A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Multiple Uses of a Toddler

Little Man occasionally likes to make himself useful to his mommy…when he isn’t interfering with me cooking dinner by clutching my legs in an effort to prevent himself from floating away…gravity is apparently a problem in my house…  The weather is turning cooler, and my skin is a barometer for the change.  The mere hint of altered leaves, and the largest organ of my body begins to flake and tickle despite my perpetual greasing efforts.

My son and I are sitting stacking blocks into towers, well attempting to anyway.  I announce that I am itchy.  It doesn’t matter where the impulse occurs, as my son will pull at my right leg and with shear grit lift the material of my pants as high as he can manage…which isn’t all that high, incidentally.  He is a terrible scratching apparatus, as his efforts are more of a sporadically placed light rub, but he revisits the same spot time and again that he envisions must be the chi for all of my experienced prickling.  When he is convinced my discomfort has ceased, he returns my pant leg to its proper place and resumes his building and demolition efforts.

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The Origins of Great Ventures

Every mother, neigh, every parent agrees on the greatest time of day…every day.  In fact, I predict any parent reading this post can already anticipate with complete accuracy that I am speaking of the hallowed nap time.  So sacred in every aspect, and always too short…even if it lasted twelve hours.

If I happen to be home for the entire day, sometimes I feel as though I wait for those blessed signs that my son is about to pass out from exhaustion.  I couldn’t describe the signs, for as a Mommy I am anointed with the vision of sleep whisperer.  How many times in his brief eighteen-months of external existence have I said to a peer or family member, “He’s tired,” met with the disbelieving grunt of a, “Really?”  Oh, yes, I can feel his sleepiness like a disruption in the force…kind of like a soiled diaper, but that, my friends, is for another post.  Sometimes I wonder if it makes me a terrible person that I take such glee from those initial moments of realization that Little Man is ready for sleepy time.

Then there are those first steps walking away from the closed door of my son’s room…OOO…What to do first?  Should I be productive, and actually clean the house?  Perhaps return calls and pay bills?  Maybe I’ll even complete another round of exercise while reading a couple more chapters in one of my books, followed by a lengthy shower.  But, these days Mr. Man’s naps have transitioned to once a day, and the break is a cruel tease of an hour.  So, what do I do with my precious hour?  I nurture my brain with another episode of Blue Bloods because there is always limited smut to watch on television when I actually have the opportunity to do so, and, of course, a helping of chocolate my son never lets me eat.  But, if I’m completely honest, I’ve never truly seen nap time as an opportunity to get things accomplished; instead, it is a time for me to sit back, eat something, and remind myself that having a child was a good idea.

Terms of Affection

My son and I have a game these days.  I ask him where his belly is; with huge smiles he lifts up his shirt and points to or pats his belly.  When finished he runs up to me, lifts my shirt and pats mine.  Often he pokes my belly button, but sometimes my growing belly gets a hug.  Little Man doesn’t necessarily understand what is happening, but he notices a change, and I think he senses there is something special about it.  The depth of what he suspects, but cannot fully understand drives him to take initiative approaching my increasing girth randomly throughout the day; gently patting and hugging it before resting his chin on me and looking up with a beaming smile.

He is actually quite sweet with younger children, albeit the younger children that surround him are not all that much of a divide from his birthday.  With his friend who is a month younger, I was surprised that they interact and play together; I always assumed exclusive parallel play at their age, but with these two, not the case.  I could watch them all day.  This friend of his can be rough; his pats bordering on excited aggression capable of leaving longer term welts, but my son rolls with the less than pleasant experiences without a notice.

Then there is the sweet little girl who is three months his junior.  She is only starting to walk, but endlessly enjoyed chasing my little man, and Little Man enjoys being chased.  It was obvious she was not the deft mover as he quite yet, so he would travel a short distance, stop, turn, and wait for his companion to gain some ground before charging off again.

Time will tell how my son will tolerate his baby sister.  He and I are very close, so sharing me might cause an issue.  But, I think to some of his sweet, touching moments with his peers or the ones when he exhibits patience and tolerance, and can’t help but feel excited anticipation with their future interactions.  My son is such a tender, loving soul.  It will do him good to expand his unconditional world just as his father and I have.

Pursuing a Diverse Diet of Fruit

This was not going to be my next blog topic, but I find myself, once again, perseverating on what to do with myself that doesn’t involve an eighteen-month-old appendage.

