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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Where is my naptime?!
I live for naptime. I admit it.

My day starts at 7:30 a.m., when my one-year old daycare baby arrives. My husband takes our 10 year old twins to school at 8 a.m. Then I spend the rest of the morning on the floor playing with the babies, changing the babies, feeding the babies, distracting the babies, dancing with the babies, watching Sesame Street with the babies and so on until 12:30 p.m. Then my neighbor picks up YoungestBoy for kindergarten.

I put the baby boy to bed and nurse my daughter to sleep. By the time People's Court ends at 1 p.m., she's asleep and I have two hours to myself.

Except for today. She snoozed while she nursed and then at 1 p.m., when I gently placed her in her crib, she sat up and screamed. I tried again, but to no avail. She's skipping her nap today.

I made my lunch anyway, hearts of Romaine with a can of tuna. She ate the tuna off my salad.

I called my husband to complain.

It's not that she's crabby or whiny. It's just that she's awake! I need her to sleep. I need silence. I need time to catch up with the laundry and the dishes. I need to be able to walk from one room into another without her panicking and screaming her cute little head off. I went into the laundry room while she was watching Teletubbies and when I came out, she'd scampered upstairs and was in the hallway shrieking. She thought she was following me.

I am so now so desperate that I gave her the box of pop-up tissues to play with.

This child wants my undivided attention at all times and in fact, is fussing now on my lap. Sigh. Twelve hours is a very long time to spend with a one year old!

* * * * * * * * * * *

Some people like to work in fits and starts. I know people like this. They begin a project, then break for breakfast. Start another job, then decide to run some errands. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Not only do interruptions not bother them, but they actually create their own interruptions. Somehow, they accomplish a lot, everything they need to and more.

I hate working like that. I like to work until a job is done. I like to work first, play later. I hate being interrupted. Unfortunately for me, motherhood is one big interruption.

I had a little flicker of realization today. My husband keeps asking (taunting, really) when I am going to write my first novel. I just roll my eyes. I have no time! Well, I have time, but it's interrupted time. Little, chopped up snippets of time. (Until night, when I'm worn out.)

He can accomplish things, even when he's interrupted. I get flustered and my brain starts to rattle around in my head and my eyes blur over and I just can't think. Sometimes, I'm thinking while I'm washing dishes, orderly thoughts lined up nice and neat in my head and then the phone will ring and two kids will talk to me at once and the baby will screech and all those thoughts fly into disarray.

And I have to think if I'm going to write. I know I'll have to retreat inside myself and kind of be unavailable for a time. I'll need blocks of time, uninterrupted by the buzzer on the dryer and the phone and a baby crying and fifth grade homework.

Until then, I'll think as much as I can and wonder if I should write that novel in first or third person.

Posted by Mel at 2:05 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 10:43 PM PDT
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Monday, 13 October 2003
Baby Miracles
Babygirl is 13 and a half months old, almost. Today, she walked down the cement stairs in the back yard without holding on to anything. She was chasing a ball.

While we were in the back yard, she begged until I gave her a garden tool, so she "helped" me dig up weeds.

She writes with a pencil. In fact, she insists on writing with any pencil or crayon she spies.

Two days ago, she waved a bubble wand and created bubbles! (Over and over again, despite the October chill in the air.)

Music makes her dance. She'll even say "dance" if I ask her if she'd like some music.

She figured out how to blow on a whistle today (it was actually the top portion of a recorder). Her little cheeks puffed out and she'd toot. I'd laugh, she'd giggle and do it again.

But today's nap was only twenty minutes long! I was so disappointed to hear her wake up. She went down without a fuss at 8 p.m.

I watched her run in the kitchen this afternoon (dirty dishes in the sink and crumbs in the carpet) and thought that I probably won't remember so much of these days. I won't remember her four-toothed grin, her toddling gait, her interest in sticking her finger in my nose. I won't remember the dishes or the crumbs, either!

