And for once I was SuperMom

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Rest Stop

“I forgot to go potty,” Emma chimes from the back seat, her warning phrase.
“Honey, you're going to have to hold it, we'll stop in a bit,”says Scott. Oh, that's the decision we're making? Okay.
To be fair we had just stopped at a rest stop.
We had decided that we would stop in Montpelier for lunch, that was about 30 miles away.
“I forgot to go potty,” we hear again. I tense up, hands gripping the steering wheel.
“It's okay, she has a waterproof pad beneath her,” I say to Scott, maybe more for my own benefit. Each exit we pass looks like you have to drive quite a bit to get to the town and there was nothing off the exit.
My kingdom for a Subway.
Then we reached Montpelier, the capital of the state, surely it would be quick and easy.
We exit,
“I forgot to go potty.”
We are on beautiful tree lined streets, with clean government brick buildings. And no gas stations or quick restaurants. We followed signs for restaurants and ended up in their adorable little downtown area.
“I peed,” we hear the confession. Of course she did. Good try little one. We're sorry.
“There's a Subway!” I point, “Where do I park?”
“I have no idea,” thanks for the help. I turn right and right again into a parking lot. On accident I have parked us right in back of the Subway.
I pull Emma out and change her soaked clothes. We get into the restaurant and join the line waiting to add-vocado their sandwiches. And my two year old starts running in circles, literally. In the line, running circles around me.
“You are driving me crazy,” hisses out of my mouth. I look up to a restaurant of people staring at me. Awesome. I'm that mom.
We eat. Emma only squirms her way out of the high chair once. I start to nurse Carys, she squirms, the cover flaps about, there are cries from underneath. Scott gets up to use the restroom. My phone is blowing it up with five text messages all at once. I drop it. I look down. Too bad it has to stay on the ground. The chair next to me gets pulled out. I see out of the corner of my eye the contractor sitting at the next table bend down, pick up my phone, place it next to me,
“Here, you've got your hands full,” he says.
“Thank you,” I don't even look him in the eye, it's all just too much.
Carys needs a diaper change, I gather her up and go into the restroom, no changing table. I'll just do it in the car....
Back out in the parking lot I lay my child down on the passenger seat and start changing, I see that the poop has gone up her back. As she squirms the mass of poop spreads. And as try to clean it spreads some more.
“Scott, I need your help,” I say in my CALM voice. He appears not to have heard me, as evidenced by the fact that he did not move, “Scott, I need your help,” I say a little CALMER.
“Here, there's poop everywhere, can you hold her and I'll just wipe her down,” I say handing him a naked baby. I turn to grab a wipe,
“TBTHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH,” I turn back around and Carys has started pooping. Scott squats down and puts her toes on the ground. She happily windmills her arms while projectile yellow poop shoots onto the ground on the parking lot. He looks up at me, looks me in the eye and giggles. I feel my shoulders relax, and a smile spread across my face. Yes, this was hysterical. We cleaned her up, dug a onesie out of the bag in the back and strapped everyone in and drove in.
As we drove back down that tree lined street, I looked over and the corners of Scott's mouth were tickling upwards,
“Montpooplier,” and I laughed, 
"I feel bad for the next person that parks in that space," I reply.
And forever I will think of Montpelier as Montpooplier.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Emma’s hand just hit me in the breast.  Right on the spot.
“OW!  Don’t hit me!” I caught her hand.  She whines at the reprimand, “I know, that wasn’t a good decision was it?”
Then I let down.
Didn’t know that happened, did you?
I didn’t either.       
I’d like to think that she didn’t hit me on purpose.  That she was just flailing, flapping her arms trying to get my attention.  It felt deliberate.  This is the first time I have ever witnessed her hitting someone.  Of course it’s me that she hits.
Instead of freaking out over the behavior I start to dig.  Why did she do that?  She wanted my attention.  She has been demonstrating a ton of attention getting behaviors lately.  Which does and does not surprise me.  I’m home with her so she gets attention from me, but I just had a baby.  She gets lots of attention from her father, but during summer he works long hours. 

I have started to dig a lot.

