Sunday, May 26, 2013

Of misplaced lizards, expensive losses and Dory

Dory: I suffer from short term memory loss. It runs in my family... At least I think it does... Where are they?”


I don't think Dory forgot her family, I think she forgot she was a mother... because only mothers are this forgetful.  I know I am.  Honestly, I don't know where my brain is these days.  It's gone.  Officially gone folks.  Somewhere with the disposed diapers, the packed away size NB baby clothes, the rocking chair we gave away and my maternity clothes, somewhere is my brain.  Cuz it certainly ain't here anymore.  I'd look for it, but I've forgotten where to start.  I'm lucky I remember my name. Shit I know my kids wish I could at least remember theirs as I'm known to throw out the dogs' names, my siblings' names and probably a sprinkling of old flames' names before I EVER arrive at theirs.  Calling them these days usually sounds something akin to:

"Uh...Yuko-no-sash-no-Dane-Ellie-Mike-no-FUCK!  What IS your name? Agh!"


Granted, I've never had the BEST memory.  My family can attest to this. I often wore a dumbfounded expression (my son wears this now) when my mother would inquire about a field trip notice or homework that she only knew existed because my responsible sister would pull hers from her backpack in pristine condition as though it had been pressed.  I would be forced to dive into the abyss of my backpack, removing a crumpled wad from the detritus of my academic efforts and attempt to flatten it again into a paper that could still be written on.


After having children though, I can say that unfortunately, those were my BEST years as far as my memory is concerned.  Now I'm shambling around, lucky to be dressed and wearing the correct glasses... only because Elizabeth's don't fit me yet and I'm so out of it, if they did I would never notice they are the opposite correction than the one I require.  Add some drool and I'm ready for assisted living.

Now, if it were just the normal day-to-day items, that would suck, but it would be better than my most recent testaments to my increasing motherhood-induced dementia.  While I'm known to call my own cell phone in an effort to locate it (only to jump when it vibrates in my pocket... please refrain from sick vibration related jokes here) and walk around swearing about the missing glasses that are already perched on my nose, lately the forgetfulness has been... bigger.

The other day I go walking upstairs to our playroom and as I reach the top of the stairs, the landing to which affords a perfect view of our terrarium, I literally get those pre-fainting, oh-shit prickles as I realized our terrarium is EMPTY.  We have two, count 'em two, juvenile Bearded Dragons, and both have flown the coop courtesy of yours truly.  FUCK.  Juvenile Bearded Dragons are still small.  Thus they are FAST, easily camouflaged by our light brown carpet (really, did we have to obtain pets that match our carpeting so perfectly?), and will skitter away rather than accepting a helping hand back to the heat they require to survive.

So I'm looking at this empty cage, trying not to panic because I realize it's 4:00 in the afternoon and that cage has been open since 7:30 am when I fed them last.  That's 15.5 hours for them to explore our 2200 sq ft home.  Shit.  I yell downstairs to Mike that I've "done it again!" when I hear the freakiest scratching noise on top of the cage and realize one of the lizards is bright enough to stay near a heat source.  I pop her into the cage and yell "yay!  I found one" to which Mike's panicked voice replies from downstairs "ONE!!!!  You mean you lost BOTH this time?" (I had recently... uh, misplaced one when we had friends over for the first time.  Thank gawd they had good senses of humor and were not squeamish).  I look under the couch where I had found him last time and there he is, flattened against the carpet like a hawk is flying overhead.  I grab my daughter's sparkly wand (hey, it was right there) and begin to attempt to guide him out from underneath as though he's merely a marble that can be rolled in my direction.  But he begins scrambling and popping around like he's a barefoot, double-dutch champ competing on hot pavement and I'm getting PISSED.  I finally get him to jump in my direction and grab that little sucker before he can get away.

While it's nice to misplace items that can't actually RUN away, I have to say, misplacing the big ticket items in life is something I can do without.  This morning, as Mike and I are at brunch with the kids and wanting electronics to entertain them at the restaurant Mike says, "I would have brought the iPad, but I couldn't find it".  Again with the oh-shit, hot prickles as he says, "You carried it out of Red Lobster last night, though, so I figured you know where it is."  He sees my face and says, "You DID carry it out of Red Lobster, RIGHT?"  Weeeeeeell...

We actually get it back after calling Red Lobster, so I'm feeling better about finding it, but seriously doubting my ability to keep track of anything that isn't already attached to my body or that lacks the vocal chords to say "DON'T FORGET ME!!!" as, unfortunately, my children have ACTUALLY had to do.  Yeah, I know.  Mother of the year here.


