Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Un-Super Mom

It seems to me that there’s an awful lot of praise these days for the multi-tasker, the Super Mom, the “She does it all!” type of gal. This evolved breed of woman plunges the toilet while she breastfeeds the baby, responds to email, stirs the chilli, kisses her husband and reads her four-year-old Corduroy and the New Pocket. This evolved breed of woman works full time, moms full time, presides over her local MOPS group, and hits the gym at least five times a week. In addition, this knock-your-socks-off lady gets the thank-you-notes in the mail the day after she receives the gift, immediately uploads her photos to Facebook, and throws a helluva baby shower.

I have discovered, after three years of motherhood, that I am not this “How in the world does she do it all?!” type of girl. I am more of a “Well, I guess she does the best with what she has” kind of chick. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I multitask all right. No gettin’ around that one. But things turn out kind of sloppy, mis-shapen, and misplaced when I do. Dirty diapers get thrown down the laundry chute, library books grow fees, coupons get thrown down the pit of despair that is my pantry, and sometimes, especially when headed to the zoo, I hear a little voice from the backseat say, “Mommy, are we lost or something?”

I have tried hard to evolve into the Super-Mom-She-Creature I feel that many of my peers have successfully become, but it seems that if I attempt to run an errand, have a playdate and make a meal all in the same day, I will more than likely burst into flames.

And yet something repeatedly gnaws at me to become a person I am not meant to be. This twisted inner voice that says, Oh, man, she has three kids and she organizes fundraisers for bone marrow transplants? I should do something like that. Or Oh, wow, she’s got two kids and she figures out how to shop at four different grocery stores to buy only organic and local and make five meals a week that do not include macaroni or chicken nuggets. I should buy a cookbook or something and figure out how to do that.

So, who is this little devil inside me that is repeatedly trying to convince me to bite off more than I can chew? This twisted little voice who tries to convince me to be something that I’m not? Is it my own twisted psyche? Society? Oprah?

Whatever it is, it’s time for it to shush. Somewhere along the way, I filled my giant pockets with greedy handfuls of guilt. Guilt that my house isn’t clean enough, that my kid’s birthday party isn’t cool enough, that I am not present enough, that I am not creative enough. Somewhere along the way, I got this idea that I could and should DO IT ALL.

But today, that’s changing. Today, I’m putting on a pocketless sundress and I’m skipping through my clover-filled yard to go on a bear hunt with my boys. I’m leaving the crap on the counter and the blocks on the floor. I’m making tuna melts for dinner. And I’m starting a movement.

A movement in praise of the Un-Super Mom, the mono-tasker, the “I can only handle one thing at a time, damnit!” type of gal.

The Un-Super Mom does not run the PTA, the book club, and the church youth group. The Un-Super Mom has a glass of wine in front of her DVRed shows, reads her book, and goes to bed. The Un-Super Mom does not organize the coat closet and she does not dust the ceiling fans. The Un-Super Mom takes a nap. She might even eat a clich├ęd bon-bon or two…or four. The Un-Super Mom does not pull her weeds. She embraces them as God’s lush, green, shrub-choking plan for her garden. The Un-Super Mom has lollipop sticks stuck to the leather seating of her car and she has—GASP!— processed foods in her pantry. The Un-Super Mom sometimes lets her kids watch more than the suggested daily hour of TV.

The Un-Super Mom is the mom who figures out how to NOT do it all, the mom who drinks her coffee and reads the newspaper and maybe stays in her pajamas a little too long. The mom who accepts the fact that she has limits. That they are unique to her. And that they are to be embraced and respected.

And to all you “Do It All” Mamas out there staying up tonight to fold laundry, check emails, and make scrapbooks? You go girls! But I’m not with you tonight. Tonight I’m gonna eat a cookie and go to bed. I’m leaving the laundry in the basket, the toy boat on the stairs, and the unopened mail on the counter. I’m emptying my pockets of all the guilt and missed expectations and I’m accepting the fact that I simply was not wired to run a fundraiser, iron shirts, or give a crap about cooking from scratch. Goodnight, scary little Martha Stewart/Oprah voice in my head. Come back when you resemble something much cooler and funnier like Gilda Radner or Tina Fey. Then, we’ll talk.

