I am yours, you are mine…

“Mama” he yelled out to me at midnight, “I have a wet bum!”

Bleary, I shuffled in and found him sitting on his bed looking sleepy and concerned. In the flurry of the evening’s bedtime routine, his overnight undies (a.k.a. a Pull Up) had been forgotten.

“Oh Pickle, that’s okay,” I whispered, “let’s get you in some dry cozies.”

I lifted him out of bed and onto the floor. He stood quietly while I replaced his squishy comforter with a crisp down one, tossed a thick fleece blanket over the wet sheet (thankfully, not too wet) and pulled some clean, dry pajama bottoms out of the bin. I sunk to sitting on the floor in front of him. We stripped off the wet pants in sleepy quiet, only the sound of the noise machine whirring, and he held my shoulders as I pulled up his overnight undies and cozies. I started to stand to return him, dry and sleepy, to his bed. But he stopped me, crawling quietly into my lap, curled into a little-boy ball of cotton and limbs.

“My mama,” he whispered, more to himself than to me and we sat there for a few breaths to smell the warmth of one another before I put him back in his bed.

“Your mama, “ I said, as I kissed his head and pulled up the cool covers.

Sleepy little boy.

Extra Ordinary.

Today was the best day ever.
It was really that good.

After a much-anticipated 35th birthday celebration dinner cut short by vomit (not mine), and a night woefully short on sleep, my expectations weren’t high.

 

Snooze Cat

Today we did nothing. And a few things.

We puttered.

We played.

We ate.

We avoided the tummy bug we were sure would sweep the 3 members of the family yet unbugged.

My husband broke out the vacuum. I shifted kid clothes. We had pasta for dinner. We wore our PJs far too late into the afternoon (and I am neither going to confirm nor deny whether some of us are still wearing them). We got some of Christmas put away, and didn’t worry about the rest. We read books. We laughed a lot. My husband and son played in the fresh snow in the dark – Pickle coming back inside with a chapped face and blazing ears “Mama, feel this ear! Now Mama, feel this ear!” Plum, feeling better, graced us with toothy grins and some belly laughs at dinner, and invented a new game of “peekaboo” with her brother. Pickle was helpful, sweet and affectionate, often struck by the need to hug and kiss any family member who was in a different room. He woke up from a luxuriously long nap, good-humored and generous and sat to play with Plum, exclaiming unprompted, “I love my sister.”

We had a few firsts, too.  Plum switched from her quick army-style crawl to an all-fours method.  Pickle started referring to me as his “mom” instead of “Mama.”

Everybody napped.

I read a book, uninterrupted, for over an hour.

I read a book, uninterrupted, for over an hour.

We were not in a rush to go anywhere. We were together, happily together. We accomplished enough to feel like the day wasn’t wasted, but were able to overlook the long to-do list of weekends – cleaning, straightening, cooking, shopping, going, doing.

Today was extra ordinary, and extraordinary. And when so many days with young children feel harried, half done, challenging and tiring, I am so grateful for this day.

Tomorrow I will go to work, and will worry about money, time, and whether we will get that tummy bug after all. But tonight, I will climb into my warm bed, read a bit more, and go to sleep with a grateful, rested heart, thankful.

Living. Life.

Parenthood.

It is fun.
It is funny.
It is humbling.
It is interesting.
It is challenging.
It is ridiculous.
It is tedious.
It is messy.
It is the best thing I have ever decided to do.
It is the most worthwhile undertaking I have attempted.
It is really, really hard.
It is awesome, in the truest sense of that word.

But a lot of the time, it isn’t particularly enjoyable.

It is a never-ending quest to manage, wrangle, calm, soothe, meet-the-needs of, care for, provide, go and do.  And clean.  Why is there so much cleaning involved?

I try to be present as a mom, as a wife, as a person.  But the minutiae, the to-do list, the exhaustion, the frustration, the pace, the never-ending work of fulfilling the needs of others, can make this difficult.  In the quest to tread water, to keep my head afloat, I sometimes forget to feel the slippery water weaved through my fingers, to feel the cool and calming pressure on my skin, to feel my body in that space at that moment.  My life has become an eternal quest to plan for and accomplish what’s next while still being here, now.

