Conversations With Myself

It was girls night out in my little beach town and I mounted my beach cruiser with a goofy grin on my face as I rolled down my driveway to meet other kid-less mothers.
"So this is what it feels like to be alone."
And then I giggled. The ocean air in my face, a sunset on the horizon and an empty baby seat wiggling away behind me.
"Wow, I can't believe I'm riding away from my house tonight without the kids."
"And I'm all alone!"
And then, after four blocks of this chattering away I suddenly clapped my hand over my mouth, and loudly whispered, "Shit! I've been talking to myself! Out loud! In public!"
It has taken me 32 years to understand my mother, I still don't fully get what makes her tick. But I will say that motherhood has opened a few doors of insight into her soul. And right then, just four blocks from my house, riding along on my beach cruiser, I finally understood why she talks to herself.
As moms, our primary concern is the education of our babies. And so we offer ourselves, our love, our concern, our knowledge, and inevitably, our gift of gab. We talk to the infant in the stroller, we chit chat away about the color of the apples in the produce section, we point out the circles on the fire truck as it rolls by. We talk, incessantly to our kids in hopes of boosting their worldly knowledge, imparting our intellect, sharing the world with them through verbal communication.
My mom raised three children who were all born four years apart. Think about that, she began this habit of diarrhea of the mouth in 1976!!! And then, she just kept up the habit over a period of 26 years until her last child turned 18. She's one of the world's most practiced verbal bulimics! I can recall returning home for a weekend just last month and as I sat coloring with my girls in the playroom, I could hear her yakking away about the roast and the potatoes, the silverware and whatever else crossed her mind and then shot out of her mouth. It was a common occurrence to find my mother alone in a room with one hand on her hip and the other hand on her head like she and herself had been in the middle of an argument. Obviously the left side of her was being stubborn (the hip hand) and the right side was thoroughly annoyed (the head hand), and the silence upon your interrupting her meant that she had just come to a standstill with herself on the topic.
"Mom!" I hollered, "Are you talking to yourself?"
And after just 5 years of parenting, I've finally cracked. I'm following in my mother's crazy habits, talking away to myself while I pedal through my neighborhood. That's me, the schizophrenic mother conversing with herself about the new landscaping in The Butler's yard, and then chastising herself for saying it out loud...out loud.


The Teeny Houdini

Yep, my second daughter's stubborn streak is going to earn me a visit from Child Protective Services.
Case in point, after a late arrival to swim lessons, followed by a lightning path to farmer's market for much needed vegetables (performed at mock speed), and then the added trip to the paint store for samples, it's no surprise this mommy was a frantic mess in need of a cocktail and a foot massage by the time we got home.
After surviving a torturous 49 minutes in the paint store, complete with one death defying escape into the parking lot while I wasn't looking (WHAT?!?!), we exited with $60 worth of samples and two punctured latex gloves (don't ask). The clerk was happy to see us go and I could only apologize for the millionth time regarding the puddled water all over the floor. Who puts a water dispenser in the middle of their store for every child to self serve at their will?
Needless to say, when we screeched into the driveway at 5:28, I gathered the groceries and made my move to whip up something for dinner before things really got ugly.
"NOOOOO!!!!!!!!" screamed Ana, with every ounce of her almost two year old being. WHo knerw the kid could spend three hours in the car and given the chance, opted for MORE!? So I did what every frazzled, spent, impatient mother does at this point-I shrugged my shoulders, readjusted my grocery bags and left.
Shelby and I made our way into the house, started dinner and left Ana to her own vices in my car. I could have cared less where she painted the mascara from my emergency makeup bag. The car doors were closed, I had a view of the vehicle from my post in the kitchen, and I was busying myself with steamed broccoli and chicken, and the most fabulous high calorie invention Trader Joe's has ever offered, Trader Giotta's Frozen Fettucini (don't just buy one!).
Just about the time I was making my way to the front door to check on my little stubborn second, she was making her way in...huh?!
I spotted the tear stained cheeks before she made it into the living room. I picked her up and held her tight to my chest, feeling her tiny heartbeat like a drum as I stared outside at the car-which had every door closed. HUH?! How the...what the...where did she...?????!!???
So Shelby, Ana (who was now permanently suctioned to my hip) and I, headed outside to inspect the evidence of our Teeny Houdini Escape.
Sure enough, every door was closed except for the passenger door, which was the slightest bit cracked.
"Did you open that door yourself and climb out, Ana?" I pondered.
And then her lip quivered and she muttered, "Yeah, that door."
I am so fired.


