Will She Look in the Oven?

It is a rainy and humid day in Southern Maryland.  So humid that I feel moisture gathering between my toes as I sit here typing this.  I have lost track of the number of recent thunderstorms and every day it feels like we are walking through a thick pea soup.  The snack crackers grow soggy before you can eat them.  My hair is at its curliest this time of year and it seems that my son has inherited my humidometer locks.  This week he is all ringlets.  We have been attempting to air out our sleeping bags from a recent campout but the longer they hang over the upstairs railing the wetter they get.  You get the idea.

Clearly this was not the best day to mop my kitchen floor.  However it was long overdue and it had become so sticky that traveling through the kitchen felt like trying to fight my way out of a glue trap.  I was over it.  I would vanquish the stickiness.  I would beat it into submission.  Prying myself out of the wooden chair I went through the motions of mopping.  Then the water sat there.  For hours.  Not drying.  Perhaps even accumulating more moisture as it sat glistening at me in a mean-spirited kind of way.

Finally I took down the baby gate in order to make lunch.  Instantly one child went down.  Then the second.  Possibly both concussed from the wetness of my disgusting kitchen floor.  The baby gate went back up.  The dog towels came out so I could dry the whole thing by hand and even after all this the floor was somehow stickier than ever.

I opted to take my aggression out on the stove which I have not cleaned in two years of living in this house.  Why clean it now?  Because my mother is coming in 2 days.  My mother who always has a sparkling stove and who lives 3,000 miles away where she cannot regularly check mine.  Chances are that she will not, in her week of visiting, actually open my oven.  However we all  know that the only way to be sure is to clean it.  That’s the rule.

So the oven is clean, the floor is mopped (for all the good it did me), and the outdoor plants have been watered.  That’s the extent of it.  Everything else is grimy, smeary, crusty, and stinky.

Yesterday my daughter wanted to check her reflection as she recently ran through a screen door and landed on some bricks yielding an incredible fat lip that she has been diligently monitoring.  I followed her to the mirror and happened to notice that one of my fingernails, which I had just hurriedly trimmed, had landed in a highly visible spot in my hair.  Fortunately I was able to remove it before we set off for Target.

So it seems that I have landed myself in, “The Grimy Years”.  I get that now.  The area under my son’s clip-on highchair must be scrubbed by hand 3 times a day- 4 if we have a snack.  Oh yes, I could leave it but then he would track it all over my house.  Two nights ago I asked my 3 year old daughter to try to keep her mulberry jam off the white carpet.  She did.  But I forgot to mention that if you need to sneeze when you are chewing up beets be sure to contain the result.  Oh white carpet, why were you ever invented?

My toilet is sweating.  A lot.  The floor is uneven so all the sweat forms a river and the river leads to the low spot right in front of the bathroom sink.  When my daughter travels across the bathroom to get her potty seat (7 times a day?) she must walk right through it.  Sometimes she slips.  I wipe it up several times a day while glaring at the toilet and demanding, “Really?  Do you have to be a jerk?”

Grimy.   Humid.  Gross.  Motherhood.

 

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Potty Training Hell (Why I’m a Terrible Mother)

If you’ve never potty trained anyone…. you are one lucky bugger.  If you’ve had the joy of declaring your child fully potty trained…. you are also one lucky bugger.  If however you exist somewhere in the middle (such as myself) let me be the first to welcome you to Hell.Summer 2013 049

I used to believe that any kid could be potty trained by age 2 if the care providers prioritized it and the child showed all signs of readiness.  {I’m not the only one who thinks this.  At our 2 year appt. the pediatrician asked how often my daughter was using the potty.  Because he assumed she already was.}  Well.  She has met all the “Ready To Be Potty Trained” bullets since she was about 1 and a half.  She will be 3 years old in June.  We have had failed attempt after failed attempt and yet- we must keep trying.

Why?  Why do I not just hang it up?  I wish I could.  However I KNOW she is capable and that her unwillingness is the only problem.  Therefore it should be fixable.  Also I have a 2nd child.  One who is still a baby and actually does need  diapers.  This whole double diapering situation that has kept us prisoner for the last 10 months has got to stop.  For one thing it makes for ridiculous double pooping in public whenever we try to leave the house.  Yesterday I took the kids to the playground on a cold and windy February day because we’ve been stuck at home a lot lately.  I sat my daughter on the potty before we left and when that didn’t work I urged her to just go in her diaper before we left the house.  “Oh yes Mommy, I’m trying so hard!” she earnestly told me.  Yeah right.

5 minutes after getting to the playground she luxuriously went #1 and #2.  I had to expose her to the cold wind on a 40 degree day in order to get her changed- it was one of those unfortunate times when the diaper tab ripped off so I actually got to put a 2nd diaper on her while her legs swelled with goose bumps.  This kind of thing has been happening all winter.  Have I mentioned that she is quite tall and gets mistaken for a 3 or 4 year old quite often?  You get a lot of dirty looks when people think your 4 year old is pooping their pants at the playground.

Another challenging thing about potty training is that people love to make suggestions.  Some of them are well meant and others are open criticisms that leave you sputtering with rage.  Here’s the one I like best, “Why are you putting your child through this?”  Hmmm.  Well because I’m a terrible mother I suppose.  I  want my child to be able to use public facilities and attend a preschool.  I’d like her to not be the only one of her same-aged friends (and I do mean the only one) going potty on herself.  Because every morning she now creates a lake on the floor when it becomes apparent that her diaper cannot possibly hold everything that her bladder can.  Another commonly proffered pearl of wisdom is, “Well she’ll get it sometime.  At least before she graduates high school.  Hahaha.”  At times like this I have to hold out two fingers and chant, “I’m squishing your head,” while making vicious pinching motions.

