Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Motherhood Makes Us Animals

The urge first struck me one August morning when my daughter was a few weeks old. I was sitting in my usual nursing spot on the loveseat, feet resting on a little step stool and my daughter's tiny body was in my lap. Her feet were tucked up in her gown.  She was milk-drunk and sleeping. I was mesmerized by her face, the wispy newborn baby velveteen hairs that rimmed the edges of her ears, and those impossibly tiny fingers. I just stared and stared at her watching her breathe....and then... I wanted to put her little curled up fist in my mouth.  I literally wanted to put her fist in my mouth.

I have heard people say things like "Oh, she is so cute I could eat her up" or "I could just bite those chubby thighs."  I thought I understood what they were saying, but I truly did not until that very moment.   I want to clarify that I never actually put her fist in my mouth, but the urge never went away. In fact, the more those little hands puffed up with baby fat, the more I wanted to eat her.  I was so drunk in love with her that I just wanted to eat her up. I thought about females in the animal kingdom that eat their young. I think that they just can't help themselves. They are awash in that hormonal soup of overwhelming love coupled with sleep deprivation and they literally put the baby's hand in their mouth and just can't stop. I, however, am a rational (most of the time) thinking human and can stop myself.

Motherhood makes us animals.

We become nocturnal, prowling around our houses in the dark.  We don't use our tongues to lick our children clean, but we lick our fingers to rub dirt off of their cheeks, or to smooth down a crazy cowlick.  We use our teeth to trim a little one's snagged fingernail. We sniff their bottoms. We intensely inspect their body parts. We pick through their hair, pulling out twigs, bugs and dried up pasta sauce from last night's dinner. We are sheepdogs, constantly running around the perimeters of our kitchens, our yards, and the grocery store.  We round up our little people and herd them from one place to the next. We crane our necks and howl up to the moon in the middle night when we are so exhausted that the only thing we can do is cry out for help.  We alertly sit with hawk's eyes on playground benches surveying the area for any out of place movement.  Our bat ears  wake us up from a deep sleep when a child whispers "Mommy" from down the hall. We become scavengers. Mealtimes consist of swooping down like a seagull at the beach, to snatch up the half eaten grilled cheese discarded by a picky toddler. We will rip off your face, like a rabid hungry mountain lion with PMS, if you do something that threatens the safety of our kids.

Once you let the animal out, my friends, it can not be tamed.

The motherhood animal-takeover was slightly different for me when my son was born. I didn't have the urge to put his hand in my mouth, but I did love the way his breath smelled. He had the sweetest buttery baby's breath and I admit it, on any given day, you could catch me taking a whiff.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nothing Beats a Three Year Old's Pillow Talk

"Mommy? Mommy??? Will you lay down with me, for just a few minutes?"

Every now and then there are nights when my daughter has a hard time falling asleep.  My husband or I will lay on her floor next to her bed.  What else would I be doing with my evening? Probably watching some mind-numbing reality show.  A little time on her floor is much more entertaining and we have the best conversations when this happens.

One night, I decided to take notes. I had my phone and tried to type everything she said. Her mind goes a mile a minute. This entire exchange took place in whispers over the course of about 10 minutes.

"Mommy? What if I jumped on Mickey Mouse's head? What would he say?"

(In my best Mickey voice) "Oh boy! Someone jumped on my head!"

She giggles.

"Mommy? Why do the horses from the palace want Cinderella to come back? Why does the pumpkin get smashed? What if I had a mermaid tail?"

"Mommy, Jack says boo-dozer instead of bulldozer and cook-ahs instead of cookies."

"What if I was a my heart? If I was a superhero and Anastasia and Drizella ripped Cinderella's new dress, I would just fly on down and give her another one!"

I tell her that would be a nice thing to do.  I am sure Cinderella would appreciate that.

**Silence for about 30 seconds**

"Mommy? I feel like my bed isn't comfy enough. I feel like I need more pillows. I am just going to get my Keagan pillow pet (named after her cousin) and my ladybug pillow pet. I need to put my regular pillow over here because I don't want to see the lid of my dress up box."

She gets off her bed, retrieves the pillows and struggles to get back on while holding both pillows.

