Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whole Mama

I have to confess...I don't read a lot of mom blogs. I used to, but then they made me a little crazy and I had to stop. Do they make you crazy too? Is it just me? It's true that I am teetering on the edge of an abyss of self-doubt and insecurity for most of my waking hours. All I need is that little nudge of someone honking at me in traffic or reading an especially perky mom blog post and I'm free-falling into a state of paralyzing mom guilt and low mom-esteem. So, I've taken to not reading the mom blogs so much anymore. I keep thinking that it would be fun to do a parody of a mom blog that captures the essence of what drives me crazy about this genre.

So here goes...I'm about to bust out a parody. Hold on tight.

We'll call my fake mom blog: "Whole Mama"

Today was an especially chaotic day. First little Thelonius decided today was the day that he simply had to go potty on his own for the first time. I know it seems kind of early seeing as he's only three months old and everything, but we've been practicing Elimination Communication since the week of his all natural, unattended home birth in the river behind our farmhouse and I think he is really starting to get the hang of things. He had been lying on his back staring at some French flash cards that I had knitted for him out of some old organic hemp I had laying around. Then Thelonius started to kind of stretch his legs out and scrunch up his face, which is one of his cues that tells me he needs to eliminate. I made the sign for potty for him and he made it back to me and then he made the sign for "thank you." I don't know about you, but I was pretty impressed with my little man. Such manners! I removed his cloth diaper and positioned him on the potty. He made the sign for "sit up" and then proceeded to take care of business sitting up all by himself!!!! WOW!!!!!!

Then Zooey comes in and wants to know why I'm clapping and cheering so much. "Thelonius just went potty all by himself!" I cried. Sweet Zooey went straight to her art studio and started to sketch a picture of Thelonius on his potty. Some people say three-year-olds can be a pain, but I don't know, I'm pretty head-over-heels for my little Zooey. I'm teaching her to knit and we're planning on opening our own etsy store soon. More on that to come in future posts!!! Zooey has the cutest design sense. She was making a new sweater for her Waldorf doll "Antoinette," her only toy apart from a basket of pine cones we bring out for playdates. Antoinette is like a member of our family! Zooey has sewn her so many dresses and knit her so many sweaters, she is going to need her own closet soon! Anyway, Zooey was knitting her sweater and she was trying to decide if the sweater should have cables or not. I try not to be too over-bearing and so I asked Zooey what she thought Antoinette would like best. After giving it a lot of thought, Zooey decided that Antoinette wasn't really a cable-knit sweater kind of girl. She decided to knit the alphabet in rainbow colors instead! What a fashionista!!

Meanwhile, I was wondering what Laertes was up to. I hadn't heard much from the backyard where he had been playing this whole time. It was a little too quiet out there if you know what I mean. I decided to put Thelonius in the sling and go see what was going on out there. You'll never believe what I found! I nearly freaked out!!! Laertes had gotten into Whole Papa's tools and was working away on a pretty amazing project. I asked him what he was building in my most non-judgmental voice, despite the fact that his little five-year-old hands contained a jigsaw and a nail gun. Do you know what my sweet Laertes told me? "I'm building you a yurt, Mama. For your yoga." Is that not the sweetest thing you ever heard in your life? I told him that Mama was very proud of her handy man, very proud indeed. I'm going to love that yurt. Not just because I'm a whiz at yoga either, but because every time I go in there to meditate, I'll think, this is the yurt that Laertes built. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. I'm going to have to nurse my little builder extra long tonight as a special treat!

So, wow, that has been my day so far and it's only nap time. Whew! I have a lot of work to do while the kids are resting, so I'd better not waste any more time on the computer. I've got to go feed the chickens and our maple trees aren't going to tap themselves now are they? As I've been typing this I've been kneading the bread for tonight's dinner with my elbows, so at least that's one thing I can check off of my ever-growing to-do list! Geez!

In my next post I hope to share my latest locavore recipes broken down by city, state and continent... I've almost finished the northern hemisphere! We''ll see if I can get that done and hang the clothes out to dry this afternoon! A mama's work is never done!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Perfect Storm

Today was the first time I had left the house in six days...or was it seven? I've really lost track of how many days we have been snowed in. The kids haven't been to school since last Thursday. School is canceled tomorrow (Friday) and I really wouldn't be surprised if it were canceled this coming Monday because, guess what, more snow is in the forecast. President Obama has made fun of D.C. for its lack of grit when it comes to dealing with snow, and he has a point. School is canceled here if there is even a threat of a snowstorm. But this past week, we were legitimately snowed in. Huge drifts have piled up wherever there is room for a drift to pile up. Most are taller than I am. The kids have been using them as slides. Icicles hang from our roof and the roofs of our neighbors like stalactites, stalactites that could fall at any moment and stab you in the eye. The icicles worry me a little.

Despite the potential for major cabin fever, being snowed in was surprisingly awesome. I have to say, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Life has been so chaotic lately. I feel like everyday is a barrage of scheduled drop-offs, pick-ups, playdates, lessons, and doctor's appointments. I still haven't really adjusted to life as a mom of a school-aged child. And Emma has the tardy slips to prove it. In my defence it is really hard to get three children bundled up and out of the house in the morning before 8:20. Or at least it's really hard for me. Some people are really good at this sort of thing. I am not one of them. Time management has never been my strength. I keep thinking I should read a book about time management, but then I think, is that really the best use of my time? Maybe I should listen to a book on time management on my iPod? Maybe while I'm working out or cooking dinner? Now, that would be really efficient.

Anyway, I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, the snowstorm. It was just so wonderful not to have to be anywhere for a whole week, to be told, don't go anywhere. Stay where you are, please. was bliss.

