Saturday, May 27, 2017

Don't Add Water

There are times where I question my abilities as a mother. Bath time. Bath time is that time.

It starts with the moaning and whining about the act of actually getting IN the tub. My children bathe every night, and for the life of me I cannot understand why it is such a shock each time I ask them to follow me to the bathroom, but the howls of “Noooooooooo!!!” start immediately.

Five to ten minutes later, I’ve resorted to yelling, “Last one in is a rotten egg!”, knowing full well the rotten egg will be in full meltdown mode when he loses again.

Nonetheless the egg and his sister are at least now in the vicinity of the bathroom and clothes start coming off. Someone’s head has inevitably grown three sizes over the course of the day and a button scrape over the face results in another five minutes of over-the-top performance.

At last all bare buns are in the water. Until she, he, or both desperately need to go to the bathroom…despite repeated questioning of the same before entering the tub and only after full submersion has occurred.

Hair washing. Oooohhhhh hair washing. I remember calmly laying back in the bath while my parents washed the soap from my hair, and I’ve watched other friends unceremoniously dump water over their children to rid them of shampoo. Not my girl. All shampoo must be removed by handheld sprayer and if one DROP should enter the little snowflake’s eye vicinity there will be hell to pay.

“MAMA YOU GOT IT IN MY EYEEEESSSSSS!!!! UGHHHH!!! WHY DID YOU DO THAT???!!!” Screaming for all of the world like she is the queen herself and I just a lowly servant girl.

And I think hold the train sister. Had I talked to my parents like that, my sassy rear-end would have been whipped out of that bath so fast my head would spin.

And I know its 2017 and we are not, under any circumstances, supposed to spank our children but I also think- that child needs a spanking.

But then I think about that sassy fanny, and alllllll of the many hours I spent praying for said fanny and most of the time I try, in my imaginary friend- Calm, Reasonable Mama's- voice to tell her we don’t talk to our mother that way. Most of the time  even CR Mama's had enough and an appropriate punishment is doled out.

After the water torture is over, I look hopefully at the glass of wine and book I have brought with me. I am dumb, and an apparent slow-learner. By this point sometime has found a cup of old, cold water from some container or another and dumped it on the unsuspecting bath-goer. Lots of drama ensues.

“Time to get out!”


Five to ten minutes later I have wrestled two soaking wet, slippery seal-like creatures from the tub and attempted to dry them off. I am soaked. Someone slips on a puddle.

Turning to get their pajamas, both children take off running down the hall, little moons bouncing away from me at impressive speeds.

My husband, whose job it is at this time is to cook the dinner and who suddenly seems the wisest person in the world, shrugs as they bellow past and claims he cannot help because he has “meat on his hands”. I see no meat.

By the time I’ve reached them they’ve somehow turned on Pandora and are shaking booties and elbows to “Uptown Funk”. Hot damn indeed. 

Switching to more appropriate programming, Thing 1 gets in her princess panties and catcalls Thing 2 as I try to maneuver his Fred Flintstone through the openings of his Pull-up. I give up on pajamas all together.

Finished at last, I leave them to their ridiculousness and drag myself back to the bathroom in search of my wine and reading.

I barely hit the door before I hear, “Mama, you pway wif us?” or “Mama, will you come in the playroom with me?"

And of course I do, and will, and always will. Because, not unlike the movie Gremlins, once you get them out of the water they are pretty darn cute. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Terrible" Two's

Two is hugs that involve all 30 lbs and smell faintly of strawberry yogurt, always

Two is “I lub you” and “sowwy”’s, freely given

Two is when “I” is “Me”…Me is your BIGGEST baby

Two is still falling asleep in the rocking chair every night, my lips pressed on his faintly sweaty forehead

Two is telling his sister, “It’s otay de-ah” when she gets hurt

Two is asking his teacher, “Miss Val, you lub me?” each day

Two is endless imagination, “You be a diber, Me be a tuh-tul and me is huwt”

Two is trying to eat five squeezable greek yogurts a day

Two is when everything is so ‘citing and we tan’t beliebe it!

