A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Monthly Archives: September 2017

Loss

This is an odd post…a situation I’d had a low lingering inkling that I didn’t want to accept. I have…had a close friend. He was an amazing and very tortured soul; most of his life. Out of respect for his privacy, I’ll leave the details for the winds to whisper as part of his memory. But, he touched so many lives…people forgotten…left behind. His strength and power always inspired me to be my best self. He embraced his frailties; I’d always admired that about him. Tragically, however, he spent most of his life lonely. I’m not sure how he passed; I’ll never know, but I have notions within the realm of possibility, and it breaks my heart.

I’ve lost like this before; someone terribly close. I was an adolescent at the time, and my greatest regret was never expressing my love for him, and the depth to which his friendship shaped me. As much as a piece of me had been expecting to find my friend’s obituary online after two weeks of a quiet phone, I worry his last days were spent feeling unloved. I’d been especially neglectful for a couple of weeks, not checking-in as regularly as I’d practiced over the last several years because of his circumstances. Whatever happened I couldn’t have prevented it, but I hope from the center of my existence he knew on some level what he meant to me. I doubt he ever accepted his value, but in pleading ardent hope I pray I communicated it nonetheless. I think I did. I can’t bear to think I didn’t.

He will forever live on in my thoughts, and inspire my actions…to selflessly embrace the big, seemingly unsolvable problems…because that was his life. Furthermore, I’ll try to laugh more, worry less because barriers are never as insurmountable as they seem. That was his life as well.

I hope my children live a life knowing how to laugh with their whole beings…to seek humor in the most unlikely places. It’s one of the things I remember most about my friend; his endless humor at the most random, odd things. I hope to be as steady a presence during the most terrifying of moments. I hope to level opposition with a pointed, intimidating stare. I hope to have the flair for colorful language that kept us rapt and peculiarly joyful during meetings. I hope I’m brave enough to feel life as he did…to experience humanity in all of its remarkable and horrifying facets, and seek to make it better.

But, most of all I hope he finally has peace.

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Trepidation

The cusp of three-and-a-half-year-old Mr. Man had his first dentist appointment the other day. My husband and I have a standard protocol introducing new and possibly unpleasant things to him, and its efficacy is magical…Like a unicorn spontaneously appearing in my family room shitting cookies and telling me MPOTUS and his dream team are in prison.

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(allposters.com read my mind; can’t you FEEL the magic…totally worth a house coated in glitter, right?)

Little Man has always struggled with transitions, even for small changes in activities. As a little wee man, if he were enjoying swings, good luck getting him off…out of a bathtub…out the door. It never mattered. Announcing anything requiring him to shift gears almost always led to a refusal and meltdown.

For the longest time it was enough to countdown minutes; I still do. It’s a bit absurd. We call them “Mommy Minutes” because they have no actual relationship to real time. A Mommy Minute is probably more like a minute-and-a-half in real time…because I have shit to do. The process begins with me announcing five minutes remaining of an activity, then I periodically announce one minute less in intervals suiting me. The last announcement will be thirty seconds before I ask my son to count from ten. Once he accomplishes his part, I almost never have an issue ushering him to the next task. Occasionally, I have to follow-up with a mild redirection or limit, but I can’t remember the last time there has been a full-out heel digging and head spinning.

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(Linda Blair pictures were freaking me out, but Anthony Hopkins is hot and beats the hell out of the Mitch McConnell look alike that kept popping up…You’re welcome.)

It doesn’t have to be minutes either. I’ve counted pushes…bites…taps…anything. The point is that he needs time to shift gears. He probably inherited this rigidity from me. It’s interesting because he’s pretty easy going and laid back. I would have expected him to be a worrier or a generally anxious kid; he isn’t.

That said, for a bit around when Warrior Queen was born we were having trouble getting Mr. Man to sit for a hair-cut, and few things make a Mommy feel like more of a humiliated failure than when she and her offspring are bounced from a bargain hair salon amongst a crowd of bystanders. That was our family’s hair-cut bottom, and Little Man was in desperate need of trimmed locks.

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(You got me Flickr, this guy’s situation might have been worse, but only because my experience isn’t on the internet. And, really, I’m just one delicious chocolate cake away from an impressive pants split.)

