Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lamentable or satisfactory? / August 28, 2008

Today, Chad, his mom and dad and grandma, and Ethan all went to Chuck E Cheese. Ethan was ecstatic and had a great time ... and ate 3 pieces of pizza! That child is a fiend for pizza.
I took Benji to visit my maternal grandfather who lives in a nursing home in Cleburne, about an hour from Chad's parents' house. Every time we're in Texas, we go to see him. Often he does not seem coherent; he cannot carry on a conversation; sometimes he doesn't seem to know who I am; he is not in touch with reality. When I go, it is always very awkward; I talk to him, but I usually get a blank stare in return, and he doesn't answer back, and one-sided conversations are very bumbling and unweildy. I never know what to talk about, so beforehand, I make a mental list of things to tell him about. Then I get there, and I say them all within five minutes, left to fill the rest of the 55-minute visit with who knows what.
Being with him and seeing him like that makes me so dispirited and melancholy. But seeing all the patients of this facility make me feel that way. I feel so sorry for them. I pity them. But, here is what I thought about today: is that right? Is it right to pity someone in that state? What if they are happy the way they are? What if the world in which they live, even though it is not reality, not my world, is good enough for them? What if they're happier as they are, in their states of Alzheimers or recovered strokes or low mental capacity, than the rest of us? What makes me think that they deserve to be pitied, that their lives are somehow less valuable or not as satisfying as mine? If they don't know what they're missing, then are they really missing anything at all?
When I see my grandfather stooped in his wheelchair, only the right half of his body with motor skills, drinking his pureed food, and not responding to me, I feel deep sadness for him. (A tear is threatening to seep out right now). I wonder if he remembers his days as a working physician, all the patients who loved him, his wives, his family, the people he loved. But if he doesn't remember these things, if the nurses who care for him daily at the facility are his new family, and if he doesn't remember the taste of a good steak with potato wedges instead of pureed food, then is his state even lamentable?
When I see the white-haired lady in room 682 lying on her bed watching a soap opera, as she has been doing literally all day, I feel sorry for her because she's alone. But what if she likes it that way? Maybe she doesn't know any other life. When I see the brittle old man in room 654 sitting in his wheelchair grinning at everyone who walks by, my heart nearly breaks that he doesn't have a wife by his side or children sitting on his lap like an old man should. But that is what I think would make an old man happy. Maybe this man is completely content making conversation with the other residents.
As human beings, I believe it's our nature to have difficulty seeing beyond our own selves. Unless I stop to think about it, I assume that what makes me happy will surely make someone else happy. I can't help but feel sorry for these people when I visit the nursing home, but today, I am second-guessing whether any of these people actually are abject and commiserable. Perhaps their world is their own little reality and they are satisfied in it. Maybe my pity for them is rude of me. Like I said earlier, what makes me think that my life is more fulfilling to me than their lives are to them? The question remains...
Any thoughts on this, my readers?

In the land of the free, the home of the brave / August 27, 2008

We're back in the flatlands, the land of pick up trucks, the land of Sonic and Taco Bueno, the land of accents and southern belles, the land of heat and humidity: the land of Texas. The more I've been here, the more I find out how Californian I've become! It's terrible. I do love California weather.
The kids were AMAZING on the flight. It was Benji's first time in an airplane. He slept all the way up and all the way down and wasn't very fussy mid-flight either. It was incredible. And Ethan played with the buttons for the lights, was kept entertained by Chad, and watched "The Backyardigans" on Chad's laptop till the battery died. He did great too. I was so proud of my children. BTW, moms, when your kids are well-behaved in public, don't you just feel bursting with pride, and aren't you almost offended that not everyone around you says, "Oh my, your children are so well-behaved. What a good mother you are"? I get that way. Maybe that makes me weird. But at least I can admit it.
Anyway, we're now in the Fort Worth area, visiting Chad's family. We've been here since Tuesday and will stay till Monday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

