Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time out

During our seven hour drive home on Sunday, I threw an epic tantrum.

 I mean, I have an 18 month old, so I throw the term epic tantrum around a lot. But Baby Girl's got nothing on mama.

 I had been sitting in the back of the car with her for the past two hours of the trip attempting to entertain her. In return, she had whined, whimpered, and thrown her shoes at me.

 Finally, she looked like she might be ready to go to sleep. We were just about coming up on a rest stop so DH pulled in, so that I could get out and come sit in the front. Like a grown up.

 I had just gotten into the front seat of the car when DH said, "She's playing with her sock back there. She seems to have a string. You should probably take them off of her so she doesn't pull them apart." And, grown up that I am, I stomped to the back of the car, ripped the socks off her feet, and slammed the door. And she started to cry.

 DH looked at me. "Wow. You didn't handle that very well. I'm not sure I want to be around you right now." (Remember, people, he'd been driving for 5 hours by then with the same whiny toddler I'd been with. If these seems harsh, cut him a little slack. And read on.)

 "Yeah?!? Well I don't want to be around you! Or her!" "Umm, well then...?" And at that I got out of the car, stormed into the rest stop, and sat down at a table. And was immediately embarrassed.

  So, umm, what do I now? Do I just ... sit here? Are people going to wonder why I'm sitting here and not getting any food?

I sat there for about 5 minutes anyway, tears starting to well up in my eyes, then slowly trudged back to the car, sure that there would be a grumpy and nasty response waiting for me there.

 DH was sitting in the back with BG, and they were both laughing. "Mamamamamama!" she proclaimed. 

"Yes!" said DH, "Now say it all together. I .... love .... mama."

 "Eye," she pronounced wisely, pointing at her own.

 I turned around in my seat and tears were running down my face as I kissed her, "Thank you baby." 

DH got back in the front seat. "Are you done your time out, mommy?" he said, grinning at me. "Yeah. I am." And I kissed him. And rode the rest of the way home in the car like a grown up.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I am lying in the middle of a king bed in a hotel room, waiting for my husband to get back from his training, with my 18 month old's head on my stomach. Her knees tuck under her in the child's pose, her curls scrunch against my shirt, and her back moves up and down as she finally naps.

I want to lie here forever. I want to breathe her entirely in, to drink up the precious calm, to be as engulfed by her as she is by me.

I want to write about moments with her. About her giggle, about the way she looks up at me from the jogging stroller, about the way her eyes are fading from blue to brown after all this time.

I want to write about how crazy I am about her, about how she is my everything, about how nothing else in my life has ever made me feel so complete, so in love, so full of everything.

But it feels like a lie.

Even though it isn't.

Some days, most days, I feel touched out. I want to be left alone. I want to be a grown up for a while and be able to think straight for a minute. I want to do things that feel big, that make me feel competent and smart, that make me feel like a rational human being.

Today was bad. I felt angry. I couldn't look at her. I thought someone else needed to come and take over because I couldn't possibly continue to parent.

I thought worse things too.

But those things don't tell the story of who I am as a mom.

When she wakes up, there will be a moment when she rolls over and gazes directly into my face. She will position herself like an infant cradled in my arms. She will touch my nose, her nose, my eyes, her eyes. Neither of us will speak. In that moment, I will feel more connected to another human being than I ever thought possible. I will be completely consumed by love and I will know that she is too, and I won't question why.

And then she will want a cracker, or to watch TV, or to play with her ball, and we will both go about our day as if neither moment, the good or the bad, happened.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Things I thought

Before I got pregnant

Everything in moderation.
I'll have a glass of wine once in a while.
A little TV isnt' bad for kids.
It's okay to let babies cry a little.
I might supplement with formula, and will definitely express bottles, so someone else can help.
I'll find a great sitter.
My child will be predominately accelerated.
I'm going to have time to read and write.
I am going to be a genius at mothering.

When BG was a newborn
Must follow all the rules.
Letting a baby cry is torture for everyone.
I can't drink any coffee or wine until I wean.
I will never ever leave her with anyone until she goes to college.
I would never let a child under two watch TV.
She's never going to sleep.
She's never going to meet her milestones.
She's going to be permanently attached to my boob.
I am never going to think about anything except my child again.
I am totally incompetent at this.

This morning

I'll just turn on Sesame Street and go back to sleep.
More coffee? Please and thank you.
Okay, just one more nursing session and then we're done for the day. Really.
When did my kid get so smart?
Oh really? Another tantrum? I'll just be over there.
Everything I do is in the context of everything else that I do.
Oh, maybe I'll blog about this.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Back to the books

A few weeks ago, I started checking out parenting books from the library again.

I know. Don't say anything. I know.

Toddler momming is hard, yo.

