A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Terrible Awful in Me, and Otherwise

I’m a terrible person; harsh, unforgiving, and cruel.  With gusto I will kick and stomp when someone is down, and award myself with notions of strength after I’ve accomplished just such a feat.  That someone is me.

I’m on the tail end of a fairly nasty nose cold.  I catch roughly a quarter of the plagues that befall my home, but when I am part of the befallen, it’s usually some degree of a doozy.  I don’t usually whine about being sick, so if I’m actually articulating misery with this type of thing, safe to say it’s probably pretty bad.

The first couple days of my cold were quite mild, so I deceived myself that I would be annoyed for a week, but my life would proceed as planned.  Maybe I would be grumpier than usual, but since Warrior Queen was also sick and waking up a bit at night, I probably wouldn’t receive too much blame for an edge in my cadence.  But, my colds are never mild.  I continued to tell myself I was experiencing a hint of sick even when a truck hit me in the early evening, leaving my eyes leaking tears from exhaustion, a blocked and vaguely pained ear, nausea, and headache.  My son woke from his nap, and I had not prepared dinner.  I stood at our kitchen counter frozen with slumped shoulders, unable to drape fish in a tray so the oven could do all the heavy lifting.  A rational person would say, “Man, I’m seriously sick.  Maybe I should sit.”  If a friend described the very scenario I was experiencing, I would tell them to sit and let their toddler burn down the house.  Hell, if the woman I encountered weeks ago or the person parked next to me at the mall described these events, I’d tell them to sit and grab a beverage…maybe some chocolate.

I berated myself for having to feed my son a serving of our plentiful leftovers.  He told me the lentil dish I served him was, “Delicious,” before eating two helpings, by the way, so why was it necessary to mommy guilt myself that the cod would remain in the refrigerator one more day?  I feel pretty confident the dead fish wouldn’t be insulted, and I was too sick to taste anything anyway.  My son clearly didn’t care, and my husband is always happy that he didn’t have to cook.

I’m proud to say much of the time I accept I’m not perfect…at anything.  Most days I even broadcast such news and events to anyone within close proximity.  The result is a shared laugh because so many of the trials of parenthood are strangely and wonderfully universal.  Having children allows me to welcome my imperfections, and laugh at the ride.  I don’t take myself quite so seriously anymore, but this critical piece of me continues to exist, taking full advantage when I am at my weakest.  And, she joins forces with my malleable and expansive imagination that possesses no loyalty either way.

After a grueling forty-eight hours of wakefulness, I managed a good night’s sleep.  Feeling significantly better and reasonably well rested, my equilibrium is returning.  I can laugh at myself again and reflect on my unreasonable chastise of my parenting performance and scrutiny over my general life tenacity.  What did I learn?  My children and I are at our best when I consider myself as worthy of kindness, attention, and nurturing…and chocolate has magical properties that can never be dismissed or minimized…

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Good Fun that is Funny…

It’s been three months with my daughter around.  I arrived at homeostasis, which translates that most days I don’t want to crawl into a hole from exhaustion, rather crawl into the same hole with a bag of chocolate hoping no one can find me.  Hyperbole aside, things are fine, even good, and I say that with a cold that my daughter and I share.

There are certain aspects to this new normal I concluded.  Pacifiers and mobiles are the ultimate peacekeeper, as well as shoddy forts.  I drape a blanket over his small table and two chairs, and my a-little-over-two-year-old son behaves as though I’ve erected the Taj Mahal, allowing me enough time to feed Warrior Queen.  I learned there is no conceivable way to manage two children so young in public without wearing one of them.  I also have come to understand that toddlers have a sense of humor that is mostly not funny, and involves stains or disinfectant in most instances.  But, the most prevalent aspect when reflecting on my new normal is the precarious Cat in the Hat style balancing game. 

(I long to be this cat…)

(Usually, I’m this one hoping to land in a kiddie pool of dark chocolate…with nuts.)

It isn’t an exaggeration to say that my current balanced life consists of at least one of the three of us unhappy at all times…with a generous coating of mom guilt.

