Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A New Day

Life is funny. One minute you're a boutique owner. The next minute you're a mom of two. The next minute you're an intern. And the next minute you're a personal stylist.

The last week has been busy and exciting with my side business suddenly becoming my main business. I decided it was all getting to be a little too much. Like working until 1 a.m. too much. Like frazzled and short-tempered too much, particularly when I rise with my son who just doesn't seem to get it when I say "No light. No wake" to him at 5 a.m.

So, I quit. I quit the geriatric paper. And believe it or not, it made me a little sad. I used to be able to cut jobs, places and people rather quickly and without much thought or consideration. I'd reach a boiling point where I was not happy anymore, couldn't take it anymore and then...drum roll... finito santiago. My husband used to say that was the scariest part of my personality -- the ability to be so black and white. Like, "Hi, I'm done with you. Goodbye."

Things done changed, though.

My thinking and feeling go hand-in-hand more now. I make decisions before I become hyper fed-up and blindly emotional.

It's due to many changes in my life, not the least of which is having children. And I'm not talking about a baby that wakes you up for the seventh time in the middle of the night. I mean parenting kids that are growing up with their own words and opinions and stories and feelings. That takes more than a wellspring of emotion. It takes thought and consideration and decisions that go beyond "'cause I just want to."

The craziest part of it all is they make you look back on the most man-my-head-hurts-because-i've-been-banging-it-on-this-wall-for-the-past-hour moments of being a parent with...affection. Yes I said it. I may take it back tomorrow, but I'm saying it now. It's not because you love them because it goes without saying that the sort of love you feel for your child is off-the-charts scary, but also because it's this feeling of "Man, that was fucking hard. And I survived. And I think I might have learned something. Rad."

So, you change. Or at least I have. Not anything that anyone would notice if they were having dinner with me, but just in that I sit just a little more comfortably in this sometimes wobbly, sometimes stone hard, sometimes pillow soft chair that is my life.

At least that's how I feel right now. J waking up in the middle of the night tonight saying, "No seep. No seep. No seep" could change all that.

Marley has a chart in our kitchen that tracks her behavior. Smiley faces for setting the table. Smiley faces for "pleases" and "thanks yous." Smiley faces for brushing her teeth. I asked her the other day if I should get a smiley face for things I'm working on as her mama -- like not yelling so much. She ran over to her toy room table, grabbed one of the heart-shaped post-its I gave her the other day, and scrawled a broad, smiling face on it.

"Here's your smiley face mommy. You're doing pretty good."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Whoa, Who Let the Mom In?

There's this mom at M's preschool that I am fairly obsessed with. She has a son in M's class, twin daughters that are about two, and she's monstrously pregnant with her fourth. She also assists with classes at the preschool. She never looks stressed, harried, or strung out. I see her waddling around with what looks like a basketball under her shirt, herding her kids through the school hallways.

"This way girls," she sings. They follow. "Put on your hats," she songs. They put on their hats. "Come now. Time to go home." No meltdowns. No protests. No nothing. She's not remarkable in any other way except for her miraculous way of mothering.

We sat behind her during M's Christmas pageant during the holidays. Her two daughters, no more than two, sat watching the preschool performances, enraptured. Meanwhile, I had just finished running up and down the hall outside the chapel with my two-year-old in an effort to wear him out so maybe, just maybe, he would sit and watch his sister walk down the aisle before making a break for the hills. I just stared. In awe. I almost forgot to catch M coming down the aisle I was so dumbfounded by Mother Mary and her two angels.

I've been a mom now for five years. Still, I'm often reminded that I'm not one of those women hard-wired to instinctively know what the hell I'm doing in this crazy mixed-up world where, among other things, you're responsible for showing someone how to properly take a dump. Like not in his pants, but in a toilet.

Let's get to the ugly truth here. I'm fairly selfish, vain and impatient. When I had my first child, it wasn't just like the culture shock you experience when you move to another country. It was like, "Holy shit. Do they have oxygen on this planet?" I knew this tiny person needed me, and I was going to do my part to make sure I was there. But, other than that. Yup. No clue.

And here I am, several years later. Older and wiser? More of a mommy? Proof is in the pudding, bitches.

On dentist's orders, M has drastically cut back on sweets. So, for her Valentine's Day party at school, I made what you see above -- apples and peanut butter cut into the shape of hearts. Did M love them? Hells yeah. DId that make me feel like Mother of the Year? You better believe it.

Take that Mother Theresa.