(enters small, dark wooden box, with silhouetted man on other side of screen)
Forgive me, for it has been 2 weeks since my last blog.
(enter years of Catholic guilt piling up to only be rectified by a few prayers, a dry wafer and a lot of holy wine)
That’s it! I’ve been drunk for 2 weeks.
I WISH! I think that’s called vacation. College? RAGBRAI! Alas I’ve been mostly confined to the 4 walls I call home that sits nestled behind a car dealership just a short jaunt from the expressway. If I close my eyes hard enough, it’s just like the sound of the ocean.
I live in Illinois, folks, work with me.
Is this thing on? Because I’d like to blame this silence on something. Microphone malfunction. Laptop broken. Internet down? Certainly the silence is not my fault. I’ll blame it on the weather (yup, still winter!), my child (pretty sure he’s been sick for at least 4 weeks now), my husband (when all else fails blaming the husband is just too easy), the dog (know what – I’m gonna kick him too).
Put all of that together and you get the collective package I call…
It’s been busy. And I’ve got dozens of thoughts running mad circles in my head. Know what I need? A ghostwriter. Someone to just write the blog for me. What do they call those people who take dictation. I need one of them. Can I scribble a bunch of thoughts on a coffee shop napkin and have someone piece it together into something eloquent and blogworthy? Come on. Someone needs a job out there. I pay well!
FINE, I’ll do it myself. I’ve got some freetime which means I’ve locked myself in the bathroom, yes actually closed the door and demanded that no living thing is within 10 feet of me for AT LEAST 10 minutes. As a parent this rarely happens. At least 90 percent of the time I am naked or making potty in front of something and….oh god. Did you hear that? I just said making potty. I have not only lost my dignity but my marbles. I’ve started talking in parental kidspeak.
But it could be worse. I could be babysigning.
Speaking of BABY!
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…
(in this scene, the subject briefly leaves the kitchen to get a towel to wipe the child’s mouth)
(in this next scene, the subject turns her head to look outside to locate the dog who has gone missing for the last 20 minutes)
(in this final scene, the subject makes a desperate attempt to momentarily leave the child so she can just take a pee already)
There you have it.
It’s not like I’m going exciting places, people. I am simply going somewhere else to meet the child’s needs. And the moment I turn, he screams. Repeat for roughly 12 hours of the day. I read that separation anxiety starts to make an appearance around 9 months. Max is now approaching 10 months and has decided that he will not skip through the separation anxiety phase. He will embrace it with open arms and sit himself on the floor, every time I turn away, with arms raised over head while screaming mamamamamamamama in the most annoyingly cute way ever.
And that is how children get their way.
Know what makes it stop? The pacifier. Tool of the devil, I agree. Yet, when pinned against the devil and peace-and-quiet-or-just-the-opportunity-to-take-a-pee, I’ll admit:
I’ve sold my soul.
Along with this phase comes a new behavior I call “the anti-nap.” I’m guessing that most of this is Max waking up 30 minutes into his nap and realizing – GASP – I’m not there. I’m never there but until now I don’t think his brain could process that. It’s true, in this phase they become aware that they are a separate person from you and –
That’s pretty scary.
He’s becoming his own little person. He has opinions. He is not afraid to voice them. Being strapped into the stroller, wearing a hat, having his nose wiped: not a fan. HE CAN SHAKE HIS HEAD! He echoes what we say. He has conversations with us. He babbles, we babble, he babbles back. He stiffens his body into a concrete slab of protest to tell us I DON’T LIKE THAT. Occasionally he bursts into tears upon hearing the word no, that’s how I know he’s listening. And – learning.
All of this evolution of going from strange baby form to person is amazing. It gets you connected to your kid. Because, honestly, sometimes you look at your baby and think…alien? They don’t talk, they don’t say thank you, they don’t notice when you leave the room. And then all of a sudden one day it changes. They become more human, more real.
Ah, enter good parenting endorphins.
Good parenting endorphins happen all day long. Make no mistake there are some shaky moments throughout the day that are downright frustrating but in general, parenting feels good. It’s the feeling of falling in love. You get googly-eyed. You think about them. I still look at him and think – I cannot believe he’s mine. Sometimes I watch him laying in his crib at night and say to myself “that is my son.” It’s like pinching yourself. Yes, it’s real. It makes you want to have a dozen more children and in your head you start naming them until you remember the fact that you didn’t sleep for 6 months.
It can wait.
Sometimes I step back and can’t believe I’ve spent nearly a year parenting. Like training, the more you do it, the fitter and faster you get at it. I can put a diaper on with one hand before the child even has time to think of rolling over. I like to think I’m getting better at parenting. Yet there are moments in my day where I think to myself that no matter what someone does they will never be prepared for parenting.
