Friday, February 19, 2010

Where babies poop sunshine

There is a tiny children's library in the mall near my home. They host story time and sing-alongs for kids throughout the week, and the two times I've taken Kate, she nearly worked up a lather she was so stoked to be clapping, swaying and watching tons of babies and moms basically make fools of themselves. I was horrified the first time I went. I literally thought to myself, "I don't belong here." This happened the second time we went back, but despite all my misgiving I saw how much Kate was enjoying it, so I vowed to make it a priority that we go once a week and that I actively participate instead of thinking how much more I would enjoy it with a cocktail in hand.

This morning, Kate woke early and surly. I mean, this was a girl who was NOT a happy camper. And for no obvious or outward reason. I called Ben to complain about how hard life is when your toddler thinks you are an idiot and he invited me to meet him out for lunch. I figured having Ben in charge for an entire lunch hour was just the break I needed so I loaded Kate in the car seat where she screamed at top voice for the full 15 minutes it took to get to the restaurant. As soon as we entered the door and she saw Daddy though, girl turned into an absolute angel. I mean, playing peek a boo, waving, flirting with strangers and all around charming the pants off everyone around her. I knew better. While young, she is still my daughter and her ability to manipulate the people around her are uncanny. But at least she was good, and she ate like a champ. Half an avocado, chicken, black beans, corn. This girl was taking it DOWN.

After lunch, Ben put her in the car seat and she groused slightly until he closed the door and was out of ear shot. And then, as soon as she knew we were alone, she gave a piercing howl and proceeded to give me an ass chewing for just being alive. I decided that it was now the perfect time to go to the mall for the sing-along, because I could not stand the thought of taking Kate home and being yelled at for an entire afternoon. I figured the class would entertain her and I may even get to do some shopping afterwards.


We arrived slightly late and took a seat in the corner. Now, I probably will have to do a whole other post dedicated to the stay-at-home mom in Dallas, but needless to say some moms intimidate the hell out of me -- and this class was full of them. I found myself apologizing when Kate crawled over to play with someone else's baby, because everyone else's kids are just kind of sitting around and staring into space or actually singing along, and Kate wants to, you know, PLAY. Like, come ON, what is WRONG with you? You don't get it, here you just stick my fist in your mouth, like this...

And then I'm apologizing for my daughter sticking her full fist in some kids mouth. Who, by the way, didn't really seem to mind, but whatever.

So I keep Kate in my lap during the singing, and she really is just NOT enjoying it. But I grit my teeth and we stay through the entire half hour. Once the formal class is finished and people start to file out, I let Kate down to cut a rug, and she is crawling around like a manic off her meds. At one point I look down to see her urp up a little lunch and crawl right through it. I'm embarrassed and start to swing down to grab her but she is on the move and before you can say "STOP, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!" she horks up her entire lunch, I'm talking PROJECTILE vomits, all over the floor next to some woman's shoe.

Some women's DESIGNER shoe. I'm stunned. She is stunned. Kate is FINALLY happy and starts babbling as she PLAYS WITH HER VOMIT ON THE FLOOR.

It is at that moment that I seriously hoped lightening would strike me dead. Sure, Kate would be an orphan, but Ben has a good family support system, and I think they would be okay. I start spewing apologies as I mop up the mess and can literally feel my face go from embarrassed red to KILL ME, KILL ME, KILL ME red.

We hustled out of there and I rushed to the car, where I stripped Kate naked and strapped her in her seat. Despite having just emptied the contents of her stomach, she seemed to finally be back to my sweet and loving baby. She stroked my face and cooed at me and there was no screaming or fussing of any kind. I got her home and into bed and she conked out and is still sleeping. My guess is that she is probably is having lovely dreams of puppies and rainbows and music sing-alongs with bells.

I on the other hand have the shakes, nausea and am dreaming of world where babies poop sunshine. Where, oh where, is THAT world? I'd be a really good mommy there...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My commitment

In our kitchen is a framed photo that was signed by a bunch of our friends on the night of our engagement party. I'm not sure why, but lately every time I pass it I focus on a note in the upper right hand corner. It says, "Don't forget to have fun."

At the time, that little note seemed so funny. I mean seriously, Ben and I? We were the epitome of fun. We could have been the King and Queen of the Fun Prom if there were such a thing. I mean, okay, its not like I ever removed my panties and danced on a bar, so maybe I'm not THAT fun, but we still had a few good laughs every day we spent together.

