Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Day in the Life of........ SuperMom!

Last Thursday was supposed to be a fabulous day. The kids and I were meeting Kady at Bennigan's for lunch, and that evening I was going to dinner and a show with mom. It was the kind of day a stay-at-home mom looks forward to, the kind of day we circle on the calendar with bright purple marker and exclamation points. But little did I know that it would also be the day that I learned the hard way that all good things come at a cost.

The kids woke up around ten, (that's right, ten o'clock baby!). We watched a few episodes of Super Why and got ready to meet Kady. So far so good, right? The kids look cute, I've got my new diaper bag packed and ready (I have a diaper bag problem, see previous blogs), and I'm ready for a lunch notably absent of peanut butter and jelly. I've got my bags over my shoulder, Noah by the hand, and Lilli is already out the door when I realize that I can't find my keys! I call Lilli back into the house, and begin hunting the typical spots where my keys sometimes "hide."

No dice. They are gone. Lost. Vanished. I try to get the kids to tell me weather or not they know where the keys are. Blank stares. Word World is on. So i try to get them to help me look, you know, "Super You with the power to help!" (hey, it works when Super Why says it). Then I remember that Tricia and Aaron used my Jeep last night. So I call Aaron. No answer. I call his cell phone. No answer. I finally break down and call Kady and tell her that my keys have gone AWOL. She says she'll come get us. God bless her. Then, as I'm hunting under the bed for the keys and fuming about the fact that I've never gotten a spare made, the phone rings. Now, I would like to say that I whisked myself out from under the bed, tossed my hair triumphantly out of my eyes, and answered the phone " good morning!" But unfortunately the truth of the matter is that I wriggled myself halfway out from under the bed, got my hair stuck in the box spring which I had painstakingly straightened that day (my hair, not the box spring), grabbed the phone, sure it was Aaron, and answered it half out of breath "do you have my keys??" He didn't. I made him go check the pants he was wearing last night. Still didn't. I did finally find them in the couch cushions, where I had of course looked at least a half a dozen times. I called Kady and told her to turn around, I'm on my way. So, much less put together, my munchkins and I headed off to lunch, going ever so slightly above the speed limit.

Kady meets us in the parking lot, helps me get the kids out of the jeep and even compliments my new diaper bag. God bless her. At this point, all I want to do is go in, sit down, order a drink and sigh with relief. No such luck. The wait is 20-30 minutes long. I am not worried about such a wait, even with a two and three year old. I had actually told a friend not too long ago, how good my kids are at restaurants, how they have been going out to eat since they were merely weeks old, that myyyy children are polite, well mannered, quiet, and generally well behaved. So we wait. While we wait, I start to fill Kady in on where we are in the process to become licensed foster parents.

Now, normal people tend to keep still and talk quietly while they wait for their name to be called. But not everyone chooses to take this approach. My son for instance, and as I'm told, two-year-old boys everywhere, prefer to pass the time in much more creative ways. Like running up and down the bar, singing what amounts to a punk rock version of Twinkle Twinkle at the top of his lungs. I leave Lilli with Kady and go after him. And as any mother of a two year old knows, the faster you go after him, the faster he runs. So we play this game for a while. He runs away and I bring him back.
He runs away and I bring him back. Lilli actually sighs and says to Kady "when Noah is three like me he won't act like this." I smile politely at the people eating in the bar who comment on how cute he is. Yeah, freakin' adorable, I think to myself.

Eventually, Noah tires of running solely up and down the bar and decides to head for new terrain in the dining room. Well we certainly cannot have that, so I go after him and scoop him up. And he screams. And screams. Screams like I ripped his arm off and beat him with it. I continue to smile politely at onlookers when what I am really thinking is more alone the lines of "WHAT!?!? haven't you ever heard a two year old boy scream bloody murder and flail about like an epileptic rag doll before?!?!" I smile politely at the hostess when what I am thinking is more along the lines of "Why the heck haven't you called my name?!?! There are eight empty tables in there!!"
But I keep my cool and calmly search my brand-spanking new diaper bag for the toys I must have packed in all my forethought and preparation. I find two matchbox cars. They'll have to do. They entertain him for approximately 3.6 seconds. Then he is off and running again, full speed into the dining room, a car in each hand.

I take off after him, my diaper bag swinging from my shoulder, dangerously close to whacking innocent diners in the back of the head. Eventually I catch him and scoop him up again in a motion that I hope appears to be fun-loving to spectators. He screams. And screams. And chucks those cars as far as his little arms can manage. It must have been miles. If he lives though this little episode, he'll have a career in baseball I'm sure.
I hoist my bags back on my shoulder, heave Noah under my arm football style and bend down to retrieve the cars. As I am standing up again, I make eye contact with the nearest diner, and who do you think that happens to be? That's right, none other than one of our foster parent trainers. I have a brief vision of her at the office writing in our file something along the lines of "maniac- raises out of control children who assault strangers with matchbox cars" and stamping a big, red REJECTED on our application. Anyway, after about nine million years, our name is called and lunch proceeds pretty much without any further uprising from my little slugger. And in case you're wondering, I left a very adequate tip.

Because I won't have much time once I get home, I go over my mental game plan for the afternoon on the drive. Noah will go down for a nap
immediately when we get home. I'll put my dress clothes in the dryer so I won't have to iron them, do my hair and makeup, wait for the babysitter, and head off to meet my mom for a grown up girls night out. But wouldn't ya know it, as soon as I had my plan set, the phone rings. And wouldn't ya know it, it's the babysitter. And wouldn't ya know it, she's canceling. I take a deep breath and count to ten. By the time I reach nine, I realize that my dad will probably be at my house anyway around that time, and I really didn't need a baby sitter anyway. Ha. I go on home, crisis averted. Ha Ha.

