A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Simple Truths of a Cover Girl

There are certain things I do as maintenance, which is my code for small physical upkeep that consists of vanquishing Bubbe from the old country by waxing my eyebrows and mustache or clipping my toe and fingernails.  If I manage a haircut before it becomes reminiscent of a shag carpet that’s been trampled upon for decades, so much the better.

I’m not particularly vain, but I don’t like to look horrible either.  Sometimes it’s a struggle to feel good; the weeks I’ve been experiencing as of late with a relentless cycle of tenacious, albeit relatively mild, illness reminds me of that.  Mommyhood is hard in simultaneously trite and inexplicable ways; the grind easily apparent on my face from time-to-time.  Exceedingly sensitive skin interferes with my ability to wear make-up, so a sleepless night or two becomes the following day’s black luggage.  With all the pleasure and joys the experience of primary caregiving brings, it saddens me that the toll becomes more perceptible to the world than the better person I’ve become from this new life.  And, while I am not necessarily concerned about judgment, I’m not comfortable that the struggles might be more obvious to the world than the peace and beauty of my experiences.

Since my son was born almost two years ago, I think back to what helped pull me through the initial consumption quagmire of his external life, knowing this will be my reality once again in a few scant months.  I’m sure I should say that the blessing of my beautiful newborn son carried me through sleep deprivation and other jarringly unpleasant conditions; the pressure of such expected jubilations are an undercurrent to part of the harsh reality for a mother caring for an infant in the first months.  On some level combustible joy exists, but on many others a cloud of regret and fear hovers not all that far off.

But, perhaps oddly, when my hair was fixed and my nails were short just the way I like them; when my lip and eyebrows are waxed, and the most alluring aspects of my shadowed, sleep deprived complexion; I feel a certain strength and loveliness about the pulls of the experience.  There are other important efforts for my self-care that are pivotal in my enjoyment of my Mommydom journey, but these simple, controllable pleasures are profound constants for me.

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Conjunction Junction

As much as I try to deny those first ominous signs, it doesn’t take long before I’m forced to leave my quiet, happy place with the realization that my son is sick…again…  It doesn’t matter that he has had maybe a week reprieve between ailments for the last several months, he still manages to become a moist, slimy mess who insists on coating my face with cough and sneeze residue as though my nose holds an enticing bull’s eye that provides chocolate morsels for a job well done.

He doesn’t feel well.  He is cranky and tired, yet unable to sleep at times.  If I were a nice, caring Mommy, I would cuddle and nurture him with every empathizing bone in my body, taking pity on my sweet little man throughout the duration of his case of the yucks.  I, however, am not a nice, caring Mommy.  As soon as I acknowledge that the gatekeeper to the plague has admitted one more friend, I immediately become angrier than I should voice.  This isn’t the type of anger that has me furious at the gods of illness who decided my son is such a worthwhile companion that they refuse to leave his side, leaving him miserable for days I long since stopped trying to count.  The type of anger I feel is completely selfish because I know it is inevitable that my health will deteriorate sooner than I am ever willing to admit.

What makes my level of anger even more irrational is that for eight straight colds, I managed to skate by germ free while my husband has had one perpetual cold that morphs into various symptom incarnations as time passes…just to keep it interesting…  But, my immunity luck ran out as I knew would happen at some point, yet it hasn’t stopped me from muttering colorful expletives under my breath on this new round’s onset.  After all, it’s been a measly week since I recovered from the last sickness that took almost three for my body to completely vanquish.

This time around I developed pink eye to ensure I remain on my toes.  I’ve never had pink eye…This should be pleasant…  A nagging cough brought about by mouth breathing provides excellent fodder for the raging headache that consumes an entire day, further nurturing my delightful disposition this week.

