Tag Archives: babies

My Fault…

Standard

I thought I could go back to bed and lie there for a bit without incident. So, technically, I suppose it was my fault. But I heard everyone helping each other get breakfast. It sounded peaceable.

So, forty glorious minutes later I walk out. The weather’s perfect. It’s sunny. Even the introvert in me is charmed.

“Let’s go to the park,” I say, “Shoes on.”

At this moment in the hallway the little guy passes me holding a spoonful of milky cereal in front of his belly and marching into his bedroom. Curious, I follow him. Then I watch as he stops, calculates, throws said cereal onto the carpet, touches one foot on top of it delicately as if to evaluate his success and turns, I’m assuming, in order to get more.

Well, I stop that nonsense and on the way to the kitchen with the spoon I notice several other arrangements of cereal on the floor and realize this is an installation piece, probably entitled “Scourge of My Mother”. There is also one very wet towel lying in a square on the floor.

“Hey guys? What’s with the wet towel? Did he have an accident?”

“No, Mom, he spilled a cup of milk,” said the eldest.

“He did it on purpose. And it was my milk,” said the girl.

Mixed media.

(There are many moments like this when I’m glad I don’t have a nice place. I can’t stand how my kids treat my two-bedroom rental. What on earth would I do if they treated my dream-house this way?!)

I proceed into the kitchen. And the baby has tried to make a smoothie.

Here is a picture of that baby:

IMG_2564

I sigh and scrap my plans for the park. I place the baby in the tub (the only place he will remain contained) and wipe counters, do dishes, unload dishwasher so I can load dishes, start laundry from last night’s pee debacle(another long story), scrub and baking soda a square of carpet, sweep the kitchen, vacuum and four hours later it’s nap time and I’m sucking down coffee and eating some Go Diego Go cereal. For some subliminal reason I wanted some.

The first baby, that’s not anyone’s fault. You’re naive; you’ve never had a baby. You don’t know. The second one, well, that’s not technically your fault either. You and your husband have seven siblings between you. Let’s blame family culture. But three, well- the third one’s on you. You asked for three. This is on you.

Poop Part Two: Life of Poop…

Standard

So, we are potty training the baby. I remember with my first child praying about the potty training. I remember strategizing and having interminable patience. I remember having the epiphanic moment at the grocery store, slowly scanning the produce department, “Every single one of these people was potty trained by someone.”

Somewhere in between one and three whatever novelty there was to potty training has worn off and I’m left most of the time thinking, “This should be done by now. How come he’s not already potty trained? Wait, who’s supposed to be potty training him?”

He’s doing really well and today was a no-diaper day. I got home from work and Dad and baby happily reported no accidents. So proud. And then Dad left.

And now it is my turn. It is bed time. I am tired. It is still light outside and there are complaints from all children that they have to go to bed while it’s light. I explain AGAIN about how the light gets longer but our daily hours don’t change for two more weeks, only two more weeks! “When school’s out it’s going to be different, but for now we still have to wake up at six-thirty.” And waking everyone up was a killer this morning.

I think I’ve got everyone down. Then I hear, “Poop coming, Mama.” I run to find a tiny well-contained turd on the floor and rush the boy to the toilet. One additional tiny turd plops in the pot. There is excessive wiping with a yard of toilet paper that has been squashed into a sphere the size of a golf ball. The pajama pants are poopy enough that they go in the laundry. The boy goes back to bed and I entertain with slightly less patience another complaint of going to bed in the light.

(“Poopy enough” is a term utilized by parents of multiple children to indicate the item’s position past a threshold marker on a long gradient scale that moves in correlation with the inconvenience of adding anything to the laundry pile.)

Two minutes later, “Poop coming, Momma.” I come in to find a larger, yet, still-contained turd on the floor. This one left a trail down the leg. I wipe the leg clean. One additional turd in the potty later followed by excessive wiping and yet another pair of pajama pants. The boy is back in bed.

