A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: parenting mistakes

Quenching a Dynamic Burn

This is an older post put–off for more pleasant topics. Consequently, the tenses and timing are off, and perhaps a disjointed read in parts; but the message is important:

In social work there is specific discussion of work exhaustion. It’s essentially occupation burn-out, and rampant in human service fields like education. It’s different from simply having too many things to do for too long. In social work it is the extra emotional burden of heaviness…carrying another’s struggles on or as your own struggles. I’ve never been interested in clinical work, my work tangent to the field is more macro and policy oriented. Generally, I tend to shut-down the emotional toil reciprocity. I’m not quite sure how I do it, but it’s a specific advantage, especially in the professional area I gravitate toward.

I didn’t read the story, but recently there was some article in one of my social media feeds that mentioned parenting burn-out. Maybe it was specific to mothers…or stay-at-home mothers like me. I can’t really remember, but I recall accepting the plausibility. At the time I felt fortunate not really experiencing such a thing in my own parenting ramblings.

Periodically I feel overwhelmed, but usually it’s something separate from the continuous act of parenting itself. Recently, however, I felt the exhaustion that leaves a distinct impression beyond a tiring day. There has been so much on my mind for the last month, really. Several things not appropriate for mass consumption of this blog…it’s why I have friends. I weathered my mind’s chaos of that time, but this was different. I wasn’t inclined to create a post, but I wonder if having such sentiments public when the details are within the realm of my public persona comfort level is helpful…to someone.

Image result for turmoil

(Saatchi Art understands how to find the beauty amidst unforgiving turmoil.)

Perhaps surprising because of the nature of blogging, but I’m quite private with many aspects of my life. I’m selective with what I share and to whom. But, there are elements of unnecessary taboo within every stage of parenting…or trying to become a parent. It’s a shame because so much is so common, but often undiscussed unless a brave soul breaches the needless silence. I came to such a realization when I was told during my first Ob-Gyn appointment with Little Man that I would certainly lose his pregnancy. It’s impossible to effectively communicate the pain such news inflicts. I’ve felt it with every loss I’ve succumbed, regardless of how early in the pregnancy. Allowing the stories to breathe was the only way I managed. All of it…pregnancy…parenting…It isn’t a shame, and that’s the point. I’m still learning. I’m still private. Stigma is very real. Maybe one day I’ll be braver than I am, but for now my hope is someone reads these words and feels home within themselves. Even if I never know for sure, the possibility is worth the risk of possible backlash.

The past month there is an element of vacillating between stuck and drowning in endless stuff. I don’t like Little Man watching television, but he has been all summer…for various reasons. Two hours in the evening; one evening I’m listening to him giggling and talking to a hideously stupid cartoon that makes my skin crawl with its banality and sheer idiocy. It’s the price of accessing my outlets that hold their feeble wall against barreled waves colliding into me for months now. When one tidal recedes, something new and different hits, and I’m in the process or ruminations once again trying to understand events and process…things.

Some I won’t discuss in this forum, but the general struggle is ongoing. I’ve become better at managing specific predictable, consistent issues. This round I’ve been more proactive with what I can anticipate, and in many ways I’ve been successful alleviating emotional burden. There are many good things I do outside of childcare, but it’s almost always squirreled in stolen minutes. This summer I committed to a weekly activity away from home that I knew would breathe life into me in ways I forgot I missed. In many respects I’ve had to forget my pre-children identity as a coping mechanism to manage the unavoidable grief of how I’ve always understood myself to be.

When my son was first born it felt very much in a holding pattern. Professionally, even as a manager, I’d be lucky to break even with exceptionally awing childcare expenses…It’s fairly recently I’ve been able to accept that morsel. Perhaps because it seemed unsurmountable at the time that I wasn’t able to acknowledge the very real fact that me working doesn’t make sense at this parenting juncture. With such an issue are the challenges of resume gaps, personal stagnation, parenting penalties…It was an ongoing and reasonable fear of mine for a very long time. Strange to think at this point that I’ve mostly overcome the most glaring obstacles. I wish I were paid, but it’s a vanity. I am able to embrace more skills and fulfilling occupations than a token paycheck in itself would provide. It hasn’t escaped me that my personal success in self-preservation is in large part a benefit of privilege. Consequently, part of how I choose to spread my personal wings often focuses on combatting systemic barriers others face. Such things aren’t particularly new for me, but with such limited time I’ve become more focused in my efforts…weighing the things I believe have greater impact with the scant free moments I muster.

