A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: April 2015

Five Second Rule

My little man increasingly enjoys feeding himself.  Recently I gave him a bowl containing a handful of Cheerios; I’m told the stable of every toddler finger food.  Standing at the coffee table with his bowl in front, he grabs small handfuls of his snack and places it on the table.  Once the crispy O’s were resting in their piles, he proceeds to grab smaller amounts to return to his bowl.  When he was satisfied with his endeavor, one by one he intensely watches each O he drops on the floor; this will be the apparatus from which he eats.  With no witnesses, I figure there is nothing on the ground that will kill him, so I smile and watch him jam his fists of cereal against his mouth.

A bit later as I read him a book I like, but inspires apathy within him, he decides the elephants should partake.  Pushing uneaten remnants against the page as if to say, “Don’t they like Cheerios too, Mommy?”  Most likely so, Little Man, most likely so…

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A Rose By Any Other Name

My little man is one, and with it I reflect on the year when time stood still and elapsed in seconds simultaneously.  Home full-time with my son has been one of extremes, leaving nothing in the middle.  Distinct and sometimes surprising moments of highs that seem more like gestures or whispers of events so commonplace that without effort would be buried in his future.

There are the moments that have long since passed, never to return.  In the hospital I remember the way his movements in my arms mirrored this movements in my belly; it made the transition to his life in the outside world less abrupt, and my longing for those internal motions less severe.  I miss his rooting.  I miss his bright, angry red face so upset that it froze with sadness, producing no tears or sound.  This probably makes me a terrible person.  I miss the way he periodically stretched in my arms in mid slumber while I held him, so content afterward that my limbs felt gratified.  Now I can only watch it from afar.  The initial explorations of food; his gentle tapping on our limbs and pleading glances requesting a sample of whatever food my husband or I were eating.  And, his first assertions of preference; shaking his head, “No,” mostly meaning just that, but sometimes the gesture was just proof that he had the capacity for an opinion.  Now the uncertainty is gone as he consistently pronounces his negation on any given event he wishes to cease.

There are increasingly rare moments like of him sleeping on me, sprawled with his mouth open and small tongue just poking through.  Periodically, his lips engaging in phantom sucking, reminiscent of his love for the pacifier he long since consciously forgot.

Some of the moments were even more fleeting, as when my son was first learning to feed himself.  In quiet rapture I’d sit as he poked at his food before bending over to retrieve whatever tasty morsel with his mouth.  It wasn’t long before he consistently used his fingers like the growing boy he is.

Then there are those sweet times of him distressingly crawling with his rapid slaps on our wood floors in search of me, repeating, “Mmm…Mmmeh…Mmmeh…Meh-meh…” because he cannot say “Mommy” just yet.  My yearning for these sounds probably also makes me a terrible person.

And, there are the wonderfully grotesque baby kisses.  Of course, there are his sparsely toothed smiles that capture what pure joy must be.  Mr. Man has many smiles, but a favorite is the one stretching across his face while I smatter small kisses on his neck.  I’ll never know if this smile is due to receiving affection or from his intense ticklishness, but I love it just the same.

Then there is the laughter; there need not be a reason; all of his laughter stands alone as the pinnacle of any day.

Some moments are so routine that it takes effort to value them each time they occur.  It is impossible of me to grow tired of watching my son independently playing on the floor, studying his world with every object thrust in his mouth.  His pleading looks enlisting me to play once he grows weary of his current object .  I sit on the floor and he crawls on me, the precursor of a hug.  His interference with my strength training exercises, as though for him it is code for, “Tackle!”  His glee with my singing; he must be the only person to inhabit the Earth who appreciates it.  The realization that I may never go to the restroom alone again, forever to wipe with little hands resting on my knee.  I have countless images of loud approaching slapping hands before small eyes and a huge, happy mouth appear through a cracked door that is seconds from flinging open with one mighty effort.  His delight in most foods.  His curiosity with everything.  He almost walks independently now, so I savor those speedy, determined pushes of the walker I thought he would never use.  I love his gentle pads up my leg to a standing position.  My little man crawling away from me when I attempt to wipe the streams of snot that periodically coat his upper lip.

