llama drama

For little man’s third birthday, a friend gave us pretty much the best children’s book of all time.  Llama Llama Red Pajama.  I have begun quoting the book to little man which luckily he thinks is hilarious which means he may not be getting my secret coded messages I’m sending him.  For those of you who haven’t read Llama Llama, it’s about a baby llama who throws a fit for really no reason and his llama mama who responds in a flurry only to find that baby llama simply wanted a glass of water and a little attention.  Here comes my favorite part (and the part that I quote to little man like all the time now).  Mama llama says, “baby llama, what a tizzy!  Sometimes mama’s very busy.  Please stop all this llama drama and be patient for your mama.”
Best line in a children’s book hands down.

Llama drama.  I clearly must have a sufficient amount of llama drama in my life in that I am so in love with this book (and with the author for writing it…and dedicating it to her little llamas!).  But I guess little man must be getting my innuendos because the smart little stinker has totally started deflecting my humor and now sing songs the same line to his baby sister: “Baby girl, what a tizzy!  Sometimes mama’s very busy…”

Llama drama.

What is it about little man being 3-years-old that he has to say no to everything and I mean everything (well, I guess he doesn’t say no to ice cream cones or cupcakes…or birthday parties because he’s pretty sure he’s going to get one of the previously mentioned items if he attends).  The 2’s were a breeze compared to 3.

Time to put your clothes on for school! NOOOOOOOOOO!

And did I mention that little man LOVES preschool and is always the last kid out the door and I am cajoling with visits to the school library (where there are gold fish and animal cookies—okay, 2 more things he loves) or tossing bread crumbs to the chickens in the school garden and often threatening time outs because school has been OVER for 15 minutes and the teachers really want you gone so it’s time to GO!  Yes, same school that when I say it’s time to put clothes on he runs the other way.

Llama drama.

Time to go downstairs because it’s swimming time!  We need to move a little quickly to be on time!

No mommy, I want to move s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w.

I swear a sloth takes over his body the moment we have to go somewhere.  Anywhere.  It could be the most fun place imaginable to a kid like Sea World or the Zoo or the beach (all places little man LOVES)!  And as previously mentioned, this mommy dearest has too much going on in life to ever get to places on time by moving s-l-o-o-o-w-w-w.

Let’s go for a walk and look at bees!  Let’s go ride your bike! Let’s eat breakfast!  Let’s eat lunch!  Let’s get dressed!  Let’s jump up and down on the bed!  Let’s go pee pee on the bush! No matter how fun an activity is or how I excited I sound, the answer is one syllable two letters: N-O! And an emphatic I DON’T WANT TO usually follows the N-O.

Now if any of the activities mentioned above are somehow the brainchild of little man, then of course it’s the best thing in the world.  Like jumping up and down on the bed is suddenly a great idea when I’m trying to have a zen moment and nurse baby girl on said bed.

Llama drama.

Getting little man out the door is the bane of my existence.  But little man has to get out because staying in all day would lead to bouncy ball type behavior and this mama can’t handle that drama either.  Little man has to run.  EVERY DAY.  Otherwise llama mama here will turn into psycho mama.  And then it will clearly be 5-o’clock somewhere right here right now even if it’s only naptime.

(as an aside, a friend of mine just gave me beverage napkins that read: enough with the damn juice boxes, mommy needs a cocktail)

I’ve had a little more success moving little man lately by having him help me come up with a task list.  A bunch of you are probably saying “du-uh” but this was a new thought to me.  Scenario: Okay, little man, let’s talk about what we have to do before we leave.  I need to go potty and put my shoes on.  You need to go pee (notice how I sneak that in there), get dressed, and put on your shoes.  I need to change baby girl’s diaper and put her shoes on too.  What shall we do first?

Of course I want to just yell “put your shoes on and let’s go” but that will meet with tsunami height waves of resistance.  Patience, mama.  Argh!  I hate patience!

I think being a mom is such an interesting thing because I have moments (sometimes days) where I want to throttle little man but the idea of anything actually happening to him or baby girl sends horrific shivers down my back and I grasp onto my sweet little children wanting to love and shelter them beyond everything.  Husband gets the kids up every morning so each of my days starts with the pitter patter of 3-year-old feet and a sing song “hi mama bear!” and when I pry an eye open I see wide-eyed baby girl giggling and salivating.  I think I hold my breath every morning until I hear those feet and see that little smile.  Then I breathe.  They’re okay.  They woke up this morning.  I get one more day with them.  Everything is okay.

Maybe because I had this really awful relationship in my 20’s or because we almost lost baby girl in her early weeks of life, or because I’ve seen enough pain in the lives of my friends and family and just the whole stinkin world out there, that there’s this on-going fear in me that everything can’t stay this good.  I can’t be lucky enough to have a beautiful healthy family and live in a wonderful place by extended family and amazing friends with work I really enjoy and have it all just keep going.  Can I be this lucky to have this many gifts?

Maybe I’m just a mama drama.
But some days the brevity of life and it’s constant inability to be controlled—by me—gets to me.  I pray.  I try to trust.  I maul little man with hugs and kisses until he wiggles out of my grasp.  I plant on-going raspberries on baby girl’s tummy as she squeals with delight.

