Archive for June, 2010

The Secret Lives Of Parents…

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

So he enters the bedroom and you both wake up the second his little feet cross the threshold because your toddler-radars are, for once, in total synch and you both start with the utterings: What is it, baby, come here, baby, get in bed with us, baby. And you fit him between you where he lasts for 2 seconds because, as you both well know but are still in denial about, he is not the cuddle-in-the-parent’s-bed type of child, never has been, busting out of his bunting those first months, thrashing his way out of the snuggle-nest you both flanked each night so hopefully, the nest enabling you to keep him so close, so that you could oooh and aaah over him constantly, at any minute, any hour, any second of the night, between feedings. Nope. He wasn’t having any of that then and now he leads the way to his room and you settle him on the big-boy bed—only to feel an odd wetness on the sheets and then his back is arching and he’s getting rid of the rest of his dinner.

The Early Days: Asleep! For 5 seconds…

So you rush him to the bathroom and he shocks you by lifting up the toilet seat as though he knows, at 2 1/2 years old, exactly what to do, even though he’s never barfed into the toilet before, but he does, does it with perfect aim as you murmur encouragements and by then your husband is in the bathroom, too, catching up on events, and you both wet washcloths and wipe your child down and you both pat your child dry and one takes care of fresh toddler-pajamas while the other quickly changes the toddler-bedsheet, silently cursing buying only 1 fitted toddler-bed-sheet instead of a year’s supply for ER’s just like this one, but suddenly you find the toddler-flat-sheet works just fine and your husband settles on the bed next to the little guy and you flip off the light and stagger back to your bed and 45 minutes later the entire process is repeated, only this time you take the ailing babe into the living room once he’s cleaned up, cuddle him on the couch while your husband replaces the toddler-flat-sheet with a Queen fitted sheet he found in the hall linen closet by emptying the closet’s entire contents onto the floor and when your husband enters the living room in fresh boxers and tee shirt, arms outstretched, eyes half closed, ready for sleep, to try it again, you stand to transfer to him your mutual, precious center-of-all-universes, only to find you’ve been sitting in cat gak and didn’t even know it.

Little 5 second snoozer!

So you hand over the barfing babe and rush to do some kind of swift body rinse and when you are dry and changed into a fresh nightgown, you find the toddler back on the couch, wearing yet another pair of toddler-pajamas, sitting by himself with an expression you can only define as “patient”. He sits on the towel covering the cat gak, your husband swiftly changing the big-boy bed for the 3rd time this long, strange night-into-morning and you throw your arms around your child and rock and cuddle him as your husband rushes by, heading for the laundry room again with barfed-on sheets in his arms, and just then your child leaps up and demands his toy jets, which he finds in the next second and you watch, in awe and dismay, as he dashes around the living room, waving his jets in jet-flying-simulation, making those funny jet sounds that include spit and dribble, and when he sees his weary father shuffling out from the laundry room, he demands he stop and play jets and your husband waves you off, back to bed, but before you go you think to put a movie in, “Stuart Little”, delighting the toddler, who consents to sit (with both jets) next to his Dadda on the gak-stained couch, both of your loved ones wrapped in velvety throws, or whatever they’re called these days, those blankety things that only live on couches…

Snooze, snooze anywhere (for 5 seconds)…

So you leave them, father and son movie fanatics (like father like son) and stumble to bed, Geena Davis’ faint protests in your ears as your head hits the pillows and you think—because you know, really know this time, now that you’re out of the constant State-Of-ER worry that goes with the first few months of parenthood, or rather the first year, and you’ve been through the first fever, colds, the flu and you’re not totally freaked and ready to call the paramedics at the first sign of a cough or vomit—your head hits the pillows and you think (with relief and love and a deep, profoundly beautiful agony and that constantly returning sense of awe)—THIS is being a parent, this, this, this.

Beautifully awake–although possibly drowsy!

The Toddler Plants A Cypress…

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

He insisted on wearing his red boots in summer. Of course he did! He’s a toddler.

Right off the bat he let us know he was in charge of every aspect of the planting of the Father’s Day cypress tree.

Oh yes, I will plant the tree with Dadda!

Digging! In DIRT! (said in his little, rough pirate voice)

I know exactly what I’m doing, Mama!

This is how we do it!

Back to work!

He did pause to fiddle with his navel and contemplate Dadda’s work—but just for a moment.

I will fiddle with my navel as I take a break–but only for a second!

This had nothing to do with planting the tree, but we’re just his parents, so who were we to question?

Doing this has nothing to do with planting the tree, ha ha!!!

And then: Success!

Planting completed, Mama! I did it!

And then: Time to strangle the tree.

And now I will strangle the tree!

Really? Zzz…

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Two and a half years later:

T sleeps until 7:00a.m. (vs. 4:30/5:00a.m. Maybe even a 3:40a.m. something or other frisky number that goes like this: MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA!!!—followed by a tip-toe-tap-dance only toddlers can execute that early—or ever)…

Then, for several consecutive days, our son sleeps until 6:20 a.m. S and I are agape, totally disoriented, muttering bits like: “Rabbit hole? Us? Down it? Quantam Physics? Da Vinci Code! Miracle? What is going on!”