My dad has been at my house every single day since January, but do you think he showed up last Thursday? Nope. Do you think I could get a hold of him? Nope! No problem, I can handle this. I call Tricia and Aaron, my closest, most reliable friends. I feel slightly guilty that I'm calling to ask yet another favor, but I'm certain that they will, as always, come to my rescue. No answer. I begin to pace around my house. It's too late to call Nate and ask him to leave work early, he won't make it in time for me to leave. No one is answering their phones. I'm beginning to think that caller ID has a new added feature that looks something like this:




Finally, I get a hold of a friend who doesn't have the new caller ID feature, and she agrees to watch the kids. God bless her. By this time, I am already late. I throw on my dress clothes, flip my hair up in a clip, slap some powder on my face and run out the door wearing, I kid you not, MaryKate and Ashley lip gloss that I stole from Lilli.

So, what did I say before about good things coming at a cost?

new diaper bag - $3.00 at thrift store
lunch (including outrageous tip to make up for your son's behavior) - $78654.98
your daughter's lip gloss - $1.99

A grown up night out - priceless

Stay tuned for more adventures in the life of..... Super Mom!! (make that crazy, silly, frazzled, not so Super Mom!)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

This One's for You, Son

It's pretty likely that many of you have noticed that I tend to recap my life in moments. Hilarious moments, sentimental moments, humiliating moments, emotional moments , and so on and so forth. There have been so many instances in my life where I have nothing much to say except "that was the moment". They are the times in my life where, if it were a movie, the screen would freeze and the main character would say just that, "that was the moment". Well, tonight was one of those instances....

We had tickets to see Sesame Street Live at the Chevrolet Center in Youngstown but had kept it a secret from the kids all the way up until Big Bird came on stage. (I inherited this sneakiness from my parents who's surprise "i love you presents" were huge memory-makers). I think Nate and I were more excited than the kids. We got them all dressed up and told them over and over that we were going somewhere special and it was a super secret surprise! We filled the jeep up with gas (if the kids could understand how much cash it takes to drive all the way to Youngstown, they would have felt spoiled without even seeing Elmo!), splurged on some Starbucks for ourselves and hit the road.

Well, we were no further than Tallmadge when Noah started to cry. Maybe cry isn't the right word... he started to scream. If you have kids you know the one I'm talking about, that high pitched, top of the lungs, angry sounding scream. The kind equivalent to having bamboo shoots shoved under your fingernails while Roseanne Bar sings the National Anthem. Torture. Despite my attempts to quite, calm, and bribe him, he continued this rampage pretty much nonstop until we pulled into the parking lot.

By the time we got to our seats (which we had to climb over a billion people, their kids, strollers, diaper bags, toys, and snacks to get to) he had pretty much settled down due to the hullabaloo that makes up a Sesame Street Live show. Can I just pause here and tell you, on a side note, what a lucrative business kid's entertainment really is? I mean, talk about making money hand over fist! They've got balloons, cotton candy, hot pretzels. They've got toys you could get at the dollar store for a buck selling for $20 a pop! They know that if it's got Elmo, Zoe, or the newly popular Abby Cadaby on it, parents will buy it! Even the thriftiest mom at home, will, once her brain is foggy from the cotton candy-popcorm haze, will break out the greenbacks for a cheap, plastic, light-up, spinning Ernie to keep her kid happy and most importantly, quiet. I can admit that I myself (due more to the screaming than to the aforementioned haze) would have bought Noah a CookieMonster-blue Hummer with Elmo-red fur upholstery if that would have made him happy! Isn't it amazing how one minute you are a young person at an arena seeing a rock concert complaining about the price of drinks, and the next minute you are a parent seeing Elmo (or Dora or the Backyardigans) at the very same arena complaining about the price of helium balloons?

Anyway, like I was saying, we did in fact, make it to our seats. But Noah was so not on my top ten list of favorite people. So I was less than pleased when he began squirming angrily out of Nate's lap shouting "Mama, I need you! Mama I need you!" which I normally find endearing. Here we go again i thought. So in order to keep him from launching round two of the crying, I scooped him up and redirected his attention toward the sage where he was thankfully distracted by the Number of the Day. Nate went out to the lobby and bought some popcorn, soda, a hot pretzel and a huge red Elmo balloon which only cost him $764.39. Everyone was happy. Even Noah... even me.

At one point in the show, Rosita (Muchacha Fantastica) sings Twinkle Twinkle to a sleepy Big Bird. It was a quiet part of the show. The arena was dark. Then they did that thing where they shine a spotlight on a spinning disco ball and the whole place sparkles with spinning, dancing lights. Noah had never seen such a thing before. He looked up and pulled in all his breath, in awe, and practically whispered "Mama! Look!" His face was so bright, so full of wonder, so amazed by a simple trick of lights and mirrors and.... that was the moment.

That was the moment. And I was filled with a sense of wonder, and love, and joy, and as strange as it sounds, loss. Because you see, the moment was, as every moment is, so fleeting. Noah will possibly never again be enthralled by simple spinning lights. And a time will come when he won't cry out "Mama I need you!", when he will go this very same arena to see rock concerts with his friends or girlfriend, instead of to Sesame Street with his parents.

All the way home, as the kids were whining that they were thirsty and fighting over the $879 Elmo balloon, I tried as hard as I could to burn the memory of his little face uplifted, his round little cheeks covered in theater butter, his dark brown eyes shining brighter than I ever thought possible, into my mind. And so I confess to you now, that I write this not only because I wanted to share this memory with you, but because I want to be able to read it myself someday, because I am terrified of losing this moment, like we lose so many others, of letting the picture I have of my son as he is right now, fade away.