A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: December 2015

Eyes on the Prize

My little man at twenty months is becoming independent.  My husband and I have been talking about my son’s emerging preference to sit in a regular chair, foregoing his high chair.  Naturally, we are reluctant to do so.  But, today as I’m holding my son and preparing to feed him his lunch of chicken, orange, and milk (all elements he chose, by the way), he once again refused to sit in the high chair, and no amount of touting how special his chair was would change his mind.  At first I assumed that he wanted to dine on my lap once again.  After the last several meals conducted in such a fashion I stated that he was well enough to eat on his own.  His response was a determined pointer finger at my chair.  I inquired if he wanted to sit on the chair by himself and eat, and after he confirmed such a desire with his assertion of, “Dah,” I figure, why not?

This was not an easy decision, but it was unavoidable.  I could either suffer through a tantrum with a sleeping husband upstairs or suck it up and embrace cleaning the contents of his mean off the floor within seconds of Little Man’s upgraded dining experience.  And, just to make sure to nurture this likely catastrophe, I kept his chicken on one of our regular plates.  I know it’s Corelle, and therefore pretty hearty, but what are the chances of the dishware surviving in my son’s hands after a minute into his meal…tops?

But, as he was sitting so nicely on my chair, barely seeing over the top of the table, it was too late to switch to one of his smaller, plastic plates.  I placed his meal before him, realizing that he still needed  his milk, orange, and fork.  As my content Big Man began eating appropriately, I took a deep breath and quietly rushed to the fridge to retrieve one remaining article at a time.

I never became fully confident that my son wouldn’t toss the plate, but I could see the swell of pride as I served him.  He pointed to the placemat I forgot to drag in front of him, and he looked up at me and smiled in between sips from his cup once he was able to carefully replace his drink on the mat…just like Mommy and Daddy.

He didn’t want much of his orange, but he sat there quietly concentrating on his meal, using his fork as he has been in increasing frequency as of late.  I sat around the corner from him not wanting a perfectly good orange to go to waste.  As I began eating, Big Man looks at me and offers me his fork when he sees me dining with my hands.

His lunch didn’t last all that long, but he looked up at me when he was finished and raised his arms for me to pick him up.  Well done, my love.  Growing up so fast…

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In Sickness and in Health…But Mostly Sickness…

It’s Christmas, and by not celebrating we always inadvertently celebrate.  This year my son and I are blessed with a cold.  He’s been sick every two weeks for the last few months.  This is the first time I’ve had an illness in the last year.  I shouldn’t complain, but I will…This stinks…  My eyes are itchy.  My nose is itchy and running, albeit less than yesterday.  I can’t see through the fountain of tears, thanks to the perpetual proclivity of my eye duct work this fine supposedly winter’s day…  During one of my hourly toilet calls spaced throughout the night, I became acutely aware that my throat was absolutely killing me.  Thank goodness for small miracles; that has significantly abated.  I’m not sure if all the tea I’m sucking down has impacted that blessing, but I’ll use any excuse I can to make myself this beverage, so we’ll call it the reason to give myself permission to continue to stain my teeth.  I figure my dental appointment is in a month-and-a-half; he needs to earn his professional credentials.

Cold aside, I’ve forgotten what a good night’s sleep is like, but it seems that last night was particularly heinous;  I kept the Warrior Queen awake in the process of my comfort seeking gyrations.  Feeling her stir throughout the overnight hours was the best part of remaining awake from two to four in the morning, but that probably makes me a terrible person.  Consequently, she seems to be out cold this morning; she’s barely moved, which is highly uncharacteristic from my future Taz.  In any case, she made a noble effort to stir as I carted Little Man in this little wagon that is really purposed for obscenely large Lego-type blocks.  I haven’t really exercised all week, so I think she just appreciated the gesture.  With all of my flatulence, I’m sure hearing the rhythm of my heartbeat while I’m in motion is a pleasant diversion.  But, alas, thirty minutes later, she is sleeping again.

