A Plea for Help

“Tell me you’re coming back!” My sister cried into the phone.

I glanced at the paint tubes strewn everywhere. My girls and nieces were in mid-stroke on my other sister’s walls.

“No…not coming back until later.”

“Ughhhh!” A wail escaped. “He’s pooping!”

“Oh.”

My sister has an affliction. She cannot handle poop diapers. Her massive gag reflex could rival a bulimic girl, minus the throw up part. In most cases. And it’s loud.

“Okay.” I asked my other sister if she would mind if I left her with my kids for a bit during the painting project. Of course, she was fine with it.

“Hold on,” I said into the phone. “Be there in ten minutes.”

Her voice whimpered back at me softly. “Thank you.”

Ten minutes later, I dropped my purse on the counter by the door. Pushing my sunglasses to the top of my head, I tied my hair back and spotted my brother relaxing in a chair.

“Hey. Why didn’t you have him change the diaper?”

My sister looked at me like I grew
a tail and stated flatly, “He doesn’t change diapers.”

“I see.”

We had a brief moment of thoughtful silence together, the three of us.

I looked at my nephew, and back at my sister. With his mom at work and his dad deployed, he sure required a lot of team work from us.

“Alright.” I hefted him into my arms. “Let’s go change your poopy diaper.”

Judgment Day

It’s so personal and invasive. They inspect you and search for problems. They grade your ability to do the job right. You can’t hide the truth. I squirmed under the spotlight.

“Uhhhh, no. Not really. Not often.” There’s no way to meet his eyes.

“Mmm hmm. I can tell.” He was clearly used to this, but still disappointed.

Eager to end the conversation, I mutter to him. “I’ll start flossing more…” I am careful not to promise how often this will occur. I am a working, single mom; usually, I barely have time to pee. How am I supposed to find time to carefully floss everyday?

Toddler tiger sits in my lap, and the dentist asks her, “Do you brush your teeth?”

She nods carefully, eyes wide.

“Who helps you brush your teeth?”

I look at her expectantly. To my horror, she is silent, as if I don’t exist. He repeats the question. She slowly turns her head to look up at me and says quietly, “Mommy.”

My heart starts beating again, and I feel like I just barely passed a test.

He turns his attention back to me. “What kind of toothbrush do you use?”

“A regular toothbrush?” I wasn’t quite sure what kind of answer he was searching for. My nervous babbling took over, trying to find a way to make me look even more stupid. “I mean, I have the sonic toothbrushes. For all of us. It’s just that I need to open the box and take them out. Then we can use them. I have them,” I repeated. “It’s at home. In the box.”

He chuckled at me and stated the obvious, because that’s always helpful. “It would be good to take them out of the box. It’s as easy as -” he mimed opening a box and pulling out a toothbrush. “They work better out of the box.”

“Right. They do. You’re right. I’ll take them out.” I promised a few rainbows and unicorns, anything to get rid of the attention. And maybe, just maybe – I will floss tonight.

Unplugged Toddler

“No iPads at bedtime this week,” I announced to my children.

“Awww, no, Mom!”

“I will tell you pretend stories and read books.” They opened their mouths to protest again. “Look, just try it out, okay?”

That was two nights ago. I thought it was a fabulous Supermom idea at the time.

The first night, I pretended the battery was dead on every device. This works for a toddler if you don’t let them touch it to confirm your claim. My children were tucked in. I told part 1 of ‘Wizard of Oz’, a humorous version starring the kids. They were asleep quickly and I did a proud dance in my head. Dancing should always remain in my imagination, or my kids are utterly embarrassed. I am just awkward like that.

The second night, they requested my story to be finished. Wow! Score for Supermom!

Tonight, we had a late start, but I was determined to read aloud.

“Turn off the iPad now, it’s time to read.”

My toddler tiger looked up and began wailing. I repeated myself. I was stern. I was nice. I did everything except the banned dance. She started negotiating.

“I hide it.”

“No, turn it off and put it away.”

“Nooo, I hide it!” She pulled the blanket over the screen, a wide toothy grin plastered on her face. She was so proud of her idea.

“Okay, fine. Hide it, but pause it so the sound turns off, too.”

