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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Momentary Lapse

A couple evenings ago I had a moment that felt like the first signs of an emergence from a coma I've been in for over four years. I wanted to scream to the world that there is still a person alive somewhere in the depths of my soul that is identified by characteristics other than those related to having birthed two human beings from my loins. I wanted to scream it to the world, but mostly I wanted to scream it to myself. The coma, though, was so. very. thick. It was like gasping for a breath of air while flailing in the deep water to keep from drowning. And then going under. I wanted to feel again like I felt when it was only me. I wanted a taste again of how it felt to be free and random and have it be all about me. I wanted to burst through the surface of the water gasping for air and then find my way ashore.

I was driving somewhere. Alone. No offspring in the car controlling the music that came out of the speakers. I turned it up to something only an adult could enjoy. I turned it up loud. I opened the sun roof and felt the warm air in my hair and on my face. I drove a little too fast. I considered just driving anywhere but nowhere. The brief illusion of freedom beckoned me, and I could almost remember a day when driving alone with the sun roof open and the music too loud was routine. Normal. I could almost remember. Almost. But not quite. I missed feeling well acquainted with myself--with the parts of me that are only me. I felt confused about who I am now. Not sorry. Not regretful. Only confused.

Something about motherhood depletes a person. Many people talk of what they gain from motherhood...the warm snugglies, the wonder and awe, the inherent and rich rewards that are many. I've talked of these things, too. I've talked of them often and much more frequently than I've talked of most other things. The benefits of motherhood are all true. But true also is the taboo truth of admitting to getting lost in the process, the weariness of being unselfish, of giving, of giving, of giving. True also is the exhaustion of meeting everyone else's needs before one's own, and the frustration and defeat of being too tired once everyone else's needs are met to follow through with meeting one's own, the longing to escape, the guilt. Good mommies don't feel these things. At least if they do, they don't say them.

Once I've fought hard enough to gain a glimpse that is the tiniest memoir of "me," I am exhausted again. Numb. The drone of life continues outside me as I return to the zombie-like state that has become motherhood.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Life Interrupted

"It's stressful being four!" Dear Daughter announced today on one of her outings with Dear Husband. Indeed. Being the parent of a stressful four year old is frequently no picnic either! I think this is payback for the fact that the two's really weren't at all terrible for us. It also explains why I've called my husband at work on at least two occasions recently and begged him to hurry home ASAP following his workday, and why when he arrived I was found curled up in a fetal position in the corner mumbling unintelligibly and appearing unaware of anything around me. Of course, Dear Son, while cuter than a bug's ear, is at a stage now that I remember being stressful when his big sis was there, too. So I get it double duty.

Amazing that in spite of the stress, I find myself waxing melancholic about the kids growing up. Last night I pulled a safety plug from an electrical outlet so that I could plug in the vacuum cleaner, and I had this overwhelming ache in my gut when I thought of how a day would come when I would no longer need to plug electrical outlets as Dear Son will outgrow his fascination with attempting to plug random objects into them.

Tonight I had my second private jacuzzi bath since moving into our new home. Usually I have to share my bath with two naked, wiggly monkeys. There I was soaking in the jets, enjoying the cranberry orange scented candle light, listening to an ocean CD while gazing at a picture poster of Heceta Head lighthouse. I felt a little home sick for a place that wasn't ever my native home. I closed my eyes, lost in the memory of my first date with Dear Husband. We sat on an ocean cliff in front of Heceta Head lighthouse and watched the sunset. Way better than dinner and a movie any night. I suddenly felt like I wasn't alone in the room, and I opened my eyes to see my four year old daughter grinning down at me, followed by her begging to allow her to join me in the jacuzzi. I convinced her to let me have my own bath time for awhile and she could have hers a bit later. I settled back into my daydreams only to have the bathroom door slowly open again and found myself greeted by my fuzzy haired, towheaded cherub of a 21-month-old son, who toddled up to the edge of the tub and started yanking at his clothes and chanting, "Bath! Bath!" Somehow I convinced him to also leave his weary mommy alone for awhile longer, and he toddled back out the door, closing it carefully behind him. I sighed with the mixed emotion of coveting those long-lost carefree childless days, years even, of wandering along the rugged Oregon coastline-just my husband and I-while simultaneously thinking that there is nothing better in this world than parenting my spirited four-year-old and adventurous 21-month-old despite the dramatic way it has altered our lives.

And with that, I'll boast a few photos of the stress-inducing darlings.

As you can see, "Princess Four-Year-Old" continues to sport her birthday crown two months later. It goes on her head at sun up and doesn't come back off until her head hits her bedtime pillow. People ask her daily if it's her birthday.

