A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: October 2016

If These Toddlers Could Talk…

This isn’t my tale to tell, but fantastic nonetheless. My husband walks over to me in the kitchen while our children are occupying themselves. Apparently, our two-and-a-half-year-old Mr. Man greeted his father with, “Hello, sweetie pie, have good day?” Subsequently, patting my husband on the tushie and scampering off.

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Silver Linings

Overnight had all the makings as a prelude to a hideous day. My husband had an obligation to attend Saturday. He didn’t sleep well either, but I was the one to retrieve the hungry infant. I was tired and angry that he didn’t rise instead. Midway through the 4am feeding I climbed down from my wooden cross. Had I asked for him to own the task, he wouldn’t have hesitated.

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(This is how I see myself managing to function well before the sun even considers appearing. Thank you, State Hermitage Museum!)

I was set for a challenge. My husband would be leaving early, I would be left with a toddler recovering from a garden variety nose cold, which translates to energetic enough to destroy the house, yet grumpy enough to be annoying. I was also left with an infant pursuing every attempt to return to my uterus in the most fussy way possible. I can’t blame the Warrior Queen. She is sick and teething. But, as much as I empathize, it isn’t pleasant.

Immediately, my daughter was disgruntled. Usually, she knocks off after the first feeding for a spell; not this morning. Her trend the past couple days are early morning poops that could wake the dead with her shrieking. She is formula fed, which yields to what looks like a painful product at times…or maybe she’s just a talker. My son had a speech delay, so I was not blessed with unhappy baby babbling complaints in incomprehensible utterances that seem to make perfect sense.

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(Web Awards has nothin’ on Warrior Queen…)

I’d meant to exercise. It’s one of the few things that can pull me out of a funk, even one induced by restless sleep. But, my fierce girl only got it together as Little Man was singing his greeting to an empty room. The day was looking dodgy, and it barely began.

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(Vintage Everyday perfectly captures what I see in the monitor when my son awakens from a good sleep.)

I’d tried with lukewarm aggression to find an engrossing activity, but to no avail. Flummoxed, I opted for a seldom used diversion these days. We drove to the mall.

It’s an interesting thing. It doesn’t really matter what type of terror greets me in his crib; Little Man does well out and about for the most part. Saturday was no exception. However, as much as I knew he would be fine once we left the house, our destination turned into such a remarkable day.

My daughter sat in her bucket, smiling the way she does. Raspberries are her thing lately. With an expressive tongue jetting between her lips, she excitedly told me stories. For now, even though I’m a distant second to her brother, she’s still pretty tickled to see me. Her smiles encompassing so much of her face, they leave me expecting the top of her head to unhinge and fall behind her.

Our first stop was something to eat. The stores weren’t open yet, but a chain café was. I bought a turkey sandwich with avocado for my breakfast…because c’mon, avocado… It goes without saying a large iced tea accompanied. My son treated to an overpriced container of grapes. I love that they were such a indulgence for him. The fact that they were the size of a baby’s fist made him jubilant; telling me how large the items of his second breakfast were. I suppose that’s the purpose of genetic engineering…conversations for toddlers…

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(InyMiny thinks it’s all about the turtle, and that’s all well ‘n’ good, but they were some serious grapes…)

Little Man heeded me for almost the entire two-and-a-half hours we were there. He was delighted to travel throughout this expansive building finding all the elevators. He has the height of a child a year older, so he relished pushing the buttons, and feeling the slow pull to the next floor. There was very little arguing. There were no attempts or tantrums to use the escalator after I explained upon our arrival we couldn’t partake. Mr. Man took no issue with me using the potty. My son excited to wash his own hands the big boy way.

We walked up ramps and stairs. He told me of the sights he witnessed. He laughed. He experienced; all so mundane, yet wonderful.

He used a water fountain for the first time. Well, he tried to use it. He shoved the bottom part of his face in the cold water, but it was simply amazing to him.

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(Not a story for CNN, but Little Man rivaled this child in deft water fountain maneuvering.)