It was also really nice to just hang out with my family and realize how much I love them. It's so easy to love them when I'm not yelling about lost mittens or complaining that someone left a shoe four flights of stairs up when we only have five minutes to get to school. They aren't nearly as lovable then. And neither am I.

I loved them so much this past week that I cooked them all kinds of delicious carbohydrates. We feasted on chocolate chip cookies, pancakes, breakfast tacos, pasta, chili, macaroni and cheese, carrot oatmeal muffins...the list goes on. This past week I made bread for the first time ever. It's not something I could see myself making when I wasn't snowed in. It takes a lot of coddling and tucking in and being handled just right. It's sort of like babysitting someone else's infant, making your first loaf of bread. But with the snow falling serenely outside my kitchen window and the kids drawing at their art table, baking bread was just the most obvious, natural thing I could do. It felt so luxurious to have the time to devote to bread.

I'm kind of sad for the storm to be over. This past week, we fed ourselves well and then sat around and read books, did crafts, talked, had tea parties, played in the snow and watched movies. Would it be so terrible if life were like that all the time? I'm not ready for real life to return. I like the idea of our house being its own little island, our family the only inhabitants, with nothing but time on our hands.
The snowstorm has made me think a lot about homeschooling and whether or not this is how it would be if we homeschooled. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be like being snowed in. We'd still have to go places even if we homeschooled. I'd still have to yell about mittens, etc. And it's not like we officially learned much this past week, so I don't know how good of a teacher I'd really be to my own children. In a perfect world, I wish my kids could go to school for a few days a week. They'd learn stuff from some other people for a while and then they'd come home to me and we'd bake bread and talk and read some books and learn stuff that way.

Being snowed in taught me that I like life at a slower pace, preferably a bread-making pace. I want to try to achieve that as much as possible once school starts again. I hope we can do it.

Emma, standing in front of a huge pile of snow in front of our townhouse

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

False Tooth

Last week Charlie knocked out his front tooth while playing on the alligator teeter-totter at school. Now, he looks a little like the guy from The Hangover. I'm trying to like his new look, but seeing a scabbed-over gum where his perfect little tooth used to be is just not doing it for me. The whole tooth came out, root and all. It looks like a little shark tooth is sitting on my breakfast bar right now. I'm saving the freakishly long thing for posterity, along with the accident report his teacher wrote. Weird? Maybe.

I remember my mom pulling out a big jar of my hair from the top of her closet one time. I thought that was really strange at the time, but now I sort of get it. I cried over Charlie's crazy long shark tooth the day it got knocked out. What a weird thing to mourn. Baby teeth are supposed to fall out. Big enormous ones come back in their place. Wasn't I just singing the praises of this process in my last post? But this baby tooth wasn't supposed to come out yet. I feel like Charlie's mouth was robbed. It wasn't this tooth's time yet.

I googled "knocked out tooth with root." Apparently this happens quite a bit. I read about babies getting two, sometimes four of their brand new teeth knocked out after an especially bad fall. That would be too much for me to bear, I think. I would be online purchasing those dentures that little girls in beauty pageants wear if that happened to my baby.

I'm thinking about getting Charlie a false tooth. According to the dentist, he won't get a permanent tooth until he's seven, maybe eight....that's three, maybe four years. He's already starting to lisp. On the plus side, he can now whistle.

When we picked up Emma from school on the day of the alligator teeter-totter incident, I told Emma to look back at Charlie, that he had a surprise for her. I'm sure she was expecting candy or a balloon or something. I was doing my best to act like Charlie's new "big boy mouth" was an exciting right of passage, rather than the desecration of my sweet boy's smile that I secretly saw it as.

Emma congratulated Charlie and was excited for his impending visit from the tooth fairy (she has not yet lost any teeth, so it took a lot of maturity for her to be excited for him to be the first). But then she looked worried and said, "Mommy, I feel like it's my fault. I feel like I did something wrong."

Even though it didn't make any sense for her to feel this way, I understood completely. That was exactly how I felt. I told her I knew exactly what she meant--that it wasn't our fault that Charlie lost a tooth, but it felt like somehow we should've kept it from happening. I look at that hole in his mouth and see my own deficiencies as a mother. I see what I lack, rather than what Charlie's gums lack. I see what I should have prevented from happening. Maybe a false tooth would give me a false sense of security, but that would be better than staring at a gaping hole.

I do know that it wasn't my fault or Charlie's fault or Emma's fault. Stuff just happens. Alligator teeter-totters can be unpredictable. You never know when you drop your child off at preschool, if he will come back to you with all his teeth in his head. What if it had been a finger...or an arm? I would not be saving either of those in a Ziploc bag on my breakfast bar, you'll be glad to know. A tooth is insignificant enough, bloodless enough, to be saved in a scrapbook (or a jar). But that doesn't mean I didn't mourn it, and wish I could stick it back in Charlie's mouth with my glue gun.

I love every hair on my children's head. Every tooth in their mouths is my favorite one and will be missed when it is gone. I'm thankful that Charlie is otherwise unharmed. I'm thankful that I have seen his big teeth on the x rays and they are waiting to make their grand appearance eventually. I'm thankful that my children are safe and healthy and that the most they have to fear is an alligator teeter-totter.

While we drove home from Emma's school, NPR was playing in the background. They were describing pulling people out from under collapsed buildings in Haiti. One man had been looking for his fiance for eleven days and hadn't given up hope. And I'm worried about a little tooth? I did cry about the tooth, but then I soon realized that it is nothing, a little sliver of bone. It changes nothing essential about the Charlie I love. There is real loss in this world and the tooth that sits behind me on the breakfast bar is like a cartoon version of it, not the real thing at all.