A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: routines

The Day After the Mosquito Died

The last post was a bad day. My best hope for terrible days often resignation that the day will end, and another will begin anew. It’s usually better, but there are no guarantees. Fifteen-month-old Warrior Queen has a nasty habit of waking by six-fifteen most days. Threenager is in the lovely cycle of sleeping until seven. My children early risers. I’m an earlier riser. I’ve learned to expect any time to my own devices past six-fifteen is borrowed bonus…I live for bonuses. The next morning was an unexpected one, as the bonuses usually don’t coincide.

Little Man woke first at a whopping seven-thirty. I was exercising. I slept in, so expected to maybe clear fifteen minutes, but managed a significant chunk of my routine reading a brilliant selection of smut that almost shifts the story out of the category altogether…but not quite. My son rumbled along down the stairs with his quiet chatter. He’s growing older, and achieved the capacity to actually whisper. His self awareness amuses me; chattering narration of his need to be quiet because his sister is sleeping…followed by his question if I’m exercising. I love it all. His morning greetings always melt me: Are you exercising, Mommy? I love you. Can I have a hug, kiss, snuggle smooch? Obviously I stop mid peddle to deliver such a request.

Once he reached the bottom of the stairs and scurried along out of my sight, I ceased hearing my delightfully boisterous little boy. Fear began to creep as a wrapped up my morning session.

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(MIRIADNA.com can delude themselves all they want; no good comes from quiet when cherubs are awake.)

I don’t see evidence of Mr. Man for a beat, but then I notice the bathroom door ajar and light spilling into an otherwise dark corridor. My shoulders immediately slump; what did he put in the toilet? How much water damage should I expect?

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(Obviously hermes-press knows what I can expect.)

Not quite reaching the door frame I see Little Man stand totally naked on the top of his stepping stool that he pushed in front of the toilet. Immediately he sees me and in all of his birthday body glory announces with arms raised that he went potty in the toilet.

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(Probably the only person who can claim experiencing more excitement than my little man at this particular moment.)

He shifts down the small plastic steps, flushes the toilet, moves the stool, and washes his hands spouting that he has to wash his hands after using the potty.

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(What a preschooler washing his hands entails…This image must be part of a Pinterest instruction manual.)

This type of event isn’t particularly new. He’s been on the cusp of full out potty training, but his willingness to use said toilet is still a bit erratic, and he hasn’t experienced the complete delights of porcelain bowl time occupations.

I diaper him while he washes his hands. Warrior Queen continued to sleep, so we cuddled and read. Little Man prefers to run around the house as naked as he can get away with. He’s grown so much that on such occasions I just stare at every inch of my first miracle…watching the movement of his limbs and his dancing prattles retrieving the random objects he’s pilfered from the recycling bin.

The remaining pieces of the day mostly unremarkable…could have done without his latest overtired expressions of impulsivity…biting his sister. He earned an early nap without a story for that one. But, it’s all…blessedly…just another day.

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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.

Routines, Rituals, and Other Things that Go Bump…All Day

I don’t have a vast familiarity with toddlers. Experiencing my son I can’t specifically speak to what is considered average development and what isn’t…for better or worse. He is two years-eight-months-old, and mostly garden variety, but I fully understand the compulsion to assume his growth weighs heavily as strokes of brilliance. Little Man constantly floors me with his leaps in development, but I’ve learned that’s what these stages are. That said, the limited number of professionals who’ve interacted with my son confirmed the few areas I thought were advanced or, at least, more unique to him.

I’ve observed and been told that Little Man is quite skilled in taking turns and sharing…to the point that he doesn’t understand when another child walks up and steals an object out of his hand. He never seems particularly disturbed when it happens, but will stare off befuddled for a beat before walking away to find an alternate source of entertainment. My son tells jokes and is chatty…telling stories to me throughout the day, especially relaying moments he was in trouble. I find this development funny considering his speech delay. Little Man looks to engage others in conversation; professionals working with him say that is unusual for a child his age.

Most interesting, however, is my son’s fairly sophisticated emotional intelligence. Little Man, probably beginning in the nine-month-old realm, possessed an uncanny ability to read others, and significantly alter his behavior and personality to what he correctly perceives others expect from him. Much of the time this serves as a manipulation tactic, and boy is it effective. Other times it seems to meet no other purpose than an intellectual exercise I find disturbing.