Two is when he wants a Mickey Mouse party

Two is when he will do anything to make his sister laugh

Two is when he copies everything his daddy does

Two is when he still smells like baby sleep in the morning, and wants nothing more than to be held

Two is bottomless pit of snacks

Two is “watch me, Mama, watch me!”

Two is hair that sticks up in every direction, always

Two is stains on his shirt before we get out the front door, always

Two is soft cheeks and sweet lips

Two is still a baby

Two times two for me, and the only thing terrible about it is that it ends in three.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Just Don't Eat the Apples

Chick-fil-a has a fruit cup. Occasionally, when I am feeling particularly virtuous, I will get the fruit cup instead of the fries. I will eat everything in said fruit cup-oranges, blueberries, strawberries, red apples- until I get to the green apples. I hate green apples. And yet, every time I eat that darn Chick-fil-a fruit cup, I force my way through all of them, chewing with my mouth wide open so minimal tongue contact need occur. Barely allowing my teeth to scrape the bitter skin before forcing them down my throat.

I am a small person. I in no way shape or form need or want to lose weight. But I’ve had three children. And also, wine and cupcakes are my favorite. So, there is a tiny area around my stomach that is decidedly not my favorite. Its not going to go anywhere (unless I want to live a sad little life without wine and cupcakes, which I do not). I own only one dress in which this little stomach bump becomes the focus of all of my attention. Especially when I wear it with flats. I know this. Despite all the knowing, every few weeks I put on this dress with flats and inevitably spend the entire day prodding and ramming this very small bump and making ridiculous promises of a sugar-free diet. The next day I put on new clothes and eat the damn cupcake (or french fries).

Facebook makes me feel bad. Really all social media makes me feel bad. I have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), FOGS (Fear of Getting Sick), FOMKGS or FOMKD (Fear of My Kids Getting Sick or Dying), FOMHLB (Fear of My House Looking Bad) and just plain F. All of the F’s. I have them, from social media. Which is SO. Dumb. But I see some blogger girl that I don’t even know in her fabulous life doing fabulous things with her kids and I think, should I be doing those things with my kids? The answer is no, I shouldn’t. Because my kids are perfectly happy. Well, one of them is going through an unfortunate stage where she yells and writhes around on the floor like a dying spider when she doesn’t get her way, but other than that- very happy. And so am I. 

So here’s the thing. Note to self. Stop wearing the darn dress. Get off of social media- live in the real world. And for heaven’s sakes- just don’t eat the green apples.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Protect, not Project

Protect, not project. Its something I’ve been working on.

Last week, we walked in the Mach of Dimes Walk for Babies walk in honor of my cousin’s baby who was stillborn earlier this year. Its an event I’ve thought about doing in the past, and I was proud of her for having the strength to go through with it in honor of her son. 

The thing I was stuck on was whether or not to take the kids. Gracie, in particular, talks a lot abut Rip lately and I was worried explaining the reason for our walk to her might bring up questions I wasn’t prepared to answer. I was protecting her, see?

In the end, we decided to do the walk as I family. When I explained that the reason for the event was to raise money for babies who were born too early, Gracie said, “so babies like Baby Rip won’t have to go up to heaven? That’s good.” And she went back to playing.

Parking in the hospital garage, getting out of the car, walking to the event down the same streets where we walked to say goodbye to Rip (and later hello to Sam and Gracie), I was overcome with emotion. And wouldn’t you just know it, they were playing “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes as we arrived. As I was saying prayers of thanks for my oversized sunglasses, my children happily played beside me. 

All of those questions I was so afraid of, the fear and sadness I brought to this event- that’s on me. Why did Rip die? Why do any babies have to die? Where are you, God, in this world these days? Those are questions I struggle with.

My kids, they don’t question. Rip is in Heaven. He is with God. We will do our best to help other big brothers to hang out with their families longer. Any fear or sadness in this day just did not occur to them. I know this kind of acceptance won’t last forever, but in the meantime I’ll try my best not to mask my projections and it protection.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Rock, Rock

I guess rocking is one of those things that never ceases to be soothing, no matter how old you get.

Maybe it was for that reason that I spent a lot of time in a rocking chair after Rip died.

