We're back home in San Francisco in a new flat only eight blocks from our old home. There's nothing like traveling the country for three months and realizing that you're already home. I feel a bit like Coehlo's protagonist in The Alchemist who has to go on a long and difficult journey only to learn that the treasure he sought was always right under him. I feel so much more like me here.
The only downside is that I'm surrounded by boxes again. I swear we didn't have this much stuff four months ago. I imagine myself as someone who travels light--I mean, we lived in a 19-foot travel trailer this fall! But the maze of boxes in our new living room tells a different story. If moving with a six-month old was hard, moving with an almost 13-month old is so much harder! She can move! I don't get anything done while she's awake, which is why Stephen and I tag-teamed to unpack the kitchen last night: I slept from 9 p.m. - 1 a.m. while he unpacked the boxes, and then he slept while I organized. So, although I'm trying very hard to practice gratitude for our good luck in finding a new place that we like in the neighborhood that we love, I'm just really tired and feeling generally grouchy while we slowly, slowly unpack.
Lily helped me lean back into contentment tonight though.
I ran some errands this afternoon and left Lily with Stephen. He made her a supper of tofu, cottage cheese, and steamed carrots. Not bad for a guy who has sworn to me he'd live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches if he were a bachelor.
Apparently Lily hadn't been impressed.
"She doesn't like carrots," he'd texted me. "Or at least not my carrots."
When I got home, I was ravenous and started in on her leftovers.
"These carrots are yummy," I said. I wasn't trying to change Lily's mind--they really were tasty little carrots. He'd cut them up into very small chunks and steamed them with butter.
Lily held out her arms to me and then signed "more", which is often how she says "I want" also. I took her from Stephen and then leaned against the kitchen sink with her on my hip, scooping out carrot morsels with my free bare hand.
"Harr-umm," Lily growled enthusiastically and squirmed towards the bowl. She has this delightful new habit of cheerfully "growling" when she is happy, or when we're meeting a request, especially when we've understood a sign and are responding appropriately.
She thrust her hand into the bowl and grabbed several carrot chunks too. Then she started feeding me carrots. It was the classic, one for you, two for me game, only this tended to be handfuls of carrots rather than individual bites. The only danger was that she occasionally got overly eager to feel my molars in between bites (she's been very into teeth lately). Soon she tipped the bowl back and was eating straight out of it, carrots dribbling down her pajamas.
"I guess we found out how to get her to eat carrots," I told Stephen, as she grunted and squealed with pleasure.
She took such delight in feeding me. I had a moment of realizing just how much she has grown this past year. And how much we've grown. This was a scene I could never have imagined when I tried to picture what it would be like to be a mother. Standing in the half-unpacked kitchen with my baby on my hip, eating carrots together straight out of the bowl.
Another thing helped me feel grateful--we found our TV and plugged it in. I am overwhelmed by the suffering in Haiti tonight. The NY Times has a photo of a man who just found his 10-month old daughter's body outside the morgue. Her small, broken body is laying on top of a pile of other bodies. I really don't have words to even attempt to understand what that must be like. It's times like this that I really hope there's a point to all of this.