This is a phrase I find myself saying a lot lately as a mother. I find myself doing wondeful things, insane things, gross things, etc. and saying under my breath.... "really, this is what I do now?" You see, I was that girl... you know... straight-A student, tons of activities, honor roll in college, working extra hours, etc. I thought I'd be an astronaut, a famous chemist, a professor, a top-notch journalist reporting from war-torn areas, a CEO. Something like that. Not because I'm smarter or better, but because I'm a perfectionist. I'm harder on myself than anyone else and I used believe that if I worked hard enough I could be perfect; if I planned well enough I could always be prepared; if I educated myself I could handle anything life threw at me. Then God, in His infinite wisdom threw me children. Now instead of striving to be perfect, I strive to learn something new every day. Instead of trying to prepare for everything, I'm trying to learn how to roll with the punches. Instead of educating myself in an effort to control life, I'm trying to learn how to just enjoy the ride. And all along I say to myself, "really? this is what I do now?"
Case in point - Poop. This topic will become paramount when you have become a parent. Are they pooping enough? Too much? In the potty? Is it a control issue? Does it look right? Etc., etc. I'm not kidding. Poop will become a major thing. Nevermind that I have two dogs to add to the issue, the children are enough. Last weekend was a perfect example. Mike has been travelling a lot and is about to travel again, so I'm trying to make our last family day together perfect. Ah, there's that perfect again. Mistake. Big Mistake. I'm trying to cook a yummy breakfast, Mike is just up from getting to sleep in and I'm trying to keep our two children (who have entered the age where they play together... but FIGHT together too) quiet because he jumps on a work call. Elizabeth steals upstairs for a bit as I'm trying to perfectly cook Mike's breakfast, so William checks on her for me and I hear,
"Mom!! Dizzy pooooooped!!!"
"Okay," I say, "I can't burn Daddy's breakfast, so I'll be up to change her in a minute."
"No, Mom!" William panics, "she pooped on her chair, on her leg, on my toy, on...." I'm running up the stairs now. I'm praying Mike's breakfast doesn't burn, but I don't want to interrupt what sounds like a work call not going particularly well right before he has to fly to Vegas for work. I take one look at Elizabeth and realize her vaccinations are NOT sitting well with her belly and I've got some MAJOR cleaning up to do. William is nervous-dancing up and down the stairs chattering,
"Stinky!!! Should I get Dad? We need help. This is bad! Mooooo-ooooom!" and I decide I cannot handle this.
"Mike I need HEEEEEEELP!" I shout. He hops off his call runs up the stairs and stares bug-eyed,
"Oh boy, what do you need me to do?"
"You handle breakfast, I'll handle this!" I say as I'm stripping Elizabeth and putting her in the tub, "your breakfast is in the pan and is going to burn any minute. And William, get downstairs with your father."
"I want to help," he begins to whine.
"Dude seriously," I'm trying not to freak because now Elizabeth is wailing in the tub, "GO!"
So I get her bathed, send her downstairs and realize that it will be hard to find all the lovely poop that has dripped from her diaper and has been flung all over our LIGHT BROWN carpet while she walked around.
"I need the Nature's Miracle and some towels!!!!" I shout downstairs. Mike throws them up the stairs and I begin (no joke) to crawl around on my hands and knees with a bottle of Nature's Miracle and my "bodily fluid" towels cleaning up the play room. I actually begin laughing at this point (insanity has set in) as I realize that I had NEVER in all my 37 years, imagined I would be crawling around on my hands and knees looking for poop drops from my 2 year old one fine Sunday morning. I sigh to myself,
"Really, this is what I do now?!"