avid readers and woodland creatures / August 20, 2008

I found out to today that I have an avid reader! My self esteem goes up one notch. :) Thanks, Michelle!
Ethan ate a popsicle yesterday (because he ate his broccoli), and it got everywhere. He was slimy down his front and back with juicy orange slobber. His mouth had a ring of orange around it too. It was hilarious, but then it made my spine tingle when he came inside the house. Why do I care so much about messes and when will I let that go? My friend Shannon says that a mother either has to let that go or will end up in the mental institution. I'm afraid I'm already headed for the latter...
Benji has been sleeping for the past 3 1/2 hours. What a nap! I'm happy about it.
For the past two days, we've had two different squirrels come to our back yard to eat the birdseed that Ethan threw out there. Of course birds have come too. I like having the woodland creatures come to my yard. It makes me feel as if I'm Sleeping Beauty and that I'll burst into song any moment about how my prince will come some day.
BTW, I highly recommend the movie Enchanted. It is hilarious, especially the part where the prince character gets run over by bicycles.
Today's post really fits the description of "Hope's rambling thoughts."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Touchee! / August 18, 2008

Okay, I'm going to admit it: I've met my match having two kids. I am having a really hard time! I think for the first 2, maybe 2 1/2 months, I was feeling very euphoric about Benjamin, and I wasn't having too much difficulty handling both of them. But now, I guess the euphoria has worn off, and I am really struggling. Having a two-year old and an infant is SO HARD!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

a sweet story at last / August 16, 2008

I pick 3-month-old Benji up and hold him in the crook of my arm to nurse him. He is kicking his legs, wiggling, and grunting impatiently as I pull up my shirt and unhook my bra. As soon as he latches on, he seems to breathe a sigh of relief, and his legs stop kicking. He sucks happily. He looks up at me with his deep blue eyes. Sometimes, I smile at him, and he smiles back at me, and my nipple falls out of his mouth. Little milk dribbles slide down his cheek. It makes me laugh. He latches back on and sucks hungrily. I offer him my finger and he makes a little fist around it. He opens and closes his fingers around mine. His eyes start to roll back in his head. He lifts his right arm up and rubs his hair with it. He can barely keep his eyes open now. Finally, I hear the swallowing noises stop, and he's just sucking for the sake of sucking, his eyes closed, his little face peaceful. I pull my nipple out of his mouth, and for a second, he makes a little frown. Then he stretches both arms over his head, grunts, and falls asleep.
In moments like this, I feel more love and gratefulness that I can describe.