Not only have I recently misplaced a big ticket item, I've also misplaced something just plain BIG.  I'm not exactly sure how I've managed this feat, quite frankly.  I think it takes Dory-sized memory loss to do this. My most recent?  A large, reusable grocery bag, packed to the top with Elizabeth's swimsuit, two towels, 3-in-1 over-sized shampoo bottle, a rash guard and comb.  WTF?  It's not like when I drop a small key into the abyss I call my purse.  THIS IS A FREAKIN' GROCERY BAG FULL OF STUFF.  So full, in fact, stuff sticks out of the top.  And I lose it.  Because I'm an idiot.  Because my head is so full of what I have to do and where I have to go next and whatever little strange tidbit of imagination has spilled from my daughter's lips, I can barely remember to clothe myself fully before leaving the house.  I left it on a playground we played on after swim class.  Just walked away not noticing the rather large, NEON GREEN item sitting there.


It's gotten so bad that Mike has to mark his coffee cups from Starbucks because I've been known to consume his after consuming mine because I forget I've already had one and proceed to reach for whatever is in front of me.  My children have found me swearing about the lost pajamas and bemoaning their irresponsibility, only to have to point out sadly that I'm holding those same pajamas.  I've left with a grocery list of only 6 items, CROSSED ITEMS OFF AS I SHOPPED, and still forgotten to buy the ketchup listed there.  I even tried to turn off my truck IN THE MIDDLE OF DRIVING IT on Friday.  Don't ask me why.  I don't know what possessed me, halfway down the street leading to my son's school, to reach over and turn the key.  Who DOES that?


They say that a bit of coffee daily helps fight dementia and Alzheimer's, so with the amount I drink, I should freakin' be able to get through a day without putting cereal in the fridge, losing a lizard and trying to reheat my coffee in the toaster oven.  I shouldn't attempt to put on my son's pants or walk into the laundry room in just my underwear in search of pants and then walk toward the stove to prepare breakfast STILL sans pants.  I drink enough coffee to keep the local Starbucks in the black and yet I call my son by the dog's name.


Suddenly my mother makes sense.  Her need to call me Gypsy (our dog), her inability to give the right lunch to the right kid, her falling asleep in her dinner, her countless lost cameras on vacation and her sudden rifling through a purse to search for glasses that are sitting on top of her head.  She's a mom.  Babies in your belly don't just suck your energy, they abscond with your brain cells as well.


Dory sang, "just keep swimming" and I'm thinking now, it wasn't because she was the encouraging sort.  I'm thinking she would have just plain forgotten and sunk to the bottom if she didn't.



Monday, May 20, 2013

Sleep Positions

I'm looking over at two beautiful little heads as I type this.  Hair askew, arms and legs strewn about in a tangle of William, Elizabeth, blankets and comforter and soft snores emanating from below the pillows they never quite seem to rest their heads on.

We're having a playroom camp out.  We've been sick/quarantined to the house for a week now thanks to Whooping Cough (yes, I'm serious).  And with no need to wake up early, no school schedule to stick to tomorrow, I thought - why the hell not?

And as I look at this beautiful tangle next to me, I find myself thinking of the many "sleeping positions" I've taken in the last nearly 7 years.  I can measure my life as a mother in those positions.  I can mark the growth of these two and the change into who I am now, versus who I was then.

When they were teeny I found that my sleeping positions were often not chosen, but a result of sheer exhaustion posing me as my eyes closed despite my best efforts to the contrary.  I recall falling asleep in the rocker, feet falling asleep on the ottoman, Boppy pillow on my lap and a child attached to my breast.  My head would fall, my body would rock forward and I would start awake, fearful of dropping this sweet thing who had fallen asleep, mouth still open as though wanting to keep the option of nursing open should they wake.  I remember being so exhausted from the nurse/pump/clean/diaper/put to bed cycle in the newborn days that I would only get as far as burping them and just fall asleep with them there.  Me sitting straight up, them with their tiny, sweaty heads on my shoulder.  Sometimes my hand would just stay on their backs.  I remember falling asleep cradling them, sometimes on the couch, sometimes in the rocker, because I hadn't made it to the crib.  I would wake up and see their beautiful little faces in my arms and just decide to sleep with them, because it was too delicious of a moment to let end.  I remember not wanting to be apart from them, so I would make a little "nest" for them on the couch and fall asleep facing them or next to them and I could feel their little breaths across my face.

Sickness over the years brought more sleeping positions.  There was the half-reclined/half-sit up position, propped up on pillows in an effort to help them sleep sitting up when they were so congested they couldn't breathe lying down and were so small they needed to be held in that upright position. I've slept in small beds, on couches and even on floors, usually curled into a small ball with one hand on a trash can listening for the telltale moan that precedes their vomiting.  I've fallen asleep against bathroom walls, toilets and even kneeling and leaning against them during nights when vomiting or diarrhea has taken so long, we haven't left the bathroom for hours.  I've fallen asleep on my back (which I hate) with one arm falling asleep under their sweet heads because they feel so yucky, they want to sleep on my shoulder.

