Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What I DON'T Do

My friend Jordan over at Wonderwheel is writing these days about NOT being a Supermom/Superwoman--in other words, about the things she DOESN'T take the time to do as she juggles home, work, kids, and marriage, and about how she feels fine with letting these particular things go. She asks us women to talk more about--to admit, really--the things we let slide, so we can perhaps formulate more reasonable self-expectations by realizing that no one else is doing it all, either, so we shouldn't feel guilty if we can't.

I like this idea so much I decided to write about it too. First, I have to say that reading this post was a bit of a revelation to me (thanks, Jordan!), because a big part (not the largest part, but a big part) of why I prefer to be a (mostly) non-working, stay-at-home mom right now is that I cannot imagine trying to do all the things I do right now to run the household on top of going out and working elsewhere too.

I always think, Oh my Lord, if I had an outside job too, how could I possibly cook dinner every night and keep the toilets scrubbed and the floors mopped and the carpet vacuumed and the beds made (with clean sheets!) and work out five times a week and return the library books and make the playdates and sweep the patio and dust the furniture and get the groceries and plan the birthday parties and do the laundry and bake the muffins and..... And right about then is when I have to lie down and close my eyes from the imagined exhaustion. On top of the current, very real exhaustion that comes from raising a preschooler and a baby full-time while also, well, managing the household.

So, when I read Jordan's post, I thought, "Ohhhhhhh! I get it! All those working moms out there AREN'T DOING ALL THAT!" (Please: no offense to any working moms out there who actually ARE doing all that on top of your paid work. If you are, you are truly Superwomen.)

Suddenly I realized that it's not that I have some sort of internal personality deficit that causes me to feel extreme aversion to attempting regular outside work (as opposed to the very part-time freelance consulting I'm currently working on) while continuing to stay on top everything I'm already doing. NO ONE can do all that. People who work for pay and have small children sometimes--if they can afford it--get help with the housecleaning and buy convenience foods for meals. It's all becoming clear to me now.

However, that's not my situation right now, so let me make my own list. Here are some things I DON'T do, and that don't bother me:

1. I don't follow the news, either. (However, unlike Jordan, I DO follow celebrity gossip, because for some inexplicable, base reason, I love love luuuuurve it. Nicole Ritchie pregnant? Paris Hilton in jail? Katie Holmes with her hair chopped into a hip new shag, out with that gorgeous baby Suri? Tell me more!) And, as Jordan says, it's okay.

2. I don't go on dates with my husband. Truth be told, this one is more about money than time. We simply cannot afford to pay for babysitters ($10/hour, minimum, in our town) on our one-salary income. I know some people would say, disapprovingly, that it's a matter of priority, and I would say, Yes, it is. And it's my priority to actually pay the electric bill each month. But beyond that issue, I feel the need to add that it really doesn't bother me (or my spouse). I know it's controversial, but really: it's okay.

3. I don't do any volunteer work. All I have to say about that is, eh. My whole existence right now is volunteer work, people, and if that makes me sound entitled and callous, well...so be it. It's okay.

4. Although it would be a good idea, given our current financial situation, to do so, I don't take the time to comparison shop. For anything. If I have both girls with me and I have to get groceries or do a major Target run, I don't even necessarily compare brands of each item. I just grab whatever I see first, because THERE IS NO TIME. And it's okay.

5. I don't do anything specific to keep up professional networks and connections while I'm home full-time with my babies. Who has time? It'll work out. It's okay.

6. I don't dust the wooden blinds in the playroom, dust the baseboards (pretty much anywhere), dust the ceiling fans, or wash the windows. Unfortunately, since neither does anyone else, um....yuck. So maybe that one I'm NOT actually okay with. Oops.

How about you, all you proud Non-Superwomen out there? What don't YOU do?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

That's My Girl


It was a gorgeous day here today, so after nap Christopher and I took the girls over to the other college campus in town--the one Christopher doesn't work at--for a sweet little Family Walk. I had never seen the St. Olaf campus (oddly enough, since the two colleges anchor this whole small town), but I'd heard it was leafy and lovely and I figured it would a great place to take Genevieve on a stroller walk and let Julia run around and explore.

