A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: bedtime routine

Pillow Talk and Other Conclusions

Little by little my pressure release valve turns. Much of my acutely bad days are very specific, last a day or two, and then life moves on…until the next cycle where I repeat the process.

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(Shutterstock knows how it is…)

Yesterday I learned my pap smear is fine…exhale. I’m good about doctor visits, which includes whatever annual check-up. I am especially diligent about appointments having to do with my lady parts. I have a history of cervical cancer that led to two cone procedures ten years apart. I don’t remember when the last one was, certainly at least a few years before my pregnancy with Little Man. I could have sworn I had the exam last year, but there is no record in the computer system. So, either something else was bungled when the hospital that includes my physician’s office switched to a dramatically new computerized system, or I forgot. I’ve never forgotten to have the appointment, but my memory isn’t great with a lot of things.

I had my primary care doctor do the exam, which I was fairly uncomfortable about. I never realized how little I liked having men rooting around in my nether region for an examination until I had a woman do it. I always thought it was just an unpleasant procedure that made me anxious. I have a trauma history, so it isn’t a mystery as to why such an exam would bother me. But, now that I know the difference, it’s more glaring a decision to make. At the moment, however, it’s too much to sit in the waiting room of a large practice that is perpetually spilling with pregnant women. My primary care doctor has always been pretty fantastic, unlike most of the other doctors I’ve encountered though my health travels. I decided to pull up the big girl pants, and just do it.

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(Live at Everett couldn’t fit in “Neener neener…”)

I was nervous going in for many reasons, but mostly worried that having lapsed a year something was wrong. I don’t want to be overly dramatic about this. The cervical cancer I get moves at a glacial pace and easy to treat, but I still worried things weren’t okay. In reality it was more about the addition of another thing to think about, but I’d still been holding my breath about it. I abstractly knew this, but sometimes it’s hard to understand weight until it’s gone. This exam has been plaguing me for months. But, I’m okay…exhale…and another item from my list of thoughts removed.

I’d like to say I’m a spectacular parent. I suppose I’m a good one, but with so many things bombarding my mind, it’s hard to feel my best. It’s hard to stay in the moment and just appreciate. I can in finite spurts, but there always seems to be consuming competition.

My parents were up for Thanksgiving. I’ve mentioned a few times of how my son struggles with the excitement. I’m more in tune to this mechanism than I’m describing, but it seems each visit my son struggles a bit more…sooner and more intensely. This was about a three week visit with an unusually jammed schedule. The week of Thanksgiving my son had no school…changes in routine consistently hard for him. The saving grace for vacations or lack of structure is that I’m around and shepherding him through his days. If I’m present doing the lackluster mundane life stuff, he’s usually fine and quite chill…both kids are. The past few weeks, though, were meetings and appointments and simply a cacophony of stuff that required Mr. Man to spend some hours or much of a day under my parents’ exclusive care. He loves Nana and Papa, but not as much as he loves a normal day with me. He will simultaneously be exuberantly excited for the time with my parents, and seething at me for reasons he is a little young yet to explain.

But, for three weeks he’d been aggressive toward me. Little Man isn’t really an aggressive kind of kid. Certainly tired or hungry, but it’s isolated. I often get the brunt of it, but probably more do to proximity than anything else. The past few weeks, however, was intense, frequent, and mostly directed at me. Sometimes he’d stand inches in front of my legs and give this Damien glare that is creepy at a level I can’t describe.

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(Having the occasion to reminisce about my horror movie loving days I realize Little Man completely blows this kid out of the water…no contest.)

Other occasions he’ll begin hitting me without obvious antecedent, and sometimes quite hard. And, while I intellectually get where a four-and-a-half-year-old is emotionally, and I know he still loves me; this kind of thing very much hurts my feelings. I’ve been vulnerable anyway, and just don’t need my little man to be focusing his ire at me, especially in such a hostile manner.