We ended our outing with a red balloon. I love the ones this store provides. They are free, and last maybe a day before deflating in a pathetic fizzle.

Little Man didn’t nap, surprisingly the Armageddon of a cranky toddler did not ensue. I read books and we pieced together puzzle pairs. Warrior Queen was only content when I held her, so her big brother helped me with pacifier duty. It was all inexplicably lovely.

A second large iced tea I smuggled home got me through, and my husband finally arriving home allowed me to exercise. As tired as I was, I felt terrific.

After sitting on my chest while I rested on the sofa and read some more stories, my son requested me to read him final good night tales, and tuck him in. I crashed into oblivion not much after.

When Tenacity is Rewarded

Horrible night’s sleep, which included a nightmare of sexual assault…because I’m watching too much political news these days. I was awake at four, and on a positive note, completed my entire ninety minute exercise routine before the cherubs stirred. Even more rare, my son and daughter slept so long that I also was quite productive with my writing.

A meeting at a local coffee house during my son’s playgroup went well, and a new system for a the inevitable spontaneous feeding was phenomenal. I can’t believe such an approach never occurred to me before. I suppose it’s the expertise of a subsequent child. But, glorious system to assist with the relatively unpredictable aside, my part-time employment/volunteer work is pulling together so well that I wonder if I need to pinch myself. I would think this even if I continued to work entirely for free, but I received my first paycheck for a four-month project a couple days ago. It’s a small stipend, but will pay for a good amount of chocolate, tea, and the occasional ten dollar cardigan or dress. And, let me talk about the amazing cookies I discovered at this exceptionally expensive establishment. The amount of butter involved preserves the day old discounted confections, and my taste buds were singing my praises hours after the cookies were consumed.

On the way home, we stopped at a local orchard that has a small assortment animals. Little Man lasted forty-five minutes, eating the apple he pilfered from me. He trotted along shrieking at the penned residents. This visit he ignored the goats and sheep, but once again gawked excitedly at the chickens screaming, “Cluck! Cluck!” with delight. His favorite fare these days seems to be the pumpkins for some unknown reason. I wore Warrior Queen, watching him as bliss consumed me. I followed my son around the area to the soundtrack of goats possessing the distinct bleats of old men attempting to rise from a recliner.

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(Can’t you just hear this one saying, “Get off my lawn?”)

Time was uneventful once we arrived home. My son had a bath, and we rolled right along. I sensed Mr. Man might be succumbing to another cold. His sudden wailing wake-up only and hour into his nap confirmed he wasn’t feeling so grand.

My daughter was sleeping peacefully at the time, but that wouldn’t last long. Once downstairs, Little Man tantrumed for hours until just before my husband arrived home from work. My son’s displeasure awakened the fierce one, who took her big brother’s screaming as a challenge. After some time, she yielded to Mr. Man’s tirades, immediately ceasing to cry. I’m used to this periodic unpleasantness; she was surprised, and just stared at him in bewilderment. At one point she briefly looked at me aghast, before returning her attention to him.

Toddler tantrums are funny beasts. What does one do with a small unhappy person overcome with misery because I’m willing to do exactly what it is he wants? I’m not sure how long it lasted; time stalls during these events, but Little Man eventually calmed enough to utter, “Piggies out,” and climbed on my outstretched limbs. He nestled into my chest and neck while I read book after book. My daughter finally smiled midway through the second story. My son paused his affection to quickly retrieve his disease infested stuffed dog, but otherwise the three of us remained in the same position until we heard the garage door open.

I don’t like them so unhappy, and the duration of these episodes tries my sanity. But, once the dust settles from the uproar, I wish the snuggles to last forever.

Hair Raising

My son wasn’t born with this head of hair:

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(According to CNN this is totally real!)

But, it was an impressive do that turned into a horrible and enduring Hitleresque comb-over coif at three-months. Little Man required a helmet during that time, so we could almost forget the tragic nature of the hairline the universe bestowed on him. My daughter also was born with a substantial amount of hair, even if the amount paled in comparison.