I started to dig at my own stress and frustration.  I realized that so much of it is from feeling put out.  That ‘I’ don’t get to do what ‘I’ want to do.  That ‘I’ don’t get my needs met.  Then I thought if I was more selfless that this wouldn’t be such a problem.  I stalled out.  I didn’t want to pray to be more selfless.  Yesterday I didn’t shower because it was too much of a hassle.  We’ve all been there.  I have found myself wishing I didn’t have to eat because it’s just too time consuming and difficult to get food in me and in my children.  I feel guilty when I take two minutes to put makeup on, because if I was a good mother wouldn’t I just skip it?

Is this it?  Is this how women end up on those make over shows?  Dressing in clothes they’ve owned for twenty years because they don’t want to stop to take time to shop for themselves?  Does it just get squashed out of you?
Parenting is the last of maturing process.  In having children you learn to go without sleep.  You learn to make decisions for the rest of the family instead of just for yourself.  Some of your selfishness is sloughed off because it has to be. 

But all of your selfishness?  Every last piece?  Down to the part that makes sure I get food?  That’s an okay part to have, right?  That’s the survival piece.  That part deep in our Darwinian lizard brain.  So where is the balance?  In this culture of ‘me.’  What’s true and what’s just an excuse for selfishness?  Yes, it’s important to take care of yourself, but what part of that is just dressed up materialism?
But what parent of a child with cancer hasn’t wished it was them with the disease instead?
What parent wouldn’t throw themselves in front of a car to scoop up their wandering toddler?
I guess that is the last piece. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Beauty Trap

"You don't know you're beautiful
And that's what makes you beautiful."
These lyrics from a song are stuck in my head.  I don't know who sings it, but it is sung by a young man directed towards a young woman who is insecure, is beautiful, and apparently does not know that she is beautiful.
This dichotomy stinks.  As I listen to this song, that is directed at the tween-age set, I get a little angry.  As a young woman you see all of these movies and hear all of these songs and think that you need to be all of these things to attract a man.  Because attracting a man is the only thing that makes you valuable.  By the way, in case you've forgotten.
You have to be indescribably beautiful.
But not KNOW that you are beautiful.
You have to be vulnerable.
But pretend that you are NOT.
Because you still need to be rescued, by the way, in case you've forgotten.

Why can't I just be me?  Because that is what worked.  I was me, and my husband fell in love with me.  Just me.  No games.  No being beautiful and not knowing.  No being vulnerable and not being.  Just being.
Now that I hear these songs and see these messages and I no longer fall for them, because I know that I'm enough, but now I fear for my daughters.  My little wonderful girls, that I think are absolutely beautiful, that will most likely think they are not enough.  Someone, somewhere will tell them that they are not enough, and then this stupid song will come on the radio and they will try to contort themselves into what they think they need to be to attract a man.
Even though they have a mother who thinks they are fantastic just the way they are.
Even though they have a father who thinks they are fantastic just the way they are.

I guess that is part of parenting, you see these things that are coming, these lies that they will be fed, and now you might not be able to stop it.
I heard about some good friends who's daughter had a bout with anorexia.  Good parents, involved parents, making conscious decisions for their children in the best way that they know how.  Not abusive or neglectful parents, which is what you think of when you think of girls with anorexia.  It could still happen to us.

I just hope my daughters believe that they are enough.  As I do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More Moments

Some more bits and pieces...because I don't have enough brain power to come up with a whole post....

You know all that talk about your inner child? You also have an inner parent, it's that voice that scolds you or tells you've done a good job. My inner father sounds a lot like Clint Eastwood, if you met my father that would make sense.
I'm still getting used to bugs being a part of my summer vocabulary; when I go for a walk with the girls in the double stroller invariably I walk by a forest preserve. I find myself batting my hands about in the air swatting away all those flies that seem to land in my hair or buzz my ears. What do I hear my inner parent say?
“It's all those damn hair products that you wear.”
In a gravelly old man voice.
Welcome to my head.

Last Christmas I was at a library used book sale. I picked up a copy of a DVD Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss. I looked down at pregnant belly and sensed the girth of my growing thighs and thought, 'I think I'm gonna need to do that in a little while.' Since it was a dollar I threw it on the pile. About six weeks after Carys was born I popped it in the DVD player sat in lotus position and waited to let the weight loss begin. I noticed that all the ladies demonstrating the poses were well above me in age. Most of the moves were gentle and some of the modifications seemed overly easy. After completing the DVD I picked it up and read the box, trying to discern what exactly makes this DVD specifically for weight loss. The type on the box gave you assurances that changes in diet were needed as well, other paragraphs that were obliquely telling you that doing this yoga wouldn't cause weight to drop off magically but it would help you on your way. Then I found this choice phrase, 'modified for the larger body.' Wait...
So this is Yoga for Fat People?

