The title of this post was going to be “What Not To Do When You Live On A Mountain An Hour Away From Town,” but it was a bit too long. I was feeling a bit like supermom this morning. I got up before the kids and managed to get dinner in the crockpot before they awoke. Got two lunches made, 3 breakfasts made, and was out the door only 10 minutes late to drive Zoey to school. Zane went with us because I planned to take him to the local gym to run around.
The gym didn’t open until 10:00am and I had an hour and half to kill before then, so I went to the grocery store to get a few things. I was planning to take him to the park by the lake, but the restrooms there are closed and I really had to use the facilities. So we went to the store first. With a cart a quarter full of groceries, I got to checkout and realized I didn’t have my wallet. Sadly this is not the first time I’ve embarrassed myself this way. But thankfully it happened before at the other grocery store in town. The checkout lady was very nice about it and offered to keep my groceries until I could return. But you see, I didn’t have my ID with me so I couldn’t go to the bank to get money, nor could I easily drive back home and get my wallet and drive all the way back to the store. So I left empty-handed. We started to drive to the park and then it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to go to the gym either because I didn’t have our prepaid card for the gym nor did I have any cash because it was in my wallet!
Zane was getting fidgeting being stuck in his carseat so we just drove home and changed our plans. But the day has turned out well despite our morning frustrations. I’m noticing more and more these days how Zane is becoming a little person. He pays attention to what we do and imitates all of us. He “deets ” the groceries like Zoey does, he shakes his boots out before putting them on, he knows to get the vacuum when food falls on the floor, he sweeps the porch outside when there are leaves on it, and what melts my heart is when I can see he feels like a big boy and he walks all by himself towards the shed to see his daddy–but first he turns and blows a kiss to me and waves goodbye.
On the drive back home today, Zoey wanted her water bottle but it was in the door of the car where neither she nor I could reach. So I handed her my water bottle. She took a sip then said to me, “This water tastes like you.” I thought for a second then responded that I had eaten kale chips moments before. She said to me in reply, “No, it tastes like your skin.”
Zane refused to eat his dinner tonight. I made pork chops, applesauce from our apples growing in the orchard, broccolette, and leftover rice with cauliflower. While Stephen was doing dishes I was eating the rest of the applesauce out of the pot. Zane saw me and grunted that he wanted some. I went over to his plate and showed him how he had applesauce on his own dinner plate to eat. He shook his head no. So like any smart mama would do, I dumped his applesauce from his plate and put it in the pot and proceeded to feed him directly from the pot. And he ate it. And I added pork to the fork with the applesauce and he ate that, too.
We’ve decided Zoey will do my hair for my brother’s wedding next month. Here’s the updo she is working on.
Zoey gave me the night off of cooking. She suggested we drive down the mountain to the local pizza place. Zane fell asleep on the way down, but then woke up in time to eat. Every time he ate a bite of pizza he gagged and then I remembered how when he first started eating solids he gagged on every bite. Why he started gagging again tonight, I have not a clue. Unlike when he was a baby and spit out every bite we gave him, he gagged tonight but at least kept swallowing the pizza. We used to worry when he was a baby that he would never be able to eat like a normal person. We thought he’d be an adult eating pureed food. And then one day he just started eating non pureed food and I forgot all about the gagging until tonight.
Zoey was not happy that we didn’t get dessert. As soon as we got in the car to drive home, she started to repeat over and over, “I’m hungry, I’m hungry.” You’d think we hadn’t fed the girl. She ate the avocado off my salad, all of her cheese pizza minus the crust, two brussel sprouts and a little broccolette, and one slice of Stephen’s sausage pizza. Must be her enlarged stomach.
I started writing about the sequence of events that took place tonight at bedtime. It wasn’t pretty, and I don’t have the heart to share it because I’d rather not remember it. I feel dishonest trying to share anything else tonight. My kids are so precious yet sometimes in the moment of frustration and anger, I yell at them as if that will change everything but it never does. And then later I worry that I’ve scarred them terribly. I know, how could I have possible yelled at these adorable kids?
Today was one of those days when I thought of resigning from being a mother. I know, even as I write that it sounds horrible and it feels horrible. But today (and yesterday) my children have worn me out. The crying, the tantrums, the constant neediness, the not doing what I ask them to do. For a moment I imagine interviewing women to be mother to our children. I’ll just be Stephen’s wife. For a moment I’ve lost my mind completely that I’m willing to give up this gift of motherhood and all its craziness for a moment of sanity. Ah, but I can’t do it. I write this out today, in hope that in doing so tomorrow I will be able to embrace a new day, which might be more of the same, or it might be me looking at them with less tired eyes. And then they’ll make me smile and laugh, and I’ll welcome the mess of motherhood once again.
Nighttime is not pretty in our home. It didn’t used to look so ugly. Back when Zoey was one, she had been sleep-trained for several months already and when we put her down to sleep in her crib awake yet sleepy, she quietly went to sleep without crying. Now she is the moody 3 1/2 year old who cries every night when we put her to bed or she gets up every few minutes to go pee or she comes running to the kitchen. This was our conversation last night:
Zoey: “Mommy,” and then a long pause because she really has nothing to say to me, she just doesn’t want to be in bed.
Me: “Yes, Zoey?”
Zoey: “Ummm,” with another long pause while she tries to think of something to say, “my eye hurts.”
Me: I say to her, “Maybe it hurts because you are tired and it’s now an hour past your bedtime. Go to bed.” But really I am thinking, Go the F**K to Sleep. You’ve heard of this book, right?