Potty training sucks.  It arrives out of nowhere to interfere in your otherwise perfect relationship with your amazing child whom you love beyond measure.  It leaves you angry with yourself, frustrated with your child, and longing for days when your kids are old enough to do things (anything) for themselves.  It’s hard to step back and remember that although they still “need” diapers they are still sweet, still uncorrupted, still in footie pajamas, still small enough to fit in your lap and ask you to kiss their hip when they fall down.

I haven’t given up as this is not an issue you can just ignore.  But I have given in.  I have realized that a highly verbal child does not equal a potty-trained one.  That just because my daughter is capable of telling me she needs to use the potty  doesn’t mean she will.  And that in a world where everyone else seems to control everything this is one thing that little people can take possession of.

During these potty training days I’m not really sure which of the two of us is the Devil and which is the minion.  I’m only sure of the environment.  And that is somewhere I’d like to escape from as soon as possible.

Be Nice: It Just Takes a Minute

I’m just gonna say it.  I’m not as nice as I used to be.  Fortunately the rest of my family is a good influence and I am not yet too old to learn from them.

This morning the kids and I went to our local warehouse food store.  Warehouses:  Making food shopping depressing yet affordable year after year.  Just this morning I discovered that my baby is big enough to ride in the front of the cart with his sister instead of in the Ergo.  This was an extremely liberating discovery.

While we walked through the produce section we overheard another mother conversing with her son about broccoli.  My daughter chimed right in.  “Oh!  We like broccoli!  We have some at home.  My daddy likes broccoli- he likes all green foods.  We are buying him some green foods right now!  Today we bought him celery and kale and lettuce.  Look!”

For a moment I couldn’t quite believe that she had chosen to portray her parents in a positive light.  It was extremely encouraging.  The most encouraging thing however happened in the check-out line.  My daughter really likes names.  She had named her entire collection of Little People (40?) and once they were named it was forever.  Cindy Lou Who, Liz Leininger, Murphy, Wendy, and Farmer Jack are often found playing Ring-Around-The-Rosie in the low windowsills of our house.  Winter 2013 008

She likes names so much that she would not hesitate to ask yours if given the slightest opportunity.  So it was that she asked the cashier, “What’s your name?”

“Oh.  It’s Karen,” she answered.  It seemed unlikely that anyone else had cared what her name was this morning.

My exuberant 2 year old remarked, “Karen?  Karen!  That’s a super name.  Good-bye, have a GREAT day Karen!  We’ll come back to visit you soon!”

Karen’s eyebrows rose.  She glanced at me.  I smiled at her.  She smiled back.  Her posture straightened, she rotated her body so she was fully facing us and little bit of life went back into her eyes.

We rolled ourselves away and I wondered when I last complimented someone in the service industry.  When did I offer more than the obligatory “thank-you”?  In moments like these I am aware that having kids was the best thing I ever did.  Not for the planet certainly, but for my own selfish desires.  They will keep me nice.

Then and Now

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Together time

On the more challenging days of being a stay at home parent it is easy to lament about the things you used to have before you reproduced.  These things include the freedom to close the door when using the bathroom, the ability to go grocery shopping in under half an hour, the dozen eggs that used to last 2 weeks in the fridge.

My chiropractor asks me why I’m not doing my back stretches.  I try to explain that my toddler sees stretching as an opportunity to gleefully jump on my back and so I come out of the situation worse for wear.  He asks if there is a way I can prevent that.  I just laugh and laugh.

At lunch today I noticed that the wall next to my baby’s highchair has the remains of at least a half dozen meals on it.  Speckles of dried blueberries, beef stew, and zucchini paint a vibrant landscape.  Instead of finding this alarming I consider adding Food Art to our weekly activity list and I leave the food where it is.  Like you, I am concerned when I read that last sentence but I’m also realistic.  It is unlikely that I will spent the precious moments of this elusive double nap scrubbing food off of yet another surface.  Double naps are for pondering the changes brought on by two tiny tots in less than 2 years.  For remembering what was and appreciating what is.  For taking a few moments for stillness.  And gratitude.

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Mirror faces

I kind of love that last week’s food is drying on my walls.  I love that my glasses are forever crooked thanks to my head-bonking toddler and my exploratory baby.  When I find plastic kitchen implements stuffed into my back pockets I know they were put there with love by a little girl who wanted me to feel included.

Does my bathroom always smell like poop?  Yes.  Do we manage to use 10,000 tiny bowls over the course of the day?  Yes.  Do I have more of a relationship with my baby food maker than I do with my husband at the moment?  Possibly.  Am I ok with this?  You bet.

I had my time for me.  I had it all through my twenties and it was AMAZING.  In my thirties now I have no trouble acknowledging that my “me” time is on hold.  It’s what happens, it’s the next chapter.  The chapter where my family joins in my adventures.  Where we have battles over potties and sleepless nights with sick children, and

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Learning to live.

carpets full of crunchy Puffs that get stepped on and ground in like sand.  We also

have sock wars, family music night, mornings full of laughter, evenings that find us practicing our bird calls, and moment after moment of sheer delight.

With all the sweetness in my toothy boy’s smile and all the shine in my daughter’s hair and all the generosity that pours off my husband like water, we are a family.  And sometimes families smell like poop.