Last night at dinner – which I hurriedly, and half-assedly prepared – before Plum started grumping and Pickle started trying to throw his kielbasa (“But I HAVE to! But I WANT to!”) there was a moment when Pickle was looking over at his sister, making funny raspberries, rolling his eyes up into his head, being silly and laughing.  She thought he was hysterical.  Her uncontrolled belly laughter is one of the tell-tale signs of her exhaustion and an impending meltdown, but we ignored that fact for a second.  He mugged and chortled and she laughed and laughed.  And we laughed along, too.

My husband, who had had a very long day of grumpy baby and willful toddler said, “See?  There is always one moment of the day where I like everyone.”  It was a funny way to put it, but I understood.  There is always one moment of the day – an exhalation, a sigh – where the kids are happy, everyone’s needs have been met, the to-do list is forgotten, and we are well and warm.  In that moment we are all present. Imperfect and usually exhausted, but present.  And in that moment, living becomes life, and I gratefully realize that in fact, I am floating, and not treading.

 

After Eight: An Ode to Motherhood

After Eight: An Ode to Motherhood

*****
The cool night has arrived and day is drawing to a close.
The smell of sweet, clean babies, it still lingers in your nose.
The house is finally quiet, no more whines or yells or cries.
The kids are bedded down, and they’ve closed their heavy eyes.
No one wants more water, one more book or one more hug.
It’s time for some relaxing. Wait, what IS that on the rug?
Ignore it, step right over, don’t you worry your poor head.
Change your clothes, and wash your face and get yourself to bed.

*****
The playroom has exploded, there are dishes in the sink.
The laundry hangs from backs of chairs, the cat’s covered in ink.
Your cell phone jingles softly from its hiding spot, but where?
You rub your eyes, and scratch your head. There’s oatmeal in your hair.
The oatmeal was for breakfast, which means it’s been there all day.
Now you know why grocery clerks were looking at you that way.
Looking ‘round you wonder just how long clean-up will take.
Stop wondering, go brush your teeth, ‘twill be there when you wake.

*****
Slumping down onto the couch, a comfy little nest!
But if you went to bed right now it’d be eight hours rest.
Though Project Runway’s on, and you could sit, relax, unwind.
And have a glass of wine perhaps? To ease your harried mind?
You note your stomach’s rumbles, and you only then recall
Dinner was an orphaned nugget, dipped in ranch, that’s all.
You ponder ice cream? Toast? Or chips, piled in a heap.
Forget the snack, forget the wine and get yourself to sleep.

*****
You make a hard deal with yourself, before the day’s complete.
One load of laundry, one show, some bills and a small bite to eat.
But once you’re paying bills you note the budget needs re-doing,
And while you’re at it, darn, those kitchen chairs do need regluing.
While washing gluey hands you think you’ll just wash a few dishes.
But whoops, cupcakes forgotten for tomorrow’s birthday wishes!
Too late to bake, so to the store to find cupcakey treats?
Forget it! Buy them in the morn. Go climb between your sheets!

*****
You climb the stairs, exhausted when – oh shoot! – today’s the day!
The deadline to sign up the kids for music, swim, ballet!
While writing out the checks you find some paperwork neglected.
Tomorrow is school picture day, outfits to be collected.
But all is dirty, so one more load gets tossed into the wash,
And while you wait for it to run, might as well mop and floss.
A few more hours, chores half done, you give up the good fight.
Yes, there is still goo on the rug, but Mama, say goodnight!

Where’s the Good Stuff?

Where’s the good stuff? What IS the good stuff?

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am happy, and grateful for my blessed life. I am. But in the last few weeks, with my return to work, and conversations with other moms, I’ve been pondering motherhood, the challenges, and the triumphs. A lot of moms I know have felt particularly challenged as of late. I’ve heard stories of frazzled nerves, endless second-guessing, exhaustion, work-life balance problems, losing oneself to this kiddo-endeavor, and attempting to find oneself after such a loss.