My brilliant husband spent the following week talking about getting a hair-cut. General things: what happens…random details…how long it takes…why it’s time to get one…Mommy and Daddy have them. There was nothing poetic about the conversations, and some were quite clumsy. Often he passionately refused during these conversations. If he became weepy, we’d stop talking, and move on to other topics. But, the next weekend my Mr. Man sat on Daddy’s lap for a hair-cut without issue. When he was finished he skipped over to me screaming, “I did a good job!” We haven’t had a problem with hair-cuts since.

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(The hair-cut was miraculous! Thanks, The Wolf.)

Little Man abhors the doctor even more than a hair snipping…even if it isn’t an appointment for him. But, after a week of talking about it, my brave boy managed his most recent physical despite reddening eyes and a shaky voice as the visit progressed. Fortunately, no vaccinations that round, but I’ve used this approach for his last blood test checking his lead levels. Whenever we leave appointments that potentially throw his disposition askew, my husband and I tell Little Man how brave he was, and how proud we are of him. We often talk about bravery in our home…feeling fear, but pushing on anyway.

This leads us to the dental appointment. The tricky thing with this situation is that I wasn’t sure what would be happening. He’s three; how can they clean the teeth of a three-and-some-change-year-old kid? I don’t make promises I’m not sure I can keep, so I feared my responses would be ungratifying. Will it hurt? Probably not, but I’m not sure what they are doing exactly. It will probably just feel weird. I focused on their expertise working with kids his age. He asked if he could sit on my lap during the appointment. I’m not sure, but I could commit to before and after. Blessedly that was enough. My intermittently cautious kid was nervous the night before. He didn’t say, but we had trouble getting him to settle the night before, and he woke early.

It was a strange morning. Getting him ready we spoke more of the appointment…went over the same concerns…would it hurt…the lap situation. Mr. Man pauses at the end before saying with an intellectual, high pitched lilt in his voice, “I don’t know. It sounds suspicious to me…” That one prompted a cascade of tears blurring my vision for five minutes…and side cramps.

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(It’s a little known fact that Socrates was really a preschooler.)

We needed to be out of the house first thing, but my son climbed into my car forty-five minutes before it was time to manage our exit shuffle. I hadn’t even wrangled a shower yet. He gave me a bit of push back before allowing me to carry him back into the house.

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(Usually this is Warrior Queen’s spirit animal, but not on this occasion. Thanks for the token, Pinterest!)

Entering the house and left to his own devices while I prepared for our day, Little Man resumed business as usual. He tormented his sister for a bit…tormented me a bit less…all in a day’s morning ritual. I showered, finished making snacks for the day. Suddenly, the house was quiet. Little Man disappeared once again, finding his way into his car seat. I went ahead and buckled him in, but he didn’t want me to go. I squeezed myself on the edge of the car floor in front of him.

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(Looks comfy cozy, doesn’t it? Sick Chirpse knows I’d do just about anything for my children…)

He kissed and held my hand telling me how much he loves me. We laughed. I asked him if he was scared. He said he was. We talked about bravery some more. He said he is brave; I agreed. He asked to check my teeth; I complied. I’d managed to ignore the pain in my hips and tushie, but eventually the tingling jabs were intolerable. I smooched Mr. Man, and provided one more snuggle before leaving my precarious perch. My little man did not stop me.

There were no tears or tantrums as we entered the office…no apprehension. I didn’t know what to expect, but from the immediate first moments they were pros. Pediatric dentistry is no joke, but this crew had it down. My son was marvelous for the entire time…cleaning and all that included dental floss! I didn’t bring in my phone incorrectly assuming this first appointment was probably a meet and greet with a quick check to see if anything is rotting.

I couldn’t help but wear a smile so wide that my face became sore; quietly gazing at my little man as he sat on folded legs wearing the sun glasses they gave him because of the bright lights. The hygienist won him over by allowing him to fondle the various instruments. My son agreeably opened his mouth like a dinosaur, even though he didn’t seem exactly sure what that meant. He tried to answer questions about juice and gummy snacks, but was unable. Mr. Man has a bit of juice a couple of times a week, and I don’t think has ever eaten a gummy snack; this was one of the rare times I felt I kill it at this whole parenting thing. It isn’t as though I feel I’m terrible at it, but every once in a while something happens that makes me feel like I should be carried off by a team of smartly dressed athletes.

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(I can still hear the chants, “Mommy…Mommy…Mommy…”)

We left the appointment with my son holding my hand telling me how brave he is, beaming I whole heartedly agreed.

