I know it won’t last…

Right now both girls are asleep on the purple couch downstairs! This has not happened for at least two years. Beenie has been out since around 11:30 a.m. and Mimi just went down around 45 minutes ago. Though I hear coughing, so Beenie will probably be up soon. Both girls are sickly. Beenie more than Mimi. We stayed home today from school/work. My throat hurts too.

I’m reminding myself what it is like to write during naptime. It is nice. I’ve had such an external existence for the past five or so months. No inner life. Just outward, doing what I’m told to do, what I have to do. No time to review anything or even write notes to friends, or talk on the phone. Now that we live in a different place, and most of the unpacking is done, maybe I can start reviewing rather than simply doing. Reflection helps to keep me with perspective. Energies only going outward seem damaging.

It was nice not getting in my car at 7:30 this morning, though not nice helping hacking children in middle of night. I am glad that I can offer my daughters comfort (and acetaminophen) when they’re not 100%. It just makes going to work the next day quite challenging. Lucky for me my throat hurts, too. Wouldn’t want to be having too much fun.

It is a sad state of affairs when a person craves illness so they can just hang out in their house. I like to see the sky. That is not something that is possible at work. Just during lunch. I like lunch. Gives a cave dweller a chance to absorb a little vitamin D.

Pre-spring scourge? Check.


I thought for a few days I was in the midst of a strange allergy attack. Part of me still thinks this. Another part, the part that just woke me up at 5:50 a.m., hacking on my own sinus goo, thinks I just have a nasty little cold. Change of season, right? Who knows. It is seeming like the third sinus infection of the winter. Or not. On the couch, drinking hot tea to melt the goo away, writing on 20/20. Not such a bad thing. If I could get up at 5:30 every morning, there’d be no end to what I could accomplish. Maybe I could even start making art again. Get to the studio by 5:45, paint for an hour and some change, home by 7:30, when everyone starts stirring.

Work is still happening, which rules. I now have enough office costumes to wear so that nobody has to see me in the same thing twice in a two or three day period. The girls are now always staying in preschool from 9:30 till 3, three days/week. Beenie even naps there — she NEVER naps at home! The thing is, though, she doesn’t really need to nap. It’s just the culture of class that everyone passes out, so she figures she isn’t missing anything, and joins in. Makes bedtime challenging if I can’t get her outside running around somewhere, but I’m glad she can shut down for an hour or so during the day without too much hassle. Speaking of bedtime… 10 p.m. is an unacceptable bedtime for the little peeps, which is what it has become since daylight savings time kicked in. Need to trick their bodies into thinking it’s an hour later than it really is. Hopefully things will flow into a normal schedule by next week. Will try to wake them up early this morning to see if that helps.

What’s been happening? My mom is feeling better after about 6 weeks of shingles misery, so the girls and I traveled down to suburban D.C. to visit for a day the past two weeks. They love their grandparents. My mom’s illness came at a time that the entire Mid-Atlantic was shut down for 5 weeks anyway, though, so the timing was at least not entirely inconvenient. It is hard for me to believe how much snow was on the ground three weeks ago. Mountains of the stuff. I thought it would be May before it all melted, but I think most of it is gone now. Just the rain remains. And memories of being sick and cooped up with three other people in the exact same boat. Our little row house boat. There was only one day of real *lose your shit and kill everyone* mania, where I wasn’t sure all four of us would make it through The Shining, but here we are, somehow still speaking and interacting with each other. Amazing. We survived the BLIZZARDS OF ‘OUGHT TEN.

I have two paintings that sit in my friend’s studio, untouched for months. The Puddle painting and the Octopus painting. The Octopus is a commission for my sister-in-law’s cousin’s wedding present. I believe if the piece gets to the newlyweds by May, it will be within the good taste range of not later than a year after the blessed event. I’d say the painting is 95% done. Needs some color tweaking, but I think that could be accomplished quickly. If I could ever break away from my familial and job duties long enough to do anything. The puddle painting has less of a deadline. This piece started out as one thing and has become something very different. I like the transformation, but really, it needs some attention. I’d like to finish it in the next few months and ship it west. Hell, I’d like to ship myself west.

Chim chim cherrie.