And yet again, “Poop coming, Momma.” This time we make it with the turd still firmly clenched between his butt cheeks. Now we sit on the potty. One tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. Three minute hiatus. Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. Three minute hiatus.

“Are you all done? No more poop?”
“No. Poop still coming.”

Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. Some gets on his fingers, he wipes it off on his shirt. I realize we’ll need a new shirt. I wipe the fingers.

Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. He lifts up his penis to see the poop. He gets pee on his hand and wipes it down his leg. I realize he is now dirty enough for a bath.

(“Dirty enough” is a term utilized by parents of multiple children to indicate a child’s contamination level past a certain threshold point on a long gradient that moves in correlation to the parents willingness to snuggle said child.)

Another tiny turd followed by excessive wiping. I try to explain how to wait and wipe just once at the end. He doesn’t buy it. I eye the dwindling roll of toilet paper and tell myself to let it go. Take your victories, leave some battles for later. One square to get the drip of pee off the tip of his penis. We flush to make sure we don’t clog the toilet.

Forty-five minutes later AND a bath AND an entire roll of toilet paper, a fourth pair of pajama pants, a new shirt, kisses, hugs, and covers, and we are in bed again.

It is now dark. No one is complaining about going to bed. The girl is already asleep.

And I realize again that the two greatest things I may ever do in this world are teaching three human beings to read and teaching three human beings to poop on the potty.

The Multitasking Poop Post (Contains Expletives)…

Standard

I just had the poop sucked back into me. I’ve been having trouble with my bowels and have also been sick for a few days. I was looking forward to a satisfying poop. And I’m sitting there on the potty and my two-and-a-half-year-old is climbing into the tub and my five year old girl is in the room getting naked on top of my feet and my seven year old has a book open in the doorway trying to get me to commit to the type of tree that is growing in his pot (breaking news: it’s a weed, not the peach pit or the plum pit or the apple seed you planted in the backyard. “But MOM, I’m pretty sure it’s a peach tree.” “It’s not a peach tree. I’ve seen lots of peach trees. We used to have four peach trees. They have long thin leaves that can be slightly fuzzy.” “This one HAS fuzzy leaves, Mom!”) And I had to tell my daughter to please go take her collection of clothes off of my feet and into the room where they go and her brother beaned her for fun on her way through the door and she yells at him and the oldest is shoving the book in my face and the water is roaring into the bathtub next to me and my long slow comfortable poop climbed back inside my rectum and said, “Well, then, I think we’ll just stay in here.” Yes. Yes, Poop. I would, too. I would go hide in that quiet dark place, too, if I could.

I’m writing this post about multitasking. I began about two hours ago and have had to stop for innumerable reasons: unloading the dishwasher so I can load the dishwasher, washing the banana off the kid-scissors. finding the banana from this morning in the colored pencils, cleaning poop out of the bathtub, assuring my eldest that I have cleaned the baby’s poop out of the bathtub, singing Aladdin Jr. songs to the baby for twenty minutes in hopes he squeezes the rest of the poop into the potty, wading through two giant north american classification tomes trying to prove this damn weed, picking up all the baby wipes that were thrown at sister, crying for a minute with sister (she had her reasons I had mine). I mean…

I hate the way my brain is on Facebook. I tell my kids that you are good at what you practice and I practice the Facebook bounce, boy, do I. Political essay, kitten video, necessary social justice article, pictures of Kate and William and the babies, the latest Jimmy Fallon video, don’t vote for so-and-so article, photo of a sunset, vaccinate your kids, totally meaningless sentimental meme, blah, blah, blah… an hour later, AN HOUR LATER!?!?

They used to say multitasking was a good thing. Those were supposed to be the capable talented people. But now we’re learning that human beings aren’t supposed to multitask. Human beings are supposed to concentrate on one damn thing at a time, like pooping. We’re supposed to sit on the toilet and poop in one giant unified movement of bowels and brain. I have never been a multitasker, most creative people aren’t. Multitasking is very very bad for creative people. You need to sit with a thought or an idea. You need to let ideas tumble on top of each other organically. It get’s crazy busy up there.