I was right. Oh my! So pretty! So picturesque! So....collegiate! Seriously, people: totally lovely. If you're ever nearby, you really should visit the St. Olaf campus just to stroll the grounds and admire the stone buildings, the gorgeous flower beds, the many peaceful places to sit and daydream in the sun, the amazing view from the top of the hill, and the wind chime memorial. So, so nice.

It was so nice that, on a shortcut through the Union back to our car, I told Julia that she could go to college there some day, if she wants to. She agreed, enthusiastically. Then she added, "Yes! I want to be a college student. And then a psy.....a psychologist."

I refrained from outwardly cringing (Four years of college and then six years of graduate school, people! The loans! The exams! The killer residency! Oh, people.), and just as I was about to play the appropriate supportive mom and tell her that was a fine goal, she said, "I'll be a psychologist. And then, when I'm a mama, I'll make dinner."

OK, so before you get all worked up about what kind of anti-feminist, traditional-gender-roles lesson this little girl has internalized via life in our household--women are only good for cooking dinner? once they have babies they just give up their prestigious careers and graduate degrees and stay home and...and...MAKE DINNER?!--just remember this: there is nothing--NOTHING--more important to Julia than dinner. The person who cooks dinner IS A GENIUS GODDESS DESERVING OF ALL MANNER OF PRAISE, REWARD, AND ETERNAL DEVOTION. AND A MEDAL. AND A CROWN. WITH A SASH. If it were up to Julia, the person who cooks dinner would get a nice fat biweekly paycheck, with full benefits and an expense account. And quite possibly a holiday bonus.

Just to be clear, though, I commented, "You know, daddies can cook dinner too. In some houses, the daddies cook dinner. Not in ours, but in some." Christopher felt the need to feebly chime in, "I could cook dinner....some night..."

Julia waited just a moment. Then she said, "Daddy, I think tonight could be that night."

I think she's learning all the right lessons. Don't you?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Busy.


We've been busy, as you can see. Busy with what, you ask? Well, walking behind our push-cart. Running circles around the dining room table. (That virus? Gone.) Playing "dance contest." Baking cupcakes. Hiding inside from the 110 heat index. Having Baby Storytime (a.k.a. "Songs and Stories with Genevieve") at home. Coloring. Hitting pots and pans with wooden spoons. Pretending we're in a marching band. Watering our flowers. You know, the usual July type stuff. Sorry it's not more interesting around these parts. I'll try to spice things up sometime soon. In the meantime: aren't those girls up there cute?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Most Pathetic Sick-Kid Statement Ever

Julia caught Genevieve's virus, and went to bed last night listless and feverish, both pale and rosy at the same time, if that's possible. She woke up this morning to tell us that during the night she sat up to peer at our cat in the crib, and saw a dolly of hers up on the changing table (neither of which were actually there). She got out of bed, complained of dizziness, and a few moments later, said stoically, "I'm okay with the room bouncing."

Yeah, today we're breaking our limited-TV rule. In case you had any doubt.

Monday, July 23, 2007

How Do YOU Find Balance?

So I'm yammering on some more about that massage over at Work It, Mom! in case you need a quick read about mamas and the elusive search for balance. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Urban Adventures in Relaxation

Today I drove up to the city to finally redeem a birthday gift-card for a massage at a fancy day spa in Uptown. A massage! An hour of utter pampering! For an overworked, overtired mama! Can you imagine my excitement? I have only had three other massages in my life--including one given to me in the form of a house call by a very dear friend when I was postpartum after my first baby--so this was a rare treat.

