Archive for the ‘Peculiar Graces’ Category

Peculiar Graces: Another post about the little things (by Allison)

In Allison, Peculiar Graces, Written by Allison on 18 November 2009 at 7:54 PM

Today was a long day for me. I’m in that period of pregnancy where I’m always tired. I literally feel drugged sometimes and can’t keep my eyes open. It just so happens that Jonah is in a “fighting the nap stage” right now, to perfectly compliment my fatigue. Some days I just feel like giving up, or giving him away. But, today was different. While he wouldn’t take a nap, I just decided to have a little rest time with him instead. We cuddled together for a good hour and just talked. It’s so weird now that we can almost fully hold small conversations. I also dragged him along with me for a ton of errands today (poor guy) and he was a perfect angel (I guess he had to make up for the no nap), but it was just so nice to hang out with him. I found myself just enjoying his company. This evening at dinner time his response to not finishing his meal was “mommy I’m just rary tired.” He’s so funny. I really like my son, and feel my heart fill with joy several times a day just being near him. Even on the hard days his beauty can’t escape me.

Peculiar Graces: Introducing, our baby! (by Allison)

In Peculiar Graces, Uncategorized, Written by Allison on 30 October 2009 at 1:18 PM

Folks, the past 4 weeks for me have been pretty sick ones. This has been quite a surprise for me, because with Jonah you see, I wasn’t hardly sick at all. But, man, even since that six week mark, I have been the typical nauseous, food averted, smell sensitive, roller coaster of emotions pregnant girl. I am even craving pickles if you can believe that. It’s been pretty hard, running after Jonah and feeling this way. I have decided now definitely, that this will be our last child. And, I ask all of you to hold me to that once I change my mind in 3 years. So, this is our first ultrasound picture, taken at about 7 weeks. I am now 10 weeks and at my 12 week appointment we get another ultrasound! I am really excited for this one. The baby will have arms and legs and thumbs and everything! And, there may even be the slightest chance that we could find out the sex! It may be way too early still, but we will keep you posted. :)

Peculiar Graces: New beginnings (by Allison)

In Allison, Jonah, Peculiar Graces, Simon, Uncategorized, Written by Allison on 27 September 2009 at 8:51 AM

This is a tad bit embarrassing, that we call this thing a blog and never, I mean never post on it. But, we can redeem ourselves, right? And what better reason do we have now that Jonah is a two and never a dull moment. I could write about what he is doing at any given time and it would most likely be worth at least a chuckle. Oh, and also, we are expecting another little person now. It is so weird to say this, and I only say it to myself and God because it doesn’t feel quite official or real yet even, but, ahem…. I have two children. There. I said it. And here’s another truism. I love saying that. We (all three of us) are pretty darn excited to be starting this new journey. It will be my birthday in a few days, and for one of my gifts (my husband is so sweet) he gave me Saturday night off, and Sunday too, to just go and be and do things I like to do. I found that during the first 20 minutes in the car, alone, I had the realization that through all of the chaos of being a mom of a two year old, and just being busy now a days, I hadn’t really taken the time to “be” with this new little one. I hadn’t talked to it yet. From the day I found out I was pregnant with Jonah, it was all I could think of. I was always rubbing my belly and telling him things, narrating what song was on the radio for him, or just telling him how excited I was to feel him move. I felt sad that I hadn’t done this yet with kid # 2. Of course it makes sense that things are busy, and that being only 5 weeks I still have plenty of time to do these things, but I couldn’t help but feel some of my own childhood sensitivities about being the second child. All of this might be a big pregnancy hormone induced, overreaction, but I felt a special connection with this little one. I felt like saying to it, and I did, we are going to get each other. We will have a special connection. We are both second children, and I fell close to you in that.

So there you have it, these are some of the things going on. We are also desperately going through names in which Carlos and I cannot agree on to save our lives. But thankfully, we have plenty of time. Jonah just had his 2 year photos taken by a good friend of ours, Elizabeth Thompson. If anyone needs photography she is outstanding. Will post these pics soon.

-Alli

Peculiar Graces: Chest

In Jonah, Peculiar Graces, Uncategorized on 7 June 2008 at 7:15 AM

Friends,

When I was younger and had no wife and no child, no girlfriend, no job, no prospects, I sometimes imagined what it would be like to be a dad. After lamenting for a little while, since being a dad seems to entail the rest of that list, I imagined that probably one of the best parts of being a dad was letting your son or daughter sleep on your chest, while you, too, slept. I imagined this being such a good part of being a dad in part, I think, because of the blurry memories I had of sleeping on my own dad’s chest.