Or the anomalies that I almost miss in the moment…almost.  Times when I’m holding him as he is ready for a nap.  He lays his head on my chest with outstretched arms, clinging to whatever article of clothing I happen to be wearing at the time.

The surprising elation my son has for my father that I never expected, and the looks they exchange.  It’s a secret language they both share.

All those good times far outweigh the bad, but the lows can have the emotional intensity of labor.  In the moment feeling endless, consumed with guilt for not singing praises of every aspect and experience of this year.  Reminded that love is like that:  happiness, sadness, growth.

And, the award goes to…

Other mothers must be jealous of my deft skill at parenting a toddler.  My little man decides to keep me company as I brush my teeth one evening, which is no surprise as he never misses an opportunity to cruise any restroom.  I’m not quite sure what that indicates, but I digress.  Of course, I take no precautions.  Clearly, I have a tidy and civilized offspring who came out of the womb adhering to appropriate social conventions and only the finest hygienic practices.

I continue to blissfully attend to arguably the highlight of my face with reckless abandon, casually glancing at my husband’s child who at this point is giddily dunking both hands in the toilet.  I would like to say that my cat-like reflexes bounded across our restroom, circumventing any contamination of residual fecal matter on his delicate hands.  I’d like to say that.

But, alas, with hands plunged in as far as someone who can barely see over the toilet seat can, my explorer looks up at me with eyes wide as if to say, “Mommy, whenever did we install such a luxurious pool in our homestead?”

So, with a billboard sized display of, “Parenting Fail,” scrolling across our stark white walls, I scoop him up and pray to a God I don’t believe in that this be the one time he hesitates before cramming all of his digits inside his perfect little mouth.  Fortunately, the universe cuts me a break, and perhaps my child will not succumb to whatever horrible life threatening disease that inhabits our poorly maintained toilet this evening.  With the crisis freshly avoided I contemplate the appropriate alibi should my husband decide that very moment is the perfect time for his evening shower.

Puffer Fish

My beautiful little boy has a face that makes my heart swell so large with continuous love that my mere imitation of his expressions can only pull a teaspoon of relief out of my reservoir.  I cannot say if he demonstrates his pouty bottom lip and puffed out cheeks in ponderous contemplation or because he knows how much his mommy worships this particular expression.

The Edge of Reason

I wonder whose brain my son’s will resemble.  Understandably he will become his own person, but will he excel with ease academically like his father, or will he encounter years of struggle as I did?  Illiterate through the fourth grade and a poor reader for decades after, I wonder if my son inherited my deficits.  Similar to my experience with reading, I spent my afternoons meeting with teachers in order to minimally understand mathematics.  Unnecessary embarrassment prevented me from achieving success in remedial classes; I opted for mediocrity at best in regular ones.  This among other obstacles helped form who I am and the approach I take to pushing through barriers.  I cannot say that every outcome resulted in pride for myself and loved ones; much of the time failure and disappointment were more reliable expectations.  Now on the other end of such obstacles I consider the path I wish for my son.

It seems a trap of parenthood is envisioning the great future of offspring, living out unrealized dreams and ambitions.  Parents can wish for the elements of greatness:  intelligence, charm, perseverance; as though such traits magically manifest themselves in a being; as though outcomes are determined within our fibers in the absence of the external world’s influences.  Perhaps it’s an empathic fear of short-term pain taking up residence in the best piece of ourselves.

What to expect of my son?  I want for him the same character and strength as many parents over, but I don’t wish him happiness.  Rather I wish him things in my control that hopefully will provide for him moments of fulfillment and accomplishment.  I am not sure what equates a path to success or the components of him filling the shoes of a worthwhile member of society capable of leaving the world a better place with each step.  I’m not even sure where to start, except that I try to step with purpose, so the waves of life don’t wash away the entirety of my imprints.  But, I also don’t want my son to be forever reinforcing my foot’s outline behind me.  I want him to grow and learn, and maybe step further away from the water’s edge.

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