Frozen on the line

The thing that binds me to cloth diapering is the softness. Simply the cloaking of a newborn's fresh, fragile skin in the velvety touch of cotton instead of the crunch of plastic. I started, haphazardly, when Katrina was about 2 weeks old, lucky enough to have a diaper service. I have continued, off and on, for these 6 1/2 years.

I went out to the line today, and this 5 months of trial crystallized in those moments standing on the 3 feet of solid snow crust. The air glistened with little glints of frost blowing out of the low-hanging somber pine that stands just to the east of my clothesline. I breathed in the blue white of winter air and looked soberly at the line. Diapers frozen in time.

They hang out in the summer, breathing deep of sunshine and daisies. They hang out in fall, among the scarlet leaves and Jack Frost nights. They hang out in spring, coming in damp and soft as soft from the first gentle rains. Even in winter, they stand there like stiff witnesses to mother love and stubborn refusal to pay high prices.

Never before, though, have they been frozen to the line for 5 long months. Not through the birth of babies, or deaths of relatives, or fainting spells or cancer. Today they crunched under my fingers, hanging on with their frozen creases to the line they had hugged since October. I've often thought to get them down. But haven't trekked across the crust, wading through the soft deeps and breaking trail through the drift by the water pump. No need to. Who has time to cloth diaper when the laundry stands 6 loads deep just to keep us in clean clothes?

Truth be told, I didn't even hang them out myself. A friend did it for me, in the first trembling, wary cold of October, when Amy lay recovering from influenza and waiting for surgery on her tonsils. Before encephalomyelitis, before seizures, and comas, and spinal taps, and chronic brain inflammation. Hopeful days, when I thought it would be a week of wading through trial at most.

His long body has grown since the last time we wore these covers. He is fascinated, today, with the bright colors, the touch of the cotton, the sudden wetness when he lets loose. Hopefully it will be a nudge toward potty training for both of us, clinging so desperately to babyhood and other kinds of ease. The motivation will come from wetness for him, and stink and laundry woes for me. Yet...he afraid to fall in, like all little kids; I, afraid to fall out of this stage of life and into the next. The stage where I have no babies in my house. I don't recognize that type of living. I haven't ever lived it with Aaron. I don't know exactly how it will fit my skin.

So today we started again, this cloth diapering business. Pried the frozen diapers from the frozen line, and began anew something abandoned since those early days of October. Our lives look so drastically different in some ways, and so familiar in others.

We live with chronic pain for the moment. We live with stumbling, crossed eyes, fumbled words, headaches, occasionally vomit. Life is messy. Always has been. Is a little more now than usual. I am struck a little dumb realizing how still I've become in 5 months of suffering. I look around at my home, and see how I have maintained the central area, neat, functional, happy. Yet all around the edges the neglect crowds in: closets needing organization, laundry out of control, dirt on the baseboards, abandoned piles in the basement storage. Cloth diapers pails that sat empty for a long, long time.

So here we go again. Back into the swing. Hoping to sing while we do it.

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
"From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?
Let him who accuses God answer him!"

Then Job answered the LORD :
"I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—
twice, but I will say no more."

~ from Job 38 & 40 ~