Sometimes weird comes out of our mouths. I occasionally talk in my sleep. Last night I actually woke myself up while talking to my husband in my sleep. I woke up to the sound of my own voice saying loudly, "Jamie! Can I have a chew in bed? Jamie! Can I have a chew in bed?" It was very odd as I am not a fan of chewing tobacco. When I woke up at 5 a.m. and my husband was no where to be seen, I assumed he'd had it with my middle of the night verbal attacks and sought silence in the basement. I can't imagine his perspective - the poor guy is just trying to get a good night of sleep and then his loony-tunes wife starts yelling at him out of the darkness about having a dip in bed.

The strangest things come from the imagination, though. I liken my subconscious dream state to the imagination of my three year old because, while I am good at pretend play, I stick to nonsense speak in my sleep. She, on the other hand, spews nonsensical stories, thoughts, tales, and gibberish from morning until night.

We've encountered a hiccup in her potty training. She seems to be missing the cue more often than not lately. I try not to be hard on her because, after all, she is three. Today though, after her second accident, I sat down in the bathroom and said, "I wonder why you keep having accidents?" She sat on the toilet holding her head in her hands, pondering my question. Then she replied sincerely, "I think, Mom, that my panties are just thirsty and I am giving them a teeny tiny drink with my pee." I replied, "I see..."

We're full of nonsense around here. I love it.


my blues

The road of parenthood is a long one. I've learned this recently while sitting at a table with my aunt. She and I were discussing her very long and, more often than not, challenging road with her forty-something son. I sat at the table holding my own son, just six and a half months old. She said, "When he was young, I thought 'he is amazing, so special' and he was - he was so full of possibility." I looked at my little blondie and thought the same thing: he is so little, but simply so perfect.

The beginning of my relationship with my son was complicated by my own emotional mess. I felt tortured by my own mind. I would wake up each day in the very beginning and feel the weight of responsibility. For six weeks I cried because I was happy, stressed, disappointed, thrilled, exhausted, blessed, frustrated, blissful and alone. I could not put my finger on why I cried, why everything seemed to add stress, nor why I felt so lonely and consumed by sadness while surrounded by a large family. All of the unknowns seemed only to make me cry more.

There were obvious triggers. Breastfeeding this child wasn't as easy as the first child. He seemed to fight me on every go. I worked with a lactation consultant at the hospital and met with her twice afterward, but even while she was trying to help me and while I wanted it to work, the fact that it wasn't smooth sailing created a desperate disappointment and made me feel as though I was failing. In moments of clarity, I knew that wasn't the case. I wasn't a failure as a mom - I'd done a fine job with everything else-growing him, delivering him, nurturing him, bonding with him. Feeding him, though, was so critical that it overrode all other aspects.

Trying to make the transition smooth and emotionally uncomplicated for my three-year-old daughter was a battle. It was, however, a battle I was fighting with myself alone. I created the complications in my head before they arose, I planned for the worst case scenario. I was certain the introduction of a brother was going to cause strain on my perfect relationship with her and send her into a state of worry and sadness. I was projecting my own feelings onto her. Again, in moments of clarity, I knew that wasn't the case. Additionally, if she did initially struggle with the newness of the boy - she certainly wasn't going to be permanently scarred by it. She wouldn't likely even remember her life prior to his existence. The frustrating element was that it was my own mind creating the majority of the anxiety - as it turned out, there was very little going wrong for my daughter. She had a heck of a good time with Mama and Papa; she got presents from everyone she knew for several weeks for no reason at all. She made out like a bandit.

At my first post-partum doctor visit I cried from the moment my doctor stepped into the room until she left. The whole time. It was as if the sight of her unleashed all feeling. We talked at length, she filled in so many blanks, she said "Call me anytime - night or day and we can talk more. I want to hear from you." She put me on depression watch for weeks afterward; she wanted to see me every other week until I felt better, and at each visit she offered a prescription. Instead, we created a plan for coping: ride it out for six weeks, then she would refer me to a therapist if it hadn't passed, and prescribe something if at the end of six weeks I wasn't feeling more like myself. Her plan and proactive approach gave me immense hope and encouragement.

While I sat at the table with my aunt listening to her lifetime of struggle, I wondered when, as mothers, we aren't happy, stressed, disappointed, thrilled, exhausted, blessed, frustrated, blissful and alone. While the crying spells of the baby blues had an end for me it is ever clear that the emotional roller coaster will never cease. Where is the doctor on call for the next 40 years? It will always be something, and we will never have control of it as we think we do. The only thing we can control is how we respond in the moment. I hope to maintain my doctors proactive approach - have a plan, be hopeful, have encouragement.