A bit of history, I was unemployed when I was pregnant, and kept myself busy with volunteering opportunities that were not all that engaging, but they engulfed time, and I had the freedom to waste my time as I saw fit.  Pregnancy was a type of limbo holding tank; the consumption of parenting unknown in every possible respect, and I drove myself crazy.  I decided that I would pursue part-time employment because that is what every mother who has the option should choose, right?  Because I wasn’t already working somewhere I loved, considering full-time work carried my personal judgment that I would be a terrible person if I made such a choice; we don’t need what would amount to my paltry income when staying at home was the more appropriate, noble choice.  Mind you, I don’t have such a judgment of other women who choose full-time work for any reason; perhaps it was because I was so ambivalent about having my own children for so long that choosing a role as primary caregiver would convince others and myself that I was invested.  Regardless, the choice was made, and finding someone willing to hire a pregnant woman even part-time was elusive, so I remained unemployed and the interesting positions available ceased to appear.

Time trudged; my son was born, and the first year of Mommying was spent with moment to moment things.  The gods of good social fortune blessed me with valuable friendships through that time, something I was hard pressed to find in the fifteen years I’ve been living here.  I organized a new mom social group and waited; for what I still can’t say.

Staying at home has a strange internal clock.  I took up this blog at a transition toward normalcy that I only vaguely understood, but craved it nonetheless.  No longer could I say there was a blur of infant tasks to accomplish that absorbed every ounce of brain power I possessed.  My little man was growing, and I eventually exhibited coherent thought that couldn’t be denied by anyone…mostly…as well as the ability to actually plan a dinner.  Yes, the times were changing.  My friends and I stopped meeting quite so frequently as they experienced similar personal drives.

I’ve written about it, but not as often as I consider it, probably because I actually have readers, and no one wants to read pages upon pages of self-important whining even if my struggle is the same struggle of so many Mommies over.

The core question is, “Who am I?”  In some respects my future is a blank slate, which is horrifying or at least unsettling despite the envy of some for the liberating possibilities, even if they aren’t entirely limitless.  It occurred to me, last night actually, that my personal endeavors outside of raising my wonderful little boy are not as vacant as I’ve managed to convince myself all this time, and it has been, and will likely continue to evolve as all dynamic things do.

I think part of the problem with how I’ve considered my pursuits are that I label them as needing to fulfill requirements I’ve made up, but have no real bearing on anything real.  For so much time I only considered my work legitimate if it adhered to a specific schedule outside the home and I was receiving monetary compensation for my toiling.  I guess if I decide to ever run for a political office, no one can say that I’m not an American…  But, if I stop minimizing my fairly recent accomplishments and look through a larger lens, I’ve managed to meet much of my need for independence while living an example that make me proud that I am a human with the capacity to help improve the world in my small way, as well as enjoy and challenge myself at the same time regardless of the lolls that inevitably transpire throughout this process.

As I said, things are ever evolving, but what I’m living is more than dreams; I’m managing to take risks and do things that are new and interesting, and I feel confident they will lead to somewhere unknown and unexpected down the road.  I’ve been talking around the particulars, but I think we are all friends or at least friendly acquaintances by now, so perhaps the specifics are prudent at this point.

Obviously I’m writing.  This blog has proved more popular than I ever envisioned it would be.  I always assumed this would be a document to aide my memory and perhaps help or entertain a person here and there, yet I have a small, steadily growing following despite my limited exposure and publicizing; a far cry from reaping financial benefit, but why not call this expenditure of time a success?  Even if my readership does not flourish from here, I’ve found a voice that I’ve never particularly had, and that has value…and witnesses…  Along a similar vein, a few months ago I started writing short stories and submitting them to contests.  I’ve had dreams of having something published since college, but I never had the determination nor courage to set finger to key.  And, true, my chances are probably slim in winning one of these literary magazine contests, but an editor sent me a very kind unsolicited rejection last night.  I did not make the finals, but she liked my story quite a bit.  Again, no financial gain, but, wow, I never envisioned something like that either, so maybe someday I will be in print after all…and a check wouldn’t be so bad either…

Then there are my longtime, consistent passions.  For a couple of years now I’ve been an educational consultant and adovate for disadvantaged families, and even though I’ve had several cases, I have difficulty claiming it as an occupation because I don’t accept payment.  Perhaps it is strange to dismiss my work because there is no financial gain, merely a human one…  I’ve had the privilege of helping struggling families form clarity and a plan that is in the best interest of their child.  It seems I have been successful, so when people ask what I do, why can’t I tell them that?  I don’t know.  I’ve enforced a narrow dogma to myself that because the opportunity that would lead to financial reimbursement has not been what I had hoped thus far, the rest of my work cannot be declared as legitimate.  I’m trying to convince myself such thoughts are foolishness as ardently as my conviction that success must be traditional…and paying…

