27.2.06

Siblings

The other day the Girl found an empty popsicle mold and after trying for a while to get me to make her some, she resorted to pretending to eat popsicles that she pretended to make. While I cleaned up after lunch, she happily offered us pretend popsicles and then watched us like a hawk to make sure that we ate them and they didn’t get discarded on the rug and make a mess. Okay I’m making that last part up, she’s two, she doesn’t care if imaginary popsicles melt into the carpet leaving permanent red stains, just that we are playing along.

“Here momma, popsico.”

I pretend to take it from her outstretched hands. My hands must always touch her hands or I haven’t really taken it from her yet. “Oh thank-you,” I say and go back to wiping.

“NO MOMMA, EAT IT!”

I obediently make the appropriate slurping sounds into my hand. She and the Boy giggle and eat their pretend popsicles while I enjoy the bliss of a moment’s peace after a morning of needy, pants grabbing, whining.

“Mommy I’m hungry, I want yogurt, mommy I’m hungreee I want yoooguuurrrrt, mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt, mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt mommyi’mhungryiwantyogurt,
MOMMY GIVE ME YOGURT, MOMMY I WANT YOGURT MOMMEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

The muscles in my neck and shoulders have just started to relax and I am smiling and enjoying my kids again when the strangest thing starts to happen. In a fit of four year old big brother mischief, the Boy grabs one of the pretend popsicles from the tray his sister is proudly holding, runs just out of reach and wolfs it down with big loud growling bites. She shrieks and cries completely undone by this cowardly act of thievery. Needless to say, this kind of reaction is all the encouragement he needs and he continues to sneak by her and take popsicle after popsicle from her tray as she gets more and more upset.

“NO MINE!!!”

“I EATING it.”

“NO IT”S MY POPSICLE!!!”

“NO MINE!”

“NO MINE!!!!! MOMMY….”

She comes running to me with tears streaking down her little face, forehead crinkled in wrath. (Beware the wrath of a beautiful little blond haired blue-eyed angel of a girl. When the forehead furrows, you will be struck down. Especially if you laugh at how fierce she manages to look.)

“Boy stop pretending to take the popsicles from your sister she doesn’t like it.”

“But why mom? Why should I?”

“Because you are not being kind to your sister, she doesn’t like it?”

“But I was just wanting to take it from her.”

“I know you were but she doesn’t like it. You are making her cry.”

Grabbing another popsicle, bringing on a new chorus of screams, he throws himself into the chair and says, with his back to me, “But WHY MOM, I just wanted it.”

“Do you like it when people do things that make you sad?”

“Yeah.”

“You do? I thought you didn’t like it.”

“No I don’t like it.”

“Do you want to make your sister sad?”

“YEAH!”

“Well stop it.”

“But why should I mom?”

“Because I said so.”

“But why”

“Because you obey mommy”

“Why can’t I mom?”

“Because it’s wrong to make someone sad on purpose.”

“WHY?”

“BECAUSE I SAID SO, NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM AND LEAVE HER ALONE.”

The Girl sweetly follows him and offers him another popsicle….
Repeat above scene 10 more times with slight variations

14.2.06

Gender Differences

The Boy is four. He is sweet, and smart and very coordinated. The Girl is two, and really is the cutest girl you’ve ever seen. The Boy likes to play fighting games that involve wrestling and swords and shooting pretend guns. He likes to run and jump and climb and make loud noises and pee on trees and run around naked, everything a boy is like. The Girl likes to put on clothes and take her dolls for stroller walks with a purse hanging off of her arm and a hat or collection of hats on her head. She also likes to run and jump and climb and tries her best to keep up with big brother. Who do you think is braver when it comes to real pain?

Yesterday the Boy came limping into the house. “I have an owwee mommy.”
We sit him down and look at his foot and sure enough there is a big thorn stuck into it, not deeply, I could have grabbed it with my fingers and pulled it out in a second. When I tried he screamed and cried and fought and pulled and yelled in terror at the approach of my fingers, or tweezers, or anything touching this little puncture in his foot. We eventually had to hold him down and hold the foot still so I could pull it out.
Later that afternoon the Girl grabbed a Teddy Bear Cactus with both hands. (For those of you wondering what a Teddy Bear Cactus is, especially you northern friends who’s brains are doing somersaults at the idea of having a cactus growing in the back yard in a planter near the office, they are typical shaped cacti only they are fuzzy. When you try to pet it hundreds of tiny little hair like spines get imbedded in your skin and sting until you pull them out.) The Girl had prickles in between her fingers all over the back and palms of her hands and on her wrists. Of course she cried and screamed. She then sat quietly for half an hour as three people plucked her hands clean with tweezers and tape and fingers and anything else we could think of to try and fix her poor hands.