As they've gotten older, the chances to sleep holding them diminished and blooming in their place have been the strange solitary positions brought on by my body just surrendering after a day of keeping up with two little ones.  I've fallen asleep at the kitchen table.  We'll be mid-meal and my eyes will just shut and my head tilt backward or forward.  I've fallen asleep lying next to them in bed as a book has crashed onto my face because I can't even get through one short pre-nap or pre-bedtime story.  I've fallen asleep sitting on the bathroom floor, with my head and arm stretched across the side of the tub because I can't even make it to story time.  I've even drifted off standing up... drying my hair, cooking a meal, surveying the pantry, washing dishes or standing in front of the open fridge.  Not even realizing I was tired until my body pitched forward.

Now the two of them sleep together.  But there have been nights when they still want me to sleep with them.  And I do, either because these moments don't last forever or because I fall asleep mid bedtime story.  I often end up balancing carefully on my side, arm falling asleep, so I can take up as little room as possible in the bed.  Otherwise, I end up in the tangle myself - Elizabeth's feet in my back, William's arm smacking my chest, all of us rolling around and complaining in our sleep about the accidental wrestling match that results from sharing a bed.

But the best positions are the ones like tonight.  A playroom camp out.  A playroom tent city.  A makeshift "bed tent".  Whatever silly fun we can come up with.  I'm thinking if it's warm enough this summer, we'll need to add one more to the repertoire  - the trampoline camp out.  That thing is freakin' huge and I'm sure I can find a way to rig something across the top of the protective netting so that we can make a trampoline tent.

I know I'd sleep better if I would just put them in their own beds every night.  But these moments won't last forever.  They won't want me close forever.  They've been asleep for hours and my butt is falling asleep as I write this and I know I may be tired tomorrow, sharing this not-so-comfy fold out with them.  But they'll remember this camp out.  The movie, the giggling, my snoring and the novelty of waking in our playroom with nothing to do tomorrow but play.  So what if it's not a good night of sleep for me.

Besides, as my mom often says, "I can sleep when I'm dead."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Don't miss the little moments

"Mommy, am I ice skating?"

I look up from cooking and see Elizabeth, clad in a short night gown and over-sized Hello Kitty slippers, sliding and laughing across our hardwood floor.  She is utter joy clothed in unkempt, blonde bed-head, crooked glasses and a smile so big, it breaks my heart.

"Wanna skate?"

I pause.  I should finish making brunch.  I'm in pj's still, tired from our shared illness, and hungry.  But I don't want to miss this.  These little moments are where the magic lies.  So I put down the chef's knife, slip on my own socks and make her crack up at my purposely clumsy twirls and leaps on my "skates".  I don't really want to go back to cooking.  So we skate a little bit more and I feel like a kid again.

We miss these moments often, or at least I do.  And these moments usually hold more magic than any of the "big" ones we work so hard to plan- the Disney adventures, the airplanes, the grand parties, the school programs.  The little moments are what they'll remember.  What they'll treasure.  If we'll only take the time to stumble on them, like that perfectly intact, sparkling shell on the beach.  All the more beautiful because we weren't looking for it at the time.

I want to remember heading out in rain coats and rain boots one ridiculously wet day to "worm hunt" with my kiddos, hands FREEZING as we picked them out of puddles.  And I want to remember their surprised laughs and joyful squeals as I turned the worm hunt into a puddle splashing adventure, not caring that we came home dripping wet and freezing... and too late for naps.

I want to remember the "car picnic" in the very back of my Ford Escape while the rain and wind pounded the windows.  Me and two little bodies packed together, surrounded by an array of Starbucks bags we used as plates while we enjoyed scones and yogurt and oatmeal and coffee and hot cocoa.

I want to remember the last-minute playroom camp-outs where we ignored bedtime, shared our huge but not overly comfortable fold out bed, popped popcorn and fell asleep together to some animated movie or another.

I want to remember jumping on the trampoline with my son and his friend while the sprinkler was spraying all of us and doing a front flip just to make them laugh.

I want to remember walking out of the house with my daughter's fairy wings strapped to my back and one of her tiaras on my head and going to pick up William from school that way just because she asked if we could be fairies when we picked him up.  She and I walked to the front of the school, hand-in-hand, wings out, tiaras sparkling and too busy enjoying the look on her brother's face to care what the other parents might have thought.

Don't miss the little moments folks.  I kick myself when I let one by.  Let's not get so lost planning the perfect event that we care about WAY more than they ever will, that we forget to stop and draw "whiskers" on our faces with washable marker.  While we're busy cleaning our houses, making meals or jumping on the computer to plan that ultimate vacation, let's not forget that deciding to wrestle with them or watch a movie mid-day or go the park after dinner because it's not dark yet, will mean so much more.  Because it's the little jewels collected over time, piled up and put together, that they hang on to and treasure most.

I know because, while I have good memories of a Cancun vacation with my folks, or the big trip to Maui we all took... one of my favorite memories is of my twin and mom and I, huddled under a tarp in POURING rain in the Sierras on one of many fishing trips because we weren't going to just give up and head back to the cabin without any fish.