Tag Archives: growing pains

Laugh Track

28 Jun

Whine: I just finished my yearly summer gig (It pays! Can you believe it??). Which means that the two weeks I spent waking the kids up and shipping them off to various babysitters was just enough to train their little bodies to be up and at ’em right at 6:15am. I like money as much as the next gal, but I’m not sure it was worth if they keep this up.

Cheese: You get a whole lot done when you start your day before Matt Lauer has even had his coffee.

Did you ever see the episode of [insert name of favorite sitcom] where [insert name of male character] had two dates in one night? Somehow this lovable goofball [I’m imagining Kirk Cameron as a young Mike Seaver here, although my extensive archival research did not produce evidence of said Growing Pains episode] had managed to get himself in quite a pickle, with one lovely girl waiting for him at the table of the Italian restaurant and the other standing by the punch table at the school dance. The camera cuts to Mike Seaver [or whoever] changing his tie and pocket square as he runs back and forth between venues, trying to call the right girl by the right name, often with the assistance of [insert name of awkward yet loyal best friend].

I always hated the two-dates-in-one-night episode. First, because I really hate tension. And what’s more tense than two angry girls in 80s shoulder pad dresses sparring over the adorable yet slightly-chagrined leading man? But I also hated those episodes because they were just. so. unrealistic. Nobody pulls off being in two places at once. Ever. Not even for the thirty (twenty-two without commercials) minutes of a sitcom. But apparently the live studio audience always bought it hook, line and sinker because they laughed with every close call and pratfall.

I live my life now trapped in a sitcom cliche.

Except for instead of two dates in one night, I’ve got three kids and one me. I run back and forth from room to room, putting out fires. Some are figurative.  Big Sis is in my bed in timeout for dishing out some unauthorized Swift Justice on Lil’ Sis. I turn on World Cup Soccer just to make the consequences that much more severe. I call it punishment by vuvuzela*. Lil’ Sis is sitting in the empty bathtub waiting for me to finish cleaning up the “oops I forgot I don’t wear diapers anymore” spot from the hall rug and come hose her down. All the while, Brother Bear lays screaming  in his bed as if his toenails are being ripped off by a hungry troll. Which is only partly true; I fed the troll this morning.

Scenes like this litter the sitcom of my life. Running back and forth, trying to remember whose name is whose and where exactly I was going in the first place and why there’s a bag of cheese under the pile of unopened mail. Except there’s no laugh track. And all the time I spend cleaning up bodily fluids in real life would be conveniently edited into a thirty-second montage complete with quirky background music. Good grief what I wouldn’t give for some quirky background music. The laugh track I can live without because cleaning up pee is never as funny in the moment.

But give it a couple of hours (days if it’s a really bad one) and I have edited the whole thing in my head down to what it really was, just a sliver of time in my twenty-two minute episode (I get NO commercial breaks around here) where I lost the numbers game (Kids 3, Mom 0) , sandwiched between the ubiquitous moments of character building and requisite sappy ending. Then I bring it you, my live studio audience, and we can all have a good laugh. I hope.

Mr. Dad reading to his live studio audience.

*Vuvuzela, in case your household calendar does not orbit the local/international sports schedule as mine does, is the sound of thousands of atonal horns being blown without skill like the droning of a stadium filled with tone-deaf bees. Also known as the South African fans at the World Cup. Trust me, it’s torture.


Just a Few More Fridays

19 Feb

Whine: I think I may be gestating a hyperactive giraffe. It seems like this kid is all limbs.  It’s a little bit disconcerting to be punched in the stomach, from the inside, when you are enjoying your roast beef dinner. Or when you are sitting in church, tyring to be serious and listen to the sermon but instead keep gasping as your fetal Michael Phelps swims laps back and forth in your belly.

Cheese: I am not crazy. Well, not completely. The sonogram I had this week proves my point, well, except for that part about the giraffe. At 36 weeks, this kid weighs almost seven pounds. Which means if he hangs out for another five weeks like I think he will, he’ll completely skip the Newborn diapers and go directly to Pull-Ups.

Today is Friday. Which means that at 11 am I am in my pajamas, Big Sis has dressed herself up in ladybug costume, and we are all just kinda doing our own thing. We don’t have anywhere to be; noone needs their hair done or their lunch box packed.

I used to hate days like today. The kids wandering around, playing stream-of-consciousness style, guaranteeing that no room in the house will be left unscathed.  But as my kids get older and their social calendars fill more quickly, I work hard to pencil in some nothing time. Repairing the wreckage of an at-home day is still pretty low on the list of My Favorite Things, but having some time to teach these two to like each other and play together is a gift I can’t replace, unlike my carpet which is covered with marker.

I’ve realized in the last few months that our family has kind of found a rhythm. Mondays are fabulously free — two kids at preschool. Tuesday mornings are spent at Bible Study. (With FREE CHILDCARE!! And snacks.) Wednesdays are Mommy Time with Lil’ Sis. Afternoons are Quiet Rest Time (yes!) and Time with Big Sis. In the evenings we eat together, read lots of books and run fast from Mr. Dad who thoroughly enjoys catching and tickling people, even crabby unsuspecting Mommies. We have a pretty good time around here.

And it’s all about to change.

