Monday, March 19, 2012

Mandatory Contact

Today we will discuss another malady affecting parents of young children everywhere.  It is called "Mandatory Contact", and it affects 10 out of 10 parents. Mandatory Contact  for mothers begins immediately after conception, and for fathers immediately after birth.  It involves being in constant physical contact with your child for 10 months while they reside inside of you (it is surprisingly hard to put down a fetus), and being constantly available for contact after that (you can put down a newborn....for a few minutes...but it is usually more peaceful not too...). If there is lactating going on, contact is even more intense and paralyzing (See Lactation Paralysis entry). And if you have more than one child, the amount of minutes spent in Mandatory Contact with another person goes up exponentially.
It might not sound like a bad thing. In our suppressed society, physical contact is constantly craved. I remember being single and living on my own and really wanting someone around to cuddle with. Silly, silly me. I should have been sprawled out in my meticulously cleaned living room laughing at the amazing peaceful quiet. Little did I know...
I am one of those hippie descendants who grew up in a house where you could always crawl in with Mom and Dad when you had a bad dream.  Therefore, my daily dose of Mandatory Contact starts around 1:00 am when Thing 2 starts waking up to eat. I pull her into bed to feed her. (I have become an expert at the nurse and doze...) About the time she is settling into a deep sleep, Thing 1 pops out of her bed with a spine chilling cry (have I mentioned that she has night terrors?), followed by the thump thump thump of tiny feet running to my side of the bed. I do an impressive scoop and roll so that Thing 2 is now on the other side of me and not getting crushed by her sister, who has crawled under my covers and jammed her head between my shoulder blades. Thing 2 is not a fan of these late night acrobatics, so back to nursing she goes, while Thing 1 attempts to dig a hole under my rib cage and wedge her head in it. I can't slide forward without shifting Thing 2, and I can't lean backward without suffocating Thing 1.  I call  this the mommy sandwich, and after 5 minutes of it my muscles start screaming while I stare at the ceiling in the dark listening to Tyrant Daddy snore and wonder if it would be very VERY mean if I accidentally kick him in the shins.
 Once Thing 1 is finally asleep again, Tyrant Daddy tries to move her back to her bed. Which always wakes Thing 2 up, and we start all over again. Eventually morning comes, involving Thing 1 sitting up and saying "Time to WAKE UP! JUICE TIME!", and my breaking Mandatory Contact with Thing 2, only to be claimed by Thing 1's little hands pulling me to the kitchen. We get juice. We change diapers (perhaps the most unpleasant of all Mandatory Contacts.) Then we sit on the couch with Thing 1 pressed against my side (perhaps the most pleasant of all Mandatory Contacts) while I read a book or two.
Then Thing 2 wakes up. Which involves a great deal of contact for the rest of the morning as we change diapers, burp, eat, wipe vomit off of chins, balance on hip, put down, tickle, pick up, burp, face out, face in, bounce, put down, wipe vomit off of chin, cook egg for Thing 1, put down, wrestle Thing 1 into chair, change diaper, catch Thing 1 and put back in chair, pick up, eat, wash applesauce off of Thing 1's ears, pick up, bounce, etc.
Thing 2 has decided that nursing should be a full contact sport, involving pinching, pulling, punching, kicking, triple lutz and headstands. While I find her physical feats impressive, I often feel slightly bruised afterwards.
This goes on all day. My body is no longer even remotely mine, except for those few precious minutes a day when I lock myself in the bathroom. Although, even then, there is a 7 out of 10 chance that one of the babies is in the room with me, and an 8 out of 10 chance that if they aren't, they are screaming right outside the door. Nothing like a little motivation....
Finally the day is done.The little sticky people have been bathed. And we all lay down on the bed and read a book. With one girl in each armpit. Glued to my side. I get one to sleep and gently peal her away, and carry the second out of the room to bounce her to sleep. Then I finally lay her down on the couch and collapse onto the other one, free for the near future of any Mandatory Contact. No TOUCHING. Thank God.

Then Tyrant Daddy sits down next to me.
I eye him.
He doesn't make any sudden moves.
I tentatively rest my head on his shoulder.
Ah, yes.
Voluntary Contact.
So rare these days, but so very nice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Day

Today I felt, perhaps for the first time since Thing 2's birth, that I managed to successfully parent both my children, showing them equal affection, and taking care of ALL their needs. Crazy, I know.  The weather was creepily balmy for March, so I strapped on the tiniest Tyrant, wrestled boots and coats onto the least tiny Tyrant, and marched down the street to the school playground.  Thing 2 cooed and drooled all over her bjorn, gasping and shuddering when wind hit her face, and was basically in a blissed out sea of over-stimulation.

(The sucky thing with having winter babies is that you are trapped inside for months on end, not only by the dark and cold, but by the desire not to expose your tiny new born to the elements. By the time spring comes even the baby has cabin fever, and she doesn't even know what she's missing!)

