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Don’t write on that!

So, I’m sure that those of you who are parents are familiar with asking your children not to write on all sorts of things. I can’t even remember all the things I’ve stopped (or tried to stop) one of my children from defacing – walls, couches, furniture, books, their face, other people, the mortgage statement, the cat….it’s a seemingly never-ending battle where there have been times I’ve considered locking up every single writing implement in my house with  more fervor and paranoia than one would with a loaded handgun. 

Today my littlest was writing on herself with a highlighter. I was torn between telling her to stop and also trying to let her have this reasonably safe (it was NON-TOXIC, people!) opportunity to learn the important lesson that her body is her body and it is her prerogative to do with it as she wishes, within reason. 

So she’s sitting there, doodling on her legs and arms with a green highlighter (easy to wash off, I’m actually paying bills, again it’s NON TOXIC….whatever) as I’m half paying attention. 

Then she starts giggling. And stops. And then more giggles. She’s under the table at my feet, bareassed naked from the waist down (judge me, I don’t care. If I decided to make it an issue that my children had to be fully clothes 24/7/365 I would never rest. Ever. I have naked children. I have decided that it’s more important to allow them the freedom to be comfortable in their own bodies rather than force them into clothes because of some ill-conceived notion of impropriety. We try to walk the very thin and sometimes ambiguous line of not making them feel as though there is anything shameful or secretive about their body and also wanting them to be able to respect (some) social norms. And also not attract pedophiles. And yes, I know she’s two. Too intangible of a message, you say? Mayhaps. I don’t care.) 

I glance down at my two year old and see that’s she’s writing on her labia. With a green highlighter. And giggling. What the fuck was I thinking?!!! 

So yes, “Don’t write on your vagina.” is a sentence that actually passed my lips today. I kid you not. This followed with a conversation that went something like this. “But I want to.” “Okay, but don’t.” “But it’s mine.” “I  understand that, but it’s going to be really difficult to clean all that off.” “I’ll do it. It’s my vagina. I like it green.” At which point, I took away the highlighter. This, obviously, caused my toddler to have a raging tantrum, throwing herself on the floor, limbs flailing, wailing at the top of her lungs in true cliched fashion. It took me a few moments to realize that the wailing was actually words: “I want a green vagina! It’s MY vagina! I want it green. I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant to color on my vaginaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.” 

Yup. Just your average Tuesday afternoon in this household. 

Can I open a bottle of wine at 1:27pm or is that just not a good thing? 

 

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“Mama, I’m sick…”

So this morning, I cooked eggs for my daughters. I know this doesn’t sound that earth shattering, but it is. I’m not a morning person. Or much of a cook. Or patient enough to stand in one place and focus on eggs so that they don’t burn. So it was a win. Times three.

I fed the eggs (with homegrown tomatoes, fresh garlic, local peppers and organic spinach – I was really pulling out all the stops!) to my girls, who of course wanted nothing to do with them. (Murphy’s law of parenting….I’ll get around to writing about it…eventually. Maybe.) So we went to play and my little one, Kathryn, decided that my eggs needed more “feasoning” (this is how she pronounces the word “seasoning”) and dumped a shitton of pepper on them. See the picture for reference.

This reminded me of a time when Susan, my not-quite-five-year-old, was the age the two year old is now. It was morning, and I was generally bitchy (see above). Add to that I was about 6 or 7 months pregnant with the new bean and hadn’t been sleeping well because: fetus. So we came downstairs and I got lost in the land of faceverse. I realized after a too long amount of time that I hadn’t heard much from Susan…and silence is never golden when you have a toddler.

I go into the kitchen and discovered that Susan has come across the pepper we’d left on the table from dinner the night before. She had dumped out all. the. pepper. And then tried to eat it. And succeeded, unfortunately for her. “Mama! It’s too spicy!!!”

So I clean up the baby, clean up the pepper, clean up the kitchen, the table,the floor.

And Susan starts sneezing. A lot.

“MAMA! I’m sick! Why am I sick?!!”

You’re not sick, kid. Just dumb. Two year old dumb, but still. Dumb.

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Out of the mouths of babes…

So my husband and I recently purchased our first home, a short sale. Which is truly awesome for my family. It also means we’ve gotten a crash course in home improvement.

Today I was trying to fix something in my dishwasher and I exclaimed “Just get in the hole!” Rather loudly.

Susan, my lovely almost five year old, without missing a beat says “That’s what she said!”

I looked at her, stunned, and said “What did you say?”

She immediately replies “I’m sorry, Mama. Is it supposed to be that’s what your mom says? Or in my pants? It’s really difficult to tell which one is the best choice.”

I mean, she’s not wrong.

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An awakening

So I’m sitting here at a campsite having a moment of revaluation as a parent.

Living with my mother has been challenging for my family. Don’t get me wrong, we are beyond grateful in a time of crisis for our family that has turned into a huge boon for us and our future along the way. But no house was meant to house 8 people (three families) all in very different phases of life for an extended period of time. I’ve lost my way and lost sight of the person I was meant to be to my child(ren). I’m supposed to be the best mother she deserves ESPECIALLY in the hard times. Not only when it’s easy.

I’ve lost sight of that. And I hadn’t even seen it. I’ve used ‘just surviving’ and ‘transition’ and ‘life is hard sometimes’ in the midst of my own pain and lost compass as an excuse to phone it in, yell, be lazy and turn on the TV. When Scott decided not to come camping I thought it’d be a good time for Susan and I to get a break but I just had a surreal hour plus in the tent with her: not worrying about schedules or the baby or my family or the house. She talked to me and I listened. We laughed. I heard, for the first time (again) how kind of a soul she is. We snuggled. I taught her how to make a pallet out of a folded comfortor, just as my father (the king of appreciating the moment) taught me. I was the recipient of a million spontaneous kisses. I learned my daughter believes friendship casts a spell on you (it totally does) and that she still can’t wait to learn to be in love like me and Daddy. We shared chips, hugs, books and so much love. I didn’t even have to ignore the clock, I simply forgot it. She was the one that said to me “Mama, we’re having such a great time that I wish I wasn’t tired…but would it be okay if I went to sleep now?” And when she did, I was touched and I was the one that wanted to cry and wail that I wanted to stay up with her. It gave me a refreshed perspective on what it must be like to be four and a half years old, spending every moment of your day orbiting a bright light in your sky and never wanting to close your eyes and be in the dark.

After she snuggled down in her first ever pallet, I remembered a moment almost exactly 4 years ago when she she was 9 months old: I had had this singular moment of clarity; I sat on the floor with her while she did a puzzle and just…enjoyed the moment. Just enjoyed it. The peace, the quiet, the harmony with the chaos that is this life revolving around Sol on this rock. It is a moment I’ll remember forever. The moments where I can just be are so few I can count them on one hand. When I married my husband, met my future children and nursed my daughters for the first time are among the top few.

I have lost sight of that.

Tonight, here in these woods, brought me back to the priorities of this life.

I need to be a present, engaged, loving parent.

Not just for my kids.

Not just because of my kids.

But for me.

I’d better remember that, lest I lose everything I was ever made to be here for.

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