Friday, March 30, 2012

Mama doesn't belong here

"Mama, are you just pretending to cry?"

I'm so glad she said that.  I'm so glad she invited me to use that excuse.

It's been a rough two weeks.  Nothing tragic, we've just been sick is all.  And it caught up to me and was just so frustrating. 

And I did this stupid thing where I tried implementing new parenting modalities.  I know, ridiculous right?  My children and my method of parenting are just fine the way they are, right?  Right.  But I was sick and exhausted and suffering from...I don't know what.  You know how when you were a kid and if you were angry at your brother you would kick the cat?  Well it was like that but it wasn't.  Or, you know how when you are upset at your spouse, you have this misdirected impatience at your children?  Well that happens, sometimes, but it was definitely not that either.  Maybe, because of everyone being so sick, I just needed to feel like I had more control of something, anything.  Maybe I was just so exhausted that I wanted instant gratification.  Maybe I just had a lapse in judgement.

I tried doing some immediate unpleasant consequence techniques with Luna.  We don't do "time outs", more on why another time, but when Luna screamed at her sister and shouted "No!" at anyone, I would immediately swoop her up and bring her to her room and ask her if she wanted to play on the floor or on the bed (play, because she was not being given a time out) and place her where she indicated and then I would tell her that she could come out when she was ready to speak nicely to everyone.  Behavior modification 101.  It was stupid.  My gentle, natural, inclusive, attachment-parenting brain would be telling me while I was swooping her that there is a reasonable explanation for this new behavior, she's obviously reacting to the helpless and needy sick kid energy coupled with the reduction in attention because I'm too tired to do it so just do it yourself parenting energy.  Right?  But I wanted ... oh, I don't know what I wanted.  I didn't want to do what I ended up doing for a day and a half.

That wasn't me.  That mama didn't belong in my house.  In my head.

Then it all got much better, of course.  Loving acceptance of who everyone is will produce a more harmonious family.  Instead of teaching "No, you are unappealing when you do that" you teach new vocabulary such as, "You must be really frustrated.  Can you try saying what you want, again, in a nicer voice so we can help you."  Of course that's better.  Sigh.

THEN, I took Wolfie and Tulip to the park and on the way home we passed a courtyard full of kids who were all shouting Wolfie's name.  There was a classmate and her older brother who live there, another classmate and her older brother over to play, and third classmate and his older sister over to play, and a hand full of other playmates either for the original younger or older sibling.

And there were no adults outside.  Okay.  But then who am I going to play with?  This was the first time I saw Tulip in a crowd as the youngest, as Wolfie's younger sister.  What would she do?  First she asked me if she could play on a swingset and I was relieved for a moment that my duty would be to "watch" her.  But sooner or later she got caught up in the play date frenzy and began running from yard to yard like the big kids.  Then they all ran into a house. 

Picture me, standing by myself in the courtyard. 

I so wished I had a dog on a leash.  Or a book.  I just had my awkward lone self who was still not feeling 100% either.

I mean, Tulip is only 4 still.  I couldn't say to Wolfie, "Okay, you two play here for a half hour then take the path back to our house."  Maybe I could have.  But I have not yet sent Tulip over to a neighbor's house by herself and she has never come home from a neighbor's house by herself.  I know she wouldn't have been by herself.  Her big brother (big 7) would have been in charge of her.

But that Mama didn't belong in my head either.  Tulip saw me cry that morning.  How did that make her feel?  I needed to be the Mama that was "right over there" while she played.  And I needed to walk home with her so I could have more seconds of her to myself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When Mama gets sick

I know many of you who read my blog are mamas, so you know how it is when you get sick.  It's like it doesn't count.  You don't get to be sick.  In fact, you often have to be stronger, ignore that you are sick, because most likely other people in your house are sick too.  Right?

Here's how it works for me.

