Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mommy Camp

I have a new respect for Stay At Home Moms. I've been doing it for a almost two weeks now and I'm completely wiped. Completely.

I love my kids, I really do, but this Mommy Camp could use a new director. We've gone on trips the few times I managed to get us all out of the house marginally clean, we've colored chalk on all the pavement within a 10 mile radius, we've blown enough bubbles to soap up all the chalk, and I'm pretty sure all of us have ingested at least a minimal amount of Play-Doh (I have a love/hate relationship with the creator of Play-Doh by the way, but that's for another time.)

I'm tired. We eat, we play, we go out, we come back, we eat, we shlep, we fight, we cry, we eat, we sing, we Facetime everyone we know. And then we look at the clock and it's only 3:00pm. How?

So I've become a little lax with my Rules of This House (yes, that was euphemism in the motherliest of ways). But I can't actually tell them that I give up on my rules, so I have become a master at ignoring things. Here are some rules I no longer enforce:

Only One Person In This House Can Cry At One Time
Don't Eat Off The Floor
Don't Drag Your Blankee Around The House
Don't Swing On The Crib Rail
Don't Drink From The Bathroom Sink (don't judge me; I really tried to keep to this one. The other day Chaya asked me for a drink of water and I sent her to first wash her hands. When she returned, I offered her the cup of water that I had prepared and she looked at me like I had grown a second head. "I already drank, Mommy, from the WATER FOUNTAIN." It took me a few minutes to understand. On account of we don't have a water fountain. On account of we just have a bathroom sink. But I guess it's better than the toilet. Right?)

Every morning Chaya wakes up and asks me, "Is it school TODAY, Mommy?"

And every morning I want to tell her that I feel the same way. That I'm also counting down. That I really don't know what I'm going to do with her. But somehow I always end up telling her that it's going to be another fun day with Mommy and that we are going to have an absolute blast. And the crazy thing is that as I say it I realize I'm not lying (not completely). There really IS something special about spending the day with them. I only wish I could figure out how to make that special feeling last all day.

And how to wake it when she cuts her skirt.

And then her hair.

Both shockingly, "an accident and I won't ever, ever, ever do it again!"

Until then the countdown remains:

Four. More. Days.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

When She Grows Up

The other day my daughter randomly said to me, "Wanna know what I want to be when I grow up?"

I answered with a casual, "Sure, I'd love to!" but inside my head I was waving pompoms! I was all YES! It's Happening! She's being creative without any prompting! She's going to ace school and have no issues. Ever! I'm doing something right! Heck, I must be doing EVERYTHING right!"

And then she continued, "I want to be a Mommy," and I felt an instant deflate. Seriously? That's not creative. And anyway, it's lame.

"Why do you want to be a Mommy?" I challenged. Her face lit up, "When I'm a Mommy I can drive a car, go shopping by myself, fold laundry, touch the oven, and take a shower!"

I still was not impressed.

"Why else do you want to be a Mommy? What is your favorite thing about mommies?"

"Well, maybe I can go on the computer, and I can wash dishes, and I can talk on the phone, and I can change the baby's diaper, and feed the baby, and buy stuff on the computer."

"Those things are fun?" I asked.

"YOU always like to do EVERYTHING that a Mommy does, right? So me too when I'm a Mommy."

And then my pompoms were back in action. With a side of being ashamed of my initial (and thankfully quiet) reaction to her admission.

'Cause you know what? I really am doing it right. She wants to be a Mommy and wash dishes, do laundry, and chauffeur the kids around. She is excited about making dinner and buying groceries. And that's because she sees me do it with a smile. (Most of the time.)

Being a Mommy is NOT LAME. Shame on me.

I'm not perfect and I certainly have my moments. But that day I realized that I am her hero and she is watching every single thing I'm doing. When I run our home with a smile on our face and invest myself in the moment, in being proud of who I am and what I do, I am teaching her that there IS beauty and wonder in being a mother. And it's not all about the giggles and perfectly clean houses and moms in pearls and heels in the magazine ads. It's about being present.

