Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Story of Mum

story of mum exhibitionI was introduced to a this great website "Story of Mum" and exhibit by an inspiring woman I met, Joy Rose, Executive Director of The Museum of Motherhood located in upper Manhattan, New York.  Though the site features our fellow "mums" in the UK, the issues of motherhood are universal.

As mothers, it's not often that we feel seen, heard and valued. Yet our everyday stories matter, and sharing them can inspire others.Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves is a touring program of exhibitions and events in galleries and online that aims to put mothers in the spotlight. 

BritMums - Leading the ConversationThe exhibition celebrates motherhood, explores the impact of mothering on our identities, and encourages mums worldwide to share their stories in words, photos, collage and film. 

Find out more at www.storyofmum.com/exhibition. 

Parallel to the real life events, a virtual exhibition is travelling round the world, stopping for mini exhibitions on blogs - like mine! Participants are asked to choose items from the existing exhibition, create one item to add to the exhibition, and share their thoughts on these and their identity in motherhood. I'm proud to be a part of this important work of art and house it here on my blog.  Here is my exhibition: 

  I Curated This:
I selected two photos that resonated with me from the "I"m a Mum and a...." gallery where women complete the sentence with one or multiple words in a photo.

I'm a Mum and I'm Trying My Best!
Even though this mom looks very happy and has lovely manicured fingernails, I know she is likely tired, feels like her house is never clean, and like she is treading only slightly above the choppy waters of parenthood.  When every hour of every day asks you to be so many things, all you can say as a mom is that you are trying to do your best, celebrate small victories, and forgive yourself daily for the ones that you don't achieve.


I'm a Mum and A Non-Stop Worrier!
This mom's photo reminded me of  a recent discussion I had with a friend about how the anxiety of motherhood is endless.  I remember feeling completely anxious the first time I took my daughter for  walk a few weeks after her birth.  She was no more than a foot in front of me, lying snuggling in her stroller, but the inability for me to simply touch my tummy and know that she was safe struck me.  From wondering if she is warm enough, has had enough to eat, if she will be okay because she hasn't pooped in four days, to whether or not kids are sharing with her on the playground, I know this energy of worry will be something that stays with me for the rest of my life and will continue to fuel whatever is making my hair grow grayer by the minute.


I Created This:

I'm a Mom and I'm Afraid
I keep having the most frightening dream.  My husband and I somehow decide to leave our apartment with our daughter sleeping in her room alone for hours.  We are out having a good time when I realize its late and she probably woke up.  I start to panic thinking no one is there with her.  That she is screaming for us and scared.   We quickly hop in the car but it doesn't move so we get out and walk through thick, tall snow.  Its taking too long and I am calling for someone to help and they don't.   I imagine how terrified my daughter is as I answer my ringing cell phone.  Its my husband who somehow got ahead of me.   "Why did I do this?" I scream at him, my voice loud and shaky,  "How can I do this?"  I'm confused and know even in my dream this is something I wouldn't do.  He tells me his sister is there and I'm relieved but when I ask him if our daughter is okay his voice turns somber.  The fear and guilt well up in my chest and pull me out of the dream.  I'm sweating, back in my bed, my daughter safely asleep in hers. The anxiety is palpable and lingering around me as I catch my breathe.

I'm a mother and I'm afraid.  Afraid I won't be able to protect my daughter from everyone and everything.  While I am so many things:  a worker, daughter, wife, cleaner, errand runner, class parent, I am fearful that the one last sliver of energy I have, the most important job of being a mother, will somehow not get my 100% in the moment its needed most.  My dream can represent so many things and so many insecurities I face as a parent.  But the biggest issue I see when I recall these images is the lack of control.  The lack of control you inevitably have as a mother once the child leaves your womb.  From natural disasters to the unthinkable happening in classrooms  I start to ask: Why did I do this?  Why did I bring this child into a world that I may not be able to protect her from?  But I know the answer is clear.  Because that is what we do.  We are not complete without our children.  Motherhood is our evolutionary right and blessing.  And though bad things happen we have to bury the fear in order to grow and experience the depth and beauty of love.