The Case of the Missing Clippers

There are two things about my marriage that seem to keep us working well together. First, we do nice things for each other. Not grand gestures or presents, just nice things. We bring each other a cup of coffee, doctored up right. We fix each other a plate of dessert at parties. We say please or thank you. We are generally courteous to each other. While it sounds so basic, or insignificant, it isn't. When he stubs his toe I ask, "You ok?" Even though I can clearly see that he is in fact ok. Generally being courteous makes the day pass with a happy tone. I like happy tones.

The second thing is that we accept the pet peeves we have about one another. For instance, I shed like a black lab. Having just had a baby, its more unpleasant right now. What is worse? I plaster the hairs that come out of my head in the shower all over the shower wall. It is disgusting. I mean really, really gross. As I sit here typing this, I know its nasty, I know I shouldn't do it anymore, I know I know I know. I asked my husband what he would suggest I do with the hair that I plaster on the wall in the shower because he seemed a little bit miffed when I said I was occasionally rinsing the hairs down the drain. "Well that's just going to clog the drain - we'll need stock in Drano..." Point taken. He then suggested I take a tissue after the shower and wipe the hair off the wall, then either throw the tissue in the garbage or flush it down the toilet. So I'm trying. I'm 33 years old and finally trying to get my act together with the hair plastering nonsense.

About a week ago his behavior that is my pet peeve flared its ugly head at 5 a.m. My husband goes to work very early in the morning. I can sense, from my post in bed, how his morning is going by the way he moves through the house: the pattern of his breathing, and the weight of his footsteps. If I am not awakened at all, he got out of the house gliche free. If he is late, he moves in a rushed and uncomfortably huffy way to the bathroom to pee, then to the kitchen to make coffee, back to the bathroom to shower, then into the room to dress, and finally back to the kitchen and out the garage to work. I don't even have to open my eyes, if I'm sort of awake I can just tell. I've spent many years perfecting this art of reading my husband's early a.m. movements. Now I must note, this is not irritating to me. I like that I can read his mood from his behavior. Its like what husbands and wives are supposed to be able to do.

Some mornings though once he's already headed into the garage to put on his boots or maybe he's even gotten past the boots and is at the truck - this I can't be sure because he is actually out of the house for a few minutes. Nonetheless, at one of these two points of his morning he realizes "I need to trim my fingernails immediately." Here is where, my friends, the pet peeve kicks in: the man takes my nail clippers out of the house to clip his nails and I never see the clippers again.

That morning, he came back into the house, up two flights of stairs and into our bathroom looking for nail clippers. He looks first in the medicine cabinet in our bathroom for "his" clippers. They are never there because he always loses "his" clippers whilst clipping his nails in his truck, on the side of the road, or in the garage. He then goes from that medicine cabinet to the other bathroom closet where I keep "my" nail clippers. "My" nail clippers are always in the same spot - sliver carrying case in a box of nail supplies: polish, polish remover, files, cuticle cream.

On this particular morning about a week ago, "my" nail clippers weren't where they normally are. The silver carrying case wasn't even in the bathroom closet. I could hear my husbands frustration rising as he huffed and puffed around the bathroom. He opened every drawer searching furiously and then shut them with a dramatic sigh. Finally, after he exhausted himself in the bathroom he quite nearly stormed the bedroom. The conversation went like this:
"Where are your nail clippers?" He angrily whispered.

"I don't know. Well wait... 'my' nail clippers are in the silver carrying case in the baby's room. Don't you remember seeing me clipping his nails last night?" I sleepily replied.

"NO! I don't...yes, yes, I remember, but I didn't REALIZE you would NEED the ENTIRE CASE to clip his TINY NAILS!" He snorted.

That was the last I saw of him that morning. And certainly, I thought, the last I'd ever see of those nail clippers. Alas, at the age of 34 he too is trying to get his act together with the missing nail clippers nonsense.

"Generally courteous" rares its happy head again...


Oh Crap

Today we are going to buy new ballet shoes, get a hair cut, play hopscotch, and go to a birthday party. That is our plan. We have a plan for every day. Even if its doing laundry and washing toilets, we discuss our plan. All this planning will certainly turn my kids into free-thinking hippies; no one will be able to say I didn't try to teach them organization. Everybody loves a hippie, anyway.

Sometimes in the middle of the day my daughter will concoct her own plan. "Mom I have a plan. Here it is..." Then she'll tell me a nonsensical story with a clear beginning but no end in sight. It will entail part of my original plan for the day with a little toddler twist like, "Then we'll feed the rabbits and rub lotion on their little paws." Her to-do list is far more entertaining than mine. She flips her hands around like a teenager and then ends her plan with, "How's that sound, good?" Of course, it always sounds good to me.

