Monday, January 26, 2009

under pressure

I am completely defeated this evening by unmet expectations. It doesn't seem to matter what I get right or do well - how many times I get a nutritious, edible meal on the table, how many times I successfully get my toddler in and out of a series of stores without a meltdown, how many appointments I manage to remember. There is always something waiting around the corner for me to fail at. A bad haircut, a bump on the forehead, a bill unpaid, a paper we can't find. I try to tell myself that this is just life, that mistakes happen, that nobody's perfect. But sometimes, like tonight, the weight of all of the little mistakes and disappointments add up to a crushing sense of failure and futility. I wish I was brighter, more careful, more competent... just... better.

true story

It is a common misconception that my child is nearly perfect. To his credit, he is a remarkably happy, cheerful, even-tempered little boy. But today was proof that beneath that sweet, cherubic exterior lurks a pint-sized tyrant.

Today began with Eli crying for an hour straight in the car, while riding home from taking Ben to work. After a nap and lunch, I decided, much against my better judgment, to take him for a long overdue haircut. After two perfectly peaceful minutes in the airplane chair, he, without warning or provocation, began one of the most impressive meltdowns I've ever witnessed. The poor hairdresser did her best to snip while I pinned him down in my lap and he wailed at the top of his lungs. Mortified and desperate to get out of there as quickly as possible, I paid for the semi-retarded haircut and tried to get him into his coat and away from the train table. As he began to throw himself to the floor in protest, I scooped him up as deftly as my very pregnant body would allow and held him down in my lap while I forced his little arms into the coat, all the while trying to speak in my very best "Mommy is secretly fuming but doesn't want to alarm these strangers to the possibility of child abuse" voice. As I struggled, an older woman who was sitting on the other couch - and seriously, why the hell was she even there? - ever so helpfully said, "Oh, the poor dear. Did he even get to play with the train?" I gave her my best "Are you f-ing kidding me right now?" look and through clenched teeth replied, "No, we really don't have time for that right now." Meaning, "Clearly this demon child has used up every last ounce of my patience and I am going to completely lose it if we don't leave this instant, so mind your own damn business." Not taking the hint, she said, "Oh, but that's the only good part about getting a haircut!" I shot her a "I will kill you with my bare hands if you don't shut the hell up woman" look and hightailed it out of there.

As Eli wailed on in the backseat, I decided to cut my errand running short and head straight home. I manuevered him inside and set him free to play, then stepped outside to take the dog out and take a few deep breaths in the fresh air. As I prayed, "Lord, please give me an extra measure of peace and patience today," I heard the door shut behind me and an unmistakable "click" of the deadbolt. No. Surely, my son would not choose this moment to learn how to lock the door. With me on the wrong side of it. With a nervous chuckle, I warily stepped toward the door and tried the knob. Holy crap. My child has locked me out of the house. I hurried around to the front of the house and tried the front door, the car, and the garage, knowing full well that they were all securely locked. I returned to the back door to negotiate with my toddler. With tears of frustration spilling down my cheeks I knocked on the door. "Eli? Eli, honey, can you please undo the thing you just did?" I called through the door. I rattled the door harder. "Elijah Daniel. Turn the lock back. Turn it back now." Nothing. Trying not to panic, I remembered that a friend and her husband had broken into my house a few months ago through the front window in order to retrieve something when we were out of town (with full permission - not to rat you out, D). Flooded with relief, I managed to pry the screen loose (with minor damage) and push the window open enough to reach around and unlock the front door from the inside. I marched into the living room to find my son contentedly playing with his truck. I hauled him off to bed with a reminder to never, EVER touch anything in this house again, called my husband to report his malfeasance, and wished that I could have a very large, very stiff drink. Thank goodness we are going to the grandparents tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the greatest superbowl ever

So I'm trying to get on board with the whole 4th folder, 4th picture thing (which is really clever, by the way), and in the process came across some great old pictures. I found a set of pictures from a Superbowl party we threw a few years ago, when we lived in Indianapolis and our beloved Colts went all the way. These pictures make me nostalgic for so many things: having a home football team to root for, my wonderful friend Cary (who is about to "pop" with her own first baby), our friends Bin and Christy who had the nerve to move to Houston and not Portland, the days when my whiny toddler was just a cute bump under my jersey, my husband in braces (come on, how cute was he?), and most of all, my phenomenal hair. Oh long, luxurious hair, how I miss you. I'll probably watch the Superbowl this year out of force of habit, but in my mind, nothing will top Superbowl '07. Go Colts!

maybe he'll be a model?