I am a mom.  I am afraid.  I will likely not stop being afraid for my child's safety for the rest of her life.  And I'm certain I'm not the only one.


Find out about how to submit your own mini exhibition or find other mini exhibitions to visit on the virtual Story of Mum: Mums making an exhibition of ourselves tour here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Princess Story

My daughter has gone to the bathroom three times without a fight today. It's the attempt before bed that is always tricky.  She is playing with her Little People Disney Princesses in the living room.  They are her besties.  She can often be seen toting at least five of them together at once. Mastering the under the chin carry of multiple objects at a young age.

"Come on its time to get one last princess sticker before bed!" I say, reminding my daughter of the super cool reward she gets for going to the potty.  She is playing and doesn't want to stop, which I get.  Her pretend scenarios have gotten much more imaginative and lengthy and thus can't be easily interrupted.  So I figure we can bring the party to the bathroom. "Does someone want to help pick a princess sticker?" I ask with an inviting tone," Come on, who is coming?"  This puts her in a frenzy as she makes her selection.  She grabs only three princesses that are near and scurries down the hall.

She steps up on her princess stool and scoots onto the potty. I assemble her fan base on the edge of the sink. Aurora, Belle, and Snow White are eagerly awaiting what will come next.  I give them some vocals to enhance the excitement.
"Come on let's do this!" Snow White exclaims.
"I'm so excited!" says Aurora.
"Let's do pee pee!" Belle shouts.
I'm tired and feel silly, knowing this is just another act of desperation.  This will go down as it usually does.  She brings friends to the bathroom, plays with them, forgets her mission, and demands off the potty without any result.  We then argue about the sticker reward and I eventually give in with a half ass negotiation because this is the most frustrating parenting task I have to date.  I look at the Pampers in the corner and wonder if we can go on a cruise with the mounting reward points.

But tonight, something unexpected happens.   My daughter gets into it.  She takes over and Snow White is soon shouting her name along with "Go girl!"  She voices each of the princesses with a different cheer, surprising me with phrases of which I question the origin.  No matter,  I'm excited.  This new tactic is working.

"Okay girls, lets all be quiet so we can hear the pee pee,"  I instruct the princesses, in fear she will get too excited and again forget the task at hand.  But my daughter is in full on pretend mode and insists I hold Aurora so I can "talk to her" which means make her talk.  Now we are going back and forth cheering her on in princess voices that range from slightly high to obnoxiously high.

"She's doing it!" Snow White says and is now peering through my daughter's legs.  She spreads them a bit and I quickly warn Snow White not to get too close and end up in the potty.

"Come on Aurora, " my daughter instructs, motioning to me, "She has to see too."
"Yeah, come on Aurora," Belle taunts and joins Snow White at the thigh.   Now the three of them are staring at my child's crotch, assisted by both her and my hands.  Each time I hear the trickle of urine in the toilet she stops and makes all the princesses cheer.  I curse myself for leaving my phone in the other room as this photo opportunity passes.  This will likely go down as one of the funniest parent moments of all time.

"Come on girls lets all be quiet and listen to the pee pee," I kindly nudge, worried about a potential UTI as my daughter starts and stops.  Snow White gets excited and Belle tells her to "Shhhhh!  Be quiet!" and pets her head.  They argue for another minute or two.  Everyone is jazzed up over the excitement.

The princesses all stare into the darkness of the potty.  My daughter watches too, her chin touching her chest. I'm pleased as more, long streams of pee are heard falling into the toilet. More cheers and shushing follow until my daughter finally says, "I'm all done!"

"Okay ladies, let's get back up on the ledge," I say and my daughter puts Snow White, Belle, and Aurora back on the sink.   I help her up, we all say goodbye to pee pee with the ceremonial flush and slip on another "practice panty."
"Alright let's pick out a princess sticker, who is helping?" I ask, continuing this feeling of camaraderie and reach for the sheet above the potty.  Naturally everyone wants to be a part of the fun.  My daughter grabs her friends.
"I'll help!" Snow White says.
"And I can help too?" Belle asks.
"And you can pick my sticker too?" Aurora asks.  I'm overwhelmed and want to stand firm to the two sticker for pee pee rule but I'm clearly outnumbered.  Luckily Belle gets side tracked so only two stickers are picked.  My daughter runs to the hallway and places them on her chart.