Thing 1 met a slightly older man (he had just "changed" four) who was hanging from a rope bridge and claimed to be Peter Pan (Thing 1 and I had our doubts...), and somehow, miraculously, when it was time to leave there was no tantrum throwing.  I might have used ice cream as an incentive. Parenting a two year old is like running the mob.  It's all about bribery.
 On the way home  she asked me if she could go to school.

"When you are more grown up."
"Mia grow up too?"
"Yes, Mia and you will grow up together."
"Grow up to-ged-er.  Momma grow up too?"
"Sure, Momma grow up too."
"Daddy grow up too?"
"Well...When you go to school will you learn how to read?"
"Yes. And learn 'bout da SATURN. And da VENUS. And da JUPITER. And da MAAARS! Yes. And da MOON. Yes. When I grow'd up I hold dem in my HAND."
"They are too big to hold in your hand. Do you know where planets lives?"
"On da wall?"
"No, they live in outer space."
"With Wall-E?"
"Yes. With Wall-E."
"And EEEeee-Vaaaa?"
"Yes. And Eva."
"Yes. Sometime we get a Wall-E?"
"Sure. When you are grown up."
"Yes. That will be good."

Yes, that will be good.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My Tiny Lycanthrope

Thing 1 has started scratching faces in the latest attempt to impose her newly discovered will on those around her.   Normally we are able to pin her fists when she gets that gleam in her eye and starts clenching her jaw, followed by a firm, and occasionally rational, talk about how scratching is bad.  A couple of times she has been too quick, and has even drawn blood with her little talons (my inability to remember to trim her nails does not help).
The last time she got Nauntie was during a rare melt-down at the library (seriously, they are going to ban my family soon....). The scratch was still quite red today, and at one point Thing 1 pointed at it and observed,
"Owie.  Owie on da FACE."
"Yes, it is an owie.  We shouldn't scratch, should we?"
Thing 1 cocked her head, leaned closer with a sweet smile, and whispered,
"I like it.  I LIKE owies. Yes, I do."
While my poor sister  was trying to frame a reply, my 2 year old daughter crawled onto her lap and said, "Sniff the owie, mmmmm, yeeessss, sniff it," and smelled her Nauntie's bloody scratch.
"Mmmmm...smells good!"

So.....that's not creepy at all. Nope.  Totally normal.

I'm going to blame the full moon for my child's bloodlust and leave it at that.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Brain Mush

I have been working full time again for the last month.
This means my brain is even more like mush than usual. Which is why I haven't been blogging very reliably.
Don't get me wrong,  funny things still happen at our house, and when they do I think,
"Hey! That was a funny parenting moment! I should remember to write that down later!" 
And then I have to find the bra that still fits the lactating ladies, which is buried under the endless swathes of clean and/or dirty fabric that replicates across the floor of my bedroom daily, change Thing 1's diaper because apparently Tyrant Daddy has the plague and can't touch her or she will die instantly, and convince her that pants really are a good idea when you live in Minnesota in February.  Then I put on a clean shirt and a sweater, find my shoes and get ready to leave, and realize that Thing 2 has awoken and is famished and needs to be fed. So I nurse her in that very unsexy "sorta-half-naked-from-the-waist-up" way that nursing mothers have developed to gain maximum nipple access with minimum clothing removal. Totally hawt.
Off to work I go, where I let myself forget for a few hours that I even HAVE children so that I can fill reports and count money and deal with customers and stare at the beautiful beige walls of my cubicle. I try to sneak out 10 minutes early so I can rush to the grocery store because SOMEHOW my kitchen is never quite stocked and there is always at least one thing to buy to get us through the night. And then I am home again, where I throw of my coat and scoop up my girls (and let Tyrant Daddy blow of steam and kill aliens and Sith Lords in a galaxy far, far away...). I wash off the germs of the public and try to forget for a few hours that I even HAVE a job, and pretend that I am just a Mom and read a few books and wipe a few tears, and try to really focus when Thing 1 tells me about the advenutres that the terradactyl was having with her popsicles. And then somehow it is 7:30 and we realize we should feed the child.
"Who is making dinner?"
"I don't know. What do you want?"
"I don't care. We could order out...No. We are poor. Can you make rice and chicken?"
"Ok. I will in a minute....." (sound of light sabers clashing )
"Maybe we should just make noodles for Thing 1 and we can eat later."
"Yeah, that works..."
By then Thing 2 is hitting what we refer to as "The Snoofy Hour", which means she is tired and cranky and frustrated with her lack of vocal cord control.  So I am on Thing 2 patrol, Tyrant Daddy or Nauntie is sitting with Thing 1 coaxing her to eat since she believes she can subsist on Apple Juice, Noodles, and Air. We try to get in a bath so that our very active sweaty toddler still smells like a sweet baby. After she goes to bed I bounce Thing 2 to sleep and watch old TV reruns, and the house is finally quiet.
Of course, by then I have lactation paralysis and am totally exhausted. And I sit and stare at my computer across the room and think,
"Funny! Thing! Blog!.........Maybe I'll remember tomorrow....."