Living the Dream

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Let's play the quiet game... PLEASE

First, let me say, the dulcet tones of my child's voice are among - nay, are - the sweetest sounds on earth to this adoring mommy's ears. (Actually, it's her laugh. And S is the only one who can truly conjure those giggles, and while I once thought that would make me jealous, it doesn't in the slightest. My favorite thing lately is taking a nearby backseat and watching the two of them entertain one another.) And the things she comes up with are - most of the time - worth listening to. For instance:

"I like to wear my ballerina-tard." (An understatement of the truest form - when she's not wearing it she carries it around in her "dance bag," along with every other piece of crap she owns, most especially her beloved green goggles.)

And a few nights ago she introduced and mastered the zrbrt, so each bedtime since has devolved into a series of "Daddy, let me blow your cheek," and raucous, escalating guffaws. Most of them from me. When she discovers that my giggle box (was that just my dad?) has yet to mature past the age of 13 I am done for.

Tonight was one of those nights when the evening was so much fun that we just didn't want to put her to bed. Which, of course, I always regret when I'm still running upstairs to refill water cups and make potty trips (what? you think these are related?) at 10pm. Hey - it's summer. And as much as I want to have another baby (I do, right? I don't just want to because "they" might tell us we can't, or shouldn't, right?), on nights like this I can't help feeling how absolutely FULL our life is right now. With her. I know this is completely trite because everyone who has a kid feels this way - but she is quite simply everything. So at least I know that if she is the only one we get, she's enough. Plenty, even. And that's not so bad.

BUT. The child never. stops. talking.

I knew it was coming. I, too, was (am?) a particularly loquacious child. And now, lo, I feel my parents' auditory pain. My mother endured the 4-hour car ride to our annual family beach vacation this year, because S was already working on the coast that week and met us down there, and she just laughed and laughed when J spouted off for 10 minutes - non-stop - about the whys and wherefores of playing the quiet game. Explaining to us, over and over and over again, that we must BE QUIET.

Today in the car she asked me to tell her a story, and the only way to get a break from the soliloquy that is J is to respond to her request for stories-on-demand, so I complied with a charming ditty about Fannie and her poor, sainted mother whose EARS FELL OFF from the strain of listening to so much constant chatter.

And she's not even THREE yet.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Where's Art Linkletter when you need him?

Last night at dinner - at my mother-in-law's house, with S's (this is my husband - I've never been comfortable with the acronym thing and have just decided to abandon ship; anybody who knows us and stumbles across this blog is going to know it's us whether I use his first initial or not, so...) maniacal, hypercritical, octagenarian Japanese aunt in attendance - J decides to fill a lull in the conversation with this little tidbit:
  • J: Not everybody puts strings in their bottoms.
  • Me and S (mouths agape): Um... what?
  • J: {blink, blink}
  • Me: {silently figuring it out and groping for way to change subject)
  • S: What J? Strings in their bottoms?
  • J (Stabbing an accusatory finger across the table at me): Like YOU do.
  • Me (To S, who looked at me like I'd been taking his child to some sort of feminine hygiene rally): This is what comes from having NO privacy in the bathroom.
  • J: Does (insert affection grandmother term here) have...
  • Me and S (frantically interrupting)...
  • J: ... a TV?

Aye, me. At least my mother-in-law had a good sense of humor about it and rejoined with a charming tale of the time she and her cousin found a stash of "balloons" in her aunt and uncle's bedroom and - with great difficulty - inflated them, much to the shock of said relatives upon discovery. But still. I wanted to slip beneath the heirloom linen tablecloth and hide my crimson cheeks under the antique dining table. And not only because I feel like/know my parenting proficiency is every moment being judged by S's side of the family. And I know that anyone who has ever been in the room with an almost-three-year-old for five minutes knows you have little control over the things that come flying out of their cherubic little faces, and that this has very little to do with one's knack for raising children. But STILL. Strings. Bottoms. At the dinner table.

A few weeks ago S's mother and father - who are no longer married to one another and, according to the MIL have not had a conversation since he walked out of the house in 1986 - showed up on our doorstep at precisely the same time. Unannounced. And S wasn't home. In fact, he was out of town, so there was absolutely no hope of rescue. I actually considered - just for a second, and you would have, too - just not answering the door. But they had already seen me - damn sidelights. So I opened up and in they came. Just to properly impart the awkwardness of the situation: these people do not speak. Ever. At family events where they have no choice but to be under the same roof - grandchildren's birthday parties, et al - they take great care to never be in the same room with one another. I know this isn't particularly unusual behavior for divorced parents, but it also doesn't make them particularly pleasant company. When they're together. Alone. And they didn't expect to be.