The other night I was tucking him in. We have this routine called “dinosaur jokes,” and while it’s kinda a dinosaur thing, it isn’t remotely a joke thing. Its genesis was jokey related…more like word play I can’t quite remember the specifics of. It was an impromptu spin from a book my son never wants read, but somehow has memorized. I couldn’t get him to change his diaper or something, and he was getting mad. I began this word play thing and it became something he started requesting almost every quiet moment of the day for weeks. But, now it is exclusively a night time bed routine, and it’s somehow morphed into something else entirely.

My son makes a comment, and I as the dinosaur (indicated by me saying, “Roar,” before my statements) respond with some kind of sequence or cause/effect remark.

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(Tenor must be listening in on our dinosaur joke extravaganza each night to create an equally believable dinosaur characterization.)

The last few weeks it’s been about the dinosaur eating his fruits, vegetables, and bacon. We have ten rounds that I count down, and invariably he speaks about sharing whatever food items with friends and family. Even when it isn’t about food, he will rope in friends and family.

Occasionally, however, this exercise becomes a way for him to express what’s bothering him. The last time was a conflict with a peer that he needed to work through at the beginning of the school year. But, the other evening he was talking about the dinosaur missing people. The phrasing, however, didn’t make a lot of sense. The only thing clear was that the dinosaur missed people he loved. My parents were leaving in the next couple of days. I assumed his focus was on that, but I know better than to run with such assumptions, as I’m often wrong…or not exactly right when I apply my logic to his thinking. Little Man regularly perseverates on things that aren’t immediately obvious. So, I asked an open ended question at the conclusion of the “jokes”…certainly I can’t interrupt the ten exchanges. That would be madness!

I don’t remember my exact wording, something along the lines of: Are you missing someone? Do you want to talk about it? He did, in fact, want to talk about it. His face close to mine facing me on his pillow, and quietly tells me he doesn’t like it when I go away. While he noted the days of appointments, he was mostly referring to when I teach one morning a week. Interestingly, he hasn’t had a problem when there are hired sitters watching him, unless my absence is two days in a row with no time in between that he can spend with me. We had a conversation about how I need to have things for myself to be a happy mommy, which I don’t think he could accept in that moment. He repeated that he has been missing me and mad. We talked some more, and I haven’t mentioned it to him yet, but this weekend I’m going to try to take him out for a day with just the two of us…that hasn’t happened for a while, and he’s been asking to visit one of our local mall haunts.

After my quiet conversation with Little Man, I returned to my bedroom telling my husband what had happened. I relayed that I don’t understand why he misses me because I’m around all the time. That isn’t delusion. Even with my appointments and such, I’m rarely away from my kids…that’s what it is to stay home. Sure, my son has school three mornings a week, but that was completely absent from his lips moments prior. My husband looks up from whatever he was watching and says, “You’re his person,” and returns to his program. It might have been hormones or fatigue from the second cold in a month, but my eyes became watery. Sometimes I don’t feel like a particularly good parent that’s present and joyful. I don’t think I’m necessarily terrible, but some days it’s hard to engage. But, with all of the distracting colliding thoughts in my mind that make me feel irritable and wanting to escape from myself, I don’t know that my son knows the difference.


Pillow Talk

Something my three-year-old little man requests that is among my favorite things in this world: snuggling in our bed. Usually when he asks it’s not a good time, and some type of avoidance strategy…like sleepy time or something of a similar sort. But, this morning I’d just showered; Warrior Queen was still asleep; I was tickled to have him knock on our bedroom door asking for a snuggle in our bed. I lay down, and he insists on tucking me in…making sure I’m warm, then burrows into me.

Funny thing is that I’m not a particularly cuddly person…like to comedic proportions. But, that needed to stop bringing children into this world. My general presence is aloof, standoffish, and intimidating. It comes in handy working with at-risk and incarcerated populations…and as a manager. Everything is about a time and place. I’m an exceptional disciplinarian, so it’s paramount I’m able to balance my brusque immediacy with snuggles and Mommy lovin’. I have an unscientific ratio: for every one negative interaction, I try to communicate three positive ones. Mostly I’m successful, if for no other reason than I’m paying attention to when my kids do something lovely. Other than my son reaching the age of threenager, he’s a sweet and loving child. I like to think I’m doing something right.