Then (gasp!) 7:40a.m.—a new record! I kept peeking in T’s room to see if he was breathing, if the cat was on his head, if if if. He looked happy, utterly content in sleep, in his all-nighter-well-into-the-morning snooze. I closed his bedroom door and raced (quietly) to the kitchen, where my husband had the morning pancakes on hold. We covered our mouths, jumped up and down (quietly), obviously expressing joy, hope. “I can—maybe, of course, just maybe, if this keeps up—work out in the morning again!” my husband whispered. “And you–you can GET MORE SLEEP and? And, pb, and??? You can write!” “Shh!” I responded with clearly spastic gestures. “For the love of Diego’s baby jaguar, don’t say anything else! Shh!”

There are some around here who get sleep…

There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as a method of torture.

There is a reason poems are not written, novels not edited, words are dolloped on pages vs. forming sentences entire cultures might comprehend. There are no words, or there is one word typed on a blank Word document and it’s all wrong; I can’t read my own handwriting; my hard drive burns out without my backing it up first; I use when I never needed to before (before becoming a mother).

There is a reason why my cell phone has dents, we have 3 loaves of bread in the fridge, the sprinkler was left on for 2 hours, the dashboard of the minivan is so coated in dust I sneeze as I drive T around, I can’t remember names of people I’ve just met or my house numbers. There’s a reason why when 3:00p.m. arrives and I haven’t napped because T hasn’t napped someone might as well have frozen me in carbon like Harrison Ford in not “Star Wars” but that other one and thrown me into a bottomless lake. There is a reason why I am not Louise Hay most days, or—any day(s), except weekends (when co-parenting explodes beautifully and we are a magic trio—and I can sleep in). There is a reason why Dora, or Shrek or Curious George DVD’s can make me cry, or that one toilet paper commercial featuring human and animal babies.

Yet—some clarification: Each second of sleep lost these past two and a half years? Better than a lifetime of eight hours of sleep a night. Or rather: BETTER THAN A LIFETIME OF EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT. Yes, I shout it out, and I mean it. Because even at my tiredest, my most thereisarhinocerosridingonmyback, I have dug deep, then deeper and grasped dregs of energy that got my a** off the couch, T in the car and us on our way to an outdoor adventure—or maybe the Disney Store. So that one day, when my son is 18 and I am staring at him in awe, wondering when he grew up, wondering how it is he can be telling me he’s entering NASA’s revamped Space Program, or going to try his hand at growing pinot noir grapes, or declaring he is leaving the nest to devote his life to the fine tuning of deep sea submersibles that will one day link to deep sea state-of-the-art aqua stations where he will study deep sea extreme environments, like those deep sea smoking chimneys that amaze the world and hatch freaky, squirmy otherwordly life forms obviously related to the Tasmanian Blobster, when my son is 18 and in the polling booth next to mine, I can flash on these early years and feel good about myself, know that I tried my best to be present in our family, no matter how hard it is to keep going sometimes. nomatterhowhard…

Does he look sleepy to you? I think he might be sleepy…

I wonder if one’s memory returns in force after one gets more sleep—like a flock of homing pigeons, a parade of boomerangs, gas…


Eternal Snapshots Of The Mental Kind…

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

My tooth falling out of my mouth our 3rd hour in kauai, as we strolled down our hotel’s coconut-husk-colored hallway, bemused in paradise, dressed for dinner, relishing the balmy air and tiki torches flaring not menacingly outside the windows. We held hands. I opened my mouth to comment on tropical delights and an upper rear tooth landed first on my tongue, then the hibiscus-blossom-patterned carpet. A dull-white crown. A dull-white crown had broken in half and fallen out of my mouth. We stared at it, then S reached down, plucked it up, handed it to me. I placed my tooth in a pocket of my purse—and on to dinner we strolled in our aloha prints and slightly wilting leis, utterly, completely—sublimely—the epitome of: On Vacation.

Dang camera flash…

Each time I’m forcing myself to rise into another push-up, T kissing my arm, patting my head and saying, “Hi, Mama, hi!”.


Our first family trip to the Los Angeles Zoo, when T was 3 months old. As S gallavanted eagerly from flamingos to gorillas, T riding smack against S’s chest in the Baby Bjorn, looking, absorbing New World, I hung back, furious we hadn’t brought a crowbar to fight off the lions or chimpanzees if there was an earthquake and all the animals escaped. The entire visit I staked out snack bars, administrative offices, or sheds where we might dash for safety when the earthquake hit, certain scenes from “Jurassic Park” vivid in my mind. I vowed never to return to the zoo without a tazer tucked into the baby backpack, or a crowbar hidden in the jogging stroller’s pouch. I hated us for endangering our son’s life. I hated the zoo. I hated it.