I have many personal/professional efforts occurring simultaneously aside from my writing pursuits. But, my actions are almost entirely keystrokes and electronic exchanges. Summers can be especially grueling for me, so at the beginning of bathing suit season I committed a specific prioritized effort to volunteer away from my computer. Summer is the rare consistent time I have a child care option because my parents visit for a good stretch. It isn’t a perfect situation. The setbacks become a struggle of adjusting and organizing additional routine involvements, as well as the effect such disruptions and perpetual excitement have on my children’s functioning. I’m oversimplifying the issue, but the specifics don’t really matter in the context of this blog. All of this isn’t a complaint, per se…although it sounds so. It’s a complication that is lunacy to ignore…I’ve tried, and the effect has a significantly more negative impact on all parties. In every arena I encountered, fairing better during challenging times has more to do with preparation and strategy than dismissal and denial. It’s funny how that works…

To circle back to this summer, among other things I’m skilled at writing curricula…developing programs. The programs I create or embellish for the Department of Corrections have earned me the seeds of a reputation that might help me further on if I nurture it. One such program is a creative writing workshop. It’s three units spanning nine sessions that primarily focus on literary devices as a tool for expanding personal expression for individuals, among other issues, lack background knowledge most society takes for granted, as well as a specific deficit of risk taking in a classroom setting. In order to have this program approved without a formal agency endorsement, I used my reputation as an in for a couple of administrators; one responded to my email in a timely manner…the one I expected, actually. I’ve been teaching my creative writing class at our maximum security prison since the onset of the summer. It’s a spectacular experience in a humbling way.

I have substantial experience working with at-risk and incarcerated adolescents, so I see the progression stepping into a virtually empty, sterile room with glass walls. There are dichotomies occurring in this experience; it’s overwhelming at times. I have no illusions as to what behaviors lead to my students’ incarcerations. I can see the intimidation etched in practiced perfection the first moment they sat before me. It’s a dazed glare, a drilled unreadable scowl; it’s truly terrifying. I’d forgotten that first moment from when I taught reading in one of our medium facilities almost ten years ago.

But, there is something truly remarkable witnessing the wave of interest in the class content shift. One by one surprising things poke, and hardened stares of aggression soften into a childlike vulnerability and innocence. It becomes the new landscape for the class, and I almost forget where I am…almost. Honestly, it’s tragic and I can’t help but consider all those missed opportunities because a maximum facility prison was not the first step, rather just another in a series of rocky freefalls where no one and everyone are to blame. I knew to expect this. I needed this experience, and I’m glad after many failures to reenter this path, I could feel the complexity of this…situation again.

As objectively successful this class has been, I feel insecure about my performance…always hoping to be better…It’s my shtick…or one of them. As much as vague displeasure or fault I find with this piece or another, taking up this teaching opportunity has grounded me in expected ways. I’m thankful for my one morning a week, and will miss this during my fall and winter hiatus.

That said, as much as I return to my children renewed in some ways, it’s challenging to return home. Little Man and Warrior Queen are mostly fine these days spending the time with Nana and Papa, but they aren’t particularly settled when I return. I frequently mention that I’m an exceptional disciplinarian…for better or worse; consequently, my children behave best when it’s only our roving threesome. There is a marked difference when I’m not around, so returning to the subtle…and sometimes not so subtle changes…is unpleasant for me to witness. Returning from the prison isn’t such an issue, as I’m not absent for too much of a span, but even with my brief space vacancy my children often cling to me as soon as I enter from the garage…requiring some part of their body to grab hold of me. Such things I find disturbing, and I wonder if I’ve done something wrong for my brief absence to have such an impact. Don’t get me wrong; I love a good, hard snugglefest as the next Mommy. Some day the experience will be a phantom in my life, and I will ache in profound ways. But, I perceive this behavior as a response to excessive displeasure that I’m away. That’s a challenge to endure, but not enough to miss my class…I recognize it’s not a novel challenge for parents, but novel to me.

I’m planning ahead. I require various classes for license renewal, and this summer was an opportune time to fulfill all of my social work continuing education for this cycle. It’s only three full days dispersed throughout the summer, but they’ve inexplicably been the most challenging for me, as so many routines are out of my hands. When I return home in time to prepare dinner, I step into the fall-out of askew naps and simply a different day for my children. There is nothing inherently horrible or wrong about such things. It’s good for my kids, but I feel endless guilt that my children are likely misbehaving under my parents’ care…as happens when routines and caregivers shift. Usually within a couple hours away from my typical childcare hustle and bustle, I feel my skin crawl and my mind begin to wander. Guilt begins its press, and I start planning my exit. It all has to be neurotic. I’m vaguely aware it’s typical speaking to my Mommy friends first returning to the work force.

