A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: independence

A Face without Egg, but Still Cracked

Sometimes I am on the cusp of losing my cool with my children in spectacular fashion, particularly with my upcoming threenager. But, I’ve learned something about myself as Little Man continues to develop a personality all his own…exploring the world in his individual ways. I can tolerate assholery from my children, and even find it amusing…or hysterical in some cases…provided the unpleasantness that entails does not affect me directly.

My son, for example, never really exhibited the typical toddler behavior of throwing random items into the toilet, hoping to see the object swirl down to a watery tomb. At least, that had been the case until very recently. It isn’t consistent, but when he is overtired the impulse to throw toys and other various items in our commode becomes a hellish dodgeball exercise while I’m trying to brush his teeth.

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(I think GOT WOD knows Gumby has nothin’ on me.)

One specific night in question had my husband taking the lead for the Little Man bedtime rituals. I was tending to my own when a giddy toddler barreled into the restroom while I was foaming at the mouth from an ambitions and overzealous tooth scrubbing.

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(Thank you, Soupy Trumpet. You get it.)

Whatever, my husband was in charge; I carried on in my own zombie-like exhausted state. But, in a second, Little Man launched for an item on the vanity, subsequently hurling my husband’s comb into the toilet. Maybe it paints me as a jerk, but my laughter produced streaked tears down my cheeks. My son was immediately shepherded out of the room, and I was once again left to my own devices.

Less amusing, however, was an incident a couple days later. I try to encourage my  son’s wishes to play, behave, or simply exist independently. One such risk is when he requests to remain downstairs while I shower. We went over the three rules and consequence for infractions. He recited all parts beautifully. He was set. Sometimes it’s fine…sometimes not…This specific occasion was the latter. I usually maneuver objects and such in preparation, but of course I would forget the steak knife in the dish drainer. When I made my way down the stairs after my shower, I was greeted with my husband’s child sitting in front of the refrigerator holding the steak knife in question in one hand, and clutching a bag of dates he scaled the refrigerator shelves to retrieve in the other. The kicker is he preemptively removed the chair he climbed to reach the cutlery, knowing I would take it away as soon as I saw him. So, I guess I’m consistent? And, that would be bad enough, but there is more to this tale. He also was surrounded by a carton-and-a-half of destroyed eggs fanned out to maximize the carnage, yet mostly contained to one room.

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(Doesn’t cleaning sixteen of these look like a good time? I was PSYCHED!)

And, to keep it interesting, Little Man pointed out the two he shoved in the cabinet under the sink…SIX HOURS LATER.

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(Yeah, I’ll own it. Not my proudest moment. Thanks, Cryptid Wiki.)

Upon seeing the vein throbbing in my neck and the glare bestowed on him, my son independently identified he would not be remaining downstairs while I shower for the foreseeable future…again. I’d like to say that event was a one of. Sadly it was repeated five days later while I was upstairs for, literally, two minutes. Little Man is not allowed to have eggs for the near future, possibly until college. We talk about why they are forbidden when he requests French toast or “eggs ‘n’ toast” for breakfast.

My in-laws visited for a long weekend in the middle of the infamous egg incidents in the winter of 2017. True to form my son had a tough time, even if it wasn’t quite the same as when my parents are in town. Toward the tail end of the visit, Little Man finished his dinner, and persistently urged Daddy to finish eating so he could have a bath. Not wanting to waste time, as well as to hasten Daddy’s eating efforts, Little Man dropped full-Monty trough.

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(Yup, Duluth Trading guy will be my son some day.)

It was hilarious…little man tushie scampering about…Then he relieved a stupendous amount of urine I would question was his if I hadn’t seen the expenditure. It was all over the floor, but fortunately missed the carpet…barely. I had the only reaction one can expect from a parent: I folded over a chair in heaving laughter I couldn’t control while Daddy cleaned his son’s latest bodily fluid spill. The event was less funny two days later just after the house became ours once again.

