The Mom Down Front

When you see me I’m down here in the front row, cheering on my daughter who is performing in the school spring concert sporting her own unique style. She is totally rocking on stage in her orangey-peach flowered springtime “foofy” dress which happens to match her brand new cowboy boots that she won’t take off. You sit back in your seat wishing you were more like me, wishing you, too, had gotten here early so that you could be in a closer row. You see me take out my camera to adjust it to the stage lights and then the house lights go down and the show begins. You wish your pictures were going to turn out as well as mine. You see my daughter make her entrance onto the stage and take her place. You smile as she waves to me, and I wave back and then she points me out to all of her friends. You watch and listen and you wish your child was as well behaved, and maybe even as animated, as mine. You watch as after the concert I walk up to the stage to kiss her before she heads back to her class. You congratulate me on all these things, because, surely, I have it all together and you wish you were more like me.

What you missed in this one perfect morning in my life was me not waking up until 8 am because I didn’t have my phone in my bedroom. You missed when I ran from room to room frantically looking for my daughter because she wasn’t in her room. You missed my confusion as I wondered if her dad took her to school, and my frantic dash back down the hallway to check to see if her backpack and coat were still here. They were. You missed my frustration and anger emerging and cresting as I found her in the office on the computer watching videos with headphones on so she couldn’t hear me calling her and running through the house like a maniac. “Why didn’t you wake me up” I sort of yelled at her, while I’m silently telling myself it isn’t her job to wake me up. I’m the adult. “You know you don’t use the computer before school!” She knows this, but it, too, doesn’t matter and isn’t really her fault. “You know you have your concert today!”

You missed it when I took her by the hand and led her back to her room and asked her what dress she wanted to wear while she wiped tears away. You missed me feeling like crap for making her cry. You missed me yelling at myself for being mad at her when I was the one who messed up. You missed me yelling at myself for just everything. I set her clothes out and told her to hurry and dress.

I ran to my room to find clothes for me. Already late, I had to grab what was closest: jeans with a hole in one knee and a plaid shirt that just came out of the laundry. I am winning no “rocking outfit” awards today. When we both leave our rooms, dressed, I tell her to come in the bathroom and brush her teeth and hair. I help her with toothpaste because we are running out (sigh) and try to tell her she’s okay, none of this is her fault, please don’t cry all the while that voice in my head is saying “hurry! hurry! We are already late! Crying is slowing us down!” I hear myself mutter while I brush her hair “I don’t have time to DO your hair now.” And then I swear at myself because she’s apologizing. Again. “It’s not your fault, honey. It’s ok.” (Argh.)

At 8:09 we have coats and I grab my camera and stuff it in my backpack muttering “I don’t have time to check it now” and open the door and say, “Come on.” She apologizes again.

“It’s not your fault. It’s okay. This is my fault. I’m the one who didn’t wake up. It was my mistake.”

We walk/run to school. She’s only been going to this school for a month, and today is her first tardy. It was totally avoidable. It’s also inexcusable because “Mom is an idiot” isn’t an acceptable reason to be late. We walked into the school right when the bell rang. So close.

I hug her and kiss her and send her off to her class and I head to the auditorium to wait. She usually eats breakfast in school in the morning. Not today. I am such a bad mom.

I take a deep breath and decide to check my camera. I turn it on and it tells me I have no memory card. It’s at home in my laptop. Of course it is. Near tears, I sigh and put the camera back in my backpack. Now there will be no pictures of her first concert. I don’t even have my smartphone because I had my service shut off. I couldn’t use it to text or call anyone and it doesn’t do anything else without WiFi so I left it home. Now I don’t even have that to take pictures.

As the last parents file in and sit and the lights go down I’m silently doing Lamaze breathing because Iamthisclose to crying. I had one job. When we said prayers last night I even prayed that I would get some good pictures to show her daddy because he would be at work. Now I’ve let him down too.

I don’t have a program. I was here so early that they weren’t handing them out yet. I’ll have to try to find one on the way out. If I can’t take pictures I should at least save the program. The school choir sings first. My child isn’t in that so I wait. After they finish, the music teacher announces that the fourth grade will be next. They’re going in reverse order. My daughter is in first grade. Dammit. I sit through unknown children in fourth grade playing recorders.

I sit through more unknown kids with recorders in third grade. I sit through second graders singing silly songs. Then I sit up because first grade is next, right?

No. Because of lunch (lunch!!) kindergarten is next and first grade will be last so I sit through kindergartners too. -.-

Finally my daughter’s class comes out and takes their places on the risers. I see her before she comes out because I can see her cowboy boots under the curtain. I am all smiles, waiting for her to see me. She is all smiles when she finds me. Their first song is about how Mom makes the bad things better. Those tears I was fighting off escape. I fake a sneeze and wipe my eyes and pretend it’s allergies.

I watch her sing and dance. She knows all the words even though she hasn’t been there as long as the other kids. She knows all the moves. She watches her music teacher as he conducts and between songs she looks at me, smiling. As I sit there through her three songs I feel…honestly I still feel like crap, but I am thankful. I was so blessed to get her. She’s amazing and sweet, talented and beautiful and she’s mine. It’s a privilege to be her mom. She is happy despite this morning. I should never be mad at her. She is so precious. In that moment, life is pretty good. I kiss her as she leaves the stage and walk to the back of the auditorium. I happen to get there the same time her class does so we hug and kiss again and I tell her she did an awesome job.