Lately, rather than put him down in his bed for his morning nap, I have put Jonah on my chest. We sleep together on a reclining chair, his baby snores putting me to sleep, his little fist clutching a snag of my T-shirt.

Let me tell you, it is every bit as good, even better, than I’d imagined. At times I reflect that I have come through all kinds of painful things, had to endure years of things I won’t talk about here, but things that are nonetheless very painful. Then, sometimes, especially when I am lying down with Jonah and he’s sleeping on my chest, I am aware that all that past pain was worth it, that I would do it all again in a second, if it meant that I could arrive again at getting to be Jonah’s dad. What a gift he is.

Carlos

Peculiar Graces: Dark, Dark Nights

In Allison, Connected, Jonah, Myth, Peculiar Graces, Pittsburgh, Uncategorized on 30 October 2007 at 9:40 PM

The hardest thing I have ever known is to become a parent. Fifteen years ago I became a high schooler; that was pretty hard. Then came college, which was harder; but then, after a while, if I’m honest with you, it got easy. After graduation, becoming a teacher was hard, too, but eventually it was manageable. Then Alli and I married, and I turned into a husband: Wow—now that’s still very, very hard. But Parent, being the parent, being the dad, being so powerlessly in love with this vulnerable, crying, helpless, beautiful, loud need wrapped in personhood…I mean, it’s just the hardest thing I have ever imagined, and the hardest thing I have ever done.

I sit back to reflect on it for a moment, in order to come up with the words, with the images, to prove to you by way of metaphor that I’m telling the truth, to show you, to make you aware in a way that is just right, in a way that would explain it perfectly, clearly, even for those of you who aren’t parents yet. I reflect on just how hard it is. I think of the nights, of the loneliness of night when no one is around but the three of us, darkness everywhere and a hungry baby. I want to make you understand. But my arms dangle, and they hang—limply—at my sides. They become numb. I am tired. My shoulders hurt. I find I can’t even type the words to describe it. And anyway I am wordless for it, unable to describe anything this hard, and so typing wouldn’t do any good anyhow. And yet, here they are: the words have appeared. Somehow the words are brought to the page.

Maybe that is how I feel.

Sure, of course, I love him. His smells are everywhere in the house. On my hands. On my shirt. In the living room. In the kitchen near his baby’s bottles and baby’s bath and baby’s towel. They are there when I do the dishes, and when the laundry is folded by the couch. I have never been more aware of my gratitude, or more conscious of my love, or closer to the belief that my love is a thing in my chest, something I could take out and show to him if he asked to see it, its weight and size, its rounded edges, the hardness and softness of it at the same time, its willingness to sacrifice or change shape at his will, for his safety, for his pleasure.

Or maybe I believe that my love is my chest itself, and its heaving is proof enough.

Several days ago he gave out his first social smile—to me. He looked me in the eye as I sat down next to Alli on the couch, who was holding him. I had put my finger in his hand—a cheap trick to make myself feel loved, really, since it’s a reflex for him to grab onto me—and he turned his head to see me. He looked, and he looked, and then he gave a sign of recognition. Something in his face changed as if to say, You. And, in a moment, he smiled. He held it for about seven seconds. He was smiling at me, right at my face. This was not gas, or poop. This was us. You could not talk about the energy and warmth I felt throughout my body when it happened, since really it is unspeakable. I love my son. You know that, and I know that, and there is no question about the matter.

Still, my son suffers. He has colic, or something like it, and we know this because every night he cries and he cries and he cries. This—watching him cry without end—this is pain I have never felt, every night.

It is pain I have never seen before either, because even in marriage, in this relationship we call our most intimate, even here with my wife, both of us have had the decency to hide some of our pain from the other.

But this one, this Jonah, he cries and he cries, and he continues to cry, and sometimes there is no consoling him.

I walk around with him, and I hold him to me, but he pushes away. So I bounce him, up and down, up and down, but he waves his arms and he kicks his legs. Then, because the walking around hasn’t worked, I sit down with him, but he writhes, and he wiggles, back and forth, arching his back, kicking his legs some more. I stand up again, and I hold him up and out, so he’s facing the world. Maybe something out there will calm him, yes—but his eyes fill with terror, and he holds his arms out as though he wants to feel more secure.