Ladybug hunting. It's an sunny Spring day and since they've been few and far between our heavy Oregon Spring rains, I take Dizzy (as we call Elizabeth) for a walk while William is in preschool. We're walking down a street that isn't fully developed yet and full of wild fields when Diz begins running toward one shouting "I see laleelub (lady bug), I see laleelub!". She begins whacking her way through weeds nearly as tall as she is searching for ladybugs. I spend the next hour with her alternately loving how gently she handles the few ladybugs I can find for her and saying things like, "don't eat the stick" "don't put the dandilion in your nose" "give Mr. Spider his space please" "what did you just put in your mouth?" (answer... a flower) and the like. But mostly, I'm feeling blessed that this is what my job is today... walking in sunshine with my daughter, finding ladybugs, blowing the fluff off of dandilions, picking little purple flowers and tossing pebbles into a puddle. And just as I'm about to say "really, this is what I do now" in happiness rather than exasperation I watch Dizzy lift a used, discarded straw toward her mouth and instead yell, "AAAAAGGGGHHHH! No!! Yucky!!!". This time, thank God, I stop her in time. Note I said... this time.
Parks with no potties. It's another a rare sunny Spring Day and after school I decide to accompany my good friend Heidi (her son Logan is William's "best buddy" as he says) and her kids to a park by their school so we can all play and picnic together before heading home for naps. Before we leave the preschool I warn William,
"the park has no potty... go NOW!"
He does and I think we'll be in clear because William is a peeing camel who can hold it forever. However, it quickly becomes clear to me that this is instead the day that makes me begin to wonder if 4 year olds can have prostate problems. We are only at the park for about 2 hours and William ends up having to pee 4, count 'em, FOUR times. Now, I'm lucky he's a boy and he can just stand behind a bush or a tree somehwere, but this park does not have a plethora of large-standing vegetation to offer privacy. The one tree he can hide behind would have his little buns facing directly toward the lovely people enjoying their time at the dog park, or the people driving by the park. GREAT. On top of it... apparently a large portion of Heidi's church congregation has decided to use the same park today and is full of lovely, sweet, MODEST women who mostly have girls and whom I've never met before. Then, half of William's preschool shows up as well as apparently every other mother has decided to enjoy the same park Heidi and I have chosen. The first time William goes, I'm standing behind him, my hoodie stretched out to hide as much of him as possible and trying to rush him along. The second time, I'm trying to do the same when I catch Elizabeth dashing headlong for the little creek that divides the play park from the dog park. Really? Who thought a body of water with no fence around it was a good idea at a park for small children? William's buns are left in full view as I catch my daughter. Ooops. Sorry everyone. The third time, I see half of the boys from preschool following in curiosity and have to shoo them all away, but William is half done and pants down before I get them all to understand the meaning of the word privacy. Finally, the fourth time, I get him away by himself, Heidi is keeping an eye on Elizabeth for me and I'm feeling better when out of the corner of my eye, some little girl starts coming around my hoodie shield wondering what it is I'm hiding. That's it. We're leaving. As we climb in the car, William declares he has to go again and I freak.
"Really? Dude, what did you drink at snack today?" When his only reply is,
"Can I go at Logan's house" I realize this is merely a stalling technique and tell him he'll have to pee his pants. He sees I've caught on and whines the rest of the way home. And the whole time, I'm muttering under my breath,
"Really?! This is what I do now?"
Baseball and pinecone bird feeders. Yesterday, while Mike runs around town and Elizabeth is napping, I decide William can skip naps for some arts and crafts time. We head out to our covered porch armed with pine cones, peanut butter, a homemade bird feeding mixture I just blended and proceed to get sticky and messy making lovely pine cone bird feeders for our local birdies (who have yet to touch them, so I've either failed miserably as a bird chef, or I need to change their location). William, being 4, tires after two feeders and asks if we can play sports. We do some batting practice, pitching practice, fielding practice, throw the frisbee, and practice running really fast. We hear Elizabeth crying on the monitor and go grab her and come downstairs, curl up on our new reclining couch and grab some of our new library books. I'm through my third story when I realize my beautiful, tired (and thus silent) children each have their head leaning on my arms. I needed this moment in a week when I have lost my temper way too much, have taken a ton of time-outs so I can burst into tears in privacy, have told my son that I may be able to grant his wish that he never turns 5, and have told my friends that Mike needs to purchase a striped shirt and a whistle for my Mother's Day gift because all I do is referee now. I look down and think about how I used to head out of the house every day into the yucky, thankless world of mortgage banking and ask myself happily,
"Really? This is what I do now?"