Ode to Six Months

Oh, how I love this age.

The excitement of being able to follow a pointing finger. The thrill of having clean sheets flapped over your delicious little head. The shock of new flavors as you finally get to taste those things other people eat.

The sitting, the rocking on all fours trying to crawl, the babbling, the laughter, the unadulterated joy of bathtime, the more deliberate efforts at making needs known…and the cuteness. Oh, my the cuteness.

Ah, six months.

Even the hard bits are easy because this age is so wonderful. Six months was a welcome eye in the storm with Peanut that allowed me to appreciate him rather than constantly struggle to keep from drowning.

And Butter is just as delightful at six months, which reinforces how much I adore this age. He won’t play alone much, but he will sit on the kitchen floor and play with his dearest love—the metal colander—long enough for me to chop one vegetable. That’s more than I could chop for the first five months of his life. He doesn’t sleep well because he’s teething, but he’s awake a lot less than Peanut was through his teething year. Butter has such a temper, and its perfectly adorable because what he gets mad about, usually, is gravity. And what fixes is it cuddling me.

Sign me up, six months, for I’m willing to accept those terms.

Dear, sweet six months. No separation anxiety yet. No social frustrations yet. No struggle to individuate. Yet. No talking, no walking, no chasing the cat, no refusing to do what Mama asks, no hitting, no coloring the carpet, no whining, no demanding, no slamming doors. No nuances. Six months is just adorable, cooing, babbling, drooling, nuzzling infant perfection.

Gotta go. Teething means he’s up every hour all night the past two nights. Isn’t that adorable?

“The Unfinished”

It has taken several days for me to finish D.T. Max’s New Yorker article, biography of sorts, of David Foster Wallace’s unfinished novel The Pale King. The article is moving, and includes correspondence from Wallace to Franzen and DeLillo, and quite a bit from his wife, Karen Green, whose pain I cannot even fathom and would love more than anything to salve with…what I don’t know. Because it’s none of my business, but if I cry reading a biography what must she do living in it?

Aside from being a touching portrait of an intensely intelligent writer who wanted simply to make readers feel “less alone inside,” and who in that quest felt increasingly more alone (except in the sunshine that was his marriage…thank heaven for Karen Green, who from the article I gather made him feel more at home and comfortable in his own skin than, it seems, anything else could outside really great writing).

What compelled me yesterday, reading the final pages of Max’s article (I still haven’t read the new piece of fiction that follows—I can’t yet) was Wallace’s root idea for The Pale King, as he articulated it in a typed note amongst his papers: “Bliss—a second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious—likes on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom. Pay close attention to the most tedious things you can find…and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom.”

I think that technicolor bliss can probably come after any intense “almost kills you” period of intense focus on undesirable emotions (fear might work as well as boredom).  As melodramatic as I oft am, I know that the weeks of intense three-year-old battling, of taking each breath as though it might be the only thing that could keep me going, is part of what made yesterday, a gorgeous, sun-filled day of hiking and strawberries and camaraderie with Peanut, the second-by-second bliss it was.

It was not a perfect day. It was a perfect-as-human-existence-can-get-if-you-have-a-dollop-of-realism-adorning-the-top-of-your-daily-trifle day.  And I’ll take it.