NOTE:  Check out Productive Parenting, a very cool site that provides one new activity suggestion each day based on your child's birth date! They featured me today on their site! 
Productive Parenting Featured

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

S*%t My Toddler Says

Finny on Game Playing…

     “Hey, Mommy! Wanna play this game with me?”

     “Sure, Finn. What’s it called?”

     “Um, it’s called ‘Bouncy Ball, Bouncy Ball.’”

     “Okay, how do you play?”

     “Well, you take these trains and you push them around the track, like this…” Vigorously pushes trains around his train table.

     “Oh, well, why don’t we call the game ‘Choo, Choo Train’ then?”

     “Because it’s called ‘Bouncy Ball, Bouncy Ball.’”

Later that same day…

     “Hey, Mommy! Wanna play this game with me?”

     “Sure, Finn. How do you play?”

     “Well, you just stack up these pillows, like this, and then you run and jump on them.” Vigorously dives into a pile of couch pillows.

     “Oh, that looks like fun. What do you call this game?”

     “Um, it’s called, ‘Ring Bell, Ring Bell.’”

Finny on Penis Size...

As I’m changing Charlie’s diaper…

     “Mommy, does Charlie have a big penis?”

     Suppressing a laugh, I say, “Well, no, not really. He’s just a baby.”

     Wondering what the heck is going on in his little brain, I probe, “Finny, do you have a big penis?”

     “No, I don’t,” he says.

     And just for the record, I probe a bit further, “Does Daddy have a big penis?”

      “Oh yeah, Daddy does.”

And there you have it, Goldilocks.

(Upon realizing I have posted this little anecdote in a blog post, David is either red with mortification or he’s struttin’ down to the cafeteria to get his afternoon coffee feeling preeetttty proud of himself.)

And Finally, Finny on Respect for his Elders…

Upon making the absurd request that Finny put his pants back on after using the potty, he marches over to me with a scowl on his face and says,

     “Mommy, I want you to go into a bear cave and get eaten by a bear! And then, I want you to be sad.”

Hey, Finn. Just trying to save you the embarrassment of walking around with that tiny penis hanging out. Cut a sister a break.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Bear in the House

A bear asleep at the zoo
  Dear Charlie,

Right now, at eight months old, I pretty much want to eat you up at all times and frequently take nibbles off of multiple chubby, soft, delicious baby body parts. Some of my favorites are your cheeks, your toes, your thighs and that little spot just under your ear. Mmm…mmm.

You should also probably know that you can’t get enough of me either. In fact, whenever I walk into your room to get you up from a nap, you nearly break your neck to get a good look at me and when you do get a glimpse of me, you slam your head into the mattress and writhe around like something in a Madonna video. Just pure baby cuteness.

You are not crawling yet, but you’re close. You are perfecting yoga poses at the moment. You are excellent at Cobra, where you push your head and chest off the ground to beam at anybody who will look your way, and from there, you either move into an advanced belly-on-the-ground swimming/skydiving move where you flap, flap, flap in place, or you move directly into a very pretty Downward-Facing Dog. Recently your Down Dog seems to be morphing into what could be moving towards Half-Moon Pose where you keep your arms on the ground with your butt in the air and lift one leg off the ground. If you could just get those hands off the ground, you’d be in Warrior III, or I suppose if you just got your leg up a little higher you’d be in Standing Split. It’s all very sophisticated. You are also pretty skilled at Table Top, where you rock back and forth on your knees, but no actual crawling yet. That’s okay; I’ve started to move on from my hopes that you’ll crawl and eventually walk someday to researching how to raise you as a Yogi or perhaps a Buddha. (Since this was originally written, three days ago, you’ve started to do The Worm! An awesome party trick, which I hope you will take with you to many a wedding reception.)

Not only are you finding your inner Yogi, you are also finding you’re voice. This past weekend in church, right in the middle of poor Father Marty’s homily, you belted out a long string of “Dah-dah-dahs” which echoed quite nicely off the cathedral walls. Between Yoga and your attempt to take over the homily, it seems you are quite spiritual. Good boy. Teach us something.

In case you haven’t noticed, you have become know as The Bear. It started with Daddy calling you Charlie Bear and then it became The Bear and sometimes Bear-bees. You seem to answer gladly to all of them and greet them all with a wide, gummy grin that closes your eyes and tilts your head back with a kind of pure joy that only a baby can produce, that all adults wish they still understood.

