The child in question, with bonus Christmas tree background

I really wish I could somehow activate some sort of scratch ‘n’ sniff widget on my blog because you would not believe how fragrant and Christmas-y it smells where I am right now. I’m sitting in the mostly-dark in my office with laptop and our Christmas tree, which we decorated in here partially because it is the only room in our house with a big window facing the front of the house, and partially because it has doors we can close to protect the tree from grabby little hands. It’s been a nice weekend — tree decorating, lovely service at church this morning, Christmas shopping this afternoon — and I keep swinging wildly between emotional extremes, so grateful and happy for what we have, and so immeasurably sad about what happened in Connecticut on Friday. I feel like I’m sadder now than I would have been before I had Ellie in my life, and I don’t want to believe that’s true, because EVERYONE is heartbroken by this and it’s not like parents have a special claim on grief (certainly not when they’re grieving a loss that really belongs to someone else) but I think it’s maybe a case of what I saw someone post on Twitter, that I’m more aware now than I was before about how just a few years is simply not enough of a life. I don’t know. I’m probably not being very eloquent here. My reaction feels a little strange and unfamiliar to me, like it is coming not just from Lauren, but also Lauren (Who Is Someone’s Parent). I’ve cried a lot since Friday.

We had a new babysitter come over for a few hours today so we could finish up our Christmas shopping. There is nothing that makes me feel quite as much of a fraud as a new babysitter does. It always feels slightly surreal to be saying this is our house, this is my child, this is how you care for my child, here are the emergency contact numbers, here is her snack, we’ll be home by 5:00, call me if you have any questions at all. I don’t get carded at the liquor store anymore (I can’t remember the last time that happened, actually) and last week I asked our other babysitter how school was that day, which is the sort of question you only ask when you’ve been out of school for a decade or more. Then I saw what she was wearing and I ALMOST told her that I had a pair of that kind of shoes the first time they were in style (… twenty years ago) but I caught myself just in time. A few minutes ago I made an impassioned comment to Mike about an episode from the third season of The Fresh Beat Band and I feel betrayed by this whole Elmo/Kevin Clash scandal and I scoured the whole internet to find a pair of specific pajamas for Ellie for Christmas, so I’m pretty deep in the trenches here, as it were, and it’s not that I MIND feeling older, or defining myself as a parent, exactly. It’s more like this role is a new pair of jeans I’m still working on breaking in, or like I cut all my hair off and keep running my fingers through it in the shower and feeling surprised.