But they weren't alone, of course. I was there. And could I have mustered even the most remotely acceptable excuse for leaving them alone, believe me, I would have. But I had nothing. I have enough trouble coming up with topics of conversation in which to engage people with whom I'm not intimately (not biblically, mind you, just intimately) comfortable, much less playing the gracious hostess and smoothing the waters between two people with two decades of pent-up animosity and unresolved feelings between them. And J was asleep, so we didn't even have the distraction of irresistibly cute grandkid - not that either of them have ever really been swayed by that anyway. And I admit to being more than a little bitter about that.

I was actually surprised by the cordial nature of their discourse - that went on for MORE THAN AN HOUR. While I sat on pins and needles just outside their conversation. And J - after she woke up - tried her best to get their attention and then finally gave up. (But they both still expected hugs and kisses before they left. Why do adults do this? J doesn't know what "grandparent" means; all she knows is that these grown-ups are around sometimes and they're kind of boring and they talk about grown-up (and wildly innappropriate) stuff while paying very little attention to her and then demand to be showered with affection before they go home. I'm trying not to go off the deep end with this, but the whole sexual predator thing freaks me the fuck out, so I'm determined to teach J that her body is hers to do with what she wants and if that doesn't include hugging and kissing her grandparents - or us, for that matter - then she shouldn't be expected to do it. And let me make it clear that I don't consider anyone in S's family to have a predatory nature about them. This is just about teaching J that she is in control of what happens to her and that it's not okay for someone to guilt her into being physically affectionate. S is of the mind (sort of) that she should just suck it up because when he was little his parents made him hug and kiss every soggy, doddering elder with whom he crossed paths, but he also likes to tell the story of the babysitter who made him and his brother slather her with Noxzema on a regular basis, so I'm not sure who's point he's trying to prove.)


Anyway. The anecdote I was trying to get to was the IL's exchange in which they cast their mutual shame upon their daughter for her decision not to spank her children. And there I sat. With my unspanked child. Who was particularly grumpy and uncooperative. And wouldn't hug anyone.

But the thing is, I can't make myself care. I don't think spanking - as most parents practice it - is child abuse, but I'm not comfortable with it and I don't do it. And I don't necessarily think they were wrong to do it, because if I had a child who acted like S and his brother did when they were little I doubt I would be able to restrain myself. But I don't think it's necessary in every case. And I don't think parents should be looked down upon for not doing it anymore than they should be for doing it.

So that's still not where I expected this post to end up, but here we are.

And now I'm all melancholy that I may never get to raise a devil child that needs to be spanked because even though we can apparently get pregnant by thinking amorous thoughts of one another in a dimly lit room staying pregnant seems to be an issue for us as of late. Everything was so easy with J. Got pregnant right out of the gate. Easy pregnancy. Perfect baby. And I was naive enough to think that meant that's the way it would always be. But two miscarriages later I'm starting to make my pro/con list for J being an only child. I never imagined I would have only one child. I have an incredibly close relationship with my younger sister and want the same for J. And I want her to have someone with whom to commiserate about her simple parents and to collaborate with on caring for us as we age. I don't want her to be alone. But if we don't have another child we can take her on fabulous vacations and send her to private school. And I won't have to stay up all night or change diapers or potty train again, even though the first time I did those things I never imagined it would be the only time I would do them. Sigh. A brother or sister sounds like more fun. Even though she is sure to despise him or her for the bulk of their formative years. Big picture, J, big picture.

We're waiting on test results to tell us whether we should try again. I'm not sure why the testing was done because I'm pretty sure I didn't request it. I still kind of feel like if we had just gone ahead and gotten pregnant again everything would have been fine and we would be well on our way to having another baby. But now we have to wait for "the results." And if the results aren't good, I'm pretty sure we'll decide to just be happy with the tremendous blessing we've already been given rather than relying on medical science to get us another one. And I think I'm a little sad about that.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Time well spent

Today has been a good one. The holiday season has finally succeeded in loosening my grasp on the passage of time, so that I have to keep reminding myself what day it is, even though there is no real need to know as we have no plans. Even though days without plans now are hardly as unfettered as they were before we became parents, my sense of appreciation for them has never been so keen.

This morning, as per our normal weekend/holiday morning routine, I went to retrieve J from behind the gate in the doorway of her room (You know, the one that allows me to sleep at night secure in the knowledge I won't hear her tiny, confused voice echoing up from downstairs in the middle of the night, much like I did the night, not long after making the leap to the big girl bed, J discovered we weren't latching her gate after checking on her one last time? Right, that one.) when she called for me and brought her to our bed to "watch somefing." After about an hour of valiant but vain attempts at grabbing just a few more minutes of precious slumber while being used as a human jungle gym/trampoline, she and I came downstairs for breakfast. We left MOMD in bed to sleep off last night's poker triumph - I'm rarely so generous, being as I am of the mind that we got in this mess together and if one of us is suffering for it we both should be, but I had plans to head to the gym later so my time was coming. I haven't exercised since a very short-lived attempt at training for a 5K just before we got pregnant, and I was hoping that the associated endorphin release would help me overcome the crippling fatigue I have been dealing with for the last few weeks. It seems to be doing the trick, helped in no small part I'm sure by the cat nap I was just able to sneak in while J is asleep and MOMD is visiting his dad in the hospital. I came home from the gym to a yummy lunch of grilled sandwiches, courtesy of MOMD's proficiency on the griddle and my rare presence of mind to stop at the store for fixin's on my home, and then cleaned up the kitchen before heading upstairs to lounge on our big bed and make a little headway in the latest issue of Oxford American before nodding off.

