Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Little Dose of Reality

Here's some honesty. Sometimes I feel disingenuous. Sometimes I think if Lucy and Elaine go back and read all these entries when they're grown up, they'll think, "Mom, you painted this picture of a beautiful little world, and really sometimes it was so boring and also? You used to get mad at us too."

Last night, something kind of weird and scary happened. When Elaine woke up around 2 for her occasional late-night bottle, I had this strange sensation in my brain. My physical brain, the left side of it. It felt, for lack of a better term, fuzzy. Then when I got out of bed, I had a hard time keeping my balance. It stayed that way all the way until I got back into bed. I lay there with that strange feeling in the left side of my head, wondering, "Is this what an aneurysm feels like? Is this what a stroke feels like? Will I not wake up in the morning?" I'm not afraid of dying. But I am terrified of leaving my girls. What would they do without me? Lucy would think I had abandoned her. Elaine wouldn't even remember me. I fell asleep with these thoughts swirling around, and when I woke up I felt fine.

Now shouldn't that be a guarantee that I would wake up thrilled to be here, thankful for my good fortune, and above all endlessly loving and patient with my two little lambs? You would think. But I wasn't. I was so cross and impatient with them. I snapped at Lucy for hanging all over me and pulling on my pants. I shouted at them for arguing and screaming at each other during supper. I got irritated when they wouldn't stop splashing in the bathtub.

They were just so annoying and tedious, both of them. Lucy staged a major tantrum because I gave her lovely roast beef and potatoes for supper instead of a scrambled egg. "But that's what I picked out, Mama! You hurt my feelings!" Then Elaine has perfected this shrill siren-like scream whenever anything doesn't go her way. I just couldn't take it. Then Lucy summed it up after dinner, "Mom, when Elaine was a brat, that was her fault. And when I was a Selfish Sally, that was my fault. And when you got so cross and yelled, that was your fault."

Some days I just feel like a rotten mom. It seems like I'm just hanging on until 7:00 p.m. and I can get them in bed. Then I rush downstairs like a high school babysitter in search of Doritos, TV, and to check my email. I felt like the biggest failure tonight. Then my sweet Lucy looked up all me, all shiny and clean from her bath and said, "Mom, you're the best kindest mom in all the world!" I felt like such a jerk.

It's so humbling. It feels like I'm constantly taking one step forward, fourteen steps back. I hope the girls forget the tedious times. The times I lose it and snap at them. The times I'm a grim, impatient harpy, forgetting that they're just tiny children and that I hold their heart in my hands. I hope they can know that I lay awake at night, thinking about how much I love them, how I would give my life for them, and how I really and truly can't wait to see them every single morning.

Welcome back, robins!

Is anyone sick of me writing about spring yet? Well, it's here now! The First Day of Spring. We officially began seeing robins on Friday too. Every year after we see our first robin, we have a Welcome the Robins party. The first year we did it, my mom even found fabric with robins on it and made Lucy (then 9 months old) a dress. I'll see if Elaine can fit in it this year; she's quite a bit smaller than Lucy ever was. Then we make robin treats. This involves melting chocolate chips and butterscotch chips. Then you stir in Chinese noodles and form little bird's nests out of them. After they cool on wax paper, you put in 2-3 pale blue peanut M&Ms for the eggs. Then we have a tea party. I'm not sure how much the robins benefit from this, but it makes us feel good.

I love traditions. My friend Julie's husband laughs at us because he says if she and I do something one time, it automatically becomes a tradition. We like it though. We've been friends since we were 4, so we've collected quite a few traditions: celebrating anything momentous by splitting an entire box of sugar wafers; going out for fishsticks and apple pie in May because we like to make fun of Gwyneth Paltrow (who somehow got to be nicknamed "Fishstick" in the tabloids and then named her daughter that ridiculous name, Apple); calling anytime we sit around and chat a "frit"--(this should be accompanied with red licorice. For example: if we sit together and talk, it's called "sit-n-frit." If we talk on the phone, "Phone-frit"; email "e-frit" you get the picture. The only difference is if we take a walk, then it's called "walk-n-squawk.") (Reading back over this paragraph, all the traditions seem to involve food. But then, what good tradition doesn't?)