Part of this innate ability makes him fairly rigid and sensitive to shifts in his routines. I don’t have an overly complicated routine to our days, but any shift in what Little Man can expect from people and events leaves him struggling if the deviation is more than a day, two if I’m lucky. Some of this, I suspect, is simply toddler. But, I’ve heard early childhood workers in various capacities refer to Little Man as an “observer” or an “organizer.” It isn’t so much I think this merits a diagnosis, rather a personality quirk that makes him who he is.

But, with his need for routines and rituals and his ability to size up his world comes the price of anxiety. I wouldn’t say it amounts to a diagnosis, but times like the recent holiday season I’m reminded of how sensitive Little Man is to changes in his world, even when the change is fantastic and exciting.

At the ripe old age of nine-months, I noticed my son’s personality would change when we had extended visitors or his routine was off for too long. Some of it is age appropriate, but there were changes beyond the fussiness or lack of sleep that so many of my friends describe. Little Man’s temperament and general nature would shift in unexpected ways, but not globally. He would change his mode of interacting based on whoever was the primary personality in the room at any given moment, regardless if my husband or I were in his sights at the time. It’s difficult to describe this long out, and I would assume it was in my head if I hadn’t had practitioners working with toddlers relay what I suspected was a pretty interesting skill.

This brings me to the two week hell that was the holiday season. Family had been in the area, and my husband took the week off. It’s all so thrilling. But, each time Little Man encounters a wave of such excitement, it throws him. His behaviors more concerning as he’s grown older. Most glaring this time around was the aggression. Historically, he’s consistently demonstrated gentle hands with his sister outside the exceptionally occasional snafu easily explained by hunger or fatigue. There have always been independent bouts of jealousy, but Little Man usually has the ability to keep himself contained. And, really, once I read him a story or two on my lap, he’s good to go. Throughout the two week holiday span, however, I worried any time he was around his eight-month-old baby sister. Hardly an encounter occurred without my son pushing or hitting the Warrior Queen. I’m used to seeing an uptick of impulsive and rough behavior when my husband is around, but the incidents escalated dramatically in frequency and intensity.

Sure, during tantrums I might be slapped in the thigh, but twice my son slugged me in the eye without provocation. The biting was out of control as well. Usually such events are reserved for those moments when we pushed out bedtime too long. As the days wore on, it was rare to have his mouth remotely close to skin contact without a biting incident. The entirety of the situation left me flummoxed. My son is a sweet, kind soul who is patient and tolerant, all the more for a toddler.

Frustratingly, the peanut gallery dismissed this crop of behavior incidents as standard toddler practice. The entire span of time that Little Man continued to spiral I asserted he was struggling…all of the excitement and change was too much for him. I defended that these events were not how he navigates his world when the three of us are doing our thing. No one believed me. I began doubting myself…maybe he really is this aggressive. Maybe he is changing, and it is for me to adapt, levering my head from the sandy beach I’d grown to love.

Toward the end of the uproar, I had a couple moments when it was only our threesome…maybe just me and Little Man. They were brief and achingly far between, but I’d have glimpses of the existence I was beginning to lose to the recesses of my memory. I worried if we would return once the world settled, but they were a welcome reprieve even they amounted to be fleeting.

As I write this post we are almost a week out from the avalanche of activity. I’ve come to understand that just as easily as Little Man swings to the reckless, he soars back to the son I know. Within a day we returned to our life…flare ups of impulsivity when he’s hungry or tired…or Daddy is home. Once again I enjoyed our outings, watching my son explore his world in delight. All as though nothing had ever changed, nothing occurred.

I enjoy it when I’m right, but perhaps relief is more apt this time around.

Is SAHMing a Gymnastic Event?

I had a morning the other day that left me feeling as though I absolutely kill it as a stay-at-home mom.  My daughter woke up just shy of 6.30, making almost nine hours of straight sleep.  She is pretty much four-months old, and if this is what her regression will look like, I say, “Yes, please.”  I managed twenty minutes of exercise before the Warrior Queen requested her breakfast.  Unfortunately, I fed her just as Little Man greeted his day.  Thirty minutes of bottle time, left my son on the edge of his patience.  I generally shower before retrieving him, but not this day.