My husband has been sick for three weeks.  He finally saw a doctor this afternoon.  He has bronchitis.
My daughter has been sick for two.  Fever = ear infection.  Her first.  Now she's better.
My son and other daughter have both been sick since the weekend.  See Fever
Oh my, 104.5!  That poor little darling baby girl, you think.  But you never mentioned your son being sick at the same time.  Why, you ask.
Because he woke up with a fever, puked, and was completely lethargic all day on Sunday just like his baby sister except it was his birthday!  That's just too crummy to blog about.

I took a day off work yesterday to take Luna to the doctor.  Ear infection.  Her first.
I took a day off today because, honestly, I was starting to feel crappy myself.  After all, everyone else got sick so it was just a matter of time before I caught whatever it is that everyone else has because, you know, everyone in this family is constantly licking my face.
Plus, I knew Wolfie would follow in his sister's pattern and he would have a fever for the fourth day in a row and I would have to take him to the doctor today.
But, amazingly, he woke up fever-free today and seems to be on the mend.

So I get to have my own sick day after all.  But like I said earlier - here's how it works for me:
I am taking a nap.  Napping!  Really, I was.

Then Gabe wakes me up and says, "We have a situation with Luna."
I bolt upright.  Luna is standing at my bedside, holding out her arm, and in the dim light I see a spot.

Gabe says, "Luna has a tick on her arm."

Are you kidding me?  I can't take a nap because I have to remove a tick.  A TICK.  How does that even happen?  We don't live in the woods.  Luna hasn't even been outside for three days because she's had such a high fever.  This has never happened before.  Why is it happening now?  (Because you were taking a nap, that's why!)

Why didn't your husband just remove the tick and let you sleep, you ask.

Oh, come on.  You know how it works.  There is one spouse who can handle certain things and one spouse who gets the heebie jeebies.

One can clip finger nails.  One gets the heebie jeebies.
One can pull out things with tweezers.  One gets the heebie jeebies.
One can clean up vomit.  One gags just thinking about it.
One spouse is like, poop schmoop.  The other can barely get through a diaper change without nearly hyperventilating.

Usually the tolerance of these parental tasks are split evenly between the spouses.

Apparently, I am the tweezer parent.  Or maybe I am the tick removal parent and neither of us knew that until today.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was the universe's way of reminding me that I am a mama and mamas don't really get to have a sick day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fever, continued...

This is how fevers are dealt with in our house.

Papa:  Luna, what do you want for dinner?
Luna:  Popsicle.
Papa:  Okay

Later, Gabe finds me in the bedroom and tells me that Luna had two popsicles.
Tulip appears.
Tulip:  Papa, why did Luna get two popsicles?
Papa:  Because she's sick.
Tulip:  Oh, well, I'm still a little sick too you know.
Papa:  Do you want another popsicle?

Grinning and nodding Tulip.
Giggling Papa.

Papa:  Okay, let's go get you another popsicle.

Tulip does a twinkle dance down the hall.

I smile to myself and think how happy we all can be when we are sick.

Sunday, March 18, 2012



That was Luna's temperature Saturday afternoon.  Her eyes are glazed over and are oozing green goo.  She has that "hot" look, like she's panting.  But she is trying to be herself.  She'll say something funny, laugh at herself, then go lay down.

Although, not to criticize my darling daughter, she is so not herself because all I've been hearing all weekend is "yes" and "okay".  She's sick and understands that mother knows best so she's been so agreeable all day.

"Mama is going to rub some special oil on your feet, " I say.
"It will make your eyes feel better."
"It will be stinky and you may not touch it."
She pauses, just for a second, then whispers with a smile, "Okay."  

We snuggled before bed and she said, "Mama, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"  (I've never heard her say this before)
"What is it?"
"Papa needs to go to the Barbie bandage store."  Apparently, she is out of bandages.  Oh, she just makes me want to laugh and cry.

It's time for bed.  She walks into her bedroom and I call after her, "I love you very much."
She calls over her shoulder, "I burp." 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Think My Two-Year-Old Is Out To Get Me

When I meet people and they ask, “How are you?” I don’t say, “Terrific, how about you?”