"Good job." My husband smiles at me from our bedroom door."Keep it up," he says.   My knees are sore along with my back from squatting but I feel proud and accomplished.  For tonight our small kingdom will celebrate this victory.  Bedtime will hopefully go smoothly and a nice, restful slumber will follow so we can all gear up for the continued journey that is potty training and look forward to our happily ever after.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The First Day


My chest is tight as I dart around the apartment picking up clothes and organizing piles of junk.  Jumping from one action to the next  I can't seem to focus.  "Here eat this,"  I shove a strawberry in my daughter's face as she watches Sesame Street. She shakes her head, lost in Elmo's World.  I frantically head back to the kitchen looking for something else.  I slice an apple, quickly peel the skin and leave it in front of her.  She slowly takes a bite and moves on to coloring.  I continue running around the apartment, check her bag, unload the dishwasher and make my breakfast powered by nervous energy.  My husband comes in from the bathroom and asks me a question.  I bark back an answer not quite sure of what he said.  He should know better.  When I'm in this state I can't comprehend any new information and my body is both unable to move and unable to stop.

As the clock passes 8:30 a.m. my throat goes dry.   I rush around my daughter's bedroom looking for her shoes and jacket, fumbling with the Sharpie marker to label each.  My husband  scoops her up onto the changing pad for one last diaper change.  He has her repeat her name and the name of her teacher.  We help put her backpack on and pose for a picture.  I hug her tight and look at the camera, my smile a jerky, nervous twitch.

"I'm ready," she says and walks out the door leaving me standing in the middle of the room.  I look around knowing there is nothing else I can do.  Nothing to prepare, clean, or organize to fill the hollow space in my heart currently occupied by fear.  So I follow her bouncing ponytail down the hall, into the elevator and we start our journey to her first day of preschool.

I thought I would be overly excited for this day.  That I'd have to calm my husband who I envisioned having a protective bear stance as his little cub went off with the pack. But along the short walk to school my legs feel like lead and my breathing is so quick I can barely keep up with his chatter about how much fun today will be. I gather enough air to ask my daughter what the number is on the school, hoping she remembers from our drive past it the other day.  "Number twenty!"  she exclaims and points to the door as the other parents and children pile in.  I help her up the steps, watching her take each one with such effort, wondering if I dressed her right, if she will be cold, if she will be hungry in a half hour because she didn't eat a good breakfast, and if she will be okay.

I let her walk in first.  She stops a little past the door, taking in all the toys and new faces.   Other parents are darting around.   Confusion colors her face and she freezes in a sea of adult legs. I crouch down to take her backpack and jacket off.  Her teacher says hello, her smile welcoming.  My hands are shaking as I find an empty hook for her backpack.

My daughter spots some toys on the table and pulls out the chair to sit and join the other kids.  I try to catch her attention and reiterate how much I love her and that Daddy and I will be back soon.  I get no response and her teacher gives me a nod that indicates there is nothing left for me to do but leave.  My daughter doesn't acknowledge my words but makes eye contact long enough for me to wave and say, "See you later."  I join my husband who has already given all the little boys and other parents a look over from the doorway.  We leave, peering our heads over the bushes outside into the classroom window as we walk away.

We go to IHOP for breakfast and what will be the longest hour of my life.  I scan the menu through watery eyes and begin to cry,  asking my husband if we did the right thing by starting her in school this early.  If she is too little to play with other kids.  If we are selfish for wanting some structure in our house and some relief for the brevity of two and half hours, two days a week.  He assures me we have done the right thing, that she is ready for this, and looks calm and collected perusing the syrup choices. The waitress comes to take our order and I haphazardly pick something that is neither a waffle or a pancake.