Just as Little Man is sensitive to routine shifts, so am I. It took returning to a normal day to remember that I haven’t had “normal” for several weeks. Emotionally I’m not at my best at the moment. I’m in a constant state of worry overload; I should have stopped trying organize everyone else…appease everyone else with an agreeable schedule. I likely would have saved myself some of the grief in the past couple weeks and enjoyed some of my rare adult time if I prioritized the need to experience what has become a bland, yet fine tuned typical day for our threesome.

Several things had seeped into my consciousness draining my reserves, but the confirmation of the foreboding I felt for weeks…that a good friend was significantly hurt should have pushed me to simplify…not expand…everything. Two brain bleeds hindering his ability to communicate, but I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’ve certainly had vivid dreams of his condition…waking to a jaw clenched for the duration of the night. I wish he was my only friend fallen on a hard stretch; he’s just the latest one. I haven’t adjusted to the feel of his situation yet…found a groove to support him and care for myself simultaneously. And, just when I find my balance, something wonderful happens that this one friend would particularly delight hearing, but I can’t share the news; I grieve it in unreachable places. The success laced with a slight bitter edge making celebration a challenge to fully embrace.

I’d dreaded a day with no formal plans…loose ends…too many things requiring attention, even if I had help with some of it. Abruptly I was forced into a forgotten typical day, and even though I woke exhausted and uneasy, afternoon I blossomed into a surprisingly invigorated state…or as refreshed as possible with so much weight…so much to consider and to push through. But, it was a better day…my children felt it too.

Image result for abstract calm water painting

(Amy Whitehouse Paintings knows no calm is ever perfect.)

I don’t like droning about hardships; this was a difficult post to write. I questioned publishing it. But, the lesson I take from this challenging time that certainly won’t be the last: simplify. I get lost with pleasing others…worrying for and feeling helpless about others until it consumes me; that likely won’t stop. It’s who I am, and I’ve developed strategies. But, sometimes I forget key interventions like my time with my children in its most basic and lackluster form. I think I forget from fear. I’m bombarded with the peanut gallery celebrating having help for the summer that I internalize the importance of help. But, forced to return to my way I’m reminded of precisely how powerful I am when I remember the basic things I need to feel like myself.

I don’t know if or when my friend who was a key, like minded voice in my life will be able to really talk to me again. There is a whole bunch more I can’t predict or control. I don’t know if my prison class attendance will drop-off even more, and I’m forced to cancel the remaining scant classes, having to wait almost an entire year to experience this specific avenue of my work again…for another chance to improve. My children are surrounded by so much love that they don’t know what to do with it at times; obviously that’s a good thing…even when it isn’t a good thing. We all reset when I provide the opportunity to do so, and I need to remember that very thing when I’m spinning off my axis. Because at the tail end of a typical day, I wasn’t spinning. I ate a wonderful cookie following an actual lunch not scarfed in between obligations. I consumed the iced caffeine I love so much, but more than the wakeful perk I enjoyed the drink for itself…sipped and savored over the course of a couple of hours. And, the next wave will inevitably rush forward attempting to sweep me off my balance. I’m sure I will let it, but there are always solid fixtures to grab. I only need to remember to open my eyes.

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The Terrible Awful in Me, and Otherwise

I’m a terrible person; harsh, unforgiving, and cruel.  With gusto I will kick and stomp when someone is down, and award myself with notions of strength after I’ve accomplished just such a feat.  That someone is me.

I’m on the tail end of a fairly nasty nose cold.  I catch roughly a quarter of the plagues that befall my home, but when I am part of the befallen, it’s usually some degree of a doozy.  I don’t usually whine about being sick, so if I’m actually articulating misery with this type of thing, safe to say it’s probably pretty bad.

The first couple days of my cold were quite mild, so I deceived myself that I would be annoyed for a week, but my life would proceed as planned.  Maybe I would be grumpier than usual, but since Warrior Queen was also sick and waking up a bit at night, I probably wouldn’t receive too much blame for an edge in my cadence.  But, my colds are never mild.  I continued to tell myself I was experiencing a hint of sick even when a truck hit me in the early evening, leaving my eyes leaking tears from exhaustion, a blocked and vaguely pained ear, nausea, and headache.  My son woke from his nap, and I had not prepared dinner.  I stood at our kitchen counter frozen with slumped shoulders, unable to drape fish in a tray so the oven could do all the heavy lifting.  A rational person would say, “Man, I’m seriously sick.  Maybe I should sit.”  If a friend described the very scenario I was experiencing, I would tell them to sit and let their toddler burn down the house.  Hell, if the woman I encountered weeks ago or the person parked next to me at the mall described these events, I’d tell them to sit and grab a beverage…maybe some chocolate.