I am proud that I am a mother. I want my daughter to be proud of the very same thing. And I am so very grateful that she can absorb everything she witnesses in this house and use it to think and plan creatively for her future.

It is also worth mentioning that she continued on with, "And I could wear whatever I want when I'm a Mommy. Like sparkly purple dresses and sparkly pink shoes with flowers that you didn't buy me."

Monday, August 12, 2013

More No

So I've noticed that a lot of mothers (yours truly included) have a hard time saying NO.

You are blinking at the screen. Probably trying to decide if I've gone mad. What does she mean she rarely says no? Don't most mothers worry that they say no too much?

So here's the thing. I say no. I say no no NO! I say NO WAY! And absolutely not, uh uh, no way, not gonna happen. I say all that (in a gentle, loving but firm voice, of course) and I say it a lot. But there are dozens of times that I should be saying no and I say something else instead. Like, not now or maybe soon or I don't think so or I'm not sure. 

I know I'm not the only one. The other day I passed by a mother and her litter of kids near a construction site. And I heard her call out to her son, "Moishele, we're not playing with concrete now." Because obviously playing with concrete was on the schedule for later. 

And in this house, it happens all the time.

"Mommy, can you buy me a purple dress with sparkles?"
"Hmmmm, I'm gonna look into that."

"Mommy, can I color with your inky pens? I never ever EVER got to."
"Let me think about it."

"Mommy, can I have a chocolate treat today after breakfast?"
"Maybe after lunch. Or dinner."

"Mommy, can we go to the new museum again?" 
"Oh, the one that's ridiculously far away? That required actual movement and interaction on my part? You know what? That's a great idea. I'm gonna talk to Tatty about it later. Or never. Probably never. But I stopped speaking out loud because otherwise you'd be screaming from the minute you'd hear me say never"

And there you have it. I hedge because I'm trying to ward of potential tantrums. Well, committed tantrums. Absolutely reliable tantrums. 

I have no good advice. I am simply publicizing the fact that I am a wimp. Or just a regular Mommy with a limited amount of patience. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Don't Ask, Don't Tell does not apply to painting without supervision, playing with Play-Doh or waking your sister early from her nap.

It does not apply to using my makeup, nor generously washing the fine china.

Don't factor it in when sharing the dollars you found in my wallet with your friends, and kindly don't consider it when redecorating the kitchen walls.

It doesn't cover playing outside alone (how in the world do learn how to open every door, anyway?), nor adding treats to the shopping cart at the grocery store.

It is not in effect when taking home toys from school (where's the blushing emoticon?) and cannot be used to excuse any toddler hair cutting.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a strict policy that must be applied to certain situations, such as:

1. Witnessing Mommy eating a chocolate snack.
2. Overhearing anyone using bad words.
3. Seeing someone dressed in something that I'd never let your wear.

Today was Twin Day in camp and my daughter had a very hard time with the concept. First, she didn't want to be the same as anyone (this from the kid who begged me to buy her sandals just like everyone else had.) Then she panicked: how will anyone be able to tell me and my friend apart from each other if we are dressed the same?! (In her defense, her good friends are twins and she often has to ask them straight up for their names because she otherwise has trouble telling them apart.) Then she went impossible: I want to be twins with EVERYBODY in my class. Not just the person that Morah decided. You have to text all the Mommies!! I'M NOT GOING TO PUT THAT ON!

In the end I had to call out my inner Motherly.

"How about this? How about if you dress just like your fake twin, Mommy will let you wear your special silver shoes to camp? But remember, you need to be very careful with them. This is a special privilege that Mommy is giving you because I know that this twin thing is very hard for you. Would you like to do that?"

The answer was an enthusiastic YES! I'm hoping that when she gets to camp and finds her twin also mysteriously in silver shoes, she'll just be blown away by the odds.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Creaky Floorboards And The Time of Naps

So there I am.

