26 February 2015

Margaret's Birthday

"There is a cat," says my 3.5 year-old daughter.

We are sitting at a table in our local library and she is "reading" to me from a Rainbow Fairy chapter book. Whenever we come to the children's section of the library she immediately secures the lone red plastic wagon with the blue handle (there are also two blue wagons with yellow handles, but apparently these are less desirable than the red) and rushes to the chapter book spinners to peruse and select her books. Recently she announces that she will only select the Rainbow Fairy books with the PINK covers.

Conveniently there are dozens and dozens of Rainbow Fairy books with pink covers.

Once her wagon is loaded to almost overflowing, Esme comes to me to "check out" her books. This involves me sitting with an old computer keyboard in my lap "scanning" each book - passing it over the keyboard while saying, "Beeeeeep." I scan them. She puts them back in the wagon.

Today Esme grabs my hand when we're done "checking out" her books. "Come," she says, pulling me to my feet.

"Where are we going?"

"To a party!" she says with a grin.

"Whose party?" I ask.

"Margaret's party! It's Margaret's birthday party today."

Margaret is Esme's baby doll. The doll who goes EVERYWHERE with us. Whose clothes, despite numerous washings, have degraded to a rather unfashionable shade of pale grey. Who is, according to my daughter, the source of all trouble in our house. When I comment that the living room is a huge mess, Esme informs me, "Margaret did it. Margaret makes big messes!" When I trip over the scooter suddenly laying behind me on the kitchen floor, Esme says with a straight face, "It was Margaret." And when I return to the living room one day after folding some laundry in the bedroom to discover an entire bowl of Triscuits crumbled to little bits and spread all over the couch...the apparent culprit, "Margaret."

We really do love Margaret despite her trouble-making tendencies.

So, apparently, today is Margaret's birthday (it was also her birthday a week ago Thursday, several times in January and on multiple occasions throughout the last six months) and we're having a party in the library.

Esme pulls all of the rolling chairs from the computer desks over to a table. There is no one else in the children's section right now so I make no objection.

"You sit here! In this one," says Esme pointing.


She then pulls half a dozen Rainbow Fairy books from her hoard, slaps one on the table in front of me and says, "This is yours. You read."


"No, wait!" she says, yanking the book out of my hand. "I read this one to you."

She opens the book to the middle and begins in the sweet sing-song voice she uses when she tells her stories, "There is a cat. The cat doesn't want to be picked up. I pick up the cat. I say, 'Shh cat. You OK. You OK.' I put the cat down. The end!"

She closes the book and looks at me with a huge smile.

"You have so many stories to tell," I say to my daughter. "So many stories to tell."

She laughs.

And with that she opens another book to tell me yet another story. This is what the rest of the party consists of - her "reading" the rest of the half a dozen books to me and Margaret. Some of the stories have a plot and even make some sense, but most of them simply involve Esme experimenting with different words in nonsensical combinations, half-talking and half-singing.

I'm pretty certain based on prior experiences that Margaret will have another birthday soon. Probably not in the library. More than likely at home where Esme will "bake" her a cake in her play kitchen and I will be commanded to sit at the kitchen table where I will have to eat the pretend cake over and over and over again. 

22 February 2015

You Never...Until You Do

Do y'all have a list of "nevers" in your head?

You know the list...that slightly self-righteous all-knowing "Well, I'll never do this" or "I'll never do that" list.

"I'll never date a bad boy."
"I'll never lie to my parents."
"I'll never take the easy route."
"I'll never get married."
"I'll never have kids."
"I'll never get fat."
"I'll never stay in a bad marriage."
"I'll never get divorced."
"I'll never take a job that I don't feel passionate about."
Etc. Etc. Etc.

I didn't know that I had a "never" list when my husband and I set out to become parents some five odd years ago. In the front of my brain I just assumed I'd become a mom and it would be all rainbows and unicorns and sweetness and light.

OK, well maybe no rainbows and unicorns, but I thought it would be awesome.

And it is.


I know that I am incredibly lucky to have the life I do with my husband, my daughter,  a nice house, money in the bank, and the opportunity to stay home to raise my daughter. Truly, it's a great life and I know I shouldn't complain.


But three and a half years into this momhood gig I realize that I've had a "never" list lurking in my brain.

My list goes something like this, "When I'm a mom..."
  • "I'll never 'let myself go' and will always take care of myself so I don't get fat and unhealthy."
  • "I'll never neglect my marriage." 
  • "I'll never judge other moms for their choices."
  • "I'll never leave the house while wearing sweats or yoga pants."
  • "I'll never let the laundry go for days and weeks."
  • "I'll never leave the house unless I've showered and done my hair and make up."
  • "I'll never leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight or for days at a time."
  • "I'll never put my child's needs before the needs of my husband and our marriage."
  • "I'll never resent my husband for having a job outside of the home when I'm home all of the time."
  • "I'll never let my kid eat food for which we haven't yet paid."
  • "I'll never let my kid have a tantrum in public."
  • "I'll never raise my voice to my child and will always speak to her patiently."
  • "I'll never check out mentally when I'm with my child."
  • "I'll never plop my kid in front of the television for hours at a time so I can get things done."
  • "I'll never check out mentally when I'm with my husband."
  • "I'll never give up time with my girlfriends."
  • "I'll never stop being a good friend."
  • "I'll never stop writing, blogging and making art."
  • "I'll never spend every evening on the couch zoning out in front of the television."
  • "I'll never give up date nights with my husband."
  • "I'll never lose the things about myself that make me me."

And I never do any of these things.

Until I do.

All. Of. The. Time.

I almost always leave the house while wearing sweat pants or yoga pants.  Do my hair? Wear makeup? Seriously? That never happens. I haven't been thin or healthy in quite some time. I find myself judging other moms for things that I know that I do with own kid or that I am afraid of doing. I don't want to be THAT mom who is yelling at her kid on the playground. But sometimes I am.

Do I pay attention to my amazing husband beyond talking about our daughter or general domestic issues? Not so much. Here I have this wonderful, kind, brilliant and loving life partner, but I can hardly remember what it feels like to be in a romantic relationship with him because I don't make the effort these days. I'm too worn out from being a mom. Or at least that's what I tell myself to justify not giving him more of me. He always gets the last and worst of me. I'm not the wife that I want to be.

What about my totally awesome kid? She's funny, kind, energetic, and one of the most engaging people I've ever met. But I'm not the mom I want to be because I'm not in the present moment with her the way I should be. I'm so tired and sometimes just plain resentful of constantly having to be on duty for her. She gets me all of the time. But she doesn't get the best of me. At the end of the day especially I am always impatient and in a hurry to get her to bed. I'm not kind. I'm not the mom I want to be.

My house is consistently a wreck. It takes too much energy and patience to try to wrangle my 3.5 year-old into helping put away the 800 toys and all of the household items that she just HAS to put on the floor every single day. I always put off doing the laundry and the dishes. And when was the last time my floors saw a mop? Ha! I'm not the housekeeper I want to be.

And my friends? Well, I see them a few times a year and I keep them updated a few times a week on Facebook. I'm an awesome friend...yeah, not so much. I'm not the friend I want to be.

Blogging? Writing my novel? Making art? Haven't done any of that in I can't remember how long. I'm not the creative person I want to be.

Truth is, I'm pretty much a hot mess right now. I find myself in that territory many moms find themselves in: I've lost the things that make me me because I let the "never" list take over.

I never.

Until I do.

But now.

Time to set the "never" list aside.

Time to get back to being me.