I manage to complete one priority a day, praising my superior executive functioning capability once I finish.  If I am exceptionally lucky and the Earth tilts off its axis, two or three priorities can be accomplished.  Incidentally, bills and house cleaning don’t come close to making the list.  I clear maybe twenty minutes of true, uninterrupted time to myself during a typical weekday, and Mr. Clean can go screw with his friends Clorox and Pine Sol.

It’s hard to accept that I can’t do EVERYTHING, even if I had some notion of the full expanse of what everything entails.  I don’t like that someone is unhappy at all times.  I don’t like that often that someone is me.  I have to say, however, that I almost combust with love during unexpected, yet surprisingly frequent moments.  One of the most recent happened when retrieving my son from his quiet time this past week; I was dreading this rare occasion when he is inconsolably upset, awakening suddenly and wailing.  This particular disposition usually amounts to a couple of hours of frazzled caretaking that I pray my daughter sleeps through, though she never does.  But, on this occasion my son through sobbing gasps wanted me to tend to his unraveling sister first.  Her well being was more important to my little man than his need for Mommy cuddles and snuggles.  There are so many moments when I worry because my two seem to be perpetually waiting, and I feel all the more guilty when they wait as I attend to one of my needs…like eating…or using the restroom…or maybe something more frivolous still.  However, when I am witness to evidence that my son’s world is that we are all in this together, maybe, just maybe it will be okay after all.

Socrates, Shakespeare, Ellison, García Márquez, and a Toddler

My a-little-over-two-year-old son is finally speaking.  Expectedly, some of his language is clear to anyone, and some of it only becomes clear to me after several renditions of the speech pattern and a lucky guess.  Receptive comprehension was never an issue, but my husband and I took full advantage of his inability to repeat our commentary, which I know is problematic moving forward, yet I continue to offer my invaluable insight on social happenings, politics, or random life observations peppered with a host of colorful and creative terminology to anyone who will listen.  Maybe it’s the hormones; maybe it’s the sleep deprivation, but I’m not all that motivated to censor myself.

Sometimes when an adult asks Little Man a question he will provide a quick, “Yes,” and sometimes he means what he uttered.  And, there are those times when the gravity of his agreement supersedes a simple affirmative acknowledgment.  When asked if he enjoyed his time at a park, for instance, he provides a low key and dragged out, “Oh,” accompanied by a concerned and serious facial expression appropriate for the conversational setting.  It’s adorable.  But, neither my husband nor I knew how he came to develop such a sweet and funny articulation…until last weekend.  I do that, but decidedly less cute and endearing.  So, I’ll remember this example when my luck finally expires, and my son joins the masses of toddlers expressing their unique identities…by expressing a parent’s.

Could…Would…Should…

Warrior Queen is just under three-months-old, and I am reminded of the most spectacular trait of newborns.  They are nothing but love; amorphous, moist beings of love.  Holding my daughter is often an all day event, but after feedings is prime smile time.  My fierce girl is so happy in these moments she looks as though she might split from her wide, beaming smile.  She wiggles ecstatically too, as though the smile consuming most of her face isn’t quite large enough; the happiness and excitement must spread throughout the rest of the body she hasn’t discovered quite yet.

Food works the same magic with me, so I cannot quite say she is behaving in a manner unique to her life stage, but when she looks at me, I often receive the same greeting; her brother too, and my father…my husband and mother notsomuch, but that is a post for another time…  I comment on this because my son was the same way.  Other parents concur.  While my case sample does not hold water against the strictest research standards, it is enough for me to conclude that people are just born this way.  Sure, there is colic and any litany of upsetting health issues that damper a baby’s disposition, but a garden variety infant is nothing but love that threatens to push out any potential seam.