Less Than Perfect, but Close Enough

It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was a good one. The little lady woke earlier than she had been, so while I was unhappy to slog my unrested body out of bed, I was able to enjoy guaranteed Warrior Queen giggles as I speckled her neck with a light dusting of kisses. Even waking grumpily, she will laugh. She simply cannot help herself, and I absolutely love it. She does a couple of new things these days, like climbing…on EVERYTHING, particularly the kitchen table. She finally figured out how to move chairs to her liking to complete her table top cabaret. Her screams when I prevent her from pulling out a pushed in chair confirms that Mommy is the soul crushing dream killer I’d been hoping to become for years.

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(“I told Pinterest I didn’t need this gig to get through college, but I’m just SO good at it!”)

But, Warrior Queen also cuddles on my lap, leaning against me, arching her back periodically to look me in the eye smiling. She carries me books telling me, “READ!” My fierce girl also plays. Over her quiet breakfast she scowled at me, furrowed brow and all. I imitated the expression; we held it in mutual determination for a few seconds before Warrior Queen broke into her tell tale toothy smile that consumes her entire face. I absolutely loved it, and I loved her lifting her delicate toddler feet so I could rub her soles.

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(You’d ache to rub the feet belonging to this face too, right Homebrew Talk?)

I’m just on the other end of a rare minor cold that still prevented any iota of exercise completion for a little over a week. Consequently, I’m not able to particularly perk up in the morning. Even pursuing a steady dose of a caffeine elixir, I’ve been ready to sleep standing for a couple days now. Today was especially grueling despite eight hours of mediocre sleep. I’ve been opting for hot tea for the past week or so. I’m thankful I thought to buy a few cans of evaporated milk during our weekend’s grocery jaunt. A creamy tea makes things just a little more special, which is ideal when my body does not.

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(It isn’t a unicorn, but I bet you feel more special now too, thanks, Scary Mommy!)

Mr. Man slept until a bit after eight, and he wasn’t even sick…anymore. That was lovely. I decided to try for our frequented library music program. My parents joined, which allowed me to peruse their used books on sale for a steal. There’s no rhyme or reason to the pricing…I bought eight books for three dollars; sometimes it’s five dollars for a few stories less. But, whatever, I’m able to pick-up some tales I wouldn’t think of otherwise. Today there were two with amazing illustrations, and the stories weren’t horrible. I’m a sucker for beautiful artwork, especially in children’s books. I managed one or two with somewhat of a diversity component. Such things are horribly difficult to find. Little Man enjoyed the parachute, shaking the material at the border with the adults. He usually begs to leave early when my parents join, but not today. He asked, but was easily convinced to remain; he seemed glad he did.

Little Man mostly played well in the kid area after the program. He’s moderately obsessed with trains these days. For a beat or two explained to a younger boy how one might go about playing with a train set…the young toddler a fraction of my son’s tall expanse was rapt. Other children flocked to the table as his play progressed. Suddenly my son swishes the large procession of mismatched train cars into a bin. Other children were waiting to have their turn with them, but he was finished and cleaned after himself…I should note he doesn’t do such crazy things as picking up after himself at home.

Warrior Queen took a three hour nap…Mr. Man did not nap at all. Apparently, he can open the gate upstairs, preventing him from descending down to the lower level of our home. He kept leaving his room throughout the two hour span of “quiet time,” but never unlatched the gate to journey downstairs until it had been almost exactly two hours. I’m grateful quiet time was:

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(It still stinks, but there was no one around to pilfer my chocolate!)

rather than:

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 (Pinterest knows all about unobstructed children not napping.)

In between threats, I managed to accomplish some of what I hoped. I called my Senators and Representative about one obnoxiously almost infinitesimal fraction of the latest bit of horrible from our country’s “leadership.” I’ve also managed to find a couple of organizations that allow me to take part in this multi-pronged voter suppression issue from home. There is so, so, SO much stuff to focus on that I worry no attention is shining on hordes of people denied information and access about the election process at every level and their constitutional right to vote. Most of what I do isn’t particularly glamorous, but it’s important. Also important that I want my children to be socially and politically conscious, meaning I needed to step up my game…big time. Interestingly, it’s kinda addicting. Feeling like I’m part of my government…my country; taking action to make things better for those who’ve struggled for too long, in part, because of my complacency. But, my surge of participation and engagement gives me control…allows me feel another layer of purpose. I highly recommend it to others. Start small, call your state and federal congressional officials. You won’t regret it!