A sick little man is not quite so glorious as a stowaway who doesn’t complain all that much.  He’s been upset all morning because we won’t let him gnaw on the various cords in one of our desk drawers that he can apparently open even though the handles were removed.  Even with a spare USB cable, my son wants no part of the alternative.  Thankfully, my husband is home and healthy, giving me a moment to write this post and reflect on the banalities of family life…under a cloak of plague…

All of this yuckiness on a day that I’ve never liked and I think of our soon to be larger external family when two kids will be sick at the same time and probably both of us.  No one will be sleeping.  Every one will be cranky and in need of a nap, but a slumbering peace will not fall on our humble household…It never does when you most need it…  It will be absolutely miserable and draining, but sometimes even when my moist Mr. Man is looking up at me with the pained eyes of someone who hasn’t fully embraced every expression of demonstrating one’s misery, I think how amazing it is to experience all these small, uncomfortable moments that I will soon forget baring this written notion.  But, then again, maybe I’m just a bit loopy from sleep deprivation and a face I want to rip off just to make the itching stop.

 

Unacknowledged Murphy’s Law No. 49

The amount your child will sleep is directly proportional to your activity/appointment departure time and your desire to attend said activity.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…Due Reverence to Caffeine and Stockings…

It was one of those silly, stupid mornings when annoying things happen.  It’s a warm December.  I’m pregnant and tired of wearing jeans, and since these unseasonably balmy days are nothing more than leading us all into a false sense of security for the remaining winter months (and likely well into spring), I’m taking advantage and wearing dresses as long as possible.  That said, as a considerate person, I opt to wear stockings…No one should need to avert their gaze from the pasty legs of a woman who is also blessed with a healthy coating of spider veins.

I don’t know what happened, but all of the pairs of nylons I pulled had problems that I only noticed after completing my version of the dancing sausage.  I must have disregarded three pairs after managing to wrangle them in place.  The last pair wasn’t perfect, but good enough to continue with the dressing process.

Little Man eats, I hose him off over the sink, and prepare us for our departure.  In the bathroom I notice I have banana slime all over the front of my solid black dress, but I refuse to change.  This dress shows off my belly as one due to pregnancy while allowing the rest of my physique to look reminiscent of one of those lovely air brushed maternity models…sans stem issues…

I manage to scrape enough feeding residue from my ensemble, and we leave for storytime at one of the surrounding public libraries.  Little Man enjoys himself immensely.  It’s a good program.  One book reading is surrounded by various songs and lap bounces for thirty-minutes…and it’s free.  But, the merriment was not shared by all parties in attendance.  If there was any doubt that my panty hose were fulfilling their final obligation in this life, Little Man’s Velcro shoe ties cinched the deal.  Their final moments were not looking good…there would be no graceful fade into glory.

When the program ended, Mr. Man was ready to leave, which was good because I was hoping to meet a friend at a local coffee shop for a snack…and vat of iced tea…Fighting the emergence of a cold combined with pregnancy left me exhausted for four straight days.  I’m finally feeling good, but my favorite cold beverage from this specific establishment would go a long way in brightening my general disposition.

Sitting at our local haunt, my son usually does well.  He eats slowly, content to just sit for a time; not today, however.  This, naturally, would be the day when he feels the urge to celebrate the coming of the New Year with tidbits of edible confetti strewn around him like the entrance of one of the more important Egyptian Pharaohs I hear about on PBS, but he was smiling the entire time, so clearly I would be down with it…  I inhaled the remaining bits of my sandwich; no worries, I’m used to intense heartburn at this point…When it’s absent from my meals I feel a certain longing like nostalgia for an old friend…

On a positive note, maybe the Warrior Queen will be born with a full head of hair like my son…I can hardly wait to gaze lovingly on the male patterned baldness she will exhibit at three months.  But, that is some time yet, so for the time being I relish complaining about my copious indigestion and deep pliés I have to do in order to organize some semblance of order to my son’s celebratory rain of fresh fruit cup and toast dusting.