So I turn him around to face my chest, but he presses his face into my shirt, shaking his head back and forth, rubbing his face against me, pushing his face deeper and deeper into my chest, and I feel the heat from his face, that hot breath leaving his mouth, the sobs, the air that leaves his body like desperation, and all the time the voice, the pain, those high-pitched notes that carry through the rooms of our house, through my head and down my back, into my stomach and legs, Dad, help me, I hurt, I hurt, I need help, please help me. He hides nothing. He grieves everything. He has been born into this world with a mountain of pain, and he is honest enough to let it show. And I can’t do anything, Jonah. I can’t do anything at all. What can I do? I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried it all.

Now metaphors are not good ways, I know, to establish something as a fact. Just because this something is like that other thing does not mean that either is true, I am aware. So please do not misunderstand me.

Still, I am about to make a metaphor, but by no means do I believe that the likeness between the two makes one of them any truer. However, if the facts of the matter are true, and if the likeness is right, then metaphors are very good teachers, are they not?

The work of metaphors, then, is to clarify the truth, not to establish it. I understand this—let that be known.

A few nights ago, Jonah was crying. Alli, who wakes up with him early every morning, was pooped by now, and rightfully so, for she is this family’s anchor, its strength. She gives too much, which is what mothers by nature do. Mothers might be the most powerful force in nature, and Alli is no exception. By now, though, she had worked beyond her ability, and so I had sent her off to sleep.

It was now just we two, Jonah and Dad, and the dark, and the sounds he was making long into the night.

I held him in my arms.

He cried.

I bounced him.

He cried.

I moved him to face the world.

He cried.

I moved him to face my chest.

He cried.

He was hiding nothing. He was grieving everything. He had a mountain of pain to carry, and he was being honest with me, letting it show.

And I couldn’t do anything.

So I began to whisper very softly into his ear, Jonah, I’m here with you. This is me, it’s your dad. I’m here. I’m right here. Jonah, do you hear me? Jonah, I’m here.

We walked around and around the kitchen, because at night it’s the darkest room of the house, and darkness brings sleep—it says so in all the baby books. Here we were, in the darkness of night, around and around and around the kitchen, around and around for a long time, and he’s crying like always, and I’m whispering to him, I know, son. I know. It’s so hard. It’s so so hard. But here I am. Here I am with you.

Did I think he could understand me? And if he could understand me, could he hear me over his cries? I suppose part of me hoped he would. I held him close to me, and still he kept crying.

And for a moment, I will tell you, because this is the truth I believe in, and this, you might have guessed, is the metaphor I was working up to: I understood the reason for Christ. I understood that I would give anything to help my son, that I would give up all my possessions, all my relationships, and even give up my own existence, if only Jonah could be made to have what he needed. I would do anything to climb down through my years of knowing and experience, and I would join him in his babyness, and I would take it all onto me, because I want him to experience relief.

When he suffers, I suffer. But I would suffer all the more if only his suffering would stop.

This understanding came in a moment, and then, in a moment again, it was gone.

I know: Not everyone who will read this believes in the same truth claims that I do, and so I do not want to offend. Please, if you want to, consider it a nice metaphor, a silly way for me to cling to hope in the midst of hopelessness, a foolishness, a game, or a way for me to deceive myself into believing that existence makes sense; in short—call it a pretty form of denial.

But, again, if the truth of the world is that Jesus somehow offers us relief, that in the midst of all this suffering, in the midst of all these cries—there is hope, that somehow by this offering we are able to connect, and to receive grace, to reconcile one to another and to God in heaven, and finally to live without alienation, and if there is in fact a God who wants to use this universe to demonstrate his love for creation, then this parenthood, this being the dad, this hardest best thing—has made itself to me a picture of God’s love which illuminates truth beyond my wildest imaginations. And for a moment I see the love, I understand the love, and I feel the love—all the love in the universe which surrounds me, and surrounds you, and surrounds us all. And my heart grows big with thanks.

Peculiar Graces: Twenty-Thousand Roads I Went Down, Down, Down, and They All Led Me Straight Back Home to You

In Allison, Jonah, Peculiar Graces, Pitt, Pittsburgh, Uncategorized on 10 September 2007 at 3:44 PM

We are home. And we want to say thank you. Thank you, all you people who wrote to us and called us, to offer your friendship and support and love: for three days Alli and I saw only one another, and nurses, and doctors, and thermometers, and machines that go Ping!, but, for all that isolation, still we felt surrounded, and we felt your care, and your concern, and your happiness; that is to say, you have been with us nonetheless, and we are grateful. Every five or ten minutes, it seemed, there was a new little note to read, or another voicemail to hear, and man, I can’t tell you how good it felt to know you were thinking of us.

Thank you, all you who came to our house, while we were still in the hospital, to give us meals—we found them in our fridge when we got home (which means now we’re changing the location of our “secret” key), and we can’t wait to eat.