But, while I am full throttle inhabiting the kingdom of bitchydom, my daughter is seemingly oblivious to my turmoil and my son unaware that I am not a nice, caring Mommy.  Throughout this entire ordeal I continue to read his favorite stories repeatedly amidst hacking mid rhyme.  There are lots of cuddles with me holding him dancing while my back aches and my sciatic nerve screams from over exertion.  All I want to do is sleep, but, sure, I can sing that same song repeatedly because my sickly little guy wants nothing else but this singular tune.  But, I won’t lie; I’m really just waiting for his nap hoping it lasts six more hours than usual, and if it didn’t make me cough, I’d be screaming into my pillow.

The Young and the Restless

I know my daughter will be a fighter.  My son was active from sixteen weeks, but it wasn’t until the end of my pregnancy when I could occasionally feel his movement from the outside.  The Warrior Queen is another matter.  Certainly now at twenty-five weeks, but even earlier I could feel pronounced pokes and jabs with surprising frequency.  Part of me loves this about her because she will need all the strength she can muster in a life as society’s lesser gender.

It pleases me greatly she is practicing her power in her small, growing ways.  I don’t know if she will be a leader or willful, but I am offered some peace of mind that she has hope of continued tenacity through her life if I nurture it.  But, while a deep place within me admires that her very nature is to be heard, my bladder wishes she’d take a day off now and again.  Not only do I jump several times a day at repeated sharp kicks or punches to internal spaces I was not aware were sensitive, but my daughter pays specific preference to the same location on my bladder that will have me wetting myself in no more than a month’s time.  I’ve been toying with the idea of buying adult diapers because that feels less embarrassing than waking my husband in the middle of the night to change the sheets or sporting an impressive urine spot on my pants that I can’t convincingly blame on a family pet.  No matter how I spin it there seems to be no graceful way to execute something like that as though it were high culture.

It occurred to me today as I broke into a heart palpitating sweat attempting to change my son into pants this morning; strength and character is all well and good, but if my daughter ever decides similarly that she prefers to go without leg coverings, I’m in serious trouble.

Luck of the Irish

Mr. Man had a tough day yesterday that started mid afternoon playing at the toy mecca.  True, he hasn’t been sleeping well for the past several days, coughing jarring him awake, but I think it ultimately bothered me more than him.  We went to our music class and he was rolling right along.  After the class he searched for his precious fishing pole toy, but to no avail.  No worries, though, he found a surrogate in the form of a small hydrant and attached hose that he took reasonable pleasure carting around; that is until some random elderly woman takes it away from him, speaking in some lengthy lecture I couldn’t hear, but clearly on the level a twenty-month-old would understand.  My son looked at her befuddled, staring and gaping before trotting off.

Part of me wanted to walk up and ask her the purpose of taking toys from small children who are using them appropriately, but when my son didn’t seem particularly affected, I decided to just watch her instead.  There is no shortage of garden variety crazies out there, and she quite possibly is one of them.  True, she is in the winter of her existence, but I’m pregnant and can’t breathe well.  If my toddler can get away from me with a casual saunter, she appears to be a linebacker in bodily constitution.

Regardless, my curiosity was answered soon enough.  She spent the afternoon redirecting her grandson for not playing in the correct manner and organizing this giant play space where scores of children were in the process of complete bedlam.  I don’t know what her deal was, but some battles aren’t worth picking.

At least I can say that my child wasn’t the one who climbed on a chair when unattended and absconded with an unsupervised cupcake allocated for a birthday party.  Actually, absconded isn’t quite the right word, as the two-year-old was sitting merrily in front of the container of strewn treats licking neon green frosting from chocolate cake before a very angry woman in the process of sprouting Medusa’s snakes despite having no attachment to the cupcakes, pulls him off the chair and drags him to the playspace’s overseer.  Apparently, the child had been sitting there planning world domination in mid cupcake for “twenty minutes” without a parent around.  In reality it was maybe thirty seconds, but I know full well how time stops when one is in the process of behaving like a completely irrational bitch.  I give her credit though, she didn’t hold back with the child’s mother either.  So, my crazy lady could have been her.  Maybe I should have bought one of those record lottery tickets after all.