As I concluded the most recent of my frequent calls to my Representative, Mr. Man managed to appear downstairs without waking his sister, so we were able to spend some sweet time together. His latest thing is giving me kisses, and I love it. We shared my special popcorn, which consists of an olive oil spray coating with parmesan cheese sprinkled throughout. My son was doting on me, insisting that he periodically feed me pieces WITHOUT placing them on his tongue first. We read some of the new stories I purchased, built some towers. Little Man laughed and smiled in his glorious way. He snuggled the way he does best. I absolutely loved it. My growing boy helped me tidy, beaming as he uttered his desire to help me. He enjoys feeling helpful, and I adore watching the pride in his stature when I remember to assign him tasks. These days he itches to help me cook. I’ve started creating benign steps, so he can assist. A side note, I fantasize about the day when I can cook with my children.

Warrior Queen woke an hour after her brother. Retrieving her from upstairs, speckling her neck in whispered kisses…naturally she giggled. The remaining pieces of the afternoon and evening deteriorating slightly as the children grew tired, but I certainly won’t complain. After all, nothing is always perfect, but the good moments certainly are.

Orations of Consequence

Mr. Man had a speech delay, so didn’t utter his first word until about two-and-a-half-years-old, but given he is currently a bottomless fountain of chatter, no one would know. Warrior Queen was about five-months-old at the time, so perhaps not surprising that his first word was “baby.”

I began assuming my daughter would have a speech delay as well. She blew past fifteen-months in the rear view mirror and nothin’. True, she embraced language benchmarks her big brother did not…like movement and sound reciprocity games; but I assumed I misremembered or something even though I was quite positive I wasn’t.

A few weeks ago my increasingly toddling toddler said her first word, and she was quite confident about the assertion. “Down!” It isn’t as clearly articulated as an older being with a better developed language capability, but she is most definitely passionate about the word. Sometimes, but certainly not often, she’ll holler it within a snuggling embrace. Usually, however, it is a fun little game she plays with me…Well, she thinks it’s fun anyway. For me it’s cute within the first five minutes, but when her attention span continues as though she’s about to sprout pink ears and a drum and my arms become weary, I’m begrudged wishing each “down” will be my last for the duration.

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(“Modest Fashion Network, hear me roar!”)

The crux of the game is her pulling herself onto the sofa, and yelling “down,” so that I’ll sweep her up and lay her on a couple of pillows I use to brace a potential fall off said sofa. It’s a funny exchange. She presents me with a huge smile, sometimes laughing…trailing giggles as I have to raise myself partway off the sofa to catch her crawling away. Sometimes she reaches for me after her assertion, ever present beaming smile expecting my reaction. When I’m ready to quit umpteen lifts ago, I remind myself the game will become forevermore stale for her sooner than I am willing to let it go…It’s an effective motivation. The best part, however, is the way she leans into my crook or resting against me in some way, snuggled in deep. It’s the telltale she is finished playing, and she remains as I run my fingers though her soft, dark curls. Occasionally she’ll lean her head way back and look at me…always smiling presenting her eight glorious teeth.

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(Okay, Wikipedia got me…I’m a sucker for a Warrior Queen smile…)

And, then there was her second word shortly following the arrival of her first, uttered with equal passion and commitment. “Read!” There’s never a game, but for weeks she’s frequented our bookshelves housing almost our full collection of stories. The same four or five are selected on almost every occasion, but she will also venture into new tale territory after her fill of favorites. I’d worried she wouldn’t enjoy stories as much as her brother. I don’t read them to her the way I did to him at her age. Mr. Man preferred leg bouncing to the rhythm of the stories. My fierce girl likes to bounce and dance to my cadence on her own…laughing and smiling….She seems to know when each story indicates something funny. I’m sure it’s a coincidence, but I’m relieved the second child wasn’t on the receiving end of the limited time and patience disparity when compared to her brother’s experience as a young toddler.

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(Pinterest knows the delights of a barely toddler smiling and busting a move.)

Many of my posts are not exclusively reserved for Warrior Queen. She is so young that there isn’t much about her as an individual capable of consuming a post by her lonesome. But, I sense that is about to change because my little girl demands it.

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(Warrior Queen plans to take over the world with her ferocity, and Positively Scottish knows it!)

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