Only now I’m a mom so now when my brain begins a blog post, for example, and I’m thinking about what I want to write I have to stop because some weed grew exactly where my son remembers planting a pit or a seed last fall and it is now in a pot on my kitchen window sill.

Motherhood makes you a multitasker by necessity. And now that I have three and they are each older with unique trains of thought on different rails (and this includes the little guy now, too. He’s verbose dammit.) my train keep jumping tracks a zillion times and, well, my life is a giant Facebook bounce all fucking day long and that’s why a stupid hour can go by without me realizing I’ve only been scrolling Facebook because this is what I practice!

So, I’ve been having trouble with my bowels, like I’ve said. Last week I actually went to the doctor. And then within two minutes of telling her my symptoms she pops out with, “Well, we’ll do the medical tests just to make sure we can rule things out, but did you know they call the intestines the second brain?” No. Who? Who is calling the intestines the second brain? I’ve watched every single season of ER, House, and Grey’s Anatomy and no one has ever referred to the intestines as the second brain. At any rate, she then says, “You’re stressed.”

“I’m stressed?”

“What do you do to relax?”

“Well, I’m a creative type, so it really depends. If I have hours or a day, even, I—“

(I just had to go take a break to change a poopy diaper because I put the baby in a diaper at bedtime. He was so coy.)

As I was saying, “I’m a creative type so if I have hours or days I might try to write or paint but if I have less than that it can actually be more frustrating than ever starting in the first place.”

“So, what do you do if you have less than an hour?”

I kinda laugh, “Uh, well, the same thing as anybody, I guess, have a drink, eat some cookie dough and watch a show.”

That’s when she made me take the depression test. It was this basic ten question test that any mother would fail, I mean, am I tired? Do I overeat or not eat? (YES.) Do I ever feel guilty? (Uh…)

And she brought in a very nice therapist for me to talk to and THEN they heard more about my life and THEN they agreed that it was indeed stress. I felt horrible. How can I claim stress? I’m really happy with my job, my kids’ school. I get to do this awesome school play. My husband is actually very helpful. Everyone’s in good health. I don’t overcommit; I have no problem saying “no”. My kids have zero activities outside of school. What a luxury for this white American mom with a full fridge to have nervous bowels because of stress?!

But maybe, they said, stress doesn’t have to be big or hard or negative things, just lots of things. Well, I have lots of things. Yes, they said, you have lots of things.

And my wise boss lady, when I told her about it later said, “You’re thinking about the stressors you don’t have because you live in this culture, but don’t forget that this culture does come with a lot of stressors of its own. A person in Kenya has a sky full of stars and not a lot of options. You have a few stars and are inundated by a surplus of options every where you go.”

(And now, would you believe that the moment the kids go to bed I need to poop again. It was a nice comfortable poop. I lit a candle, for ambience!, and now I am typing by candlelight.)

A multitude of options has always been stressful to me. (Remind me to tell you the story of how I broke down weeping all over my stoic Japanese advisor during freshman registration. “There’s[heave]too many[heave]classes[heave]that I want[heave]to take.” It’s a good one.)

I love my job. I love my kids. I love a lot of things. I have a lot of interests. And the feeling like I need to be creating goes with me everywhere. I KNOW I am grateful. I guess I am stressed. And according to ten questions I am also “moderately depressed”. I also have a higher blood pressure than I usually have. And I am also the thinnest I’ve ever been which is slightly alarming considering all that cookie dough.

Anyway, reader, here I am, trying to figure it out. Trying to un-Facebook-bounce my very bouncy life. (Which is a little like being the one person of five who stops jumping on a trampoline, don’t you think?)

