Tag Archives: Mom

The Multitasking Poop Post (Contains Expletives)…

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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?)

Things My Daughter Says…

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So, if you haven’t picked this up, then let me tell you that my four-year-old daughter is a force.

She said to me, “Mom, on Valentine’s Day can you say ‘yes’ to everything?”
“Ha, no, sweetie,” I said.
“Why not?”
“I’m not a good Mom if I say yes to everything.”
“Why not?”
“Well, you gotta learn how to handle ‘no’,” I said.
“Why?”
“Because you’re going to hear ‘no’ in life at some point or another.”
“No, I’m not,” she said.

This is very indicative of who she is. And I find myself wondering if it’s indicative of who she will be. She said it so firmly I actually wondered if she were right. I mean, life might say “no”, but if history is any indicator, she won’t hear the word. Ha ha.

For example, two days ago I noticed her standing in the middle of the floor on her favorite princess storybook, the binding of which is dangerously close to giving up the long hard work of keeping the pages together.

So, I said, “Honey, step off the book before you break it.”
“But I want to break it.”
“Oh, you don’t want it anymore?”
“No,” she said.
“Alright, we’ll give it to another little girl who wants it,” I said.
“Okay.”
“Great, put it by the front door on the bench so I can take it out.”
“Okay.”

A moment later, “Mom, I put the book on the bench for you.”

All of this makes her a difficult four-year-old. And, yet, all of this is going to make her an extraordinary adult.

Hear me, Mommas! There is an upside to having a strong-willed child! I’ll let you know what it is when I get there!

So, this evening, I’m clinging to the big picture. There’s an end game out there and, meantime, in my current moment there’s chocolate ice cream and a cocktail. So, we’re good.

My Birthday Present…

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Yesterday was my birthday.

The day before I had to run to the local pharmacy. So, the kids giggled and whispered and ransacked their piggy banks to come with me and buy me a present.

I found myself wanting to tell them “no”. No, save your money. Don’t spend your Christmas money on me. Just draw me a picture or make me a card or something.

But then I thought, okay, I do things for them all the time. I can let them do something for me.  I can let them see how they are useful, thoughtful and needed. I can let them feel their power to affect good for those around them.

And, really, this is actually the sort of behavior I want to encourage. I do want my adult children to remember my birthday and do something thoughtful for me. And since I’m not the sort of fool who thinks this sort of behavior automatically springs out of an eighteen year old heart, well, then now is the best time, when naturally outpouring from their generous little hearts, to build the habit. So, I let them bring their monies in plastic baggies.

At the store I found what I needed while my daughter followed my son from aisle to aisle looking at all their options. Four little eyes kept peaking around end caps and warning me to stay away. At one point my son discovered the gift cards and was super excited.

He brought up a $25 gift card to Starbucks valiantly trying to cover the logo.

“How much is this, Mom?” he asked.

“Too much to spend on me for my birthday,” I said.

“Mom, what does 5 P-C-S mean?”

“Five pieces,” I said, trying not to see the five-pack of alligator clips in his hand.

“Mom, do you like skittles?”

“Yes, I do like skittles.”

I walked over to the cashier after purchasing what I had come for.

“They’re looking for a birthday present for me,” I said, “So, can you help them a little bit with the money?”

The cashier nodded and I walked a distance away.

I finally hear my kids decide and stealthily maneuver the present up to the register. I am able to see just the tops of their heads and the back of the cashier as they buy it.

“It’s a surprise, so can you not let her see it?” my son asks the cashier.

“Yeah,” she said, “I’ll put it in this bag.”

They all look over at me conspiratorially to make sure I can’t see.

Please, let them not spend too much on me! Please, don’t let it be the alligator clips! I would definitely have to wear them and I hate wearing alligator clips!

There was an exchange of monies. Some coins were counted out.

“One more of those,” the cashier said.

And then they were done. My son was slightly blanched as we walked to the car.

“She made him give her six of his paper monies, Mom,” said my daughter in an awed sort of tone.

