Sunday, August 01, 2004

Cesspool or whirlpool?

This last week has been one of the most difficult of my life. It's been one vicious sleepless, emotional rollerball. Whack.

Helena was left in the care of my mother-in-law for three days, and two nights, so I could get some work done.

And work I did. Not the 10-hour workdays I'd set as a goal, but a solid two-thirds of that, for which I'm proud. Frankly, I'm out of practice. Realistically, it's going to take a few weeks for me to get up to speed, adjust to this routine — my new life.

I procrastinated much. But it seems I procrastinate less with age, as if I'm growing up.

I even reveled in the silence. No TV, no toys clinking or clanging or otherwise electronically announcing their presence. No cats yelping in distress. For some reason, I didn't even turn on the radio. But most jarring, no constant chatter. I sat at this desk, window open beside me, listening to traffic and sirens and nearby construction. Something wafted up of the sax that guy in the park plays. It was beautiful.

I wallowed in guilt for abandoning my daughter, insecurity, jealousy, jealousy on behalf of my own mother, resentment, furious anger, separation anxiety, denial, guilt for not feeling nearly as guilty as I think I should, confusion, and fear of the future. It was awful.

Sometimes I think: My blog, my forum, my whines against the world. But my inner censor held me back. Not my whines against my loved ones.

One week down. A happy baby. A happy grandmother. A mother awash in emotional development. One more textbook on digestive disorders made readable. One step closer to a home mortgage.

Even more monkeys!

Well, just one. That we could see, anyway. And not including the ones I live with.

Friends came to visit for the day, with their 4½-year-old girl and 18-month-old boy. To our modest 2-bedroom apartment. In the pouring rain.

To the Biodôme.

In pre-Helena world, J-F and I would go there on dates. My favourite? Penguins! flipper-wings down. It was a real kick introducing Helena to live penguins — "Pang!" — though she's enthralled by birds in general.

Toy penguins for everybody! OK, just the kids.

Meals for the day included Chez Cora and Ben's Delicatessen. How Montreal can you get?

Today at the park

I couldn't muster the energy for the playground, and the wind on our balcony deceived me into believing it too cool for the wading pool.

So we took a different route through the park . I thought we might find a patch of grass to kick the ball around.

Let me tell you, the cult of Django is alive and well in this neighbourhood.

Helena was distracted by one band of guitar players. It seems she's drawn to young, long-haired, bare-chested, pot-smoking musicians. Uh-oh.

We watched a puppet show. No plot, but much dancing — a wide-eyed, rosy-cheeked, beret-sporting accordéoniste taking up with, successively, a toucan, a sheep, little red riding hook, and a freakishly large rabbit. Helena was less interested in the performance than in the other babies in attendance.

We steered clear of the junior world petanque championship tournament.

We passed a photo shoot that required a large pile of equipment. The "models" were a bunch of bananas, reclining on a dark, shaggy pelt under a tree.

And we fed the ducks. A young boy (10 years old?), having seen us approach and witnessing Helena's delight, offered her a chunk of the bread he was tearing up for the little quacks. I assumed he was with the other mother and toddler, but when his bread was gone he hopped on his bike and rode away. Nice kid. Whoever you are, Thanks! you made Helena's day. I tore up the bread, handing her the crumbs to dispense; she flung her arm forward, letting the bread drop straight down, often landing at her feet, not even making it over the concrete lip of the lake. Eventually we got it all into the water. The ducks didn't want to come that close to the edge, certainly not while we were there, but the bread was drifting. The ducks would be fed. Helena was happy.

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