I say, “Exhausted.”

I think my two-year-old is out to get me.

I have a two-year-old who on some days will only communicate this noise: “Eh, eh, eh, ehhhh!” while on other days will clearly articulate, “You guys are making me so mad.”  Then my husband and I have to cheer and praise this statement because she used such good words.

She likes to get in my business.  For example, she has this little art table which she has covered with stickers.  That’s not the end of the world, I know.  But sometimes I take a look at that corner of the room and think I would like that table and that window to be clear of stickers so I get some spray cleaner and a razor blade and start scraping.

And then…she wants to play.  Right. Where. I. Am. Doing. My. Project.

And she wants to put her hands right where my hand are, of course, since I’m using a razor blade.

So I’ll ditch that project and let her re-sticker the window.  I’ll go sweep the kitchen floor.  I’ll get a nice pile of dirt and turn to reach for the dust pan.  As soon as I turn around I find my two-year-old sitting on top of the pile, patting the dirt as if she’s splashing in a puddle.

She likes to get in my business, that’s for sure.  I mean, really in my business.  I’ll be in the bathroom.  I’ll hear a knock, “Mama, what you doing?” 
“I’m going potty.”
“Oh!  I help you!  I wipe you.”
“That’s okay.  I got this.”  But she'll decide to wait for me and lay on the floor and talk to me through the gap between the floor and the bottom of the bathroom door.  She'll offer a running commentary on what she thinks I'm doing in the bathroom based on the noises she hears.  Lovely.

My son got a jigsaw puzzle.  With his Papa’s and his sister’s “help”, they put it together.  When it was finished there was one piece missing.  Okay, this has two-year-old written all over it.
“Did you take this piece?” we ask.
“Where did you put it?” we ask.
“I do not know.” And then she toddlers off probably to write on a wall with a marker somewhere.  We searched high and low for that piece.  Later, I sat on the couch and felt something; she had wedged her snack bowl between two cushions.  Ah ha!  My toddler is an in-the-couch-putter.  I pull out all the cushions and find:  three barrettes, two ponytail holders, a card for one game, two cards for another game, a playing piece for a third game, Tinkerbell lip gloss, a doll, a little swan, a glow-in-the-dark bracelet, a spider ring, 9 Nerf darts, a Smurf, and NO puzzle piece.

My two-year-old is out to get me.

My two-year-old likes to say, “I do it myself” when really she means, “I spill it myself.”

I say to my two-year-old, “Guess who I love?”
“No, I don’t love poo.  I love you…oh…nevermind…”

I'll say, "Guess who loves you?
"Poo poo Mama?"
Oh, that's hysterical.

My two-year-old likes to say, “I help you Mama?” which of course is toddler speak for “I make it more messy for you Mama."

She wants to help me.  She wants to sweep, mop, vacuum, clean the windows... 
I want to do those things.  Those are very satisfying chores (and honestly, I do them better than a two-year-old).  Why doesn’t she want to change the sheets on the bunk beds?  That kills my back.

My two-year-old wants to play with me.  I love to play with her.
She says, “You be the Mama.  I be the crying baby.  You go to work.  I cry.  Okay?”
 Oh, sure, let’s take a break from reality and play that for pretend. 

She says, “I be the Mama frog.  You be the baby frog.”

“Okay,” and I proceed to say “Mama, Mama!” which is how I’ve been directed to play every I-be-the-mama/you-be-the-baby game we’ve ever played.
“NO!  You hop.”  Okay, whatever.  I hop.

“NO!  You hop like a baby frog!!!”  Oh for crying out loud.  I find myself hopping around, baby frog style, asking my two-year-old if I’m doing it right.

She throws herself on the couch, wailing with despair.  I’m not doing it righ.

My two-year-old is out to get me.

