A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: balancing children needs

Faulty Negotiations

Fifteen-month-old Warrior Queen started requesting stories about a week ago. It’s mostly the same three that she will remain rapt and smiling. One particular morning Mr. Man was enjoying Tar Beach on my applesauce legs, despite frequent sisterly interruptions to desist and read Moo, Baa, Lalala. Big Brother was good about it. He fully understands the lure of a good story. Warrior Queen doesn’t have an iota of patience, so my compromise was every couple of pages of his story, I stopped to read her much shorter ones…She’s quite a convincing advocate for her needs, and Little Man, thankfully, was a good sport. My hunch is that as long as he was able to remain encased in his mommy cocoon, Warrior Queen could demand anything she wanted. But, I also think her occasional protector loved her giddy smiles and occasional attempts at “lalala,” laughing when the book reveals that fancily clad pigs don’t actually carry canes and sing in a kick line.

I abruptly finished reading to eat my perfectly cooled grilled cheese sandwich breakfast. I started fixing two, as my breakfast of champions is consistently pilfered by Warrior Queen. Naturally my son insists on partaking so not be left in breakfast dust. But, this morning I almost managed to eat the entirety on my plate.

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(CinemaBlend must have seen what I look like hangry.)

It didn’t matter I’d read her story twice, Warrior Queen was immediately disgruntled that I left to care for the needs of my empty tummy. Squeals and a scrunched toddler face prompted Little Man’s intervention. He subsequently lifted the book and began “reading,” attempting the same page inflections as I. As a three-year-old he’s a convincing reader…His story recites parallel my utterances with impressive exactitude. But, despite his ardent effort to entertain his sister, she decided she wanted no part in his oration. He attempted to hold her in place and pleaded with her to remain listening. Warrior Queen whined her shrill shriek in the way that has become all too familiar, crawling past and over her brother while simultaneously attempting to kick him off her leg.

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(If there wasn’t a grilled cheese involved, you’d be thinking it was nap time too, right?)

She managed a few paces before Mr. Man tackled her flat, yielding a impassioned wail even though she wasn’t hurt. Big brother can be very persuasive when he puts forth the full force of his effort, but sometimes the art of the deal is destined to fail.

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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.

Fairly Aggressive, Not All that Passive

My two-year-old son is a seasoned professional in the sleep regression field, but seems to be starting his transition back to his reliable snooze during the day.  I say this cautiously, as today was the first day in almost two weeks when he napped.  It wasn’t enough to spare me from an odd mix of sweetly clingy and dismally cranky, with a side of impulsive destruction as the late afternoon progressed into evening, but I’ll take it.

There are all kinds of reasons for sleep regression specific to this age, but Mr. Man’s brand is concern for missing out on Mommy time.  If I weren’t so tired, this would be endearing.  The genesis of this problem is my fault, really.  A combination of me assuming a toddler equates an oblivious human, and his delayed speech pressing me to forget exactly how finely attuned his receptive language is, prompted me to lament to anyone who would listen on the phone how the Warrior Queen spent the duration of Little Man’s nap sleeping on me for several days in a row.  The fateful afternoon in question began his naptime with my son waiting in his crib while I trekked downstairs to retrieve his disgusting bacteria and disease carrying stuffed dog, as well as my wailing daughter.  He screamed, “Baby! Baby!” repeatedly between fits of tears once I returned with her nestled in my arms.  That was it.  He hasn’t taken a nap since despite his blatant need for some shut-eye.  Seriously, two months of night time feedings didn’t have me looking as tired and ragged as Little Man during the past couple weeks.  Today he napped, a paltry forty-five minutes, but it’s a start, and hopefully a sign of what’s to come…for everyone’s sanity.

But, today I waited too long to retrieve my son from his crib.  The process of sleep training my son, and my daughter intermittently requiring me to hold her for significant durations throughout my son’s “quiet time,” left me getting little done and having almost no break in the last couple weeks.  So, I took it upon myself to enjoy a lovely piece…or two…okay, four…of my favorite dark chocolate hazelnut bar while my daughter actually slept without me needing to intervene.  My son was awake and standing, but if he suspected I had chocolate, he’d climb my face to get to it…not even kidding.  My delay consequently, had me pay the piper once I retrieved him.  Not only did he become suddenly upset between the thirty seconds it took me to clean every ounce of chocolate off of my fingers and reach his door, but then my daughter began passionately screaming downstairs as I pulled him up.