Knowing no other conversation will be possible, I wipe down Mr. Man, and set him down to wreak havoc on the cafe’s open area that houses a fine assortment of drink bottles and cans.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my untouched extra large iced tea with me as I supervised my son’s potential destruction of property.  Initially, he was just engaging in his typical efforts to maintain their inventory, but decided to suckle the cap of a stray Polar sparkling grapefruit seltzer resting apart from its packaged peers…So, I guess I’ll be buying that…

While I am purchasing said beverage, my son is losing his patience and wants to leave.  I manage to gather three drinks and him in my arms, carrying Little Man awkwardly to my car.  Everything flows smoothly enough from there.  My son is buckled in.  I’m in the process of arranging three drinks for transport home before closing the back seat door.  Then in a sudden, tragic moment, my iced tea crashes to the ground in a glorious splatter that is all over my shoes and sprinkles the stockings that are looking increasingly abused every passing minute in a shredded massacre.  My son just looked at me with an air of pity that is usually reserved for moments before flushing a dead goldfish.  Maybe it’s because he was just a short time away from an explosive diaper and this was a preemptive peace offering, or maybe he knew that mourning was the appropriate reaction for the beverage I was perseverating on all morning.

 

Intervening Maybes

It’s been a frequent aside mention for months in this blog.  My kid isn’t talking even though he is almost twenty months.  He is certainly vocal.  He certainly communicates.  He most certainly understands everything I say.  His memory is fine.  He tells jokes and is surprisingly considerate of other people much of the time.

Last night was the long awaited behavioral assessment courtesy of a private nonprofit early intervention agency/program and federal/state social investment.

I’ve spent much of the time between the initial phone call and this appointment not feeling concerned, and, frankly, a bit curious about the process this entails.  I am trained and practiced in literacy intervention which has some components of speech and language, but my population is older adolescents or adults.  Even with the help of the expertise of Google, I don’t really have a good handle on early speech.  Little Man seems to do things that aren’t listed, but nowhere near the things that are in this area.

Of course, everyone has an opinion and suggestion.  I wish I had financial reimbursement for every time I’ve heard, “He’s a boy.”  Through this waiting process I continued to watch and interact with my happy and loving little man and turn a blind ear to the outside noise because it is just that, noise.

The afternoon arrived.  Three women would be conducting the normed assessment.  I asked a couple of questions as a special educator who has administered my fair share of these types of things; I certainly have my biases regarding normed assessments and what they reveal.  I’ve also cultivated a fine cynicism regarding interventions and the role of corporations.  This isn’t to say that I’m hostile or not open, but approach this process and its results with caution.

While the women were professional and seemingly ethical, it occurred to me that they were quite conservative in their conclusions of my son’s accomplishments in all areas tested.  While their determination wasn’t completely off base in grey areas, I could see the undertone of the most likely scores to receive services once everything was tallied.  I understand these places are a business, so this is not to say that there was an air of sketchiness requiring me to take a long shower into the early morning, rather an interesting note.  My son barely met the benchmark for receiving services in communication, but he did technically qualify.  He isn’t talking yet and no one can say why, so qualification is not necessarily bad or unwelcome news.

We will be contacted in a couple of weeks by a caseworker.  In the meantime we received a few recommendations to bridge the gap until our sessions begin.  Two I already do without results thus far.  The other won’t hurt, but I couldn’t help but wonder if all the recommendations were chosen because they sound like they would be effective or because research and data determined they are.  But, it isn’t worth the fight.  Their suggestions won’t do harm and aren’t all that cumbersome, so why not?  Such an interesting state of mind; imagine if other professional areas relied on the same guiding principles…

I sound rational and together right?  Then maybe you can explain why I broke down when I had a moment to lie down after returning home.  As much as I know my son’s language delay is not my fault; it isn’t anyone’s; it very much feels that it is.  I’m his primary caregiver, so shouldn’t it be on me to shepherd my wonderful offspring through his development?