It was the same day as the second floor egging…fifteen minutes after to be exact, and I was no longer in good humor. The story much less interesting, as it was one more event due to over tired misbehavior exacerbated from several days of overstimulation from visitors. Little Man was unhappy with his series of consequences in a short span of time. He found it hilarious to urinate on our white carpet in the upstairs hallway…until it resulted in his “quiet time” starting an hour early with no story. Kid passed-out in his tent on the floor within ten minutes easy. Nights continue to produce a very Daddy excited toddler. But, generally, we’re all feeling much better now.

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The Limitless Rosie

Six-month-old Warrior Queen has lots to say. When she’s happy or sad it isn’t about a simple cry, but determined and enthusiastic baby babble uterances. I don’t know what she’s saying, but I know what she’s saying. I don’t have an ideal for who I hope she will become as she transitions through her various life stages, but I hope she always will have something to say.

I spent years quiet, intimidated; but none of it helped me become a good, or even adequate listener. I was the floral wallpaper, coated in beige with no colorful or noteworthy markings.

As an approaching forty-year-old woman fortunate to have birthed such a fierce and determined sprite of a girl, I strive to be a worthy model. She hasn’t confronted the forces determined to quelch her into a timid spirit, so I hope to help her navigate those times when she does. Maybe help her rise above those who wish her to be a nice and good girl.

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(Although about time-outs, PBS knows the rightful disposition of a girl.)

 

I want my daughter to know her place. I want her to internalize that her place is whereever she asserts, and she has every right to scream it from every corner and high rise…except when it’s three in the morning. At that time I’m delighted if she chooses to rest.

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.

Close from the Start…Rollin’ Along…

I took both kids to my favorite bit of bonanza yesterday.  My son attends a class that ended up cancelled without me receiving notification, but it ended up as an unplanned opportunity to bring both offspring to an activity because my mother has a cold.

My son continues to melt me with his gestures toward his sister.  He views his child care responsibilities seriously; a pox on the parent who deprives him of his parade to our sofa or kitchen table carrying his sister’s bottle.  I think one of his favorite duties, however, is the shared one of helping feed her.  Now he’s starting to dab her mouth of milky drool when she is chillaxin’ in her swing.  It’s all so sweet that I can barely stand it…but maybe it’s still the hormones…

My little man seems to know his sister’s hunger cues better than I do.  On two occasions he’s heard her fussing and walked to the refrigerator to retrieve a bottle.  As the Warrior Queen’s mother, I assumed it was too early for her to experience hunger pangs, but my son was correct on both occasions.  She downed at least a couple of ounces.

The other day was another occurrence in less than two weeks of Mr. Man foreseeing his sister’s needs, which brings me back to the slice of heaven play spot.  My son was enjoying himself among the other children.  A beautiful day and the end of the latest class cycle prompted very few kids in attendance, but the quality enabled my son to find consistent playmates throughout the morning and early afternoon, so he was larking it up.  I’m wearing his sister in the blessed carrier my sister-in-law gifted to us, chatting with a friend who met us with two of her cherubs.  It was approaching the Warrior Queen’s next feeding, but usually when I wear her the meal delays.  At that specific time she communicated no indication she was hungry, just continued to snooze peacefully cuddled against my chest.  Suddenly, my son escapes the children’s play area (because he can work the child gate barricade).  I assumed he wanted another snack, as is his usual protocol.  But, this time he began fishing out all of his sister’s formula from my bag.  Within a minute at most the Warrior Queen awakens and wants her meal…three for three, Little Man, well done.

It’s Never All Bad

I don’t like leaving things on sour notes, so perhaps it’s time for some sweet news.  As I wrote many posts ago, my son is receiving speech and language services.  His therapist thinks it is an issue of motor planning.  From her characterization I’m inclined to agree although I don’t have an array of selection understanding.  He likes her.  He likes the toys she brings, and seeks opportunities to pilfer her giant monogramed bag immediately upon her arrival.  I have to say I like her too.  She is the right mix of knowledge of her craft with honesty of research and literature deficits.  She stated that motor planning typically resolves on its own, but the purpose of the intervention is to help it correct in a good way (i.e., He doesn’t start avoiding certain sounds or develop other unhelpful habits as a result.).  I can buy that.

