A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: March 2017

Read Along

My soon-to-be-threenager loves a story. Scratch that, he is absolutely passionate about a story. It doesn’t matter the quality; Little Man does not discriminate. I read to him so often that he has the entirety of his bookshelf memorized. I don’t remember him on this front when he was Warrior Queen’s age. Newly mobile, she is too consumed with exploring to sit for a tale. My best shot is when she is partaking in a bottle or solids meal. I have her feed herself a bottle in her car seat bucket with a towel supporting the bottle for when she has difficulty maneuvering her beverage. It’s become her preferred bottle method, the independent sprite she is. I came to realization yesterday that phasing out the use of her bottle in a scant month or so will be a nonissue. My daughter much prefers non liquid foods, and would gladly do away with bottles altogether if she knew what to do with the sippy cup.

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(We use a Munchkin sippy cup. It doesn’t cause the same transition or dental issues as a typical sippy cup.)

I imagine she will get it once the time comes. I’ve stopped fretting on such things, as my kids always manage to do things like this in their own time as long as I don’t get in the way of their progress. If I’m a strong enough Mommy to let them be independent, they usually rise to the occasion, and it breaks my heart a little every time.

But, I digress…meals are the only time Warrior Queen will attend, unless her brother is reading to her…Mr. Man will take a tale whenever. It is a common site to have baby sister in her high chair, and big brother on my lap. We will all be snacking or nibbling something, and I will be reading from a collection my son chose and carted over to the kitchen table. Little Man will have a selection of certain favorites each week. Some of the books so practiced he will “read” them after my run through. Sometimes we alternate pages; sometimes he will recite sections randomly before requesting me to continue. I’m surprised of my love for a read aloud, even when the repetitions are tiresome. The best stories are the ones with an easy, rhythmical cadence; and I have to say I’m quite a good story orator.

I’ve found that Little Man quotes excerpts from his stories randomly throughout the day. One particular prized usage is from one that is tops on my list.

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Basically, the pigeon in this series is a toddler…and hilarious…because I don’t have to discipline him. My son’s preferred quote to throw at me is from this book, “It’s not fair. Ducklings get everything.” Usually the life context is correct even if there is no duckling…or cookie involved. If he isn’t particularly distraught with his situation, he will continue a bit further with the dialogue.

Several months back I schlepped a box of books up from the basement. Our shelves were becoming cluttered, so we temporarily retired some of the books I read to my son when he was a baby. Since my fierce sprite is older, they were called back into service. Mr. Man was absolutely delighted and pilfered the selection on the regular for a couple weeks.

The bucket feedings, however, are the purist opportunity for me to read to a captive baby audience, even if she demonstrates no literature preference just yet. The other day is an example of a moment I want to recall easily for the remaining days of my life. Warrior Queen was in her bucket enjoying her bottle. I was sitting on the floor next to her, Mr. Man on my lap. He chose two among the week’s favorites, and as I read Brown Bear my son bobbed his head to the predictable rhythm of the words each and every time I read the story.

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When I read Llama Llama Red Pajama, he laughed to himself at each of his favorite parts of the book.

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Warrior Queen was rapt on the pictures, drinking peacefully. It was such a small memory, one that would likely evaporate in my family’s story. But, I have these words, and one day when I sit with my mug of tea, I will come across this, and the clearest picture will rush to my mind’s eye. For that brief moment my children won’t be quite so independent…quite so distant.

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Immortalized Nostalgia…and a couple of asshats

I began this blog when my son was almost a year old. As his first birthday approached I penned a post about my delivery. The entirety of my daughter’s existence is within the confines of this site, but there is one particular event I’ve decided to make a permanent fixture within my documented parenting history. It wasn’t hastening a departure from my mind regardless.

I’ve spent so much time working with destructive populations that I’m desensitized from horrific events and stories in profound ways. My threshold for the disturbing is quite high, yet I can no longer stomach the horror movies I used to love…go figure. I’m told this situation is horrible and terrifying. I don’t remember it as such, but I recall it as odd and stupid.

I had difficulty conceiving our second, but nothing major in the grand scheme of things. I’m geriatric by conception standards…my husband more so. Consequently, over the course of seven months I lost four pregnancies in a row very early on. It was gut wrenching at the time, but now having my little girl, the process lost its sting. From time to time I compare sibling age gaps in other families, but mostly the impulse flows over me with little consequence.

My husband and I attended our first session with a fertility doctor when I happened to just be pregnant with Warrior Queen. It was in the five week neighborhood, and I felt this time was different, but I was terribly afraid to embrace those thoughts. A couple days before the weekend my blood was drawn for a whole slew of genetic collections, as well as a pregnancy test. I can’t recall exactly how often I checked my online status, but I learned every result within twenty-four hours, except the pregnancy one…They forgot to submit it. Sunday rolled around, and the suspense was eating away at me. Some time during the solitude of a two hour return drive from a family event, I decided to buy a home pregnancy test.