I’ve had so many similar conversations over the years with families confronted with mental illness.  Often it isn’t anyone’s fault.  Bad luck. Bad genes. Whatever, it doesn’t matter…  But, now I’m on the other end sitting through almost two hours of a process I only vaguely understand.  While I knew some of the skills tested were well beyond what is reasonable for my son at this time, every failure of his to produce the desired result felt like my failure to him.  I had no notion of where each skill presented fell in the age range.  He happily played along, charming the room, but the constant ill ease through the assessment duration sat on my head, pressing down until well after the results were presented.

It sounds crazy.  Maybe because I’m pregnant.  Maybe because I began the week feeling delicate because of another issue occurring a mere couple days ago.  Maybe I don’t want my son to struggle as I did for so long.  At the end of the day the answer to “maybe” isn’t important, rather its existence.

 

 

What the Internet Doesn’t Tell You about Developmental Milestones

I’m becoming increasingly convinced that “developmental milestones” is code for, “sh*t your kid learns to do when you aren’t paying attention for the purpose of killing or maiming themselves.”

I’ve spoken of this a few times in my posts, but my latest experience was this morning.  Little Man rose for the day a good forty-five minutes earlier than he almost always does, and that’s a highly conservative calculation.  My internal clock (read:  bladder) notified me it was a reasonable hour to awaken…a good thirty minutes later than I normally would.  I figured I’d be lucky to knock off half my exercise regimen (read:  valued me time).  No dice, barely any of it was accomplished.  My morning disposition was unreasonably bitter as a result.  I blame pregnancy.  Regardless, my son beckoned.

His morning routine accomplished without incident.  I asked him to keep himself occupied so Mommy can exercise a bit in the other room.  He complied.  I figured I would maybe get twenty minutes, which would be fine.  At that point I can easily finish during his nap.  Mr. Man is clearly growing up because he was playing appropriately for a good amount of time for the most part.  Almost all of the sounds I heard were things I recognized, and, even better, they were sounds…  I say almost because there were two instances that took me by surprise.

I was peddling along, reading from one of the multiple texts I’ve downloaded; digital or not, I’m a bit of a literary hoarder savant.  Then I heard clanking that sounded like pans, but those are locked behind barriers designed to keep the wee ones from gaining access to various cabinetry.  But, if I’ve learned nothing else in his almost twenty-months of external existence, it is that Mr. Man is quite capable of opening anything that is a challenge for me.  I put nothing past him.  Right now I’m convinced that he actually can speak, and it is in sentence structures worthy of Faulkner, but he’s keeping it under wraps for the sole purpose of creating mischief and mayhem without the obligation of answering to a teed off Mommy.

I probably should have been in a hurry to see what horror was in store, but I spent the following thirty seconds trying to deduce what kind of pans these could possibly be…yup, definitely metal…and flat?  What could he possibly be into in there?

I step off our elliptical.  Really?  He managed to figure out there is a drawer under the oven?  I can’t even remember him seeing either of us open it.  But, who am I kidding?  My child is destined for a life of cat burglary and cookie stealing…He sees everything…  In case anyone who is a believer is wondering, God is a toddler who frequently misses naptime…

I can’t be mad because I’ve never redirected him for this type of thing, so I casually place all the various seldomly used cookware on our island.  My son graciously handed me all the items I missed.  There was no other destruction, so  I climbed back on our exercise equipment, assuming for only a few minutes more; Mr. Man surely can’t last too much longer.  It has already been an impressive twenty-five minutes of mostly uneventful independent play.  But, I transferred to reading my smut just in case…The writing is so poor that it is easy to pull away from without too much regret.

