Sunday, November 17, 2013

keep this moment

Wegmans on a Sunday, midday, is a crazy place. Craaazy. I didn't know so many people even lived here, much less shopped all at once. I tell you this this because the kids and I found ourselves there last Sunday at 2pm. Although both kids wanted to hang off the sides of the cart like trash men, I said someone had to ride in the cart because the store was just too damn crowded. They decided they both wanted to, one sitting between the other's legs, stacked back to front like a train. I pointed out that if they were both in the cart the food wasn't going to fit. "Sure it will," said Clark. "We can sit on it."

They had a blast. Seeing as my cart was 95lbs heaver than it should be, I focused on not plowing over people's ankles, so I wasn't paying much attention to the letter of their play, but jeez they were having some fun. Laughing and laughing and rocking the cart, funny faces and funny scenarios and funny rhymes. Everyones' heads turned when we passed. In every aisle. Frances happens to have the best laugh on the planet, magic chimes in her belly (seriously - someone needs to record it for advertisements) and they drew mega attention.

One woman covered her mouth to try to keep from laughing at them. As we squeezed between her and the coffee grinder she said, "I'm sorry. It's probably not helpful. I can't help it." Another person asked, "are they always this happy?" "Absolutely," I said.

At home afterwards, I marveled at how pleasant it all was. Me, two kids, Wegmans midday on a Sunday. How did we get here? It feels like a room we accidentally wandered into.

The next day my friend Emily came over with her two kids. Apparently she had spent some time wandering the extremely crowded aisles of Wegmans herself, and she described her experience in colorful detail. She did not have the miraculous and unanticipated success that I had (no one even hassled me for the free cookie! They were having too much fun to even remember!!).

Emily's description of her 23-month-old's flinging himself to the floor in the checkout line and taking the two bottom rows of candy bars with him was hilarious, and it also made me realize something: I don't remember! I don't remember. I don't remember exactly how trying it is to grocery shop with a toddler. I remember the comedy, and the anxiety about what was to come as I pulled into the parking lot, but not the dark desperation, the embarrassment, the feeling of failure.

Clark is only five and a half. I know moms forget, that somehow the human brain filters out the horrific numbing exhaustion and defeat (and the labor contractions), and keeps safe the memory of pure love and adorableness. But that quickly? It was only 3 years ago that I wrote this blog post. It hasn't been long. Although he's bigger, he still has to watch counter corners for fear of whacking his head. He's little. He still wants to be carried and sleeps with his blankie and cries if the legos won't snap together easily.

It's bizarre that our mama minds do that with so much sweep and reach. This ability is, of course, what keeps the human race from becoming extinct, but it is also why women put such pressure on each other inadvertently: they only remember the joy joy joy and can only assume you are feeling it too. Which you are. Just not at this moment in the check out line yes they are adorable thank you for saying so i'm trying to enjoy every minute yes I know it goes by so quickly no pressure there. Which makes you feel like you must be doing it all wrong for it to be so painful that you want to burst into hot tears this minute.

But you're not. Doing it wrong. And I'm not either, cuz hey look at the cool battery robots we made yesterday with a box of batteries and a glue gun! Plus, yay us we made it through Wegmans without anybody shouting or crying or even whining! I think I'll pat myself on the back for that. Pat pat.

clutter makes me craaaazzzzyyy

I wrote this post last month and I don't know what happened or why it wasn't posted, but here it is. It's mostly one long gripe, and if you're not up for that at the moment I suggest you skip it. But since my mom prints these blog posts and I collect them in a giant binder as a sort of record of the childhood of my children, I'm going to post it. Cheers!


Last month, the night before Frances's 7th birthday, I sat down on the family room floor at 11pm with wrapping paper and the biggest stack of gifts I've seen since last christmas. Seriously - it looked like christmas. Gifts from us, from my dad, from Mitch's parents. Multiple from each. I had a moment of pure panic that the affluence in which we are raising our children, are raising this entire generation, is going to have dire consequences down the road. I think I have this same panic every birthday and christmas as I arm myself with scissors and tape and colorful paper. It makes me want to 1) give the kid only half of what I have in front of me, saving the other half for the next holiday, and 2) throw out or goodwill or recycle 80% of the toys we already own. I seriously need some new storage options.

Let me tell you: it was a bumpy start to the school year. Everyone came down with a hideous flu about 10 minutes after school started (here I am complaining though I promised I wouldn't in a previous post. So sorry.), and Frances missed 5 of the first 8 days of school. For me, of course, the flu hung on and hung on way past when the kids were well and doing laps around the first floor, and since all I could muster was the minimal in the way of meals and not much else but lying on the couch, my house went to shit. Major clutter like a tide rising that I can't dam. It just builds and builds, piles of paper creeping creeping growing across counters, heaps of used but still clean sweatshirts and fleeces and blankets and I don't know what all on chairs and sofas, baskets of clean laundry to fold, toys toys toys.

Clutter makes me anxious.

I used to have this magical and inexplicable relationship with a sitter wherein she whisked the kids away one afternoon a week, fed them dinner elsewhere, bathed them and put them in jammies, then texted me to tell me she was on her way so I could vacate the premises for their arrival. While they were gone I straightened the house. All of it. Then I breathed an enormous sigh of relief. I received her text, walked the dog, and didn't have to participate in bedtime. After she and the kids were upstairs and in bed I would sneak back in the house and down into the basement where I would finish the laundry. It was heaven.

But she went and got engaged, and now is busy planning a wedding (in which my kids are the flower girl and ring master, as Clark likes to call it). She doesn't have time for a sandwich much less kid occupying. And I don't have the quiet of an empty house to straighten. Turns out a solid straighten every 7 days is really what it takes to keep us from sinking under papers, random plastic things, loose change. I gotta figure something out. I apparently can't get the house organized when the kids are here, leaving debris behind them like a cyclone.

A couple of years ago someone handed me a book called The Highly Sensitive Person. It's a bad name for what the author is trying to get across, which is not emotional sensitivity (getting feelings easily hurt) but sensory sensitivity - to noise, crowds, commotion, chaos. I'd never before thought of myself as a sensitive person in this way, but turns out I am. It helped me to see myself differently and to respect my limitations a bit more.

All of this is to say that the clutter in my house is making me NUTSO. (This post is really just one big whine) I have got to get a handle on it. Next year the kids will both be in school full day and then I will have no excuses. I can't wait.