Believe it or not, this is the BEST photo I could get of Hawksley. Gone are the days where I could prop him into position and have him stay there. Now, it's go-go-go - where's the dog? - I want my loader - YOU CAN'T MAKE ME STAY HERE - and all that goodness wrapped together. So. This picture already bugs me and I know it will if I ever do another stats post. Let's just disregard all the photos in this post. (I did want to show how he's grown though)
By now, I really do feel like I have a child. For my first year of motherhood, the whole experience felt a little like a hazy dream. Measuring bottles; checking the poop in diapers; shopping for baby socks and bum cream, and actually budgeting for diapers - none of it felt real. How had I pushed a human out of my body? How was I responsible for another person?
The first time Hawksley purposely defied me by climbing the stairs after I said no, and then rushed to make it to the top once I stood up to retrieve him, I felt like a parent.
He isn't walking yet, and my trusty Baby Centre newsletter has informed me that 90% of toddlers are walking by the 15-month mark. So we practice cutting corners and cruising through the kitchen while clutching mum's hands, and while trying to drown out dad's urgency in getting Hawksley a little walker or push cart to help him learn to strut his stuff.
We're cutting molars though - and legit having conversations now... so you win, and you lose some, right? I love showing people Hawksley's tricks like, where are your piggies, and show me your teeth. Do you have to poop? is my personal favourite because he grunts after, whether he has to go or not. And he actually puckers up to give me a kiss now, all while saying, "Mmmm," the way I do, when my lips ask for a kiss.
I can pretty much say anything and he repeats it, although some attempts are obviously butchered. "Bye, bye, now," sounds more like "Bye, bye, ahh," and "Puppy Rogue," sounds more like, "Uh-pee OH-g," but I think parents have a special knack for understanding their kids. I mean, most of the time I'm telling Hawksley that I have no idea what he's saying, but I remember listening to the first mutters of my friend's kids and having absolutely no clue what they were squawking out. I remember my girlfriend's son saying, what I SWEAR was "Ahhh, gluhh, bargain hummaaaah," and me trying to figure out how he knew there was a bargain on hummus. My girlfriend quickly deciphered the foreign tongue as, "You have to go to the bathroom?" (He was like, four or five... so I know he was potty-trained but that seems old to have a mouthful of marbles... maybe I'm remembering it wrong).
Anyway, Hawksley talks. A lot. He points to most things he wants followed by a "Nuh-nuh/na-na" sort of thing, and he babbles sometimes as if he really thinks he is saying something. He gets pretty frustrated when we don't understand him, but generally he's a really good communicator.
"Mummy, whats' that?" is really clear, and one time in particular he squeaked, "Mummy and daddy, what's this?" Crystal clear. It's crazy.
And no, I didn't teach him sign language. I had like, five separate people ask me if I was going to teach him sign language when I was pregnant and by the fifth time I was seriously like, what the fuck? Sign language was a baby trend now? I was just wrapping my head around how diaper sizes worked, and the fact that Jessica Alba had a baby company that was super honest.
So I talk to him like he's 30. And he talks pretty well. But he can't walk, so let's not bust out the confetti just yet. And no, he doesn't need a flippin' cart to help him learn. (Sorry, mom and dad squabble.) Besides, we have so many stairs and different levels. I can already see the accidents.
I feel like I've delegated my days pretty well. Mondays my mom takes him and I do my errands in the city and usually some Rogue Wood Supply writing. Tuesdays he and I spend together, and this is usually when he starts to infiltrate my instagram. Wednesdays to Fridays he is in daycare at my sister-in-laws and on these days I help Derek at the shop, tackle my freelance writing, and more Rogue Wood Supply duties. Derek and I usually squeak in baby-free adult time over lunch a couple times, and I typically dedicate one of these days entirely to cleaning or chores at home, FYI, because I have no idea how people keep their lives in order by doing a little bit every day. I often teach one (maybe two) evenings per week with either a workshop or event, and rarely (once per month) I have something work-related on the weekends. September is the exception. I'll be working every weekend.
I really like what I do, even when it is stressful or time consuming. I think people think I have Hawksley all the time, but he's in daycare part-time and it is absolutely the reason why I haven't gone crazy. Many of my evenings are spent over my computer writing, but many of them are spent with Derek, too. I don't know, it's a good balance for me.
I struggled a lot in the past few months while I tried to create a schedule that worked for me. Much of the time I felt like I was doing everything half-assed. Like I was giving my writing and work half-assed attention; like I was giving my relationships half-assed attention; like I was giving my home, yard and car half-assed attention, and like I was giving my son half-assed attention. I'd get frustrated with Hawksley when he would roll his loader across the couch back and forth and onto my laptop, conveniently always nailing the delete or power off button that are stupidly stacked on top of each other. I'd offer him a couple calm words, launch his little truck down the couch, and try to force out a couple extra words on the screen before he came back.
Half-assed work attention. Half-assed parenting attention.
And believe me, I felt bad about it. I feel bad about it, because it hasn't evaporated entirely.
