Monday, April 19, 2010


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Big Girl Spoon

"Mommy I need a Big Girl Spoon."

I was a bit distracted, feverishly attempting to get as much of dinner prepped as possible before the baby woke up.

"Uh huh. Okay. You can get a spoon."

"You get it. I need it."

"I can't get it right now because I'm chopping chicken."

"Um, I can't reach it. I need a Big Girl Spoon to clean up the poop."

Finally she had my full attention.


"I need a spoon to get out the poop. The poop is in my sock and I can't get it out."

I looked at her. No smell. Pants on. And usually pants on also means diaper on. Usually.

I looked closer. She was wearing sweat pants that have elastic around the ankles. Sure enough, there was a little lump right there near her right sock that shouldn't have been there.

I opened her pants. No diaper. What? How did that happen?

Ah, the joys of potty training a child who is capable of dressing and undressing herself.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cursing the Cake

Yesterday was my tiny one's third birthday. Only she's not looking so tiny anymore.

The night before I baked her cake. In the morning I cut it into the requested Hello Kitty shape and frosted it. I had to do it in stages because a mother of two little ones doesn't often have an uninterrupted hour to do anything, much less take that long to frost a cake.

After years of mocking my sister and how she coordinates her birthday child's clothing to the colours of the themed cake, I now understand. I have fallen from my lofty ideals of simplicity and have spent too much time on a character cake, when I should have been packing and cleaning.

As I was frosting the cake and simultaneously cursing myself for the idea of it in the first place, I began to wonder who I was doing this for. Was I really doing this for Jenny so that she could have a fun birthday? Or was I doing it for myself in some twisted way? What was I getting out of it?

I was stressed.
I had way too much to do to waste an entire day on prepping for a 3-year-old's party that would last two hours.
The frosting was running down my arm and the little stars wouldn't maintain their shape because I don't know what I'm doing and my frosting was too thin and my baby was starting to cry and I had only just started.

Was I trying to impress the party attendees? No, they're just family members who have seen me at my worst.

Was I trying to prove something about what a fabulous party-planning and creative mother I am? Possibly, but since I know I'm not really any of those things, why would I try to prove something I don't hold to be true?

Because I want it to be?

Hmm. As I was pondering this, Jenny began enthusiastically chanting "Thank you, Mommy! Thank you for my Hello Kitty CAKE!"

She said it over and over with such sincerity and joy that I was glad for the task.

She loved it. She really did. She talked about it in anticipation for weeks and in enjoyment all day and for a few days more. She cried when it was all gone.

That's right. I did it for her. My intentions were pure.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Is it a motherly trait or just a female one to feel an inordinate amount of guilt? Perhaps it runs throughout the fairer sex, but is intensified by motherhood. All I know is I feel a lot of guilt a lot of the time and my husband feels relatively none.

A man does something that warrants an apology or does something insufficiently. He either feels no guilt because he recognizes that he did the best he could, or perhaps recognizes no wrong. Or he feels just enough pricking to either spur him to rectify the situation or just move on.

A woman worries. A woman obsesses. A woman cries. A woman frets. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

What I feel most guilt about is anywhere I am less than I think I ought to be. I am not patient enough with my three-year-old. I don't have enough energy, time, limbs, you name it, to simultaneously soothe my infant and keep dinner from burning, or even make dinner at all.

Something has always got to give. And I always feel guilty for not doing whatever it is that had to give.

Since becoming a mother of more than one child, lots of things give that I truly wish didn't have to.

The laundry can give. I can live with the guilt I feel about being an ineffective housekeeper.

Delicious and inventive dinners can give. Brent can feed himself. Macaroni and cheese will keep you alive.

But my children's needs?

I feel guilt about not savoring James's infancy like I did Jenny's. I feel guilt about not taking as many photos and video footage of him. I feel guilty about not reading him stories. I feel guilty whenever my pain or schedule or toddler prevents me from holding him whenever he shrieks for my attention.

He's at that stage where he wants Mama and no one else. He will be perfectly content and happy playing with something or someone. I walk by the room and he cries for me. He hears my voice and he cries for me. The instant he realizes that he is not with Mama is the same moment he recognizes that his life is incomplete and horrible and he needs me NOW!

Needless to say, he cries for me a lot. I can't always go to him. I do as soon as I can. And of course when I do I feel guilt about whatever it is I'm putting down to pick him up. Usually it's Jenny. Often it's something I ought to be cleaning or packing in order to meet our moving deadline.

I can't do it all.

Nobody can.

And so I am extremely grateful for the little things that make my multitasking easier. In particular, James's sleeping habits.

He is a gold-medalist in sleeping. The kid is a champion napper. At night time I can read him a story or nurse him for a few minutes, then lay him down awake, exit the room, and shut the door and he makes nary a peep. He just relaxes, lays his head to the side, and sleeps.

It is one of the great pleasures of my life to put that kid to sleep. It then frees me to be sufficient. In that moment I can simultaneously do the right thing for my baby (give him sleep) and also attend to whatever needs attending to the most.

Lately James has been teething. He doesn't want to fall asleep in bed. He wants to fall asleep in my arms. Once he has fallen asleep he doesn't want to sleep in his bed. He wants to sleep in my arms.

Last night after my third attempt to lay him down and his third refusal to accept sleep and his third time plugging up his nostrils with baby slime from his crying, I just held him. I didn't nurse him, or sing to him, or bounce him. He just nestled in my arms as I sat in my rocking chair. There he fell asleep. I held him for a long time.

Brent was putting Jenny to bed.
I let myself forget about the laundry, the vacuuming, the packing, the dusting, the clutter, the painting, the MESS MESS MESS that surrounds me and that I need to tame as quick as possible so we can sell our house.

I just let it all go and held my baby.

I gazed at him until the tiny sliver of light that comes in his window had faded to nothing. I listened to him breathe. I watched his eyelids flutter. I felt his tiny fingers pull at my neckline until he could feel my skin. I felt his warmth against my chest.

I held him and he held me and in that moment I felt complete. In that moment I was enough. I was all he needed and all he wanted. For him, right then, I was enough. Enough.

I need more moments like that.