Saturday, October 22, 2011

Before Kids or Just the Same

I am now home and I decided to not clean but prep dinner instead and just sit on the loveseat in my living room and remember what I did with myself before I had kids. The funny thing is I did just about the same thing except for the things that involve my kids. Funny how life sometimes REALLY doesn't change.


I remember shopping around town, bags in hand, cell phone a buzzing with text messages and phone calls. Various plans, appts and parties to attend. I also remember the quiet moments of just sitting at home relaxing on the sofa with the fireplace going, tv on and a nice cold glass of chardonnay. Sean, my love, would be in the same room and we would sit in the stillness of that moment and laugh, talk and comment on what we were watching. We didn't talk much because we knew what each was thinking at that moment. 


I can say that our home was still full of dogs. We had 5 total. They were all chihuahuas. There was Danni, Naiba, Lola, Max and Princess. They all got along. A home with no other disturbances is what our dogs were accustomed to. 


Now enter in our lives two lovely wonderful children that have enriched my life and the life of my partner. We have since lost two dogs. Danni died of a disease, possibly cancer. Princess got out of the back yard and for the first time ever crossed the street and was run over by a car. I was the one who picked her mangled still alive body from the street and hauled her into the house. Janette was home and she was trying to see what happened but I kept her at bay to avoid any traumatic memories for her. Jonathan was at school and Sean was at work. 


I remember calling Sean in a panic and a state of shock. I cried and mouthed that the dog was hit by a car and he thought Janette and I were hit, it had been raining for a few weeks on and off then. He rushed home and we took Princess to the vet. Sean took Janette and my car to pickup Jonathan from school and I went home in his car. I was mortified. This was a first for me. Princess was put down, she was paralyzed from the waist down and also had major internal injuries. 


Now I tell this story because I can remember in full detail what my son, my daughter and my partner were doing at the very moment this was all going on. Ask me about my schedule before kids and what I did etc etc and I can not seem to remember my life as detailed as this story is. 


My point is that my kids and my partner have sharpened my memory skills. In the event of an emergency where a 'Fight or Flight' situation arises I 'Fight' and take control. There have been two instances of this and each child was one of them. I can say without a doubt all my talents, skills, knowledge and love has been heightened with what my life is like now and what is demanded of me. 


I did not take notice of this nor did I even pat myself on the back for all the work I do until now. I do not expect anyone to praise me for what I do as a stay at home dad. I thoroughly enjoy it! I however am grateful everyday to my love Sean who affords me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of being a stay at home dad. I knew when he and I first spoke of having children and starting our process that I wanted to be a stay at home dad. My grandmother did the same for me when I was a child. 


This always leads me to the memory of when I was a child and noticed that my grandmother slowly returned to the workforce but still managed to make time to care for me. One night I was home awaiting her return and I asked my aunt where my grandma was. She told me that she was at work and will be home soon. In my child thinking brain I did not know that she had other work. I always thought it was her here at home cooking, cleaning, washing clothes and greeting me when I arrived home from school as her work. Funny right, without any explanation I already equivocated all that as her job/work. 


Well I sat at the window and waited for my grandma and there she was. However, she was dressed in what looked like muddy clothes, a large bandanna around her head and a hat large enough to cover half my small child body. It was not the grandma I was accustomed to seeing on a daily basis. She also walked differently too. No hop in her step and her face had a serious tone. One more serious that her 'church face' as I called it. What came next horrified me. 


She then began to take off some of her clothes. The large frumpy and muddy sweatshirt that covered her frame was removed so carefully. Then a long sleeve shirt was removed as well. Her dark muddy pants too were removed and then folded neatly and left at her side on the floor. I only then noticed that the pants she wore were once white. The last thing she took off were her shoes and socks, which were the most dirty. Clouds of dust flew from them when she pounded them against the sidewalk path that lead to our home. Wow, what did she do to get so dirty?! Why did she seem to move so slow and why was everything folded and put in a small pile aside her on the floor?!


 Well from her bag that she had been carrying she pulled out sandals, a pair of shorts and a different shirt that I had seen her wear many times before. But before she put any of that on she went to the garden hose and began to wash off her hands, feet and even her head. I know that cold water is the only thing that comes from that hose. So I was shocked that she was even using that cold water to wash herself with. Many times she told me to use warm water when I take a bath in order to be sure I am fully clean. I even remembered why hot water is used to wash the dishes. It was so that the germs were gone and clean plates were left so as to eat off of them again. This was something my grandma also told me because I always asked her questions about everything. 


I made sure she didn't see me when she finally entered the house. She didn't bring in those dirty clothes from outside. She left them in a bucket of water outside on the back porch steps. I know this because later on that night I checked. I watched her go into her room and put on a warm jacket, applied some lotion to her face and hands and then she called for me. I hesitated so she wouldn't know that I was right there watching her. She told me she got me one of those Mexican sweet breads for me. The one in the shape of a pig. I loved those and still do.


Now I asked her where she was and she told me she was working in the fields. I asked what did that mean. She told me she had been out in the sun all day picking strawberries and making sure they were all good ones in order for them to be sold. She also told me that one of these days she would be buying some so she could make 'agua frescas' which is 'fresh water' but with fruit juice in it. In that moment I knew that my grandma was doing very hard work all day in the sun, bent over, covered in layers of clothing and digging through many fields to find usable strawberries. I knew that it was hard labor. I hugged her and said thank you grandma. 


In this stage of my life I thank my grandma for thinking of me after a long hard day of work. How she managed to have time to go to a Panaderia (Mexican Bakery) and get me my favorite pan dulce (sweet bread). How she went into that bakery looking all dirty and muddy in her work clothes. After being on her feet all day except for her lunch break that she went a bit off her home route to stop, do something for me and then go home and make time for me. I learned that the reason she washed herself off each night and left the dirty clothes outside was to avoid bringing in any chemicals into the house. 


Even when she was working and almost home she always thought of me and others. She always made sure to think of her family and tried to give us as much of herself as she could before going to bed and then returning to work in the fields the next day. 


So when I feel overwhelmed, tired, cranky and not in the mood to do anything. I think of my grandma. How she always managed to keep going and keep doing for herself and for others. She is a truly selfless person and I always strive to be like her. I strive to give my kids the best food possible. I involve them in the cooking and shopping process. I have taught my kids who are 4 and 6 to put their own clothes away after I have folded them. My son who is 6 even likes helping me fold them. I learned from her how to love your family and to love yourself. No one else is going to do that for you. 


This post is dedicated to my grandma, Maria Cipriana Mejia. Her spirit, strong willed character and love is unmatched.