It isn’t all that often I have time to myself. My husband is wonderful, so most weeks I’ll have part of a day to gallivant by my lonesome, but even including these hours, I am infrequently unencumbered by small children. I was anxious to purchase the pee stick, but not so anxious to rush the drive. Plus, I was thoroughly enjoying a Moth story on NPR. I can no longer remember anything specific about it, but I remember it as funny. It’s always when things are most enjoyable that traffic signals are green.

Exiting the highway I expected to stop. I remember feeling disappointed it was a delayed green left arrow. I followed the car in front of me barely needing to slow for the turn. A quarter of a mile down the road…through a rotary, I pull into a local drug store lot to purchase whatever store brand pregnancy test I could find. I listened to the remaining couple minutes of the story, and exited my car in my own focused world.

It was summer, still quite light outside even as the day was ending. I did not expect a mammoth black truck stopped right behind my car, blocking a possible escape. Two men sitting in said truck waiting for me to look up, windows down.

I can’t remember the exact dialogue, and, really, it was frustratingly circular, so the specifics aren’t important. I don’t know where they came from, but they were convinced the person in the car in front of me and I ran a red light. They chose to follow my car to reprimand me. What transpired I immediately recognized as intimidation, even if this type of interaction style wasn’t a formal plan by the two men. I note this because the efficacy of intimidation preys on emotional wherewithal on the recipient…or lack thereof. More specifically, identifying intimidation intellectually as it is occurring breaks the emotional power it holds, and allows one to think clearly, even if one is stuck in the situation. These interactions are quite scary the first few times one experiences them…they are meant to be, but situations of this nature are somewhat old hat for me working with a criminal or generally sketchy element of society. I can’t identify why exactly, but I did not perceive a threat beyond what was occurring. I did, however, recognize they were hoping for me to flood with guilt, start crying, and beg their forgiveness…an emotional, frazzled, and scared response. If I were a man, this event wouldn’t have happened, and that irked me even as I was experiencing the interaction.

Neither man accepted that they were wrong with their assumption; that it was, in fact, a green light no matter how much I asserted the reality of the matter. I remember one aspect of the conversation that continues to strike me as amusing. The driver of the truck informed me that me arguing with them was telling. I can’t remember the word he used. I don’t know if I fully heard it at the time. As he became increasingly frustrated with me, his sentences became incomplete. The descriptor of me that he garbled was the first of his deteriorating dialogue, and I remember it took every ounce of willpower not to counter him with something to the effect of, “You followed a random person a quarter mile down the road because you thought you saw a traffic violation, and I’m the one traveling to crazy town?” Alas, I said nothing of the sort…but really wanted to. Seriously, these assholes were keeping me from buying my pregnancy test!

There were a couple more back and forths in this power struggle that would continue for much longer in the same vein as its own inertia. I was starting to lose my cool, so shut down the exchange, “I get that you get off intimidating women, but it was a green light.” It’s been my experience that those using intimidation without physical violence forethought often do so under a veil of self righteousness. Often framing the interaction as a negative against the individual forces their retreat…or sudden end to whatever interaction is transpiring. But, I say this as someone who works off of an experienced gut, and I wouldn’t hand off my approach as a recommendation for others. As soon as my comment left my lips, the driver yelled back through gritted teeth, “I don’t,” and sped off rambling that he hopes I get caught next time. I commented within the earshot of the couple staring at our exchange a couple cars away, “Sorry to disappoint, but they don’t offer commendations for obeying simple traffic laws.” I muttered some type of colorful adjectives as I walked into the store reeling.

I called my husband to tell him what happened, and I was cautious leaving the store. I didn’t think the men circled back, but one never knows.

Within the hour my pregnancy was confirmed.

Food and Thought

My son is a good eater…not a perfect one. Often he will engage in random tantrums because he can’t have more tomatoes, broccoli, or some other food that has me mentally fist bumping and busting a finely choreographed move. The only way I was able to get Little Man to stop pilfering all of the bananas…sort of…is by driving into his expanding brain that too many bananas will interfere with his ability to poop, which is funny. Mr. Man has absolutely no trouble in that department. Bananas might actually do him (and me) some good. I try to remember these primary food preferences when I allow him to stuff himself with chocolate, nuggets, and fries. Warrior Queen demonstrates the same food preferences thus far, so maybe I can consider this piece a parenting win?

Warrior Queen is passionate about blueberries, delicately lifting each one to her mouth, concentrating on the tray before her. Periodically, she’ll notice my stare, rewarding me with a newly toothy grin before continuing on her berry mission. Fierce Girl also enjoys strawberries, even if they pale in comparison to the blue counterpart. I cubed six reasonably sized strawberries today for her enjoyment. She finished her serving, and indicated she wanted more; but I decided to give her some previously prepared chicken in the fridge. She warily looked at it and selected a piece. But, as soon as the small bit of poultry lands on her tongue, Warrior Queen looks up at me with a finely tuned stink eye, and a general expression on her face that I can only describe as resembling the look if I had taken a dump in her mouth. Immediately, she began crying, tilted her head down so the chicken could fall onto her high chair tray. I get it. I feel the same way about baked chicken.