I make my way back toward her classroom to see the art they’ve made for today. Spring concert AND art show. On the way, her class catches up again. She holds my hand and we walk to her room together. She kisses me and tells me she will miss me. I tell her I will see her after school. I see her art project – her name surrounded by hand drawn pictures of the things she loves: rainbows, her cat, pizza and me.

But I can’t take a picture of it because of this morning. I start walking home, glad the sun is trying to come out, thankful that it rained while I was inside because I didn’t bring my umbrella either. A block away from the school I remember I didn’t get a program. I sigh and walk home.

When I get home I stop in the bathroom and look at the tired, frazzled woman in my mirror. Then I realize not only did I not have time to put makeup on…I also didn’t wash off the face mask that I put on before bed. Holy crap. It’s almost 11 am and for the last 3 hours I’ve been in public with stuff on my face. Thank god it dries clear and no one got close enough to see…anything. I hope. Holy crap.

I wash my face and sit on the couch trying to be happy. Trying to be thankful, and trying to feel the love I have for my family and our new home and our new city and I am still fighting off tears. I guess, I want you to know that more often than not I’m the girl who still second-guesses herself, who fumbles a lot, makes mistakes and carries around massive amounts of guilt and worry.

But sometimes. When the planets align. When Hell freezes over. I am the mom down front.

 

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I Just Want To Lie Down

ImageBeing a homemaker is nice. I like it. Except for the dishes. And folding laundry. Overall, I like it. Being half of an US is great. I like it. It’s more work than people tell you. It’s more work than you think. It’s definitely more work than you’re prepared for by your parents or school or life.

Being a mother is grand. If you have a uterus I highly recommend using it. If yours doesn’t work, you can adopt. No problem. Mothering is great. Motherhood is a blessing. Being a mom is…

…tiring and I want to lie down.

I had my daughter Abigail when I was forty. Well, forty and a half. Don’t laugh. That half matters. I was that much older. I can’t speak for all women, but at that age I totally underestimated the effects of sleep deprivation. I hadn’t even considered the effects of endless nights of interrupted sleep. I also hadn’t counted on receiving an angel from Heaven who disliked sleep. I mean…who knew?

Of course I knew I’d be waking up with the baby. We’ve heard stores about those three o’clock feedings for years. I mean, even with a puppy you have to wake up every two hours. I get it.

I thought I got it.

After a few weeks with Abigail in our nest even Matt said “They tell you babies sleep eighteen hours a day, but they don’t tell you it’s in fifteen minute increments!”

Seriously? Oh. My. God.

I pressed onward, night after interrupted night, day after no sleep for me day, telling myself that soon she’ll sleep through the night; her naps would be longer during the day. I’d be able to lie down. Or wash dishes. Or shower. Or pee.

But as the months wore on the only one in our house getting any sleep was Matt. He used to joke about knowing how many times Abby was up at night by how many piles of formula were on the kitchen counter. When I stumbled into bed just as his alarm clock rang in the morning, he’d look at my mussed hair, my closed eyes and laugh. I was a living zombie.

I was about as cute and dressed just as well.

Months went past and I told myself to hang in there because she’s got to sleep through the night eventually, right? Any minute now….

But we had gotten Angel Abigail, Anti-Sleeper of her Mother’s Demise. She was just over sixteen months old when she slept all night. SIXTEEN MONTHS! And even then it was hit or miss for another four or five months. Just before her second birthday she was sleeping all night every night. Finally….

in OUR bed.

She’s three years, two months old now. She’s still sleeping in our bed. (She will sleep in her bed sometimes, but come in with us before morning, but mostly we just all pile in bed together and go to sleep.) And it’s been so long since I’ve had a solid nights sleep that I can’t sleep all night…even if no one needs me. Even if left to my own devices, I am awake every few hours.

I’m over forty-three and a half now…and I’m so tired. There are a few nights that I might have been able to sleep all night…but Abby had a bad dream…or called me in her sleep…or (now) the puppy barks.

Some of my friends are fantasizing about cruises, second honeymoons or the young guy who helped them with their groceries or who cleans their pool. Me? I just want some quiet, a big fluffy bed, and a world without alarm clocks, puppies, and “Whatcha doin? You sleepin;?”

Did I mention I just want to lie down?

Curtains!

ImageThings, they are a-changin’. About a year and a half ago we moved into this house after being homeless for four and a half months. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you have no idea where you’ll be spending the night or if you’ll ever get out of the situation you’re in…it’s a long time! January 2011 we moved in here and were relieved we finally had a home. Somewhere to sleep. Something that was OURS that no one except the landlord could take away.

February through September we were still grateful we had a house, but we were engaged in financial battle, not knowing if we’d have enough money coming in for rent and the bills (utilities, nothing extra). Sometimes we didn’t and the water was shut off a couple of times (we weren’t sacrificing the air conditioning and lights).