It hasn’t been much time since he began, but I think I see positive shifts in his language development and behavior even though he continues to point and gyrate his needs as his primary mode of communication.  He’ll get there at some point, and it will likely be repetitions of my snarky commentary that he will choose to recite when it is least appropriate as his grand awakening to the art of speaking.

Little Man reached the point in his treatment length when a brief behavior assessment is administered.  There are no concerns, but there was a specific question that made me feel better about something that I mull over whenever I take my son somewhere he is allowed to explore on his own to some extent.

Having a professional emphasis in children and families, I’ve taken several classes discussing attachment theory and the various child development assumptions.  I’m lousy with all of them, especially really understanding the implications of attachment theory.  Actually, the only area in this academic arena that makes sense are Piaget and Erikson, but I wouldn’t harken me for a lecture on their specifics.

Part of what I have clear recollection of from my two graduate programs is this notion that toddlers my son’s age trot off, but frequently check back to ensure their parents are present.  Mr. Man just trots off.  If I set him down at the mall, he just goes never looking back to me for assurance like I’ve heard in so many classes over.  I haven’t been concerned per se, but I wondered what that meant.  I described to the therapist this behavior following a specific question from her assessment.  She looks at me and says, “Wow, he has really strong attachment.”  Toward the end of the day’s lesson, Mr. Man backs into my nonexistent lap without looking…like he always does.  I think nothing of it, but the therapist notes almost to herself, “He just knows Mommy is there.”  I still don’t understand attachment theories much less their implications, but I’ll take whatever good news I can after a time span of stuff that I can’t believe has only filled a week.

At the end of the day it was pleasing to see my little man using his coy manipulations with his therapist to get what he wants without actually participating in things that are required; He’s quite ingenious, actually.  I liked having a professional in the room who chuckled at his antics, and that would have been enough, but she says, “His cognitive abilities are really advanced.”  I don’t know what that will mean for his future, and it isn’t like I thought differently about my son’s intelligence prior to her comment, but since the idea of him I’ve been determined not to think of such things, asserting that I have no issue setting high expectations, but they will be for him, not me and my desires for his future.  But, when everything is an avalanche of bombardment, it’s quite pleasant to have good things pointed out for me because of the extra burden it is to retrieve them among the issue cacophony.  I still don’t spend too much time considering my aspirations for my son that are more his responsibility as he grows, but I like hearing other people notice the things that make me smile.

Eyes on the Prize

My little man at twenty months is becoming independent.  My husband and I have been talking about my son’s emerging preference to sit in a regular chair, foregoing his high chair.  Naturally, we are reluctant to do so.  But, today as I’m holding my son and preparing to feed him his lunch of chicken, orange, and milk (all elements he chose, by the way), he once again refused to sit in the high chair, and no amount of touting how special his chair was would change his mind.  At first I assumed that he wanted to dine on my lap once again.  After the last several meals conducted in such a fashion I stated that he was well enough to eat on his own.  His response was a determined pointer finger at my chair.  I inquired if he wanted to sit on the chair by himself and eat, and after he confirmed such a desire with his assertion of, “Dah,” I figure, why not?

This was not an easy decision, but it was unavoidable.  I could either suffer through a tantrum with a sleeping husband upstairs or suck it up and embrace cleaning the contents of his mean off the floor within seconds of Little Man’s upgraded dining experience.  And, just to make sure to nurture this likely catastrophe, I kept his chicken on one of our regular plates.  I know it’s Corelle, and therefore pretty hearty, but what are the chances of the dishware surviving in my son’s hands after a minute into his meal…tops?