And while it seems amazing that it is even possible, I think Ben and I have forgotten to have fun lately. Ending each day exhausted, stressed and thanks to our little germ factory, sick, we often can't work up enough energy to talk to each other, let alone do something FUN. In fact, I noticed the other night that more often than not, after Kate is down we spend time on the sofa on our respective iPhones doing something social with other people (Facebook, Twitter, Words with Friends) rather than interacting with each other.

We used to have so much fun together. We were always going out with friends, playing Wii or a board game, going for a jog or playing tennis. Then I got pregnant and was always tired. We both became stressed about work and life decisions. To work or not to work. What to do next in life. Feeling the pressure of supporting an entire family on just one income. It all become a lot.

Now, don't get me wrong, we still have fun. We just have to work harder at it than we used to, and sometimes it just feels like a bit too much.

This past weekend, Texas experienced an unprecedented snowfall. While the rest of the country may be tired of the white stuff making life miserable, we were ecstatic. The city shut down on Friday and Ben and I both worked from home with a fire in the fireplace, hot coffee in our cups and Kate playing on the floor. When Kate went down for her nap, I talked Ben into taking a work break and going outside to build a snowman with me. I used the excuse that I wanted Kate to have one to take photos with, but truly I wanted to recapture some of our old selves. We pulled on our warmest sweatshirts and found gardening gloves in the garage (yes, we don't own snow gloves... we live in TEXAS for God's sake). And we went outside and built a damn good snowman.
And it was fun. We threw snow at each other, we borrowed a carrot and coal from a neighbor, gave another neighbor tips on rolling snow and ended up with the biggest (and best dressed) snowman on our block. After Kate woke up we took some photos with the snowman to commemorate the day it snowed in Dallas.

My heart was full. And I knew that I wanted to recreate it by taking steps to be more active, more aware and more PRESENT in my day-to-day life with my amazing family. I am so blessed, and so in love with the life I've been given. And I know that it is up to me to take advantage of every single moment, every single second and treasure it.

And for that reason, today I made the commitment to give up my social networks for Lent. I will no longer rock Kate to sleep while reading updates on Facebook. I will talk to my spouse instead of Tweeting the things I'm thinking. I will create opportunities for cherished memories with people I love, instead of interacting with people I sort of know. That is my commitment. I can't wait to get started.
Seriously, we only had mini-carrots so we had to borrow a nose-size carrot from our neighbor. The hat, mine. Pretty sweet right? I bought it about a year ago and quickly realized it was a mistake when Ben mocked me relentlessly. I never wore it in public. Glad Frosty got to rock it.Ben is 6'7" at least. So this snowman is nearly 7 feet tall. Yes, I give you permission to be amazed. Ben nearly threw his back out getting the middle lifted into place.

Kate is just confused by all the white stuff. I also think she may remember the incident where we sat her in snow for a photo opp during Christmas, without gloves or ski pants, so she is a bit wary of what is going to happen next.But when standing, with gloves and shoes on... yeah, this white stuff is kind of cool.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Funny Valentine

Today seems like a good day to share the moment my heart was swept away from me. It was only a week ago actually. Saturday, February 6, 2010. A day that will live with me forever.

My family was in town, and I was given the luxury of a long shower (without cartoons or wailing baby in the background) while Kate entertained my folks. Once clean, dry, dressed and -- HAIR DID -- I came back into the living room and scooped Kate up for a hug while I chatted with the group. Obviously, I wasn't paying her enough attention, so Kate reached up her perfect, tiny little hands and placed them on either side of my face until I faced her and looked into her eyes. Then, ever so gently, she leaned forward and gave me the most gentle and loving kiss I've ever received. I nearly cried it was so sweet. It was if she was saying, "I know you weren't gone long, but I want you to know that I missed you and I love you."

The thing is, I know Kate loves me. She cuddles and snuggles and wants me around when she is hurt or tired. But she had never kissed me before. Our funny bunny always ducked when we'd come at her with a kiss, so when she wanted to show a little affection, she would gently lay her forehead against ours. But we couldn't get her to kiss us no matter how hard we tried.

And that is the part that melts my heart the most, that I wasn't looking for a kiss. I wasn't puckered up at her, trying to teach her what "kiss" meant or even trying to sneak in a cuddle. At that moment, while I was holding her she somehow connected the love we feel for her with the act of giving her a kiss, and she felt that love and wanted to share that with me. It humbled and amazed me.

The group "aaaahhhhed" -- so of course my little showgirl gave me six more kisses in a row. The last four or so open-mouthed as she grinned at her fans. And of course then she got bored with the game and was ready to be put down so she could go terrorize the dogs, or eat a leaf or poke a finger in a light socket, and the tender moment was all but forgotten for her.

But I will never forget it as long as I live.