The massage was heavenly, although I kept thinking about my sick baby at home and wondering if she was okay--Genevieve has some sort of a virus with a nasty fever and is truly miserable--and I was also beset with an irrational worry that the massage therapist could read my mind and I would get scolded for not having relaxing enough thoughts. (I can't help it; I kept trying to envision, oh, a placid lake or the sunset, and then veering off into less serene cognitive territory, involving thoughts of the construction on the drive up, the school-supplies "donation" we are required to hand over at preschool orientation next month, my sister's recent surgery.) But really! It was relaxing!

On the way back to my car, I was struck by how glad I am to be raising my girls out of the city. How I have zero patience anymore for the traffic, the panhandlers, the litter, the noise, the empty malt liquor bottles on the ground. How I can't imagine walking my angel girls through the urban milieu of exhaust fumes and greasy-fast-food smells and the prostitutes over at Bloomington and 38th. Don't get me wrong; Christopher and I lived a total urban life for six years as graduate students in Chicago--complete with cockroaches, crime, and five solid years of daily public transportation--and then several more in Minneapolis, and in many ways, we loved it. And don't get me wrong; I mourned our Minneapolis life when we moved to our current small town. And really don't get me wrong; of course there are wonderful benefits to exposing one's children to all a large city has to offer, and I in no way pass judgment on any of our many friends who are doing just that. It's not that the city we used to live in--any city, really--doesn't have lovely neighborhoods and safe streets and cute cafes and clean parks and beautiful blocks free from crime. It's just that we wouldn't be able to afford to live anywhere that did. As it was, when we moved out of the city down to this charming college town, we left a block that had a double gunshot homicide--OUTSIDE, IN THE STREET--on the day I discovered I was pregnant with Julia.

Yeah, double homicides, three doors down? Don't really miss that.

And so it was that I picked my way over the greasy blocks up to my car, and found myself stuck in some kind of street festival that hadn't been there when I arrived. I'm not kidding you; it reminded me of that "Seinfeld" episode with the Puerto Rican Independence Day parade--do you remember that one? Yeah, seriously: the end of the street was blocked off and the intersection was full of ridiculously decorated vehicles and people playing musical instruments (and the other end of the street was a dead end). I did get out, with the help of a police officer directing me where to drive, but people--come on now. Stuck in a parade? That's just silly.

Then on my way out of Uptown I swung by an old favorite cafe to grab a snack and a drink for the drive home, and suddenly there it was. The nostalgia. Because this was a place I used to meet friends for lunch when Julia was a newborn. Well, I mean, AFTER the postpartum, fourth-degree-tear-related prohibition on walking. And, I mean, when I finally got brave enough to venture beyond the confines of my house with High-Maintenance Constant-Nursing Non-Sleeping Baby Extraordinaire. But I did it. We'd go there, and sometimes I'd bring the stroller in the car and afterward I'd walk Julia around the sidewalks nearby, because this was one of those leafy, lovely, gentrified-straight-into-upper-class neighborhoods we could never afford, and it was so pretty. And today, I missed that. I missed those blocks, those days.

I sighed a little bit, and took my time walking back to the car. Then I drove home to my sweet, quiet, cornfield-smelling, river-running, ice cream-melting, summer bloom of a small town, and to my sick baby girl. Everything was okay at home, in all senses of the word.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yawn.

So I've been having all this trouble with my schedule. I've been so, so tired--the kind of tired that makes each day way harder than it should be, because I have so little energy and so little patience. Every (very early) morning when Vivi awakes, I feel like I've been dragged from my bed mid-coma, so deep into sleep have I drifted during the pre-dawn hours and so lethargic are my brain cells. I threaten to fall asleep during the girls' naps, when I need to be cleaning and doing dinner prep and returning phone calls. I skip my runs because I can't imagine my legs carrying me. So I need to go to bed earlier, right? Like, nine o'clock?

