Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pie in the Face

So. I have typed the opening to this post 6 times. Type type type. Delete delete delete. Type type type something else. Delete all that. Times six. So this meta-opening will have to suffice and I will launch into my story in medias res as if Homer himself was guiding my pen.

So. You can think you know someone, but everyone -- everyone -- is full of secrets.

Two nights ago, Little A. had a very rough night. She's stormy these days; whether it's her age or household stresses or fatigue or illness (oh constant germiness of winter, you are tiresome and please fuck off) or likely a combination of all plus a dash of mommy's lack of patience, who knows. Stormy, she is. On this particular night, the storm gathered around a typically contentious subject: the washing of the hairs. This kid HATES to get her hair washed. HATES. As if it were pouring acid, or red-hot meteorites, onto her head. Most days, I just let it go. But this night, I got a bee in my bonnet. Her hair was already mostly wet from "swimming" in the tub. One quick cup of water over the head, some shampoo, and another quick mermaid dunk, and we'd have clean hair for the week! No problem! Let's do it!


And instead of caving in, I just went ahead and washed her hair. I tried to be gentle and cajoling but at a certain point the shampoo just had to be rinsed out and water got on the face and Oh. The rage. The screaming. The tears. The splashing and kicking and rage. It was completely out of proportion, yes. The howling and hitting would have been more in line with someone, I dunno, running over your family pet, or stealing your beloved.

The tantrum lasted all the way through Skype'd good-nights to Daddy, pajamas on, tooth-brushing. Finally, as it always does, the Incredible Hulk left the room and in its place a tired little girl needed a hug from Mama. I was happy to oblige. Suddenly, the tears started up again, but with a softer, sadder quality. I asked what was the matter. And this kid. This kid who has been nothing but shockingly amazingly wonderful (because she was incredibly attached to me prior to baby's arrival) to her little sister for the 14 months she's been on our planet, reluctantly, painfully said I wish it could be just you and me, Mama, no Baby G. I miss you so much Mama. And she started crying again, probably thinking I would be horrified at this admission, and that she would get in trouble. Guilty sobs.

OHFUCK PARENTING MOMENT. I thought. These are happening more frequently as the girl gets older and more articulate and oh god I need to read more books about kids because I am surely going to mess her up for life. But also, I could just answer honestly and from my heart and maybe that will work?

So that's what I did. I told her that I missed those days, sometimes, too. That it was so nice to have a Baby G in our family and to love but that we sure could use more "just us" times too. That I appreciated her honesty and that I love her so much -- even more when I see what an awesome big sister she is and that my heart grows 10 sizes every day because I am so proud of her. And we had more tears and a big hug and I tucked her into my bed for a special JUST US Mama-and-Little-A sleepover and we all slept like champions and the next morning was the smoothest we've had in weeks.

After the storm.
 Oof. In my excitement over her "good" behavior with her little sister, and my smugness in thinking that *I* had somehow masterfully engineered the smooth transition into big-sisterhood for her, I never once thought she was behaving, well, how she intuited *I* wished she would behave. I am certain her loving behavior towards Baby G is genuine, but she has never once expressed jealousy or acted out, as would be expected and completely normal for the deposed. Not once! Seriously! But those feelings were lurking there under the surface, and burst out in a painful, guilt-ridden confession during a crisis about something else entirely. 

Oh. Ha ha. Um. Yeah. That kinda reminds me of somebody: me. Quick, someone write a book about how to successfully parent me. Here's your working title.

Hey Girl, You Sure Seem OK, but There Really is Something Wrong, Right?:
How to Crack that New-English Veneer and Get to the Healing Truth.

And in the meantime, pass the Pinot. There's a whole lotta winter left to go up in this piece.

xoxo, A

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Leaking Out My Ears

There is a moment every evening, after I have (finally) gotten both girls to sleep, after the chores (finally) are done, when the house is quiet. At that moment I think: now is when you can write. WRITE SOMETHING! C'MON JUST DO IT! I cast my ear up for sounds of wakeful babies. Nothing. The silence grows and grows and I find another pot to wash while ideas for posts and more posts and maybe even a little short story starts leaking out my ears and...

...And then I turn on the TV and watch for an hour or two until I decide to go to bed.

Why am I ignoring the internal prompts? I *almost* signed up for a poetry class. I *almost* signed up for a dance performance. But for each moment that presents as ripe for creative expression, something equally urgent insists that I turn my brain off and do nothing. It, frankly, does not feel great. I fear the house is growing stale and unmagical for the girls. I fear my soul has shriveled up into a dried pea. I fear...well...a lot. But mostly I fear that if I stop to examine all of my fears, confront them in writing, I will spontaneously combust. So, you know, no pressure.

Mother's little helper #21 -- matching jammies. 
I think I need more Vitamin D. February is so very...February-ish this year. January was too. We shall carry on, because we do. But goddamn wouldn't it be nice if it was a bit less of a slog. Ugh. My head is still up my butt. And it's dark up in this piece. Help!

xoxo, A