I sang “You Are My Sunshine” to her one night.  That’s one of my favorite baby songs but I haven’t sung it for years because I sang it to my son when he was a newborn and burst into tears at the end.  I must have been full of post partum hormones; I just couldn’t get through that song.  But one night, she was having a difficult time settling into bed so I sang this song to her for the first time.  I was fine and she loved it; she asked me to sing it to her six more times before drifting off to sleep.

Two nights later she says, “Mama?  You want to see me sing a beautiful ballerina song?”

“Yes.”  Of course.

She twirled in circles, and tippy toed around the room and sang, verbatim, “You Are My Sunshine.”
Yup.  She’s out to get me.  I thought I was done crying over that song.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

We talked about cells...and DNA...and...

"Mama, can a light-skinned mama have a dark-skinned baby?"

This is the question my almost 7-year-old asked me as he and I were driving home from a birthday party.  I thought it was an awesome question.  I tried explaining to him how babies have similar skin coloring as their parents, but a mama and papa can have very different skin colorings.  Not that my husband and I have dramatically different skin tones, but there is a difference between us and subsequently, a difference between the kids.

So I introduced the concept of cells, which seemed to make sense to him.  Then I went one step further and introduced, at a very very primary level, the concept of DNA and how that gives a body information about how to look. 

Wolfie interrupted me and said, in reference to DNA, " also tells your body how strong it can be...or what you can be good at when you grow up...?"  So, yeah, he was understanding it.

Then he said, "Oh, I think I know how a baby will know what type of skin it will get from it's papa even though it's [the baby] in the mama..."

And I thought - oh boy, here it comes.  Wolfie's is going to say something about how babies are made.  He's been introduced to some crude explanation of intercourse.  I mean, he rides a school bus! 
I'm secretly hoping he'll say something that resonates his childhood innocence, but still makes sense, and he opens his mouth, and I hold my breath, and he says, "The mama can see the papa's skin color, you know, with her eyes, so that's how the baby knows what color skin it should have!"

Whew!  But not whew.

I teach childbirth classes so my children are pretty well-versed at how the babies come out and they know all about the benefits of breastfeeding but I know at some point they will want to know how the baby got in there in the first place.  I better start looking for some high-gloss charts and diagrams.

Or wait and just go with the eyes thing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Privacy - wha dat?

Wolfie's friend came over after school today.  She's a girl.  Wolfie has two sisters and his friend has one little brother.  So everybody gets each other.  It's great.

You know how when you were little you always wanted to go to your friend's house instead of having your friend come over to your house because your friend had all the cool stuff.  And your friend thought the same thing so you would have that "I wanna go to your house" / "No, I wanna go to your house" argument.  And really, no one's stuff was any cooler, it was just different than your own stuff.

Anyway, that's not what was going on with Wolfie and his friend.  BUT.  She only has one brother so there is plenty of extra girl stuff at our house that intrigues her.  We've noticed a pattern.  She starts playing Star Wars with Wolfie on the Wii, then gradually makes her way into the girls' room to play dress-up.  Apparently we have cool different dress-up clothes.

Wolfie's friend asked if she could put on some dress-up clothes.  We reminded her, like last time, that she could try on anything and if she feels like she needs some privacy in getting dressed, to go into the bathroom.

Which she did.

Wolfie stood outside of the bathroom door and said, with very slight exasperation, "What are you doing in there?"

Gabe explained, "When a girl wants to change her clothes, and she's not your sister, she might like some privacy."


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bed Date

We ate chocolates in bed this morning.  And played Crazy Eights.  In bed.

We had to do some special things in bed because I've been exempting the girls from visiting me during the night.  It's been rough on them (rougher on me?).

Even Wolfie, who hasn't slept our bed in years, caught the There's-Something-Special-Going-On-With-Mama's-Bed vibe and asked if he and I could snuggle in my bed together.  He asked this while we were snuggling on the couch together and his sister was sad about a boo-boo on her foot.  I got up to go to the bathroom in our bedroom where the bandages are and Wolfie asked me, "Are you going to prepare for our bed date?"

Bed date.  Sure babies, any time (except bed time).