More explainable noise; Little Man was doing just fine on his own.  Then ten minutes later more metal clanking.  Now I’m really confused.  Is that a small wire rack and a toaster oven tray?  Did he figure out the child proofed cabinets after all?  Well, not quite, but it was an impressive second.  My son opened the bottom drawer of one of the few unlocked storage compartments in our kitchen, and while standing in said drawer was in the process of pulling the lighter items off the pile of transplanted cookware I only moments prior placed in the middle of our island, convinced they were beyond the grasp of my son’s short appendages.  Clearly, Mommy was delusional and underestimating Little Man’s problem solving skills…

Of course, as I was pulling him out of his self-made step stool, I became all too aware he soiled his diaper.  No hard feelings though, he didn’t set fire to anything this time, but I took the hint…Mommy can run, but she can’t hide…for too long anyway…

 

I’m ready for my close-up…

Today was a glorious day, yet that seems like such a weak description for the sunshine and angel hailing trumpets blessing the morning’s events.

Sure, my son is still cute and loving, maintaining a healthy consistency of affection throughout the day with nary a hint of fussing.  Yes, the Warrior Queen at 19-weeks is still ambitiously maintaining her existence in my belly.  My volunteering and writing are still running strong.  I even managed to continue the crochet project that, until recently, had been steadfastly keeping our shelves company for so many months.  All of this quite true, but none are attributed to the magnitude of what a fabulous day it’s been.

In fact, this day could only be better if the tenacious smell reminiscent of Seinfeld’s “entity” taking up residence in the room that harbors our generic version of the Diaper Jeanie would dissipate.  But, even thinking of that kind of perfection is just plain crazy talk.

I took Mr. Man to my town’s library for storytime this morning.  The plan was to meet a friend for the program and go to a local restaurant for an early lunch afterward.  We were early, so I was chatting with a couple of other mothers in between my son’s exalted dashes to another room, beckoning me to follow and thereby interrupting any coherent conversation.  In a brief exchange two mothers commented that I was tiny, and, in fact, one of the mothers described that I was one of those pregnant women she hates.  I’ve never been a “one of those” type of woman, but I blessed both of them for hating me and charged after Little Man who was already hovering at the top of the stairs impatiently urging me to help him down.

The Prize for First Place

I find it interesting the commonalities I periodically find amongst Mommies.  Usually I can divide us into certain groups, but there is one issue that has a certain Stepford quality to it.  I’ve met a myriad of accomplished women in my life travels, but all the ones with children say the same thing.  Their children are their greatest accomplishment.  I even hear it in interviews of various noteworthy women.  I bet some Nobel Prize winners throughout every category would say the same thing, “Oh, yeah, that thing I did that changed the world?  Sure, I guess that was important, but my children, well…”  I always figured that was something I didn’t understand because I wasn’t a parent, and was, at best, ambivalent about the prospect.  Even with that, it never escaped me that I never heard Daddies say something comparable in conversations or interviews, but maybe they are never asked.

Well, now I’ve earned a membership in the elite parenting club.  I’ve accomplished squeezing a watermelon out of a lemon, and continuously prevent my son from leaping off of furniture and plummeting to his sudden death.  He is a delightful little man most of the time, and I love him oodles.  Even as young as he is, I’m pretty proud of my role in forming his loveliness.  Would I say he is my best accomplishment?  Maybe it’s too soon to affirm.  Would I say that I’m the most proud of my life achievements as it relates to him?  Not the most proud, but maybe if he solves the crisis of world hunger…

I find it a troublesome pressure that women must pick one feat that has a singular worth above all others at all times.  For me, sometimes I look at my little man when he is doing something really sweet, and I swell with pride thinking of how I created this little man from a pin head.  Other times my other pursuits win out in my thoughts.

I’m proud of many endeavors I’ve realized in my life, and I find it dismissive and insulting that the expectation is I choose ONE thing I’m supposed to declare as having primary value at all times, and the default is always motherhood.  Are fathers expected to make such a choice?  Unlikely.  Would I be a terrible person if I viewed parenting as an enriching part of life, but not an accomplishment to be achieved?  I’m kinda afraid to test that one; something tells me throngs of people carry rotten vegetables and eggs in their car trunks and pockets just for such an occasion…

 

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