“It was $5.99,” my son says a little gravely.

“Well, I feel really special for you to spend your money on me,” I said.

“I’m so excited to give it to you,” he said.

“I can’t wait!” I say. Whatever it is I will love it.

Yesterday, on awaking, I was instructed to stay in bed while they worked on their surprise.

After a while I was escorted into their room. All of their animals sat in a color-coded rainbow around their room. They had set up their legos in birthday panoramas on the dresser. And on top of a blanket artfully looking like a tablecloth across the toy chest was a paper birthday cake with candles and a “35” on it, and next to it, was my present.

Chewbaca singing a birthday song

Chewbaca singing a birthday song

“Do you want to open it now?” My son asked.

“Yes,” I said, “Can I open it now?”

I opened my son’s stellar wrapping job (really, he does a very good job) and what do I see? A 60 pack of hair bands, the same kind I always use, in a rainbow of options.

“I got you 60-P-C-S, Mom,” he said.

“I love it!” I said, “This is exactly the kind I always get! How thoughtful of you!”

“We got you all the colors because we know you like all the colors,” my daughter said.

“Now, you can pick whatever color you want. And if you lose one, there are two or three more of the same color,” my son says, “Look, there’s even skin color.”

I am so proud of these thoughtful human beings. I am proud of my son when he feels that wince and buys the present anyway. I am so glad I let him spend $5.99 on me.

I can’t help but think about how similar I must seem to my heavenly father. How he lets me give to him. How he takes pleasure in my meager gifts. How much I wince sometimes before I give him service, but feel the pleasure all the same. God doesn’t need me to give to him, but he wants me to give to him.

I will now be making a big to-do every day as I pick out what color to wear. For sure, I won’t have to buy anymore for a few years. And thank goodness it wasn’t the alligator clips!

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Family Game Night…

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Norman Rockwell always makes it look good, doesn’t he? He draws the family eating and, yes, someone’s feeding the dog under the table and, yes, someone’s getting awkwardly squished between a couple of over affectionate great-aunts, but it’s lovely, because it’s … what? Beautiful? Americana? Reality? Well, allow me to play Norman Rockwell for a moment and paint you the picture of our evening.

James and I ran some errands with the kids this afternoon. We hit five stores in an hour and a half so, really, we were doing quite well.

We even managed to get home at the right time to start dinner. Of course, as any mother of small children will tell you, there is no right time to start dinner. In my experience it is impossible to get food in the mouth of a child before they are “starving”. It is actually hopeless because whenever you start cooking, they will still smell the cooking before it is done.

But, I was doing ok. I was cooking. I was cleaning as I went along. To be sure, there was a LOT of screaming going on in the background, a few time-outs were being doled, but it was mostly out of the kitchen if not behind sound proof doors. And then, my eighteen month old has learned how to move the stools around. So now, you turn around and when you turn back there’s a baby trying to stir the pot or pull the knife into his face, for example. Basically I was Shiva in the kitchen this evening trying to have three arms to baby’s two.

And then I snapped. I yelled. My husband got the ol’ “Why aren’t you in here helping me?!?!?!” bit. I honestly can’t remember passing the point where I realized I needed help. I went straight from “I got this” to “I needed your help five minutes ago”, straight there.

So dinner began with Mom delivering a four point apology:

“I’m sorry I snapped.”

“It was wrong because no matter how angry I am I should still speak to you with respect.”

“In the future I will try to recognize my breaking point before I get there and take a deep breath before I speak.”

“Will you forgive me?”

Everyone said yes. It seemed to me that my husband said it rather smugly, but that’s probably just me.

So then we decide to ice the cake, so to speak, and make it a family game night.

My six-year-old picks Blockus, a fantastic game requiring four players and about a zillion tiny pieces.

It was a bit of a disaster. The eighteen month old was continually wedging himself into any portion of empty chair he could find and diving at the board. We were pushing chairs in and passing water glasses across the table in a sort of baby avoidance dance we are rather practiced in at this point of our marriage. After about eight rounds the baby slowly picked up a piece and when I went to take it away he released it, dove for the board and finally succeeded in casting the pieces asunder.