Today's plan, in her opinion, was adversely effected by the rain. We'd already played hopscotch and were inside having lunch when it began to rain. She stood at the backdoor and said, "Oh crap now I can't buy my ballet slippers." I replied, "What'd you say?" She repeated. "Oh crap, I can't buy my ballet slippers. Look the rain." I said, "We don't say 'oh crap' its not nice." She looked at me with the most baffled expression. I said, "Mommy shouldn't say it either." Then she said, "Ohhh ok then."

What can I say? What word can I use when something goes wrong, I stub my toe, or drop something. Do I really have to learn to say nothing at all? Can I just use "bleep." I have come up with a thousand plus ways of not swearing and I really want to keep "crap" but alas, I cannot. Oh heavens what will I do? For pity's sake there aren't enough options. My word the time has gotten away from me. Good grief I must end this post and get in the shower. Holy smokes it really is late. Fiddlesticks I've lost my mind....



Last year we hid Easter eggs in our living room. My husband hid a few in plain sight at the top of a bookshelf and on a window ledge. When Easter morning came around we couldn't say "look higher" enough. She just didn't get the idea of looking higher. This year, she started to look up, not high, but up. It speaks to the concept of seeing the world through the eyes of a child. We are, as parents, reminded that children do not see the world from our perspective.

Last week I gave the chicken my camera. I needed to occupy her completely for as long as possible so that I could exercise in the family room. When I was done, I looked through the pictures and was again reminded of the fact that her perspective is small; she doesn't see the whole table, she sees the cup on it.

I need to remind myself of this altered perspective when parenting. She does not see the big picture, she does not need to. Her view will grow in time, and its my job to teach her about the whole picture. For now, though, we both need to relish the smaller world of us.


Reclaiming My Name

I became Mel in 1992 when one of my new high school friends couldn't remember if it was one L or two, he took the easy way out, and it just stuck. I'd tried Missy on for size as a grade school girl when my older sister came home with the coolest like-named friend. My given name, Melissa, is most usually my preference if only because its most often used. I like my name well enough. Though the first time my daughter called me "mama" its weight pushed my first name aside and opened my heart to something, a club I'd never been part of, and there was no turning back. Mom. Mama. Mommy. The club of women who breathe love of child. Who eat, drink, sleep mom-worry.

Last week when my daughter opted for "Melissa" I didn't think much of it. I assumed if I ignored the casual first name drop I'd sooner return to Mom. How wrong I was. We're in day seven of life on a first name basis and I want it, no need it, to end. Middle of the night, 3 a.m., the child wakes and says, "Melissa, I need go pee." Shopping at Kohl's she struts around, "Oh my! Melissa look at this beautiful dress." Like I'm her girlfriend or aunt or something less.

The fact is, while I become old being called Mom will not. In chatting with a grandmother about my current mom-ailment, she too agreed. Her daughter calls her by her first name and she dislikes it. It lacks the personal connection that mother-daughter relationships are wrought with.

I am certain it will end. I just really want it to be this very instant. I wish I could say that there was a reason she is using my actual name - as if I'd researched the developmental stage, but I'd much rather pout about it and get my Mommy back.


Lesson Learned

If you know me at all, and lets be honest, the ten of you do. You know that I occasionally have gas and that I am not one to hold it if I needn't hold it. I can clean it up for social situations, obviously, I'm human - I know when not to pass gas. At home, however, I haven't taken any precautions.

Lately my husband and I have been talking about how we might need to start cleaning our act up a bit if we're going to raise a little girl to be a little lady. Up to this point the closest we've come to being polite about burps or farts is to say excuse me afterward. Occasionally we raz each other about the sound of the other's passage of gas or the foul odor that follows. We really need to grow up, we know this, but sometimes really, what else is there to talk about? We could go days in silence if it weren't for the obviously necessary comments regarding the others stench. Our daughter has, therefore, developed quite a fart sense of humor. In her opinion, all farts, stinkers, or busters warrant laughter. Not good.

Today I learned a valuable lesson in why I need to up my gas passing etiquette. My stomach was in a bad way this afternoon. I have no idea why, I've not ingested anything that would normally cause gas. In any event, I have delt a few gross ones today. My daughter cannot let a smell go unnoticed. Anywhere, anytime. Her line is consistently that same: "Mom somefing smells." We could be walking through a meadow of flowers and she'd use it. The line gets a lot of play lately because baby number 2 poops A LOT.

This being the case, I could EASILY blame the littlest, but I don't. It just seems mean. He already stinks, so its not fair to blame him for odors he hasn't created. This afternoon after changing his diaper my daughter entered the room. She said, "Mom somfing stinks." I said, "Oh." She said, "Its him." I said, "No, really it isn't him, I stinkered." She replied, "You stink Mom" and then giggled while trying to climb my leg. We then proceeded out to the front yard to play t-ball.

