) and nothing funnier than watching yourself doing it with ironic detachment - except hearing it described the same way and having one of those "aha!" moments where you realize that you aren't the only one in the world who has actually named the cheerios that your children eat off the floor (ok, I think we probably *are* the only ones, and Eric coined them "floorios" when Eli first started throwing solid food).
And yet, despite the temptation, I try really hard not to write about my spouse or kids too much that way. Oh, there are moments. But I've been the subject of those stories as well, and I know that if they don't sound totally affectionate to me, they won't to my children. I'd like to think that if they ever cared, they could read the remnants of Mommy's blog, and not see themselves mined, however lovingly, for comic relief.
But the other thing is that ironic detachment is not how I connect to my family. I realize this sounds soppy and stupid, but I *ADORE* my husband and my kids - and I mean that literally. Of course they drive me insane. But then, I'm famously annoying, and they love me anyway, so that doesn't matter too much. I want to write about them as they deserve - and mostly, they don't deserve to be the subject of my humor. Instead, they deserve praise to the skies - I want everyone to know that my husband, despite having serious reservations, picked up and moved to the country for me because I couldn't stand not having a garden. He grew up in a household where you called the super to change the lightbulbs - but he learned to maintain small engines, shovel manure, hatch chicken eggs and build farm implements. He's cute and smart and funny, and he thinks I'm beautiful. You should understand how insane that last thing is - I am not even pretty, and while people who loved me have seen me, through the light of love, as attractive, even striking, nobody but Eric has ever thought me beautiful. And he thought it before he loved me, thinks it when I've been working in the garden on a 90 degree day, and says that he likes to "show me off." How many men are there like this?
The same is true of my kids. Eli works so hard to talk to me, even though language fits him about as well as my Dad's size 14WWWW shoes would. And he comes home from school and leaps into my arms and demands to be tickled, even though half the time I have no idea what he's saying or what he wants and needs. Simon sits on the potty even though he's scared to death of it, and explains to me (with total respect, although with some confusion as to why I don't get it) why he's picking invisible hummingbirds off the tails of our cats and Isaiah sees me as the source of all warmth, love, milk and goodness. So yes, they are funny. But they are sources of such profound joy that I can't bring myself to mock them, even with love. It's superstition, I guess - the belief that if you don't value things properly, you might not get to keep them.
Please don't take this to mean that when I write about my children it will be a Hallmark card, an unending sapfest that induces vomiting and seizures in the ironic. I hope not. I'm perfectly capable of making fun of them and myself. Nor do I think comic writing means lack of love. But I can't bring myself to make them the comic center of self-deprecating narratives, for fear that someday, they would feel (as I did before I had children) that I found them funny because I did not see them as worthy of my respect.