In the six weeks since my parents left, I’ve become a bit of an aficionado at managing situations when at least one of the three of us is unhappy.  Warrior Queen needed to eat, and I needed Conan the Destroyer to chill until I could satiate my daughter well enough to reasonably tend to him.  Maybe cartoons work for some parents.  I haven’t used that piece of potential arsenal yet, but Mr. Man loves watching home recordings of himself as a baby.  He’s also rather partial to his sister’s first bath video; it’s usually first on the viewing docket.

The home movies worked their magic for a bit.  My daughter was able to chug a good amount of her formula.  My son was entertained with videos of him laughing at the wind through the leaves when he was six-months-old, but then he decided to attempt calling Guam, reaching past my computer for our home phone.  Movies done; my daughter notsomuch.

The next intervention for a generally disquieted Mr. Man following an insufficient rest works about half the time.  Usually not when I’m in the middle of tending to his sister, but it’s easy enough to try.  I enthusiastically offer to read him a story.  Surprisingly, Little Man scampers off to the other room, and I hear him retrieving items from the appropriate shelf.  He wastes no time returning, laying a book in front of me while his sister continues to inhale the contents of her bottle.  I hadn’t read this specific story to him since I was pregnant, but I guess he had a yen for, You Were the First.

Bon Appetite

Dinner the other night was a conglomerate amounting to a serious cluster fuck by its truncated end…I found it hilarious for lack of a better reaction.  Mr. Man is transitioning to shortened naps, which is an exceptional experience in the first weeks you are acclimating to a newborn.  Mind you, he isn’t sleeping more at night, at least not yet.  He’s just waking up an hour earlier from his nap, which yields a very unpleasant Little Man an hour-and-a-half later.

We don’t eat particularly late.  That night it was six, but the Ides of Evening was upon us even at such an early hour.  I’ve long since given up on waiting to feed my son dinner until we are all ready to eat, but he LOVES family dinner, so often he’ll eat just after his nap at around four or four-thirty, and eat with us as well…I kinda love that about him.  The problem is that while he loves his dinners with Mommy and Daddy, his general disposition by the time we eat leaves much to be desired.

The dinner in question, for instance, started out with Mr. Man eating everything but the lovely piece of salmon in front of him, but ended with him raining seasoned rice everywhere and us on the verge of having to replace all of our feeding accessories from the spastic tornado I call my offspring.  Most people can imagine the disaster of broken plates and such, but in case you’ve ever been deprived of the experience of cooked rice confetti, this stuff is like the slug of the carbohydrates food group.  It doesn’t really clean, it just drags a trail of suspect residue all over your wood floors when you are trying to clean it up.  But, I am missing a few caveats to this particular family dinner occasion that the creators of Maalox envisioned during their patent process.

My son climbed onto the chair that used to be mine, but he absconded it some time ago so that I am forced to sit next to my husband.  Our dinner conversations have become a music video where no one actually looks at each other, but are forced to express themselves while looking longingly and with great animation out the window.  Knowing that my son has a very short duration these days for the dinner he loves so much, we inhale our food not even wincing anymore for indigestion.  But, tonight no time traveling worm hole would have helped this meal end with less of a disaster.

Within maybe five minutes of my husband and I sitting to eat, my son begins creeping his whole body onto the kitchen table.  Fully practiced in this brand of toddler, we know full well that this is a prelude to my son suddenly launching himself on all fours so he can dunk his hands in our water glasses and tip over our plates.  The extra joy of the evening, however, was the Warrior Queen, who I was wearing in a new and fabulous baby carrier, decides at that very moment she is hungry too.  So, my son is escalating his total doucheydom, I’m feeding the baby, leaving all of my dishware exposed for exploitation by Mr. Man, and my husband is ready to plotz because he can’t move fast enough between the celebratory food expression everywhere and the possibility of broken dinnerware.

Mr. Man keeps climbing on the table immediately after my husband takes him off, but it isn’t a quick kind of thing.  Each time my son climbs on the table, my husband has several failed attempts to grab a limb that my son manages to keep maneuvering out of his reach.  Simultaneously my beloved is moving the most fragile of our dinner accessories.  As my son is giddy with excitement, he’s throwing his food on the floor, and I’m continuing to feed the baby watching it all unfold like I was blessed with Gallagher tickets.

I have no notion of how long it took for all of this to transpire, but both of us ceased to be hungry, and drew straws as to who would be herding this particular cat and helping Little Man receive some much needed shut-eye.

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