I berated myself for having to feed my son a serving of our plentiful leftovers.  He told me the lentil dish I served him was, “Delicious,” before eating two helpings, by the way, so why was it necessary to mommy guilt myself that the cod would remain in the refrigerator one more day?  I feel pretty confident the dead fish wouldn’t be insulted, and I was too sick to taste anything anyway.  My son clearly didn’t care, and my husband is always happy that he didn’t have to cook.

I’m proud to say much of the time I accept I’m not perfect…at anything.  Most days I even broadcast such news and events to anyone within close proximity.  The result is a shared laugh because so many of the trials of parenthood are strangely and wonderfully universal.  Having children allows me to welcome my imperfections, and laugh at the ride.  I don’t take myself quite so seriously anymore, but this critical piece of me continues to exist, taking full advantage when I am at my weakest.  And, she joins forces with my malleable and expansive imagination that possesses no loyalty either way.

After a grueling forty-eight hours of wakefulness, I managed a good night’s sleep.  Feeling significantly better and reasonably well rested, my equilibrium is returning.  I can laugh at myself again and reflect on my unreasonable chastise of my parenting performance and scrutiny over my general life tenacity.  What did I learn?  My children and I are at our best when I consider myself as worthy of kindness, attention, and nurturing…and chocolate has magical properties that can never be dismissed or minimized…

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.

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.

All’s Well that Ends Well…

I’m beginning this post with the end result because it is exciting for me and I fully haven’t exhausted innocent bystanders yet…You’re welcome…

My Department of Corrections literacy class application proposal approval has been up in the air since the summer.  For a long stretch the outcome was promising, then it wasn’t until this week when I learned that only a few administrative details needed adjusting before I would receive my final coveted signature.  In the meantime, I’ve been sitting in limbo soup that was left in the back of the fridge.  The same soup experience when after several moments of contemplation, the contents of the container are remembered.  The limbo was in part this class I desperately want to teach, but the other part is my role coordinating a tutoring preparatory program for a new and different high school equivalency exam.  Without the approval for the class I designed, I would funnel into coordinating and participating in this specific tutoring opportunity.  But, in true bureaucratic system fashion with new endeavors, the tutoring program generated by the DOC has been vague for months, leaving me to speculate on every aspect of the program and implementation.  Granted I was likely accurate with my ponderings, but no confirmation either way.

That was the back story; I hope sufficiently brief.  No information for months prompted a shortish notice of an orientation for the DOC education and vocation programs…It was two hours beginning at 6.30 and ending at 8.30…in theory…  My assumptions were confirmed regarding the rationale behind the uncertain path, as well as what would be necessary to coordinate such an endeavor.  Gotta say, I’m PSYCHED!  The general outcome from the months of toil is that I am designing a pilot program and supporting tutors that, if successful, will likely be implemented throughout DOC institutions…pretty cool.  I love this kind of stuff…plus I get to teach my dream class.  If only I were paid, I could support my chocolate and tea habit, and this would be perfect…

But, that is not how my day began…

Little man woke up in a fabulous mood in the morning.  We were having oodles of fun, but then I noticed he was beginning to look ill an hour or two before his nap.  Of course, I was in denial because he’s been sick twice in the last six weeks.  I aggressively tried to convince myself he just needed to sleep…And, I oh so desperately wanted to believe it…

Fortune, however, urinated in my Cheerios because Little Man woke up after an hour into his nap exhausted and in a terrible mood, and it was only one ‘o’ clock.  I was so, so foolishly hopeful he would sleep the two-and-a-half to three hours he had been for the last week.  Major bummer doesn’t even come close to my devastation when I heard the tell tale yelps of a grumpy Little Man waking from the monitor knowing full well he wouldn’t sleep again the rest of the day.

