Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just How Lame Am I?

Here's a pop quiz, just to see how well you know me.

How sadly, embarrassingly, craptacularly lame am I? So much so that...

A: Not only am I still nursing Matilda (something is in and of itself not a source of embarrassment), but, at 18 months old, I am still nursing her to sleep (that is). From the time she was born, she was in our bedroom, and I've always nursed the babies to sleep when they were little. Zachary took to the pacifier right away, and Ezra decided it was pure gold around his first birthday, but Matilda has never thought it was anything more than slightly amusing--definitely not comforting. Around her first birthday, it seemed like time to put my foot down and insist that she learn to put herself to sleep. But then construction started and Ezra was moved into our bedroom with her for the duration; it was hard enough to get them both to sleep at all, never mind if she was fussy because she didn't get to nurse to sleep. Almost as soon as the construction ended, we left for a vacation--11 days in a pop-up camper together, again not time to insist that she learn to put herself to sleep. Now we're home, and she's in her own room, and it would seem to be the time. But she's decided that now is the time for teething and unexplained diarrhea, plus the fact that my husband fell on some rocks and seriously damaged his shoulder. So anything that leads in the direction of a good night's sleep ranks above theories about parenting. But seriously, at this rate, I'll be having to stop into her kindergarten class to nurse her before rest time. It's getting out of hand.

B: Back in March, I slipped up a flight of stairs and broke my wrist. Fortunately it's my right wrist and I'm left handed. But that was not fun, having to explain over and over again that no, I'm not being mistreated in any way, I honestly fell up a flight of stairs and did this to myself. It's healed fine, but it still gets sore sometimes, especially when it's expected to sit in a position under pressure for more than about ten minutes, like, say, when I'm nursing Matilda to sleep for the second time that night. Then that mother aches like nobody's business, and all I want is to move it so it will stop hurting, but I know that if I do, she will wake up and all hell will break loose. And it's all because I can't climb a flight of stairs like a normal person.

C: I can't boil an egg. I can boil water and put an egg in it and take it out a while later, but no matter what I do, I always end up with slightly soft-boiled eggs that I then have to peel and put in the microwave because, of course, you don't know that it's soft-boiled until you peel it and it feels too soft, and at that point, you're not really going to start the water boiling process all over at the beginning. I honestly feel like I end up pulling out "The Joy of Cooking" every time I want a hard-boiled egg, and it's really ridiculous. Maybe I need to laminate the instructions and tape them to the inside of the refrigerator so that at least I can pretend that I can boil a damn egg without instructions. Or maybe I can try to convince the kids that eggs are supposed to be that way, that there was something wrong with all the hard-boiled eggs they've ever seen and eaten, and that Mommy's way is actually superior in a way she can't quite articulate.

or D: All of the above.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I want my baby back, baby back, baby back

Part of me misses my old film camera. It was just so simple. You take pictures, then (eventually, perhaps years later) you take them in and have them developed. Then you have film and pictures. How simple! How tactile!

Now I have this (lovely) digital camera. And it's so strange. In the same way that Mp3s and even CDs are weird and scary to me because really, how to they get sound onto that and how do they get it out, and how many ways are there to break it? I'm a little leery of the camera's memory card. So when we got home from our vacation, I immediately thought, "I must transfer all those photos to the computer." You know, so that I can forget to order prints and spend the next several hours messing with Picasa to get them just so.

And this is the first photo that shows up on the memory card:

That's Matilda, who will be 18 months old on September 3rd. There are 62 photos still in the camera from that day and the next, the day she was born, the first time her daddy held her, the first time she met her brothers, the first time she saw her grandpa. And I can't seem to get rid of them. They're in the computer (probably in several places) and backed up on another memory card, just in case. And somewhere I have prints. But there's something about deleting them from the memory card in the camera that I can't handle. Is it that if I delete the pictures, that time is gone for good? Is it that if anything happened to the pictures, I'm afraid I would lose that precious memory? I had no such problems with the film when the boys were born. I developed the pictures, then stuck the film in a drawer.

This is the picture that I actually wanted to show you:

While we were on vacation, Ezra got really into pooping on the potty. This is a pretty big deal, since, though he's been pretty good--if not reliable--about peeing in the potty, poop has been harder to come by. And at the same time, Matilda has decided she must spend all day, every day putting on clothes. So it logically follows that as soon as we got home from our camping trip, Ezra had to pull out his coveted shark underpants and prove that he is big enough to wear them, by spending all his time on the potty. (Which is way easier now that going potty doesn't involve pulling three kids in the wagon half a mile to the bathrooms.) And Matilda took that opportunity to swipe and put on the shark underpants. They're both so very proud of their accomplishments!

