Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Teeter Totter

The day started at 5:20 am. We all went downstairs and I fed the children breakfast. Folded two loads and started another load of laundry while they ate. Henry choked and threw up. Abby almost threw up because Henry threw up. Clean it all up. Got them their rounds of food. Got them cleaned up. Cleaned up the kitchen. Made Abby's lunch. The kids started playing in the playroom and I decided I’d eat my breakfast in front of the national news, on the couch. “I”, I thought to myself, “have already done quite a bit and it’s only 7:08 am. An interview was on that I really want to see.” My tired and already accomplished buns hit the couch and the “mom-is-doing-something-for-herself-and-no-one-else” alarm sounded.

In come the brigades. Abby enters into family room (from the playroom on the other side of the kitchen) riding the plastic toy bike for which she is two years too big. She’s singing the Baby Bumble Bee song. REALLY LOUDLY. Henry comes in with a drool-covered belly (pajamas have already been removed because of the aforementioned vomit) and poop-filled diaper. He sees that I’m eating and immediately starts his “give me food” grunt that persists until he gets some. But I’m eating a peanut butter sandwich and he can’t eat peanut butter yet. So he stands there, escalating. More drool. Lovely, I think, I can’t even sit and eat my breakfast in peace.

So I move into the kitchen, with my dear, sweet, LOUD children three steps behind. I think maybe if I stand in the kitchen, looking like I’m doing something productive, the parade of noise and smell will stop and I can watch the Today Show Exclusive interview from the kitchen counter.

Henry is now in a full-fledged bawl, assuring me with the drip of each crocodile tear that he will whittle away to nothing if I don’t immediately feed him. (Did I mention that I JUST finished feeding him? And that’s he’s 16 months old and weighs almost 30 pounds?) Abby's Bumble Bee song has reached a crescendo that I didn’t know existed and at this point, Matt Lauer and Larry Craig could be singing the Bumble Bee song, too, as I cannot hear a word that either man speaks about Larry’s Minneapolis bathroom debacle. I can’t do one small thing for myself without interruption. But I can only blame myself for this frustration.

As a mother of small children, I teeter on the edge of forgetting and remembering. Forgetting that it isn’t about me and remembering that it IS all about them. Forgetting about and loosing myself and remembering that I cannot be a good mommy if I’m not a grounded, fulfilled woman. Remembering that 7:08 am on a weekday is not the right time to carve out me-time. Forgetting my frustrations and remembering the joys of my Abby and Henry.

Playing, singing, squealing, eating, pooping, eating and having fun. A quite joyful morning (except for the vomit).

I know I will continue to teeter through motherhood, balancing myself on the totter of emotions and the joy of my children. It is this experience through which I grow, carrying each lesson with me hoping that I remember more than I forget.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


So sweet. Ahhhhh. My husband is home. A blissful feeling after two weeks apart. I was gone, he left before I returned and was gone for a week and a half. Then he got stuck in Atlanta en route from Seoul.

A great day of him being home, on a Thursday (!). To lunch together. Him getting some much needed self time and me getting a breather (to the store by myself!), too. Watching Henry master the art of walking. Seeing Abby kick our respective butts in games of Disney Princess Concentration and Go Fish.

He’s here, he’s home, he's jet lagged and he’s crashed in our bed.

Our kids are exhausted and asleep in their respectful rooms, snoozing away their colds.

The only light in the house is the light of this computer screen on which I type, allowing me an outlet, the solace of reflection and joy in the completeness of this picture.

I am totally calm. I am relaxed. And extremely sleepy myself. I think I’ll treat myself to a nice bowl of Breyer’s vanilla ice cream (with bean specks of course) and Hershey’s chocolate syrup drizzled on top. To celebrate all of the pieces of my puzzle being snugly in their place. To celebrate the ability of the pieces to jet around the town, country and world, solo, together and in different combinations and to do so gracefully, adventurously and with spirit. And to celebrate, once again, the desire, draw and peace of a very, very warm homecoming.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fun Gus

My husband is in Germany and I’m celebrating mother’s day solo, with my two beautiful children. They’re beautiful but sick. It’s been this way for four days. Henry has a horrible, seal cough and throws up every time he eats. I think he’s lost some of his robust 26.5 lbs. Abby is severely constipated and her stomach hurts most of the day. So I’ve spent my days leading up to mother’s day administering Milk of Magnesia, monitoring poop frequency and consistency and sitting on the floor while the pooping happens. I’ve also been cleaning up vomit during each meal. Appetizing.