I don’t know if it’s the intense stress of existing as a baby or what, but Warrior Queen seemed to shed her hair before she could enjoy her crowded cascading coverage. But, unlike her brother, the shed was even and began replenishing almost immediately.

However, as quickly as her dome seemingly darkens daily, it has a duckling rubbed with a balloon quality to it,  especially right after a bath, and I absolutely love it!

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(I think thestrangeandunusual.bigcartel.com would have to agree this is a fabulous baby look.)

It’s fuzzy and soft, and I’m obsessed with it. I’ve never had a sense of smell, but I imagine that is heavenly too…if one looks past the greasy appearance when we waited a day or so too long before bathing her.

 

The Not So Sham of SHAMing

Before the idea of having children of my own, I remember repeating the very line that so many utter: Remaining home to rear children is the most difficult employment commitment one can choose.  While this is true, I guess, there is so much about it that escapes all of the nods I participated in.

To answer the question of what I must do all day; sometimes I don’t know, yet the day ends and somehow my children are sleeping. I suppose that’s the point; our days can be filled with anything, and it is entirely on my shoulders to consider. And, really, when declaring the difficulty of the SHAMing pursuit, it isn’t so much the schedule or the explicit childcare needs, but the complete ambiguity of my existence.

Having two small children in tow throughout every day without a break, regardless of any ailment that might consume me, can be grueling. It can be even more so knowing that my child care duties often continue into the evening despite a very involved, supportive, and helpful husband; but so long has this been my life that my former freedoms no longer whisper their truths. In the beginning the tasks were a sudden torrent of immediacy, but the winds died sooner than I expected, and the isolation and loneliness remained.

As elated to have my son with me, I wasn’t prepared for the lack of human contact and complete blank slate my life became so suddenly. On the one hand I loved my time with Little Man; on the other the vacancy of an outside world carried an oppressive weight, but I was too sleep deprived to consider how to remedy my situation. Fortune smiled on me, and I did not succumb to postpartum mental health issues, but I didn’t quite escape a rut of who I was now that my individual importance diminished caring for an infant.

The intensity of my struggles with the transition is likely due to how very sure of my identity I was prior to Little Man’s appearance. Forced to forego my previous career as I knew it pushed me to reinvent myself when I was so very enamored with who I had been. But, aside from recognizing my shift in identity, I had no notion of what a reinvention should look like. My choices seeming vast, much like each day before me.

But, I managed, and by the time my son was eighteen-months-old with a daughter on the way, I entered an inroad for some notion of my new identity. My toddler almost two-and-a-half years old, I almost don’t recognize the woman returning my gaze in the mirror. She is stronger, more empathic, more content and joyful, and astoundingly more ambitious. So trite that my life isn’t about me anymore. It isn’t solely about my children either, as society assumes to be the case. My vantage point is more panoramic. My thoughts drift to my legacy and the path for the humans I birthed who will inhabit the sands I leave behind. With all of my human service involvement it took having my children to understand both notions of humanity and servitude, and with that understanding I found who I am meant to be, even if my story is only a prologue as I write this.

But, as gratifying as my process feels much of the time, I am unable to shirk awkward conversations among strangers and mixed company. When asked, how do I explain my conventionally unconventional occupation? My halted and insecure acknowledgment of remaining home often met with an immediate and ungraceful termination of conversation.

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(“So, you say you do nothing productive with your time?”)

I often feel a compulsion to explain the choice to stay at home or describe the other pieces of my existence: the writing, the volunteering, the consulting. But, it all seems so complicated and unofficial that tending to my children full-time is my default answer.

Like many of the SHAMming mothers I speak with, my most withering challenges aren’t the concrete trials of caring for my children, but rather the all consuming uncertainty of my daily rigmarole. What does it mean to rear a good person, yet tend to my self-preserving needs, all the while in the throws of life interfering?

It is finally an honest answer that I wouldn’t trade any piece of my choice to stay home. I love it. I love the time. I love the experiences. I love who I am because of this choice, even when it isn’t quite so lovely.

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