Recently, while discussing our new babies, my sister said, “I love her, but when will I like her?”

Nail. On. Head.

Kids are a lot of work. And they aren’t really all that fun, especially at the beginning. So why do we do this? And does it ever get easier? Will I ever feel like I’m doing more than just getting by?

I have been pondering those dark mommy days, and what we can turn to in the tough times to get us through (besides wine, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, and crying, that is). Are there tangible returns to mommyhood besides someone to care for us in old age (because they have to, right?)? Some days, a smile from a new little human is enough. But, and I know this is mommy-heresy to say this, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I just don’t want to do it. Any of it. But I guess that’s the point after all…

My kiddos are here to make me a better person. The potholes in my character – the good personality traits that I am missing, or that have been worn away – my kiddos are there to help me learn to patch them.

  • Three days of two-year-old tantrums? Time for me to work on kindness and patience (and homicidal tendencies.  I joke, I joke).
  • Mr. Pickle wants my hard-earned last cookie? Let’s work on generosity.
  • Plum needs some new clothes, but I’ve been wearing the same two ratty old bras for the last 3 years? Plum’s needs trump; I’m working on selflessness.
  • Kiddos are running me ragged and I’m at my wit’s end? I need to work on balance and asking for help.

Some days I want to stomp my foot like an impetuous toddler and whine that I just don’t want to. I don’t want the self-improvement, the mirror held up to my behaviors. I don’t want to participate in this kiddo-led quest for mommy betterment. But I try to remind myself, that in my little corner of the world, we are working very hard to help make good, kind human beings. I’m starting from scratch with my little doodlebugs, and my doodlebugs are working on the betterment of their imperfect-but-working-on-it, 34-year-old Mom and Dad.

Things I Believe – The Tummy Bug Installment

My brother-in-law couldn’t understand how people with kids all of a sudden lost their ability to be social, and socially appropriate.  Then he had a baby and realized that he was texting photos of poop to his friends.  Yup.  Sounds about right.  Yes, gauche and gross, but currently it is our reality so here goes…

In honor of the GI bug epidemic sweeping my state and my household, I bring you “Things I Believe – the Tummy Bug Installment.”

1. If television commercials are any indicator, this country has 2 epidemics – a) occasional gastrointestinal irregularity (which can, thankfully be solved by yogurt) and b) toilet paper sticking to people’s bums.

2. Sometimes, after arriving home after a very long day (out of the house at 7am, home at 10pm, while 8 months pregnant and still recovering from a mean, mean stomach bug) it is best to pretend you don’t see the toys, and stuff, and dishes, and more stuff scattered around the house that would normally drive you crazy, and instead choose to see the fabulous, caring man, partner and father sleeping in your bed.  Priorities, ya know?

3. After a mean, mean stomach bug (7 pounds gone in 7 hours – ouchers is right!) your body may tell you that you want an Italian sub, steak, loaded baked potato and a cupcake.  Your body is lying.

4. Sometimes no amount of hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes can help.

5. Even if toddler loves milk, ease off for a few days after his little tummy is upset.  He may love it, but it won’t love him back.  Trust me on this one.

Something less gross next time… I promise.

 

 

Daycare Characters – Part 2

Title: The “Something’s Off” Mom

Physical characteristics: Well put together. Appears organized, coiffed, calm.  Children are well-behaved, well-groomed and well-dressed.

Qualities: Smiles sweetly. Not very chatty. Drives a mini-van with a curiously inappropriate bumper sticker, that reads something like, “Back off or I’ll flick boogers on your windhsield!” or “If you’re going to ride my ass, at least pull my hair!”  One fashion element per day that is baffling and not at all in keeping with her otherwise well-kept appearance – examples: a hair snood, orange lipstick.

Pros: Really fun to see what fashion choice she will make each day.

Cons: Ten minutes of valuable sing-along-with-the radio-on-the-way-to-the-office time spent quietly pondering 1) what exactly she was thinking when she got dressed and ready in the morning and 2) where she buys her lipstick.