Guilty. So guilty. Guilty for my career and this nudge that I could be doing better, and guilty for my shitty parenting job to my poor child. This whole parenthood thing is just riddled with guilt. I have never felt more guilt in my life, and I did some stupid shit when I was young.
The primary relationship in the home, the one between myself and Derek, is one that is constantly evolving. Before Hawk, I never realized how much of a business transaction, so to speak, it is to be a mother and a father - co-parents, trying to work together to raise another human.
Derek and I not married, and this is something I felt strongly about when I was younger and before I had a child. I didn't want to be married, and even still, I debate whether it is really worth the expense. After all, what would change? We already have our land and our home, we are already committed to each other, and our lives are already intertwined in most areas.
But I definitely experienced a shift in perspective, and I remember the exact date that shift began to wiggle. I was writing Hawksley's full name out onto a piece of paper, debating how his middle name would affect his overall numerology (haaaa), and it seriously bugged me that I was writing Henry and not Kunderman for his last name.
Keep in mind, shortly after giving birth, mama-bear mode is in full force, and it's even imperative to the bonding experience between mother and child. But. I was a Kunderman. It felt weird that my child wasn't. It seems like such a strange thing to admit out loud, and I realize he could have easily been Hawksley Kunderman instead of Hawksley Henry, only he couldn't. That's just not who he is.
And then our health cards came in the mail, different names scrawled across them. I stared at it, perturbed, and tried to shake off the feelings. Again.
So I brought it, sheepishly, to Derek. And I felt embarrassed that I admitted the different last names bothered me, and that I did in fact want to get married. I felt like I was betraying something. A sort of belief I had. I keep asking myself if it really matters. And for whatever reason, to me, it does.
Now, people get married and keep their name the same, and it's just as easy for me to change my name and not be married. I also have a pen name that's different from my last name. So where is this all coming from?
After my dad died, the relationship with his side of the family became slightly estranged. I think that's expected to some degree, but it was definitely a point of contention for me for a long time. I didn't feel a connection to my last name, and I did feel bad about it because it felt a little like I was dishonouring my dad. In some weird way. Again, these are all weird feelings. I tried reconnecting with his side of the family when I was older, poking my grandfather for more details on our Austrian heritage. I think I became more interested in this because I had Hawksley now, and genes were suddenly incredibly interesting.
Hawksley has my dad's ears. That's fucked up.
I became obsessed with those ancestry and 23andme commericials that tout discovering your heritage (I haven't bit the bullet yet in regards to ordering anything), but I'm fascinated with identity, heritage, culture and the blending of genes. And I care for Hawksley. I want him to know. I want to be able to answer his questions about family, especially since many are deceased on both sides, and before we know it, there will be no one to ask and the questions will never be answered.
The more I talk about this sort of stuff, the more I get, "I get it; you want to be married," from Derek, and more of that guilt creeps up, laced with some rather hypocritical undertones. From me, not him.
So we started talking about engagement rings, and even looking at some.
I think I've done myself an incredible diservice by not being interested in this before, because every time I start looking at rings, I am completely overwhelmed. I even had a panic attack in the mall. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS TO KNOW. And I'm a person who likes stones! I can't make up my mind, and I tell Derek NOT to buy anything because I have no clue what I actually like.
I feel like this is some innate thing every woman should know - what her ring will look like. But I can tell you, what I thought I liked, I definitely don't, and I can't seem to get through a ring shopping session without crippling anxiety. I don't know what the fuck is wrong with me.
So I sway back to that whole, "it doesn't even matter anyway," mindset, and maybe I shouldn't be married in the first place. Get OVER YOUR NAME, it doesn't even matter.
But it does. To me. For whatever reason.
I would love to ask my dad what he thinks because I never got to know him as an adult, and I was robbed of having real conversations with him that matter. I don't even know what his stance was on politics. Religion. The medical field. Heritage. The arts. Writing.
When he was dying, I eavesdropped on a conversation he was having with my mom. He started crying, admitting defeat to cancer, knowing that he wouldn't make it to walk me or my sister down the aisle on our wedding day. It was awful. I remember tucking deeper into the closet I was hiding in, deeper behind his business suits that hung neatly in rows, and silently vowing to never get married if he couldn't be there to give me away.
THIS IS SO STUPID. I CAN SEE MY COMPLEX BUT I CAN'T GET OVER IT.
So anyway. This phase of parenting has me absolutely obsessed with who I am, because I feel like I'm missing a big part of that, and in turn that means I'm missing something for Hawksley, too. So many people don't even care about this but I think it's so important. It affects our health. It affects our decisions. It affects our interactions. It's so important because if I wasn't here tomorrow, who would pass my culture on to Hawksley? Would he fall estranged with my side of the family, and lose his French and Austrian heritages forever?
It's been a busy summer, and fall is going to explode with schedule changes, but I'm sure this will continue to creep up in my priorities. Maybe Hawksley's next post will say something like, 25% Native American, 20% Asian and like, 55% Neanderthal.