I must share a picture of Dear Son sporting his strong overhand throw. He already throws better than I do, and he loves to throw a ball and chase it and throw it again.






















And where DID he get that towhead blond hair anyway? Husband and I both sport a head full of near black.


One last photo I couldn't resist taking today. Husband was getting a little extra help changing the oil in the family mobile.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Outsmarted Again

Classic. Absolutely classic! As I described in my previous post, it seems not to matter if I pack our own Teddy Grahams from home when I take the kiddos to the Food Mart as Dear Son will spy a new box of Teddy Grahams on the shelf that he just HAS to have. However, today was a little different spin on the theme. I dumped the standard Goldfish crackers out of the SnackTrap cups before leaving the house and filled them with the chocolate chip Teddy Grahams Son pulled from the shelf at the Food Mart last Friday. I was thinking that since he had not had them since the last trip to the Food Mart, he would be delighted with them and this would prevent me from having to buy another box of overpriced overprocessed crappy snacks ala American style that would only get stale in the cupboard later (how something so processed and full of hard to pronounce crap can get stale is beyond my understanding, but I digress).

I then handed Son his coveted snack, which appeased him the first five minutes inside the store until he had to get down to find the lobster tank. After gazing at the lobsters and explaining yet again to my inquisitive son that lobsters are not "buggies," I strategically steered the wee ones in a new route to avoid the Teddy Graham aisle all together. I was all big in the head with how great I was engineering this whole shopping trip thing this time when Son starts shrieking, "Fishies! Fishies!" while delightedly grabbing a small bag of Goldfish crackers off an end cap and doing his happy dance. I shook my head in disbelief and considered dropping to all fours and banging my head on the floor, but I settled for pushing the Teddy Graham-filled SnackTrap out of the way so that I could place Son back in the cart with his bag of Goldfish crackers. That's what I get for engaging in head games with my toddler.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Happy Now?

It's amazing how challenging the smallest of tasks have become with the kids these days. Dear Son is into EVERYTHING and has a strong mind about him to have his way. Friday was a trip to the local Food Mart. This is the trip where I only buy a few things because I have both kids in tow. Grocery shopping with both of them is just too hard. But I like to go once each week to buy the hormone and antibiotic-free milk offered through a local dairy, and this I do on a day of the week that requires me to bring both the wee ones. While I'm there I tend to pick up a few additional items.

The kids love to look at the lobster tank, so we make it about two aisles through the store when Son insists on getting down from his seat in the cart and runs around to find the lobsters. On his way there, he becomes fascinated by all the jars and containers on the shelves at his eye level. I no sooner save a few glass jars from shattering on the floor before he's pushing on some other jars and causing them to bulge out in another area and threaten to come crashing down. We make it to the lobsters and then to the club soda. I try to make it through this aisle quickly, but it doesn't always work. You see, the Teddy Grahams are at perfect 21-month-old eye level on the side across from the club soda. Don't even try to tell me this isn't strategic product placement! When Son sees these, it's all over. It doesn't matter what snacks I've packed and brought along. It doesn't even matter if I've packed our own Teddy Grahams from one of the other boxes at home that he picked out on a previous trip to the Food Mart. He sees these and HAS to have him some from the box immediately. I'm not one to cater to a demanding toddler just because he is demanding (remember the deflated balloon incident?) but I'm also not one to finish out a shopping trip in public with a screaming toddler who ultimately ends up on all fours banging his head on the floor. If he wants to bang his head at home, that's one thing, but I won't have this scene in public. Yeah, I know, I should just leave the store if this happens, true Love and Logic style. But hey, ya gotta pick your battles sometimes. So if Son sees the Teddy Grahams and starts squealing and doing his happy dance while dipping and twirling with his chosen box, I use it as an opportunity to get him back in the cart and cooperate. I'm certain he's figured out that this is the one time he can sit next to an open box of Teddy Grahams and shove all he wants into his mouth so long as he stays put and stays quiet so we can finish our business and get the heck out of Dodge. I cut him off from the Teddy Grahams when we get to the car, and when we get home the box goes into the cupboard with the rest of the collection of half-eaten boxes of assorted Teddy Grahams that seem to only hold their appeal while in the middle of the Food Mart.