I love love love my little llamas. No matter the drama.

But most days I still need a cocktail!

the poop diaries

Poop is still my life. It’s amazing how much of a focus it takes each day. I have my one child, 3-year-old little man who won’t poop for days and then finally does in some screaming fit in his swim pants at swim class or in a pull up at pre-school or occasionally in his little potty at the house. We now own Everybody Poops and It Hurts When I Poop and we read them A LOT. I asked my pediatrician for advice and he responded with one word: bribery (further advice welcome here, dear readers). Little man was pretty much a sugar-free kid until we potty-trained. Now we ply with ice cream, cookies, and the crown jewel cupcakes! We doll out gold star stickers (thank you Grannie Hannah) for successful poops in the potty that can be traded in for real Thomas & Friends trains. We have failed—fallen from our lofty hill of generic non-media based toys. We will do anything to try to get little man to poop in the potty.

We just got back from a week in Ixtapa, Mexico—I will forever sing the accolades of the all inclusive (read: abundant alcohol) high-chair, pack’n’play, stroller, and kid’s club-providing Club Med there—and we spent a good part of everyday pacing back and forth between pool and little toilets (they even had mini toilets—I LOVE this place!!!) and beach and little toilets and dining room and little toilets and each episode usually concluded with two seconds total sitting on the potty and a proudly announced “I’m done!” with nothing to show for it in the potty and back to whatever activity we had been in the midst of we return…for 15 minutes and then the groans and potty dance from little man resume and back to the toilets we go!

Little man just won’t go until he REALLY HAS TO GO and that often takes days and when he finally does have to go we’re not always right by a potty. And the pool always seems to pry open the floodgates. One morning in Ixtapa, after countless trips to the potty, and after being on strike for days, little man had his usual little mishap in his swim pants that’s now no biggie. I’ve become a pro at this: after our screaming trips around the pool at swim class (which as an aside, amused husband really wants me to video and I’m like, how do I hold infant, chase howling little man, and use finger to record all at the same time, not even to mention the quality of the video being taken due to vigorous movement involved? I let him know he is welcome to come to any swim class and be our videographer at any time—he’s now contemplating paying a babysitter), I now put a little liner inside his swim pants so if he goes at swim class (I have instructed him that he has to get out of the pool and stand on the side so as not to contaminate said pool), we just plop the liner and poop in the toilet and back to the pool we go in 1 minute flat. This is my new strategy. I’m trying to decrease the stress and angst of my 3-year-old because it kills me that he’s already carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And our screaming streaks have reduced significantly.

Well husband hasn’t had quite so much experience with our whole screaming around the pool throw the liner out thing and was grossed out by the little reserve left on the swim pants and took them entirely off so now little man had liner-less board shorts on and the floodgates had been opened but not emptied because did I mention he had been on strike FOR DAYS so when little man got back in the pool he suddenly realized he had to go more and luckily got out of the pool (thanks to our swim lesson training) before plop—yes a huge poop dropped straight through the airy board shorts and took up residence on the side of the pool. Husband on the deck looked at me. I looked at husband from the pool with baby girl. I totally gave him the “you’re closest” look and husband took a paper cup and napkin and scoop before the lifeguard could notice. Yes: my child pooped on the side of the pool. Yes: mortified.

Then my other child, 6-month-old baby girl seems to poop all the time and it goes EVERYWHERE. I swear I lose a shirt or pair of pants a day to her poops. And on the not so lucky days, I lose an entire outfit. Christmas Eve, sitting in a fancy restaurant in my silk purple dress with the grandparents and kid-free brother and his wife, we hear an audible explosion over the restaurant din and yes, there is a puddle of poop in my lap. Awesome.

“What did you do?” one of my friends asked. I actually felt smugly proud of myself because I had a plastic bag in my diaper bag just waiting for such an occasion and a whole other outfit to change baby girl into (too bad I couldn’t magically unfold a wrinkle free outfit for me too!). I asked for some extra paper towels from fancy French-speaking waiter and just sponged off the best I could. And continued! If my brother and his wife never have kids, I think the cosmos can just blame me…and my sometimes screaming, poop-filled children.

Baby girl has mastered the ability of explosive poops at the most inopportune times. Picture the scene: returning from our trip to Ixtapa, descending in flight into LAX, the entire family in one row with me and baby girl by the window, husband on the aisle, and little man between us licking a lollipop to keep his head from exploding, we hear the audible plthbtbt that seems to last for minutes. I sit up baby girl and her entire back is now brown. And there’s a puddle on my maxi skirt where she was leaning. At the same moment, little man starts wiggling and shouting I HAVE TO GO PEE I HAVE TO GO PEE I HAVE TO GO PEE and remember we are descending on our flight so there is no getting up from our seats for at least 15 more minutes and we remind little man that he has a pull up on since we’re traveling but he’s a big boy now and he won’t use his pull-up but would rather wiggle and moan and grimace all in unison.