Only you know my problem with that. There do not seem to be enough hours in the day to do it all and still go to bed at nine. And currently I'm not even talking about merely the personal-time pleasurable things that eat up my evening hours--the "So You Think You Can Dance" episodes, the relentless issues of The New Yorker, arriving week after week in my mailbox as they do, daring me to just TRY and go to bed on time. No, it's more serious now. I mean the cooking dinner, the laundry, the exercising (skipped it for two weeks now--too tired or too busy or both), the showering, the housecleaning, the errands, the appointments, the nursing the baby down to sleep at her complicatedly early bedtime (six o'clock! how to get dinner on the table and eat it, bathe the baby and dress her, all by six o'clock? if we could change it we would, but the baby falls apart and scrubs her eyes and cries by 5:55, so six it is).

None of the above obligations is new, so what's with my current time crunch? Well, lately I've begun doing some part-time consulting, and doggedly pursuing the freelance writing thing, and to stay on top of all that, I find myself drowning in hours of Internet searches and online contacts and tips and tricks and required reading and, oh yeah, writing. Try to mix all that up with the constant motion of parenting two very small children and doing all the cooking, cleaning, and general household management, and...well, you'll find yourself getting only six hours of sleep per night, which is REALLY, REALLY not enough for you.

These creative and professional pursuits are wonderful and exciting and boy oh boy fun, but meanwhile I'm left with the realization that something about my schedule is not working very well right now. What seems to be falling by the wayside is the oh-so-crucial self-maintenance regimen; and people, no one wants that.

You know how I know? Because last night at our town's little outdoor food festival, I ran into a friend who sees me several times a week, and the surprised enthusiasm with which she complimented my uncharacteristically groomed appearance--"You look so nice! I guess I haven't seen you with your hair down like that for a really long time!"--made me stop for a moment, grimace inwardly, and realize, Um, maybe I should rely on the no-time-to-shower ponytail--and its sidekick, the haphazard hair-pulled-into-a-clip--a LITTLE LESS FREQUENTLY. Seeing as my best friend has no idea how long, blonde, and CLEAN my hair can actually look, when I've, you know, taken some shampoo and a flatiron to it.

Have I really become that mom? The mom who can't find time for it all, who wonders about balance and priorities and juggling home, kids, work (in whatever form and degree), and personal fulfillment? And ends up chronically tired?

Are we all that mom?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Vivi Full of Love



Genevieve is full of love these days. She's started making a kissy noise when she wants to plant one on someone she adores: "mmmm-MUH!" When you go in to get her at the end of nap, she reaches up for you and goes, "mmm-MUH? MUH? MUH?" until you let her swipe her slippery mouth across your face, or until you yourself smack your lips all over her sweet baby skin. Of course the person she wants to kiss the most is her big sis.

Julia's a pile of love herself most of the time, so she generally allows herself to be "kissed" (slimed?) by the baby with admirable good nature. Or when Vivi demands it ("mmm-MUH! MUH! MUH!"), she'll lean over and kiss Vivi's cheek like the sweet big sister she is.

Look at those two cuddly kittens! Aren't they just the sweetest lovey cutie-kins in the entire world? Don't ruin it for me now. Just say they are.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Best Poem Ever

People, you just have to read this poem. It brought tears to my eyes (because my first baby also gave me three days of prodromal labor, and also refused to sleep, and also continued to refuse to sleep). So poignant! So funny! SO good.

Come on, now--how can you resist something called, "The Newborn Explains Three Days of Prodromal Labor; The Newborn Explains His Unhelpful Sleep Patterns; The Infant Explains His Continuing Sleep Problems"?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mama Needs a Vacation

Question. Do any other full-time stay-at-home-moms get totally burned out and depleted because with this job, you never, ever get a vacation?

Don't start about how working parents don't get vacations from parenting either. I'm talking about a vacation from the work that you do every day, during the day, on Monday through Friday. I don't care if it is mothering or selling insurance or treating medical patients or teaching. If your full-time work is anything other than being an at-home parent, theoretically you get two or three weeks off per year from THAT WORK. So yes, if you have kids too, of course you still have to parent. But at least you get a break from whatever it is you do for 40 hours a week during the days.

