I finished the dresser. The main body took two coats of primer and three coats of paint. The yellow on top took four or five coats (over ugly laminate that didn’t give in much to sanding). I worked in the short painting sessions over several days, finding time right before picking the kid up from school or during his “quiet time” (which is sometimes naptime).
It’s not a work of art. Three drawers have chipped corners. And I’m not good at taking pictures (I couldn’t figure out how to compensate for the lack of sunlight). But I started the story of the dresser and wanted to finish it. I like how the white and yellow worked out. I like that I figured out how to make use of this thing we found on the street.
The room that could be the baby’s, the one above, is still spare. I’ve had some time, though, to put potential wall decals, bedding, and a few swaddling blankets into online shopping carts. We also decided to buy a new changing table so there’s one less heavy object to buy and bring into the house later. It remains in its box, next to the disassembled crib, so we can return it if necessary.
I’m edgy and nervous. I typically drink three or four cups of coffee a day, but lately, I find my second cup in the late afternoon, half drank and cold, wherever I’d left it hours before. My body is more vulnerable to the caffeine; it makes my heart beat too quickly.
I’ve asked our social worker if she’s had any update or sign of latest intentions from the prospective birth mom, but she has not responded to me yet, days later. I check email hourly, hoping for a signal. To wrest myself out of the distracted loop of refreshing my web browser, playing repetitive games with Miles, and pacing, I’ve revisited old to-do lists and made some new ones. You could call it nesting.
A few months ago, I read about making compost bins out of trash cans in The Urban Homestead. Our compost bin out near the garden is now frozen and full. Butternut squash innards, coffee grinds, mushroom stems, and egg shells are spreading across the ground nearby. Inside, our counter was being overtaken by compost scraps. Yesterday’s warmer weather inspired me to finally lug our extra 32-gallon rubber can onto the porch to make a second outdoor compost bin. It felt really good to half-drill, half-punch dozens of holes through the thick plastic while Miles played without gloves in the melting snow. Now we have a back-up compost bin right outside our kitchen door.
This weekend I also spent time on my hands and knees removing caulk in the bathroom. The man at the hardware store guesses mold has taken over because someone mistakenly used latex caulk on the bathtub instead of the more mold-resistant silicone. I had decided to ignore it or eventually hire someone to do it, but my nervous energy compelled me to tackle it myself. I need tasks with steps that lead to an end. I need to take my own actions rather than waiting for something to happen.
In taking on these projects, I’m also forcing myself to climb back onto the horse I promised myself I’d ride when we moved here. (I’m awful with metaphor, but it feels like I’m physically climbing back on to something foreign to me when I do these kinds of projects.) I’ve never been very handy, but in recent years it’s bothered me that I’m not more self reliant when it comes to taking care of our home. I’m not innately drawn to this kind of labor (being gay and not conventionally man-like clearly has something to do with it), but I decided it’s important not to relegate basic home maintenance to expert men figures. I wanted to move to this part of the world in part so we could afford a quirky old house with lots of space, and I could learn some practical things.
The old caulk was spread everywhere around the bathtub and has already taken several hours of scraping. It’s getting close though. It’s utterly satisfying to peel away caulk and find more mold underneath. With a little help from bleach and water, it will die now. My hands are raw and cracking, but I really like this work. It absorbs me, and I forget the uncertainty hanging over us.
Twice before we waited for a potential adoption, and both times I also felt a surge of instinct to get our home ready, a frenzy to cross off a long list of lingering to-do’s that would make our space better. I imagine this mostly stems from a sense that soon I could have much less time to take care of these things. Once I enter the timeless sludge of feeding a newborn every two hours, I want to feel like everything else around me is settled, clean, and cozy.
Before the first potential adoption, I didn’t have much time to get stuff done around our old apartment. We’ d been officially waiting to adopt for only three months when we got a call that a woman had just given birth and wanted us to become the parents of her baby boy. After spending a week taking care of her baby in a NICU in another state, the mother changed her mind. I had more time for nesting after that, before Miles came home.
This third time of waiting, we will not see the baby until after the mother makes her final decision, which will be only two or three days after the birth of the child. So it feels different. The stakes are lower. We will not hold, feed, and bond with a baby only to find out he’s not ours. We are, of course, spending lots of time imagining this baby and our life with him, but so far I don’t think it will be nearly as difficult if things don’t work out.
I am trying my best to live with lots of hope and lots of uncertainty. Under these circumstances, how do we mentally and physically prepare to become parents to a second child? How do we prepare ourselves to have a newborn baby in our midst once again? How do we plan for the year ahead of us?
There are two very different futures standing in front of us. I very much want one of them to work out, but I’m getting more and more anxious simply to know which future is ours.