After an early morning, special run to the drive-thru Starbucks, Abby wanted to go see something in the front yard. I looked out on her, still in her jammies, golden hair glowing in the morning sun. She was picking something in the yard—“oh,” I think, “how sweet. She’s picking me some small wild flowers. A mother’s day bouquet.” I sneak inside so I won’t spoil her surprise.

She walks in and says, “Mommy, look!”

I do.

She’s holding a bouquet of nasty, disgusting fungus. Mushrooms harvested from our own front yard. I hate mushrooms. Despise them. They make me gag and creep me out.

She holds out the offensive offering and wants a vase for them. Luckily, I had to put Henry down for his nap so had to delay this next step. They’re now patiently waiting on the back patio for a place of honor, until Abby remembers they’re there (or forgets that they’re there…)

Ultimately, it’s fitting that I’m spending mother’s day being a mother, in the truest, rawest form. Taking care of the two loves that grant me the opportunity to be a Mom, Mommy, MammmmmmMa. A dream that wouldn’t yet be realized if Abby and Henry weren’t here.

A big nod to my parents and grandparents and Brian’s parents and grandparents, and all of their parents before them. If it weren’t for each of our families, neither he nor I would be here. Neither would Abby or Henry. It’s a sobering thought. How many mothers have come before me, making our journey possible? Cherishing the uncherishable, even fungus bouquets.

Friday, May 11, 2007

11 Months Old

I watch my sweet son, Henry. I see him drawn to every thing that isn’t safe and is a potential hazard. So, I spend a lot of time attempting to redirect his attention. From Abby's bouncing, curly hair to a soft stuffed animal. From the electric cord to the Leap Frog table. From the remote control to a fake phone. From dog poop to a bottle of Clorox.

Sometimes he goes with the flow. Most times he screams and tears plummet down his chubby cheeks (not sure how the tears get out of his eyes when they’re clenched shut). Many times I am amazed at how angry he gets. But tonight, I had a moment of clarity. I imagined I was an 11-month-old Henry.

I sit on the floor, drooling happily, playing with and exploring a great new thing I found. I crawled 100 feet to get to this amazing thing and even though my knees are well padded, they’re sore from the trip. Anyway, I’m chewing on it, staring at it, crinkling it and having a grand time. Then, I see the long legs and hear the voice of Mommy. Based on the look she gives me, she’s about to take away my discovery. So, I do what every smart baby in my place would do. Sprint (i.e. crawl really, really fast).

Alas, she is faster than me (did I mention the long legs?) and she takes away my fabulous thing. I am pissed. Since I haven’t mastered my vocabulary yet, I scream. That’ll get her attention. GIVE IT BACK!!!!!!!!!!!! What did I do to her?

Can you imagine how ticked you’d be if someone came along and took your recently-aquired fun activity away? Imagine sitting on the back deck, reading a book. Cool breeze. Just as the second page sucks you in, your spouse/friend/partner/significant other/neighbor rips the book from you and replaces it with an astronomy book, written in Arabic.

So. Since moments of clarity are not as forthcoming as I’d like, I’m going to embrace my epiphany and try to see the world through my sweet Henry's eyes more often. (And I’m also going to remember that he really does spend a lot of time looking at, hanging onto and crawling up and over my legs. I should probably shave them a little more often.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Nirvana on the Front Porch Swing

It was a grueling day of mediation, tempering and negotiation. With my three year old daughter. It was a trying day of intervention, redirection and comforting. With my eleven month old son.

