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Mother’s Day

May 8, 2011

Happy Mother’s day. I like to celebrate by telling my children that there is a newborn baby monkey at the zoo and that their Daddy really, really wants to go see it. I wish I could go see the baby monkey with them, but alas! It is Mother’s Day and so I have to paint my toenails. My hands, really, are tied on that one. On their way out I tell Daddy that they better be gone for AT LEAST two hours.

It’s become a tradition. A little something from the gift store at the zoo, for me please, and take your time picking it out, or else!

My kids are still young enough that all I really want is to spend just a little bit of time without them.

No whining, no wailing, no pleading, no flinging, no crashing, no fighting, no hurling, no yanking, no losing it, no trundling about, no crumpling, no inquisitiveness, no racing, no heaving, no toppling, no extirpating, no gumming, no throwing anything down the stairs, no disassembling, no scribbling, no ripping, no scotch-taping, no unspooling, no why-asking, no crises-having, no furniture-climbing, and of course, and this really should go without saying, no crapping your pants. Take it to the zoo, people.

If you know me at all, you may be wondering why I have a blog with none of my mouthy opinions spouting from it. Well. It has a lot to do with spending the last few years in, under, enmeshed with, and inseparable from a pile of babies. A pile of babies is a remarkably effective way to render oneself unable to string together a coherent sentence, never mind a paragraph or, gasp! a personal essay on, say, what’s so hard about raising a pile of babies anyway?

One of the topics I’ve been meaning to write about, but haven’t quite been able to get to, is the work of mothering. There’s something so so hard about parenting infants and babies and toddlers. It gets much less hard as they grow into preschoolers and school-aged kids. It gets much harder again, I’ve heard, when they turn into teenagers. It’s difficult to put your finger on because, I think, we lack the right vocabulary to talk about it. I’m not referring to the sleep-deprivation and the drudgery — that’s obvious enough. There’s something else. There’s emotional and psychological work that mothers do that isn’t really quantified or perhaps quantifiable. It kicks our asses, though, all the same.

I recall watching Josephine (our youngest) learning to scoot around on the living room floor. It was a big departure because it meant she was able to engage herself with the world, to do what she wanted to do, without my assistance. It meant she could engage with something that wasn’t me. It meant that I might find all three of my children happily occupied for minutes at a time, thereby leaving me free to do as I pleased for minutes at a time. The first thing I did was burn my mouth on a cup of hot tea. I wasn’t accustomed, you see, to being able to get to a cup of tea before it had cooled. I also wasn’t accustomed to being able to sit down for five minutes to string together a coherent thought. When I was able, the thought I strung together was this:  “HOLY CRAP I HAD TWO BABIES IN TWO YEARS! NO WONDER I’M TIRED.” 

Now that my kids have been growing steadily more able and independent, I’m well accustomed, again, to hot beverages. And also to hot showers. In fact, it’s kind of hard to remember why, this time one year ago, taking showers was such an insurmountable thing. But it was. Now I can have a shower. Nothing terrible will happen and if it does, somebody will come get me and to either kiss it better or clean it up.

I’ve felt a bit like a foreign war correspondent might — take it all in, get as many pictures as you can, get the hell out, and think about it later when the bombs stop dropping.

Now, some photos:


Awwww… they got me flowers and bonbons!

 Tensions arise.

Violence outbreaks.

Fleeing the scene.

The spoils of war.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marianne Sheldon permalink
    May 8, 2011 11:50 pm

    Hear, hear!! I used to ask Sam every year for the same thing: time alone. What’s amazing is how quickly you forget just how hard it is to parent tiny children, and that’s why you hear parents of school age children wistfully telling you to “enjoy this time. They grow up so quickly.”

  2. Martha permalink
    May 9, 2011 9:57 am

    Brings back bitter sweet memories of a time long ago when I felt much like that.

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