Hi ho the derry-o the zebra’s in the barn with the fried egg…

Same thing at the Long Beach Aquarium—only no tazer, but a super-quickly-inflating life raft for when all the water gushed from the exhibits due to the glass being blown out by the massive earthquake. Life raft also integral for surfing post-earthquake tsunami to safe, higher ground, like maybe the top of the Long Beach Marriott. Also possible life raft could transport us to the Queen Mary and she could surf the tsunami to a safe harbor. Then I scratched the QM idea. Too “Poseidon Adventure”-ish. Way, way too risky…

Much safer way of viewing sea creatures.

T at the foot of the stretcher in his little stripy cap, somewhere between his Mama’s beached-whale calves and ankles as we were wheeled to our room—where S and I stared in shock and awe at our son—staringfeedingstaringfeeding…Such hours! Miraculous and insane…

Little guy!

Waiting for the nap to consume me—T asleep in his room, me in my bed listening to the rain on the roof, watching water filter through the trees outside my bedroom windows, the whole world vaguely musical, sense-making, my house quietly complete.

Quick, get the life raft!

“Love is the fervor, the dullard, the Elmer’s and the Muscle.” Who said that? Do. Not. Remember. Certainly not an ex-boyfriend. No poet that I know. Not my husband. Bill Clinton? No, no. Sade? Nah. No prophet…Possibly a mommy…Yes. Must have been a mommy—on her first Date Night since giving birth. Yes, yes, I’m quite sure! Said after her first sip of chardonnay in over a year, her first sushi in forever on a gleaming plate before her. She was wearing a maternity dress, secretly grateful that empire waistlines were in style. She was staring at her husband staring at her, both of them fuzzy-brained from lack of sleep, yet—content, and—still basically terrified—not as much, but still feeling the exhausting extreme-terrification that comes with newborns. That is when she said it: Love is the…etc. Her husband reached across the candlelit table and took her hand. They looked deeper into each other’s eyes—and yawned.



Monday, June 7th, 2010

I am a grateful, thank-you type, especially since S and T came into my life. Huge, massive gratefulness there, never enough thank-you’s for these 2 miracles.


Then there are the things I don’t notice much—vital little things popping out at me as I’m rushing by with a wet, muddy boy in my arms, reminding me: oh, yes, I must acknowledge these ordinary miracles that keep our lives so rich.

The Bananas Hook! Yeah!

For instance: the bananas hook. Fabulous! I’m so happy to sling my bananas on it rather than have them cluttering up and falling off (to be smushed beyond recognition by my urban-flip flops) the counters in our counters-challenged kitchen. Who thought of this hook business? A sailor? An inmate? Al Gore? They have my gratitude.

Ye Olde Pith Helmet and Changing Pad! Woots!

The pith helmet! So shade-providing when gardening, and also, since the pith helmet happens to be resting on it: the changing table pad! What marvelous inventions! How lucky I am to own and utilize both, even though my husband hates pith helmets and grimaces whenever I wear mine. “Why are you wearing that hat? You’re not supposed to be able to knock on a hat, unless you’re in construction. It’s all wrong! Ugh!” Huh. I suppose I could say the same when he wears his—his—can’t think of anything he wears that’s hideous. Bugger! Back to the changing pad: lucky that my toddler will lie on it without a fuss! Not so lucky the toddler is not potty trained yet, but thank goodness for the training toilet, not to mention its other uses when the toddler has obviously decided he will wear diapers until he’s a teenager.

Ahhhh! Lovely!

And John Leguizamo’s screams as Sid the Sloth in “Ice-Age”. Marvelous! I laugh and laugh. I laugh more than the toddler. Ah, joy.


When I’m lying on my back in T’s room and he’s piling his stuffed animal collection on top of me for the 200th time in 10 minutes, I gaze up at the ceiling and—jellyfish! So pleasant. So Zen inducing when sock monkey is heading for my eyeballs.

O Jellyfish! You rock.

Jimmy Zangwow’s Out Of This World Moonpie Adventure never gets old, no matter how many times we read it, and despite my toddler failing to appreciate the voice I use for the Martians. In my Martian voice, I ask my toddler: Why. Are. You. Put. Ing. Your. Hand. O-ver. Mama’s. Mouth… Seriously! Didn’t I used to have a therapist?

Jimmy Zangow and his moon pies! Yeah!

Z Bars, cantaloupe and free-from-god-awful-chemicals canisters. And, in the distance, wooden blocks that hold kitchen knives…


Giraffe doorstops.

Door saver!

Glow balls. I mean, come on!: Oooooooh!



My lawn! I’ve never had one before. Yes, it’s browning now…

Hugely original artwork.

Valuable originals!

And now that I’ve forgotten what this post is supposed to be about, the toddler just now in the bath with Dadda (bedtime O where art thou), it hits me: I love little moments like these, between bath and bed, when I may play with words in the sudden quiet of my bedroom, computer on my lap, finches snoozing in the trees outside the windows, world calming, the calm before the week, the breath between breaths, the jellyfish AND the pith helmet, treasures all—ordinary miracles—one of a kind.

The mother I strive to be…

Thank you, thank you, thank you.