22 February 2007

What Nobody Wrote

When I was pregnant with Big A, I went to the bookstore and purchased the staples for mother's-to-be...if you've had a child, you know what I'm talking about. When I was having Little A, I brushed those books off as a sort of refresher course, but I found myself laughing at nearly each turn of the page and wondering about all the things that I didn't read about; the things that no one wrote, the things that I wish I'd known:

--In a single moment, your entire world twists and turns and never looks the same. It's brighter and darker in an instant.

--Every news story about a child is about your child. You've not known fear until the moment that for one second, your child slips out of your sight. The thoughts that can race through your head within a matter of a heartbeat is astounding.

--The amount that you can love someone and at the same time want to be free of that someone for just one moment will never make sense to you. The guilt from feeling that way will keep you awake at night, you'll tiptoe in thier night-light lit room and look at them while they are sleeping and pray for a new day to not take for granted. The next day, you'll take it for granted.

--Goldfish crackers are resiliant. They will remain intact in your car far longer than most of the parts on the automobile.

--You no longer think that you'll never be "that" mom--you know the one: pushing a screaming child through a store in her sweats, desperation and exhaustion the only make-up on her face, the mom that lets chicken nuggets count as protien intake because it's all your child wants to eat, the mom that lets her life go to let her child's life take flight. The sight of that mother staring back at you from the reflection within the freezer door or store window will astound you more than once.

--No one can tell you in a book what will happen to you, because the truth is that it's unknown. No matter the advice that you follow, nutrients that you count, precautions that you take, the reality is that much of it is out of our hands. That is the exact reason why we go to the bookstore in the first place: for the reassurance that there is some universal truth to being the perfect parent. If that actually existed, the parenting section in your local book purveyor would contain one selection, and you'd know it already because your parents had read it. The real book is in your hands, and the pages are blank--you are the author, the editor, and the publisher.

What will you write on your pages?

15 February 2007

Wherein I Throw My Hands to the Heavens and Beg for a Mack Truck to end my Misery

"You're here every February," observed the new face on my mental dart board, formerly known as my pediatrician, "Yep, this is the third one in a row." Interesting tid-bit for you, dear readers, to stow away when playing Jenn trivia and selecting "Jenn's Least Favorite Month" for a thousand, Alex.

I mostly just wanted to get to the drug part--the part where he dispensed two sheets of paper that would deliver the Queens from what has ravaged them this past week, the same virus that is now settling into my bones.

Prior to him entering the room, it was a fiasco of giant proportions. I kept looking around for surveillance cameras, lest the real dwellers of the castle be exposed.

Little A was rolling around on the floor, farting, lifting up her shirt to display her "big fat belly" and "boofs", laughing while simultaneously gagging on the stuff rolling down the back of her throat.

Big A delivered this exact observation:
"She is ill-mannered and ill-behaved." (Eyebrows lifted from her head resting on the physician's desk. No, shockingly, she will not have 54 candles on her next birthday cake, just ten)

How can I argue with that, what with the gas passing and snarfing noises as a sound track?

Enter physician, who upon detailed inspection and various swabbing delivered the devastating news that he'd test for strep, but his educated guess was that it was the strain of flu that he'd been seeing for the past month.

The strain that lasts for TWO WEEKS. He then had the audacity to deliver no hope of treating it, like not even a plug for echinacea or anything. "Chicken soup and fluids," said he, as I thought, "Take me now Lord, please" and toyed with the idea of begging him to admit us to the hospital. A vacation, ya know?

We delivered the offensive swabs to the lab (*the bazillion dollars for the appointment and tests apparently does not include actual delivery of the swabs to the lab--we were responsible for that. This is totally a different post). Little A marveled at the wonder of the elevator, "We go up! We go down! We go up and down! Up and down! Up and down!" I'm not feeling so insistent today that education is a good thing.

Rather, I'm feeling like the mack truck of my current dreams side-swiped me and left me for dead. And I don't even get to bask in my sickness and have other people fawn over me and press cold compresses upon my forehead and rub my back as I vomit, because, somehow, I'm the mom. I'm doing all the good stuff that my loved ones did for me, once again reveling in how completely amazing they are, how totally blessed I am, how I'd give about anything to go back there, just for a day.