As has become a trend for just under a week, Little Man did not take a good nap; yesterday the shortest yet.  Poor kid kept coughing and the impulse didn’t subside enough for him to sleep later despite red lidded eyes.  Surprisingly, other than his trademark impulsive behavior in the form of annoying mischief and general disregard for appropriate conduct that occurs when he is not well rested, he was reasonably jovial.  I thought for sure I would be able to add cranky to the mix of perpetual redirection and hauling off of furniture.

But, the night progressed and neither my husband nor I had the energy to give him a bath, planning for Mr. Man’s early bedtime.  My husband took him upstairs to, “start the process,” and at the rump end before sleepy-time I went into my son’s room to deliver the partially dry sleep sack to my men.  Little Man was just about asleep on my husband’s lap, but he sees me and immediately becomes upset realizing he will be jostled.  Then the red-faced, pained wailing ensues where he beckons me to take him with rigid, outstretched arms.  My husband is trying to shepherd the process of sacking Mr. Man, and just as he is zipped, vomit spews from his mouth in true Exorcist fashion.  I really should have bought lottery tickets because I was spared any ounce of coating, all landing squarely down my son’s front and all over my husband’s lap and legs.

The remaining evening was spent with my husband fumigating himself of dinner purge and me singing to my son in the bath we were trying to avoid all evening.  Some water, crackers, and cuddling; and my son was asleep by eight-thirty.  As I processed through my end of the night media checks, I had to make note of the date; could it really still be the same day?

Blessings in Disguise

It’s been another one of those annoying days that began with an inkling of predestination.  I was awake at ten till six, well before my son’s historically reliable seven to seven-fifteen wake-up call.  But, as I quietly pad down our stairs preparing to accomplish a mere thirty minutes of exercise, I turn on our monitor and he’s stirring with his telltale signs of beginning his day.

It’s probably irrational the anger I feel when this happens.  A friend with similarly young children described that it is the disappointment of losing time that I had allocated as my sparse, “me time.”  Even as I write this post, my son refuses to play with his father in the other room.  Suddenly he possesses the compulsion to enter our office where I am diligently writing and wage battle with our soiled diaper collection bin.  When I decide to move the shit container not only closer to me, but straddle my legs around the contraption, thereby thwarting his plans, that’s when the banging and throwing of hard plastic toys against wood furniture ensues.  Even when he runs from the room screaming at my cruelty, I’m too traumatized to release the diaper container, which smells terrible, incidentally.

But, such is motherhood.  Even as early as it was, I immediately foresaw the depth of annoyance this day would bring.  Blessedly, I am at a point in my primary caregiver experience to be proactive; there was no chance I would be spending the entire day at home with a kid I knew would have trouble napping and spend his waking hours crying and tantruming.  I defaulted to my go-to emergency plan in such cases; a trip to the mall and attempt to rally the troops with a potential social call with any of my other Mommy friends who happen to be free for an impromptu outing.

I’ll spare the details of the day which amounted to strategizing on par with nuclear code protection, but suffice it to say that Plan F went off without a hitch.

Once we finally arrived at our destination, I used my time attempting to hold some semblance of a conversation with one Mommy available on such short notice.  Embedded in our conversation was the strong current of the drain, difficulty, and hardship of caring for our toddler children.  She shared in my reflection that this experience is relentless and all consuming regardless of my health or frame of mind.  The demand is that I keep giving as much as necessary of what my son requires at any given moment.  It’s easy to lose myself and to focus exclusively on the next available time for me to nap and eat chocolate without my son having a fit for not sharing enough.  She noted that I will soon have two; thanks for that…

But, as we were griping about what sounded like regret of this path in life, absent was the bitterness that one assumes with the content of our discussion.  Both of our children have the strong wills of toddlers, but on days like today mine is an added bonus of the incarnation of a toddler on little sleep because of a cough and possibly teething…Yeah, it’s that pleasant…  After our mutual recognition of the difficulty of this process was the peace and comfort that even during annoying times, we both felt so grateful to have these little people in out lives to share in the times, both good and bad.  There is something indescribable about my son’s existence in my life that feels like a part of me is more complete when I didn’t recognize anything missing.  I, however, am not the world’s first Jewish saint.  I don’t want to repeat the blessing of today.