To heck with rhythms, predictability, clean dishes and sleep. We’re having a baby!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled beyond words to have another child. It’s hard to imagine loving this one as deeply and fiercly as I do his sisters, but I know I will. In fact, for a while I’ll probably prefer his sleepy, snuggly, Johnson’s Baby Wash smelling fuzzy little head to their wiggly, inquisitive, occasionally stubborn personas.

But his arrival in our world will mark a big, big change. And change isn’t bad. It’s just, change.

I’ll have to readjust to living my life in a continual 3-hour loop. To being on the edge of a tear-fest most days just because I’m sleepy. To not being able to play with the girls or run to their aid every time they want me (although I’m not doing a lot of running these days as it is.) But I’ll also have to adjust to sleeping on my stomach again (woo hoo!), well, when I’m actually sleeping. And to having a little buddy to carry around in my sling wherever I go. And needing to eat like a horse to feed this kid. Bummer.

The girls will have to adjust to eating a lot of peanut butter crackers (instead of the gourmet hot dogs they ususally get) and entertaining themselves and shhhhhhh being really, really quiet or both Mommy and Brother are going to start screaming.  But they’ll also have to adjust to having a teeny tiny little brother to adore. Who needs lots of kisses and hugs. And to having to help Mommy wash his soft little hair or change his tiny little diapers (just not Newborn size) or cover his feet with cute little socks. 

Mr. Dad will have to adjust to being Mr. Mom. Tending to the girls. Heating up the frozen pizzas I’ve stockpiled for dinner night after night. Keeping up with the dishes I just didn’t manage to get to. Again. Mostly he’ll have to adjust to the different woman I’ll be. You know, different like every ten minutes or whenever the wind shifts. It’s no easy task to share your wife with a greedy little energy-sucker who’s about a hundred times cuter than you are (sorry, babe!). But he’ll also have to adjust to having a son. To priming him as they rock to sleep on the lifetime ERA of Nolan Ryan and the benefits of zone defense.  To schooling him on the virtues of a high-quality bandsaw. And to teaching him that we never hit a girl, even if they did just dress up your Hans Solo action figure in a Cinderella dress.

So I’m just trying to take a moment, this moment, and think about the life I have right now and admit that I’ll miss it a little bit. I think that’s ok, normal even.  I remember when I was in labor with Big Sis, shedding a tear or two in thinking that that was the last time our family would ever just be me and Mr. Dad. And the day before I was induced with Lil’ Sis, that I probably wouldn’t be snuggling Big Sis to bed for a while. And there was just a tiny hint of sadness in those “lasts.”

But in a squalling, screaming moment filled with pushes, tears and Apgar tests, the sadness melted into a the joy of something new. Squishy and strange-looking, but new. Our new family. I can’t wait to meet you, Little Buddy.

Quiet trips to the library? Probably the last of those for a while.

Growing Pains

13 Nov

Whine: The Rice Krispie renovation went so well, we decided to go with a similar concept in the living room. We’ve chosen Pepperidge Farm’s Crushed Goldfish for the living room instead of our boring beige carpet.

Cheese: We had an impromptu date at Target last night, Mr. Dad and I. Forty-five minutes of uninterrupted shopping followed by a tall Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks. Whatever you do, don’t look at the nutritional info on this. (You did it anyway, didn’t you? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

 

I can’t say that I have ever actually experiened true growing pains. Unless you count the time when I was in fifth grade and decided to shave the place above my nose where my eyebrows seemed to be growing together. That hurt. In fact, I remember very clearly that being the same day I practiced my kissing skills on a Teen Beat picture of Kirk Cameron, who, incidentally happened to be the star of the hit tv sitcom Growing Pains. Perhaps my ill-advised grooming ritual was motivated by my heart-felt adoration for Kirk, but who knows why fifth-grade girls do anything.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’ve never knowingly experienced the scientific phenomena of growing pains. But I think that the term lends itself nicely to the universal human experience of screwing up repeatedly on the path to acquiring a new skill or knowledge. From the eyebrow-shaving experience I learned to NEVER, EVER, EVER do that again. From lighting a pork chop on fire and then throwing it on the floor to put out the flames I learned that if you pick it up off the floor and rinse it off it’s just fine. From having my toddler finally fall asleep at midnight I learned that naptime ends by 4:30 every day, and that Benadryl treats more than just runny noses, if you know what I mean. (I know, I’m a terrible mother.)

So if screwing up and lighting things on fire is just part of the deal in life and learning, why do I hate it so much?

Why do I mutter angrily under my breath when my cake sinks like a California sinkhole? Why do I bang my head on the cold tile of the bathroom floor after Big Sis has yet another accident? Why is the learning process so upsetting to me?

I find that learning is messy and I hate messes. More specifically, I hate cleaning up messes–it interferes with my tv-watching/novel-reading/anything-but-cleaning time. Not to mention that learing implies that I’m not perfect, that I don’t know it all. I don’t know about you, but discovering this about myself (over and over) ranks right up there with getting a colonoscopy.

I want to be a little less focused on knowing it all and doing it right the first time and a little more focused on enjoying the process, even when its messy and frustrating and painful. I want to learn to laugh at myself when I make a mistake instead of hyperventilating and retreating to my bed for four days. And I want to learn it right now!