No big deal, no great accomplishments checked off my to-do list, but I had an epiphany of sorts this afternoon that though I may have less time now to spend however I want, what I have more of is time well spent. As much as I may fret over the loss of entire weekends stretched before me with no commitments and no responsibilities, if I'm honest about it I appreciate the structure motherhood as brought to my life. I can barely remember what I did with all that time, but I suspect it was a lot of nothing - too few books read, too few words written, too few trips taken, and too many hours with an unread magazine open on my lap and a rerun of some insipid MTV offering on the television. Not that I didn't enjoy that time, I've just been given a greater sense of appreciation for the promise of "time to myself."

Which is what brought me down here to write for the last few minutes of naptime instead of continuing to stare at the spindly winter shapes outside the bedroom window. My father is constantly on me to write a book - my mother has not once mentioned as she is fully aware of the demands - physical, emotional and temporal - of raising small children. And aside from the fact I have zero brilliant ideas around which to craft the Great American Novel, nor, I fear, the patience to sit down and hammer it out, I just don't have the time. I am paid to write, and I write on a variety of topics for a variety of clients. I think I am good at it, and the fact that I often have more work than I can keep up with is seeming testament to my abilities, but in my heart of hearts I don't consider myself a "writer."

To me a "writer" is someone who spends his or her days reading and learning from great writers, and simply writing for the sake of writing, in a sunny, well appointed room dedicated to writing, surrounded by all the pretty, pretty things in the Levenger catalog purchased expressly to support the business of writing, and I have neither the time, the space, nor the supplies.

BUT. I know that one day I will have that time. Soon enough my children - the one here now and the one not yet born - will no longer need me as they do now, will be off playing with friends on weekend afternoons, off to college, {sob} off on their own grand adventures, and I will be left alone with nothing but time. And what I am learning now, is how to grab that precious gift of time and wring out every last drop. And one day I will. I just hope Daddy is still around when I finally get there.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Things we don't want to forget

MOMD asked me this morning if I was keeping up with all the funny things J says, because as I mentioned in an earlier post she figures out the right way to say things much too quickly. So in the interest of preservation...

  • When she wants to do something independently (which is pretty much all the time now, and since I am officially great with baby #2 (yay!) that suits me just fine when it comes to climbing stairs, etc.) she says, "I do it my byself."
  • Up until yesterday, when from the next room I heard the Little People Preschool bringing down yet another toddlerism, she pronounced twenty as "twent," a pronunciation I like to think came from the fact that she learned to count in English, Spanish and French simultaneously and that "twent" sounds suspiciously like "vingt." But now she's seen the light, and this morning when MOMD asked her what comes after nineteen she said "twenny."
  • Her breakfast of choice is usually "eatmeal." That's one is still going strong and MOMD is going to be heartbroken when she figures it out. He even corrects me when I say it correctly in a last-ditch effort to hold onto it.

That's all I can think of at the moment - except for the fact that she constantly amazes us with her ability to retain and communicate information. At 28 months she speaks in complete, detailed sentences, and for the most part structures her sentences properly. We were musing the other day over whether she would be reciting the Gettysburg Address by age 3, and MOMD said, "It wouldn't hurt to start teaching it to her." Um... ok.

We had a fantastic Christmas (and Thanksgiving for that matter). J really got the whole Santa Claus thing, and it didn't hurt that the soot-covered one brought her the rocking horse and bunny she mentioned every.single.time someone asked her what she wanted. (And Mommy wasn't sad about the fact that the rocking horse was already hiding upstairs before she mentioned it the first time.) And since MOMD participated in the Christmas shopping this year the number of gifts was much more reasonable and much less overwhelming. After J perused her Santa stuff we took turns opening gifts with her so she had a chance to really check everything out instead of just blindly tearing open packages. Of course, as the day wore on - with two more Christmas celebrations with the grandparents - it became more about the pursuit of the next package, but all in all it was a great few days, even without naps!

