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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bad Mom Moment

So every mom has a collection of moments that they carry with them as solemn reminders not to be "that-sort-of-mom."  I have dubbed them Bad Mom Moments.  Moments when your guard goes down, when you have a lapse of judgement, a blip of insanity, and you do or allow things that you would never otherwise do or allow.  Moments that make you spin on an axis and swear up and down to never be so stupid again.

All of my Bad Mom Moments have happened while I was talking to other people, basically socializing.  I have this inability to listen to a person talk while also managing Noelle.  I pride myself on being a multi-tasker, but all of my secretarial skills fail me when it comes to conversing.  I get engrossed.  I like to look at people while their talking to me.  I like to give them affirmations like "uh-huhs" and "I see's" to let them know that I am fully engaged, fully with them.  But as a consequence I'm not fully engaged with Noelle.

I'll open my sack and share with you a few of my Bad Mom Moments.

Classic - I was eating lunch at a friends house just after a mom's Bible Study.  Noelle was probably about 10 months old.  A few of the moms and their babies were hanging around.  We were all eating, feeding our little ones, and chatting.  I was chowing down on a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich while Noelle sat happily eating bread chunks at the Baby table.  She couldn't yet walk, but she was big enough to sit at the table and munch.  I was gabbing away with my friend Erika, when I heard the all-time classic line, "You're baby's playing with a knife."

I turned around to see baby Noelle waving the butter knife I'd left behind after cutting up her bread.

So Sorry - I was sitting at my friend Rosie's house for a morning cup of tea and chat.  The kids were romping around the living room and Rosie's rock star brother-in-law was in town.  We were drinking our chais talking and I, like a good responsible mother, set my tea down on the floor next to the chair.  

I remember that I was mid-sentence, talking to Rosie's brother-in-law when I heard either him or Rosie say, "Oh, the cup!" While I was busy chatting, Noelle had picked up the cup and with perfect precision, proceeded to pour it beside my lap all over Rosie's white canvas cushions. 

Heart in Your Throat - Yesterday, I took Noelle to our new favorite park.  It's quite and nestled into the foothills and perfectly peaceful.  We rolled up late yesterday afternoon to kill some time and energy before bed.  While we were there a family of aunts, uncles, and cousins joined us.  There were two other pre-toddlers, Noelle's age, and before long I was standing in a cluster with the parents chatting.

Noelle and the other kids were running back and forth along the jungle gym.  I have let Noelle do this by herself because it's a very safe jungle gym.  There is a bridge and a tunnel that she loves to run between, and there are only two openings in the gym where she could possibly fall.  I have found it easy just to stand on the ground and pace her back and forth, spotting her whenever she gets close to the openings.

The father of one of the two-year olds laughed and said to me, "I like this park because there are only two openings to fall through!"  He motioned and gestured as if he were stopping his son from slipping through the gap in the rails.  I nodded and agreed, watching Noelle totter off over the bridge.  

Normally, I would have walked with her, but I was talking to these nice people and she had done this a million times.  So I stayed where I was a moment longer.

"At the other park," the father continued, "They have four openings on opposite sides and I can never get to all of them in time."

Just at that moment there was an outburst of screams from the other mothers at the park.  I looked over just in time to see Noelle falling from the jungle gym, four feet to the wood chips.  My heart leapt into my throat and I dashed over to her.  One of the other mom's who was closer to her had gotten there first.

"She was just running and fell through it!" the mom said, pointing to the one opening in the gym where I hadn't been.

Noelle pushed herself up onto her hands, looked at me and then started crying.  Luckily she had fallen in such a way that she didn't hit any of the railing and she landed on her feet tumbling over onto her stomach.  I could tell that she wasn't hurt, but we were both frightened.  The only scar was a bunch of scratches from the wood chips on her cheek.

I was so upset with myself.  Certainly no other mom has ever been so careless!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene has become a fight.  Ever since that second week of Noelle's life when Dwayne went back to work, it's been a struggle to figure out just when and how to take a shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, do my hair, and (may the gods smile upon me) put on make-up.

When Noelle was just four months old we went to Canada to visit Dwayne's parents. While there, I met Nalisa, a good friend of Dwayne's and a mom of three. She strolled into the house with her three children (under 5) buzzing around her. She was fully dressed, hair done, with make-up.

"How do you do it?" I asked in awe. 

"Oh you haven't seen my uniform," she laughed. I thought she was going to tell me that she wore the same pair of jeans and t-shirt everyday. But she didn't. "My pajamas! Sometimes, 4:30 rolls around and I realize that I still haven't gotten dressed."

Getting ready has especially become a challenge for me since going back to work.  Because while my freshman may show up to class in their pajamas, teaching in my pajamas with no make-up is unfortunately not an option.

The only way I can get ready is if I rush a shower in right after Dwayne is done with his, and before he has to leave for work.  I have a 20 minute window.  If I miss this window, then Lord help me!  The clouds roll in, the tantrums collect, and all of baby-wrath lets loose.  

Yesterday was that day.  Dwayne had to leave early and so I had to shower on my own.  I set Noelle up with her toys in the nursery, blocked off the top of the stairs, and closed the door to the bathroom.  What I heard while I showered, was my little girl screaming and crying at the top of her lungs, banging her head on the bathroom door.  This didn't stop once, not for the duration of my shower.  

As you can imagine, I got out of the shower a sopping wet rattle of nerves. 

"Why don't you just take her into the shower with you?" I hear you ask.  Well, I've done it before, but to be honest, my shower is just one of my boundaries.  When I'm not naked, wet, and trying to get clean, I will give my baby all of my attention.  But I just have to believe that it's okay for me to take a shower on my own.  The thought of having her in the shower with me makes me feel a tad bit suffocated.  

There are other daily hygiene's that I'm willing to do with Noelle.  This morning, I found myself brushing my teeth, bent over the sink, balancing on one foot, while I held the bathroom door shut with my other foot.  I was trying to keep Noelle from escaping and falling down the stairs that are just outside our bathroom door.  It was one of those out-of-body moments, where I suddenly saw myself as a cartoon.  My hair a tangled mess, the baby running around in mad circles, and toothpaste dripping down my shirt.

Next time you see a mom in public with her kids, if her hair is even slightly combed, her clothes matching and for heavens sakes, if she's got on make-up, please stop and pay her a compliment.  Tell her she looks nice.  Pat her on the back.  Give her a high-five.  Buy her a candy bar.  She has just won five major battles that morning, all before stepping out of the door.