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(Retired–Now What? has a similar disdain.)

In general, my daughter has a flare for the dramatic. It was an evening about a week or so ago. I was in our office completing some work when I hear the resident ten-monthish-old screaming quite passionately. My husband was with her, so I remained assuming she pooped…or was sat on or something by her big brother. Even though the predictable responses for her various crying fits did not occur, it wasn’t my problem. My husband did not ask for my help, so I let it go. When I ventured into the room holding my family, my husband informed me that the screaming was due to Warrior Queen finishing her serving of ice cream. I get it. I feel the same way about…most food terrible for me.

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(The Angriest Babies in the Whole World knows what it looks like when you are about to be smite by a baby.)

Shaking my head, I refill my small plate of chocolate. I swear I didn’t make even the slightest crinkle in the plastic, but Mr. Man honed in, and descended upon me, leaping and skipping the way he does when he is all abuzz with happiness and excitement. He already had his evening treats, but, of course, I cave and give him a share of mine. I justify the indulgence as this the only time of day he has sweets at all…most of the time. He did eat a good dinner after all (sigh). As I remove myself from the room to return to the office a single thought occurs to me: What am I gonna do once Warrior Queen is old enough to stake dibs on my chocolate stash?

Feelin’ the Love

There are truly delightful moments with my children, especially my soon to be threenager. Warrior Queen is ten-months and not really mobile, so most of her life’s navigation is exceptionally cute. Right now I relish the floodingly moist baby kisses and the way she will rest her head on my chest at times when I hold her. It is a sign of affection I will miss once it vanishes. It’s usually prompted when I provide smooches to her cheek. Once she’s sufficiently speckled, often she rewards me with multiple cheek sucklings in return or a resting hug. My daughter is much freer with her affectionate efforts, and I’ve found it my mission to preserve that in her…as well as her determination to assert her needs with the force meriting a, suffragist lady. And, if I’m honest, I’d prefer her to be a bad ass Black/African American suffragist lady, because they were the strongest among the group. With my fierce girl, it’s all pretty much swoon worthy. Little Man within the context of his independence and control assertions, swings his disposition pendulum to the extreme sides of the arc.

The other day he was so terribly sweet to his baby sister. He often is, but it is usually misguided with all of his attempts to be kind or helpful. He tries to cuddle Warrior Queen…by sitting or laying on her for a hug. He shares toys, but ripping from her hands the one she is in the process of enjoying, replacing it with a different toy she has no desire for. He will often help me clean…after making his various puzzle pieces rain confetti all over the sitting room area. Mr. Man will retrieve his own food…by climbing up the ladder that is our refrigerator shelving. His drinks are within easy access. But, this particular day he asked me to hug and snuggle his baby sister, telling me that he has to be gentle. True to his word he nuzzled and wrapped his arms around her so delicately, and my heart swelled. We read many books to prepare Little Man to be a big brother…he still enjoys them, attempting to enact every strategy listed. Sometimes he will become particularly frustrated when denied something he sees as his obligation. Following his lovely hug, my sweet boy asked me to feed his fierce sister. He tore a piece of his toast, showing me before lightly placing it in her eager mouth.

Several instances throughout that same day, and with increasing frequency in general, my son selected a favorite book of his he memorized, and sat next to Warrior Queen, reading each page with the same inflection in which I read each tale. If I didn’t know better, I would think he was an almost three-year-old reading prodigy. My daughter always seems to prefer my son’s literary touch to mine; she’ll gaze at him enamored while he concentrates on each page. The only time I have her undivided attention with a story is while she is eating.

But, of all of his growing and independence pursuits I’ve been expecting him to turn away from me…seeking to understand his world. Elements of that exist, certainly, but I’m surprised to find that my son turns to me more than he did when he was his sister’s age. Last night for example, Little Man’s latest pursuit to delay his bedtime is “two minutes” to lay in our bed. He doesn’t ask his father. This is a delay tactic reserved entirely for me…because he knows I’m a sucker for a snugglefest, and last night did not disappoint. My sweet boy cuddled into me as we shared my pillow, under three blankets. Upon his initiation we had multiple rendition exchanges of stating how much we love each other, “Love you too,” “Love you,” “I love you so much.” The final version particularly impressive, as Little man confuses I and you within his increasingly sophisticated sentences and requests. Furthermore, this was the first time he really told me he loves me. Prior he would say, “Love you too,” but that is something he’s repeated from my utterances…probably directed toward his daddy. I suppose he’s heard the other versions as well, but it’s never been like this. I suppose a piece of this was to delay sleep, but some day…probably soon…these efforts will stop. He will turn away from me as he grows into a man. But, these moments are mine for as long as I have them, and hopefully they will sustain me for the drought that is to come.

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