One foot up, one foot down. Balancing precariously as I slowly reach out one arm to lean against the wall. I have a half chewed cracker in my mouth but I am careful not to take a bite. Not to make a sound.

I just put my baby in for a nap and then stepped on the creaky floorboard. THE CREAKY FLOORBOARD. I knew it was there. Every mother knows where the creaky floorboards are. It's the first thing we do when we move in: walk around with house with the blueprint and mark down all the creaky floorboards. Market value goes up if the floorboards near the baby's room are creak-free.

But mine aren't creak-free. They're creak-full. And they just creaked.

I have my head cocked to the side and I'm using any muscles possible to try and stretch my ear out. Did I just hear her move? I'm sure she just sat up. Omigod, she knows. She knows I'm here. She knows I'm up.

What to do?

My second foot is getting tired now. DO. NOT. DROP. THAT. FOOT! I would make a good soldier. Or a sergeant. Maybe both. Why are you thinking about this now? You need a strategy. A good plan. My remaining brain cells are geared up for action.

Kitchen is only steps away. If you can make it to the tile floors you have smooth sailing until you get to the dining room. If you take a really big step over the threshold and make it over to the side, it's only six steps to the table. Up on the table and down on the chair on the other side and then you're nearly at the living room. One crawl will bring you to the couch and from there you can easily climb to the computer desk. You can do this.

Then my phone rings. MY PHONE.

The phone that's silent all day. The phone that I often find in the pantry. The phone that registers six missed calls in the span of five minutes, all from my sister, who knows that the phone is somewhere in the house and hopes that if she just keeps calling, I'll eventually trace the vibrations and pick up.

That phone. That phone rings. Except it's not on silent today. Nope. Nu uh. It's on loud today. Really, super loud. And it's belting out an irish folk dance. And omigod she can hear it! She knows my phone is ringing. She knows I must be around. She knows I'm up.

The ringing stops. My breathing regulates. Okay, okay, she hasn't made a sound yet. We're still good.

The ringing starts again.

It must be my sister. Why is she calling? Who calls when it's nap time? Doesn't everyone know that I'm putting my baby to sleep now? Doesn't she know that my phone is not on silent? Why doesn't she know? Why doesn't the whole world KNOW and PLAN according to NAP TIME?!

She's going to call another 4 times.

I count to ten. I don't know why. I don't even get the whole counting to ten thing. What is the purpose? To see if you can remember your numbers in a crisis? Who needs numbers now? I need to get to that phone!

It hits me then that the phone ringing is probably louder than the sound of the creaky floorboard.

I get the phone.

I check the baby monitor.

That kid is fast asleep and it don't look like she's gonna surface any time soon.

I've got the blueprint in my hands and I'm crawling.

Just in case.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Clean Up Song

So in all my early childhood education classes I was taught that singing is a great way to engage children when attempting to transition from one activity to the next. Especially clean up.

So I tried that today. And I found myself crawling around collecting Lego pieces while Rivka danced to my clean up song. There really should be a disclaimer.

"Mommy, how come you took my clock with the nightlight out of my room?"

"Um, I think it was broken. Yeah, it broke. It just wasn't working well."

"But how come it's in your room now? And how come you get all the light in your room? I want the clock in my room with the light so that I can see everything in middle of the night."

Sigh. "But the light was helping you see and then you just wanted to see instead of sleep."

"Nu uh. I just wanted to come to your room instead of sleep."

Oh. Yippee.

I'm thinking of asking The Children's Place advertising team to branch out and start sending me reminders for the things I need to get done. That email set up is intense. Their program is batting 1 email every 2 hours, maybe? I'd unsubscribe from them but it there is something about living in NYC that makes me feel as though having a stalker is kind of a rite. Plus, it's fun to bet on how many times their ONE DAY ONLY SUPER SECRET PREVIEW MEGASONIC SALE is going to renew itself. So far I'm winning.