Even more recently I’ve started volunteering through an agency that provides pschoeducational groups and educational classes/tutoring for the Department of Corrections.  This opportunity is developing at a vertigo inducing rate, and the most frustrating for me, probably because I want this so much that it resonates in my mouth every time I think about the possibilities.  My work with the agency started as one thing, and has rapidly changed course in a timeframe that could conceivably be calculated in days, albeit it would be a tad cumbersome.  At this juncture I’ve written a few different group and class curricula, one I want desperately to teach myself.  However, even if the process becomes too complicated to achieve fruition, I managed to impress people with my creations, which is satisfying…granted not as satisfying as formal program approval would be…  At the end of the day, the constant evolution I find myself in with this particular investment will likely have me tutoring small groups of inmates a couple of evenings a week in reading comprehension and expository writing remediation for the new HiSET exam, which is close in some respects to the whole class literacy program I hope to run someday before God retires.  Eventually part of the tutoring responsibility will include supporting other tutors, creating curricula, and likely some program development once this matures from a seed to a sapling.  Again, I won’t receive a paycheck for my work, but I will have the rare schedule outside my home and participate in one of my deepest passions in life.

All of this in maybe the last six months, so why do I torment myself with the fallacy of personal stagnation?  Admittedly, this isn’t ideal on every count, but my next pursuit is to give myself permission to enjoy the fruits of quite a bit of labor and the patience to know that nothing is an end unless I determine it is.

The “F” Word?

My son clearly understands everything we say, and is waiting for his first word just to mess with us.  Soon he will be eighteen-months, and is a pro at jargon and general babble, but not one solid first word yet.  The last couple of days I’ve seen him with great determination push out the “F” sound.  At random intervals he will look at me with a powerful force of, “Fff…Fff…”  My usual protocol is to repeat his sound back to him, as well as any random word beginning with the letter “F,” although I find it somewhat unlikely his iteration will turn into, “Finally,” “Freelance,” “Formality,” “Fiction,” or “Flatulence,”…just sayin’…  Although an utterance of, “Flatulence,” might prove useful…

Most recently I’ve wondered if he is trying to say, “Food,” which would make me the proudest Mommy on the planet…because what more important word could there possibly be for a Jewish mother?  His capability to pronounce, “Food,” would be the basis for all future tedious ordering at restaurants and general complaining.  I can see it now, all the other Mommies in the Tribe will look enviously as my little man points with derision speaking, “Food,” to anyone who will listen.  It won’t matter that the object he is pointing at is a light fixture.

Tonight, however, he added a new sound to his repetitions of, “Fff.”  No longer is it a lingering unvoiced consonant.  Now, it is a consonant closing with an “uh.”  As I’m holding him he is looking adoringly at me and saying, “Fuh.”  Oh. My. God.  I swear I’ve been much better about my habitual trucker mouth…even in the car…in rush hour traffic…I promise…  In a mild panic I’m considering every possible word with that pattern, but if my son’s first word is, “Fuck,” I think it’s safe to say I’ve managed one of the all time great parenting fails…

The Thrills of Competition

To look globally at my evening there are a few moments that would merit note, as in the instance of me holding Little Man while he gnaws at my sweatshirt string until it was sufficiently funky.  Only at that moment would his mirth take over, and with great effort attempted to shove the cold, soaked article into my mouth amidst a chorus of giggles.

Fast forward to my favorite time of day; the very end just before my son goes to sleep.  Clearly he is tired, but enjoying playing with his parents in his room.  At one point my husband suspects that he might have soiled his diaper.  I ask my son if he made a stinker.  Little Man shakes his head, “No,” and points to Doug the two-foot-tall dinosaur before giving him a hug of, “Sorry, man.”  I figure my son assessed the situation, noting that he could likely take Doug.  Geraldine, his five-foot-tall giraffe is a total badass and would cream me…wise choice, Little Man…  My sniffer isn’t all that astute, but my husband determined it was a false alarm after doing what all parents of diapered children do, lifting their children up to put their nose against their backside.  Fortunately, this time my son spared him of a fresh puff of flatulence just as he was doing so…

The award, however, for the most memorable moment in the evening goes to the last moment in Little Man’s day.  Despite the cuteness of his play, his need to go to sleep could be avoided no longer.  My husband scoops my son up and begins the process of wrapping him in the sleep slack I not so discretely covet in all it’s blue fleeced glory.  Not only is it in my favorite color, but it is just so soft, and as a person who is perpetually cold, I can’t resist stroking it whenever the opportunity presents itself…Yeah, I have a problem…  If it had the arms of a Snuggie, I would consider amputation in order to use it…

Just as the item is secured, Little Man crawls to my lap as he sometimes does at this point in the evening.  With my legs folded and my arms resting on my knees, I rock the two of us singing, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  My cuddle monster pulls my arms around him tightly after signing for another round of the song.  A few beats pass, and Little Man points to Gerard the blue giraffe I crocheted for him.  Hugging Gerard he points to Tabitha his small tiger head pillow, and finally Milton one of his teddy bears.  Clutching his friends tightly and me clutching him, we rock; I continue singing, and my husband notes that his eyes are heavy and intermittently closing.  Eventually I allow my husband to take Little Man to bed.

