Big

Things just keep changing. We’re having a huge change, and it’s not a baby or a divorce. But I want to wander around in circles a bit before I get to the point. Like I do.

Mr. Book’s mother is going blind. I don’t know how much I’ve said about her situation onblog, but she is in her sixties, diabetic, and has had strokes. And now she’s going blind. At the same time, Mr. Book has been unable to find steady work here. A month or so ago, the Dowager Book asked Mr. Book to come visit her, and after talking it over, she bought him a plane ticket for March 7. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking and talking—and he’s going to stay there once he arrives. He already has a part-time job waiting, and the city where the Dowager Book lives never had a recession; he’s hopeful about adding a second job quickly. We’ll be separated for up to a year (although hopefully not that long) while I stay with my parents and tend the boys and he lives in the Midwest and saves up money to bring us out and get us a place. We could use a new(used) car, too. Mr. Book will be able to go to school out there, although that is being pushed back again, and that part is lousy—almost as lousy as being apart for so long.

We’re a burden to my parents here, and my mother lets us know that pretty frequently—and fair enough, four extra people ain’t nothing to sneeze at in terms of obligations. It’s hard for them, having us here, and it’s hard for us, too. The Mister’s mother really needs helps, and the idea of being an asset to someone is appealing. Mr. Book had no sooner asked her how the job market is in her city than she was begging him to move there and bring us along. Mr. Book and I have done the long-distance thing before, but leaving the kids behind is awful, and was the main thing that delayed our final decision. I’ll need to get us a webcam when I can so that the lads can Skype with their Daddy–in the next few weeks, I’m going to take as many pictures as I can of the boys with my Mister. And I’m sad, too. But we’re also both hopeful. We both know that we should have stayed in the Midwest instead of going to Stumptown when we married, just because it is so much cheaper to live in the Midwest . . . but we love Stumptown beyond all reason, and still have it as our ultimate goal. But it’s far in the future.

I haven’t told Ruth and Nora yet. I asked Nora via Facebook message what they’re thinking re: visit this year (well before we’d made this decision), and a week or so later, she let me know that they’ve started talking about what they’ll do but have no more information for me at this time. There’s no way that they’d be able to visit before Mr. Book leaves the state—Nora’s job is completely bananas this time of year, and she’s working 80+ hours each week—so I don’t feel as though I absolutely have to tell them right now. But soon, of course, I’ll let them know. I assume that they’ll just choose to visit one of us: probably me, since the boys are with me. But visits to Mr. Book would be slightly complicated, as the Dowager Book has been pretending for just over four years now that Cricket died after birth. A problem for the future.

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Ruth and Nora have bought us train tickets to go visit them this weekend. Moments like these give me some perspective into the mix of good intentions and concern that drive their end of this relationship; they reach out and pull back, and it’s hard for me to read the motivations behind the movement.

Before committing to an overnight visit (our first, kind of a big deal), Ruth wanted to talk on the phone: I abruptly put it together mid-conversation that she had been asking (via email) “Are you going to be okay?” and I was saying “I think Joey will do just fine.” This happened a few times. I was thinking about naps and car seats and it hadn’t even crossed my mind that my skittishness around Cricket might be even worse at his house with no real option to get away. Ruth also mentioned that an overnight visit was a big step, and not one that we were taking because it felt right, but for circumstantial reasons: this is reasonable, and my feelings were (unreasonably) hurt. Rationally, I know that the fact that we’ve been “good” is the reason that they are willing to let circumstances push them into an overnight visit: irrationally, I want Ruth to say that they feel like it’s time anyway, because of how awesome we are.

With the move and the visit both, I am focused on details rather than the big picture. I am ruthlessly culling the bookshelves; I am wondering how many outfits to pack for Mr. Snerks. I am cleaning out closets and deciding whether to bring the stroller. I took a moment last night to try to get a look at the long term: I asked Mr. Book, “Looking at the next few years, what are you hopeful about?”

He couldn’t come up with anything. He’s caught between moments of joy (No more terrible job! Infinitely more time with his family!) and crushing shame and despair. The Mister told me that I will have to be his sense of perspective during the transition, so I came up with my own list:

I’m hopeful about Joey getting to really feel that his grandparents are part of his family, something I’ve never had.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to maintain a good relationship with my mother even while living together.

I’m hopeful that Mr. Book will make it through law school and thrive there.

I’m hopeful about having a sibling for the Snerks and people to help with the baby.

I’m hopeful about the impressive kitchen and grocery budget I’ll be working with to feed the family.

I’m hopeful that we’ll come back to Stumptown like music video rock stars, climbing out of the limo in slow motion, wearing shades and poofy coats.

Partway through my recitation (as I rolled out pretzels, standing in the kitchen and thinking), Mr. Book began to cry.

We’re in a strange time—a few weeks that feel timeless—and I’m trying, now, to take a good look at what is ahead of and behind us. Mr. Book keeps saying that we tried to make a go of it here and failed, and I keep reframing it: You know how we never so much as visited Stumptown before deciding to move here? Well, friend, this was our scouting mission. It ran a little long, but I think we’ve really gotten a feel for the place, and now when we move here in four or five years, we’ll be supremely well prepared.

Trying to get some perspective on the adoption is less encouraging: We’re not as close as we’d hoped, we don’t see Cricket very often, and that is only going to get worse. On the other hand, he is doing well, and his moms have turned out to be excellent parents: thank God. Cricket has a brother now, and will most likely have another couple of siblings arriving over the next couple of years: one local and one long-distance. In the meantime, Ruth has said that as long as I can guarantee that my parents won’t be in the house at the time, we can Skype.

Unrelatedly (but inseparably), Joey is growing like a weed. For some time now he has been able to sign “all done” (most frantically and plaintively when I am trying to get his pajamas on: <all done> <all done> <all done>, over and over)—now he has started signing “nurse,” although he uses the two signs to mean <want> and <not want>. It’s deeply odd to be able to communicate with him this way; my tiny son starting at my glass of water and saying <want> or trying to escape a diaper change with <not want>. He is sleeping in the crib, now, after moving from rolling out of bed accidentally to crawling out of bed deliberately, rolling onto the crib mattress or pile of pillows, and then scooting away to have adventures. No bed rail could contain him. =/ I miss him, but the adjustment was quick and pretty painless. All three of us are sleeping better.