I love my kids to death. I love being a SAHM (most of the time). But everyone needs a break from their daily work sometime, and parenting and managing the house full-time is my daily work. And I have not had a break from this work in over three years. Maybe THAT is why, instead of eliminating the film of dust from the furniture or vacuuming the upstairs or cooking anything for dinner tonight, I seem to be in an edgy-but-lethargic, unmotivated and unenthusiastic, broody, headachey rut characterized by listlessly eating Goldfish crackers while wishing they were actually chocolate, crabbily listening for the naps to end, and sighing heavily when I realize we'll probably be eating tunafish sandwiches for supper.

Anyone? ANYONE out there know exactly what I mean?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Be My Guest

In the past seven weeks, we have hosted nine visits from out-of-town friends and/or family--everything from afternoon tea to full weekend stays (and had two others planned but the friends had to cancel). Nine. In seven weeks.

Every single one of these visits was enjoyed and cherished; I feel so blessed to realize that our kind, generous friends love us enough to drive an hour or so to our still-newish town just to see us, just to drink coffee and talk about children and work and politics and TV in the same way we used to do those things together in cafes or living rooms fifteen minutes away from each other, tops. They come to us these days because they know that with two small children and two rigid naptime, mealtime, and bedtime schedules to accommodate, we don't get out of town all that often.

But the part that really kicks me is that all this hosting--this crazy, busy, social summer--is exhausting beyond belief. Maybe it's just me? With the three-year-old and the baby, with the teething and the nursing and the diapers and the potty training? Maybe it's that I have some kind of stamina problem? That I can get through the normal routine okay, and even run a few times a week and cook from scratch each night, and bring up these babies with reasonable levels of energy and enthusiasm, but much as I love it and beg for it and plan it, throw nine out-of-town visits in seven weeks my way and I'm bordering on comatose come mid-July?

I'm not sure. But it makes me conflicted, this summer. I love it all, but it would probably do me good to have a week or two (two! imagine!) with absolutely nothing scheduled, no one coming to visit. And yet, I know too that I will look back on this summer--the summer Julia turned three, Genevieve's first full summer in our family, the summer we had friends over so often that Julia began to ask each Monday, "Who is coming to see us THIS day?"--and I'll be so grateful for the memories.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Eleven-Month Wonder

Genevieve turned 11 months old today. To celebrate, she played with a baby who turned four months old today, when we had some dear friends--whom we had not seen in two years, when they had their LAST baby, and who live almost 90 minutes away (one way)--down for brunch at our house. It was a rollicking good time, as a four-year-old, a three-year-old, a two-year-old, an 11-month-old, and a four-month-old kept the four adults very, very busy. The weather was perfect, so we spent much of the time on our patio and in the yard, where the bigger kids played with the mini soccer nets and the sand table and the babies tried to eat the rocks. Hanging out for four hours with a like-minded, much-loved-and-missed family full of small children just like ours (though all boys to our all girls) is simply indescribably joyful, despite the sweat and tears and meltdowns and scrapes and hunger and thirst and sunscreen and potty-chair visits and sharing and not-sharing and naps and nursings. In other words, it's crazy, in a good way.

But oh yeah, back to Genevieve. How to describe her now? Cruising, grinning, hugging and kissing (she makes an "mmm-muh!" sound to imitate a kissy noise), bored with nursing but formula-hating, inhaling the table food like she's on a growing mission (which, I guess, she is), babbling and singing, in love with her big sis like you wouldn't believe. Scrumptious, quick, on the move. Happy, easy-going, sweet as cherry pie.

And you should see her in a sundress. If I could stop time and freeze Vivi as an 11-month-old baby in a sundress, I would do it before I took my next breath.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bodies in Motion

While Christopher was gone, the girls and I were busy. This stemmed the tide of loneliness and frustration of being by ourselves 24 hours a day, and took my mind off the crushing disappointment that one of my closest friends, who now lives in TX and whom I haven't seen in almost a year, had to cancel her trip to stay with us this week at the very last minute.