So at the risk of being pounced on by air marshals, husband unbuckled little man and held him on his lap while simultaneously laying out a changing matt, wipes, and a new diaper. I stripped baby girl and put cute onsie with stars and little bow only worn once, along with nasty diaper and wipes, all in a zip lock (also supplied by handy husband), discreetly placed the entire bag on the floor, and slyly pushed it under the seat ahead of us. We had tried to hand off a yellow only diaper to a stewardess earlier and she had made some commotion about diapers being in the same trash bag as food products and instructed us to carry it to the restroom in the back. Since there was no getting up at this point, we left ziplock with nasty diaper and onsie on the floor. We threw away the onsie. And since I had worn shorts to the airport in 90 degree Ixtapa and changed into my maxi skirt for the plane, I did a reverse deck change, pulled on shorts under skirt, pulled off skirt, and voila! Though I considered it, I didn’t throw away the skirt. It went in another plastic bag and got buried in my carry on.

Then as soon as we landed, I left baby girl with husband, picked up little man, and dashed past “occupied” plane restrooms, through terminal and extra long moving walkways, pushing aside passerby’s, and deposited little man on floor in front of nearest toilet we could find. The entire world breathed a collective sigh of relief. It’s funny how people get out of your way when you throw an elbow here or there and with 3-year-old in tow announce loudly, “excuse me, potty crisis, excuse me, potty crisis.”

People assure me that little man will not be withholding poop when he’s 15 (though at that time, I may wish he were). And with the introduction of solid foods into 6-month-old baby girl’s diet in the last 2 weeks, the poops are becoming, well, more solid. Someday we’ll laugh about the fact that we actually owned poop books (I count 4, off the top of my head) and about the amount of laundry that I currently do. And on that day we’ll miss the 3-year-old who deposits mini trash cans around his room and makes me use finger puppet animals to call the garbage truck over to retrieve the trash from each of them. And we’ll miss the toothless wide-eyed sparkly grins of little girl reaching up for my nose from her snuggly little cradled position in my arms. So once again, I thank God for my screaming-child-poop-filled stage.

mommy

Some days I step back and think, am I really a mommy?  Two kids and three years into this whole thing and some days I’m still surprised.  Me, mommy?  When I was a teenager, my mom used to ask me if her outfit looked ok and I’d reply, “sure, for a mom” and she’d kind of glare at me. But in my mind, at that time, it made sense.  Mom’s weren’t supposed to be hot or always be in style or have the perfect outfit on anyways.  That was my impression of moms growing up.  Is that me?

My girlfriend and I were laughing over a cute 20-something at our church who always has on the most adorable sky high heels and we can’t imagine wearing heels like those now.  I told me girlfriend that we are in the “damn it, I still look good because” stage.  Because I’ve carried and bore two children.  Because I don’t have a personal trainer or chef or full time nanny or infinite clothing allowance.  Because I no longer have those I-work-out-an-hour-a-day abbs.  Because the twins are no longer quite as perky after breastfeeding two children.

I used to wear heals.  I used to wear them all the time.  A random woman once commented to me in Whole Foods, “I love to see a tall girl wearing heals!”  I realize that I used to wear heals because I used to stroll everywhere.  I used to stroll through the market, examining my options, and placing them thoughtfully in my basket (back in the day when a week’s worth of groceries could fit in a basket…and back in the day when I actually strolled through a market) tucked neatly on my arm.  Now I wear sensible mom shoes because I have to RUN everywhere.  I RUN to get the blanket from upstairs for my wailing little man.  I RUN to pick up the squawking baby who has woken up first from naps.  I RUN to get to preschool on time to pick up little man because I have too much to do in life to serenely stroll in early.  I RUN.

But of course I do my best to find cool mom shoes that don’t look like mom shoes.  Like my Vans or my giraffe print flats or my 1-inch healed cowboy boots.  Am I fooling anyone?  I think I’m running from the 16-year-old voice still in my head that says for a mom.  I’m cool for a mom.  I look put together for a mom.  I look fit for a mom.

Last May, with my ballooning belly, husband tried to put old bucket car seat in our little Rav4 next to little man’s toddler car seat to see if they would both fit.  No such luck.  So off to the dealers we went to survey our options and a few weeks later we had a Hylander sitting in our garage.  I was desperately trying to get the I’m still cool car that still sat 7 as I contemplated my future role as carpool mom. At the same time, my girlfriend needed to get a larger car for her burgeoning family and she texted me from the car lot, “I’m totally getting a minivan.”  The tone was head hung low, tail between the legs…total failure.  She had failed at coolness and she knew.  And the hilarious part was, she didn’t care.  Oh how far the mighty have fallen.

It’s like I’m working so hard not to be the mommy of my mom’s generation—but what was wrong with that?  Our 60’s and 70’s moms were the ones who often made mommyhood their sole job title because they believed that raising us was the most important thing they could do.  Most of my little friends mom’s, growing up, didn’t work.  They led our girl scout troop, monitored our after school play dates, fixed home cooked dinners every night, and carted us from piano lessons to soccer practice.

I’m the one trying to juggle kids and work and frozen Trader Joes food that miraculously become risotto in our saucepan.  It’s like somehow I’ve failed if I fully submit myself to mommyhood and embrace it alone.  Which means I never have time for anything and wonder if I’m doing nothing well.  Do we, in our generation, just have higher expectations for ourselves?  Or is everyone, like me, running from this phantom mommy that for some reason we really don’t want to be though we’re not really sure why?