My often harsh demeanor receiving requests for snuggles makes even the most heinous tantrum and oppressive guilt evaporate into the hazy early summer atmosphere. I don’t think there is adequate vocabulary to describe the sensation washing over me as my son rests his head on some portion of my upper anatomy…never able to squeeze quite close enough to me. Even if he is harboring a fugitive in his diaper with a smell that allows me to push off waxing my facial hair for the near future, I’ll hold him tighter. He won’t always ask these moments of me…probably sooner than I want to admit.

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(Even The Telegraph seagull looks dubious of Little Man’s diaper findingssavvy bird.)

Sometimes he’ll snuggle for ten minutes in a clip, sometimes have me read to him. But, sometimes they are quick, jerky stretches like this morning when he leaps from my marriage bed to retrieve his Minnie and Mickey stuffed animals. He carts them in tandem, but expressed overt preference for the former. My husband or I have to tuck her in every night. But, this morning he scampers down the hall subsequently returning with full arms…the stuffed animals are at least half his expansive height. Naturally, his heinously diseased dog mushed among the plush mice. I watch as my husband’s child removes the top of the two pillows because my husband does not sleep on it, and organizes his friends on the designated sleeping pillow. Shaking laughs erupt in spilling tears knowing the queasingly grotesque doggie is sprawled where my husband lies, and in moments he will discover it exiting the restroom. Sure, I could have instructed my son to move him, but such things are a losing battle in our house; Mr. Man insists in caring for all who mean the most to him…Besides, often that horrible dog is on my side of the bed. My husband is obligated to take one for the plague exposed team. Had I foreseen such events, I’m sure we would have managed it in our ketubah or marriage vows…just in case.

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(Neatorama agrees nothing tops such a toy resting peacefully on your pillow.)

Little Man was oblivious to my behaviors, concerned only for his friends as he climbs the bed to adequately cover all three with sheets. Satisfied all of us are warm, my son completes the remaining pieces of his typical bedtime routine, which includes the reprimands I give him nightly for dragging his feet through the teeth brushing/changing transition and haunting outside our bedroom door for entirely too late into the night.

My son is a good sleeper, but goes through waves of having difficulty settling at night. It’s likely because I allow him to sleep too long for his nap, but since I’ve been starting his naps earlier, the evenings have been a bit smoother. Last night, however, it was a long nap that started much too late. I suppose I’ve never sweated such things, as Mr. Man almost never sleeps past seven regardless of when he is finally down for the count. These days, however, I’m lucky to squeeze in exercise before both kids are up by six-thirty.

Amused I’m watching him turn on the light because he prefers a low lit desk lamp at night. He reiterates the conversations I have with him during his tuck in and room exit. He enters and exists the room repeatedly, closing the door gently. It’s all so familiar, but decidedly less amusing when it’s my turn. I’ve learned to love a “snuggle, hug, kiss, and smooch” as much as the next Mommy, but at some point, the kid needs to go to sleep.

Sweet Dreams

This just has to be documented for what I desperately hope isn’t the beginning of many more similar tales, but I suspect this will be old hat soon…sigh.

My husband is wonderful, entertaining our two-year-old little man for almost the entire day while I tended to the Warrior Queen, which amounted to feeding her and lounging on the sofa with a sprawled infant on my chest.  I even managed to eat lunch vaguely within the lunch hour realm.  Consequently, tonight I was in charge of Mr. Man’s bedtime routine.