After that things slowly got a bit better. We had entered the stage where, yes, we could pay rent and WOOT we had enough to pay the bills…but nothing else. We scraped by for a few more months, trying to be grateful that we were taking care of ourselves BY OURSELVES and trying not to be depressed seeing seemingly everyone around us with STUFF. We weren’t even asking for lots of stuff…you have no idea the thrill I got when I could purchase my own bath towels. It had been a long time since I had bought anything for myself that I picked out. I was grateful to people who gave us things that made our lives easier (Matt’s boss furnished our whole house!! We had been sleeping on a blanket on the floor.) but buying our own stuff was an amazing thing.

My best friend gifted us with a toaster, coffeemaker and microwave. I happily accepted. You have no idea how much I missed toast! And being able to brew your own coffee when you want it — it was a small thing that most people take for granted. These days? We’re pretty much thankful for everything.

With the tax return we were able to get some major things. The washer and dryer (they’ve paid for themselves in what we save by not going to the laundromat, and not having to pile what clothes we had and walk 30 minutes on the side of the highway to the laundromat with a baby? PRICELESS) and we bought a brand new, 12 year old truck that needs work and we’ll be paying on for years after it kicks the bucket. But we’re not complaining! We don’t have to walk anymore. YAY!!

We get depressed sometimes, but The Man and I nudge each other and say “One step at a time. A year ago we didn’t have anything.’ Or “A year ago you were working two jobs and making less than you are at your one job now.”

Recently, The Man (and I via phone) picked out curtains for The Toddler’s bedroom. Again…it’s the little things. All our rooms have blinds (old beat up blinds) only. Curtains are a luxury. The Man set about hanging new blinds in The Toddler’s room and then hung curtains.

“You should really be helping me!” He called from the depths of her room.

“How hard is it to hang curtains? I’m sure you’re fine!” I replied from my perch on the couch. (I’m sure I was doing something important.)

“Come look at these, see if you can fix them!”

“Fix?” *heavy sigh* (looking at curtains) “Uh…you don’t have the curtain rod in the right place….and….this panel is just totally upside down.”

“I told you!”

“Oh my god, calm down….wait. I can’t get the rod out of the thingy to get the curtains off.”

(He unhinges the rod thingy and hands it to me. I show him the rod pocket and insert the rod in the right place.)

“Wait! Aren’t you doing that one too?” He says, pointing at the other panel on the rod.

“Yeah…”

“Well you have to do that one first. The other end doesn’t come off.”

“Oh good Lord.”

“I told you I needed help. Geez, how many people does it take to hang curtains?”

“Two apparently..” He walks away shaking his head.  I call after him “This is why people get married — so they can hang curtains!”

After that he hung the other blind and curtains and realized he got 3 long panels and 1 short panel. We had to remove them, I folded them and we had to go back to the store for either 3 more short ones or 1 more long one. We can’t do anything right the first time…except for The Toddler…we did really great with her.

Finally her bedroom has new blinds that aren’t broken and hanging every which way, and new curtains. It almost looks like a real bedroom. Someday maybe…paint? 🙂

Happy Birthday, Abigail!!

Friday, June 22, 2012, Abigail Aurora officially entered toddlerhood as she celebrated her 3rd birthday. She is waaaaaaaay too smart for the rest of us already and we can’t wait to watch her blossom into the amazingly wonderful young woman she will someday become.

I made her cake all by myself. No one got hurt.

Elmo with a present and ice cream cone!

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The “Terrible” Twos

I hear screaming from the living room: “I can’t DO IT!”

This is accompanied by minor thunking sounds and whispers of voices from the movie she’s supposed to be watching. After a few minutes she calms herself and bits and pieces of toddler singsong waft their way to my ears, floating along on her happiness, encouraged by her movie dialog.

The “Terrible Twos” are only terrible for the toddlers who wake one day to find themselves irretrievably embedded in life’s quandaries, which they are now old enough to feel, yet not ready to understand and conquer. Abigail is ready to do things herself and express her needs and wants…but doesn’t always know the word for the big feeling she’s having or the correct phrase for the idea she has (and she has many).

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Elisa and The Surprise Intruder

Sometimes Abigail sleeps in my bed. When she does I keep the curtain closed and the door closed until she wakes up…

…because if I wake her up she is freaking hell on wheels all day long.

ALL. DAY. LONG.

Chasing her when she’s in a good mood is one thing, trying to pacify her when she’s cranky and cries for no reason and everything seems to be cause for toddler alarm? Whole other ballgame.

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Elisa and The Potty Train (Version 2.1)

A few months ago we attempted this whole potty training thing (version1.0). Abby’s birthday is in June so she’s about two and a half years old. She shows the Signs of Readiness (and has for a while). We talked about it, we let her pick out her new potty, we set it up (down?) in the living room where she could potty and not have to miss whatever the rest of us were doing. I made sure she was wearing clothes we could get on and off quickly, and was proud when she decided she didn’t like to be wet or would yell “BEE!” and run to the potty. After a while she started yelling “Uh oh, poop!” and we’d run to the potty…but she didn’t really connect POO and POTTY.  That was ok. I figured it would come in time.

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