I try to reassure myself that I'm not the only anxious parent worrying about how her child is going to be cared for.  That the teachers are professionals who will hold my daughter's hand if she cries, make sure other kids don't bully her, feed her if she is hungry, change her if she is wet, and keep her safe.  But the mind starts to wander into really insane territory when one thinks of all of the bad things that can happen to her child when out of her care. And I think I'd just feel a lot better if a moat and drawbridge were installed to keep out predators for the short amount of time my daughter will be under someone else's watch.

My husband reminds me to think of all of the fun things ahead.  All of the paintings and drawings that will litter our fridge.  All the new words and songs she will learn, along with the new friends she will make.  I shove the last bit of tasteless eggs in my mouth and consider how this could be the start of many wonderful things for my daughter despite the number of bad habits and earaches she will also likely take home.

We walk back to the school, my legs still stiff yet moving quickly.  A child screams in the distance as we turn the corner.  My husband and I look at each other. Though it could be any kid, we know it sounds like our daughter   We follow the sound to the school yard to find her squealing with delight as her teacher pushes her in the swing.  The thing she hates to do when we visit parks.  Her smile is wide.  Her legs carelessly flailing back and forth.  A warmth fills my chest, melting the tension in my neck.

Other parents enter the yard and the kids run to greet them.  It takes a few more swings and a ride on the bouncing pony for my daughter to finally acknowledge us.  When she is the only kid left in the yard and her teachers are blurry eyed and eager to go home, I pick her up and tell her its time to leave.  She kicks and screams as I get her through the gate.   I pass her to my husband along with the sippy cup I kept in my bag.  My husband asks her how school was.  "I had fun," she says and he lifts her up onto his shoulders so she can touch the leaves on the walk home.

The rest of the afternoon is filled with icing and eating cupcakes, playing with her new sandwich set for her kitchen and calls from Grandma and Pop to check in.  I expect to hear all about school as I have about trips to the pool, play dates, and the zoo.  Brief,  inarticulate recaps of what she did but she offers nothing.  I spend the rest of the day cloudy from the adrenaline crash, re-energizing with cupcakes and praying for a nap.

The next day my legs move a bit more fluidly as we walk to school, this time accompanied by Brobie from Yo Gabba Gabba tight in my daughter's grasp.   "Oh school!!"  she gasps as we turn the corner.  She walks in and quickly proceeds to the tiny cars and ramps.  I take off her backpack and jacket, trying to catch her attention to tell her I'm leaving  She gives me a half kiss with no eye contact.  I put her book bag on the rack and get a nod from her teacher who is talking to another parent.  A glance that lets me know she's aware my child is here and that there is nothing else for me to do but go on with my day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Losing It

My daughter licks the icing from her second birthday cake, marking the end of her time as a baby and the beginning of me facing the hardest year of her life.  We are at Sesame Place dining with the characters and as The Count and Big Bird dance around singing Happy Birthday I consider the many challenges ahead of us as I help blow out her candles.  The never ending toddler bed transition, introducing the potty, and part time pre-school.  Not to mention the myriad of tantrums and defiant behavior that will become more frequent than they have been in the past few months. 

After a fun filled day of taking pictures with Elmo and dancing with Zoe, the Terrible Two wasted no time rearing its ugly head as my naked daughter, refusing to take a bath in her over tired haze, crawled and clawed her way up my chest in our hotel bathroom.  My husband was out getting some food as I'm stranded, kneeling on the tile, asking her to please calm down and tell me what she wants.  She does nothing but point and scream in tones that are both familiar and new.  High and amazingly higher.  I take her to the common room of the suite and she demands we go out into the hallway, kicking the towel away from her bottom which I'm hoping prevents an accident on the rug.  After I tell her numerous times we can't go out without clothes on she cries for chocolate milk.  Halfway through my assembling her sippy cup she decides she doesn't want that and instead screams for something else I can't figure out.  My brain short circuits and I scream back.  This naturally does nothing but make me feel more defeated and sweaty.  I abandon the sippy cup and turn on the travel DVD player.  As expected Mickey Mouse Clubhouse puts her in a trance and I'm able to get her dressed and lay her on the bed while we both catch our breathe.