During the four days I was on my own, parenting-wise, we went to: the library (twice), Spring Creek Park (twice), Target, a playdate at some friends', a local cafe for supper with a friend of mine and her preschooler (who were also Daddy-less this week), our favorite coffee shop, our elderly next-door neighbor's house to visit, the YMCA's Friday Preschoolers in the Park program at a nearby grade-school playground, and CostCutters (to get Julia's hair cut). All that, and we even missed our regular twice-monthly playgroup one morning because Genevieve napped through it. I didn't do any of this hyper-scheduling planfully; it just happened. (Hmmm, could this have anything to do with why summer has seemed so frenetic and insanely busy this year? And oh, have I mentioned that tomorrow we are having a--much-beloved, completely dear--family of five over to our house for brunch?)

Perhaps non-coincidentally, during those four days alone, I did not have time to wash my hair. You heard me. FOUR DAYS. Thank God for the ponytail. Why do you think I refuse to cut my newly-grown-long hair? (There was no way for me to shower in the mornings, since both girls woke up at the exact same moment each day, namely six-Good-Lord-above-why-me?-a.m., and I had no access to my bathroom/shower in the evenings after the girls went to bed, because for complicated reasons relating to my friend's previously scheduled visit, Vivi was sleeping in my room, which is connected to the master bath. I won't try to explain why I could not move Vivi back to her prior sleeping-space by myself. Nor will I try to explain why I was not willing to run the shower mere feet from the sleeping baby's head and risk waking her up. Are you kidding me? After 14 hours of nonstop parenting? Um, no.)

Nor was I able to exercise this week. I mean, I couldn't leave the house by myself for a run (and we don't have a double jogger--but HA! I am laughing out loud at this very moment imagining myself attempting to run while pushing 60 pounds of children plus 20 pounds (?) of stroller). And by the time both girls were in bed at night, it was impossible for me to work out to an exercise DVD--I mean, what with being in a coma and all.

And now, loyal readers, it is time for me to go back to bed. Because parent #2 is home now, the wake-up nursing is done, and I. AM. WIPED. OUT.

P.S. Yes I promise I will wash my hair today.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bye-Bye Babies

The bouncey seat is going out on the curb for the donation truck on Monday morning. After the last few days of Extreme Parenting, I don't exactly feel rash or regretful, getting rid of yet more newborn gear. Of course, Vivi (so sweet! so cute!) turns one year old in just over a month, and I'm sure that round about then, I'll be in tears for awhile. I consider them babies for a long, long time--you know I do--but even so, there's something about turning one that means turning the page on babyhood. There are an awful lot of things that are gone forever once a baby turns one, there's no denying that.

Oh, look. You've gone and made me cry.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Not-Good-Enough Mother

This week it has become depressingly obvious to me that I am not a good parent when I am the only parent. I'm sure my current circumstances--home alone with a three-year-old and a 10-month-old for four full days while my husband is out of town on business--seem like no big deal to many people. I'm sure there are those--heck, I know at least one personally--to whom a four-day stint alone with the kids would seem short, humdrum, and/or business as usual. I am not one of those people.

I think I am generally a good stay-at-home mom, but I am not a good at-home mom when I don't get any breaks at the end of the day. I am not a good parent when I have to do it all myself, all day, all night.

Especially when the baby is at that separation-anxiety stage that compels her to attach herself to my kneecaps and try to crawl up my leg like a monkey for half the day. Especially when the toddler--oops, preschooler?--is at that ask-the-same-annoying-question-over-and-over-even-though-I've-already-answered-it stage, and the question most often is something like, "NOW is lunch ready? NOW is lunch ready? NOW is lunch ready?" or "WHEN will you come and read me this book?" and when I say, "No, I will tell you when it's ready" or "I said when I finish cleaning up the table I will come and read to you", the question is out of her mouth again the second I finish my reply.

And what's with every single meal and snack being a life-or-death situation, people? These babies eat every two to three hours; these meals and snacks CANNOT be emergencies. They cannot. No one is starving to death. And yet, apparently they are!