"I need a ladder for this bed! Look, what is this called if I stack my pillows on top of each other?"

I look and say "Really tall?"


I tell her no more talking it is time to go to sleep. I hear her suck her thumb and settle into her bed. Another 30 second bout of silence.

"Mommy?  Why does the prince in one of my books turn into a swan every night when he walks down the path?"

I tell her we can read that story tomorrow. It is time to be quiet now. Goodnight. I love you.

"Mommy? Why does Daddy step over my gate and you open it up? Elsa wears a cape with no hood, but Aurora's cape has a hood. Why does Marshmallow find Elsa's crown? Mommy? What if the earth had less gravity and I could jump really high?"

I don't answer her and it gets quiet. Several minutes pass. I think this may be it.

"Mommy? Why does Scrooge McDuck see a ghost? Did you see that doorknocker with Goofy's face? He was wearing a hair bow! Why did Goofy have chains? If you are a ghost you carry chains so they don't drag on the ground and get caught. Mommy? Why do mean people put chains on you that attach to the ground? So you can't use your powers?"

I say yes, Hans didn't want Elsa to use her powers and Malificent didn't want Prince Phillip to find Aurora.

"I feel like I need to snug with something purple, but my purple bear is too big. Do you need something to snug with?"

I say sure, I'll take the purple bear. She tosses the bear down to me. I tell her thanks and snug the bear.

"I wish I could have a husband for my Minnie soft thing. Do you think we could find one at the Disney store?"

I tell her we could probably find a Mickey soft thing if she wants to spend some of her piggy bank money on it.

"Why is Mickey Mouse on my Disney Cinderella book? Did Mickey Mouse make Disney?"

I tell her there was man named Walt Disney who invented Mickey Mouse and he uses Mickey as the Disney logo, just like Target and Ford and Chevrolet have logos.

"I think a shark is going to bite me in my room."

I tell her sharks need water to breathe and there is no water in her room, so there is no way a shark could be in her room.

"Yeah, but manatees need to come up to the surface to take a breath."

I say she is correct.

"Why is Spiderman Peter Parker when he doesn't wear his Spiderman outfit? What is Supergirl's name when she doesn't wear her Supergirl outfit?"

I tell her I don't know.

"But why? I think it is um... Tulip Rose. But, um, Mommy? I wish my ceiling was painted. Why is my room different than the other rooms in our house?"

I take a guess and say it is because her walls are purple. She agrees. I tell her again, no more talking. It is very very VERY late and it is time to go to sleep. Goodnight. I love you.

"Mommy? Love you."

There was no more talking, just the sound of her sucking her thumb and her breathing getting slower as she fell asleep.  Her rambling train of thought makes this mama's heart happy. I was curled up under a blanket and fell asleep too. I woke up about 20 minutes later with an aching shoulder but it was worth it. I know this time with her, the window of time when she actually wants me in her room and takes comfort in knowing I am near, is fleeting.  I know that one day I will blink and she will be a teenager.

I will take every moment like this that I can get.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

When an Adult Friendship Ends

Tomorrow is my birthday. The older I get, the more moody and reflective I become. I suppose this happens to everyone.  I think of birthdays of the past, and the good times and bad times I associate with each memorable birthday.  I think about my friends- life long friends, friends I have made as an adult, and those that over the years have drifted away from me.

I have a friend that I haven't spoken to in about 3 years give or take. Today I feel his absence, not because he always called me on my birthday, but because he notoriously forgot my birthday. He forgot a lot of people's birthdays and I used to remember them for him.  We became friends the summer I graduated from high school. One can't just erase a person like that from your life. We went through a lot of stuff together, all of the dramas and adventures of your late teens, twenty-somethings and into your thirties. We experienced an amazing amount of laughter and shared heartaches as well.   He was part of my family.  To make a very long story short, he got married and his wife was not comfortable with him having a close female friend.  I know that is a very tricky situation. I am lucky to have married a man that had no problem with me having a close male friend. I was open from the beginning of my relationship that I had a male friend that was one of the key players in my life. I know that the dynamic is different when a man has a close female friend, and it can be a bit of a double standard. 