My husband comes back and I feel the urge to escape.  Looking around the hotel room we so neatly decorated with 2nd birthday balloons and streamers I feel this moment has tarnished what was such a great day.  I grab my cell phone and tell him I need to go for a walk, rushing out and into the elevator realizing I look like a mess with my disheveled hair and wrinkled clothes.  I go sit in the courtyard overlooking the indoor pool.  The sun is setting and there is a family inside with a young child, about my daughter's age.  I sit there wondering if that mother feels like a bit of a failure when her kid makes her crazy too.

In the past month I've completely lost it with her on more occasions than I'd like to admit. I am in charge of the unfun stuff which includes getting my daughter dressed in the morning, bathed at night, brushing her teeth and then to bed.  It gets exhausting to be creative with every task that needs to get done.  To make a game out of something to hold  her attention.  When I am out of ideas and can clearly detect her lack of eye contact and encore of "The Wheels on the Bus" as signs of procrastination and rebellious behavior,  I find myself storming out of rooms, leaving her screaming and crying, threatening to take her favorite stuffed animal away and then following through while resenting my own actions.  None of which seem to be teaching her a lesson and leave me feeling sad and frustrated, looking down at the imaginary "Bad Cop" badge on my chest.

I know I shouldn't be hard on myself for feeling this way.  I should know that my parents didn't feel like they were "in charge" until I was maybe three or four.  When I could really understand things and wasn't as frustrated with my developing communication and the overwhelming curiosity of a two year old.  But then I think I'm just giving my daughter a pass and making excuses for her behavior and my inability to somehow control it.  Instead of just understanding there are some battles I can't win and some battles I'm just too damn tired to fight.

The next day we go back to Sesame Place.  Upon entering we see a little boy laying on the ground in front of the gate with his sippy cup.  He's about three years old, eyes watery and likely fresh off a tantrum.  We smile as we pass but are ignored by his agitated mother who leaves her stroller and older son a few feet away to pick him up.  She wrestles the younger boy in the stroller as the older one pretends to punch him, making him cry and scream.  The woman is sweating, blowing her hair out of her eyes and trying to unlock the wheel brakes.  We make our way to the ticket taker just as she starts to push forward knocking the stroller into her older child who jumped in front to again agitate his little brother.  It  practically flips over.  "That's it WE ARE LEAVING!"  The mother screams, whips the stroller around and charges towards the parking lot.  She escapes my view as I hear her boys crying and pleading for her to go back. 

I look at my daughter and husband as they go through the gates, feeling sorry for the woman.  Wondering what her trip home will be like and what she will tell her spouse.  More importantly, I wonder how quickly the kids will forget what they did to make their mother crazy. At some point she will eventually cool down, possibly go over what went wrong, consider what she could have done differently if anything, and then realize none of it matters.  Because unlike me she's likely already learned that being a parent is just as much about keeping it together as it is about occasionally falling apart. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Toddler Bed

My daughter's mobile music plays for a solid 20 minutes which, throughout the course of its existence, has both relieved and aggravated me depending on where we are in the bed routine when it stops.  Tonight I'm pleased when it ends since she seems to have been asleep for most of the cricket and frog sounds.  Nestled in her bed I lay beside her, my one leg hanging over the rail, head propped up by her stuffed ladybug, singing her our goodnight song and rubbing her temple.  I begin to move and she turns on her stomach, pops up, grabs my neck, and says, "I snuggle Mommy!"  Pinned and practically choking I reach up and restart the music, preparing for another 20 minutes in this position while I consider a new escape plan.

I wish I could've taped the look on my daugther's face the moment my husband and I revealed her toddler bed.  With big smiles on our faces we watched as she inched away and then approached cautiously.  We showed her how she could get in and out on her own, threw in her stuffed animals,and acted as excited as possible.  She smiled slowly and then laughed, crawled in, and spent the next hour running from the bed to the living room.  I watched her from the kitchen, feeling proud as she took her bowl of cheerios to bed and dangled her feet through the guard rail.  I thought we had done it.  That she would reward us for recognizing her love of sleeping in her Sesame Street fold out couch by giving her a "big girl" bed and she would in turn easily go to sleep.   