I had already left the room, but my husband informed me after the fact that although my son brought his friends to bed, once settled he did not want them in his crib with him; they just don’t belong there…

All Hail!

I sincerely hope it is a rite of passage for all Jewish parents to periodically make their children inadvertently look like Hitler.  If not, my husband and I are terrible people.  Mind you, my son is only seventeen-months-old, and the first instance was surrounding his first haircut not provided by the Almighty who has an affinity for male patterned baldness.

More specifically, my son was born with a full head of hair worthy for Favio.  Much to my husband’s delight, in addition to thick locks on his head, my son’s dark hair coated healthy chunks of his arms and back much like the sweaters I imagine can be seen on the Jersey Shore.  People warned us that at three months it would fall out in unflattering ways.  I didn’t want to believe it, yet some creation entity has a sense of humor.  He lost just enough hair on the sides of his head to have a naturally hideous comb-over.  Some parents hold off on the first hair-cut until their children are eating it and inconvenience wins out over sentimentality; then the task begrudgedly is accomplished.  For us it wasn’t a very difficult decision; the hair had to go.

One evening my husband takes scissors and cuts across the spike that fell onto my son’s forehead.  I didn’t want to say anything at the time because I thought I would sound like a jerk, and let’s face it, I can be a bit snarky at times.  It wasn’t until my in-laws spent the day with us the following weekend that I mentioned anything aloud.  My father-in-law walks up to me with a chuckle and says in the unconvincing whisper of someone who can’t hear well, “I didn’t want to say anything, but he kind of looks like Hitler.”  So, there it was.  My husband missed his calling as a 1940s barber when I’m sure all young men wanted to look like Hitler…you know, before his killing half our people and a bunch of others made it passé…

Then there was tonight, which is all on me.  I’m feeding Little Man his nightly ice-cream…because we absolutely rock as the cool parents…  The last spoonful misses my son’s mouth, so he is left with a chocolate goatee.  My cat-like, yet imprecise reflexes managed to wipe off a good amount.  But, to my horror my son is left with a legitimate Hitler mustache.  Now is when the fun begins.  I get up and try to wipe off the rest, but Mr. Man thinks I’m playing a game, so he’s running away from me.  Several days ago I managed to pull a tushie muscle; I’m not sure how, but it’s quite painful nonetheless.  I’m awkwardly walking as quickly after my son as I can while he is giggling and running around the room.  We have a pit sofa that consumes most of the area, so really I look ridiculous that a seventeen-month-old with tiny appendages is outpacing me, but I have no choice with little room for clever maneuvering.

At this point my husband (also known as Captain Obvious) looks over and says, “Oh, that’s terrible.  You have to get that off; he looks like Hitler.”  My son is still laughing as he laps the sofa a final time before my husband and I sandwich him between us.  I’d like to say that it was a thorough and tidy wipe, but at least we were finished hailing the Fuhrer…for now anyway…

Best Laid Plans

The other night Little Man was on the sofa with me feeling the pains of thwarted attempts to grasp the working remote and my phone.  I thought he gave up, but really he was just changing tactics, and I was late to the party realizing it.  Sliding down to the floor he grabs a couple of books he wants me to read.  He hands them to me on the sofa before sitting in his usual spot on the floor…nothing too controversial there.  He exhibits this behavior all the time; I figure he just doesn’t like me to be comfortable.  I grudgingly lever myself off the sofa, and am about to sit on the floor when he stands up and travels to the furthest point in the room and sits.  Okay?  He’s never done that before, but during his process of changing locations I had already managed to lower myself to the floor past the point of no return.  Consequently, Mommy isn’t budging.  Realizing his plot is not unfolding according to plan, he amends his scheme.  Both of us sitting on the floor in a game of staring chicken, Mr. Man stands up and begins his finest creeper impersonation.  He’s slinking along with shifty eyes, slowly making his way behind and past me to the armrest holding his cherished remote and phone.  Almost at his destination with the fruits of his labor within reach, he realized he was busted, providing me with his much practiced, “Awww shucks,” giggle and smile so that I might forget his attempt to scam me.  Should I feel embarrassed that it worked?

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