A few years into their marriage, an ugly situation came about that led to our not speaking. We talked one day and then that was it. I haven't heard his voice since.  The break-up of our friendship started a huge transition period for me.  I started a new position at work that took me out of the office where I had worked for 8 years. I was in the early days of my second pregnancy. I went through a bit of a depression and really mourned the loss of the friendship. It was the first time I had broken up with a friend as an adult. As a kid, you pick up your toy and play with someone else and get over it. I wish it was that easy now. I was sad and I was angry. I placed a lot of blame on his wife.  Time has given me some perspective. I know that he had to make the decision that was best for his marriage, and I do not fault him for that.  I still have dreams where he makes an appearance, not as many as I used to, but it still happens. I yell at him a lot in those dreams and ask him why he is there.  The dreams rarely contain any laughter and that makes me sad. I miss his laugh. He has the best laugh when he really gets going. To hear a fit of giggles come out of such a big guy, man, it was the best.

I feel like too much time has passed now. He doesn't know anything about my kids, or what has been happening with my family and vice versa. We are separated by a sea of hurt feelings and time.  About a year ago, I was cleaning out my closet and found old letters and cards from him. I threw them away.  I didn't have any happy feelings tied to them any longer.  I don't even know what I would say if we did talk again, and it is probably best that we do not for the sake of his relationship.

But I do miss him from time to time.

Especially today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dying, Trick or Treat, Santa Claus, Jail and Ms. T

There is a new teacher at my kids' daycare that started in late October.  I will call her Ms. T.  She is not my daughter's primary teacher, but does spend time with her on occasion throughout the day. I liked her when I first met her because she remembered my kids' names immediately, was very friendly, and complimented my daughter's memory. The kid has a memory like a steel trap. She gets it from me, it is a blessing and a curse at times. Not long after Ms. T. started my daughter came home one day with this tidbit:

"Dying is when you go to sleep and you never wake up."
"Ummm, who told you that?"
"Ms. T. Ms.T doesn't have a mommy. Her mommy is dead. She went to sleep in the hospital and didn't wake up."

We have been fortunate enough that we have not had to explain dying to her yet. As far as she knows, hospitals are places to go to have babies and to get better if you are sick.  I was thrown off guard so I changed the subject as quickly as I could. It may have not been the best tactic, but it happened. As I was finishing up the dishes, she calls to me from the couch.

"Mommy, I am dying."

I walk around to find her lying on the couch with her eyes tightly squeezed shut.  I tell her that it is time to take a bath, get up and off of the couch.

"I am going to sleep and will never wake up."
"Come on, let's go, seriously, it is bath time. I am going upstairs."
"I can't. I am dying."

I start to walk up the stairs and she says in a sing-song voice, not moving from the couch,
"I'mmmmm stiiiiilllll DYYYY-ING!"
I have to pick her up off the couch and carry her upstairs, because you know, she is asleep and will never wake up.

Fast forward to Halloween.

"Ms. T. says you have to go trick-or-treating with your mommy or daddy because a bad man will try to take you and if he does you say NO as loud as you can."

This is good advice, but I don't think any three year olds would be going from house to house without an adult. This leads to my daughter getting scared and only wanting Daddy to take her trick-or -treating.

Fast forward to Christmas.

"Santa can be your mommy or your daddy or a man in a red suit."
"Who told you that?" I asked nonchalantly as I mentally faced palmed my forehead.
 I already knew the answer. Ms.T.

I talked to the daycare Director about Ms.T. I do really like her. She taught my daughter about verbs and compound words. I didn't want her to get in trouble, but I felt like I had to say something. I told the Director about the conversations that were had, and she said "Of all the kids it had to be your girl." They all know my daughter remembers anything and everything. The Director assured me she would talk to the staff as a whole and not single out Ms. T.

I thought we were in the clear.  Then, last Thursday as we are getting in the car after pick-up, this happens.

"Mommy, where is gel?"
"Gel? What do you mean gel?"
"Ms. T. says if you run around in the street the police will come and take you to gel."
Silent groan on my part..."Oh, you mean jail!"
"Yeah, jail. Where is jail?"

Soooooo, we aren't in the clear after all...