My son was on my lap brushing his teeth before I took over when I noticed the entire front of his shorts were wet.  Great sleuth I am assumed correctly it was urine.  Well, that’s a puzzle.  I check his diaper, and half of it is unattached.  That is also a puzzle.  Then I notice brown crust on his lower leg, yup, poop.  That was the final puzzle prompting me to call downstairs to my husband asking why there was poop on our son’s leg.  Our house hollering virtually overlapped with my husband indicating that our son had excavated poop out of his diaper and threw it on the floor in front of the family room book shelf.  I was sitting all evening in that very room, so how craptastic at parenting am I that I was oblivious to my son engaging in a fecal drop ‘n’ roll in front of me?  Perhaps some questions are best left unanswered.

The Thrills of Competition

To look globally at my evening there are a few moments that would merit note, as in the instance of me holding Little Man while he gnaws at my sweatshirt string until it was sufficiently funky.  Only at that moment would his mirth take over, and with great effort attempted to shove the cold, soaked article into my mouth amidst a chorus of giggles.

Fast forward to my favorite time of day; the very end just before my son goes to sleep.  Clearly he is tired, but enjoying playing with his parents in his room.  At one point my husband suspects that he might have soiled his diaper.  I ask my son if he made a stinker.  Little Man shakes his head, “No,” and points to Doug the two-foot-tall dinosaur before giving him a hug of, “Sorry, man.”  I figure my son assessed the situation, noting that he could likely take Doug.  Geraldine, his five-foot-tall giraffe is a total badass and would cream me…wise choice, Little Man…  My sniffer isn’t all that astute, but my husband determined it was a false alarm after doing what all parents of diapered children do, lifting their children up to put their nose against their backside.  Fortunately, this time my son spared him of a fresh puff of flatulence just as he was doing so…

The award, however, for the most memorable moment in the evening goes to the last moment in Little Man’s day.  Despite the cuteness of his play, his need to go to sleep could be avoided no longer.  My husband scoops my son up and begins the process of wrapping him in the sleep slack I not so discretely covet in all it’s blue fleeced glory.  Not only is it in my favorite color, but it is just so soft, and as a person who is perpetually cold, I can’t resist stroking it whenever the opportunity presents itself…Yeah, I have a problem…  If it had the arms of a Snuggie, I would consider amputation in order to use it…

Just as the item is secured, Little Man crawls to my lap as he sometimes does at this point in the evening.  With my legs folded and my arms resting on my knees, I rock the two of us singing, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  My cuddle monster pulls my arms around him tightly after signing for another round of the song.  A few beats pass, and Little Man points to Gerard the blue giraffe I crocheted for him.  Hugging Gerard he points to Tabitha his small tiger head pillow, and finally Milton one of his teddy bears.  Clutching his friends tightly and me clutching him, we rock; I continue singing, and my husband notes that his eyes are heavy and intermittently closing.  Eventually I allow my husband to take Little Man to bed.

I had already left the room, but my husband informed me after the fact that although my son brought his friends to bed, once settled he did not want them in his crib with him; they just don’t belong there…

Where the Stars Shine

I could lie and claim great operatic genius with my renderings of traditional lullabies when my son sits on my lap only moments before sleep.  In close embrace, his tired body leaning against my chest in perfect stillness.  And, I sing as though I possess great efficacy while my son listens.  I utter the final words, and he signs, “More,” with his tired, enthusiastic hands; who am I to argue?  With slight seam another round of low, quiet keyed Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  Another request for encore at its close, and I comply.  If only this could continue all night, or until my son slips off into his dreams noted by a light snore.  A third request met with my sign for the experience to conclude, but even in his drifting state, he shakes his head, “No.”  We sit precious seconds before I lift him to his crib.

He rolls onto his belly, arms and knees tucked beneath, half-heartedly listening to his nightly story.  Deep breaths as I cross the room and close the door.  I linger with my hand on the knob, unclear of what action I await permission.  Perhaps the gentle sting of transition, but I walk softly to my marriage bed hoping to preserve the moment for just a few more precious seconds.  I sigh entering our bedroom; how I love the little being who derives engrossed, simple pleasure from the minutia I offer.

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