El Guapo

My family has this longstanding movie quote from The Three Amigos that we use with embarrassing frequency:  “We all have our El Guapos.  Yours just happens to be the real El Guapo…”    It is pertinent in a surprising number of conversations.

I love winter and snow and bundling up, but this one has gotten to me a little.  I’ve been maintaining my optimism by focusing on the park we can enjoy once the weather breaks.  Friday was so lovely and the lot of us (Tim plus me plus three kiddos) loaded up to go play for an hour at the end of the day.  It was marvelous to be outside in the sunshine!  The boys were running, the baby was babbling happily in the stroller, and I was having an alarming number of Braxton Hicks contractions.

They lasted a few hours until I went to bed (at 8pm, no less) and stopped once I was resting.  I had a few when I got out of bed the next morning, but then they went back to normal, which is having a few each day since the beginning of my second trimester.  My midwife isn’t freaked out and I keep hearing it’s more common with second pregnancies to have them throughout.  I carry two babies all day and do a lot of bending over and picking up at nap times, which is usually the trigger.  I make sure I’m drinking enough water and squatting when possible and then don’t freak out when my belly is tired and contracting by the evening time, especially with Tim gone.

In the last few weeks they have gotten more frequent (every time I am in the car or sitting at the dining room table) which makes me feel a little nervous about bed rest or an early baby.  Our first trip to the park solidified that worry and made me realize that hauling the stroller, two babies and a toddler to the park is probably not going to be in the cards for me until after I have this baby in two months.  I have a not too distant memory of this particular El Guapo, which is the reality that my body can’t grow a human and do the things my non pregnant self might be able to do.

As a larger issue, as usual, my El Guapo is disappointment.  I was really clinging to the ever approaching Springtime and park trips to keep me going and that’s not happening.  I feel large and awkward and not pretty (hello, third trimester) and now I am lacking an escape within walking distance.  Time to game plan the fence project and back yard ideas that will make it a place we want to be instead.  Thanks to my Mom for being such a game plan person and helping me get started with ideas to sidetrack me from being a hormonal, frustrated mess yesterday.

Tim’s current El Guapo is not feeling settled, which is a cyclic thing for him.  His life is split between two places, so it’s a natural consequence of the lifestyle even if it his routine at this point.  He also doesn’t feel settled because we don’t have much of a sense of community here.  We didn’t move here to find like minded people (we would have just stayed in Bloomington).  We moved here because we wanted to be closer to our families while our kids were babies, both for our sake and theirs.

Despite this, the lack of community connection is harder than we thought it would be, especially for Tim.  The way to find community is to have the discipline to commit to things, which isn’t a personality strength of his to begin with.  Add this to the difficulty of mustering extra energy to use for socializing when he has really limited time here for spending with Silas, doing grad work, or starting small projects. It just ain’t easy.

Feeling settled is such a precarious state, isn’t it?  It seems like we are always oscillating between transition mode and monotony.  When we are focused too much on what’s coming next (work, where we live, what we want), it’s hard to feel connected where we are.  When we are in transition, we long for the days when things are comfortable and we know what to expect, but when we get into that routine, it isn’t long before we feel the hum drum and start feeling the familiar unrest of wanting something else again. In a perfect world, the transitions are short and the monotony inspires quick and satisfying changes.  In real life, the bulk of our time is spent in one or the other, completely missing the window of long term contentment with where we are.

So what’s the answer?  Well, the answer we are going with today is to be disciplined enough to create community and to focus on the present moment (or two hour window before the next nap) and put everything else aside.  Life feels pretty hectic right now, but it’s what we have.  I am excited for Tim’s grad work to be drawing to a close so that he can feel like he has more time and energy to spend on things that make him feel connected and happy where we are instead of where we wish we were.

As it happens, he just finished painting the office.  Go, Timmy!  Nap time is starting, which is our cue to snuggle on the couch and watch White Collar while we fold two loads of clothes.  Hope you guys are wrapping up the weekend in a happy way.


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