Guys don’t like it when women laugh together about what whiners they are when it comes to sickness and pain but we’ve observed it over and over again. Mothers will take care of house, home, work, and sick children all the while battling the same illness ourselves only to watch our husbands when they catch it a day or two later drag themselves to bed and expect to be taken care of, completely unaware that we have the exact same symptoms that they are whining about, we just keep going because there is no choice. I didn’t know this difference was observable at such a young age until watching my kids.

Incidentally, about the thorn, the day before the Girl walked around with three stuck in her foot until after bath that night when she casually told me “Mommy, my foots hurts.”

One more word about my brave little girl, tonight she somehow fell against a bed frame and cut a deep gash right next to her eye-lid. I didn’t realize it was bleeding because I was kissing her and thought the wet I felt was tears. I thought she would need stitches it was so deep. Instead we tried to tape it together first. She sat still in Beema’s arms (my mother in law) while daddy closed the wound and taped it, but the blood was still flowing so the tape didn’t work. Enter grandpa His Grace (family joke, I’ll tell you another time), the only time she cried was when he pulled off the tape so we could try again. After that she needed to come to mommy and nurse while he squeezed the skin back together and taped it shut. It looks like it will heal just fine.

The Boy may be a wimp when it comes to tweezers and scrapes but he is a compassionate big brother. He talked to her soothingly and stroked her arm and told her it was okay. My favorite moment was when he turned to me and announced “I’m going to pray to God to make her better, he is fixing her eye.”

Mighty Deeds and Humming Birds

The Boy and his aunt K were walking to the store the other day and they found an almost dead hummingbird on the ground. It had flown into a window and blood was coming out of its beak and it wasn’t moving. K picked it up to move it to where it wouldn’t get stepped on and showed it to the Boy. He wanted to know if it would die and she said it probably would and then it occurred to her to try praying for it. K prayed for the bird, and then the Boy did, and then it woke up and grabbed K’s shirt and clung to it for a while. She eventually put it on a bush so they could go into the store, and when they came back out the Boy went running to see if it was still there and it flew up in front of him and away into a tree.

He was so excited, cavorting, jumping, exclaiming, “We prayded for it and God HEALDED it. That was SO COOL!!!”

5.2.06

Oysters

Frustrations are just part of my life these days, everyone has them. Mine are of the living at my inlaws way out in the suburbs without a car or fast internet and trying to find a house to buy and get things done and raise my children variety. When I say way out in the boonies I mean 20 minutes of freeway driving to get to the nearest grocery store. Oh wait, there is the apple market in Bonsall which is only ten minutes away on a state road, unless you hit it at the wrong time of day and then it can take an hour crawling forward an inch a minute staring at the back bumper of the car in front of you. Not that it matters much, I don't have a car to drive, my husband takes ours to work. And I don't really have to buy groceries, someone else does that. I guess the primary frustration is the lack of routine, different food in the pantry, needing to ask someone else to get things for me and to do things I'd rather do myself, borrowing my husband's parents' car when I need to go out during the day. I prefer to be more independent. I usually am.

This of course isn't really all that terrible, and I love this family. I enjoy being here. My kids think they've died and gone to heaven, at least if heaven looks like 2 1/2 fenced acres with four dogs, chickens, swingsets, kittens, aunts and uncles to play with, and more fun than they can possibly have in just one day. They fall into bed every night happy and exhausted.

What bothers me the most I suppose is that when my husband and I have a day filled with minor irritations as most days here are, we end up distant from each other. I feel the distance anyway. He gets silent and withdrawn and then I think he's angry at me and then I get defensive for no reason and it goes around and around. We don't even have to talk to each other if we don't make a point of it. It's a large house and there are many people. Often by the time we're alone together we're both talked out. (He rarely is actually angry with me I usually imagine it, but when we're home we talk and I know I'm imagining things much sooner.) To quote Mr and Mrs Smith. "I feel like there is this big space between us and it keeps filling up with all of the things we're not saying to each other."

I've been learning for a long time now to live without reserve. It's not an easy lesson for me. I hold back in almost every area of my life. Let me give you an idea of what I mean.

I have on several occasions told my children they can't play with playdough because I don't want to deal with the mess. They also can't play with toys, make tents in the living room, run around outside, play in the dirt or do anything that a kid does when they're learning and exploring their world. I usually catch myself doing this and let them go back to being children but I have to go against my first impulse to do it.

I used to have hard time enjoying spontaneous sex because it either made me messy or I was already messy.

I don't just try to do anything, I have to learn how it works first and understand as much as I can about it before I'm brave enough to try it no matter what it is.