That night we struggled with a new bed time ritual of reading numerous books, sitting in the bed, and singing songs.  As the clock struck an oppressive 11p.m. she finally decided it was time to sleep.  I closed her door, feeling like a bad mother and foolish for thinking this transition would be at all seamless as my head strong daugther lay with her pillow and blanket on the floor.
In the weeks that followed we tried a number of different things to get her to stay in her bed, least of all her bedroom.  Storytime on the chair with Mommy.  Storytime on the chair wtih Daddy while Mommy reads the story from the ottoman.  Storytime on the chair with Mommy while Daddy lays in bed.  Laying in bed with Daddy while Mommy sings the goodnight song from the chair.  Laying on the floor with Daddy while Mommy sings the goodnight song from the bed.  Without the confines of a crib, most of these scenarios ended in me jostling my fading husband from whatever post he was stationed as our daugther said, "Be right back" and went to the living room, leaving us to the sound of her mobile music and our mutual frustration.

Each night she'd fall asleep somewhere and then we would put her into bed.  A lucky shopping find of Minnie Mouse sheets finally kept her interested in the bed long enough for one of us to climb in and spoon her. So now we have a new bedtime routine which consists of  me laying down next to her, worrying about the weight capacity of the mattress that is clearly sinking in the middle.

Tonight is shaping up to be no different than the past few nights and yet being held down by my 23lb daughter somehow stifles my anger at this whole, far-from-easy process of getting her to sleep.  After a few minutes with her tiny arm around me, I succumb to my sleepiness and the warmth of this odd cuddle. Just as my body goes limp the words of every sleep book, judgey parent, and doctor about creating negative behavior patterns remind me that "just this one time" can't exist in the world of parenting.  If I lay with her for a while longer she is going to think I'll be here all the time and then that's going to create a vicious cycle of me and my husband taking turns sleeping in her bed.  So I rub her hair and count to myself to stay awake.  After a few minutes I realize I may really be trapped.  I have only one free hand which is now fishing for my glasses that she made me take off, while the other is fast asleep under her pillow.  I lay there trying not to sneeze as her wisps of hair tickle my nose and decide to close my eyes.

I wonder how many other mothers and fathers are around the world, currently in this same uncomfortable and awkward position.  How many of us feel ridiculous and are cursing the manufacturers of the toddler bed, who clearly didn't think to make room for an adult body?  How many of us are wondering why its so damn hard for someone to sleep in her bed, when sleeping in our bed is something we are thinking about all day long?

Her breathing gets heavier and I know its time to move.  I grab onto one of the railing with my free hand and shimmy my way out from under her pillow.  I curse every creak the bed makes as I try and lift myself up and out, the blood flowing slowly back to my tingling fingers.  The door even creaks as I suck in my stomach to get through the sliver of space.

I close the door behind me and feel successful.  Too tired to take care of the mess around me or pick up the dusty magazine I've been meaning to read, I crawl into bed.  A half hour goes by and I'm still staring at the ceiling fan, unable to sleep.  I think about all of the times my mother used to lay next to me in bed.  I'd fall asleep feeling safe and sheltered by the warmth of her body, only to wake up hours later to the empty space next to me.  Confused as to why she left when her cuddle promised a night of sweet and pleasant dreams.   

I tip toe back to my daughter's room.  She is quiet, her chest rising slowly as I watch from the crack in the door.  I wonder how bad my back will hurt tomorrow if I crawl back into bed with her.  Reluctantly I head to the bathroom, take an allergy pill and get back into to my bed.  Noticing the cold air around me, I finally drift off to sleep.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Growing Pains

I haven't written in almost a month. I had a pretty good run blogging weekly and though I missed two weeks prior to this past lapse, its this recent lack of posting that made me feel a little ashamed.  Up until then I had felt I was able to do alot: work full time, maintain my home, be a good mother, and write weekly about it.  The lapse wasn't because I didn't want to write. It was because I really had no time or mental energy due to the chaos I am currently calling my life.