Conquer or Be Conquered!

We registered for a class this semester that gives us unlimited privileges to this indoor playground/toy bonanza.  My son has been four times, and loves it.  I think it’s pretty awesome too; I grab an iced tea (because it is always the appropriate drink for winter), I meet a friend or two to socialize, sit back and chill as my son wreaks havoc and exhausts himself.

Usually Mr. Man lasts about two hours at this little slice of oasis, and strangely seeks this one specific toy to horde every time we visit.  It’s a bathtub toy fishing rod game piece.  He doesn’t actually do anything with it, but will spend almost the entire duration holding it and schlepping it around.  He remembers it every time even though the last visit was over a month-and-a-half ago.  I don’t get the appeal, but it’s his wingman.  Even if he walks away from it for ten or fifteen minutes to do something else, he eventually seeks his prized pole, grasping it tightly as he wanders and samples all the other toy attractions.

In addition to toys there are several structures, some containing pretty terrific slides.  These structures are high, steep, and fast.  There’s no tease of a fluid decent.  Once a kid is mere millimeters from the top platform, he or she will launch into the wall with only wisps of smoke remaining as an indication that a homunculus attempted the feat.

Little Man is a thrill seeker and loves this thing.  This visit, however, he didn’t want Mommy’s help down.  I lift him onto the platform, he gives an excited grin in anticipation, and he’s off…  He was so proud of himself, immediately requesting his elevator for a repeat of the experience.  This time, however, on his belly head first.  I thought certain doom was inevitable, but he was fine.  A couple more times and he needed a break.  He grabbed his fishing pole and wandered in search of another adventure.

We were there four hours with a trifling ten minute lunch break at Big Man’s request.  Throughout the day he periodically beckoned me to hoist him to the top of the slide, but toward the latter end of our time at play mecca Little Man became overconfident and slammed the back of his head toward the bottom.

He needed brief consoling, but as I was holding him he glared at his Everest.  It would not defeat him; he insisted on trying again.  Cautious, but determined he paused briefly at the top in the same sitting up position that had been catastrophic the last run only seconds prior, but he managed just fine…Then he opted to go on the smaller slide.

A few turns on the foothill prompted him to return to his first love.  I hefted him up a few more times until my son determined he tamed his beast.  If only we could all be so brave…

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Man

My son vacillates between two extremes in his disposition; he is both a totally mischievous jerk as well as sweeter than any toddler anyone could possibly conceive.

On the precipice of my third trimester, finding a comfortable sitting position on the sofa is becoming increasingly difficult. It had been a long day of child care with a two week relentlessly annoying cold, but I managed to find my reclined sweet spot, as well as sufficiently cover most of my body with a blanket.  My dear little boy stops his content playing on the floor, looks to me, and runs behind the sofa.  My immediate thought was this can’t be good, but I was waiting for the distinct smell of smoke or some other indication of catastrophe to motivate me to awkwardly lever myself off the sofa.  Within seconds my hero returns with a cardigan I left on the kitchen island and hands it to me.  Then he points to the comforter on the floor, trying to pull it up because Mommy should be comfortable.  Those moments make my heart melt…until twenty minutes later I’m talking on the phone for five minutes and he is practicing his version of the Rockettes’ Christmas special on our kitchen table.  When I try to retrieve him, he is giggling uncontrollably and artfully maneuvering out of my grasp.