The morning routine was all over the place.  All the required tasks before our outing were completed with amazing efficiency, but in such a random order I felt like surely we would be late leaving the house.  My son behaved himself with independent occupation for the duration of my tasks, and  not one toy was launched into our kitchen sink that rivals Mr. Man’s dog stuffed animal that missed its calling as a Center for Disease Control sample.  Usually when I have the capability to complete all of the mundane tasks that a toddler finds excruciatingly boring, there is a gift waiting for me in his diaper that I pretend isn’t there, so my immediate chores can be completed…or so I can use the restroom.  But, with increasing frequency, my son will be wonderfully behaved without harboring a fugitive.  Maybe the plethora of time-outs he’s earned over the past several months and the end of the nap stand-off finally allow me to reap some reward.

Even taking my shower with the almost two-and-a-half year old Little Man roaming the upstairs somewhat freely was reasonably uneventful.  He only flushed the toilet once while I was scouring baby residue off my person, and helped me restore his entire bookcase of literature and toys he emptied onto the floor with marvelous efficiency.

But, my unicorn of a morning did not end there.  I managed to feed Mr. Man freshly made eggs and toast and throw together a spur of the moment pasta salad from scratch.  For those new to my work, food is extremely important to me, and knowing that I was flowing through my discombobulated morning without delaying incident, yet highly aware I missed my breakfast, motivated me to take along something a bit more tasty and substantial than my usual gallivanting feast assortment.

After each accomplishment around the house, I waited to be hailed upon by other shoes.  The snoozing Warrior Queen was bound to awaken suddenly and spew the contents of an entire bottle, and provide an additional far reaching spray all over me just after I change her, right?  Little Man would surely manage to open the bathroom door for the first time and dismantle the toilet I forgot to flush, right?  I kept waiting for my luck to end, but it never did.  I loaded all of us into the car, and we were off precisely when we needed to be.  I even managed to purchase my favorite tea beverage, at a drive-through, of course.  When we arrived at our magic play place without incident, I couldn’t believe the car accident I anticipated didn’t materialize.

But, as I changed Warrior Queen’s diaper with my son roaming the family style restroom; his still small, but growing hands plunging into the toilet water and his sister increasingly unhappy with her lady parts exposed, it occurred to me my miraculous morning wasn’t idyllic.  Some might call it a rushed shit show.  Upon further reflection, either I’ve adjusted to having two small blessed beings in my life to the point of ignoring the annoying mishaps that otherwise would prompt me to tear off my face, or my threshold for happiness is pathetically low.

Damn Spot!

My son is particular, perhaps compulsive at times.  His speech therapist said that wee ones with language/speech delays often are…It’s a control thing.  I’ll accept that rationale with a sigh of relief it isn’t a peculiarity he inherited from his parents, and I can continue to delude myself for the time being that we aren’t nurturing through modeling the least endearing quirks of Sheldon Cooper.

My son absconded my chair at the kitchen table, which not only enlists me to be the sole parent preventing him from launching his body onto the table during dinner, among other annoying behaviors occurring when my son becomes sleepy, but it also enables an awkward conversational format with my husband, as we now sit next to each other at a large square table.  Sure, I could sit across from him, but for whatever reason I don’t…Let awkwardness prevail, I say!

We used to have the chair portion of a travel high chair installed on Mr. Man’s seat to use as a booster when he would no longer sit in his high chair.  That didn’t last long for Mr. Independent.  He soon moved straight to sitting on a chair by his grown-up lonesome.  But, such a transition did not occur before a small bit of carnage occurred to our K-mart table set.  This week my husband switched out the chair Little Man had been using with the aesthetically damaged one.

The damage on the seat is a small discoloration caused by the rubbing of the plastic against the wood; why would Little Man even notice?  But, oh, he noticed…  Just before climbing onto his seat first thing in the morning, he viewed the chair’s oddity, and requested a napkin.  I hand it to him, and he became Lady Macbeth…just as successful too…  Subsequently, he refused to sit on the chair, opting for his original seat location we established for my son when he first began eating solids.

My husband asked why I didn’t change the chairs back to their original status.  I told him I want to look at him again while I’m eating.  But, alas, my son came to terms with the chair’s imperfection, and my husband and I returned to gazing at the woods behind our house with the chance observance of each other in the windows.

 

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