For some reason, having my second child has forced me to own mommyhood more than before. Maybe it’s that I really don’t have any self time anymore and I’ve just given up.  I’m a mommy.  My chief job in life is mommy.

We went on vacation last week in Ixtapa, Mexico (more stories to come, I promise) and upon return, people kept asking me, “did you get to relax?”  Ha!  My friend told me about a bumper sticker that reads you know you’re a mom when a trip is a lot of work and going to Target by yourself is a vacation. Relaxing? Ha!

“A bit,” I would reply.  The kids still took afternoon naps and husband and I holed up in our air conditioned suite and read most of the time (I actually read a novel for the first time in a year! Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy was awesome).  “But,” I would add, “I probably had more fun than on previous trips.”  There was just something so fun about jumping through waves with little man, floating baby girl in pink sunglasses through the pool in her blow up baby inter tube, and dancing around with little man at the kid’s shows (that you really can’t do kid-less) that added a whole new dimension of fun.

So what does it mean to be mommy?  I guess it’s just flat-shoed fun.  And I guess I just have to embrace it in my own way—with my trying to be cool mom car and frenetic frozen Trader Joes food juggle.

step away from the baby

imagesCA1498B4I realize that I have this almost insatiable need to be nice.  I apologize for this or that and feel totally guilty if, in retrospective examination, I may have accidentally made some comment to someone that seemed rude or self-centered.  I have a need to be nice.  Almost at the expense of anything else—including my children.

So I pretty much surprised myself because I just got back from a brisk end of the day I-have-way-too-much-pent-up-energy-from-molding-my-3-year-old-all-day walk and while I was on it, I wasn’t nice.  I paused with husband, 3-year-old on his tricycle (with the parent push stick extended from it which is awesome because it actually ensures that little man will move at the pace that I need to move by this time of day), and baby girl in the Ergo at the park near our house that overlooks the ocean for a serene let’s all breath and watch the surfers moment (though that always sort of stresses me out also because then I start thinking how long has it been since I’VE surfed and when do I get to surf again) and some random park-goer saunters over to us exclaiming “BABY!” and reaches out with her knuckle and places it right on baby girl’s cheek and starts, literally, saying “coochy coochy cooooo!”

And did I mention that it’s FEBRUARY which means cold and flu season and remember baby girl spent 2 weeks in the hospital battling a respiratory thing that would have killed her in a 3rd world country and it’s TUESDAY and I’ve had a stressful day and pretty much no one wants to mess with me on Tuesday.  You see, Tuesdays are the only day that husband leaves at 7am and gets back at 5pm and I don’t have an ounce of help during the day.  No 3 hours of preschool in the morning on Mondays and Wednesdays.  No awesome little college buddy that comes to play with little man for 2 hours on Thursday mornings.  No nana and papa’s house on Friday afternoons.  It’s Tuesday.    And those of you who do this same dog and pony show EVERY day are playing your miniature sad violins on your two fingers to me right now for boo hooing as I am. But Tuesdays around here are long days and it was Tuesday.  So by the time 5pm comes on Tuesday, I clearly need to go for a walk and not talk to anyone for at least 30 minutes or I might just accidentally bite someone’s head off. I can happily come home and fix dinner and kiss sniffling baby girls cheeks when she gets tired and do prayers with little man before bed AFTER I have had a walk.

So when random stranger reached out for baby girl, I literally flinched, stepped back, and said “please don’t touch the baby since it’s flu season” and turned my back on her.  Yes, I was pretty surprised at myself.  I wasn’t nice.  Mama bear came out of her cave.  And there were people all around me who were watching and yes they noticed.  And yes, it WAS odd for her to reach out and she might have honestly been slow (as she seemed a little off in demeanor) or a foreigner with different personal space preferences and usually I would probably have humored her with a grimace on my face.  But not today.  Not on Tuesday.

I was so thrown off by the whole thing that I left little man and husband at the park and pounded my way home getting as much aggression out as possible on the pavement beneath me.  As I walked away, I processed the whole thing.  Why was I so thrown off by the incident?  Why was I typically more afraid of offending someone than harming my own child?  It IS February and a touch from random stranger could inflict a week or two of illness on my child and I will be the one up and night, suctioning snot out of baby girls’ nose, hearing baby cry in discomfort, and possibly passing on said sickness to little man and even husband and me.  And all the while random stranger would be happily on her way not experiencing any of the consequences inflicted on my family because I was nice.

And interestingly, when husband got home he told me he was proud of me.  Maybe it’s not as important to guys to be nice.

A friend of mine from church told me how she returned after a long day of work to her 7-month-old at home with the nanny and the TV was on and she didn’t like it at all but she didn’t say anything.  She was being nice.  But gosh darn it, she’s paying the nanny and she’s not paying the nanny to have the TV on with her 7-month-old.  A 3-year-old would be different but there’s no reason to have a TV on with a 7-month-old.  My friend was nice.

How often am I nice—are we nice—at our own children’s expense?