As we pulled him away he yelled something sounding very much like, “Attack!”

We began again. My four-year-old was losing interest fast which was fine because she was basically using a kamikaze strategy that was not doing anyone any favors. My son began to get upset that he was being blocked during a game of BLOCK-US. And I end up playing with the baby sitting on my shoulders. I think he ate the bobby pin out of my hair because I can’t find it anywhere.

The game ended rather abruptly when a moment of frustration from my eldest child sent the pieces asunder for the second time almost an hour after we had first begun our bold strike for family togetherness.

We put the kids to bed after that. That was forty minutes ago. The baby keeps grabbing the blinds and making the most spectacular sound slapping them around, which has the others cracking up. We’ve gone in there three times already.

I was hoping by the end of this blog, they’d be done…

Nope. Here goes Dad. He’s putting an end to my daughter’s singing. Oh, now she’s crying.

“What is she crying about?” I ask when he comes out.

“She wants to go to sleep,” he shakes his head, and smiling a little adds, “At least we’re all going for the same thing.”

On Being Clean…

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First thing this morning I vacuumed the apartment.

That sentence paints a picture, doesn’t it? I mean, what sort of person am I to begin my day vacuuming?

But the truth is, the vacuuming had been rolled over from the day before and the day before that. This morning at eight am just happened to be the moment that I could do it.

Is that still too nice of a picture? Let me paint further. This morning, directly after my son left for school, I realized with a start that there were few enough toys on the floor that I could possibly pick them up faster than two kids could take them out and if I hurried I could get it vacuumed before the day began and then I wouldn’t have to watch my eighteen month old eat particles of day old popcorn out of the shag anymore. So, I cleaned up, yelling every time they tried to get out a toy and after finding my baby french kissing the vacuum cleaner for the second time put him in his crib for the duration.

There, the vacuuming was done!

And what is the first thing my daughter wants to get out? The large bin of small paper pieces belonging to craft time.

“No!” I said. Too harsh? Maybe. I’m pretty reasonable about messes. I don’t try to keep it immaculate. Goodness, I make my kids popcorn for a snack! But, you know, give me a moment before it all goes to pot again!

And now, my jeans, I washed them yesterday. It is delightful having clean jeans. It was delightful putting them on, feeling their snugness, and catching that whiff of fabric softener.

And as soon as we get to the bus stop my daughter asks if she can climb my legs. “No!” I said. It’s not like I thought I’d be able to keep them clean forever, just, well, I’d been wearing clean jeans for less than an hour, you know?

And then the baby wanted to stand in my lap and then, wouldn’t you know it, I splash coffee on them, just a bit, you can’t really tell, but then tonight was multicultural night at school and I fed an eighteen month old fried rice, soba noodle salad, and lasagna in my lap.

It wasn’t pretty people. In the now-immortal words of Queen Elsa I had to “let it go”.

All of this has me thinking. Because in moms group we’ve been talking about ritual and the meaning behind the things we do as a family. And during a collective bout of whining the other night right around bath time I cupped my four-year-old daughter’s chin and looked her in the eye.

“Do you know why we give you baths?” I said, “Because God gave you to us to take care of and because I want you to know how good it feels to be made clean.”

So, tonight I scrubbed the soba noodles out of my denim. And I picked a few cheerios up off the floor.

And I wondered if this is the ritual my heavenly Father gave me to do, this endless cleaning? Like a dirty faced child throwing a tantrum against the inevitable scrub, do I misunderstand the favor? “See how good it feels to make things new, Barbara? Do it again! Feel my joy at making dirty things clean!”

Today I realized all over again that there will never be a moment in my life when, by the energy of my own industry, I will be able to make everything clean all at the same time. Thank goodness! I rather think I need the practice of dependence in this area.

Hmm, I think I might have just given you a spiritual basis for maid service.

You’re welcome.