The kid’s on his own (see also: poop in the bathtub)

I was giving the kids a bath the other night when a splashing contest ensued, and amid all the laughing and shrieking and water spraying, Wyatt slipped under water mid-splash, mouth open. As I dove to retrieve him, I slammed my knee into the side of the tub. I pulled him up and out of the tub by his arm. He gasped for air, then cried and looked at me as if he wasn’t sure whether I was his steadfast savior or the root of his calamitous suffering. I woke up the next morning to find a an angry bruise blossoming on my kneecap and thought of eggplants. Actually, I spent more time than I care to admit considering the spectrum of nightshade vegetables and which one my kneecap most resembled.

Rewind a few weeks prior to the above incident: Same bathtub. Same kids. I noticed Wyatt being very still and quiet in the corner of the tub. I asked if he was doing what I thought he was doing, but he shook his head no in that sweet and innocent way of a two year old. And then he waved at me and said, “Hi, mama,” which should have tipped me off because that’s Wyatt’s dead giveaway that he’s doing something he knows he shouldn’t be doing. Not one minute later, guess what floated into view?

Moral of the story: I’m not bathing Wyatt anymore. The kid’s on his own.

Wyatt Joy, Lovely Joy

the cuteness slays me

Totally unrelated but worth mentioning: Mia is watching TV in the next room, and this is what I hear:

Zach: “Is that Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle?”

Mia: “Yeah”

Zach: “Yessss.” (Imagine a fist pump.) “I know them.”

Happy Friday, friends.

Expect the Unexpected (In which I discuss body image after baby…or babies)

What I’ve learned from parenting so far is this: Expect the unexpected. Planning a picnic? Don’t forget the umbrella. Scheduled a family photo shoot? Learn to love photos in which someone is crying (not necessarily a child). Going out for drinks with the girls? Until some sweet child you have no choice but to claim as yours loses her dinner all over your sweater and hangs onto you for dear life as she carries on with a scene rivaling those of The Exorcist (not speaking from personal experience or anything). Oh, and that uterus of yours that’s built to house one baby? Congratulations, you’re having twins!

Expect the unexpected. I should eat these words because when the doctors at my ob-gyn practice warned me that my stomach would be stretched beyond recognition (I’m talking postpartum here), I didn’t believe them. They told me that most women who have multiples end up getting tummy tucks, but I brushed it off without a second thought. I’ve always been (somewhat) active, I try to eat healthy, I’m not overweight by any means, and within weeks after giving birth to Mia I was back in fighting form. Maybe not pre-baby form, but fighting form nonetheless.

After I gave birth to the boys (via c-section), I knew it was going to be a long road back to fighting form when I left the hospital nearly the same size I was when I went in. Worse, my entire body was swollen. I told Zach that I looked like a completely different person. He joked that I looked like I was wearing a fat suit while my dad thought it was okay to verbalize that I resembled someone with elephantitis. Score one for the men in my life.

Before we left the hospital, the nurses told me to drink water like it was my job, so I did. Eventually, the extra fluid drained out of my body and everything was pretty much back to normal. Except for my stomach.

There’s something we do as women that I think is fantastic: we talk about stretch marks and c-section scars and varicose veins as battle wounds, scars worthy of superheroes, the marks of bringing life into the world. We build each other up, confirming our roles as warriors, as the bearers of pain that threatens to split us in two but one that is uniquely ours. We know that the pain is only something to be pushed aside in order to get to the prize because what’s waiting for us at the finish line is a moment, both permanent and fleeting, that can’t be put into words: the euphoria of holding our baby for the first time, of looking into their eyes and speaking that language between mother and baby, the one that gets lost in translation to anyone else. And when we bounce back after giving birth (and by “bounce back” I mean work our asses off), we’re the first to cheer each other on and trade high-fives because we too have fought/are fighting the battle against baby bulge. And if we’re one of the lucky ones to have given birth to multiples (I mean that earnestly, by the way), our climb is only that much steeper.

But I wonder if the battle wounds are visible to only those who’ve gone to battle. Are stretch marks recognized as the mappings of motherhood by anyone other than mothers? Is all the “Yay, rah! Go us!” a grand facade to hide the truth that when we look in the mirror we still mourn our childless bodies? (Or maybe that’s just me.) When I look in the mirror I think of that game, Which one of these is not like the other? It’s my stomach. Still a bit paunchy no matter the sit-ups crunched or miles ran with loose, wrinkled skin rivaling that of an 80-year-old and a sad, droopy area formerly known as my bellybutton.

I’ve thought about this frequently since having the boys, when the ghost of abs past haunts me, and I wrestle with wanting a tummy tuck vs saying, whatever, I went to battle, I’m strong, I am woman hear me roar. It’s just that sometimes I would like to roar with a stomach that doesn’t look like a warm slab of dough thrown against the wall.

infant twin boys

I know they were worth it, okay? I know.

Twins with straws (and water)

Bendy Straw /ben-dee straw/ noun

A flexible plastic object that, when combined with a small cup of water, will provide at least 10 minutes of free entertainment until water is dumped and highchair tray becomes a water table. Use your time wisely.

See also: “Winter is killing me slowly”

straw + water = entertainment

In other news, I’m taking this fabulous blog course by Holly Becker of decor8. The course runs until the end of the month so posting will probably be lighter until then. I have a lot of ideas about what I want to do with this space, but I need some direction, inspiration and cheering on to get it there. So far, this course has been bananas* in all three areas.

*Bananas /buh-nan-uh z/ adjective

1. slang for crazy good

see also: a tropical fruit that’s bananas in potassium

Oh hello, Monday.