Another friend just told me a story that one-upped me.  I was relaying my incident to her and she said, “I’ve got one for you!” and continue to relay a story of going to the market with her 8-month-old attached to her in a front carrier and outside a homeless man asked her for some change and being a better woman than I am, she took out a dollar and gave it to him (he can’t buy alcohol with a dollar, she says).  As she handed it over, the man reached forward and instead of taking the dollar, patted her 8-month-old with his adorably awesome spiky Asian hair right on the head.  My friend said she saw the hand coming at her in slow motion—and still today sees it in her mind in slow motion still coming at her—and there was nothing she could do about it.  But being the amazing person and science nerd that she is, she decided that since touching babies raises our endorphin levels, she probably increased the happiness in that man’s day and how often does a homeless man actually get to touch a baby anyway?  Like I said, she is a way better woman than me.

I  remember when little man was a baby and I was in my new mom freaked out fury and I would try to go to the grocery store with him in tow in the tiny window of time I knew I had between feeding and naptime when he would be awake and happy and dashing through the store bulldozing my grocery cart in front of me and inevitably a white-haired little old lady with all the time in the world would start making goo goo faces at baby little man and I would have to stop. Stop.  Stop and hold my clenched fists while chunky-cheeked little man would smile and grace her with his butterball giggles.  And I knew that baby little man would probably be the highlight of her day and she would tell all her girlfriends over bridge that afternoon about the cutest little blonde baby boy she saw at the market and all I wanted was to continue my 100-yard-dash through the store grabbing whatever shelf items found their way into my cart through haphazard arm spasms.

There were days where I would grit my teeth and breathe and be nice.  I would be still because I knew the pleasure I was allowing was far more important than my agenda even if it meant that baby boy might fall asleep in the car and who knew if he would transfer to his crib that day or suddenly be UP and my attempts at the work I needed to do would have to be postponed until little man’s bedtime (and who knew if I would actually have energy then anyways?).  But there were days when I would also smile at the little old lady and keep bulldozing my cart through the aisle because I knew that’s what I needed to do to keep my sanity for the day.

Nice.  So yes there are times to be nice.  And sometimes being nice is the right thing to do even if it’s the hardest most frustrating thing for me in the moment.  But I also think there are times when we don’t need to be nice.  When being nice is coming at the expense of our children then maybe being nice isn’t the most important thing.  Maybe, sometimes, mama bear needs to come out of her cave.

the train wreck mom

trainwreckYou’ve all seen her: the train wreck mom.  She’s got the screaming child, the haggard expression, hair disheveled, glassed over eyes.  We other moms present avoid eye contact and awkwardly turn our backs to pretend whatever seen unfolding behind us is occurring in the far away land of incompetent momville where we have never traveled.

I say “we” because I have worked very hard on (and of course prided myself on) not being that mom. Present company was once overheard saying, at a park to her other mommy friends, when a child was erupting in crazy tantrums behind us, “I’d spank that.”  And though said company has already admitted to not being in the spanking camp (though she might have actually spanked that child), she oozed with bride when uttering those remarks.

See little man clearly has his moments but his waywardness is a little more sly and sneaky.  Yes mommy, I know you told me not to touch the salad tongs but if I move really slowly and tuck them under my arm here, you might not notice they are missing.  Or in the let’s see if I can send mommy to the looney bin with my excellent use of vocabulary.  Little man: mommy, can I touch baby girl’s foot? Mommy: no, when you are sick, you can’t touch her. Little man: can I touch her arm? Mommy: no. Little man: can I touch her head? Can I touch her eyes? Can I touch her toes? Can I touch her knee? Mommy: NO YOU CAN’T TOUCH HER ANYWHERE WHEN YOU’RE SICK!!!

So since little man, by nature, is not the screamer, climber, biter, hitter kind of kid, I’ve generally been able to maintain a pulled together public appearance for most of his existence.  We do sit timeouts anywhere, explanations (but no negotiations as our pediatrician has instructed us), and “yes mommy’s” before we can get up and that has generally worked for little man.  And for almost three years it has just been me and little man and man on man strategy works pretty well there—one parent, one kid, okay, we’re good.

Enter baby girl (cue ominous music in background please).  So last week one of Axel’s buddies in his preschool had a birthday party after class in the school garden. Super fun.  We were excited. Now little man had a cold and some general malaise that went with it and we have just potty trained him and and as I’ve mentioned, he hates to go poop in the potty now so he’ll hold it for days and just start an endless diatribe of “I’m uncomfortable! I’m uncomfortable! I’m UN-COM-FOR-TA-BLE!” and he had some diaper rash on top of all that so it was kind of a bad day for little man. But I strap baby girl into the front carrier and grab little man’s lunch pail (and nothing else because sometimes I just can’t stand schlepping everything around and baby girl had on a fresh diaper so we’re good) and we go to join the party and there is an actual train on wheels driving around in the cul-de-sac and little man is wide-eyed open-mouthed amazed and staring at the train but he won’t ride it because he’s my cautious kid that just wants to watch it but he can’t even focus on that because he starts his ceaseless “I’m uncomfortable’s” and he’s scratching his little rear and a couple mommy acquaintances I haven’t seen for awhile and am super excited to talk to are coming up to try and chat with me but little man is moaning and scratching and baby girl, who hates to be confined, starts squawking and suddenly I’m that mom.

