Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Roller Coaster


I've said it before, but I've realized I feel like a fraud every time I try to write about "what I've learned".  It's like life tries to prove me wrong.  It's like a kaleidoscope, and how the tiniest movement completely changes what you see.  That's what I think happens when I try to claim I "officially know" something now.  

Buuuuut, that being said, I was thinking about how this is my 18th Mother's Day of being a mother, and it occurred to me that there are actually a few things I think I can justifiably say I've learned by now, and if a new mom asked what to expect, this is what I'd tell her.  

-- If you ever say out loud, "My kid will definitely____ (insert positive behavior) because ____ (insert logical reasoning)," you are spelling doom to whatever you just said.  I know this, and I still do it all the time.  I was at a baby shower this week and said to the hostess as I was leaving, "Annalee will fall asleep on the walk home and then I don't even have to worry about getting her down for her nap!"  

Guess who was still wide awake, singing "Let It Go" as I opened the door to my apartment? 

-- Vomit. Barf. Yak. Puke.  Whatever you want to call it, it will happen a lot.  And you will actually catch it in your bare hands, many times.  Last December when the kids were so sick, Wyatt coughed till he threw up.  I was putting oils on his chest, and no way no how was he going to puke on the comforter on my watch!!   Not when I know what it takes to do the laundry around here!  Without so much as a blink of the eye, I caught it, turned and walked to the bathroom sink and washed it off.  Then I calmly returned to the bedroom where Matt was sitting on the bed with Wyatt, his eyes wide.

"That was kind of awesome," he said.

"I know," I replied nonchalantly.  I almost flipped my hair but decided that was just a little much.

-- Head wounds bleed a lot.  Like... a LOT a lot.  I remember reading this.  But let me just say when it's your kid, the words "Head wounds bleed a lot" mean something entirely different.  Think of the goriest movie you've seen and multiply it by ten.  Okay, that won't be reality (I hope), but it will better prepare you for your child's first head wound than any words about the circulatory system or childhood injuries.  

One day, five-year-old Jayna and almost-two-year-old Skyler were playing out on our patio in Spain   (Matt was gone, of course.).  I had my back turned to them for just a second when Jayna said in the most unaffected, matter-of-fact voice, "Skyler bumped her head and now there's blood everywhere."  

I mistakenly responded to her tone rather than her words and turned to see Skyler stumbling toward me.  She was doing that cry where all the air in the lungs is fully expelled, and then suddenly they inhale and scream loud enough to wake the dead.  And there was blood... my goodness.  It was like Carrie, I'm not even kidding -- dripping from her head, all over the tile floor, soaking into her shirt. And it all came from a wound no longer than my pinky fingernail.  It literally took me all day to stop shaking from the shock.  This is what they mean when they say "Head wounds bleed a lot."  Prepare yourself.

-- You will wear pee that is not your own outside your house and live to tell about it.  In fact, I did this just recently, not for the first time.  I'd put on clothes that were very comfortable and I felt good in, and a certain small someone peed on me.  And though I was still home, and really should have cared enough to change, I thought about my laundry situation, scrubbed it with a diaper wipe, and headed out the door.  No one was the wiser! If it were poop, that would have been another story, of course.

Speaking of poop:

-- Your kids' poop can look very strange.  I about had a heart attack the day I was changing the diaper of one my children who had, the day before, eaten a bunch of tomatoes.  Colored icing and kiwi can also really weird you out.  Even with all the diapers I've changed, I still find myself startled sometimes. Before you panic and call the doctor, ask yourself, "What did my kid eat recently?"  Odds are excellent you will calm down, though that food will never quite be the same to you again.

-- You will spend an alarming amount of time thinking about other people's poop.  You will talk about it casually with other parents (and may even write about it on your blog)!  (You're welcome!) You will probably even have dreams (nightmares?) about it.  I say this even though I've never had more than one kid in diapers at a time.  It just becomes such a huge, stinky, normal part of your life.    

-- You will be alarmingly tired.  On Saturday night, I talked Matt into watching a movie that I've been wanting to see for a really long time.  It was great!  Really, truly great!  But still... not even halfway into it, I felt my eyelids getting soooooo heeeeaaavyyyy.  This was not happening.  I was going to stay awake!!  I was... totally...   going...      to... 

I jolted awake to find him staring at me.  For a long and awkward moment, I stared back.  How long had I been sleeping? I wondered, feeling guilty.  "I'm sorry, I'm just too tired.  I really want to watch it, but I can't keep my eyes open," I said.

"I'm so glad you said that because same here!" he answered.  

I laughed, "I thought you were going to be mad at me for falling asleep in the movie I'd picked!" 

We were both laughing now.  "And I bought you'd be mad at me for falling asleep in the movie you picked."  This is clearly marriage at its finest. We stumbled off to bed.

It was maybe 10 pm.

We party so hard.  

-- This morning, I was served breakfast in bed by my sweet kids.  There was a bowl of sliced oranges, a bowl of delicious oatmeal with coconut, craisins, banana slices and peanut butter.  There was also a coffee and a glass of water and a gigantic pastry that was some kind of amazing combination of muffin and cream puff.  As soon as the older three had delivered my tray, the younger two were sitting there, Wyatt serenading me with fart noises (from his mouth).  

"That looks like good water, Mom," Wyatt said after about ten seconds.

"It is," I answered, "would you like some?" (Never mind our ample water/ cup situation.)  He nodded. 

A few seconds later, "What's that?" pointing to the pastry.  

"I don't know, but it's super delicious.  Want a bite?" 

Dumb question.  Annalee also wanted in on the action.

And I sat there, dispensing my water, orange slices, and pastry-from-heaven only too happily.  Because while they might be completely unreasonable, stinky, messy insomniacs, they might embarrass me more than I thought possible and stretch my patience to it's breaking point, my kids are without a doubt five of my favorite people on the planet.  I smile more when they're around.  

This past week, I was remembering the amazing movie Parenthood with Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen.  Toward the end there is a wonderful scene between the two of them, where they are having a pretty heated argument, and the grandma of Steve Martin's character Gil walks in. 

She says, "You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up and down, up and down.  Oh, what a ride!"

Gil replies (sarcastically), "What a great story."

Then she says, "I always wanted to go again.  You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together.  Some didn't like it.  They went on the merry-go-round.  That just goes around. Nothing.  I like the roller coaster.  You get more out of it."

I was so scared to become a mother, to tell you the truth.  That's a story for another day.  But I can tell you all of the above and this too: I like the roller coaster.  

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