You and Finny LOVE each other. Everyone keeps telling me that someday you’ll be beating each other up and fighting over everything. It’s hard to imagine right now because right now, you simply crack each other up. Last night was a video camera moment for the two of you. Finny watched me cracking you up as I tickled you to distract you from the fact that I had to wipe your nose and said, “I…got your boogies!” When he finished his dinner, he promptly ran over to lay with you on your playmat and also wanted to “Get Your Boogies!” You squealed and squealed. And that made Finny squeal and squeal. And all of it had me in tears. And then Daddy came home and he got in on the action. Fun times, The Bear, and you were at the center of it.

You are a big boy, Bear-bees. You will no doubt be bigger than your big brother some day. You are now eating three meals a day and seem to love everything from pears to squash to avocado. You are also starting to drink more formula as I have begun to slowly wean you. It’s a bittersweet process, weaning. There is joy and relief that comes from regaining my body, not filling up with milk all the time. But there is a tug of sadness that comes from realizing you are getting to be an old baby, and that soon we will no longer have that snuggly closeness that comes with breastfeeding.

The number one compliment you receive from friends and strangers is on the gorgeous state of your Frohawk. Pop-pop Finnessy keeps asking me if I style your hair like that on purpose. Nope. You’ve just been blessed with a mohawk full of tight little red-tinted ringlets. It’s nothing short of awesome.

The number two compliment you receive is about how cool, calm and collected you always seem to be. You and I don’t get a lot of alone time, Bear, and when we do, I’m usually trying furiously to get dinner prepped or a bill paid or some other nonsense before your brother gets up from his nap. You fend for yourself a lot of the time, and I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry you don’t get the undivided attention that Finny got. It’s just not in the cards for the second child. But, maybe the result is this easy-breezy attitude you seem to have adopted. You go with it, Bear-bees. You roll with the punches. You sit in your stroller, you bounce in the Johnny Jumper, you suck on whatever you can find on the family room floor (don’t worry, these are usually toys planted by me that are ideal for you to suck on), and you do it all with a grin. You’re a happy baby, Bear, with or without a ton of attention, and if you can keep this quality as you grow up, it will serve you well.

Well, you’ll be up soon, so I should wrap this up. It’s taken me over a week to write! One last thing though. I love you, Charlie Bear. More and more each day. Didn’t know it was possible. You bring it out in me. In all of us. It’s just so much fun to have a bear in the house.



Yoga Move #3:  Table Top

Yogi Bear moving into Cobra

Dr. Evil Bear

Get Your Boogies!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Tissa Fairy: A Follow-Up

I would say it was not unlike the first few days of drug rehab: hard to watch your loved one go through the withdrawal, but knowing he will come out better in the end.

On the Friday afternoon preceding The Tissa Fairy’s visit, Finny actually greeted the idea of The Tissa Fairy with a renewed excitement. After his last official nap with Tissa, I said, “Okay, do you think it’s time to gather all the Tissas and put them in the mailbox?”

“Yeah! Yeah! Let’s do it!” he shouted. All right, I thought, this is going better than I had imagined.

So, Finny, Jane and I walked around the house and gathered up all the Tissas, including Charlie’s unused Tissas, and put them in a box. Then, the three of us took a ceremonial walk to the mailbox where both Finny and Jane bid a fond farewell to our box of Tissas and then, we went back in to play.

But, I knew the true test would come that night when Finny climbed into bed for a story, which is why around 7:45 p.m., I hit the grocery store and let David put him to bed.

At 8:45 p.m., I called. “How’s it going?” I could hear Finny in the background screaming. “Well, let’s see,” David said, “He’s crying ‘Mama, I want my Tissa!’ over and over again and he’s periodically gagging himself.”

“Oh, no. I’ll come home. I should come home.”

“No, I’m handling it,” David said, “Go shopping.”

“Well, maybe you should go in there. Tell him it’s going to be okay. Tell him he’s a brave boy.”

“Jill, I’m handling it.”

So, I shopped and worried and shopped and worried, and when I walked in the door at around 10 p.m., all was quiet. David had fallen asleep in the spare bedroom beside Finny’s room. He wouldn’t explain why he was in there, but I knew. David is the softest tough guy I know. If he was gonna make Finny cry it out, he was gonna do it from the room right next door so that if at any point our little Tissa addict really needed him, he would not be far away.