On this particular shopping trip, I kept crossing paths with some middle-aged man who kept looking at us. Who could blame him? We couldn't have been any quieter than a full marching band blaring its way through the middle of the store. He heard the whining and carrying on from Son soon after we entered the store until he got down to find the lobsters. He heard my scolding and saw me sprint toward the salsa section when Son nearly pulled half a dozen jars to the tile floor. He heard the squealing and saw the happy dance in full dramatic fashion when Son found the Teddy Grahams. He was probably tsk tsk-ing me when I tore open the box and handed it to Son to do with what he wished so that I could have some peace (or perhaps he was just as relieved as I was for the same peace when Son sat still and quietly started stuffing his face). And I'll be darned if he wasn't also there when I managed to knock a six pack of glass beverage bottles to the hard floor. I couldn't even blame this one on Son. I could blame it on the product placers in the store, however, as the problem was that I had to reach back into an open cooler display for what I wanted, and there was a stack of loose cans in front. When I caught one with the carton of my coveted purchase, it fell onto another six pack of glass bottles and knocked them to the floor. They made a horrendous sound and anyone within a 100 yard radius turned to stare. Some people even peeked around from the other side of the aisle to look. The sticky beverages puddled and pooled and fizzed while Son sat in the cart munching happily on his Teddy Grahams, watching the show.

It's all good until we get home and Son insists on playing outside while I unload the groceries. It goes smoothly for about three minutes. Then he sees the folded up umbrella stroller in the back of the family mobile and begins screaming and pointing. This fit begins to work its way up in intensity as I unload the milk. I finally return to see what the big fuss is all about and when I realize what he wants I get him the stroller and unfold it so he can push it around the driveway, which is what he usually wants to do with it. Instead, he continues to scream harder and louder while wildly shaking his head, stamping his feet, and saying, "No! No! No! No!" Snot and drool are flying and his face is beet red and the screaming is at decibels higher than my ears can handle. This goes on until I figure out that he wants the stroller folded up so he can push it around that way. Once he gets what he wants, the fit immediately stops and a sly smile spreads across his face as he begins pushing the stroller around the driveway. Then he turns and looks over his shoulder, grins at me widely, and says, "Happy!"

Well great, Kid. Glad you're happy, 'cause if you ain't happy, God knows ain't nobody gonna be happy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Old Moms Need Their Naps!

The thing about having young children when you're "old," is that it makes you feel, well...old. I was comparing notes about with my Dear Mom the other day about strategies to get Dear Son (Dear Grandson to her) to go to his crib for a nap. It didn't dawn on me until I described the routine to my mother that I sound "old."

Lunch time is always right before nap time. Dear Son calls it "bret-ast" (breakfast) because for some reason he's begun to call every meal and snack "bret-ast." It seems like it would be easier to say "lunch" than "breakfast," but that's the way he does things. So following "bret-ast" it takes several minutes to wipe him down and clean up the aftermath. I've often envisioned putting his highchair on wheels and then simply wheeling him out to the deck following "bret-ast" and hosing him down with the garden hose. I've yet to actually try it.

Then comes the changing of the britches--not entirely unlike the Changing of the Guard--in which a dirty diaper is relieved by a clean one. It also has ceremonial undertones and requires elaborately choreographed moves on my part to complete the task at hand while Dear Son does his wiggle and twist and stand routine. Usually the diaper ends up on the correct end by the time it's done.

Next are "stories." This is the part where Son requires me to lie down on the floor with him on a big pillow while we read. As soon as one story is over he leaps to his feet and heads to the bookcase while saying, "Stories! Stories!" which really means, "Don't you even think about turning that light out and putting me in my crib!" After a generous amount of reading time I turn out the light and put on the white noise machine and lie back down on the pillow on the floor. Son typically snuggles up next to me at this point for about 30 seconds before he's up on his feet exploring the toys in his bedroom.

This is the point in the original conversation with my mother that I decided that I sound old. The dimly lit room and buzz of the white noise machine just lulls me to sleep. I always end up snoring for about 20 minutes on the floor before Son's jabbering cuts through my semi-conscious state and awakens me. I force my eyes open while longing to be the one that gets to take the begrudged nap instead of him. Amazing how this routine always works for me, but never quite does it for him.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Holding His Own

Dear Daughter has a way of aggravating her brother. I catch her grabbing him and poking at him sometimes just to hear him whine and complain about it. Dear Son has figured out some ways to hold his own. I've caught him with his mouth open going for some skin--any skin--that his teeth can find on "Sissy." But a few days ago Dear Husband witnessed something new. "Sissy" was annoying "Bub," and apparently the Bubster had had enough. He went across the room and found his plastic toy bat and marched back across the room and whacked her one.

Guess he showed her!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hanging On!

Is it just me, or is the 20 month mark a really trying age? I seem to remember this being an especially challenging time with Dear Daughter, but at the time I thought I was overstating things a bit as I was also just entering that stage of my second pregnancy where the hormones begin to RAGE!

