Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mr. Independence

It is insane to me how quickly these little creatures grow.  One second, they're catapulting around in your belly, and the next second they're marching off into preschool without a single backward glance.  Blink, and years have gone by.  Holy cliche, Batman.

Last week, my son started preschool.  He had his first drop-off day on Tuesday and I was sure, sure that the second I turned to leave, his sad little pouty lip would pop out and tears would spring up in his eyes.  I knew he'd be scared.  Except that he wasn't.  I'd been telling him I'd be dropping him off and trying to prepare him for what I was sure would be a totally traumatic event.  We don't leave him very often because... well, we don't ever have the money to go anywhere, so we definitely don't have the money for a babysitter.  And you can only ask friends to be so generous (although I'm pretty sure we've stretched it to the limit and sucked them all dry... our friends are about the kindest on the planet).  Sooo... I figured that being dropped off at a place he'd only ever been once with kids he'd only met once and adults he'd never met (apart from the teacher) would be a little scary.  I assumed he'd be nervous.

Nope.  He half-hugged me goodbye and waltzed off into preschool without so much as second glance back at me.  I was aghast.  My boy is pulling away from me already... and he's not even three yet.

It's surprising how difficult it is to loosen my vice-like grip on the cord.  I never saw myself as the uber-attached parent, but now that he's trying with all of his might to pry himself away from me... I see that I am.  He's my first baby, and now I understand that saying about having your heart walking around outside of your body.  Oof.  It's terrifying.

But it's also completely exhilarating.  I'm watching him experience all of these new things and watching as he tries all the things I was scared to try when I was little.  He's still timid, but he's stepping out there.  The other day, a friend and I went to a playground with our babies and my big boy, and off he went to the big play structure.  I watched from across the playground as he climbed the parts of the play structure he'd never dared to try.  He tried this one and that one, and I found myself completely transfixed, excited and terrified, whispering to myself, "Careful, baby.  Careful.  Good!  Good boy, you did it!"  He worked around the difficulties and figured it out, all on his own.  And I thought, well... that's it.  He doesn't really need me anymore.

And I know he does, of course.  We all need our parents- for longer than some of us would like to admit.  But he's separating himself from me.  And even though I'm so proud of these steps he's taking, I'm a little sad to know that they're taking him further away from me.  It's a strange thing, being a parent.  You want them to grow and learn, but you know that with all the growing and learning comes pain and heartache that you can't protect them from.  And that part is torture.

I'm so excited to be there and watch as my oldest boy grows up and becomes his own little person.  But I hate to think about all the tough parts of growing up.  I hope I can help him weather the storms.  I hope I can be there to comfort and reassure him, without overpowering him.  I hope I can help him to feel proud and confident.  I hope I can be a part of it all, without taking any of it away from him.

My heart really is walking around without me.  It's a strange sensation.  And part of me really likes it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


There is something special about parenthood that makes even the most confident among us feel like complete idiots.  That unique something: kids.

There you are, minding your own business, thinking you've got it all figured out.  You've read all the books and poured over all the research.  OR you've worked with kids your entire life.  OR you've known you were cut out for parenthood your whole life.  OR everyone has always told you you'd make a wonderful mother one day.  OR you're simply a genius who excels at everything she does.  You got this.  You're ready.  You will definitely not be the kind of mother who does that.  Or that.  Your kids will never behave that way.  You know you need to be consistent and loving and you have it ALL PLANNED OUT.

And then you have kids.

The other day, I became the mother I always swore I wouldn't become.  I had seen such things and my children would never,  ever behave that way in public.  Until they did, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

All of a sudden, I was the mother pleading with her whiny, crying toddler splayed across the floor of the Nordstrom women's bathroom TO GET UP while her 14 month old screamed and tried to claw his way out of the Ergo.  I was attempting to remain calm while negotiating with a tiny terrorist.  I was pulling on his limp arms and doing that horrible whisper growl while random women stared and smiled judgingly.  One grandmotherly woman even asked my son to pull her finger (thinking it would make him laugh I guess?) and then offered to pick my toddler up off the floor.  Yes, woman I've never met.  Man-handling my tantruming son will absolutely improve this situation.  As will teaching him fart jokes.  Thank you.

Ugh.  It was completely humiliating.  And probably an appropriate rite of passage for a formerly self-righteous-not-yet-mother who just knew she would never let that happen.  What I did not know then is that sometimes you can't stop it from happening.  I was caught completely off-guard.  We had had a lovely morning playdate and were just running into the bathroom to change an ill-timed diaper on my 14 month old.  Everything had been fine.  Then my toddler's internal lunch bell must have gone off, because he totally lost his shit for no reason at all.  And then he laid down in front of the door in the Nordstrom women's bathroom.

As I was pleading and begging and threatening and negotiating, I overheard a conversation between two new moms who were in the lounge breastfeeding.  They were discussing the horror stories they'd heard about 3 year olds (anxious glance at my son) and how they simply couldn't believe that it was really that bad (second wary glance at melty puddle of toddler getting smacked in the head by women's room door).  I managed to drag my son up off the floor, pointed down at him and said, "This is three."  And then I smiled a great big giant smile.  Good luck, ladies!