So, while waiting tedious hours for nap-time and building a three-block tower fifteen times in a row and watching baby temper tantrums when she turns her back to me and clenches her fists and screams, I will try to see the miracle of her. I will try to be present in the moment. I will try to memorize her blond curls and her denim-blue eyes. I will not wish away these weeks and months.

In another moment, she'll be going to college and walking down the aisle and having babies of her own. And I'll miss having her finger up my nose.

Posted by Mel at 11:17 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 10:44 PM PDT
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Sunday, 12 October 2003
Sundays At My House
Sundays mean church at our house. Even though the twins suddenly developed stuffy noses when I announced that we would, indeed, be going to church this rainy morning.

"But, Mom, I'm sick!" TwinBoyA said.

"I'm sick, too!" TwinBoyB said.

"I don't care." I said. "We're going."

I showered before Babygirl woke up, then supervised the boys as they dressed, gave them donuts leftover from yesterday and combed their hair. When Babygirl woke up, I nursed her and then dressed her in a dress and tights. With the children presentable, I turned my attention to myself.

But, I have a corn on my toe. It appeared some weeks ago, this spot where it felt like a toenail was jabbing into my almost-pinky toe. I examined it and self-diagnosed it as a corn, then treated it myself with some acid I bought at Target. All seemed well, but now, apparently, I'm going to die of a toe corn. It hurts more than ever.

So, getting dressed was a challenge. No pumps for me. No pantyhose. I wanted to go barefoot.

Now, Babygirl was not excited about the idea of being put down. Have you ever tried to put on eyeliner while holding a one-year old? I stood her on the counter while I lined my eyes and put on the rest of my face. But I had to put her down while I pulled on some clothes (black knit pants, black shirt, black shoes--ouch, that toe hurts). She screamed, but I was dressed.

We arrived at church fifteen minutes early. I concentrated on not limping. I intended to claim a certain back pew for my rowdy clan, but it was already reserved with someone's purse and Bible. Drat. We sat in the second to last pew and Babygirl immediately decided that something was not right in her world.

Her whines became howls. I have no idea what upset the delicate balance of her universe, but sure enough, I had to take her to the nursery before church even started. I left the boys in the care of a couple who are grandparents. Their cousins and grandmother would eventually join them on the back pew.

Babygirl sat on my lap for a good forty-five minutes in the nursery before she felt comfortable enough to venture off in search of toys. I enjoyed visiting with the volunteer mom who was staffing the nursery.

On the way home from church, five and a half year old YoungestBoy says, "Mom, I was the funniest kid in Sunday School!"

I said, "You were?"

"Yes," he said, "Whenever they asked me any questions, I just said, 'bacon!'"

"Bacon?" I said.

"Yes, bacon!" he answered triumphantly.

I do not know why, but apparently this is the pinnacle of humor when you are five.

So, I did not sing a hymn this morning. I did not pray with the congregation. I did not hear the solist, nor the choir. I did not listen to a sermon.

But all is not lost! I had a refreshing conversation in the nursery. And miraculously, the twins apparently received a complete healing. Their colds instantly vanished the second we left church.

Bacon!

Posted by Mel at 8:57 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 10:47 PM PDT
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Saturday, 11 October 2003
The beginning
Note: I created this site in October, but this was written last February.

February 8, 2003.

I am the mother of boys. Three boys. The twins are almost 10 and the youngest is two weeks away from being five.

Before I had these boys, I used to think I was going to be a wonderful mother. I would teach the children to read and cuddle them in bed and tell them bedtime stories. I would prepare crafts in advance for them to do and allow them to paint whenever they wanted. I would bake them cookies and healthy meals and they would love vegetables. I would cheer for them and hug them and be a room mother and make sure their socks were really, really white. My house would be clean and tidy and ready for company at all times.

As it turns out, I am a horrible mother. I hardly ever get the paints out. The socks are dingy grey because the boys like to play outside without their shoes on. The boys leave the socks on the floor or on the couch and the dog carries them away in a wild running game outside. My boys have never eaten broccoli. They don't like anything that has onions in it or anything that looks weird or suspicious or is mixed together.