I pulled into our driveway and looked in my rearview mirror. Crap. Emma was passed out, completely. I eyeballed our three flights of stairs that we have to get up. Now I have two children that need to be carried up. Emma wakes up grumpy and I was pretty sure that waking her up and plunking her on the ground and telling her to walk up three flights of stairs was not going to go over well.
I call these my Sophie's Choice moments.
Which one do I pick? Which child do I carry up first? Which one do I leave to possible endangerment?
Having to get two children, one who is still completely immobile, up and down these stairs gives me these moments more than I’d like to admit.
Then there are moments when Emma is awake and perfectly capable of walking she just chooses not to cooperate. So I run up and put the baby down, and then run back down and haul Emma upward, either verbally or physically. Usually a seriously uncool parenting moment follows. This makes me crazy, because on top of being angry at Emma for being oppositional, flashes of kidnappers whip through my head. Or the well meaning person who will approach my child, ask her where her parents are, and then immediately call Child Protective Services on me. This is usually why I pick the baby first. Because if a baby is unattended in a car that well-wisher would be on their cell phone so fast...all I see are blurs. I figure that the conversation with a toddler would at least slow them down.
Anyway....this always leads me to the conclusion that Americans do too much alone. We should have more help.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


“Can I paint mine?”  Emma asks looking down at her toes.
“Umm, no,” I responded, I put the brush back in the nail polish.  I had no good reason for saying ‘no,’ except that I wasn’t ready yet.  Wasn’t ready for the slippery slope of prettying herself up to start.  Wasn’t ready to start the pressure to be pretty. 
In weeks following I asked my friends how old their daughters were when they started painting their nails. 
“Oooh, pretty young,” was the frequent answer, with stories of getting red painted nails on first Christmases and buying purple polish for play.  I wondered if I was being too strict.

Then we had a rough day.  Emma accidentally jumped on Carys, making her cry real cries of shock and pain.  Too many moments where I had to shush and usher her away to take care of the needs of the other.  I also realized I could use it as leverage to clip her nails.
“Emma you want to paint your toenails?”                    
“No,” looking down at her toes.  I asked once more.  No.  Had I blown it? 
Then I got a yes.  I pulled her into my lap on the bathroom floor and explained I needed to cut her toenails before I painted them.  She watched patiently as I clipped.  I let her pick her color.
“Orange,” as she pointed to a sparkly peach.  I swiped it on each little toenail, ending their innocence.  Afterwards I asked her if she liked them.  She looked down at her toes,
“I… just like them,” she said, pigtails bouncing as she cocks her head to the side, putting a hand out, turned upwards, and the other on her hip.

The next day we were at a playground, I was paused at our stroller, making sure that her younger sister was still sleeping, I looked up and saw little orange toenails running back and forth, the play structure covered the rest of her body and all I could see were her feet.  I just watched, wondered a bit where she had left her shoes, and admired those little feet.  After a few back and forths the child attached to those little feet started crying.  She burned her feet.  Imagine, whipping off your shoes and running around on a metal structure on a 80 degree day hurts.  Hmmm.  Why do I fuss at you to keep those on?  She ran to my friend who was closer, while I found her shoes and walked over. 
In those few moments I wondered if she would only remember that my friend was there to comfort her, and she would forget that I showed up with her shoes.  I thought about how many times in her little life I would watch her and she wouldn’t know.  How many times I would pray for her and she wouldn’t know.  How many times I would be thinking about her or doing something for her and she wouldn’t know.  I remember my mom telling me as an adult that she was worried about something that was going on in my little life and she had gone and talked to my teacher about it and asked my teacher to watch out for me.  I felt like there were real guardian angels looking out for me.  All Emma knew in that moment was that her feet were burning and I was not there.  Even though I was staring at her.

How much do we do for our children that they don’t know about?  How much was done for us that we don’t know about?