Friday, August 15, 2008

another day in the Kidd empire / August 15, 2008

Oh boy, it was another fun day in the Kidd empire. It started out with Benji waking up at 6 am, very fussy. Finally he went back to sleep around 6:30 for another 40 minutes. Then at 7:05, Ethan woke up fussing. Two crying babies.
Benj was ready for a nap by 9:30, but wouldn't go to sleep. I took both kids to Ethan's Messy Muddy Toddlers class, the mess of which stresses me out and makes me want a Zanax. Today's theme was food day: painting with cooked spaghetti, carrot sticks, and potato mashers. Benj did fall asleep in the bjorn for about 30 minutes (NOT long enough!) then woke up. After class, Ethan played on the playground for awhile, then we came home because Kate was going to come over for lunch for an hour before nap time.
We go home, Benji very sleepy and fussy. I don't know how else to get him to sleep, so I turn on the tv and tell Ethan to stay downstairs and watch tv (mind you, this is after he's already watched his 1 hour of morning cartoons!). I go upstairs and nurse Benj for awhile, swaddle him, and put him down good and asleep. He wakes up 10 minutes later! In the meantime, Ethan's been eating meatballs for lunch.
I put Benji in the sling and he quickly goes back to sleep. Then Ethan chokes on his food, starts coughing, and of course, vomits copious amounts onto the couch, the coffee table, and the floor. Since I'm holding a sleeping baby in the sling, I have trouble doing much about the vomiting until it's too late and it's everywhere. I put Benj down in the bouncy seat, start to clean Ethan up, and then Kate and Bridget come to the door. I want to burst into tears, but can't just yet.
Bridge takes all the kids upstairs (including Benj, who woke up only 5 minutes after being in the bouncy seat) and keeps them occupied for 15 minutes while I clean up meatbally vomit, trying not to throw up myself.
At 1:25, I start to put Ethan down for nap. Benj is asleep again in the sling. I read a couple of stories, but Ethan is whining and crying because he's trying to crawl inside his clothes hamper like a bear cave, and it keeps collapsing on him. This carries on for about 10 minutes. I can feel myself growing more gray hairs.
Ethan is put down at 2 and falls asleep around 2:20. Benj has been put down in his co-sleeper and sleeps for awhile. I finish my lunch, do some dishes, clean up the front porch, wash vomit out of couch covers, and start the laundry. Then Benji wakes up. I nurse him and get him back to sleep. Then Ethan is crying in his room. Why is he crying? He wants a toy that is on the floor. Good heavens! I rock him in the chair, give him the toy, and put him back down. I walk out of the room, lean against the wall, pray "God give me patience" for the tenth time today, rub my temples, then go downstairs.
That was ten minutes ago; I am now venting on this post.
I probably say too much on this blog. It's just so much easier to say too much when writing than to tell people in person.
BTW, Chad asked me (regarding yesterday's post) why I wanted to be paid for what I do. Perhaps I should explain. Money is valued by everyone. If someone is paid money, he is recognized universally as having done something valuable. Even though somewhere in the back of my head, I know that what I am doing is valuable, it would be nice if I was given something that is universally appreciated and said, "What you are doing is worthwhile."
Besides, getting money for things you do makes it not seem so much like work. :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

my waves of self-pity / August 14, 2008

Well, we all managed to sustain major injuries yesterday, not including Benji. I badly bruised my toe, as described in the last post. Chad fell off his bike on the way to work and skinned his knee. Last evening, Ethan tripped over a pipe sticking out of the ground and scraped his ankle up. He cried about it for a whole hour. He was even whining about it when he went to bed. What a day. And, yet, we somehow manage to survive.'s only half over, and I feel ready to collapse. How can motherhood be so draining? I wish someone would banish me to solitary confinement for the afternoon. I got the kids in the stroller and walked with Bridget and Dina and their kids to Starbucks. Ethan had a choco milk; I had a passion iced tea. Then we went to the cyber cafe playground for close to two hours. I talked to the ladies, and Ethan played, and Benji fussed. He didn't want to go to sleep except for the 15 minute nap he took while we were walking. Ethan sustained another two falls off the picnic bench and said he wanted to go home. On the way home, I was holding a crying Benj in the sling with one hand on his head to support it because he arches so much, and I was one-handedly pushing the stroller which is not easy to steer. This time of day every day I start to feel really sorry for myself. A car drove by as I was crossing the street and using lots of force to get the stroller up the curb on the other side. I'm sure I was a sight with a screaming baby arching his back against me, using one hand to push a stroller with a toddler in it, my hair a mess, my face sweaty, and my shoulders drooping. But I wondered if they looked at me and sympathetically thought Poor woman struggling with those kids. I don't know how she does it. I wanted them to feel sorry for me.
Sadly, these waves of self-pity wash over me nearly every day around that time. I'm sure it's the combination of hunger, tiredness, and the looming thought of trying to get two children down for naps without one of them having a meltdown, or me losing my temper.
Something is not right with my attitude here. I realize and believe that mothering is a high calling and requires dedication, selflessness, and hard work. And I love what I do most of the time. But there are those moments every day, more than once a day, where I wonder why I'm doing this, why I'm not happy, and why it can't be easier. At the same time, while I'm thinking those things and feeling sorry for myself, I know that in 5 years, I'll look at Ethan and Benjamin and think I wish they were tiny again. I loved that age. It was so much easier.
I don't know. If I sat any mother down and got her talking, I'm sure she would admit feeling these same things at some point, but I am so conflicted. I AM happy doing what I do, I wouldn't be happy working full time or being away from my kids. I KNOW that my work is absolutely invaluable. But I also wish it was easier, that I had endless energy, that I never lost my temper and felt sorry for myself, and that I wasn't too self-conscious to chase Ethan with my breasts bouncing up and down and my bottom jiggling. And then I feel guilty for thinking these things, for not simply being grateful that I have two very healthy, very wonderful children who bring me more joy than I thought possible.
I know that motherhood pays in joy, love, satisfaction, fulfillment, and laughter. And yes, these are worthwhile and should be enough for me.
But I wish that it paid in cold hard cash too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh my gosh! I'm now a blogger! / August 13, 2008