Well?!

leaf2
It went well. If that’s what you’re asking, which I assume it is. The girls first day of preschool went well. Morning, actually. 9:15-12 noon. Beenie fought as hard as she could getting dressed in the morning, as I knew she would. Mimi made at least two costume changes as I knew she would. All predictable. Woke up 45 minutes before we were to leave, typical. Nobody had time or focus to eat brekky, of course, so I rustled up some half-eaten snack bowls from their backpack of snacks that go everywhere, put some soy milk in their sippy cups, gave ’em each a cookie I made the day before, and off we went. Made it in the front door, spouse came for the beginning and left as class began, and I sat outside the classroom for one hour or so after they started up, making sure to be available in case of emergency. There was none. In all the hullabaloo of getting out the door in the morning, I neglected to bring the bag with my driver’s license and other important items in it, so came home to retrieve it*. Got back to the school about forty minutes too early, so sat back down to await the end of class. The kids were on the way up the staircase from running around in the church basement which is also called the “gym”, the space where they run around and play if it is rainy or inclement outside, which Friday was. Beenie caught sight of me and came over and told me to come into class, so I told her to go in and I’d wait for her and Mimi outside till it was time to leave. Mimi saw me, too, came over and I told her the same thing. They both went back into their class with the other kids and the door shut behind them. Five minutes later an excessively loud and familiar scream emanated from the classroom, quickly followed by Miss Donna’s face, then Mimi’s red face. I scooped her up and we walked and I tried to talk her down. It was because she saw me that she got upset, that plus she was tired and probably overwhelmed by the whole morning. I can understand. The teacher had us come back into the room with Mimi after she calmed down and the teary little girl sat on my lap with me till the end of class. She was fine. Beenie was totally not freaked out, knew I would be back for her and them and was involved playing with some of the blocks. Then she was also very interested in some of the dress-up high heels and it was hard to get her out of the classroom when it was time to go.

Not bad for a first day! Neither napped when we got home, which I had hoped would happen. Though falling asleep during the day in the car is now the only way they will nap these days, so I will try to make sure things are lined up perfectly for this to happen in the future. I don’t believe they are aware this “school” thing is something that will be happening every other day for the remainder of the fall into winter. They will find out soon enough. I’m gonna have to figure out what I will do from 9:30 till 12 noon this coming Monday. Does sitting in a dark room, banging my head against a wall count as doing something?

*It was here I had my obligatory weep fest… where did the time go? Weren’t they just born? How are they old enough to be in school? They’re suddenly so big! Who stole my little babies!!! Bla bla bla. The bittersweet mama crying continued off and on for the rest of the day and night. I may be over it, maybe not, maybe never. The next important milestone is for me to be able to focus my attentions on useful things and not have this time when they are occupied three mornings a week wasted solely on cleaning the house and looking for a full-time job. I mean, yes, these things need to happen, I suppose. But I also need to try to figure out who I am after three solid years of being available 24/7 to these small creatures for everything. I don’t think its an empty shell, but I know it isn’t who I was three years ago, either.

sleeping beauties

dc
adieu, diaper champ. adieu.

This afternoon presents me with a rare treat… sleeping daughters. They have actively denied me and their tired selves the pleasure of a nap for weeks, months… I cannot remember. Alls I know is I have not written here in a while, not regularly, and it is because the only time I have, ever, at any point during the day or night to do this is when they nap. So here I am, whoever I am, writing. We went to Callum, J. and Janet’s place this morning to play and then a quick and annoying trip to Target to search for shoes followed. They passed out in the car on the way back and remain sleeping now, almost a forty-five minutes after we returned home.

There is some kind of shift happening in my life at the moment. There is probably always some kind of shift occurring, but this one seems large scale to me, different than the one million small shifts that happen every day. Mimi and Beenie are getting older and less baby-like. Three this coming September 25th. Hard to imagine how much they have changed in only three years. That is always what parents say about their children. Their starting preschool in September, also, marks a large change, a moving away from total dependence on me. The slow beginning of separation, three mornings per week. As much as I need this to happen and they need it to happen, it is still somehow sad. I’m so grateful I’ve had the past three years to be immersed in such profound love, need and insanity. Such genius and humanity. Uh oh, I’m gonna cry. It is the nature of mothers to cry, you know.

What is not going to make me weep will be the moment the well-used and much hated Diaper Champ leaves the house. It stinks to high heaven after almost three years of piss and shite. Now that the ladies use the potty all of the time except for nighty-night time, there is really no longer a need for this capsule of stench. I will expedite this most glorious of tasks and we will all be better for it.

