Sitting Outside With My Son Watching Spring Go By

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“Your uncle Timmy, and I mean this, on his best day, is never as tough as you. I’m not talking about crying or drugs or anything like that. I’m talking about in his heart. In his heart. Do you understand me? And all this charming bullshit. This Big Tim, Uncle Boss bullshit… and I know you love him and I know why… but when you see him like that you don’t have to worry… because that’s not how it’s going to be for you. You’re not going to be one of these people who goes through life wondering why shit keeps falling out of the sky around them. I know that. I know it. OK?”
“Michael Clayton” (2007); George Clooney, as ‘Clayton’, speaking to his son.

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The weather has been clear and warm enough that I’ve been able to sit on my balcony with Victor in the afternoon.

It’s relatively quiet, the main road is on the other side of the building, so the traffic is mostly muted — when there is traffic. We have an incredible view from my chair. The trees haven’t bloomed yet, so I can still see the river, even though it’s ten miles away.

Then there are the mountains another five miles past the river, in another few weeks they’ll be a hundred shades of green, but right now they’re still purple and grey.

It’s very peaceful, just the two of us. He sits on my leg, and rests against my arm. I’m not sure what he can see, or what he’s looking at, but he finds something. Whatever it is it makes him happy to be near it, I’ve never seen or heard of a child who can find so much to laugh at. When he’s awake his natural state is ‘just happy’.

Late last week we were sitting in our regular spot and the smell of spring came in on a breeze. Flowers, tree pollen and earth being turned over… the farmers are out tiling their fields, and the local gardeners have been getting the beds ready. And Victor started waving his arms around and getting excited.

He’s eighteen weeks old now, and he’s talking. We’re just missing a translator. If he makes a noise, or a series of noises, and I repeat it right back to him he’ll laugh like it’s the greatest thing ever.

It can start to feel like the end of ‘Close Encounters of The Third Kind’, when the scientists are repeating back the Mothership’s tones. He’ll make three noises, wait for me to finish repeating them, then three more, wait, then three more and so on. All the while he’s smiling, and waving his hands and arms around like he’s explaining how to build a spaceship.

I think, when we’re outside, he’s too busy trying to figure out the basics to be too talkative. Like what the wind is… when I first started bringing him out, and a breeze would pick up, his little arms would spasm towards his face and his face would scrunch up.

Actually, when he’s crying — for his food or if his diaper is full — and you blow in his face, he gets really startled for a few seconds, almost shocked, but then he’ll start to howl. As though it’s just one indignity too many.

He’s over fifteen pounds now. We’ll find out later this week, but I think he has hit the sixteen pound mark. He was born a month early, but technically only a day premature, and the nurse says he’s exactly where he should be if he had been born when he was supposed to have been born.

We brought him in last Monday for his fourth month round of inoculations. The kid knocks me out. The nurse, and my girlfriend, kept telling me to expect Victor to scream for a month after getting the shots. Or something. Two needles go into his thigh, two needles come out, he starts to cry, I tickle his chin, make a dumb noise and he starts laughing.

And he’s starting to look like me. People have been saying it for weeks now, but all I could see was two massive cheeks, a little chin and eyes the size of moons.

But I can see it now. Except for the eye colour (mine are brown) he’s like a little clone.

We’ve been spending a lot of time together watching the hockey playoffs as well. We’ve been together pretty much every afternoon and evening for the past ten days.

One side effect of enjoying this quiet time with my son — in addition to watching him discover his first spring, smelling his first flowers, listening to his first bird calls — is I’m slowly working out the things I want to tell him. I’ve found myself trying to find some wisdom in the things I’ve done and seen, something I can teach him.

It’s difficult. We gain wisdom from every experience. But wisdom, it seems to me, is something mostly handed down from father to son. But everything I know about “fatherhood” I either learned indirectly, or from movies. Or from what I wanted, I guess. But trying to become my own concept of ‘father’ — based either on the father I always wanted, or thought others had — seems like it could be a little misguided.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m overestimating the value of inherited wisdom because it’s not something I had a lot of… or maybe it’s 4:30am and I really don’t know what I’m typing anymore.

Victor and I are spending the afternoon and early evening together. It’s supposed to be cold and rainy today… so I’ll wrap him up in a couple of blankets and see if he likes listening to the rain.

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...thanks.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Health, Little Victor, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Sitting Outside With My Son Watching Spring Go By

  1. thordora says:

    Love matters. And oh Gabe, how you love him! I can hear you falling in love with him here, and it’s lovely.