Thinking I had longer, I didn’t eat much, so I’m already hungry, and we aren’t talking normal hungry.  This is pregnant hungry, which takes on a demonic life of its own.  Do you know why all zombie movies are so similar?  It’s because most people have met a hungry pregnant lady by the time they’ve reached adulthood…not even an exaggeration…

Suffice it to say, I’m in a bad mood and pouting as I trudge up the stairs that leave me winded at the top because I’m harboring a parasite.  Once I’m finished wheezing, I brace myself for the mucusy onslaught I was all too familiar with, and I was still woefully unprepared.

To say cranky and needy really doesn’t quite capture the expanse of the hours until my husband arrived home from work, and I’m not even describing myself.  The highlight of the afternoon was forty-five back aching minutes I sat in an unsupported pike position singing off-key repetitions of Mary had a Little Lamb, bouncing my son as he rested on the expanse of my legs, looking up at me, and insisting that I rest my hands on his chest.  He held them there just to make sure I didn’t try anything funny.  So cute, right?  Sure it is.  I absolutely love a good cuddle monster, but not when I’m hungry and forced to continue like I’m single-handedly rowing a Grecian war ship.

My son had oozing, shrieking fits when I wasn’t holding him.  Eating did nothing to abate the needy torture I found myself entrenched in for hours.  He ate half of my hallowed everything bagel slim with butter, keeping me from eating my half because Little Man was determined to have me hug him tightly as he ate…so not cool…Every part of me wanted to punt my son across the room and steal back his half of the bagel and devour mine.  The kid seriously kept me hostage with bawling that escaped a glossy wet face in contorted expressions necessary to completely capture comprehensive misery of both of us until my husband appeared like the apparition of a holy angel designed to relieve the suffering of the natural world.

At that point, however, I was already running late.  I still needed to eat some semblance of a dinner; fortunately I had the foresight to stay in jammies until just before…I learned that lesson the hard way…  Nevertheless, I needed to change, and I had maybe fifteen minutes to do everything.

To top off the events, I was brushing my teeth in the downstairs bathroom, and even though I know Little Man must cause mischief and mayhem every time I enter this small closet of a room, I didn’t close the door behind me.  With a foamy mouth I learned that my son not only lifts up the toilet lid, but now has the desire to dabble his fingers in the water…lovely…Now try to picture a mom foaming at the mouth from a baking soda toothpaste and the initiation of a full freak-out as my son is dancing his fingers in our toilet bowl water like a creek insect.  I call for my husband…maybe shriek is more apt.  He enters, and highlights his frustrated ambitions as a comedian, “Hey, people pay good money for toilet water.”  So. Not. Funny.  But,  it’s his problem now.  I rinse and wipe my mouth, and head out the door hoping I didn’t forget anything in my mad last minute scramble to collect the items I’ll need for the orientation.

I’d like to say it was an easy drive.  It would have been if every pokey idiot wasn’t leading the way the entire route, but I arrived at a reasonable time.  By the end of the evening the preceding event traumas evaporated, but I can feel confident that new ones are just around the corner to give me comfort in my times of need.

All Hail!

I sincerely hope it is a rite of passage for all Jewish parents to periodically make their children inadvertently look like Hitler.  If not, my husband and I are terrible people.  Mind you, my son is only seventeen-months-old, and the first instance was surrounding his first haircut not provided by the Almighty who has an affinity for male patterned baldness.

More specifically, my son was born with a full head of hair worthy for Favio.  Much to my husband’s delight, in addition to thick locks on his head, my son’s dark hair coated healthy chunks of his arms and back much like the sweaters I imagine can be seen on the Jersey Shore.  People warned us that at three months it would fall out in unflattering ways.  I didn’t want to believe it, yet some creation entity has a sense of humor.  He lost just enough hair on the sides of his head to have a naturally hideous comb-over.  Some parents hold off on the first hair-cut until their children are eating it and inconvenience wins out over sentimentality; then the task begrudgedly is accomplished.  For us it wasn’t a very difficult decision; the hair had to go.

One evening my husband takes scissors and cuts across the spike that fell onto my son’s forehead.  I didn’t want to say anything at the time because I thought I would sound like a jerk, and let’s face it, I can be a bit snarky at times.  It wasn’t until my in-laws spent the day with us the following weekend that I mentioned anything aloud.  My father-in-law walks up to me with a chuckle and says in the unconvincing whisper of someone who can’t hear well, “I didn’t want to say anything, but he kind of looks like Hitler.”  So, there it was.  My husband missed his calling as a 1940s barber when I’m sure all young men wanted to look like Hitler…you know, before his killing half our people and a bunch of others made it passé…