What A Liberal Mom Should Say...

As I chopped zucchini for dinner I found myself catapulted into this conversation with my 4 year old daughter:
"Mommy, what do you call those shiny things people put in their belly buttons?"
Picturing my toddler's tanned bloated belly with a giant rhinestone dangling on it as she strutted down the pool decking to swim lessons, I answered, "That's called a belly button ring and that's similar to an earring."
"Oh," she laughed, "I think I want to have one of those."
OMG, I am so barreling down the fiery road to teenage parenting hell right this minute!!!!!!!
"Really?" I replied, trying to keep my voice light and interested, "Well, you know, you can make that choice when you're eighteen years old. It's a choice an adult is aloud to make when they understand the consequences."
And then I flung my parenting body right off the skyline bridge, donned my liberal college cap-feathers and all- and pulled my shirt up to show off an old scar, "See? Right there above my belly button? Mommy had a belly button ring when she was in college. I chose to have one. But then, after awhile I changed my mind and I took it out and it heeled up and left just a little scar. That's the cool thing about piercing your ears or your belly button or your nose, if you change your mind, it will heal up and go away."
Wait, is that the parent in me I see, clawing her way up the rocky cliffs, scaling the bridge railing? Did that conservative bitch just knock my feathered bowler off my open-minded bohemian head? I swear, I can't keep myself straight sometimes! I couldn't stop talking...
"Piercings are different from tattoos. Tattoos are also something you may choose to get when you are an adult, but they don't disappear when you change your mind. They stay there forever." (Forever... and ever....and everrrrrrrr... I wanted to repeat)
I paused to look at my daughter's reaction to all this information.
Then, I added, "Mommy thought about getting a tattoo but she always changes her mind so she never got one."
Shelby looked down at the goldfish in her cup while she fingered her belly button. I was trying hard to look calm and relaxed while hiding my angst at her answer to all this.
Finally, she offered, "I think I'd like to just get my ears pierced for my birthday, okay?"


Heart Rates and Housework

There's something to be said about the various benefits of regular exercise. Although personally, I haven't included it in my own routine for the past year, every so often I recall what it felt like to have muscle mass, to be sore, to have athletic prowess and goals, which of course leads to confidence and inevitably, greater overall productivity. Yeah, who knew? Working out makes you work harder all day long! Here's an example:
Yesterday I made it to the pool at 6 a.m. for my sporadic workout. My heart rate was up, every flip turn pumped more blood to my brain and I was crunching new ways to tackle that disastrous hall closet and dreaming about the additional room I could add to the guest suite. I arrived home to do two loads of laundry, empty the dishwasher and sweep and vacuum the house. Then I made a giant batch of blueberry pancakes and downed a cup of joe.
When the kids finally got up I had breakfast in the oven and the table was set. I had just finished packing our wagon to head out to the tidepools. It was 7:30 a.m.
Today, I skipped my workout. Having barely made it to the preschool drop off I am nursing my fourth cup of coffee while I shop online in my pajamas and admire the filth that accumulated since yesterday. It's noon. Man, it is definitely not a workout day....maybe I should just crumble now and have a beer.


Rodeo Diapers

I have been on the diaper rodeo tour now for five years. That's an average training day of 5 diapers per 24 hour period. That's 9,125 diaper changes on my resume.
As Ana approaches the ripe old age of two, I wrestle more and diaper change less. She twists, turns and kicks, I suppress, grumble and stronghold. I can hear the crowds cheer, the announcer commentate, "She's comin round the table, strapped the diaper, we got 4 seconds, looks like she might make the 8 second mark here, folks, her calf has bucked but she's keeping the left hand in place, this is a real veteran we're watching here folks, 7 seconds, and one more Velcro strap to stick down, can she do it? There's another fierce kick from her calf but no, her hands are up, the diaper's on! EIGHT SECONDS, she has done it again!"
This rodeo clown is well seasoned...and tired. Ana has expressed some interest in the toilet lately. The minute she stared into the porcelain bowl and said, "Peepee Potty!" a flickering light appeared at the end of my long tunnel of rodeo diaper changing. Maybe this old cow hand can retire soon. Yeehaw!