David said he cried for about an hour. When I walked in, Finny was conked out, sucking the air, sucking the spot where Tissa used to be.

That night, Charlie was up from 2:30-4 a.m. playing and crying intermittently. I tried to stay back in hopes of training this eight-month-old to sleep through the night without a feeding, but finally at 4, I went in and nursed him. Two hours later Finny was up—early. I knew, sadly, that he would not go back to sleep. I knew that if he had Tissa to suck on, he would have. I knew that I was so tired and David was already at the golf course and I had to go in there.

I lay down next to him. “Mommy, I want Tissa,” he sobbed.

“I know, honey. You miss Tissa, don’t you?”

“Yes, I want her.”

“Let’s lay together, Finn. Let’s try to get a little more sleep.”

“But, Mommy, I want something.” He flipped all around, could not get settled, elbowed me in the face. I guess this was “the shakes” portion of his withdrawal.

“What do you want, Finn?”

“I want SOMETHING!” Such a sad little ache in his voice.

“Finny, Mommy’s tired,” such a sad little ache in my voice, “Let’s try to close our eyes for a little bit.”

But he flipped and flipped. “Mommy, the moon’s out. It’s a half moon. Let’s look at the half moon together.”

“Oh no, honey. Not now. Let’s be very quiet and try to rest for just a few minutes.”

Suddenly I felt a little nose rubbing my nose. “Nose kiss, Mommy.”

Man, was he cute. But Man, was I tired.

Eventually I turned on his light and told him to read some stories for a little bit while I went back to my bed and closed my eyes for just fifteen minutes. I just needed fifteen more minutes.

Twenty minutes passed and I heard his little knock. It was time to find out what The Tissa Fairy had left him.

Behind his bedroom chair we found a Spiderman action figure, a Superman book, and a yellow crystal ball—all requests made by the little boy in Tissa rehab. The yellow crystal ball was the last of the yellow bouncy balls in stock at Toys ‘R Us that night. He carried all three of his treasures around with him all day.

But come nap time…he remembered. The sobbing began. “Mama, I want my Tissa! Do you think The Tissa Fairy will bring it back to me?”

“No, honey. But you’re a good, brave boy and I think you can sleep without her. I’m proud of you.”

This talk went on for two days. A little crying, a little whimpering, a little squirming. And then…nothing. Not a peep. Just bed. Just naps. Just three-hour naps—without Tissa.

Huh. Miracle.

Soooo, I’m done, right? Big boy bed, potty training, Tissa Fairy. That was my list of tough stuff to conquer this year and now, I’m done. Time to call up The Tissa Fairy. See if she wants to join me for a glass of wine…a little toast, if you will, to a job well done. Maybe she and I can talk about The Tooth Fairy behind her back and figure out where the hell she is when the kids are getting the teeth. How bout a little somethin’ somethin’ for that, huh?

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Friday, September 2, 2011

The Tissa Fairy

Dear Finny,

How are you? I wanted to let you know that I will be coming to your house very soon to collect your Tissas. I know some babies who could use them and I am so glad you will have some to give. Don’t worry, your blankie and your teddy will keep you warm and snuggly, and I have a very special gift to leave with you!
On Friday night, before you go to bed, please leave all of your Tissas in a box in your mailbox. When you wake up in the morning, you will find a special surprise!

Thanks, Finny!

The Tissa Fairy

This is the letter Finny received in the mail this past Monday. I read it to him with great flair and gusto at the kitchen table after his post-nap snack. He immediately ran into the family room and flung himself on the rug like a 1940’s starlet and burst into tears. “I don’t want the Tissa Fairy to come and take my Tissas!”

Then, he came running back to me looking for comfort. “Mommy, hold me! Wipe these tears off my face!” I wiped and wiped. “Mommy, they’re still coming! Now, wipe these tears off my face!”

We’ve been talking about The Tissa Fairy for a few months now, talking about other friends who have safely left their Tissas with The Tissa Fairy and how exciting it was, but little Finny doesn’t quite know what to make of all this excitement over giving his Tissas away. Why on earth should he be excited about giving up the very thing he adores most in this world? He can’t imagine that there is any gift The Tissa Fairy could leave him that could replace his dear old Tissa. And the truth is, I’ve spoken with The Tissa Fairy, and she’s struggling to come up with anything too.