Then there was tonight, which is all on me.  I’m feeding Little Man his nightly ice-cream…because we absolutely rock as the cool parents…  The last spoonful misses my son’s mouth, so he is left with a chocolate goatee.  My cat-like, yet imprecise reflexes managed to wipe off a good amount.  But, to my horror my son is left with a legitimate Hitler mustache.  Now is when the fun begins.  I get up and try to wipe off the rest, but Mr. Man thinks I’m playing a game, so he’s running away from me.  Several days ago I managed to pull a tushie muscle; I’m not sure how, but it’s quite painful nonetheless.  I’m awkwardly walking as quickly after my son as I can while he is giggling and running around the room.  We have a pit sofa that consumes most of the area, so really I look ridiculous that a seventeen-month-old with tiny appendages is outpacing me, but I have no choice with little room for clever maneuvering.

At this point my husband (also known as Captain Obvious) looks over and says, “Oh, that’s terrible.  You have to get that off; he looks like Hitler.”  My son is still laughing as he laps the sofa a final time before my husband and I sandwich him between us.  I’d like to say that it was a thorough and tidy wipe, but at least we were finished hailing the Fuhrer…for now anyway…

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.

Sigh…

Tending to the perpetual needs and whims of a toddler I learned to derive pleasure from the small things that remind me that I am an adult capable of thinking beyond the dubious smell starting to linger in a room.  John Oliver is such a diversion, and a hilarious one at that.  Not only can I watch him and pride myself on my vague awareness of most the issues he discusses (Perhaps motherhood hasn’t completely fried my brain…), I can also reliably elicit hearty belly chuckles whenever I have the urge.

Such was the case one fine mid morning.  I remember it well.  It was a pleasant enough day.  I managed to both exercise and shower without incident before Little Man awakened from his first nap of the day.  While he played independently, I decided to eat my breakfast while enjoying an episode critiquing the judicial system.  It was five minutes into my shaking cackles when I heard a noise from the kitchen I could not quite place.  Sauntering into the other room I look before me noting that despite the brilliance of John Oliver, it probably isn’t acceptable to have your toddler playing with knives from the dishwasher he apparently can open.  I wonder which development benchmark that particular skill meets…

To be specific, my son was wielding a butter knife in one hand and a steak knife in the other; it couldn’t be a spatula or spoon.  Unsure if the proper reaction I should exhibit…should it be a visible freak-out of religious zealot proportions?  Should I approach like one would a potentially rabid dog?  I opted for brisk, calm walk while my son giggled, baring all teeth in absolute delight.  Fortunately he did not lose a digit, obliviously unscathed from the incident.  Clearly I can add this experience to my notches of parenting excellence…

Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week…

This morning as I prowled the internet with the hope of discovering the answer to whatever my momentary fascination was, I heard a strange noise that sounded remarkably like…sigh…tissues pulled in rapid succession from the box…  I stand and walk to the other room anticipating what I would find…yup…Houdini reaching up on a table he can barely see the top of and with gusto pulling said tissues as though he just performed one of the great illusions of the century.  At this point he is surrounded by white tufts of tissue as a performer among an adoring crowd’s roses…sigh…I’m pretty sure that was a full box…At least some of them were salvageable.

And, the award goes to…

Other mothers must be jealous of my deft skill at parenting a toddler.  My little man decides to keep me company as I brush my teeth one evening, which is no surprise as he never misses an opportunity to cruise any restroom.  I’m not quite sure what that indicates, but I digress.  Of course, I take no precautions.  Clearly, I have a tidy and civilized offspring who came out of the womb adhering to appropriate social conventions and only the finest hygienic practices.

I continue to blissfully attend to arguably the highlight of my face with reckless abandon, casually glancing at my husband’s child who at this point is giddily dunking both hands in the toilet.  I would like to say that my cat-like reflexes bounded across our restroom, circumventing any contamination of residual fecal matter on his delicate hands.  I’d like to say that.

But, alas, with hands plunged in as far as someone who can barely see over the toilet seat can, my explorer looks up at me with eyes wide as if to say, “Mommy, whenever did we install such a luxurious pool in our homestead?”

So, with a billboard sized display of, “Parenting Fail,” scrolling across our stark white walls, I scoop him up and pray to a God I don’t believe in that this be the one time he hesitates before cramming all of his digits inside his perfect little mouth.  Fortunately, the universe cuts me a break, and perhaps my child will not succumb to whatever horrible life threatening disease that inhabits our poorly maintained toilet this evening.  With the crisis freshly avoided I contemplate the appropriate alibi should my husband decide that very moment is the perfect time for his evening shower.

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