I am becoming an angry person.
I blame my children. Not that they have done anything—far from it. It is no behavior of theirs that strips my insides raw, leaving me bleeding internally till little pinpricks in the skin give away how I’m feeling.
This is a pinprick.
Lately we’ve been trying to ferret out why the Newcomer isn’t gaining weight. Initially, there was no indication she’d be on this path: she was an 8 lb 13 oz newborn. At 2 months, she weighed 11 lbs, putting her near the 75th percentile for weight gain. Likewise there have been no tells in her development. She has been holding up her head for months. She has remarkable strength in her abdomen and, by four months, could roll both from stomach to back and back to stomach. She is alert. She smiles and laughs. This is not a sick baby.
But at her four month appointment, I laid her on the scale and thought I had gone back in time. 11 lbs.
We were cautioned not to panic. We did not panic. We submitted her for an in-arm blood draw, uncommon for someone her age (“Don’t freak out when it seems like they are taking all of the blood she has,” said a nurse. Okay….)We bagged her urine. We fed her barium and put her through an upper GI x-ray.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing wrong—but no answers.
But it is not the lack of answers that rankles me. It is that there is even a need for them. It is that my child, my Newcomer, is not, for whatever reason, dietarily and medically banal. Once again, the eating habits of my child must be dealt with.
In one way, I do not mind. If the Newcomer is found to have food allergies, I don’t care; I know how to deal with that.
But I find myself minding, more and more minding, the sort of thoughtless existence that so many are permitted—that I have NOT been permitted. Not empty-headed—that’s not what I mean. But it has long torn at me that so many—most—parents can be flippant about what they feed their babies, their children. “Oh, child, I am eating X; here, you should taste this.” If I do that to the Oddnivore, I can be sentencing him to three days of scratching and eczema as his system clears out. I can be granting him hives. I cannot, ever, be flippant. I cannot, ever, be thoughtless. And so I am always thinking. Always wondering what our choices will mean for him.
And now his sister may be following suit.
Once when I was visiting home while in college, no doubt bemoaning the complexity of my burgeoning adulthood, my stepmom said to me, Don’t be envious of what you perceive to be a simpler life. What’s simple is not always better. Quite often, the opposite is true.
What memory has decided she was telling me—what now-me wants to hear—is that the complex life can often be more worth living. Despite the difficulty, the bother, the pain that often comes with the complex, the mere fact that I had had access to that complexity, that pain, meant that I was experiencing life more deeply. It was available to me.
So I am trying not to be envious of the Simple Life lived by those mothers, those near and far sisters, who gets to feed their children without thinking.
The complex must surely be worth something.
But still I find myself from time to time pricked open.