I remember when Little Man was this age; my top parenting priority became preserving his capacity for love, pressing me to reflect on how one can even go about something like that.  Part of my ruminations yielded my realization that I must model love.  My husband, that’s an easy one.  My family, mostly easy.  My friends, no problem…because I like to think I don’t collect asshats in my life.  But, then there is the rest of humanity, and I concluded how I navigate through daily encounters is probably the most profound, especially when I don’t realize my children are watching.  I’ve always been generally polite, but never took any social initiative.  That is different now, and I found something interesting that I only recently noticed as my son grew old enough to irritate bystanders:  other children notice too.  I’m not omniscient, but that seems important.

It saddens me to read so much helplessness and hopelessness in the news and social media.  A wise supervisor referred to this phenomena as giving away our power.  A shame because love never leaves us; sometimes it remains dormant waiting patiently for our attention, but it waits nonetheless.

Smiles

Warrior Queen is particular with her smiles.  I am the recipient of loads, but second to the ones bestowed on her brother.  She absolutely adores him, and he her…when he isn’t casting a greenish hue.  Little Man tends to his baby sister; the first at her feet when any unhappy squeal is uttered.  Sometimes he stands before her and stares.  Other times he not so gracefully attempts to return the pacifier to her sleeping mouth, or almost falls on top of her attempting to restart the swing or mobile.  Each event almost stops my heart thinking of the harm his loving deeds almost caused, but I try to commend him for the effort.  Often my intervention is showing him the appropriate gentle gesture required or assisting him with his caregiving task.

I’m not sure my son appreciates or even notices the fierce girl’s smiles, even when he is more accepting of her existence.  But, there are those times when my son will lie on the floor next to my daughter.  They will look at each other and smile.  Little Man will laugh and look at me before patting his sister’s belly.  The moment is never long enough; in a toddler blur he stands up, trotting off to his next diversion.

All’s Well that…Ends

It was inevitable.  Actually, few things are as inevitable as this, yet I found myself watching the initiation of events occur in disbelieving slow motion.  The entire two-and-a-half hour car ride to see my husband’s family was blissful, aside from the brief stop to reattach the car seat after my son worked his magic.  My daughter slept because she’s good that way.  My son slept briefly, but when awake entertained himself with passing vehicles and singing before sleeping the remaining half-hour.  My husband and I chatted like married couples together over a decade do…when they still like each other despite mutual sleep deprivation.  The party also went well.  No other children but ours were present, but Mr. Man didn’t seem to notice.  Warrior Queen was vaguely unhappy all afternoon, but that isn’t terribly new.  She can be that way.  But, with every passing minute of content experienced by my family of four, an increasing creep of foreboding seeped.

We were thirty minutes into our return home.  My son was telling tales of the traffic.  I humored him with my agreement because I had no idea what he was saying.  Little Man was increasingly past the threshold of exhaustion, so what started as good humored giggles and pointing, amounted to other less endearing forms of entertainment.

My son gagged himself, belly chuckles with each more involved effort.  It was attention seeking, so my husband and I ignored him knowing full well where such things were headed.  We braced ourselves, and looked back that final time to see patriotic themed vomit flowing from his mouth from the berries he had earlier.  Cheer turned to sobbing spasms as we sought a rest area.  Kid clean-up was my responsibility; my husband taxed with the car.  Both were reasonably uneventful.  My daughter continued to sleep in the car…miracles do exist…  Mr. Man finally getting a grip, demonstrating all the sweetness that comes when a child wishes to lessen the potential angered rage of parents.  Tired and covered from random second hand vomit debris, I held my son as he cuddled into me; we waited for my husband to finish.

With everyone buckled, we were once again on our way home, almost an hour delayed.  The remaining journey blessedly uneventful if you exclude Little Man picking his nose and wiping his findings on the window.  My husband repeatedly pointing to the residual protein spill on my dress for the remaining duration of the drive…because that never gets old…

Once home, my daughter immediately awakened, screaming.  All annoying events include poop, this event no exception.  I happened to change her mid movement, but even as I anticipated the final remnants, it oozed everywhere and splattered, some on my eyelid. Mr. Man eventually turned in. Warrior Queen eventually stopped screaming. I eventually achieved a shower.  The final pieces of the evening a blur before I was able to greet my eyelids, but nothing was else was more welcome.

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