Sick Day

Tom stayed home yesterday while I lay dying. I feel a lot better today, and I’m beyond grateful my husband has a job where he can take a sick day when I need him to. The only thing is, now the inside of my house looks like my putrifying flesh felt like yesterday. On the one hand, he took good care of my children, and on the other, he laid waste to my kitchen and let the kids pillage my pantry (even moreso than usual).

I know that, as a modern woman, I should not say things like “my children” in the context of having their father “take care” of them (it’s not “babysitting,” it’s called “parenting”), and “my house” and “my kitchen,” but the truth is I feel quite proprietary about my kids and my space, and I have certain (admittedly-relatively-low) standards concerning them.

The other truth is that, usually we work really well as a team, sometimes in very gender-determined ways. When Molly had a 104 degree fever last week, Tom gave her a blessing, and I gave her drugs and breastfeeding. He can’t wield the medicine dropper (too softhearted) and I don’t hold the priesthood. This could be frustrating,and sometimes it is, if I step back and consider the existential disparity, but in the moment, in the middle of the night, when the man who is my partner is doing something out of father-love and I am doing something out of mother-wisdom, it just feels right.*

Molly has had croup, strep, walking pneumonia, pink eye, and ear infections in her first eight months. Could be worse, I know, but still frustrating.

I have not responded to any comments for awhile, and I even have things to say about several of them, I just . . . have been flattened lately. Soon, I hope, and please know that I appreciate each one.

Avery reading to her sick sisters (the pestilence has struck Callie and Lucy also) is so precious, almost enough to overshadow the fact that five minutes later they were in my sickbed, kicking, licking, and, and . . . looking at each other.

*It is obvious, I hope, that him leaving my house like this does not feel right.

 

Three can be the loneliest number

Yesterday Avery and I had a long talk that left us in tears at the same time it made me glad to be here, glad to be her mother. My daughter has a “best friend” who will apparently think she is weak and a crybaby if she does not join her in being mean to a third girl, a girl who used to be one of Avery’s good friends. It turns out that Avery is also the odd girl out in a similar situation at school, with two girls who are now best friends to her exclusion.

Can we go back to talking about sex and cigarettes, and how we wait till we’re married to experience the transcendent glories of the first and how we’ll never try the second, no matter the pressure of friends?

I told Avery that being kind to everyone is the most important thing. And it’s true. I know we have this hierarchy of sins, especially in the Mormon culture, where smoking and drinking are almost the worst things you can do, and I’m not saying I’d be happy if she took up a 2-pack a day habit tomorrow, but I would rather she negotiate this next few years of tweenage girl-child hell with grace and kindness than never drop acid.

Maybe I say that because I know how hard it is to be a ten-year-old girl, except when I was a kid, it was even harder to be a twelve-year-old girl. And I have no firsthand experience with acid.

But it’s true, isn’t it? Being kind to those who despitefully use you, standing up to those you want to impress and befriend, doing what’s right and plain being nice at all times are the hardest things to do, ever.

I showed Avery the verse in John where Jesus wept because his friend Lazarus was dead. Does it take a strong heart to cry with compassion? Is it weak to take the first step to end a fight you’re sure the other person started?

Avery said she just wished she knew why the two girls at school don’t like her any more so she could apologize. And I asked, “Were you mean to them?” and she said no. Then it’s not you, I said. You are perfect, there’s nothing you could do or apologize for or change about yourself to make me love you anymore, to make Heavenly Father love you anymore. You are already beautiful and smart and kind.

She asked me to show her where that scripture was again so she could highlight it in her own Bible.

And she promised to think about it some more and to try her best to treat the the odd girl out as if she were the odd girl out.

Flexible Milestones

When Avery first rolled over (and off my bed), it was a happy milestone (any resulting brain damage appears minimal). I was thrilled when she slept through the night, when she smiled, when she laughed, when she crawled, when she walked. When Callie first rolled over (and off my bed), it was a great milestone (she is left-handed, but we’re okay with that). I was relieved when she slept through the night on her back, when she stopped binging and purging on breastmilk, when she got eight stitches along her hairline and survived summertime croup. When Lucy first rolled over (and off my bed) it was a joyous milestone (her voice is stuck in munchkin-helium land, but most of the time it’s cute). I was ecstatic when she potty-trained, when she went off to preschool, when she wrote her name and started seeing letters everywhere.

When Molly first rolled over, I finally figured out that babies (most babies, my babies) roll over right around four months, and she rolled over onto the rug. Sometimes milestones feel like a personal triumph of my genes passed on or my parenting paying off. Which is dumb, because the strongest gene-milestone connection I see is the prodigious talent my children have for eating, and while that’s convenient and laudable in a toddler, it’s a bit unfortunate in a metabolism-slowing thirty-three-year-old. As for the parenting styles — I mostly agree with those who say that the more kids you have the more parenting styles you can imagine being “right.” And also that kids are so different, and reach their milestones so variably that obviously it’s not anything you do.

Except my kids are almost eerie in their adherence to some trends. Late teethers, right-on-time rollers, sitters, crawlers, walkers, late talkers, early-ice-cream-adopters.

Every time Avery, Callie and Lucy did something new, it felt like a reward for showing up every day to the parenting gig.

Oh, how things have changed. Molly is right on with her sisters in most things. At seven months, she is grabbing spaghetti off the table and not making any discernable language-type sounds.

But she is standing. All the time, pulling herself up, falling over spectacularly because she is not really ready for this. She is a baby. Babies do not stand. I tell her over and over that it is not time yet, that she is a baby, my baby, my last baby, and listen, baby honey baby, it is not time for this yet. Maybe not for another five years or so. Because you are my baby.

She doesn’t listen. She just keeps standing.

But Mama was right, huh baby?

We’re not quite ready for this.

Good thinking on getting a wider stance for better stability, but you are still a baby, baby.

Uh-oh. Yesterday she was crying at this point, desperate for rescue. Yesterday she still needed her mother.

And she’s down. Today she can get down by herself.

Though maybe she was expecting some help?

And she’s off.

Come back, baby.

A mother . . .

A mother learns to pee slowly so she can have a few extra seconds alone (if she has a lock on the bathroom door). A mother makes dessert after the kids are in bed so she doesn’t have to share. A mom turns the radio up loud not so she can dance with her children in the kitchen but so that she cannot hear them crying/whining/fighting. A mom hopes her kid gets the flu instead of her husband, because at least he is bringing home the bacon, and her kid will complain less. If Mother’s Day makes you want to comfort-eat, post this as your status.

 

–I know this is way too similar to my last post (and thank you for your contributions to that list), but I was, uhm, inspired by a Facebook meme *, not to mention the pink eye, croup, girl-mones, and math I waded through today.

 

** The new “devil made me do it” excuse.