February 22, 2012

What does Mommy do?

Dear Silvia,

When I dropped you off at preschool this morning I noticed a big poster they’d put up on the wall outside the classroom. It had two columns, headed with the questions, “What does Daddy do?” and “What does Mommy do?”. Down the side was a list of all the kid’s names.

I scanned down the list to your responses. What does Daddy do? He works on computers. What does Mommy do?

Dishes.

That’s it, just “Dishes”. It should be funny and in a way, it is. But there’s a part of me that just got sad and pissed off and embarrassed all at once. Dishes? That’s how you see me, sweetheart? As a glorified cleaning lady?

Now granted, I’m really glad you didn’t say, “She naps while we watch TV all day” or “She sneaks all the cookies after telling me I can’t have any”.  But still, baby girl, there’s a whole lot more to being Mommy than washing out baby bottles. (I wash out wine glasses, too.)

Here is what I do, sweetheart. I’m the one who brushes your hair in just the right way so the tangles come out without hurting you. I sit and listen intently every day to the intricate dance of preschool playground politics, most of which I don’t even understand except that a lot of it ends with someone getting a princess band-aid and you begging to have one, too.

I’m the one who knows you won’t eat apricot jam. I know you don’t like apples, but you will eat them if they’re cooked up in oatmeal or muffins or homemade applesauce. Strawberries, however, are a deal breaker.

Not to put too fine a point on it, kiddo, but I’m also the one who carries an extra pair of panties around in my purse for you… just in case.

I know when picture day is, when birthday parties and parent teacher conferences are, what antibiotic you took the last time you had an ear infection and which band-aid has a real booboo and which one is just for show. I take you to the dentist and the pediatrician. When you get shots or have your blood drawn, I’m right there holding you, making you laugh so you barely notice the needles.

I’m not going to lie, sweetheart. I also watch the clock some days so I can pour a glass of wine right at 5:30 and then count the minutes until your Daddy gets home (from his “real” job). There are moments when I’m about two seconds away from investing in some very effective ear plugs. My days are long and loud and it’s not all happy shiny mothering perfection all the time. I get annoyed, too. You know my hot buttons like no one else in the world— except your brother and sister, of course. I think the three of you were born with a “how to push Mama to the edge” manual.

But for all the times I’ve lost my temper, honey, there are a hundred more times where I took a deep breath and kept it together so that we could both get through the moment without tears. Because guess what, baby? All those times I’ve yelled too loud and too much and made you cry? I cry, too.

I’m the one who worries. About everything. EVERYTHING.

I’m the one who says no when you need me to, even though you never think that’s what you need. I promise you I don’t want to. It’d be so much easier to say yes and make you smile. I love your smile.

I pull you close when I see you’ve gone beyond shy into downright frozen, regardless of where we are and who’s watching. But I make you step out on your own sometimes, too, even if you’re scared, even though I just want to protect you from all the big world pushing down on you.

And yes, baby, I do dishes, too. Lots of dishes and laundry and cooking and grocery shopping. But those are the easy things.

The hardest part of what I do, honey, has nothing to do with housework and dishpan hands. The hardest part is letting you figure things out on your own when my crushing instinct is to be there beside you and keep you happy and safe and whole.  The hardest part of being Mommy is giving you the room to grow into the amazing woman you’re going to be while always making sure you know I’ve got your back.

That’s what I do, sweetheart. But I understand that the dishes are just easier to see right now and that’s okay, too.

Love, Mommy

February 15, 2012

It's not all sunny on Sesame Street

I need a waffle iron, a plain ol’ 4 square, flat American waffle iron. If I had a waffle iron, I’d be productive and organized and efficient and I would save so much money. Way more money than the cost of the waffle iron, for sure.

How does such a ubiquitous kitchen appliance re-make my entire world? I’ve got three words for you: Organic Mini Waffles.