I found myself deep in this thought while sitting on the kitchen floor last week, Friday, at 12 pm, still in my pajamas, meowing at my son with a kitty tub toy on top of my head. We were playing. And as often playtime goes with Max, he is laughing and I am…looking like a complete ass.
This was the culmination of a week of something I was not prepared for: Rotavirus. If your child gets this, do yourself a favor: get a box of gloves, a face mask, cover all bedding in plastic and wear a rain slicker. Every time he ate or drank he either pooped or puked. It was kind of like being with a drunk friend but a lot less fun.
In situations where I have no idea what to do, I call the nurse at the pediatrician’s office. She warns me the diarrhea can last an entire week.
Holy sh**………A WEEK OF THIS!?
I got off the phone with a pit of ON NO in my stomach. I’m not sure you can truly appreciate the destructive properties of poop until you put your shoe into it while you are standing in the bathtub with your fully clothed child because you’re not quite sure where else to begin. Once wasn’t enough. We did this several times throughout the week. In fact, it’s safe to say Max has enough bath’s banked up for the next month.
When your child is sick you realize that when it comes to raising another human being, there are times you have no fucking clue what to do. If he can’t eat, what do you feed him? If he can’t drink, how do you keep him alive? God invented Pedialtye for such situations. Grape Pediatlyte – super yummy. Like grape jello. Might not be a bad part of an Ironman hydration plan. When I found Chris “polishing off” the bottle of orange Pedialyte, I knew I was not the only crazy one.
Eventually, time exorcised the demons from Max’s pooper. He felt better and returned to his normal “fun” personality. Unfortunately he seems to get sick every other week so there’s a lot of unfun in there too. The most recent unfun: kennel cough. We don’t know where he got the cough from but he coughs – ALL NIGHT LONG. It’s true what they say, kids get sick – a lot. I seem to get a mini version of whatever Max has too. Go through this enough times and you find yourself wanting to shake someone by their neck when they come around you and say “I’m sick”. You feel like calling them up when your foot is in poo and screaming you couldn’t stay home, could you, you had to infect the rest of the world because whatever you were doing was so damn important!
Yeah, you get a little bitter. But only because you’ve spent your day trapped in the house for fear that the minute you’ll leave, the diaper will explode and you’ll literally be shit out of luck.
The irony is: I never anticipated any of this. I used to think I knew what I was getting myself into. I’ve taken care of kids all my life. I know what I’m doing! That is nonsense. You sort of know if you have a dog because at some point that dog was a puppy and probably shit itself in the crate in the middle of the night or ate an iPhone. It’s sort of like that but not really. You don’t know it until you’re in it. And when you’re in it you think to yourself – this is why no one tells you about this. Any teenager thinking of having a kid should spend a week watching a baby with Rotavirus. Add to that some teething and you’ve got yourself some solid birth control.
Those are the rough moments of motherhood. But there are far more highs. In fact, the yearly highlight of being a mother – no, it’s not the day you convince your husband that plastic surgery will make you a much better wife/mother/person to live with – it’s Mother’s Day. I got to celebrate my first mother’s day last weekend. I thought about how life has changed, how I have changed in the space of one year. One year ago I was huge (and my mom gets great pleasure in reminding me how huge I was: you were huge, Elizabeth, HUGE) and waiting. I was also hot. I remember getting hot in April and pretty much staying that way until I night sweated out the pregnancy hormones 3 days post-partum. I remember feeling all googly-eyed about Chris because that’s what parents-to-be do. You fall in love all over again, the relationship deepens, you forget about every dropped sock, they forget about every time you backed into the other car on the driveway. I remember the feeling of waiting. Waiting for Max.
Flash forward (snap out of dreaming, yes, I’m still in the bathroom with the door closed and no one has bothered me which is either a miracle or a sign that something has gone terribly wrong outside the door). Max is here. It’s been 10 months. Wait a minute….it’s only been 10 months? You mean I’ve got 17 more years of this? Maybe more if he decides to take some time off college to find himself? What comes after separation anxiety…walking? Tantrumming? Driving the car? Too soon for that…?
I try not to get too far ahead of myself. The other day I thought too far ahead and realized that one day he will be in school and need help doing homework and THIS is why I should have paid attention in history class. Spanish class. Science, math and English. Which means the only class I paid attention in was….gym.
One day at a time. Like one mile at a time, one foot in front of the other. Yeah, I learned something from all that training. And now it’s time to emerge back into daily life. Which means I’m going to open the bathroom door now and…
MOMMY WILL BE RIGHT THERE, SHE’S MAKING POTTY.
God help my adult verbal skills.
Along with my waistline pre-pregnancy, they seem to have gone missing.
But I’m hopeful in 17 years, both will come back!