Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring

I get one girl dressed and then the other and then I send them downstairs, where their daddy is, so I can feel a little breathing room around me, even though he wishes I’d keep them up here, or at least one of them, because he needs the breathing room, too. He’s packing the day’s meals of four people and it’s so hard when one of those people tries to get a new yogurt for herself every single time you open the fridge; when she doesn’t go straight to the couch and complacently watch six minutes of Blue’s Clues, but instead stands right behind you, under you, tugging your leg, no not your leg, because he didn’t even get dressed yet, tugging the towel around his waist. She has sixteen teeth, now, the flitting underfoot pixie, and if you don’t appease her quickly she chews on the rim of the yogurt cup until she punctures its foil lid with her new fancy bicuspids. Or eyeteeth. The pointy ones, whatever they’re called – in the past four weeks she’s cut all four of them, our little Dairy Vampire. I Vant! To Suck! Your Vhey! And in the time it takes to make lunches, one Dora Drinkable, one Dannon fruit-on-the-bottom and one Chopani Greek with Honey all lie in corners of the kitchen linoleum, slowly oozing their essential fluids, all casualties of Ooh, Teething, and It Feels So Good.

But I’m seeking the same thing as him. To get dressed without the tugging. He’s battling yogurt; I need to swat away the hand that points just below my necklace and begs, more? more? To be clear, I don’t begrudge her the nursing. I just, in fact, nursed her for 20 minutes. And we were all snuggle and cuddle and tickle and bond in my bed and it was lovely. But those 20 minutes are why I now need to Just Get Dressed. I try on jeans and a sweater. If there’s a mom uniform in my life it’s this: jeans and a sweater. My work can get dusty so I wear jeans every day. My children can get slobbery so I wear jeans every day. Maybe I felt a little extra bleh this morning so I wanted to break out. Raining and I just wanted to find some snazzy. These pants are too long for a day with puddles. I’m short but not freakishly short and I don’t understand why Banana Republic’s “petite length” still need hemming or heels and it’s definitely not a heels day, is it? so I switch to the tan pants, which will still defy my basic desires and drag through puddles; thereby by donning these pants I’m establishing the tone of the day. I pull a fun purple shirt over my head and head into the girls’ bathroom to brush my teeth there where I see in the big mirror that said shirt has a long stain across the middle. Watercolor paint, I think, from one of E’s recent pre-tubes sick days. There is no warning label that tells the mommies that dark watercolor pigments aren’t completely machine-dissolveable. Half naked again, a navy button-down looks cute until I try to brush my teeth again, at which point I notice that under lights, this shirt is transparent. Hunt up a black cami to wear underneath, and I hate wearing underlayers; they smooth out the best parts of my curves and definitely lower the snazzy quotient but undergarment flashing at work won’t exactly raise it, either, so I talk myself into keeping the button-down and believing in its snazzy.

So navy button-down, tan pants, downstairs. Be the snazzy you wish to see in the world. Cute shoes! Waiting for me in the front hall! Navy top, tan pants, gray ballet flats with sky blue trim. Definitely raising the quotient again. And the great cream rain jacket with the navy arabesque pattern and girls! Yay! Rain jackets for everyone! Let’s get in the car!

And whatever my quotient, they look fantastic in the way all little girls look fantastic in plastic rainwear. One in a shiny brown jacket with ballet-slipper pink polka dots; one in a shiny pedestrian-crossing sign yellow jacket with pink and purple and orange and green hearts; who can’t smile at the beginning of another day with such gorgeousness in her care? But the ride to school was mired not just by rain, but by the antics within our carriage. Let us not explore the reasons behind why there is now cream cheese on the ceiling of the car, nor what spilled how or when that created the large pillow of fuzzy mold I discovered when I lifted the stack of kiddie music CDs from the little CD storage slot next to the gear shift, but let me just conclude by saying that however precious they looked, those angels in plastic jackets, as they bent their heads against the rain and cavorted up the sidewalk, they didn’t cancel out the anti-snaz I felt by when I exited my breakfast-spread-and-fungus-mobile and hit the sidewalk myself, feeling for the first opportunity the hem of my too-long pants soaking up the puddles of sidewalk-salty rain.

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Time marches on, and spring comes again, and rain is better than snow, and sometimes there are days when I wear the clouds on my brain instead of above my head. Time is a crazy thing, isn’t it? My moody spells have become more infrequent and shorter-lived over the past three years. Maybe parenthood stripped me of the self-indulgence of wallowing. Parent time, I think, moves faster than not-Parent time. Today my first baby is 38 months old, a number that, if you ask her, is as big as twenty Housand, because any number over 20 is as big as twenty Housand. On Sunday, my second baby cut that 16th tooth, and there’s no point any longer in heeding the yogurt lids to mind the gap. And yesterday, this little ol’ blog turned a year old. Cream cheese dries out fast and crusts and I know I’ll be able to scrape it off the fabric roof in no time, but there might always remain a faint stain. Parent moments, I think, are not so different. All these trials and tribulations that accompany being responsible for the welfare, and even harder, the happiness, of these creatures who are Not Us, they’re quickly solved, and we pat ourselves for a job well done or at least another bullet dodged, but each one leaves a little mark behind. Where? I don’t know. Maybe on my soul. They’ve marked my soul with their every action, those two little girls. And I’ve come here to write about it – for a whole year, now. Without this space, I would remember that as a MamaWarrior I’ve earned my stripes, but I might never remember the details of how all those many marks got there. Thanks for reading, for telling me we are all marked somehow, and for helping me remember on even the puddliest days that the stains they leave on us are beautiful.

Not acid rain. Watercolors. The snazzy is not in the sartorial; it's in the stories.
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