So, I've obviously decided to join the dark side and become a blogger. This could easily become my latest addiction. Instead of making this a cutesie, family-oriented, airy, and breezy website swamped with pictures of my adorable children, I've decided to make this a small opening into my dark soul, full of my rambling, mostly confusing thoughts.
Can you handle it? I think so.
As a line from my current novel reads: "It's like looking through a tiny window of a submarine into the sea of her soul." By reading this blog, you will be reading the latest in the saga of my problematic brain. Actually, I'll probably say what I did that day and spend a moment gushing over Benji's smiles and Ethan's remarks.
By the way, tonight's menu is Chinese chicken salad. I just spent 30 minutes making it: lettuce, cabbage, green onions, sugar snap peas, pecans (because I didn't have almonds), mandarin oranges, and chicken. It has a dressing with soy sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, lemon juice, and sugar. It is very tasty. I will not be counting points tonight.
Wow, that was a dark thought, wasn't it?
This morning, I went to get Ethan out of bed and walked into the wooden nursing stool, yelled "Ooowww" and muttered a curse word so Ethan wouldn't hear. I either sprained my pinky toe or bruised it very badly. It is purple all over right now, and I had to take 600 mg of ibuprofen. I could tell right away it was going to be a great day. But Ethan made it all better by offering to put Blankie on my toe since Blankie makes everything better.
Today was the first field trip of the Verano play group, suggested  by Jen, organized by me. We went to the Santa Ana Zoo. We were the first ones there at 10 am, the next person came at 10:25. Ethan wanted to go feed the goats, so we went at 10:35, but they didn't have the pellet machine out because the goats are sick. "I want to ride the train!" he wailed.
"The train doesn't start till 11:00."
We go back to the group who had arrived, and we went to see the monkeys. Ethan cried most of that time and refused to get out of the stroller to see them. Oh boy. We made our way over to the train and had to wait 2 times for our turn; Ethan was amazingly patient during this time. We rode the train, then went back to the playground to eat  lunch, where Ethan suffered his 2nd and 3rd time out sessions for throwing sand. I think he didn't understand the difference between throwing and dropping sand. Or he did, and he was being a stink pot. My children being disobedient?? Never!
We came home, Benji crying hard the entire way. I couldn't find the parking pass for five minutes and was thinking that it would be worth a parking ticket if I could just get the kids inside and to sleep, when I found it on the other side of the passenger seat. Benji cried a total of 45 minutes. He was so upset he didn't even want milk. He is now very tired and is napping. Ethan went down easily. I tried to nap but it was too light in the room, and I kept waking up or getting cold. I sort of slept, but not well, for an hour.
That's all I have to say for my first blog post. No insights; it would probably have damaged my brain too much if I'd experienced a revelation today. The zoo did me in.
As I said to Chad the other day: I am a 27-year-old, successful, educated, strong woman; but it is a 2-year old who has the power to fell me.