Zachary goes to first grade in a week and a half. Ezra is now officially too big for me to carry up the stairs. Sometimes I wonder if I really do let Matilda get away with more than I let the boys do at her age; my husband insists that it's true. And if so, is it because she's a girl and there's some secret sexist in me who can't stop her? Is it, as I sometimes think, because of the way she came to be with us? She was a surprise, one of those "Oh my god, what are we going to do now?" surprises. And I don't ever, ever want her to feel like she is anything less than the perfect completion of our family. Or is it just that I can feel these years, these baby years, slipping away, and I can't stand to let go just yet? How is it possible that the waxy, cranky little thing I see in that picture has already turned into this person who wants to dress herself all day and prefers one cup over another?

Maybe I'll hold onto the pictures a little longer, since I clearly can't keep the babies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What would happen if a 17-month-old drank most of a can of Pepsi?

Seriously... does anyone know? Because I left a can on the coffee table and then got wrapped up in some baked on crap on a cookie sheet, and the next thing I know, Ezra's walking into the kitchen telling me that he thinks Matilda is drinking pop. And then Zachary appears with a nearly empty can and tells me he got it from her hand. And when I go out to the living room, she's looking especially bright-eyed and her shirt and pants are soaked and she smells like baby and Pepsi.

Though I'm not a health food nazi, I don't give my kids caffeinated soda; so other than whatever is in the occasional M&M, she's never had caffeine. I'm worried. Very, very worried.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Does this mean I'm crazy?

I love the word "vicious." As a total word geek (when I was little and learning to read, I actually used to see the words people were saying up over their heads, like a green running caption), it always reminds me of "viscous." So instead of a "vicious rumor," I always picture something slimy and slow-moving, which is much more humorous.

There is this joke: Micky and Minnie Mouse are in counseling, and after Micky explains the reasons they're there, the therapist says, "I understand you're upset, but I don't think it will help to call her crazy." To which Mickey replies, "I didn't say she was crazy. I said she was fucking Goofy!" I think of this joke every single time I am forced to watch "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse."

I had a dream the other night that I wrote a song called "God is an Atheist." It was a huge hit. Then, because I apparently have no scruples in my dreams, I sold the rights to my song to a right-wing religious group, which changed the lyrics to "God is a Christian." I woke up and thought this was such an odd thing to "come to me in a dream," as it were, and I couldn't possibly be the first person to have come up with this phrase. Thanks to Google, I know I'm not. It got over 7,000 hits, including an actual popular song, which I had never heard of before.

Am I watching too much late-night drama on TV, or spending too much time with only small children and myself for company?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


My cell phone just rang. My cell phone never rings. Everyone knows that I'm always home, and I never answer it anyway. I have it so I can call from the grocery store and ask what that other thing was that I was supposed to get. So there I was finding my purse, which I had left on the kitchen table, then struggling with the zipper, because Ezra decided to be helpful and zip it (I have never zipped my purse, and now I know why). Then I had to find the phone in the recesses of the purse, while it blared "Flight of the Bumblebee" at me. I finally found it and saw "mom-cell" on the display. Of course. She's the only one, other than the occasional telemarketer, who calls that number.

I answered it and was told, "Jeanne is gone."

One of my mom's oldest friends, she was diagnosed with cancer about a year ago. Particuarly because of its unspecified origin, they attacked it with everything the local hospital and the Mayo Clinic had. And a couple of months ago, she started to improve. I should have realized she had merely been granted more time (of course, isn't that all we ever have? never all the time in the world, only more than right now, if we are lucky). She was able to attend a famliy reunion, spend time with her sons and grandchildren, and go on an annual trip with her girlfriends to the Boundary Waters. Then the cancer regained its strength and slowly took all hers. Last week they decided it was time to stop treatment, to let go, to get ready to let her go.

I am full of grief for my mom, for Jeanne's children and her dear grandchildren. For her husband, whose great joy in life has been sharing a tandem bike with his wife--now left without a partner. I am soberly reminded that there are no guarantees, that even "remission" does not mean "cured." That a time will come when I must say my goodbyes as well.

But while I think these things, life goes on. Matilda insists that she must eat noodles like the big kids, which not only means using silverware, but for some reason, eating them directly off the serving spoon. So one noodle after another goes onto the spoon, then she spends most of a minute trying to slurp it off with her lips. Ezra eats his favorite lunch with unbridled enthusiasm, saying things like "Thanks, Pishy, Pishy," then laughing hysterically. Zachary shows me that he has indeed eaten his broccoli and then is excused to go play with his new Batcave, where I hear him telling stories to himself about buying gas and never stopping until the job is done.

I am sad, but oh so happy. For in the same moment, my heart is full of aching grief for a mourning family--and aching gratitude for the family I have.