Because I knew I couldn't warn them.  They wouldn't believe me!  Not their kids.  Seriously, I don't how every single one of us marches into parenthood filled with such moronic aplomb and certainty.  Admit it: it all goes to hell as soon as the kid arrives and throws a little humanity in our best laid plans.  What's worse is that we continue to announce what we will and will not do until our kids grow up and move out.  Or until we die.  Why do we not learn?  It is impossible to anticipate how you're going to react in any given situation.  You may swear up and down that you will never, ever, ever let your baby sleep in bed with you, but then one day you haven't slept in a week and she's sleeping so peacefully on your chest and... eh.  Plans, schmans.  You might vow that you will NEVER be the parent who allows your child to cause a ruckus in a restaurant, but then you find yourself with a warm plate of delicious food sitting right in front of you (something you have not experienced in, oh, however long your child has been out of the womb) and you hand him the spoon.  Because it's not that loud and they can just deal.

Parenthood causes you to eat your words faster and more often than any other experience on the planet.  Perhaps because we are all stubborn idiots who insist we are right all the time.  The Mommy Wars need to be done, my friends.  None of us are right.  We all try to be right and we all try to do what is best for our kids.  We HAVE to believe that we are right because this shit is hard.  But believe this: you ARE going to do that thing you swore you would never do (cheddar bunnies for dinner?  sure.)... and it's all going to be okay.

My kids had a ginormous tantrum in public, and I survived.  I was that mother.  Whatever.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Those Days

You know how sometimes you look around and you're like, "Is this my life?" and then you realize, "Yes, this is my life," and then you want to crawl in a hole for 2 months?  Yeah.  That.

The past few days have been those kinds of days.  They have required the kind of heroic patience, perspective, and fortitude that I currently lack.  Shockingly, things are not going well.

Yesterday:  Nothing went smoothly.  Changing diapers, pull-ups, and clothing became epic battles.  All forms of even beloved food were rejected (and thrown onto the freshly vacuumed carpet).  Mommies were screamed at and requests were denied.  Time outs were had.  Much whining occurred.  This was the kind of day where Mama used overly loud and harsh tones with the kids because HOLY SHIT MAMA CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE... and then burst into tears in front of them.  Because then there's the guilt.  Why can't I handle this?  And then as a final infernal straw, my toddler screamed about needing water after going to bed (right after I brought him water) until he woke up his baby brother.  Who then also screamed.  And this is the one weekday my husband doesn't get home until after 10pm.  Ah yes, THAT'S why I can't handle this.

Today:  A lot more screaming and a lot of ignoring Mama.  Four time outs before 10:30 a.m.  And then there were two more before lunch.  My toddler said the words, "I don't like you," for the first time.  To his baby brother.  While said brother was gazing adoringly at him and grinning.  I worried all morning about money (or our lack thereof).  I spent lunch begging the toddler to stop sticking his hands in the bowl full of buttery corn and trying to convince the baby to eat anything resembling a vegetable.  Lost on both counts.  And then my husband called just as I was about to get everyone all dressed and ready to go pick him up (which sometimes is a blessed 30 minutes of strapped down-ed-ness) in order to tell me he needed to work late. And then I burst into tears (again) in front of my children (again) and couldn't stop for an hour.  This totally freaked my toddler out, so I had to turn on the T.V. and hide in the kitchen where the baby toddled adorably over from time to time grinning and bringing lovies and soggy cheerios in an attempt to cheer me up.

People, I am experiencing a slow, but steady panic attack.

(Hold on... don't tell me you don't have days like this.  You better have 'em, people.  YOU BETTER.  I'm holding on to that hope like a menstruating non-swimmer to a leaky, inflatable life vest in shark-infested waters.)

Pffffttt.  I don't know if this is a special brand of insanity reserved for stay-at-home parents, or a special brand of insanity reserved for me.  All I know is that I am not a fan.  NOT.

I know that every little thing is getting to me much more than it otherwise would because life is handing me flatbed upon flatbed of lemons.  AND I DON'T HAVE ANY SUGAR TO MAKE LEMONADE.  I know that eventually- if for no other reason than ODDS, for the love of all things holy- things are going to turn around and start to get better.  I know that all of this is temporary and that I have the things that really matter in life.  I have a supportive, loving husband that I adore.  I have two beautiful little boys who make me laugh every day.  I have amazing friends who are willing to listen to me bitch and support me in any way I'll let them.  But sometimes I just wish life could be a little easier.  I wish there were just a few things to worry about instead of everything.  I wish I could say one thing was going smoothly so that I could focus on the other parts that are not.  But there are too many parts and nothing is going smoothly right now.  I'm tired.

Sometimes, I wish I had some sort of escape.  Last night, the best escape I could conjure was Simpler Times and watching trashy T.V.   Tonight it will likely be more Simpler Times and a shower that lasts until the hot water runs out.

Ahhh.... simpler times.  I'd like those.

Please tell me you have days like these.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Premature Teenaging

My toddler appears to be experiencing what I can only describe as premature teenaging.  It's weird and unpleasant.  And also a tiny bit funny.

He now regularly asks me to stop singing, stop dancing, or stop doing anything else that might be, like, TOTALLY embarrassing.  OMG, Mom.  He's getting smelly.  I constantly think about a friend telling me about a house she visited inhabited by two teenage boys.  Her one comment: "It smelled like balls and feet."  (Oh my god.  MY house is going to smell like balls and feet!)  Recently, when I ask him what he wants to eat, he says, "I don't know.  Just get me somefin."  Um, really?  And he's started trying to call me Mom instead of Mommy.  As in, "Mom.  Mom.  Mom.  MOM!"  "Mom" wears pleated khakis and has that weird, frizzy, mid-length, triangle bob.  I AM NOT MOM.  It feels bossy and premature and I hate it.

How did this happen?  He's not even three yet.  Do all toddlers go through this?

Or wait... does this mean he's getting it out of his system before junior high?  Cause that would be AWESOME.