09 February 2007

Things I Don't Say Out Loud

Motherhood is often talked about in lofty terms; the blessings of being a mother, the valiant job that you're doing; the amazing gift you've been given....no one talks about the parts of it that I think sometimes, so mostly I think that I've got everyone fooled; they think I'm a good mom and a good friend and a good person. If I could just get the person living inside of me to believe it, I'd be all set.

Today I had to count to ten not to yell because Big A was sighing and moaning and dragging out her words. DOES SHE NOT UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE RUNNING LATE? SAY IT ALREADY!

Today I had to clench my teeth as hard as I could to get through the ordeal of changing Little A's diaper; because it is an ordeal. It's like wrangling a muddy, squealing pig. Even her sweet smile couldn't defuse the things boiling inside of me.

Today I had to smile at more people than I cared to, had to dispense patience and kindness and empathy and good naturedness like I meant it while inside I was screaming.

Today while I let a jaywalker cross in front of me and was smiling at her, I was flipping her off with my hand that was sitting in my lap.

Today I slammed the dishes around, and part of me hoped one would break, just so that I could smash something, anything, to make it feel broken like I feel broken each day.

Today when Little A screamed and howled because she hates her toenails being attached to her body, I didn't laugh. I looked at her and said, "They're attached" and pulled her tights back up.

Today I didn't tell one person what I was feeling or thinking or wishing because I thought that if I heard one MORE TIME, "It'll be OK", "It'll work out", I might have actually sat down right there, on the spot and cried until there was no tomorrow.

Today I am glad that Big A is at her dad's and Little A went napless because it means a very early night, and that this day will be over very, very soon, and that this too, shall pass. And I know that it will, I have the ambien to prove it.

05 February 2007


When Big A was between the ages of about a year and a half and four years old, each day I would think to myself, "It will never be better than this". Each day brought new words, endless curiosity and love in the purest form. When they laid her upon my chest, I remember being blinded with light; I was that overpowered by the emotion. I hadn't known the depths of love until I knew her.

Lately I've been struggling with what I feel for her now. She's been going through something that I don't understand because we simply aren't built the same; I feel like I don't know how to relate to her anymore, and she's only eight. She isn't goofy or silly, my laughter isn't endearing to her. I feel like I'm tiptoeing on the tail end of a relationship when we spend time together now, when it's stiff and awkward and you're constantly checking yourself to make sure you're not offending the other party. My laughter isn't funny to her, she's genuinely appalled when I crack up at something that I do that can only be classified as stupid, and I know better than to laugh at anything she does. When I want to reach out and hug her, she draws away and pretends to be doing something else that requires her physical attention. What started as little trickles of difference has now ebbed into an ocean of distance and I feel like no matter what vessel I board to cross the barrier, I never get far from my shore.

Big A never was made of laughter and giggles. Even as an infant, she was solemn and observant, but now she's something more than that. She's coming into her own definite personality, and she genuinely doesn't like me as a person. She loves me because I'm her mother and she wouldn't dream of not feeling the appropriate things for that person in her life, but that's as far as her devotion runs any longer, and it breaks my heart each day. When I was talking to her dad the other day about our latest run in, he said, "She's like me, Jenn, and there's a reason that you and I didn't get along". Internalizers, the two of them are, and when they finally do speak, the words are hard and cold and meant to inflict instant and lasting pain. They both like watching the delivery of the unexpected punch, the crumbling of the opponent, and afterwards, they both feel terrible but cannot recall those emotions when the next argument comes around.

How can I have carried her within me, love her with all of my being, and yet be losing her day by day to who and what I am? Each day I begin thinking, "It looks so peaceful" and nearly each night ends with waves crashing hard on the shore, clouds thundering above. Please come back to me, Big A, seal yourself within a bottle and toss yourself into the waves. I swear that I'll be here, searching the shores until I can read with my eyes the words that I already know are written.