But, as he was sitting so nicely on my chair, barely seeing over the top of the table, it was too late to switch to one of his smaller, plastic plates.  I placed his meal before him, realizing that he still needed  his milk, orange, and fork.  As my content Big Man began eating appropriately, I took a deep breath and quietly rushed to the fridge to retrieve one remaining article at a time.

I never became fully confident that my son wouldn’t toss the plate, but I could see the swell of pride as I served him.  He pointed to the placemat I forgot to drag in front of him, and he looked up at me and smiled in between sips from his cup once he was able to carefully replace his drink on the mat…just like Mommy and Daddy.

He didn’t want much of his orange, but he sat there quietly concentrating on his meal, using his fork as he has been in increasing frequency as of late.  I sat around the corner from him not wanting a perfectly good orange to go to waste.  As I began eating, Big Man looks at me and offers me his fork when he sees me dining with my hands.

His lunch didn’t last all that long, but he looked up at me when he was finished and raised his arms for me to pick him up.  Well done, my love.  Growing up so fast…

It’s Never a Lazy Boy

I knew the day would arrive…some day, preferably just before my son is about to leave for college.  By then one would hope he could navigate the situation without shuffling off this mortal coil.  I am, of course, referring to his new found ability to climb on and off the sofa.  While I can delight in his cheerful disposition at his accomplishment every. single. waking. minute, I believe my physical symptoms in response to his independence leap might indicate something contrary.  Among the most routine symptoms I experience that are clear expressions of my sixteen-month-old clearly not fully grasping gravity are as follows:  shortness of breath due to my son’s precarious positioning backward on the edge of the seat cushion; palpitating heart every time he unsteadily stands; erratic gasping with the intense need to clutch nearby furniture for support in instances when I realize that I am across the room, and it would be impossible to grab him in time before he plummets to the floor; and finally a pounding head that only abates when Little Man is asleep.  In the meantime, I assume treatment requires bed rest with ample dark chocolate within easy reach for someone with horrible vision.

I knew he wouldn’t always be so little as to not see over our coffee table, but I never quite envisioned him tall and determined enough to sit like his parents on our tattered sofa.  With pride I can say that often, after much work, he will sit nicely looking up at me with beaming eyes enjoying a book in a reclined or upright position.  There are, however, a smattering of moments when the little jerk gives me a, literally, demonic laugh as he exhibits an all consuming urge to tumble over the cushions, narrowly missing an unswanlike dismount onto our hardwood floors.  True, we moved our coffee table, but it still feels like little consolation, especially when he likely will plummet over the back.

Naturally, Mr. Man is oblivious that his mother considers him too young for stiches.  Perhaps he has dreams to be a pirate, and figures he requires a generous start in looking dangerous.  Whatever his ambition, if I can make it though his waking hours with little more than additional tufts of grey hair, I deserve an award.  After all, if the sofa doesn’t kill him, it might kill me…

Small Feats

Little Man can climb the stairs…Now, ask me how I know this.  Taking a day off work to enjoy his family, my husband was setting up the water table we inherited…a brilliant contraption, by the way…  I was on my computer typing gratifying, angry keystrokes for my group project peer participation review.  My husband excitedly opens the door, requesting the presence of our son.  Then, I heard it, the most horrifying sounds any parent can experience…nothing.  It was completely quiet, no giggle, no panting, no obnoxious clanking and rummaging through plastic toys in a hard bin…absolutely nothing.  I call my son’s name with no noise for response, and then I notice the open gate that blocks the part of the house containing our stairs.  I will refrain from naming the parent who left the gate ajar as protection from a small throng of bloodlust relatives appearing on our doorstep wielding pitchforks of the old country.  Upon seeing him I can’t be completely sure, as I believe I felt the initiation of a brain hemorrhage, but the likely words that escaped my lips were those that could make Howard Stern blush.  Oblivious, my little man sat looking at me from the top of the stairs as though it was his turn to tend to the laundry.

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