God grant me patience. I want nighttime to be a calm, relaxing, quiet time of night when my lovely children drift off to sleep while I sing lullabies to them and rub their backs. Instead I do all that as Zoey cries and screams and wakes Zane up who then cries and screams and I get the hell out of their bedroom as fast as I can wishing them good night and telling them I love them. I’m comforted by the thought that this is just a phase in their very short childhood. This, too shall pass. Thank you God. And tomorrow, or maybe next year, I can finally be the mom I always thought I would be–getting my angels to drift off to sleep without a peep.
A year ago today my baby boy was born.
Happy 1st Birthday Zane!
Yesterday morning after breakfast Zane, Zoey, and I took a walk down Whoop-dee-doo trail. I was hoping to show her the glistening spider webs fresh with the morning dew. I discovered them the day before while out for a walk with Zane trying to get him to sleep. I was listening to Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast with Mary Oliver. I learned that Mary Oliver does her writing while walking in nature. I was trying to imagine doing that while Zane was asleep in the Ergo carrier.
This morning we spent an hour and a half in the car driving to the Apple store to get my phone fixed. While we were leaving the cement truck had just arrived to pour the concrete for the retaining wall behind the Buckeye Bunkhouse (no bunks just yet, but we do have some more cabinets made along our hallway, a bench seat in our living room, another redwood bench out on our back patio, and a wall desk in our hallway–Stephen has been busy.) The retaining wall for the main house is finished and now dirt is being hauled in from along Whoop-dee-doo trail to fill in along the wall. I’ll take some photos in the next few days of the main house site and views.
I am grateful for mornings like yesterday when we are outdoors and I feel a sense of calm. Today was not one of those days. Too many hours in carseats, or store carts, or being held in Mama’s arms does not make for happy children. Poor Zane just wanted to crawl everywhere today. Please tell me how a mother manages to hold a squirming baby in her arms while trying to pull her wallet out of her diaper bag to pay for the phone that needed fixing or the groceries that needed buying without dropping baby? Well, she does indeed drop baby on the floor in order to pay for said items and then quickly runs after baby crawling on the dirty floor, yes, under the Apple genius bar table before baby starts sucking the computer cords. That was my day, all day, in Trader Joes, in the mall to pay for my parking ticket. You see, I forgot my Ergo carrier at home and the stroller at home which was why I had to carry Zane all day. But grandmothers, be relieved that at least I’ve mastered holding baby in my arms while using the toilet for potty breaks. Yep, this mama is one hell of a mama.
In other news, we had a breakthrough with our barn cats yesterday. I missed the action because as kitchen manager, I was in the kitchen cleaning up breakfast, lunch, and snack dishes before starting to cook dinner (I know, what a horrible kitchen manager I am.) The friendlier cat Lester let Stephen and Zoey pet him. When we’re outside in the late afternoon he’ll come out and follow us around. We’ll see if Solo ever comes around. And one of these days I’ll remember to photograph them.
Some story slices from my writing practice:
“I don’t want to,” she pauses. I answer, “You don’t have to” and it throws her off for a second. She sits in her carseat wearing her long-sleeve pink dress with her black and pink polka dot pants with her purple necklace around her forehead like a headband. She responds, “What?”
“Stay for two more and rub me,” she says to me. She’s lying in her bed in the dark as we watch our barn cats sit outside her window as if keeping watch over her tonight though we both know they soon will move.
She asks yet again if she can eat the heart piece of chocolate. “Yes,” I say, “as long as you promise to eat all the vegetables I give you otherwise no more chocolate tomorrow.” A few seconds later she asks again, “Can I eat my chocolate now?”
Two weekends ago, I took a day off from my mama duties. I metaphorically ran away. I needed to get out of town to rejuvenate my sapped out body, mind, and spirit. You may wonder why that was necessary considering I went on vacation only last month. I wondered that myself. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit pondering why I feel like I’m going insane being here at home with loud little ones. And then I realized, I am an introvert and it’s really hard to be around people who need me 24-7 and never have alone time. And so I did as Jesus did and went off by myself. If I hadn’t given myself that time away, the mean, mad mama side of me would have stayed a lot longer than I would have liked. And unfortunately, just one day away hasn’t seemed to completely cure my mean, mad mama side. She still lurks around the corner especially around nap time, bath time, and bed time.
A week previously during my near mental break down, I was listening to this Krista Tippett On Being Podcast with Dr. Stuart Brown called “Play, Spirit, and Character” which led me to the realization that I needed time away to play to feel human again. Dr. Brown discussed on the podcast his thoughts on the question–if we don’t play what are the consequences? He says, “the human being really is designed biologically to play throughout the life cycle. When one really doesn’t play at all or very little in adulthood, there are consequences–rigidity, depression, lack of adaptability, no irony, things that are pretty important that enable us to cope in a world of many demands.” What he said rang true for me in my own little, simple life as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve written about play before, but that wasn’t “my play” but rather Zoey’s. I needed play time for myself. Some mothers can’t imagine being away from their little ones, but for me, I knew I needed to go off to replenish my spirit. I took comfort and tried to let go of the mama guilt thinking about how Jesus needed time away to replenish his spirit, too from helping and serving others. I may no longer be a practicing social worker, but my daily life is still a life of service to my children and husband.
Stephen and I often get asked the question “what do you do all day?” once a person learns neither one of us has a traditional paying job. I think Stephen hears it less these days because he’s working at the ranch five or more days a week even though he’s not getting a paycheck for his work. Just the other day, the mother of one of Zoey’s friends asked me what I would do once we moved to the ranch. I felt I had to justify being a mom to Zane–I mean somebody has to take care of him. Either I do it and don’t get paid, or someone else does it and we pay that person. My work may look different than your work, but it’s still work. And for me, a necessary part of my play time has to be outdoors. I have to spend some time in nature or else my spirt feels like it’s suffocating. That’s one of the reason’s why I’m really looking forward to moving to the ranch in hopefully a month or two. I won’t have to run away so far, I’ll just have to take a step outside the house.