When someone calls and says they are coming over, sweat glistens on my brow while I frantically run up and down the stairs, putting away clean clothes and carting away dirty clothes and putting the upstairs toys upstairs and the downstairs toys downstairs and plumping the couch pillows and picking up bit of paper off the floor and scraping toothpaste off the wall with my fingernail. Then I yell, "Why is this sheet coming off the bed?! I just put it on! You are driving me crazy!" (Which always makes me think of when TwinBoyB was three and used to say to me, "You are diving me cazy!")

I yell at my kids and they yell at each other. One of my boys is as snotty as I am. I never used to be snotty. I used to be quiet and kind and serene and self-controlled. Now I occasionally slam a door in fury and fling my hands in the air and grit my teeth and say, "OH MY GOSH!" My husband looks at me and says, "Dear . . . " by way of warning me, but that just irritates me more. I promise that I used to be a sweet and gentle person. Then I had boys.

I am responsible for their dirty, ragged fingernails, their waxy ears, their unruly hair and their unmatched clothes. "Mom, do you think everyone stands in front of their closet every morning and says, hmmm, what can I wear that will match?" Their breath smells, one has body odor and they just don't care if their hands are sticky. Their hair is sweaty from jumping on the bed. They use their shirts for napkins and their forks as shovels.

They wrestle. They clomp down the stairs. They play outside without bothering to step carefully around the dog poop. They accidentally make each other bleed. They scream at each other, they smack each other and they tattle. They are not quiet. Ever. Especially on Saturday mornings. The only time they sleep in is on Sunday mornings, when it is imperative that we wake up early and get the show on the road. At night they whisper and giggle and occasionally shout while they are supposed to be going to sleep. They complain about going to bed at 8;30 since there are kids in their classes who stay up until ten. Or midnight!

They hate getting into the bathtub and then don't want to get out. They splash water outside of the tub everyday. They pee on the toilet seat. And the floor. They forget to flush. They forget to wash their hands. They remember everything they ever learned about Super Mario Party 4.

We tell them to go upstairs and shut their bedroom door and they forget by the time they get upstairs. We tell them to wash their hands and they never even end up in the bathroom. They never comb their hair without being reminded.

Their clothes lay in a crumpled pile wherever they happen to disrobe. They don't hang up wet towels. When they come home from school, they somehow step out of their shoes and leave them directly in the path of foot-traffic, normally at the bottom of the stairs. They drop their coats on the floor.

They cry sometimes when I force them to practice spelling words. They can't remember their multiplication facts. (Well, the almost-5 year old is exempt from that. He somehow understands the concept of negative numbers and a few days ago had me chalk a hopscotch in the driveway that started with negative three and went up to eleven.) Neatness does not count, in their minds. They grip their pencils wrong. Their handwriting scares me.

I just wonder what I have done wrong. I thought I'd be such a good mom. I had no doubt that my children would be quiet and respectful and smart and good students and never sassy or snotty. They would want to follow my rules and my wishes. Ha. They are likely to put one another in headlocks, but they are not likely to smile and nod and do what I say without delay.

At nighttime, my patience expires about five minutes before bedtime. They say we are still hungry, we are thirsty and can we please stay up until nine? They forget to pee. They forget to brush their teeth. They forget to brush their back teeth. They need to go downstairs to find their blankets. They want to talk about their day. I just want them to go to sleep. I want peace. I want quiet. Instead, I go back upstairs four times telling them to be quiet. Good-night, I say. GO TO SLEEP! No sweet bedtime stories and cuddles. I am finished with them.

So, I am a mother to boys. Dirty, stinky, naughty boys. But there is hope. Her name is Babygirl and she's the reason I need the boys to be quiet upstairs! She's just a baby and she's taking a nap! Shhhhhh! I think I'll be a good mother, ready for tea-parties and lace dresses. I'll let her paint whenever she wants. I'll let her help me bake cookies. I'll never yell at her. Really.

Posted by Mel at 9:55 PM PDT
Updated: Friday, 30 July 2004 10:50 PM PDT
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