I chose the front yard over the back yard because of the dog-poop-booby-traps in the back yard and all the fun outdoor toys are in the garage. We're out there 30 minutes playing, she and I, while Dad was in back collecting the booby-traps. We were engaged in a lovely game of kick ball in our court when one of the neighbors pulled down the street and then into her drive way. She hadn't met our new addition yet, so she came out to chat and see the baby. We both greeted her, chatted a little, and then the toddler continued her kick ball game.

A moment later, while I stood talking to the neighbor, my daughter reappeared at my left to interrupt our conversation with, "Mommy farts." I tried to ignore her and thought, or hoped, the neighbor hadn't heard. But my girl kept talking and the finally neighbor turned her attention squarely on my three year old. "What sweetie?" She restated, "My mommy, her farts." I laughed so hard I nearly farted. The neighbor politely replied, "Kids say the darndest things." I was red-faced and flailing for something to say when the neighbor furthered the discussion with: "Can I teach you a better word for that?" "Sure" my girl says. Neighbor says, "In our house we say 'beaver' 'Mommy beavered' because that is the sound a beaver makes."

So now, not only do I have to clean up my act and show some class, but I've got to delete that memory from my daughter's brain. I simply cannot have my kid running around using the word beaver unless there is, in fact, a beaver around. Gross. Lesson learned.


Pee Pee on Me

In November I tried to get my daughter to put pee pee in the potty. I thought the pending arrival of child number two warranted the start of this process; however, the girl would not have it. The first day, she was really into the crafty sticker chart I'd posted in the bathroom. The second day we went to the circus and potty training was thrown out the window. The sheer terror of that experience was enough to frighten any tot back into diapers.

I dropped my efforts completely. My sister said "closer to three" - so I waited. In the beginning of January I asked again, "Would you like to put pee-pee in the potty" - and she replied, "Mom, I tell you when I ready." Roger that.

On January 15th, she woke and was ready. We've had a steady, consistent, praise her when she does it attitude - and she's got it down pat. She gets far more upset by any accidents than I do, so we're good to go.

The only real problem with this potty training is that since January 15th I have had more urine on my person than I ever did during the diaper years. I cannot for the life of me figure out what I'm doing wrong. I am wiping front-to-back, as all women do in hopes of avoiding urinary tract issues. I can't make it out of there, though, without piss on my hand, finger, or both. I've considered loading up on the toilet paper; however, I don't want to encourage her to overuse it. As it stands, she think toilet paper grows on trees, so I try to be conservative in my sheet use. In this conservation though, I inevitably shortchange myself and constantly feel like a walking germ - regardless of my incessant hand washing.

I've considered her short stature - maybe once she's a bit taller I'll have more luck. I've considered the height and shape of my toilet bowls. I've considered the step-stool factor. What else could it be that leads to pee pee all over me???


The Money Tree

Sometimes my husband jokes around by saying my thumb is black, not green. He chastises me when I bring new plants into our home, he'll look at it, put his arm around me and say, "Do you think it knows its in for certain death?" He chuckles when my tomato garden produces cherry sized tomatoes rather than large, plump heirloom tomatoes. Yet every year, he applauds my efforts.

Plant effort number 876 was a money tree. Said to be one of the easiest to care for (I read: hardest to kill). I bought it at Ikea, got a really lovely ceramic pot, and a three wheeled tray, of sorts, to place the whole combination atop. It had a fighting chance after I did a little online study on how to care for the plant: let it dry out and then water it, don't put it in direct light. Check and check. Pretty pot and online advice aside, it was really starting to look pathetic, shriveled, sad. I hadn't come to terms with disposal of the once lovely, twisting plant until this morning.

I gave my toddler a bit of play-doh to mess around with. She had already combined the three colors into one, so I wasn't on "play-doh watch", I just wanted to run down and switch the laundry. I thought the play-doh would certainly buy me a little time. Wrong. From my post in the basement laundry room, I heard some pitter-patter feet, some closet doors opening, and then I heard the dog's claws merrily hopping around on the wood floor above my head. I walked upstairs and there before me were the remains of the money tree - scattered all over the entryway. Not a single twig or leaf on the stem of the plant, only leaves thrown about its soil.

My daughter was hiding in the closet. I said, "Hunny, what happened here?" She said, "I'm sorry, Mom." I said, "You know you aren't supposed to play with Mommy's plant. Its special to me." She opened the closet door and said, "Well, I know. I'm sorry. But Roscoe and I were just hi-hoing and hi-hoing. So that's all."

What is the proper response to this? I should have been angry and reprimanded her in some way. Though, part of me was kind of relieved the last-leg money plant had bitten the dust. A few months ago she told me she thought my plant looked sad. I couldn't disagree, but said I was trying to make it look happy again. Today, she took matters into her own hands, and tore the sorry tree to bits. All in the name of hi-hoing.