Fever Dreams…

Standard

I’ve been sick this week and it has been horrible. I came home from church on Sunday feeling weak and achey. I gave out walking in the door. I crawled into bed and for the next two days had weird fever dreams about snorkeling in the Bahamas and getting hit on by a young and over confident Bill Nye the Science Guy.(?!) Because the universe is efficient, my period began on Monday which lent a delightful sensation to every hacking fit. I was dying and I had the blood to prove it.

There were a lot of fun things that I had to miss. There were a lot of necessary things that I had to miss. Nothing like a flu to drastically reprioritize your day.

But the baby was sick, too, so we were low energy together. Which, as any parent will tell you, is MUCH better than being sick trying to watch a healthy two-and-half-year-old hell bent on frying his own egg, “YOLKY EGG!”.

So, we crawled into Mommy’s bed and slept, a wolf and her cub curled up in the cool dim of a den, hiding away. He fell asleep on my chest like he used to, like he’s almost too big to do anymore, like he might never do again. It’s enough to say that even in the midst of all the aches and coughing I noticed it and was grateful.

That is twice this year that I have been sicker than I have been in a long time. And it has not made for proud Barbara moments. I’m ashamed to admit that both times I came to a point very quickly where I wanted to die. “No, no, Barbara,” I say to myself curled around a bucket on the floor, “You don’t mean that at all. You want to see graduations, and weddings, and grandchildren!” “No, I really think I’d rather die.” “You’re being overdramatic.” “Probably? Hold on, let me check… no, of all the things you mentioned the sudden and immediate cessation of THIS sounds best, let’s go with that one.” I mean, that’s just sad, people. S-A-D.

But I’m feeling better. I still can’t do much. For example, I started watching Jimmy Fallon clips on you tube last night and just didn’t stop them. Two-and-a-half hours later… TWO-AND-A-HALF HOURS. And tonight I’m popping banana chips and contemplating another episode of my new favorite BBC detective show (Foyle’s War!). Things are looking up.

We’ll chat more. This can be a Part 1. Part 2 may be titled, “Further Revelations of the Fever”.

Ibtissam…

Standard

Her name means smile.  And boy does she have a good one! I met her once before, months ago, on the playground around the corner and we stumbled along in French. I’ve since tried to ring her door bell a few times but we haven’t managed to find each other.  Until two weeks ago.

She was at the park by the kids’ school. I recognized her underneath her hijab and we began at once just where we left off. By the sometimes miracle of six months, our babies were actually old enough to play without our ever-intervention.  So we chatted along in French in the sunshine, with the line of Presidio trees rising along our shoulders to the left, the city blinking bright below us on the right.

I noticed a woman watching us and edging closer.  I turned to her and smiled.  She stepped over.  Our French had reached her ears and she came to sit by us.  As it would turn out she just moved from Paris six months ago. She introduced us to her darling baby and confessed to knowing no one, a couple French families, she said, but no Americans. We exchanged numbers and promised to have coffee.

I was going to walk back and invited Ibtissam to walk with me.  She went one step further and invited us into her apartment for a full Moroccan tea.

Like any hostess she apologized for the mess and hastily moved toys aside. Her two daughters played with my three kids. And we talked happily while she set out cookies in beautiful little crystal dishes.  She showed me how to scoop the mint and tea into a pot, how to steep it and how much sugar to add.  We had a feast of peanuts and pistachios, beautiful butter cookies dipped in chocolate, and little gold rimmed glasses of sweet hot Moroccan mint tea. When those were finished off (by many little fingers besides our own) she got out two beautiful flat disks of homemade bread and olives in oil for dipping.

We ate and talked well into the dinner hour and as it was getting dim we tore ourselves away. We had talked about the similarities between Lent and Ramadan. We had shared about our faiths. We had talked about the loneliness of motherhood. And we had shared what makes us ourselves outside of these domestic spheres. “This,” she said, spreading her hands, “Sitting like this with friends. This is what I love.”

I am thankful for the gift of language that has enabled me to get to know one of these beautiful mothers. And I am thankful for this experience that has forever changed how I see the women underneath the hijab.