She’s already purchased a Spiderman action figure, but that was a few months ago. Now, he’s kind of more into Superman, but he’s not even really that into Superman. He’s unpredictable on what he will choose to fixate on: a purple tea cup, a wind-up bath turtle, Jane’s Buzz Light Year binoculars, Charlie’s bee. All of these things have captured his attention at some point and he has clung to them for a number of days without letting go. But, Tissa? Barring those first couple weeks when pacifiers are a no-no for breastfed babies, Finny’s had Tissa his WHOLE LIFE.

Finny doesn’t know a world without Tissa, and frankly, neither do I. I feign enthusiasm about The Tissa Fairy for Finny’s sake, but underneath this tough exterior, I’m crying too. Finny has always been a great sleeper, and in large part, that’s been due to his personal sleep specialist, Tissa. The kid’s been known to take five-hour-naps at certain points in his life and still sleep a solid eleven hours at night. Now, at almost three years old, he still has a good three-hour nap going on and a solid twelve-hour night sleep. When The Tissa Fairy comes to take his Tissas, is she going to take all that precious slumber with her as well?

The Tissa Fairy tried to visit once before at around eighteen months. I told Finny she was coming to take his Tissa and give it to babies who needed it. She came—somewhat foolishly—at nap time. The four-hour-napper screamed at the edge of his crib for two hours straight until I finally took mercy and went in to get him. I showed him the toy train she had left for him, and he blinked at it sleepily through the dark bags under his napless eyes. That night, The Tissa Fairy returned Finny’s Tissa. “Sorry,” she said, “I goofed. I guess at eighteen months, you are, in fact, still a baby.”

Now that Finny is much older and wiser, at the ripe old age of nearly three, he is still not buying this “babies need your Tissa” crap. A few days ago he ripped his sixteen-month-old cousin Allie’s popsicle right out of her hands and began chomping on it, and Finny can be clear across the house and sense when I’ve given a single solitary chew toy to poor, helpless Charlie stranded on the rug. He’ll drop whatever he’s doing, whatever tea cup or rubber ducky he’s playing with, and immediately bolt across the house to take the toy right out of Charlie’s hands. So, when it comes to Tissa, you’re not gonna find this kid having any kind of sympathy for all the poor Tissa-less babies out there. Quote: “The babies DO NOT need MY Tissas!” Endquote.

Finny’s been dealing with this looming day in his own way all week. I’ll catch him thinking about it periodically, not quite sure how to feel about it. On Monday night, he sat down to “read” a book to himself and I heard him begin, as if reading it on the page, “The Tissa Fairy is coming to take my Tissas…” Then, last night, his official last night with Tissa, he cried out in his sleep at about 1 a.m. When I went running in, I asked him what was wrong? Did he have wet pants? “No,” he said sleepily, “I lost my Tissa…but I found her.” And he promptly closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

But, what about tonight? Tonight’s the night. What happens when for the first time in three years he has to go to sleep without her? What happens when he wakes up in the night and remembers that she’s gone…for good? What happens tomorrow to my three-hour napper? And the next day? Does he know how to sleep without her? Other parents have told me that they worried and stressed about taking the pacifier, but once they did, it was not a big deal. The kid got over it fast. Somehow I don’t think that will be the case here. Finny and his Tissa are like David and his hairdresser, Babs—they love each other…a little too much.

So, if I’m so worried about losing sleep, which is already in short supply around here, why take the Tissas now? Our pediatrician actually said he could have it at night until he’s four. So, why tonight? Well, for starters, it’s affecting his bite. He has the classic pacifier mouth open bite that I hope will go away if Tissa goes away now. And secondly, because, it’s just time. He’s almost three. He’s a big boy now. He sleeps in a big boy bed, drinks from a big boy cup (sometimes), goes potty on a big boy potty, and is about to start preschool. It’s time for Tissa to go.

At least, this is what I tell myself…tough talk to choke back the tears. Because Tissa is more than just a pacifier. She’s the last of it. The last sign of babyhood for my first baby. Which is probably why that old fairy is struggling so much to come up with a suitable present to leave in her place.

Tissa is a symbol of my baby Finny, my firstborn, my snuggly, little duckmouth…and really, what can possibly replace that?

Well, I guess Charlie. Yeah, you’re right, no big deal. I’ve got another one.

Bring it on, Tissa Fairy.