Anyway, traditions are important. I think they build up friendships and families, and they let you know who you are. I'm hoping the girls enjoy the traditions we have and also that they think up some of their own. This past Christmas, Lucy decided all by herself that on Christmas Eve, we should put on our pajamas, take candles outside and light them, look up into the sky, and sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. It was so nice, and I'm glad she thought of it. I've got some great resources for ideas of things to do the week before Easter, and hopefully I'll be able to write about those in the next couple of weeks.

Another sign of spring: Elaine is wearing her Chinese sandals for the first time. They have squeakers in the heels, and she's enjoying them hugely. She still can't walk by herself yet. Personally, I think she can, but it's a confidence issue. She still needs to hang on a bit. But with her squeaker shoes, she held my finger and took off in a run. Pretty soon she'll let go, and my baby will be walking all around.

So, the loooooong winter is over and if you could overhear at our house, you'd hear the sounds of a tea party and a little person making a lot of squeaky noises with her feet. And if you see a robin, give them a welcome back nod and smile!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Odds and Ends

The weatherman and the calendar say the spring is coming, and I'm choosing to believe them. Sure it's moving as slow as molasses in January, but I'm beginning to see and hear the signs. The cardinals are singing, the air has that sort of bad rotten smell mixed with hopeful fresh smell, and joy of joys, the first green shoots of tulips are beginning to push up through the dirt (partially covered with snow).

Lately, Lucy seems to take these jumps in maturity, and I swear, it happens overnight. Some mornings I'll go into her room to get her up (on the rare mornings that happens. Usually mornings begin with me scrunched under the covers. Then I hear a "Thump. Thump thump thump thump thump. >door open< >another door open<>Hands on my face.< "Mom. It's not night anymore, I promise. It's light out. It's morning. It's time to get up. Can I watch TV? Also, I'm hungry. Can I have breakfast?") But. On the mornings I do get her up, sometimes it seems as though she's grown in the night, not necessarily physically, though that too, but it's like she went to sleep saying, "Baa baa black sheep" and woke up discussing the gross national product of Great Britain.

Yesterday was the first nice day really. In the afternoon we decided to go for a walk. Despite the mud everywhere and dirty, melting snow and uncovered garbage littering the walks, it was heaven. Lucy took a deep breath and said, "Mom, it smells like the WORLD out here!" She kept up a steady stream of enjoyable chatter all around, and when we got home we still didn't want to go inside, so we jumped rope out on the patio. For me, I was quite chuffed with myself that I could still even jump rope (up to 25 jumps!) and then felt like I was going to have a heart attack. Her jumping rope (excuse me, she calls it "skipping rope") consists of galumphing around, dragging the rope with her. She had on a pink shirt and some fancy flowered, flared pants I bought her ("I look just like Coco Calypso!" she said when I brought them home) and was so dear. Elaine and I sat and watched her and finally she said in a voice that sounded for all the world like a circus barker's "And now I have a treat for you kids because you've been so good. I am going to do a ballerina high jump!" She galloped around some more, doing the same stuff she'd been doing all along, but Elaine and I applauded her wildly.

And Elaine. She's a hoot. I'm so used to my serious older baby who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, and here comes Miss Non-Stop Sunshine. Instead of just laughing at everything we do, now she tries to make us laugh. She reaches over (all of her own accord, I swear we didn't teach her this!) in the bathtub, grabs Lucy's foot, and says, "Tickle tickle tickle!" The other night I found her sitting up in her crib, her shirt pulled up, as she tickled her own tummy and said, "Tickle tickle tickle!" to herself.

Whenever I come in her room to get her, she's usually standing up, hanging on the rails of the crib, looking like some farm boy hanging over a fence. But when she sees me, she dives back down onto the mattress, curls up into a little ball, and laughs and laughs. The other morning, she was lounging in her (strap-in) rocking chair in the hall while I got ready in the bathroom. I could hear her fiddling around with a can of formula that was sitting on the floor (and that's all I need, to clean sticky white powder up from hardwood floors). So I said, "Elaine Frances, stop that." Abruptly the noise stopped, and then she began to cry (I didn't even need to see her to know that she stuck her bottom lip out first). Lucy, who was standing next to me, said with exaggerated patience, "Elaine, you really need to learn self-control."

So, these are my girls these days, spring is coming, we're happy and laughing (for the most part), and they're sprouting up faster than those tulips in the front yard.