These little suckers are ruining my life. Seriously. The box is a friendly yellow with a big jolly picture of Cookie Monster on the front. They cost about half-again as much as the white Walmart box o’waffles and guess what? With two less servings thanks to the "organic" moniker and the whole “mini” part, you get half-again less product! Woohoo! What a steal— for Cookie Monster.

I bought these once on a whim and it was such a mistake, on par with that time I said, “Don’t worry about it, honey, I’ll do the dishes tonight, you’ve had a long day”. Set myself up big time and I’ve been falling ever since.

When I buy these damn little circles from hell, the kids clammer for them ALL DAY LONG. For breakfast, for a snack, to eat plain on the couch or with jam for lunch. Oh, they’re so cute, mom! Look how little they are! Can I have another?

No, my darling. No, you cannot have another. Between the three of you, the pack was decimated within 36 hours and there are no more. No, my own sweet love, I will not go to the store and get some right now. NO.

When I DON’T buy them, my children ask for them all day and throw fits of dejection at my every refusal. Which is fine by me. Deject away, pretty babies. But then it turns out that, from time to time, Jack will actually EAT these waffles (and only these waffles) consistently. With his total lack of interest in such a thing (you know, eating), I’m willing to suffer Cookie Monster and bring the evil back into my home.

And so it begins again.

But if I had a waffle iron, oh! I would be prepared! I would take a long weekend once a month and make a super batch of fresh blueberry waffles that would tastes better than anything Cookie Monster could come up with, I’d have the freezer stocked with them! My children would beg for more and I’d actually be able to afford it!

Then, with the ball rolling already, I’d dive in and prep several double batches of casseroles and pasta sauces! I’d make soup! I’d fill my godforsaken cramped freezer to the breaking point until every time the door opened delicious food, needing only a gentle heating, would fall out!

A waffle iron would do the trick, it would change EVERYTHING. Then I could stop financing Cookie’s habit. Because you and I both know what he does in the back alleys off Sesame Street with all that extra waffle cash.

(Of course you all realize I can’t really HAVE a waffle iron, right? Because that would mean putting my fantasy of sublime organization and preparedness to the test, risking damage to the hope it lights within me. We can’t have that. No, precious. Not that.)

What one thing do you “need” that would make it all better?

February 09, 2012

catching up where it counts

I have three children. I know this may be a huge shock to some of you (or actually none of you). But if you only kept up on things over at the kids' blog on the other side of the internet, you might find that hard to believe. I have been lax in the extreme keeping up with the kiddos.

The whole point of that site was to have a place to 1) update the fam on how the kids are doing and more specifically 2) to give me a record as-it-happens of little things going on with them throughout the years. Trust me, it's all so easy to forget and so precious to hold on to.

So in the interest of intentional living via meaningful projects (like getting rid of magazines even though that doesn't SEEM meaningful but actually freed up so much time and space for me, so there), I'm on a catch up bender. Fortunately, my obsessive habit of randomly scribbling down ideas and events all the time comes in to play here. I won't have to make up too many priceless moments. And if I do, well... everyone enjoys a little fiction from time to time, right? The fun part will be trying to guess where I've improvised and where I've stuck straight to script.  Fun for everyone!

Actually, not everyone, not really. I don't advertise the kids' site for the most part. It's not secret or locked up or anything, but in general I like to keep it on the down low. There's a part of me that wonders what they will think and be mortified by when they're older and read some of what I put out there. So as much as I'll enjoy their squirmy embarrassment, I do want to offer the comfort that not EVERYONE in the whole world read about their first love in kindergarten and enjoyed naked bathtime pictures. (Not like over here, where we know EVERYONE in the whole world reads my priceless thoughts. Mmm-hmmm.)

That's where I'll be for a bit, catching up yonder. If you know the way, see you over there. If not... maybe you'll fall down a rabbit hole (via crafty googling) and find us. Maybe you'll just have to live your whole life, wondering, aching, wishing you could have lived the wonder.