And then I’m excusing myself and running to the bathroom because little man is suddenly screaming “I HAVE TO POOP I HAVE TO POOP!” which hasn’t happened in three days so yes we are all running—baby girl squawking and bouncing around in the front carrier and little man streaking back towards school.  But in the bathroom he suddenly won’t go (I get heebee geebies from public toilets too, so can I blame him?) so we’re back at the party and I un-strap baby girl because she’s squawking LOUDER and holding her in front of me so she can face out which she much prefers but now little man is dancing around yelling “I HAVE TO GO PEE PEE!” and we were just in the potty and I’m not going back there so I hand baby girl to a fellow mommy and pull down little man’s pants and aim him at a shrub but he won’t go so up go the pants, take the baby back, and then little man spies the cupcakes.  Cupcakes!

Now we’re on the broken record of “I want a cupcake I want a cupcake I want a cupcake” and no matter how many times I attempt to school little man in the art of courteous linguistic skills (mommy, may I please have a cupcake), he always resorts to the “I WANT A…” until coached otherwise.  But I tell little man he can’t have a cupcake until he has eaten his sandwich so he opens his lunch box, has exactly two bites, and then he’s holding the front of his pants again and yelling “I HAVE TO GO PEE PEE!” so I hand baby back to mommy friend, feeling like such the rookie mom for unhitching baby girl from her front carrier in the first place and also not bringing the stroller, pull down little man’s pants and aim him at a bush again and just when he’s finally in mid-stream, I hear infant volume increasing behind me and know it’s absolutely my child beginning to let loose (remember, code name: the screamer).  Though baby girl may not be understood by the general population, I my mind I know she’s yelling “YOU’RE NOT MY MOMMMMMMYYYYYY!” and I look back and kind helpful mommy friend has a panicked look on her face and is holding baby girl out in front of her who is red-faced fist-clenched fury.  So I pull up little man’s pants, grab baby girl, and I can see the circle of mom’s widening around me—increasing the space between them and present falling apart mom.  Yes, I’m that mom.

I apologize to mommy hostess for our short stint at the party and begin to pack up scratching little man and now quieter but still squawking baby girl and hand little man his lunch box to carry who then decides it’s finally a great time to eat his sandwich and opens said lunch box himself and apples and sandwich and water bottle fly out and I’m chasing them as they roll in various directions and can I be any more of a train wreck?  Then hostess mom asks if we want to take a cupcake and little man is suddenly again fixated on the cupcakes and I’m about to just say no but she adds, “they’re gluten free!”  Now as I’ve been trying to regain the last bit of my once svelte figure, I’ve been doing the whole gluten free thing on weekdays and I do have to say it’s been helping—maybe just because I’m not loading up on French bread when we go out to dinner.  But anyway, I’ve been embracing gluten free so as soon as hostess friend uttered those words, the clouds parted and the sun began to shine again and a chorus of mystical hallelujahs encircled me.  Then she added, “do you want to take two?”  I almost asked if I could take the whole box but settled on two perched inside a red cup (oh how the mighty have fallen—if my single friends could see me now with cupcakes tucked inside my red cup instead of some yummy beach-banned beverage) and tucked my tail between my legs and dragged self, baby, whining little man, and two cupcakes in a red cup back to my car.

When I recounted the experience to husband that night, he simply said, “we all have our train wreck days.”  That was it.  We all have our train wreck days.  Just because I have a train wreck day doesn’t mean I am a train wreck mom.  And just because I see a train wreck in motion doesn’t mean that mom is a train wreck.  We all have our train wreck days.  So I apologize to you, mom at the park with the child I wanted to spank.  I’m sure you’re doing the absolute best you can and I applaud you.  I’m sorry for being judgmental and oh so prideful.

So today when after another eventful swim practice, sitting outside with girlfriend and all of our children in song-and-dance tow, a little girl of another mommy started to unwind, I introduced myself and said, “don’t worry, I’m in your club.”  She smiled gratefully. I’ve learned my lesson: we mommies need to stick together.  Because we all have our train wreck days.

So carry on, mommy friends, you are awesome at what you do!

frazzled

frazzled 2Mommyhood has the ability to frazzle me like nothing else (way more than the events that I plan). I don’t know if it’s the loss of control, the fear of a little person somehow dying, the enormity of what it means to have a little person depend on you completely (not just for health and all the things I do to ensure my child will of course be a genius—just like every other child—but weren’t our parents the ones who scarred us the most? Could I be…?) or somehow all of it?

Today I had swim lessons for little man. I scheduled them late morning so baby girl could be at home for her morning nap. Little man could sleep anywhere anytime when he was a baby but not baby girl. She’ll fall asleep for a bit but as soon as a sound wakes her, naptime is done! Time to play! She really needs to be at home in her bed for a decent nap. SO we had been home all morning, which is fine, but by 11am both little man and I are ready to be OUT of the house.