There are many things my husband and I have been going through in the past month that are laying the groundwork for the next five years.  It involves our home, jobs, finances, and just as everything is coming to a head and we feel that wave of change cresting, we are gasping for air over the choppy waters of stress and fatigue.  In the past month I've started to feel like I did when I first wrote the blog.  That parenthood is hard and seems unmanageable at times, when there are so many other things on my mind. My daughter's love of the word "no" coupled with her disdain for her toddler bed also makes my husband and I our own version of The Walking Dead. Culminating into what feels like everything just sucks.  

I wouldn't have been so mad at myself had I not had a number of thoughts I should've written down.  Things thatmy daughter did that amazed me or made me think.  Moments that could've turned into a number of posts. 

Since I've written last she has figured out how to put on and velcro her shoes, talks in almost complete sentences, learned to float on her own with swimmies in the pool, and has gotten better at brushing her teeth.  One of my new favorite things is her wanting to sit with one hand around my neck and tell me "we're friends."  She is getting to the point where my husband and I look at each other through hazy eyes and question which one of us taught her that. 

She is absorbing the world around her and pointing out things that we often don't pay attention to.  The fact that there are shapes everywhere. "Octagon!" she says and points to a window on a house.  "T-O-Y-S!" she spells excitedly as we are parked in front of a store.  While my mind skips from one pressing thought to the next she reminds me that the moments I've taken to teach her something are slowly manifesting into full sentences, ideas, and realizations.  Seeds that I planted without effort that are now in bloom.

I'm hoping when my husband and I read this months from now we can say, "Wow remember that?" from the better place we'd like to be.  Til then I'll keep reminding myself of where I was right before my daughter's first birthday, a few weeks before I started this blog.  Feeling the weight of motherhood and the adult world around me.  Unaware of what change was about to come that would label everything before it as just growing pains. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Supermarket Sweep


We never get halfway down the produce aisle before my daughter starts to squirm. The quiet child eating a freshly peeled banana passes us in her mother's shopping cart as mine claws her way out. Another parent pushes by with her kids in the car attachment. They pretend to beep and drive, taking occasional sips from a recently opened Capri Sun. Entertained for the complete duration of the shopping experience. My mother was notorious for opening bags of food as we shopped in the grocery store. "Mom we are stealing!!!" I'd say. A small child, learning right from wrong, I'd quickly look around waiting to get scolded. She would assure me we would pay for it, though I felt like a fugitive eating a slice of bologna. Sometimes I would refuse to particpate in this crime altogether. Spending the rest of the trip salivating and fidgeting as she'd push me along and snack.

After a few family shopping trips that ended in sweat dripping down my back and only five things off my list, I realized my mother was right. I now consider the supermarket a warehouse of endless food distractions to keep my kid in her place.

Upon entering we immediately hit the snack aisle and bust open a bag of veggie sticks. I'll admit I feel a little bad ass, dipping my hand into the bag. Wishing the final price were determined by weight. When that doesn't work I reach for the 100 calorie bags of anything. My daughter is eating and excited for the first part of the trip as I curse the cart manufacturer who didn't install a sippy cup holder. Despite her small buffet, by the time we hit the frozen food section she wants out. Fortunately I've gotten fifty percent of what is on my list and can continue shopping while my husband chases her around.

As we approach the check out we have open bags of pretzels, half eaten apples, bruised tomatoes, and a few things in the cart she decided we need like carrots with the long greens and a travel size hair oil. Its a game of quick reflexes as one of us puts back the box of herbel tea, while my daughter replaces it with Tupperware. We unravel cheesesticks and tell her to look at the letters on the tabloids as we remove more items. Bailing out the unneccessary financial weight.

She insists the bags of groceries are garbage and desperately wants to carry the gallon of milk as we pack the car. I open a box of Cheerios, sprinkle a few into her cup holder and wrestle her into her seat. Then, like a jerk, I leave the empty cart in the parking spot next to me. On the way home I consider what we still need for the next few weeks and am thankful for the glorious gift that is Fresh Direct.