Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What Kind of Mother Am I, Anyway?

Yesterday, I offered my child up for sale on Facebook. Yes, I was only kidding, but I’ll admit that if I’d gotten a better offer than a peeing cat I might have given it a split-second’s consideration. Seriously, I love my child more than life itself. I’d throw myself into the path of a moving train for him. But yesterday was one of those days when I was hoping for that train to come by and put me out of my misery.

I should have known it would be a rough day when he woke up at 7am instead of his usual 8 or 8:30. But I figured that with that early rising he’d be eager for an early (and hopefully long!) nap. And in fact, when I put him in his highchair for a snack at 11:00, he was moving in slo-mo and his eyes were beginning to glaze over. By 11:30 I was certain he’d be out cold in a few minutes, so I didn’t even tempt fate by asking him to climb the stairs to his bedroom. I picked him up to carry him upstairs and he laid his head on my shoulder and “koala snuggled” his arms around my neck. I turned on the air conditioner and a lullaby CD and tucked him in his bed with a few soft toys and a book, convinced that he’d fall asleep within moments, then slipped down the hall to lay on my bed until I was sure he was asleep.

For a few minutes, all was quiet, then I started to hear him chatting quietly to himself. Then I heard the quiet thud of a little body slipping from the bed to the floor. Then I heard the jingle of the jinglebells hanging on the outside doorknob of his door and I immediately ran down the hallway. When I came in the room, he was happily jingling his bells (which he had stolen from the knob and then re-closed the door) and was headed for a stack of toys, having already turned off the A/C and the CD and turned on the overhead light. I took the bells away and told him to get back into bed, which he did without question. I turned the A/C and the CD back on, gave him a kiss, reminded him one more time to stay in bed, and turned the light off on my way out.

Only a few minutes had passed before I heard the distinctive sound of venetian blinds being rattled and raced back in to scold him. Much to his father’s chagrin, he had already bent them badly out of shape and I was afraid of him making them any worse. He looked at me with big innocent eyes as I ordered him back into bed yet again. I decided to sit in the rocking chair and watch him for a few minutes, but when I realized he was much more interested in marching up and down the bed than in laying down and sleeping, I knew that wouldn’t work. So I heaved myself into his bed (and if you’ve never seen an 8-months-pregnant woman maneuver herself over a bedrail, you’ve missed out on an impressive sight), patted the pillow next to me, and convinced him to “come and snuggle with Mama”.

He immediately threw himself down next to me and commenced fake snoring. Ever hopeful, I threw my arm over him and waited for him to fall asleep for real. Ha! Silly Mama. That lasted for about 8 seconds before he jumped up and began throwing each of his toys and stuffed animals out of the bed, one at a time. I warned him, “all gone” with each item, and he solemnly repeated my words each time. Block? All gone. Bear? All gone. Book? All gone. He even pulled the pillow from under my head and jettisoned it. And then he leaned over me and peered at the detritus on the floor, pointing and looking at me hopefully. “Nope, all gone,” I told him. Unfazed, he then turned and crashed into the wall. Discovering what a delightfully loud noise that made, he began pounding on the wall with both fists until I couldn’t take it any more and told him “Enough!” Surprisingly, he stopped, and then announced to me, “Poop!” while patting his bottom. He then threw himself on my head, leaving no doubt in my mind that it was time for a diaper change.

At that point, I gave up on any hope for a nap for either one of us. I changed his diaper and brought him back downstairs to the playroom, where he commenced racing laps around the room while I collapsed on the couch and watched him. Every once in a while there would be a pause before he came around the corner and I found myself carefully listening to hear what trouble he was getting into in the back hallway. I’ve never been able to decide which is more disconcerting when he’s out of sight: absolute silence or unidentifiable crunching noises. Either way, it must be investigated ASAP. In this particular room, silence is usually the more serious problem, since it usually means he’s gone into the study with all the tempting electronic equipment with its exciting buttons and lights. I found him holding the baby monitor up to his ear and asking, “Hello? Hello?” while my wireless mouse lay on the floor without its battery cover. I returned the monitor to its cradle, found and replaced the battery cover on my mouse, and escorted him back to the playroom, regretfully closing the study door with its wonderful air-conditioned air inside.

Without the study to explore, he managed to find trouble all over the rest of the room. He ran through the vertical blinds. He threw all his toys into the big aluminum tub. He moved them from the tub onto the top of the toybox then flailed his arms to knock them all over the room. He opened all the cabinet doors that he’s not allowed to open. He tried to throw things at the glass doors, the television, and Mama. He finally broke the camel’s back when he ran up to me and very deliberately gave my leg a hard smack. I grabbed his hand, gave it a good slap, looked right in his eyes, and fully aware of my own hypocrisy, shouted in my sternest “angry Mom” voice, “No! No hitting!” I guess I finally got it right that time, because instead of his usual giggle when I scold him, he puddled up and started to cry. I started to cry a bit myself, and scooped him into my arms and told him I love him even when he makes me crazy.

He calmed down after a quick snuggle and we laid down on the couch together and played, until suddenly something struck him as hilariously funny and he executed what I’ve dubbed the “happy puppy wriggle”. You know how puppies, especially really big breeds of puppies, get so excited that their whole bodies nearly convulse with excitement? That’s what he does. Unfortunately, as he kicked out with both feet with his full strength, he managed to kick me full-on in the pelvis with one heel. I literally saw stars, and doubled over in pain (or as close to double as I can get these days) while I waited to get my breath back. I couldn’t scold him because it was completely unintentional, but it just felt like adding insult to injury (or injury to insult, to be more accurate). I started to get up from the couch and was rewarded with a fresh stab of pain. So much for the grocery shopping trip I’d planned.

By the time my husband called to say he was on his way home from work, I was definitely ready to sell this kid to the gypsies. So what kind of mom does that make me?

I’m pretty sure it just makes me human.

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