My love will want me to hold him and dance to terrible music from his toy piano/automated music apparatus…apparently small children don’t need quality sounds in their toys.  All of these happy little noise makers make me want to gouge out my eyes to make the pain this music induces stop.  I think this thing was calling the dogs in the neighborhood in the process, but maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about because he rests his head on my shoulder as I awkwardly move to strange and brief tempos of popular children’s tunes I only vaguely recognize.  Then he looks up at me and gives me smooches, stroking my hair…then smacks me in the face…really hard, actually, before jamming his finger in my ear (His daddy taught him that gem.).  I was especially appreciative that his nails required clipping; I still have the battle scar…  Even as I’m yelping from pain and surprise, he is laughing maniacally.  I practically drop him to the ground, which prompted a devastated howl and desperate upstretched arms.  Maybe he learned his lesson?  I pick him up; immediately he resumes his creepy laugh as he jams that same very jagged-nailed finger back in my ear.

I managed to cut my finger this afternoon.  It was minor, but bled enough to require a bandage.  Little Man was very sweet with his concern, pointing repeatedly at the covered wound with a troubled look on his face as he patted my thigh and hugged my legs.  Less than an hour later I’m starting to prepare dinner.  My husband’s child asks for his milk and starts furiously banging his cup on our cabinets.  In an effort to take it away, I’m chasing him, which he always enjoys.  I’m not too proud to say that he can outrun me; I blame the pregnancy.  Something new, he runs to the gate blocking him from our dining room, and launches his milk cup as far as he can.  Milk splatters all over the floor.  Laughing, he stands in the doorway pointing to the mess he created like it’s a quality Basquiat reproduction.

I don’t have a lot familiarity with this age to know if I’m successfully raising a sociopath or if this is nature’s way of preparing me for his teenage years.  My one hope is that “jerk” is a phase…

Resolutions Resolve

I can’t remember the last time I was up until midnight, and last night was no exception.  My husband and I managed to accidentally stay awake until almost ten.  I think we both planned on passing out by eight-thirty tops, but it just didn’t work out that way.  Little Man also went to bed on the later side of his usual time, too excited with anticipation of the next year that hopefully won’t bring about a Trump or Cruz president…after all, I thought the Aztec Armageddon prediction already passed…Sorry, my liberal politics are showing, and that is not how I want to discuss my festivities…I don’t have antacids handy…

Since my husband and I were long asleep by the stroke of the New Year, I’m celebrating the change this morning.  I christened our new toaster oven, curtsey of a very speedy Amazon delivery yesterday.  But, I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to our old appliance, as it mustered a good fight up until the very end.  True, the bottom heating coils ceased working consistently some time ago, but there were spurts of efficacy triggered by snack machine whacks and shaking, which I will always appreciate.  We had a good run, but the New Year brings about new adventures and new friends.

This morning’s breakfast was a compilation of meager leftover ingredients because we desperately need to go to the store.  I opted to go full out crazy and deviate from my standard egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, resulting in a, “Meh,” but nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

I’m starting the New Year toasting the remnants of my cold that wants to keep the fight alive with my last bag of vanilla decaffeinated tea.  In the coming year I do not believe I will be restocking this particular flavor.  It’s good enough, but this year I hope to strive for more from life than mediocrity with my beverages.  In that same vein I hope to take a similar aggressive stance with my meals.  I will not be repeating that breakfast sandwich combination.

Clearly, however, such blasé ambitions for this latest calendar transaction did not pass to my son.  He decided to change it up and have three of his friends join him in his crib all night.  Usually he kicks everyone out just before his final settle like a last call bartender.  But, last night was for celebrating, so during this morning’s wake-up call, I was greeted with three stuffed animals littered in his crib with an anxious little man eager to send everyone home.  I think he was embarrassed because his hardy partying yielded an exceptional leak through all of his garments.  I must continue to thank him throughout the day because all New Years should begin with a full load of laundry.

My daughter decided to greet me in bed first thing this morning with active festivities in my belly.  I’m not sure what limbs were wailing on my internal structures, but I could feel her for the first time on the outside.  I guess she wanted a memorable transition because it was only two days ago she wasn’t quite strong enough for such an effect.  I bet she could take-on Trump or Cruz…

So, Happy New Year to all of my readers.  I don’t make resolutions per se, but I look forward to another year of change, ebbs, and flows.  May you all receive the serendipitous surprise of the unexpected; sometimes it’s better than what we hope for.

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