I used to avoid my life because of the energy it takes to live it.

And then I gave myself completely to this one man and these children, and it is the first thing I've really committed myself to wholeheartedly, no backing out. I've begun to really live, I choose life because of them.

About a year ago I was praying and quiet and I got help. In my minds eye I saw a picture of this giant glowing egg type thing with the top broken open. Inside it was full of smaller glowing eggs that looked like translucent pearls. Then next to me a man with a kind face that I trusted immediately took a handful of them and started playing with them throwing them up and catching them. Then he closed his hand around them and started pulling them out one at a time and they were all joined together into a necklace. He put it on me and just as I was thinking to myself this was far to nice a necklace to wear he said to me, "I want you to wear this everyday." Then it was over, but as I thought about it I realized that the pearls, the egg shape, the light was symbolizing life, and that he wanted me to truly live everyday and not just save it for special occasions.

That honestly takes more energy than I have it seems, but I'm trying. Which brings me to oysters. Pearls, as I'm sure everyone knows, come from irritants, if there were no sand or uncomfortable object in the oyster's life there would be no pearl. I just realized this two days ago. It is what I do with the irritants that determines whether or not I'll have another pearl to add to that string, or rather whether or not I have life. Every moment has the potential to become a raw sore or something vibrant and beautiful. I just have to choose to allow life in as it pushes against the edges of my tiny hiding place, life is always wresting it's existence from the death all around it. I just have to surrender.

So, when I felt stuck at home, I played with the Boy on the swings. I have a perfect memory of his blue eyes smiling at me, the same exact color as the sky behind him, as he sat on my lap and we enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine together. I hope someday I will enjoy all of the moments I am given as much as I did that one.

1.2.06

Breasts

My mother in law has beautiful breasts. You may be thinking that I am being euphemistic and sentimental, reflecting on the 8 children she has nurtured and fed at them, including my husband, the occasional time when she has offered them to a fussy grandbaby when I have been out and they have needed comfort, and other applications of the word beautiful, but I'm talking purely about aesthetics. This woman is over 50, did you catch the part where she breast fed 8 children, and her breasts look better than I think mine ever have, and I just turned 29. They are perky, they look great under a spandex workout tank that she wears around bra less with the impunity of a 15 year old.

I haven't been able to go bra less since I was 13. I was a DD when I got married, I had babies and moved up to an E cup. My husband would, carefully, joke about having to look near my knees to find them after each baby. But give me another 20 years and he may not be joking, I definitely don't expect them to look like his mother's. Until I had breasts I wanted them. I would look at Archie comics and wonder if I would ever have Betty and Veronica curves. Never mind that they were exaggerated caricatures of the ideal body, I was dying to look like that. Since then I have spent a lot of time and energy in search of the perfect jogbra to keep them from bouncing painfully every time I move. I only wore jogbras for a couple of years before I understood the wonders of underwiring.
When I was 15 I would still try to go without a bra on Saturday mornings, by lunch I was aching. Maybe those Saturday mornings are why they droop so much now. (Hale Berry told Oprah her breasts look so good because her momma told her to always wear a bra to bed, something I never tried.)

My dear mother with her little b-cups went shopping with me for lingerie before I got married and she was appalled to see just how unlike hers mine are without support. She immediately started teaching me the exercise from her school days that goes to the chant of "WE MUST, WE MUST, WE MUST INCREASE OUR BUST." while violently jerking our arms to the sides at armpit level. And then we both broke down in giggles in the dressing room at the absurd sight of my breasts pendulous motion beneath some filmy and completely unflattering bit of pseudo sexy negligee. The last thing I need is an increase but she swears that those exercises are why her breasts continue to draw compliments today.

My husband commented the other day about me showing him my nice perky breasts and I wondered for a second if he had me confused with someone else. I prefer to think that he is fond of my body with all of it's unconventional beauty, for he continues to keep me believing that he really likes my breasts, though I know his preference is smaller.

So back to my mother in law and her stunning mammories. She had none to speak of until my husband was born, and then she woke up one night in agony as she grew two cup sizes in a few hours. She describes the first few days of breastfeeding after each baby as pounding her breasts in a door repeatedly. My other friends with smaller breasts have shared similar stories. I'm stunned to realize that it is painful for some women as I have never found it uncomfortable, until the teeth come in of course. So this is one way that my breast size is a blessing, I have enjoyed the newborn nursing times. But then, they have never had chest and back pain after running, and neck pain from the jogbra. I think we come out even. After all, as teenagers we all envied the girls who had breasts to show off, as we get older we start to envy the woman who can still wear strapless dresses. But I'm hoping for my little girl that she doesn't get her breast size from me.

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