    I don’t know how to mother. I’m rapidly approaching the time when I had none, and my early childhood was mostly full of her sickness. I don’t *know* normal motherhood. So I read, and I ask and I try. Sometimes it works, sometimes, not so much.

    But I love them, and will do anything for them. Much as my mother would have. THIS is what matters.

    (alright, I’m already weepy cause Mom died today forever ago, but this was just so sweet…)

  2. Bromac says:

    This is so full of love. It’s beautiful.

  3. zoom says:

    I love this post. Your son is a lucky little boy.

  4. Stephany says:

    This is such a beautiful post

  5. Yo is Me says:

    gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. like you were writing this whispering. gorgeous.

  6. Gabriel... says:

    Thanks… we had a great evening together tonight. Unfortunately his mom, my girlfriend, is not well. She has had a rash for the past few days, and now her joints have swollen up, so she left for the ER early this morning and took Victor with her.

    The two of them were there for six hours… my girlfriend said Victor was a hit with the nurses. The doctor prescribed a cortisone cream, and three doses of Prednisone, so no breastfeeding for a while.

    Tomorrow we’re taking Victor on his very first first road trip to WalMart. We’re buying his older brother a two-wheeler bike, and his daddy is thinking very seriously about replacing his burnt out PS3.

  7. skylark says:

    Beautiful… this reminds me of moments I had with my boys at that age and I choke up a bit. How quickly they grow up. You’re making a history with Victor, one which you will remember many years from now. He may not remember these early days but he is being shaped by them. Sounds like he’s getting a good start.

  8. Meg says:

    So sweet. It’s nice that you are really able to soak in your time with your son and express such love and serenity with him.

  9. Rae says:

    Hey Gabe,

    Prednisone is a B class drug for breastfeeding – it does pass in to the milk, but only in small amounts. She can still nurse him!!

    Dr. Hale is an excellent forum resource for drugs and lactation – http://neonatal.ama.ttuhsc.edu/cgi-bin/discus/discus.cgi — You can browse his forum as a guest. He is /the/ expert on drugs and breastmilk.

    http://www.ukmicentral.nhs.uk/drugpreg/corticosteroids.asp – From the UK, also says it’s fine; and lastly – http://www.safefetus.com/index.htm – you get a pretty clear picture of what does/does not impact your breastmilk.

    It’s so wonderful to read you falling in love with your boy 😀

  10. Rae says:

    … It ate my response!

    I love that you’re falling in love with your son 😀

    Re: Prednisone/breastmilk – it’s a B class risk, which means that only some passes into the milk, and it’s a negligible amount. She doesn’t have to stop breastfeeding.

    Dr. Hale is /the/ drugs and breastmilk doc. He’s got a great forum that you can browse as a guest: http://neonatal.ama.ttuhsc.edu/cgi-bin/discus/discus.cgi

    There is also http://www.safefetus.com/index.htm – a good resource for what affects breastmilk, and another from the UK. (http://www.ukmicentral.nhs.uk/drugpreg/guide.htm)

    I’ve been nursing for almost 7 years now, and I use them all the time! Often the drugs are not as bad as the ER docs make them out to be – they just don’t have enough info.

    😀

  11. Clare says:

    Beautiful post. Peace to you and your loves.

  12. arifaery says:

    This was such a beautiful post. I miss the mountains. I grew up with the beach minutes away and the mountains always towering in the distance. Where I live now there is no beach or mountains.

    About parenthood…I can completely understand. I’m not a parent yet but I worry that I won’t be a good mother. I didn’t have the best of role models. But my husband assures me that knowing what not to do is a good start, and that it will be different when I actually have a child.

  13. Gabriel... says:

    Hi Rae, the spam filter picked up your comment because of the number of links… but then it let your second one through with the same links. Weird. Much to the delight of our son, my girlfriend is back breastfeeding. I know she took a day off because she was worried about the allergy medicine she was taking.

    Thanks Meg, Skylark and Clare for the comments. Victor spent most of the weekend outside… I was only with him out there for about two hours, but he seemed to have a great time laying in his seat while his mother, brother, aunt and the two kids from next door played around him.

    Victor and I did watch the Canadiens beat the Pittsburgh Penguins…

    Hello arifaery… I believe this is the first time you’ve commented here, thanks, and welcome. So far the most important things about raising a baby seem to be:

    1) not leaving them on the stove while you’re cooking bacon;

    2) patience. It took me a few weeks to realize (with some help from a few maternal bloggers) baby’s only cry when something’s wrong, and the only things that are every really wrong are the diaper, the food, being tired and the gas.

    After that, so far, it seems to be mostly about responding to the crying and making sure he’s got something or someone to play with.

    Thanks again for the comment…

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