Since Baby Girl was born, everyone's been telling me to trust my instincts. It's supposed to be comforting, but it isn't. I always end up thinking "wait, am I supposed to have instincts about this?"

I don't know what I'm doing. At all.

My sweet, adorable, brilliant, willful, manipulative little girl is running the show around here. I don't have any instincts that tell me what to do about that. Even when I taught high school, discipline wasn't exactly my thing. I had a pretty good raised eyebrow, and I worked the guilt a little more than I should have. But those were pretty much my only moves.

And BG's not buying it.

So this week I read a book called Parent Talk, by Chick Moorman. I like it, I think? It's not what I was hoping for. It focuses on encouraging choice and responsibility, which I think is fantastic. A lot of it I already do.

And then I got to the list of things to never say to your kid, and one of them was "My patience is running thin."

Hold. the. freaking. show.

I read that section. It said that patience means putting up with things. That you shouldn't lose your patience because you shouldn't need patience. That if you understand your child, you should recognize her behavior as age appropriate and therefore it should be easy for you.

Have you ever wanted to punch a book? Wait, is that not a normal reaction?

I cried a little.

I know that her behavior is age appropriate. I know that toddlers test boundaries. I know that all she's doing is what is her job to do.

But I lose my patience.

A lot.

And you know what? How could I not? I can fully understand why she does what she does and still be totally thrown over the edge when she does it.

And when I am losing my patience? I think I'm going to go ahead and tell her. Because I'm a human being, and she deserves to know.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

On doubt

So did anyone else notice that I proclaimed I wanted to be a writer and promptly ... stopped writing altogether?


I'm not really sure what to say. My words feel all bound up in my head, and whenever I see a prompt or a topic or a writing opportunity, the three year old who resides in my brain says "I don't wanna."

I get my feelings hurt easily. I don't take rejection well. So I have trained myself so very carefully over the years to just no try too hard at anything because that will make it so much more crushing when I fail.

Because, ultimately, I will fail. I'm sure of it.

But I don't even know what that means. I don't know what it means to fail because I don't even know what it would look like to succeed.

I have these vague platitudes in my head. I want to write something that matters. I want to create something beautiful. I want to be a real writer.

But I don't know what they mean. In reality.

I hate reality.

I sound like a broken record but I need this because I need a purpose. I have needs for meaning and for productivity and for intellectual stimulation that aren't being met by changing diapers and washing dishes. Sometimes that feels like a failure, like I'm wrong to not be fulfilled by my home and family.

But it's not. I know.

I think that to get where my heart wants me to be, I will probably have to do things that are uncomfortable. And I really don't wanna. And I don't know if I'm asking for a shove or for permission not to. And I don't even really know where it is I'm trying to go. I just know that something is missing and that I think it starts here.

And that scares the crap out of me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Not that kind of mom

A few weeks ago, I was at a playgroup and all the moms started talking about the Easter baskets they'd already put together for their toddlers. They were so excited and giddy as they discussed and compared notes.

I? Hadn't even thought to make one for Baby Girl.

When it comes to teaching kindness and empathy? I'm a rockstar. Sign language and language development? I own that. And as for my love? Well, nothing is greater.

But birthday parties, scrapbooks, art projects? Not so much.

Which isn't to say I don't try.

In the past two weeks, I've bought finger paint. I made window painting bags. I made homemade playdough. I made a freaking sensory bin, even though I still don't really get the point.

And every time, her response was the same. "Mmm, no thanks." Or at least that's what I imagine she's saying as she wanders off to scrub my windows with a baby wipe.

I really want these projects to work, for a lot of reasons. The day at home is really long, and I need ways to fill the time. I love the idea of teaching her to be artistic, of helping her develop multiple intelligences. But most of all? It's because they look fun.

You know, in theory.

In reality? I just don't get it. I hate doing it. I resent it. And then when she doesn't even like it, I get angry. I'm just not the right kind of mom for those things.

And that's okay.

But it doesn't always feel okay. Sometimes I feel like I must be missing a gene. Other stay at home moms do such great things with their kids, and I just can't. And it's not so much an issue of my baby missing out. She's fine. Happy as a clam.

It's me. I want to get excited about things the way the Pinterest mamas do. I want to enjoy being with my daughter. And when I don't, it makes me sad.

But I know in my heart that more projects I hate aren't the answer. I know that all I can do is be the mom I am, no matter how much I wish I could be that kind of mom. Does that mean I won't ever look again? No, I'm not that fast a learner.


This morning in her high chair, my Baby Girl signed "bunny."

"Where's the bunny?"

She pointed at the window, so I walked over and looked out. And she started laughing hysterically.

I turned around slowly, with one hand on my hip. With a twinkle in her eye, my tiny comedienne patted her leg, said "Do(g)!" and pointed at the window again, busting a gut as I turned to look again.

This game? I could play all day.