Over the course of the last decade, only twice did we spend the Fourth of July together in the States — in 2013, between our first two overseas assignments in the Foreign Service, and again five years later. We were also stateside in 2016, but spent the holiday apart, S marking the occasion with her family in New England while D took in a memorable Independence Day celebration in a small Colorado town. Last year July caught us on opposite sides of the globe from one another; the other years we were together but far away from home, at various postings in Africa and Europe.
Posts tagged ‘parenthood’
“What do you want to be called when I have babies?” Munchkin, age 6, inquired recently. It was not an entirely unreasonable question. Munchkin refers to D’s parents by the Russian babushka and dedushka. S’s dad was quick to establish himself as zaide. S’s mom, meanwhile, considered and discarded several potential monikers before settling on nana. Clearly, Munchkin reasoned, there is quite a lot of flexibility and variety of options on this point. The question, nevertheless, was a bit of shock, coming as it did out of the blue and especially once it was followed by his repeated pronouncement, “I can’t wait to have babies!”
It is commonly said that all good things come to an end, as indeed all things must. Some come to an end a bit more painfully than others. After spending nearly four weeks with us, S’s mom began her long return journey to Maine yesterday, but it wasn’t her departure in and of itself that left our daughter inconsolable. Rather, Junebug spent a good part of the day in tears because S’s mom took our beloved dog with her.
Sweet and sensitive, but also fierce and strongly opinionated, at times overly melodramatic despite being emotionally mature for her age, and always bubbly and precocious, Junebug, whose third birthday passed this week, is at a developmental crossroads. She has held on to her baby tendencies far longer than Munchkin had, but she also routinely surprises us with the depth of her emotional understanding and reasoning, which is far beyond what Munchkin could muster at this age.
This is the first year that we could tell that Munchkin was really looking forward to summer vacation. He had always liked school and was enjoying his year in kindergarten until the pandemic hit. What was evident before – and became crystal clear during the coronavirus lockdown – is that he enjoyed the social aspect of school considerably more than academics. After in-person classes were suspended, sustaining his interest in school became a daily struggle, even though he maintained his motivation to learn how to read.
We just passed one hundred days of rupture. A handful of countries – China, Italy, South Korea, to name a few – faced the pandemic sooner, but for most of the rest of us mid-March marks the breaking point of lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and other social distancing and virus containment measures. Speaking from experience and judging by our social media feeds, the last three months have fueled a wide array of personal obsessions as we all struggled to adapt to this new normal.
In the beginning, we were thrilled simply to be able to set foot outside and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Our daughter, not yet three and clearly traumatized by the experience of being personally told by a stern security guard that she was not allowed to go outside in Manila, would remind us first thing each morning that “in Sedona we go hiking every day.” First came the red rock hikes, then the nearby state parks. Having spent a few months in Sedona, we are now beginning to feel like locals, frequenting off-the-beaten-path creek spots and swimming holes and venturing up north to explore the starkly different scenery around Flagstaff.
Our serious interest in and passion for photography notwithstanding, we are and will always remain amateur photographers. We both have taken photography classes and understand the basic mechanics of manual photography, but frequently default to the automatic settings on our cameras and deploy only a small fraction of their sophisticated features. Similarly, D does some light post-processing – cropping mainly – when he sorts our photos, but he barely knows Photoshop basics and has never opened Lightroom or any of the dozen other photo editing programs that enable pros to correct and enhance their raw images.
This weekend marks the midway point of S’s first Foreign Service tour. A year has now elapsed since her arrival in the Philippines, though given all that has happened in the intervening months, last June seems a decade ago. Needless to say, marking the occasion in Arizona is not something we could have anticipated. So much of this year has been defined by rupture.