We are slowly recovering from the overstimulation, and J and I are both quite ready for preschool to reconvene next Wednesday! Not that I haven't enjoyed a whole week of not having anywhere to be (although my grand vision of using this time to conquer potty training have not exactly materialized - methinks someone has dug in her heels, so I'm backing off for a few weeks), but it will be nice to get back into our routine. Not to mention the fact that pregnant Mommy is EXHAUSTED. Bring on the second trimester! I seem to remember feeling like a whole new woman when I hit that mark the first time around, and I am ready for a transformation.

There's so much more to say, but J has surrendered to peaceful slumber - with only one request to "sing Frawsty" and no false potty alarms to get me back upstairs(!) - MOMD is playing poker with the neighbors, my Gamecocks are quite close to winning the Liberty Bowl, and my devil pizza has arrived. So I must away before the grease causes the delivery box to disintegrate. Yum.

** I can't believe I forgot this one - it was the one I was thinking of when I sat down to write this post. J can sing the entire opening verse of Frosty the Snowman, and most of the others with a little prompting, but the first is by far my favorite because of her own edit:

"...with a co-rn pipe and a but-nun nose,

and two eyes made out of corn!"

We like her version so much that we've started singing it that way ourselves, inevitably to be corrected, "No, Mommy, iss not corn, iss coal." But then she'll go right on singing it her way the next time. Kids today, I suwanee!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

For the LOVE!

Consider this my Love Thursday post - in that I would LOVE it if the guy who cuts our grass would one day comply with my oft-repeated request to not.come.during.naptime. And I do realize how completely bourgeois it is to complain about the hired hand who keeps the yard all neat and tidy while I sit inside on the couch eating Cheetos and watching soap operas (and, ahem, working), but it's not like we don't pay him a whole bunch of money every month to make a whole bunch of empty promises about all the wonderful things he's going to do that will make the angels sing over our shrubbery and then not show up for weeks at a time while our grass/weeds grows knee high, including the day before our daughter's back yard birthday party even though we reminded him multiple times.

And breathe.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wait 'til Krispy Kreme hears about this

For the past several days J has been carrying around the chicken leg from her play kitchen/best gift we've ever given her - intermittently attempting to cram the whole thing in her mouth and calling it a donut. I have no idea why, and I try not to constantly correct her because I've learned she figures these out on her own all too quickly and the cute malapropisms fall by the wayside. But for some reason this one I couldn't let go.

She apparently processed this information but is not yet completely convinced that Mommy is right on this one. So now what does she call it? Chicken donut... or donut leg, depending on her mood.

The same day she fell in love with the chicken donut she was carrying it around with her play ketchup bottle and at some point when I wasn't looking stuck the chicken leg in her mouth - meaty end first. The bone end of the chicken leg is shaped exactly like the mouth of the ketchup bottle and eerily similar in color to her tongue - so it took me several seconds to realize she hadn't permanently disfigured her tongue by sticking it in the ketchup bottle. I was most horrified by the fact that she didn't seem at all upset by it. Silly Mommy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Somebody should have told me about this sooner

This morning while J was eating her giant bowl of "Dora Stars" I was taking advantage of a rare opportunity to chat up MOMD by the kitchen sink.

J: "Stop doing that, Mommy."

Since I was leaning benignly against the counter, not singing, dancing, showering her with horrid affection, or any of the other things I'm often advised against doing, I asked what particular behavior she would have me cease and desist.

J: "Talkin' a Daddy, don't talk Daddy."

Me: Why not?

J: "Daddy's TROUBLE."

Probably true, but I think that warning came a decade or so too late.

In other, less hilarious news, we had what seemed at the time to be a potty training triumph this week in the form of "pee-pee Mrs. Bell's potty!" at school. Mrs. Bell, MOMD and I all heaped praise upon her head and she seemed SO proud of herself that I thought surely this was the "clicking" moment I've heard such tell of. She was even making the connection between using the potty and Santa bringing her Dora big girl panties - not necessarily doing it, mind you, but making the connection. But alas, my attempts at repeating Monday's excitement have since been met with "I DON'T pee in the potty ANYMORE."

Lest I give the impression she is an incorrigible bossy britches (which at home she can tend to be lately) I should take a moment to brag about the "Good Manners Award" she brought home from preschool today. Mrs. Bell added a note that says "J always says thank you." I guess doing us proud out in the big wide world is all we can ask for.

And in other, queasier news, we are underway with month two of Project Baby #2. (I'm actually not counting month one as an ill-timed stomach virus ran rampant through our house and put a bit of a glitch in the schedule.) I'm trying not to get too excited over my sudden desparate need for ginger ale but I am keeping my fingers crossed. My sister has me convinced it's going to be exceedingly difficult for us to get pregnant - regardless of the fact that we got pregnant with J the very first time we tried. I realize secondary infertility is more common than people think, but I should also point out that she works in the fertility industry, so her sample set is a wee bit skewed.

Still... fingers crossed!

About Me

My photo
Southeastern, United States
34-year-old freelance writer/mommy of one, married to S who loves his work but is gone too much