Dear Son has always been a hot head. At five months Dear Husband and I thought Dear Son was teething something fierce as he would randomly scream and bang his head on the floor. We kept loading him up with Teething Tablets and Tylenol. Then one day my mother said to me, "Ya know, I don't think this is a teething issue. I think he's throwing little fits!" Throwing fits?!?! At five months of age?!?! And ya know what, I began to really pay attention to how these little rages came about with Dear Son. And ya know what else? I realized that my mom was right. My sweet baby FIVE-MONTH-OLD little boy was already throwing fits.

Anyone who has ever known my boy child knows he has him some strong opinions and he is entirely comfortable showing them. At twenty months his vocabulary is exploding, but he is not at all proficient at verbally expressing what it is he wants. Screaming and stamping his feet seems to be a good second option, at least as far as he is concerned. If his wants or needs are not catered to pronto, there is heck to pay. He is quite focused and does not redirect easily once he gets something in his head.

The good news is that I can end each exhausting day saying, "But at least you're cute!" And thank the Big Man for that one! His mile-wide toothy grin, infectious giggles, and slobbery kisses somehow melt me to the point of reassuring him that I'm convinced enough to keep him for one more day.

Keep bringing on the cute, Kid...it's the one thing that keeps me holding on some days.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The INSANITY!

Have you ever TRIED so spend a couple hours at a time on the phone with an insurance company with your just-turned-four-year-old and 20-month old in tow? And have you ever tried to repeat these conversations with the same insurance company at least a half a dozen times for an hour or more at a time with the same wee ones in tow? And have you ever noticed just how STUPID a person has to be to meet the minimum qualifications for a customer service representative position in the benefits eligibility or claims processing department at one of these insurance companies?

I have filed the claims. I have waited for months. I have followed up with multiple inquiries as to why they cannot seem to get their heads out of the holes they poo with in order to process the claims. I have answered their stupid mail requests seeking the SAME INFORMATION I have already resubmitted TWICE that was already provided in the first place on the requisite HCFA form! Tomorrow I will be making YET ANOTHER phone call to some imbecile who barely meets minimum intellectual qualifications to pick their own nose in order find out why they have sent me YET ANOTHER request for the information that I have already faxed and mailed and faxed AGAIN (because they lost it that time) and sent in the form of a special letter in reply to their LAST mailing that was asking for THE SAME information.

I just don't think I can continue to beat my own head against this brick wall anymore, and therefore I am planning a trip to Utah to visit the entire crew of fools in person so that I can beat THEIR heads against the wall followed by STAPLING their stupid requests to some sorry fool's forehead.

THIS, my friends, is why medical professionals pay a billing agent a percentage of recovered funds to handle the insanity of it all.

By the time I'm done with all this, I am most certainly going to need a therapist of my own. Any recommendations?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Love Infection

I had one of those moments again today. They actually happen pretty frequently, but I only let myself pause long enough to really feel them every so often. Son tends to bring these moments on when he's just being himself, and I become overwhelmed with how cute and cuddly he is. Sometimes it happens when he snuggles into my embrace and melts against my own body and says, "Mommy" in a content tone. Sometimes it's when he plants a slobbery kiss on my lips. Sometimes it's when he does a little happy jig when I come home from work just before his bedtime. Sometimes it's just when I stop to really notice him. I often get flashbacks at this point. I look at Daughter for a reference point and I wonder to myself who snatched my little toddler girl and replaced her with a pre-schooler. I wonder how her legs got so long, and I try to pinpoint the time when her baby chubbiness faded. My head spins as I try to remember when she stopped being easy to pick up and hold in my lap and when I stopped carrying her on my hip. I feel bad at times because I think some of those months were lost in the blur of birthing Son into the world. Life was a bit of a blur from the point I was about four months pregnant with Son until he was nearly 12 weeks old. Actually, when I really stop to think of when life wasn't a blur, it was before either of the kids were born, but it's gone even faster and gotten even blurrier since Son was born. It doesn't seem that long ago since the last time I nursed Daughter, the last time I cuddled her all the way to sleep before placing her in her bed, the first night she slept in her big girl bed and was done with her crib forever. It seems not long ago when she potty training at the age Son is now. Daughter was potty trained by 22 months, but even that doesn't seem that long ago. I haven't really started with Son yet, except for putting the potty chair out where he can get used to what it is. He wants to take the "pee guard" off the thing and run around the house with it, and I'm just thinking that this would not be a good thing if he had just peed all over it. As I remember all these "lasts" with Daughter, I am painfully aware that the same kinds of "lasts" will occur with Son. That's when I feel that awful ache.

It's hard to consider that in a blink of an eye he will go from this...an age that kisses are freely and endlessly given,
















to this...an age where kisses still happen rather frequently, but I'm told that my kisses are "too slobbery" (even if she's the one with the slobbery lips), preceded by a "Blech!" and wiping of her mouth before informing me that if my kisses are too slobbery, she might get a "love infection."