The Blue Ball is Dead! Long Live the Blue Ball!

Posted: June 17th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Hoarding, Husbandry, Miss Kate, Mom, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop | No Comments »

Peggy and Gary, Mark’s mom and stepfather, left today after a great visit packed with NorCal sightseeing, eating and drinking, and excessive granddaughter adoration. One of those visits that make you wonder why we all live so damn far away. I wasn’t at the airport this morning for the final farewell, so I don’t know exactly what took place. But even before Kate and Paige were on the scene, Peggy was known for getting teary-eyed at goodbyes, especially when she didn’t know when she’d see Mark next.

If my memory serves me, my mother and I used to cap off most visits with a rousing argument. It made parting so much easier. Even without a separation anxiety spat, my mom was hardly the crying type.

There’s actually a famous story in Mark’s family about when his mom and sister dropped him off at college for the first time. When they left to head home, Peggy was crying so hard she somehow managed to drive off the road into a corn field. (Mind you, they were in rural Minnesota where such fields are abundant, not Manhattan.)

Needless to say, Mark and Lori will never let Peggy live that down. But now that I’m a Mama myself, I can totally empathize. How in God’s name do you deposit your beloved sweet baby at college–off in another state or even a different time zone–to not see them again until Thanksgiving, if you’re lucky? I’m hoping by the time Kate turns 18 homeschooling will be a popular collegiate option. Or that she’ll insist on living at home and attending a nice local costmetology school so she can be near her Mama.

Even though the kiddies are still so young I’m finding I’m already nostalgic about things. At the park the other day there was a three week old baby I was mesmerized by. “A baby!” I thought to myself, as if it were such a novel thought–an unattainable object of desire. All this while I’m holding my own four-month-old. But, you know, Paige seems so big already. And the thought that she’s probably the last of the little McCluskys makes it that much harder to watch her mini milestones pass by.

Mark, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to share my sentimental streak. Nor does he share my on-again off-again yearning for another baby. In fact, after a long evening of bouncing Paige on the big blue yoga ball–our favorite method for getting our fussy babies to sleep–he turned to me and said, “God I’ll be happy when I never have to do this again.” And despite how my own lower back was crying out for an end to non-stop bouncing, my mind was aghast at the thought.

When that ball goes away, that means Paige will have grown up a bit. She won’t be a teeny newborn who needs the motion of her Mama’s movements replicated to soothe her. She’ll nearly be independent!

And another thing. When that ball goes away after Paige, it’s retiring. It will never be called to serve again–at least for anything other than yoga. And still for Mark there’s no looking back. I think he mentioned something about gleefully taking an ax to it…

Well, unbeknownst to him, the other day as I was vacuuming the house I lamented that that huge ball, wedged under the lip of the TV stand, was taking up too much space in our small living room. And really, we hadn’t had to use it for weeks. So I figured I’d stick it down in the basement where we could always grab it if we needed to.

The impulse to stow crap in the basement comes up often, so it wasn’t until I was walking up the stairs that I thought, “My God. We are now officially finished with the baby-bouncing segment of our lives.” May the big blue ball rest in peace.

No, no. I didn’t cry. But hey, it’s on to a new phase and goodbye (forever) to an old one.

Another thing that Mark doesn’t know–not that I’ve actively been hiding it from him–is as Paige has been outgrowing clothes I haven’t had the heart to give them away quite yet. For now I’m taking some comfort in just putting them back in the age-labeled plastic bins on the shelves downstairs. (See? The basement is my enemy and my best friend.) How can I let go of the soft froggy jacket with the satin bow that Lindelle got for Kate? Or the brown cable knit sweater-suit Mark got at his office shower?

In part, there’s just so much cute stuff. I can’t just give it to Salvation Army. But there’s also the thought that there won’t be another baby here to wear it some day–a thought I clearly haven’t gotten my head around.

And for the record, I’m not planning to do some soap opera poke-a-hole-in-the-condom move for a third child. In my rational, non-emotional moments I truly agree with all the reasons why we’re better off as a family of four. It’s just–babies are so sweet!

Is this how my brother-in-law’s parents ended up with 15 kids? Perhaps.

Maybe I just need to reflect more on my neighbor’s deadbeat 37-year-old son who’s just moved back home. Oy! Imagine finally being back in the swing of what life was like without kids, then being tossed into telling your grown son to pick his socks up off the floor. Even for a crazy love-addicted Mama like me, that just seems wrong.

I’ll have to remember that when I’m veering off into a corn field 16 years from now.

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