 

It’s nothing personal, Barbie, I just don’t want to hang out with you



You know when someone asks you for a favor and it catches you off guard and you mentally start ticking off the million things you need to get done and it’s really the last thing you want to do so you stutter through an excuse, only to be ridden with guilt after the fact? This is kind of like that.

I hate playing Barbie

Here’s the thing: I suck at playing Barbie.

When Mia was about 3 ½ years old, she liked to play this game where she was Cinderella and I was the evil stepmother. She made me give her orders, and she wanted me to be ruthless about it. I had a hard time getting into character at first. I couldn’t be mean to this cherub of a girl and instead of barking orders I would grab her up and kiss her face off, which annoyed her because Cinderella’s stepmother would never do that. But Mia was very serious about this game and soon I was barking at her to make her bed and fold clean towels and dust the nightstands. And she did. That was a fantastic game. That was a game I could get behind. I miss that game.

The other day when Mia asked me to play with her, I said, “Hey, remember that game we used to play?” and filled her in. She looked at me like I had grown a third eye.

“That does NOT sound fun. Let’s play Barbie!”

And then my eyes glazed over and I started doing this twitching thing, which was completely involuntary.

It’s not that I have anything against Barbie. I don’t dwell on her superficiality or the gender stereotypes she embodies or her unrealistic body image. There are a ton of debates out there on whether Barbie is a positive or negative influence on girls. This isn’t intended to be one of them, but I will say that all those aspects for which feminists admonished Barbie are so heavily filtered into our society now, does the Barbie argument really hold up? Furthermore, is it not up to us as moms to talk to our girls about body image and stereotypes? But I digress.

As I was saying, I’ve been roped into playing Barbie lately and I can count maybe one other thing I dislike as much as playing Barbie and that is…well no, actually, I can’t think of anything.

I would rather let Mia run through the house trailing open tubes of glitter than play with Barbie.

I would rather let her play in the sprinkler and then traipse mud all through the house than play with Barbie.

I would rather play “Mommy, watch this. Look at me, Mommy. Mommy, are you watching?” while Mia juggles a balloon/tries to stand on her head/dribbles a ball/practices the splits for hours on end than play with Barbie.

I would love to color or paint or do puzzles or bake something or read piles of books or build a tent. And so her requests to play Barbie are usually met with hesitation, excuses, and/or manipulation into playing something else, and then I feel guilty because since she’s been on this Barbie kick she’s engaged in more imaginative play than I’ve witnessed in a while.

So as I’m finishing this up, guess who just mozied on in here to ask if I can play Barbie?

“You promised, Mommy.”

This is true. I did. I promised yesterday when I was stammering through my excuses that I would play Barbie today.

“Let’s pretend that they’re going camping only the Mommy has to work so only the sisters go camping and they find this magical castle with princesses…”

Ugh, the twitching.

The Big, Yellow School Bus: A Cautionary Tale

  • Fact: Approximately 480,000 school buses transport children to and from school (and activities, field trips, etc.) daily.
  • Fact: 25 million children — over half of America’s school children — ride a school bus daily.
  • Fact: An average of 6 school children are fatally injured inside school buses annually.
  • Fact: About 16 children are fatally injured in the loading and unloading zone around school buses annually.
  • Fact: The average heart rate of a woman after witnessing the near striking of her child by a school bus is 890,349,834,983,948,938,498.

Okay, so I made up that last one.

This is how the story goes:

Yesterday morning Mia ran out the front door, down our driveway and across the street to wait for the school bus, just like every morning. I stood in the doorway to watch, just like every morning. As the bus approached, I waved and told Mia I love her,

           just. like. every. morning.

Yesterday was warm, springlike and misty. The bus driver had his window open. He pulled up to our stop and heard me telling Mia I love her. No, he didn’t hear that, but he heard me say something.

“What?” he yelled.
“Oh, nothing,” I yelled back. “I was just telling her goodbye.”
“Oh, okay,” he said, and started to pull away.

Mia had just crossed the street. There was no way she could have been on the bus at that point, but I couldn’t see her as that mammoth yellow vehicle was blocking my view. A million thoughts ran through my head as I yelled for him to stop. Where was she? Surely she’s not trying to get his attention, to go after it. Surely she knows to back up onto the sidewalk and stay put.

How could he not see her? She was wearing a bright green raincoat and sparkly shoes. Not to mention she’s made of rainbows and moonbeams and stardust. The girl practically glows. HOW COULD HE NOT SEE HER?

He heard me screaming and stopped. “I’m so sorry!” he yelled, shaking his head. “I didn’t see her.” Apparently, what he got from our brief exchange was that Mia wasn’t going to be on the bus this particular morning.

Under the belly of the bus, Mia’s legs, clad in faded jeans and those sparkly shoes, ran the length of the school bus to climb aboard. The doors hissed shut. I saw her silhouette through the windows as the bus driver pulled away once again. It was only after the bus had gone that the reality of what just happened, what could have happened, suckerpunched me in the gut.

Last night Mia and I had a heart-to-heart at bedtime. We went over all the safety precautions of crossing the street and getting on and off the bus and riding the bus. She told me that she had, in fact, tried to get the driver’s attention as she skipped alongside the bus. I explained why this wasn’t a good idea and what to do instead.

She yawned and asked, “You just want me to stand there and yell, Hey! You forgot about me?”

“Yes, I do,” I said. “Well, I want you to stay put on the sidewalk until the bus comes to a complete stop and then you can get on. But if Mr. Carl doesn’t see you and starts to drive away, then yes, I want you to stay where you are. The yelling is optional.”

“Mommy?”
“Hmm?”

But there was no more. She had already closed her eyes, so I tiptoed out of her room and closed the door, trailing bits of moonbeam and stardust behind me.