It was an old rocking chair of my great-grandmother’s that my parents had recovered while I was in the hospital, a bright apple green that went perfectly in the nursery that was not to be and yet still was. All those months after Rip and before the arrival of Gracie, I spent countless hours in that rocking chair- rocking my pain and wondering if there would ever be anything other than pain to rock. 

Praying and rocking and vivid apple green are things that flash to my mind when I think about this time in my life.

This weekend, I put Sam down and was on my way to do the same for Gracie, when I heard him calling out. Taking her with me, we all fell into the big rocker together and I felt the weight of their bodies as they drifted off to sleep.

Not everything in life wraps itself in a pretty little bow, and this story doesn’t either, but in that gentle back and forth motion with two chests rising and falling in time I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so thankful. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Oh, The Places You Will Go

Dear Gracie,

Ironically, this is very hard to put into words, but I’m going to try.

You are learning to read, baby girl. Its funny, because up until now I haven’t seen that spark in you- its been your brother who will bring book after book to me and beg for more. 

But as you start to sound out your words, and I see it click- first cat, then bat, then mat…allllll the rhyming words... your eyes lights up and sparkle. We are so much alike in that way. You want to be good at it, really good, before you let yourself love something. 

Let me tell you though- please don’t wait to fall in love with books.

Just go for it. Let me help you, you don’t have to be perfect at this.

I remember sitting with your great-great grandmother on her screened porch, drowsy with summer breeze and and Hawaiian Punch, and falling deep into the world of Ellen Tebbits.

To this day your Pop still thinks the word “fresh” is a good substitute for cool because Claudia Kishi said so when we were making our way through The Babysitter’s Club.

I always stand a little taller because I am Anne “with an e”, as girl with red hair once taught me. Much later, the girl with the red hair and I both grew up and lost someones we loved very much but didn’t lost our “e”-ness.

There was a great man who wrote about the place you live like nobody else. His name was Pat, and I got to meet him once. He taught me that words can also heal.

Gracie, the books you read will become part of who you are, they will take you places you need to go and bring you back when you move a little too far from where you want to be.

So sweet girl, as you tell me so often, put your finkin’ cap on. 

Keep going, and to quote another word lover, “Will you succeed? Yes! Yes you will indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)”


Your book-lovin’ Mama

Friday, January 20, 2017

Little Brown Coconut

I have not been as good at documenting Sam as I was Gracie, mainly because once there was a Sam there was also a Gracie and I didn't have time for much of anything.

That said, lately my baby boy is turning into a big boy and there are things I don't want to forget.

In between fighting like cats and dogs, my boy and my girl really do love each other and it makes my heart happy to see them play. Sam has called his sister "GC" since he could talk but just the other day he started calling her "Wacie" and hasn't turned back- despite my repeated urgings. The artist formerly know as GC finally told me I needed to let it go.

Other recent heartbreakers were when wawee turned into water and Bammy turned into Sammy. I get that a thirty-year-old asking to get in the wawee wouldn't be so cute, but why'd it have to go so fast?

This morning after breakfast as I cleared his plate,  I said, "Why thank you Sammy, it was a pleasure doing business with you. Please come back again some time!"
And he shook his little finger at me and moved his head and said," No, no Mama. You no say dat. You jus say tank you." And waltzed out of the room. Burned by a two-year-old.

Despite his cool exterior, Sammy-boy is still my cuddle bug. He is currently in a little Daddy stage (traitor) but will give full body hugs and big kisses on command.

Current loves are all things Thomas the Train, turtles, Moana, and trolls. He tries to mash his hair to look like a "Wholl" (aka stick straight up) and hollers "Mama you mess my wholl haiw upppp" if I have to touch it for any reason.

With his little silky bowl cut and big brown eyes, I could eat him with a spoon. However, he is not one for nicknames, and will be quick to correct you should you forget.

For instance, "Sammy, you are just a little brown coconut"

(Affonted) "ME not a yitta bloun totanut! ME Sammy Askell Awwis!!"

Sammy Haskell Harris, don't ever change, we could not love you more!