Today I had a "is my child a little slow?" moment. I met up with a friend and her two kids for a coffee and play date. I had been feeling awfully proud of my boy lately with all of his new words, and impressed when he occasionally strings two words together - "cookie juice," "cookie snack," "snack juice"... you get the idea. My bubble was seriously burst today when my friend's little boy, who is barely two months older than Eli, looked straight at me and proclaimed, "I throw a football like Peyton Manning!"


Did I just have a seizure, or did a child my son's age just say a complicated, sports-related, well-articulated sentence to me? I really don't see Katie as the pushy, flashcards-at-6-months kind of mom, so when she told me that he just has naturally off-the-charts verbal ability, I guess I have to believe her.

I tried to shake it off and force myself back into my usual non-competitive mother mode. I was quite pleased when Eli picked up a book about baby animals and said, "animal." "Okay," I thought. "My kid's just fine. He'll still get into college." Then he pointed to a picture of my husband and said, "Daddy!" "Oh!" I marveled, "My little genius! Rhodes Scholar, here we come."

Then he pointed to me and said, "Daddy!" Hm.

Then he pointed to himself and said, you guessed it, "Daddy." Damn.

It's a good thing you're so cute, kid.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

random rainy day thoughts

Things I'm thinking about today:

I don't mind the Portland weather, the long weeks of cloudy skies and rain. It doesn't rain as much as I thought it would, and the sun shines more than I thought it would, and when it does shine, the brilliant beauty of this place is worth all the wet. This is surprising to me, since I could hardly stand to live a year in Seattle, long ago. I guess I'm just happier now.

I hate ridiculously loud commercials - Bowflex, DirectBuy, Proactiv. I should just turn off the t.v., but then, I would really feel like I'd lost a friend.

I feel like I haven't spent time with friends in ages, with the holidays and the crazy weather and traveling and family in town. I'm craving some serious girl time and anxious to build deeper friendships here. Any takers?

We have tossed around the idea - albeit not seriously - of moving to Dubai for a year or two, where Ben could make enough money to get us out of debt much more quickly than our current economy will allow. At first I completely dismissed the idea, but now it's got me thinking. It would be an adventure...

I've read some wonderful books lately. The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman, A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeline L'Engle, and yes, Twilight - which was a surprisingly well-written page turner. The first two, however, were really excellent - the kind of story-telling that I wish I could produce. They both have some disturbing elements, but so many great books do. I think I need to start my own book club so I can discuss books like these.

I am incredibly, unspeakably thankful for my husband. This pregnancy has been hard on both of us, and he has stepped up and stepped in so selflessly. I know that if I were working long hours, the last thing I would want to do when I come home is feed and bathe and play with a tired, cranky toddler, but he does it without complaining or making me feel even more guilty than I do on my own. And he makes me laugh. And lets me eat more chocolate than the food pyramid allows.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

is it too early to count down?

I am twenty-five weeks pregnant, past the halfway point but not far enough to begin the count down... although I am. I am overwhelmed today with mixed feelings about this baby's arrival. On one hand, I can hardly wait to meet my little boy. I'm dying to see how he'll look... will he have Eli's fair hair and brilliant blue eyes, or will I see more of myself in his tiny features? I think about having a newborn again, cradling a tiny, warm body against mine for hours and hours, stroking his miniature fingers and toes, napping on the couch with my precious little bundle snuggled up into the curve on my body. I am beyond thankful for this baby, the gift of getting to start a new life over again. But at the same time, when I look at my little Eli, how devastatingly fast the changes come, I feel a mix of joy and pride and grief that I can hardly bear. I think about my baby boy becoming a big boy, a teenager, an adult, and I have to struggle to choke back my tears. I'm glad that we are planning on at least one more, so that even when this little guy arrives, I'll know that (God willing) it isn't the last time.