Friday, January 25, 2008

Doin' the impossible

Why does it seem as moms that we often seem to attempt the impossible? Somehow I decided that it would not be beyond my abilities to take my 77-pound Labradoodle to the vet with two kids in tow on a very rainy day. Somewhere in my mind, I thought it was a task I was capable of taking on, probably the same part of my brain that decides it's an okay idea to begin scrapbooking the last two years of my life at ten o'clock at night after two glasses of wine. I am constantly thinking I can do the same things I did before I had kids, and while I'm glad I think so highly of myself, I sometimes wish I set the bar a little lower. Like around my knees.

So there I was at the vet's office, holding my toddler with one hand, my baby carrier with the other, my umbrella by my neck and um, yeah, exactly how am I supposed to bring in the dog? I was stretched thin and uptight, doing something I knew was ridiculous, so of course Carter decided to do the only thing he knows how to do in those situations. He threw a temper tantrum.

He was upset that I wouldn't buy the ridiculous $20 dog bones they sell there because he wanted to give Sparky a treat now and only now, even though we have $3.99 dog bones at home that I swore to him were just as good. Does anyone buy those dog bones? Or are they just there to make you feel bad that you're giving your dog crap at home? He cried like a banshee when they took Sparky away for his blood draw, screaming, "I just want to see him again!" like they were taking old Spark to the kennel in the sky. He rolled all over the floor, getting dog hair and God-knows-what-is-all-over-the-floor-at-the-vet's-office all over his shoes, his pants, his head. The ladies behind the desk looked at him like they were glad he wasn't their kid. And as much as I hate to admit it, I was thinking the same thing.

In Carter's defense, he's still suffering from a killer cold, a cold that has run rampant through this family, causing ear infections and bronchitis and exploding eyeballs, which, to quote Dave Barry, would make a great name for a rock band. And Lord knows a toddler who's sick and tired should be anywhere but out in public, out where people can stare and point, anywhere else but somewhere where he has to behave, because that is the very last thing he wants to do, and just merely asking him to will start the beginnings of your own familial World War III.

But in my defense, I had to get things done, which brings me back to my point. Why do I think I can do more than I am truly capable of doing? Maybe it's the killer cold I've got right now that's fogging up my ability to think rationally. Or maybe it's just the Thera-flu. But I do this when I'm healthy, I do this on a daily basis, I do what all of us moms do. Too much. Sacrifice for the good of the brood. I wish I could stop, I wish I could do less, but then, who would do it? Who would take care of the kids and the house and the laundry and the shopping and the dogs with their annoyingly expensive health problems?

I'm a mom. It's my job. And when you see those moms out at the store with their whiny kids in tow dripping snot down their faces, the moms with the messed-up hair and the Goldfish stuck to their shirts, give them a break. Give them a hand. Hell, give them some Thera-flu. Lord knows we need it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Common Courtesy

It was drop-off time at preschool last week when I noticed Carter's new best friend had one heck of a cough. Ugh, I sighed to myself, here we go again. Although it's hard to confine a three-year-old to the house, where his only choices are to watch mom do the laundry or watch his little brother drool all over himself, and it's even harder for me to contend with him confined to the house without anything to climb or ride or jump on besides various parts of my body, it's just something I do without question when he's sick. Why make every other mother within commuting distance as miserable as I am? I don't really need to make enemies when I still haven't made too many friends here yet.

But why does it seem that no one else feels that way? Why do other moms have to send their kids out into the world feverish and snotty-nosed? And why do those kids have to be my kids' favorite playmates?

So now I've got one kid with an ear infection and green snot trailing down his face, another kid with a fever and bronchitis, and a ticking time bomb in my own white-cell depleted body. Although I've just about drained my personal Airborne stash, I know it's just seconds before I come down with a combined version of the nasty viruses my kids are harboring.

But I'm doing the good thing. I'm sacrificing myself, my health, my sanity, for the good of all kidkind. I'm keeping my boys home and safe and warm to recuperate and return to good health.

I just wish everyone else would do the same. Who knows, without playgrounds and preschools, maybe we'd finally win the battle against the common cold.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Spoke too soon

Apparently, nature decided to let me know how little I really knew about being a mother. She laughed at my inability to occupy my three-year-old, her chortles strong enough to shake the trees. She, in her ancient wisdom, her centuries of rearing species after species without any kind of thanks, decided to unleash her anger, or maybe just her moodiness, by whopping our house with a winter storm.

Wind rocked the windows at almost sixty miles an hour. Rain fell sideways, sloshing out of the gutters and filling our cul-de-sac. Civilization couldn't keep up, and we lost power at nine a.m.

Twenty hours without electricity is a dream to those who still haven't had the lights come back on. But twenty hours without heat, without light, and without Curious George are nineteen-and-a-half too many when you're trapped indoors with your own tiny hurricane.

At least it's hard to see the clutter, hard to see toys scattered about and cheese sauce sticking to the counters when you're living by candlelight. We built Lego houses for hours, read stories, made pancakes, slept an afternoon away. It got cold, colder than our spoiled California bodies are used to, and the baby spent the night cocooned under our covers.

We made it through, and I took my teaching like a tablespoon of castor oil forced down my throat. It was bitter, but it was necessary. I don't need to complain about how hard it is to take care of my preschooler. Because Mother Nature is listening.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Cabin Fever

Some days in California are sunny and beautiful and clear, others, like this cold January day, are ugly and gray and rainy. They type of day where the sky seems to be upset with the earth. Where the rain pours in sideways. Where even the dogs huddle for cover.

I tried to chase the boy outside today to play in the rain. Isn't that the best part of being a boy? At least, I imagine it would be. No worry about messy hair or mud on your nice pants. Just being three and outdoors seems all a boy needs. But not today. Today he needs Mommy and Scooby-Doo and thirty-two snacks before noon. Today it is too wet to play. So we sat, on that cold, cold wet day.

Except no cat in any kind of hat has shown up in at my door today to entertain us by balancing the fish on a plate. The only kind of Things that have run down my halls are my boy and my dog, and they did not have my dress on a rake. What do I do with my first toddler on a rainy day? Go to the movies? Sometimes I am unable to imagine what it is kids like to do. Add to the fact that I am a Girl, that's girl with a captial, undroppable "G," and that means I really do not know what to do with a boy who is three on a rainy day. He does not want to color with sparkly pens, or make play-doh animals, or anything else that involves sitting. He wants to run and run amok, and he's acting like a wild animal trapped in my living room.

If anybody has any ideas on what to do with my bored boy, comments would be greatly appreciated. Now I must go put on my earplugs...