It was hard, and I didn't love it, but last summer when Christopher went out of town on business and left me (hugely pregnant, killer tired) for a few days with Julia, I was still a good parent, if memory serves. A good enough parent, anyway. Add a second baby to the mix and I'm not. Newly three and not-quite-one is too tough on me--the age combination is too hard--when there's no one around to take over at some point in the day. I'm not good at it. That depresses me, because in reality I love having these two girls, I love having them only 26 months apart in age, I love having two very young children in the house at the same time. I wouldn't change that for a minute. But Lordy Lord, if I were to ever find myself a single parent, I would really, really suck at it, because it is incredibly draining to take care of such wee ones all day long, and the respite of another caregiver in the house is the only thing that makes it doable.

I think maybe for the next two days I need to break my cardinal rule and rely more heavily on children's videos. I hear the library has a great Elmo selection. And don't those Baby Einstein DVDs have, like, four-hour running times? Yeah, that should do it...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You Didn't Know I was a Working Mom, Did You?

Hey, folks. I've got an article up at Work It, Mom!, a new online community for professional moms. Maybe you feel like checking it out?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Week Later


So have I told you the one about the kid who potty-trained herself in one day? After giving us the potty runaround for over a year? And who, though all week long we kept waiting for it, never had one accident, never needed to change her clothes, never failed to stop whatever activity she was engaged in--even when it was swimming lessons, even when it was running through the sprinkler, even when it was playing downstairs at someone else's house during a big 4th of July party--to tell us she had to use the bathroom? About how we never had to try the last-resort, bare-bottom method after all? And about how now that it's been a week since the big, desperate switch to underpants, it seems clear that, well, she potty-trained herself in one day?

Yeah. That one.

Isn't that just like Julia, though? To dismiss everyone else's ideas of what she should be doing when? To forge her own path?

Because do you remember the baby whose general attitude toward newborn life seemed to be something along the lines of, I'll make you all suffer for forcing me out of that comfy hideout I enjoyed for 39 weeks, just you wait, you fools. And whose perspective on sleep tended toward, Sleep is for wimps; who cares if I'm only ten weeks old, there is NO NEED for napping. Those other newborns snoozing all day are boring and slow, and I'll have my joint M.D./Ph.D. before they're out of sixth grade. And who took one look at the books of Richard Scarry at barely two years old and I swear, practically flipped her hair dismissively over her shoulder as she tucked it under her arm to go hide out with it for, oh, nine months or so. Basically saying, Yeah, so what if I'm only two and I'm supposed to still be reading Sandra Boynton board books; age recommendations are for the unimaginative. These days she's perusing a Kate diCamillo chapter book for six-to-eight-year-olds called Mercy Watson.

Yeah, yeah, so you know that girl. And most of you knew, didn't you, that after the failed M&Ms and the failed sticker chart and the failed ominous discussions about preschool and the failed Pamper's Feel 'N' Learns (Feel 'N' Don't Learn? Feel 'N' Learn Nothing? Feel 'N' Learn That These Seem Just Like Diapers, So I Will Now Wet Them?), she would go and throw a wild, glorious curveball like this one, and say, Ha. I'm done in a day. Now what to do with the rest of the summer?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Stay Up Late

So I just can't get to bed on time. And with the crazy summer dawn, the babies, they wake up WAY TOO EARLY. Every morning when they call over the monitors, I say to myself, Tonight, I SWEAR I am going to bed at nine! I swear! I'll get more than eight hours; I'll feel great tomorrow!

And then I spend all day running after the tinies, and their naps are short and their fists are fierce and their meals are screechy and each one is an EMERGENCY--Good Lord the food it cannot come quickly enough we have never eaten before we are STARVING TO DEATH here Mama, more food NOW!--and when they are both finally tucked in bed at 7 or 7:30 or whatever time they give up the day, how can I accept only 90 minutes of evening me-time before going to bed? An hour and a half? To read the new New Yorker and surf all the good cable and check all the blogs I didn't get to during the too-short naps? And what about the non-entertainment, self-maintenance activities: the re-polishing of the chipping toenails, the bathing? Five days a week I actually exercise (I know! Five! Crazy.), and then 9 p.m. comes and there I am still in my running clothes, I'm still stretching my scarily achy joints (I know! I'm old.), and there's still the shower, the washing of the hair (well. sometimes.), the wait for the hair to dry before bed, and did I mention the New Yorker? It comes every week. I end up getting my alone-time second wind, and stay up until 11 in a blissful frenzy of simple pleasures.