Thank you, all you who walked our dogs, those poor, pitiful creatures whom we used to call The Kids, and now whom we just call The Dogs.

Thank you to whoever washed our dishes. That was an enormous help.

Thank you, Lisa, for making the banner.

Thank you, Jillian and Hillary, for the card and the flowers.

I named this blog thing Peculiar Graces. That is not a secret. You see the title above. But let me tell you a little about it, so I can make my point. It’s a phrase from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, one which is very beautiful. Adam and Eve are in the Garden, still innocent. It’s the morning, and Adam has just woken up. He looks at Eve, who is still sleeping, and having bad dreams. Adam, whose sleep was “airy light,” has been taking in the glory of the morning, which brought him all kinds of wonder, but

…So much the more
His wonder was to find unawakened Eve
With tresses discomposed and glowing cheek
As through unquiet rest. He on his side
Leaning half-raised with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamored and beheld
Beauty which whether waking or asleep
Shot forth peculiar graces.

And so I want to tell you: this, by those words, feels like my new life. I am surrounded by peculiar graces everywhere. By Alli’s face during labor, every time she pushed, every time she bore down—that sad and pretty pain, how awful, how gracious, how vulnerable—and her face seemed at once to rule the world and to beg me for help. By bringing her food and water and everything else she asks for. By lack of sleep. By watching Alli nurse our son. By hearing him moan when he’s cold. By letting him suck the tip of my nose because he’s rooting, and Alli is on her way. By watching him sleep.

In just three days, in only these past three days—I have been told one thousand secrets. They are secrets now that seem I have known forever, secrets I wish I could tell to everybody. They are peculiar graces shot forth: they began when I watched Alli’s face in delivery—when I understood all of existence, when I understood Adam watching Eve—and they move forward into all those years I cannot see now, but which I feel every time I hold my son.

Please, if you are in town, come visit us. If you aren’t in town, come anyway. I want to show him to you, and I want to tell you everything I have ever known: This is my son. This is my son. This is my son.

Peculiar Graces: So Now Then

In Allison, Jonah, Peculiar Graces, Pittsburgh, Uncategorized on 8 September 2007 at 10:03 AM

He has arrived. Alli pushed for about an hour, and he came out crying right away. Six pounds, six ounces, and hairy like a monkey: a true Delgado.

More soon.

Love to you.

Peculiar Graces: Two Poems for Right Now

In Allison, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jonah, Peculiar Graces, Rudyard Kipling, Uncategorized on 8 September 2007 at 4:34 AM


We Were Very Tired, We Were Very Merry

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry—
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.


We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, ‘Good morrow, mother!’ to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, ‘God bless you!’ for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

If
by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master,
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Peculiar Graces: Here We Are Now. In the Thick.

In Allison, Jonah, Peculiar Graces, Pittsburgh, Uncategorized on 8 September 2007 at 1:01 AM


Friends,

It is 5AM. We have been in the hospital now for three hours. Alli has been given her epidural, and now feels, she says, like she’s sitting in a bowl of soup. Everything is going smoothly. By everyone’s best guess, Jonah should arrive around noon, or maybe a little later, today.

We’ve been up all night. We even went to a party last night—of a bunch of MFA kids, at Chuck’s house (that’s our fearless leader). Alli was having contractions the whole time, and I had this stupid piece of paper, covered in times, keeping track of her contractions. Every time she had one, she nudged my arm, then, for about a minute, she did not say a word—because contractions, in case you didn’t know, really hurt.

So then we left the party, and drove home—but every time I drove over a bump, Alli was ready to divorce me. When we got home, we watched some TV. A few hours later, the contractions were heavy and regular and full of fight, so we came here. They wheeled her upstairs, and now I have this uncomfy couch-bed-thingy to sleep on, while she sleeps on her side in the hospital bed. She’s not uncomfy, though, because she still feels like she’s sitting in soup.

Our midwife, Randi, isn’t on call right now, but maybe by later this morning, she will be. We hope so—we really want her around for this.

More soon. Sleep now.

Love to you.

Carlos & Alli

Peculiar Graces: False Alarm or Maybe Not

In Allison, Jonah, Peculiar Graces, Pittsburgh, Uncategorized on 7 September 2007 at 8:27 AM


Friends,

Alli has had some Maybe Signs this morning—that is, signs of Maybe We’re Going Into Labor Now—and we have been timing contractions, and we’re still in the Maybe Boat: we can’t tell one way or the other whether we are actually beginning the thick of it soon. Of course, if we do, we will say so.

Love to you.

Carlos & Alli