So we get up baby girl (please don’t scream at me but I’m not going to feed you until we get there), rush off to swim, load the baby in the stroller when we get there, grab the towel and swim bag and lunchbox, rush inside because of course I’m not early, strip little man, pull on swim pants, throw him in the pool, get out baby girl (who I think is still in shock from being transferred from bed to bucket and is looking at my wide-eyed), grab nursing cover, and sit. For 10 minutes. Then “mommy I have go poop poop” because I’ve just potty-trained little man and he’s still terrified of poop and holds it as long as he can so nice fellow mommy (who I can’t remember your name, but your awesome) sitting next to me says “I’ll hold the baby” and little man and I dash off to the restroom with him wailing all the way. I mentioned he hates to poop. We get there, I strip off swim pants, am now covered with chlorinated water, sit him on the toilet. Nothing. “Mommy, I’m all done!” So back to the pool, take baby girl, sit down. Five minutes later, “mommy, I have to go poop poop!!!!” Hand baby back to nice neighbor, chase wailing little man back to toilet, pull pants down not quite as fast because I’m sure it’s another false alarm and “oh no!” says little man as poop falls on the floor as I’m transferring him to the toilet. Really? And I can’t traumatize child further so of course I tell him it’s ok and accidents happen and I’m using toilet paper to scoop poop off the floor and back to the pool we go with smiling proud little man because he pooped in/close to the potty.

And then class is over and I put baby girl in her stroller with a toy dangling in front of her and strip little man and he and BF little blondie girl are squealing and splashing each other, and my girlfriend, blondie’s mom (who has her 1-year-old strapped in his stroller) are washing and wrangling and dressing kiddos and combing hair and baby girl is squawking because she doesn’t want to be in her stroller (or confined in anything because she always wants to wiggle) so I take baby girl out of her stroller and her back is covered with light liquidy brown stuff and really? So now I’m stripping baby girl and praise God I have another outfit for her in the diaper bag and now we’re all outside and kiddos are running around with sandwiches in hand because they don’t want to sit and baby girl is bobbing like a turtle on her blanket and 1-year-old is investigating the bark on the ground and then blondie girl whispers in a voice that cannot be heard above the din “I have to go pee pee” and suddenly her clothes are all wet. And little man thinks it’s a fabulous idea as well but at least he yells “I HAVE TO GO PEE PEE” and I unbutton pants and he’s grinning from ear to ear as he waters the bushes—much to the wide-eyed amazement of blondie girl who at the moment would really like to be able to do the same thing. Then blondie girl is running around in new underpants and girlfriend and I are wrangling kids into cars and baby girl is squawking because she really doesn’t want to be back in her car seat and my stress level is inching up my legs into my belly, up my neck and I yell at little man who is half way down the block to get into his car seat now (please!) and I load baby girl (squawking louder) and look and little man’s in the front seat pretending to drive and I pull him out and it takes all I have in me not to pull down his pants and give his little behind a wack.

Now I’m not opposed to spanking when it’s done right (as in not pulling down your child’s pants in exacerbation and giving him a wack) but it’s not something husband and I have decided to do and we’re not home so I can’t give little man a time out in his bed which is what I would do so I breathe deeply, hold little man’s shoulders and look in his eyes and say “I am very frustrated right now” and continue with how when he runs away from me I get scared and when I ask him to do something he needs to do it because mommy is in charge, not little man. And finally, we’re all loaded and I’m driving home and I’m trying to focus on traffic while baby girl still squawks and…really, is this my life right now?

Does living in the land of mommyhood just mean being frazzled? Choosing to be thankful for the sweet moments with each of my little people I have every day helps (and actually looking for those moments some days) and appreciating the gift that each of them are in my life helps. I wouldn’t trade being their mommy for anything and I absolutely adore them both (most days). I don’t want to change my life and it’s not like I want to even add more childcare—it’s not that I’m trying to get away from my children or spend less time with them. So why are there so many days where I feel like I have half a brain and my stress level is between my ears?

I have a 41-year old girlfriend who tried for 7 years to get pregnant and/or adopt and after 7 years finally adopted a little boy internationally and miracle of miracles was pregnant 3 months later so she went from 0-2 kids under two in one year and feels all this guilt because she cried for and prayed for and begged for children for so long and now some days she wants to throw them both out the window.

Does living in the land of mommyhood just mean being frazzled? I think part of it is the loss of control.  And for a type A person like me, that’s hard.  I have two want-based illogical little human beings on my hands that depend entirely on me for health, happiness, and safety.  Little man wants to run down the street because it’s fun.  Little man wants to climb into the driver seat and pretend to drive because it’s fun.  His ideas are based on wants and curiosity…which at times is really fun but because I’m trying to keep him safe and mold him into a little person that understands boundaries, at times it also drives me C-RAZY!  And throw a squawking need-based (hungry! tired! uncomfortable!) baby girl into the mix and there’s some days I think I should be checked into a looney bin (at least it would be quiet there and I could shower in silence and absolutely alone!).

Helpful husbands, good girlfriends, red wine, Nashville, prayer, date nights, occasional breaks, cute jeans, and chocolate all help.  But I think that being frazzled is just part of my stage.  The I’m thankful for but still going to be frazzled stage.

super mom

Super momNow  though I have already admitted that in some ways, I’m trying to do everything, I am definitely not trying to be super mom.  There is a caliber of mommyhood that I will never achieve and really don’t even want to try to attempt.  I don’t understand who these women are that bake cookies in the middle of the night so their elf on a shelf can make a naughty mess.  Do they have full time nannies and daily “cleaning friends” (as we call them in my house because they are my best friends every other week when they arrive to sprinkle magic happy marriage and happy mommy dust in their wake)?  Because I can tell you the only thing I want to do at 8pm when both of my children are snoring away is to turn on my TV and flop on my couch with a glass of zinfandel and lose myself in Nashville or Hawaii 5-0 with the hubby.