Since I have absolutely no time alone, ever (except for right this second), there has been no art production. And it is this lack of quiet contemplation and pure visceral channeling of energies into paint or pencils or music or video that is driving me the most mad at the moment. I’m assuming once I have the chance to devote an hour or two per week, when the ladies are in preschool, to this pursuit of creative expression, I will feel less desperate. Until then, it will be mopping up urine and trying to keep my head from exploding off my neck. Oh yeah, and finding a flexible job that fits comfortably in with the machinery of our family.

pee+poo=purple candy!

Strange, troglodyte grafitti viewed from the L train in Chicago...
Strange, troglodyte grafitti viewed from the L train in Chicago...

Purple, grape flavored jelly beans: this is how I’ve been bribing Mimi and Beenie to use the potty. They used to do it because it was novel. They took pride in being able to cause such a stir in the bathroom. They did it because I cheered and told them how great they were. Then they got lazy or the novelty wore off for them. So, as my parents did for me on numerous occasions, I turned to bribery. I don’t think it is correct to refer the giving of candy or stickers or any object for completing a task a ‘reward’. Let’s call a bribe a bribe. It is nothing to be ashamed of. My parents used to bribe the hell out of my brother, sister and I. And I will do the same with my own crazed pink sparkly beasts. If that makes me a bad parent, so be it. I don’t care, I couldn’t possibly be working any harder at something I’m so supposedly mediocre at.

Mid-day appears to be the time for four purple candies… meaning each girl produces a pee and a poo in short order. Sometimes separate “goings” to the toilet. First they pee pee, wipe, wash hands. Then the poops come, then wipes of bums, then more hand washings. Lots of time spent on the ritual of potty time clean up. I’m cleaning so many mysterious splashes of liquid from the floor lately, it is as if there are intermittent rain showers in the bathroom. I know it isn’t rain, tho, you can’t fool me.

Naptime is still on a hiatus. I haven’t written it off entirely. I can usually plan to have them pass out in the back seat of the car if we are out driving past 2 p.m. on any given day. In fact, Beenie noted a recent ritual of going to a drive-thru Starbucks in Towson, MD… She said, as I was, in fact, on my way to said Starfuckers for my $3 something soy latte and an oatmeal raisin cookie for her and Mimi to share… “Mama, I want you to drive to the window and give money and get the really yummy cookie.” Am I so predictable? Are parents of toddlers actually more slaves to schedule than the toddlers themselves? That would be a big YES on this end.

Five stages

shif
Does my absence tell you my twins’ naptime has been compromised? Can you see that the small pockets of being alone, time to myself, time not spent watching people to make sure they don’t murder one another or themselves are slowly being robbed from me? CAN YOU?! I’d say, over the past month or so, with the exception of a day here and there when both girls sleep midday at some point, simultaneously sort of, that my daughters are trying to wean themselves of taking a nap. Their daily nap. The nap that made it possible for me to write, or read, or almost concentrate on something. The nap that gave me hope for the future and what’s left of putting the pieces back together of my sanity.

This developing situation seemed ridiculous to me when it began… I pretended it wasn’t happening. Went through the typical five stages of mourning: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Truly. Last week was depression. It is so sad to say goodbye to something so comforting and good will filled as a nap. This week I believe I have arrived at some kind of acceptance. I will continue to make a minimal effort to offer up or make easy the option for a nap to these girls. I have not completely given up hope. And it isn’t as though they don’t need to nap anymore, because they really really do. But the desperation I was feeling at the beginning of the struggle is lifting. I no longer rush home like Cinderella at midnight, trying to make sure they are in bed by 2 p.m., worried they will get beyond the point of no return.

I will again, one day quite soon, have time to myself, almost equivalent to them napping. Starting in September, from 9 a.m.-12 noon, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I will drop them at their preschool and then will be alone for real. Alone, perhaps, to focus on finding a job, but alone nonetheless. Maybe they will be so tired from their mornings of high learning that they will beg me for a nap once we return home.

There is a certain relaxed quality to the day when I am not stressed about the nap. They still need a nap and I still need them to nap. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t. I am learning to ignore them a bit to check email and edit through some writing stuff. Strange to transition from babyhood to almost beyond toddlerhood. And that’s just me. The girls have exceeded both those things and are onto something else entirely.