Summer is the worst for this, because my favorite time to run is dusk, after the harsh sun has sunk and the hot winds have calmed, and now?--dusk is at, like, 9 p.m. I never actually go that late, but I'm tempted, because I've had it with running the hilly county roads out here on the edge of town in hot, bright, sunny wind. So hot. So bright. So windy. But there's nothing like running--or walking, or biking--through summer twilight, when the kids are being called in and the sky is turning purple and life seems perfect.

And then you get home and it's already past your bedtime and there's so much still to do, so much bubble bath, so much media, so much writing, so much air coming in the screens, smelling like grass and wind and cornfields. And so of course. You stay up late.

The Dreaded Tag-Team Naps

For some reason Genevieve wouldn't take her usual morning nap today, instead finally conking out sometime after ten. (She's usually up from nap by then.) She then slept until noon, when I fed both girls lunch. At 12:45, Julia went down as usual for afternoon nap, falling asleep without a peep. Of course, since Genna had just gotten up less than an hour prior, she was not ready for nap at that time. Julia is a by-the-clock, 90-minutes-at-most napper, so I figure she'll be awake before 2:30. Just in time for Genevieve to be fixing for her (now crazily off-schedule) nap, around three.

HATE the tag-team napping days!

Post-Holiday Happiness

Hey, all--I'm flattered to notice that Mama in Wonderland has made Mary Tsao's list of recommended sites on her great blog, Mom Writes. Thanks, Mary!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

And....Trained.

It's amazing how much can change in a week and a half.

Julia's got her Zoe doll. Yes, today we gave her the Ultimate Reward, the one she's been anticipating for almost a year, on only her fourth day of real-deal potty training. Is that rash? Premature? Foolhardy? Nah, I don't think so. She's trained. Four days or not, she really is. She hasn't had any accidents. She knows when she has to go. I'm sure there will be the typical missteps when she gets busy and miscalculates how much time she needs to get to a bathroom--perhaps especially when we start venturing out in public in underpants--or suffers some other sort of unanticipated complication. And she still needs to learn how to perform the various bathroom steps independently (or mostly so).

But honestly, I just know she's trained.

Monday, July 02, 2007

(Possibly Premature) Hallelujah

I think Julia might be potty trained.

I know, can you BELIEVE my recklessness, uttering such words to the world, after only 2-1/2 days of Extreme Potty Training? On only our third day of underpants?

But people, since we put her in undies on Saturday morning, it's been a total breeze. There have been no major accidents. No changes of outfits necessary. No carpet cleaner, no paper towels and vinegar. Nothing. Just appropriately telling us she needs to go, using the potty chair, and...that's it. (She is wearing a diaper during naps and at night.)

True, we've purposely stayed home the last 2-1/2 days so as to be close to Julia's familiar potty chair(s). But this morning, at Julia's request, I did take both girls out on a walk with no dire consequences. On the 4th we're going to a party, so that will be her first test to see if she can stay dry at someone else's house and use a friend's potty chair when needed. I'm not very worried, because she's used friends' potty chairs on playdates in the past, when she was in Pull-Ups. I think she'll be okay.

I think she just needed to get out of those diaper-like Pull-Ups. It seems like she wouldn't dream of wetting her underpants (if she can help it), whereas with the Pull-Up on, sometimes she just didn't want to bother using the bathroom if she was busy playing. She even said to me once, "But Mama, it's a diaper!" So there you go.

I hate to count my chickens before they're hatched, but I'll go ahead and say it: I think she's on her way to sweet little Northfield Nursery School.