So I am definitely not trying to be a perfect mom. I won’t ever be the woman that made all her own baby food or cooks a meal from scratch every night or sews 30 costumes for the school musical or heads up the gala committee every year—as much as there are many days that I would like to be that person.  But once in a blue moon neurotic over-caffeinated moment I get the grand idea to make something.  Maybe it’s a brief rebellion against consumerism or this lofty attempt to live up to the abilities of my hippie mom who did grind her own baby food, did cook dinner every night, and kept me and my brother in cloth diapers (little man had exactly 5 months of cloth diapers and baby girl has had exactly 0).

So a year ago December I decided I was going to knit a Christmas stocking for little man.  I mean, how difficult is it to make a Christmas stocking?  Just because the pattern is titled “intermediate” (and I didn’t even know what to do with the stocking pattern anyway so I just kept it buried in my yarn bag) and I didn’t actually own any knitting needles and didn’t know the difference between a knit stitch and a purl stitch, I decided it was a great idea to knit a Christmas stocking.  So four trips to the Knitting Cottage later, two sets of circular needles, and three start-overs, I finished little man’s Christmas stocking…in November the following year.  “I didn’t know you knew how to knit,” my friend said when I proudly texted out pictures of the completed version for my friends to ooh and aah over…just in time for Christmas this year (my very metro guy-friend gave me the highest of highest compliments when he exclaimed: “It looks like it came from Anthropology!”).  “I still don’t,” I told her, holding the completed stocking.  “I watched videos on you tube.”  For any of you who get similarly inspired, there’s an amazing lovely blond woman who has step by step videos to follow.  I still can never remember her website but google “very pink Christmas stocking” and you’ll get there.

And then for little man’s birthday I decided I was actually going to bake his birthday cake.  I sell myself to my clients as being at least somewhat creative so dog gone it, I’m going to make a cake!  For birthday #1, a local bakery provided a beautiful pirate ship cake.  For #2, I headed to Williams Sonoma with a gift card I had been holding onto for 5 years since husband and I got married in search of cake pans.  I’m such a cheapskate.  When I showed up at the counter with two large round 16” pans, I was greeted by the raised eyebrows of the salesman. “I’m investing in 16 years of birthday cakes right here,” I said.

Then armed with my girlfriend’s mom’s amazing carrot cake recipe (she too being from the hippie generation that made their own cakes), I set to work.  Though I confess to buying pre-shredded carrots from Trader Joes, I did mix spoon, bake, cool, frost, and decorate all on my own.  And when I was done, I swear light shone all around me and a chorus of Hallelujah was sung by mystical voices as I held up my creation for the world to ooh and aah over.

Do I really do all of my parenting for the ooh’s and aah’s of those around me?  Maybe that’s what my problem is.  My mommy group friend told me that in a pole, 85% of mom’s admitted to judging other moms.  And, as she says, the other 15% were lying.  She’s right.  I judge.  We judge.  We judge each other’s birthday cake creations, the way our children come dressed to school or church or show up in pajamas in the store, the way our kids listen or don’t listen to us, if they nap or don’t nap, or if they can do a 1000 different feats by themselves or, horror of horrors, are not there yet.  I can’t tell you how my slow moving, methodical, watchful, cautious but deliberate kid is the bane of my existence sometimes.  No, he’s 9 months and not crawling yet.  No, he’s 16 months and not walking by himself yet.  No, he’s 2 and doesn’t jump off the side of the pool yet.  No, he’s 2.5 and doesn’t want to go down the big slide yet.

Little man does not do things until he is ready. I’ve had to own his cautiousness and watchfulness and I tell him he’s perfect just the way he is.  He is exactly who he is supposed to be and my job, I believe, is to discover who he is and let him be who he is—not to compare him to his fantastically crazy best friend who had him in a choke hold in the pool the other day…and did I mention that she’s a girl?

My constant refrain to myself is let him be who he is and discover who he is.  A wise older mom-friend of mine recently said that “you can never be a good mom, you can only be a faithful mom.”  A faithful mom.  I can be faithful to my beliefs and be present with my kid and, to me, that’s being faithful. For some of us, being faithful involves religious faith and for some of us it does not.  But I think we can all figure out what it means, for each of us, to be faithful to our kids and family and at least that’s what I want to strive for.

At times I probably need to ignore what my mommy friends from little man’s pre-school or from church or from chit chat’s at Starbucks say, because when I start to compare is when I start to feel like a failure and the never attainable goal of being super mom begins to creep in again.  Though I do somewhat enjoy my psychotic over caffeinated super mom moments, (I did just proudly parade around my 2nd birthday cake creation for little man’s 3rd birthday and am almost done with baby girls’ Christmas stocking…at least I’ll be done in time to hang it next year), I realize I am way less jittery and probably significantly more enjoyable to my husband and babies when I focus on being faithful mom instead.

Judgment, comparisons—what do I really get out of them?  What do we get?  Aren’t all of us mommies really on the same mission anyways?  Aren’t we all just trying to love our kids and do our best to point them in the right direction?  And, if possible, look fantastic doing it!