Every task brought a challenge. For every challenge there was a rechallenge. I came close to boiling a few times but managed to stay fairly calm even in the midst of:

“Mommy, don’t feed Henry all the black olives.”
“Abby, relax, I have another can.”
“Mommy, he’s going to eat them all!”
“Sweetie, I have another can. Relax. Finish your movie.”
“Can you pause my movie?”
“Abby, I promise you I have more black olives. No worries.”

(Three minutes pass.)

“Ok Abby, here are your black olives.”

“I don’t like them.

“I don’t like black olives any more. I want cheese. I want cheese. (Crescendo) I want cheese!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAA! I WANT CHEESE!”

For the first time I realized that windows may have been invented to silence and keep IN the embarrassing screams of one’s children rather than my initial understanding of keeping the bugs, mayhem, pollution and dirt OUT.

I rationally explained (hindsight proved this was my obvious first mistake) that after she finished what she had requested, begged and pleaded for, she could have cheese.

I’ll spare you the rest of the tantrum’s dialogue.

Meanwhile in Henry-land…

“Da da da da.”
TV volume goes to MAX.
“Henry, let’s play with something else.”
Wipe the constant stream of bodily fluids from nose and mouth.
Repeat four times.

When I’d truly had my fill of havoc, noise and complete insanity, I called my husband so he could reinforce that I chosen the right path on the latest installment of dinner-time theater. I had to leave both screaming children in the house and make the call from the front porch swing so I could think and breathe. And I remembered. What is rational to a three-year-old is not rational to a thirty-four year old. My rational is not her rational. I went back inside to mayhem land.

Once all the tears, drool and snot stopped flowing, I suggested a ride on the front porch swing. A cool, Arkansas Spring evening greeted us. Henry on my lap. Abby to my left. And we rocked. To and fro. Interesting dialogue resumed. My sweet, inquisitive, rationale and intelligent daughter returned. Henry cooed. I breathed. In. Out. Back. Forth. We’d found our own little oasis of nirvana. On the front porch swing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Abby & Ruby

My daughter Abby (three and half) has an above average fascination with body fluids and all things that exit the body.

Today, just as we were finally sitting down to a glorious lunch of Cheerios, applesauce and peanut butter sandwiches, Ruby, our 135 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback, came down stairs and vomited. Abby yelled, “THROW UP! Ruby throwed up!” I explained that we were going to finish eating and then I’d clean the mess up. (From the silver-lining department, she did it on the hardwood floor instead of the carpet. Here’s a big shout-out to Ruby!!)

But Abby decided she wasn’t hungry. This had nothing to do with being sick to her stomach and everything to do with wanting to get over to the throw up and check it out. Gross? Yes. True? Yes.

So, as I’m stomaching my peanut butter sandwich, I hear,
“Henwy, Ruby throwed up.” (“Henwy”, a.k.a. Henry, is her seven month old brother.)
“Mommy, is Ruby sick?”

“Ruby throwed up a lot.”

“Mommy, why did Ruby throw up?”

“Do you want to heawr the throw up song?”

“Throw up throw up throw up.”

I asked her if she would stop saying throw up while I was eating. She said she’d try.

Then, after finishing my food and feeding the ever-hungry Henwy, (who also throwed up on me,) I announced that I was finally going to clean up the fascinating throw up.

Did I mention that our dog weighs 135 pounds?

I put on a disposable latex glove, grabbed the cleaner and paper towels and got to it. As I cleaned, I heard,

“Throw up throw up
Throw up throw up…” (Sung to the tune of Where is Thumbkin)

“Mommy, are you done yet?”

“Why is dis taking forever?”

“Can Ruby come back inside yet?” (Me, “No.”)

“Whyyyyyyyyyyyy??????” (She really wants me to say it, doesn’t she? Me, “Because Ruby threw up.”)


“Why is dere so much throw up? When I throwed up, it doesn’t take this long to clean up.”

“Ruby weally wants to come back inside.” pause. “Are you done?”

Yes, I’m finally done. And I haven’t even heard the word, or seen the stuff, for a full five minutes. Ahhhh.