Her little fingers twitched, and stopped. “No, I hide it.”

“No, pause it, then you can hide it.”

She paused the show and slid the blanket over it again. “I hide it!”

“Okay. We are going to read ‘Big House in the Woods’ by Laura Ingalls Wilder.” I opened the book to the first chapter. “Hey, turn that off!”

Toddler tiger giggled and paused the show again. I gave her a sideways look as I resumed reading. Within a few moments, she was babbling, as babies do. About nothing. “Shhh, listen to the story.”

“I want birthday cups and plates,” she informed me. “And balloons.”

“Right. Got it. So, there were trees everywhere, hey- turn it off or I will take the iPad away.”

She pouted and covered the screen. I continued reading in between cries. My older girls let me know they couldn’t hear the story. I sighed and turned the lights out.

Toddler tiger was quiet for a minute. I suppose most tigers lay very still before attacking. She sprang onto her hands and knees, and tore into my hair. I struggled to remove her fingers without hurting her. As soon as my hair was freed, she latched onto my ear. I gasped out, “It’s Baby Jack from the Incredibles!!”

Eldest daughter called out, “Tell the story!”

I immediately launched into the tale of a birthday party coming up that needed plates and cups. Toddler tiger froze. “Birthday?”

“Yes!” My voice might have been overly excited since she stopped
trying to buck.

“My birthday?”

“Sure.” I continued the story and she began pummeling me again. She pinched her sister. Sadly, I missed that important window of opportunity to get her to sleep. I didn’t feed her after midnight, so it wasn’t a Gremlin appearance.

My fingers groped blindly in the darkness. Finding the iPad, I cowered before the Queen and showed her my offering.

Her voice was exuberant and quite surprised. “Thanks, mom!”

Negative five thousand points for Supermom.

The Touch

As usual, my nose was assaulted first. She squirmed in my grasp, as I suspended her in the air. “Stay still!” Speaking out loud caused the need to breathe in more air. Mistake. My face wrinkled with the punishment.

My fingers hurried. Wipe. Wipe. Wipe. AHHHHHH OMG I touched it! It’s on my hand! I snatched a new baby wipe from the container and attempted to wipe it off. That won’t help much. It’s absorbed quickly into the skin. I finished cleaning the baby bottom and slid her into new training pants, avoiding the pesky part of my soiled hand.

I ran for the sink and roughly scrubbed. I dumped more soap on my palms and scrubbed again. Sniffing the affected area, my lip curled. Hot water and dish soap were added to the mixture. I held my hand to my face again and inhaled. Whew. Crisis averted. I didn’t have to walk around smelling like butt all day. Life is good.

Surviving Sleep

I turned over to the right. Thoughts tumbled through my head. I lowered my left shoulder so that I lay on my back. Clearly, none of the thoughts fell out of my ear or settled to the bottom of my mind. They were running rampantly toward “@%!# the world, only my kids matter” mode for hours, now. Sleep is hard to come by, when my brain is restless.

I want life to be perfect and am sometimes frustrated because it is not. That inevitably leads to a stubborn streak of “I’ll show everyone I don’t need damn help from anyone” phase where I kick my own butt, rather than ask anyone for help. I am at peace with this vicious circle, because it is who I am.

If I make the effort to initially ask for help, attention, or whatever, and am rejected (everyone has their own lives and priorities), it only reinforces that I shall forever only depend on myself.

So, as expected, my journey is arduous and wholly contingent upon my own fervent abilities to cast aside pain, emotions and selfish wishes. Do the right things, say the right things, and in time, it will all just be a fuzzy memory.

I climbed out of bed and poured a glass of Coke.  Looks like the day started earlier than expected, and that’s okay. Time to get ahead.

When the Tables Turn

“Stooooop it.” My daughter growled. “Or turn it around. Face the other way.”

Her baby sister blatantly stared at the Kindle screen, oblivious to the volume.

I suppose it’s ironic that my loudest child suddenly wants peace and quiet at bedtime. Or, at least, she doesn’t want the speaker in her ear.

She gave me a dirty look. “You’re laughing.”

“No, I’m snorting, there’s a difference.”

Promises

My head snapped forward as it was pummeled. “Oww!”

