dispatch from the leaky canoe

tentbaby

How long has it been since we went camping? Six weeks? And I just now, tonight, managed to move photos from my camera to my computer. I’m not sure which is more embarrassing, that such simple tasks take me so long to get done lately or that we only managed to go camping the one time this summer. I think we should consider ourselves lucky that we got away at all, for two nights. I have never felt so much like my little family could use a break, a departure from the grind and tedium, as I do now. A quick tent trip was lovely, I’m so glad we went, but it only illuminated how sorely we could use a longer escape. It’s been a heavy year.

I’ve felt a strong push toward “getting ready” this early Fall. Ready for what? I am not even sure. Maybe because we’ve been gearing up for Uly’s surgery (more on that later). Maybe because I want to be ready to move, if we can figure out How. Maybe it’s the regular old seasonal shift that tends to occur at this time of the year, homekeeping and coming inside and settling down. It’s a good time for solidifying routines and deciding what works and what doesn’t, what fits and what feels all wrong. And while some of that is big and philosophical, a lot of it is laundry and unloading the dishwasher and who fed the dog? and go tend the chickens! and ack! where’s the baby?!

Let me tell you about Ulysses at ten months. He is so busy. He is so fast. He is so quiet. He does not like to be contained. He will tolerate being on me (ring sling or erg0) if we’re outside and moving. We can sometimes jolly him into his highchair, but more often than not he refuses. My other children stayed close to me when they were this age. They’d play with little things on the kitchen floor while I cooked. They liked being where they could see me. But this one, he is not like that at all. He wants to go. It’s hard to get stuff done when you’re chasing a baby!

Oh, but please do not think I’m insinuating resentfulness or fatigue in that last sentence. I just get less done. And I’m ok with that.

We have a surgery date now. I will share more specifics soon, in a separate post, but for now: it’s happening early November and I’m pretending to be strong about the whole thing. It’s not just that the surgery is a Big, Huge Deal (which it is), but also that This Is It. You see, right now, Ulysses crawls like any baby. He might even crawl faster and more efficiently than a lot of babies. But, as soon as his legs are amputated, it’s all real, it’s not just hazy future speculating. My child will be a bilateral amputee. Of course, Ulysses will never walk on the legs he was born with. We wouldn’t be amputating them if there was any other way. (trust me on that one.) If Ulysses had functional legs, he’d be using them already. It’s both indescribably heartbreaking and somehow oddly triumphant to see a baby without shin bones attempting to stand up on tiny, twisted legs. He tries. He is determined. He can pull up as far as his knees and he tries so hard to get his little legs under him. His brain is telling him to get up.  And we are going to help make that happen. But it’s so big, it overshadows everything else.

Here are a few more pictures from our August camping trip. We’ve managed to sneak away to the same magical, secret spot with the same sweet friends three years in a row. That’s practically tradition! And now that I’m finally sharing some summer photos, I feel like I can segue into blogging Fall stuff without my brain exploding.

tent

gillyrocks

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she kayaks

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(when I’m really in a mood to get things done around the house, especially to motivate the other people I live with to get things done, I have this little chant I shout, something like, “tight ship! tight ship! let’s go!” and my family, particularly my wry daughter, responds with, “leaky canoe! leaky canoe!”)

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2 thoughts on “dispatch from the leaky canoe

  1. “If Ulysses had functional legs, he’d be using them already. It’s both indescribably heartbreaking and somehow oddly triumphant to see a baby without shin bones attempting to stand up on tiny, twisted legs. He tries. He is determined. He can pull up as far as his knees and he tries so hard to get his little legs under him. His brain is telling him to get up. And we are going to help make that happen.”

    Oh dear, April, this made me tear up, so beautifully rendered, your thoughts here. I am sorry to read this but mostly, so happy to read that he will have the ability to walk after his surgery with the prosthetics. Sending you love, and lots of strength to get through the hard times of the surgery.

    Xo, so much love!

    (and I love the idea of you shouting “tight ship, tight ship” and Freya shouting back at you “leaky canoe!” 🙂

  2. Catching up on some good April-ness.

    That image of your sweet, determined Uly trying to stand on his legs. I get that. My daughter is a very much “do myself! do myself” kinda gal. I LOVE that spirit and determination–she’s gonna need it. And as much as I know someday she probably will figure out how to hold a spoon/put on her shoes/button her shirt/what-have-you it’s definitely a bittersweet feeling to watch her resilient toddler self try so hard and know, REALLY KNOW, “no baby. you can’t do this by yourself.”

    It never gets her down though…like I said, resilient. These kids of ours are pretty awesome.

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