My tummy was pressed into the mattress. I snaked my right arm up and blocked the attack. My words alone weren’t enough to halt it. I trapped the strong little legs and held her still. “Stop!”

She laid without moving until I let go. Turning back to my own pillow, I felt an onslaught of mini feet again. “Ahhhh! That hurts, stop hitting me!”

A twinkly giggle challenged me. This was not good. My arms reached through the kicks to suppress her powerful calves once more. “Baby, stop!” I slowly released her, feeling rather untrusting.

As soon as her weapons were free, they came at me again. “Phapfff”!” I jerked myself backward out of the way. “Don’t hit me anymore or I will take away your iPad!”

The chortling response wasn’t reassuring. I inched back down toward my pillow.

Thwack!

I lurched over her, stealing the iPad. “I warned you!”

She broke out in toddler tears, very convincing. “Gimme back my iPad!” Her little voice wailed, her world ending.

Sighing, I mothered her. “Tell mommy you are sorry for hitting her.”

“I sorry hitting mommy,” she hiccuped.

“Say, ‘I won’t hit mommy anymore.”

She obliged. I sought confirmation of her lesson learned.

“Are you gonna hit mommy anymore?”

She paused. “Yes.”

“What- hey, no!”

She grinned. I melted.

I’m Breaking Up With You

I bit my lip nervously. This would be the last time we saw each other, probably. Hopefully. Maybe.

I think I will keep this decision to myself until I am sure. I mean, what would people say if they saw us together, later? Would they shake their heads at me with disappointment?

“You are so bad for me.” I whispered. “You weigh me down. You make me feel bad about myself. You make me feel terrible afterwards! Sometimes I hate you!”

Frowning, I muttered out loud. “But you’re so damn addicting. I love you.”

Since this was supposed to be the last time, I wanted to drag it out and enjoy it.

I held it in my fingers and up to my mouth. Salty explosion on my tongue! I moaned out loud and forced my eyes back open. It was over too soon, as usual.

Fricken french fries. No more of these secret meetings! Get out of my life, already! I am never embarrassed to be seen with Salad!

It Wants Me

It’s calling to me. Not by name, because no one says my name unless they are a telemarketer or the doctor’s office confirming an appointment. Plus, it can’t really speak.

I imagine condensation building around the beautiful mocha cylinder. White froth danced in my vision.

I could even taste it sliding down my throat. It wants me, and I want it.

But I didn’t get dressed today before dropping my kids at school. I can’t get out of the car in my pajamas. My girls keep telling me to throw the bottoms away, since the holes expose my butt cheeks (or underwear, if I had clean ones handy).

Not fit to get out of the car, I cursed the road crew blocking McDonald’s drive-thru.

Frappe, they can’t keep us apart forever. See you tomorrow, same time.

Baby Beating

My fingers played on her tiny back with gentle strokes. “Close your eyes,” I used what I hoped was a soothing voice. She turned her head to the other side.  I tried brushing the hair away from her face, pulling it behind her ear. “Shhhh.”

“Arf!”

She shot up onto her hands and knees, impishly grinning.  “Arf, arf! I’m a puppy!”  Her head nuzzled against my palm. “Arf!”

One of my eyebrows contorted. Just one eyebrow.  I think the other one is a lemon; it malfunctions all the time and doesn’t obey. I looked carefully at my little toddler, beams of energy streaming from every orifice. The window of naptime had vanished into the Void.  That’s the place I am sure lost things end up.  My enemy (Time) is really twisted like that. If Time wasn’t all warped, it would shove my nemesis (Fat Food) into the Void, instead.

My pointer and middle finger morphed into miniature legs and ran toward her tummy. She squealed, flying backwards onto the bed. Her dimples popped as my magical creature tickled her everywhere in carefully timed spurts.  I laid side by side with the little lady, one arm still slung toward her armpit.

A blurry limb appeared high in my peripheral vision. A small fist descended toward my face in slow-motion as I attempted to fling my arms up. My left eye exploded in a white light as I let out a scream. “Ahhhh!”

A few wussy tears later, my baby launched herself onto my exposed stomach and I nearly folded in half.  She kissed my eyeball (funny, how favors are returned so quickly).

Supermom is officially a panty.