Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sure is dusty in here...

I think I'm coming back. To myself, I mean.

I've been gone quite a long time: not only from this blog, but from reality itself. I'd tell you the whole story but it's just run of the mill stuff. Life got hard, time sped up, priorities shifted, readjustments weren't made. I got lost inside my head and was barely able to get out. This is typical of motherhood, no?

Lizzie goes to preschool now and Charlotte is discovering her voice. Both of them are as defiant and emotional as they always have been, but they're smarter now. They beat me with logic. They manipulate me with my own emotions. They parrot my words at the most inopportune moments. They stomp their feet and "humph"-cross their arms. Charlotte slams doors when she's mad. She's 2. I am mentally and physically unconditioned for interactions with her.

Lizzie slings around "I don't want family" and "you're not my best friend anymore" and "I like insert-another-mom's-name better than you" like she's throwing candy off a parade float. She corrects me on the rules, reminds me of my promises, questions everything physical and metaphysical. There is no clear exit strategy from any conversation with her. I tire easily when communicating with her and I struggle to maintain interest and patience. She is always hungry. She's 4. She's running me into the ground.

These ages are so interesting though. Gone are the days revolving around eat-play-sleep and wondering what's on their minds. They tell me all about it now. In excruciating detail and muddled by their limited grasp of the English language and frenzied by their hormones. Every time their mouths open, THE END IS NEAR. I have to remind them to slow down, use their words, look at me, get a grip.

And then I have to remind myself. Take a breathe. Regroup. I consult a glass of wine. I scream into a pillow. I make angry gestures at the sky. I imagine myself rolling my eyes. I imagine them, when they have kids. I smile. I explain the concept of karma to them and I feel better. I watch SVU. I feel much better about my parenting skills. I watch Hoarders... Hey, I'm still a good parent though, right?

Lizzie's love is unemotional. Most of her happiness is in neutrality. She blossoms under routine and structure. Sadness and anger unravel her. Excitement always borders on insanity. Increased volume overwhelms her. Her love comes to me in small quiet words and I can never tell if she's talking to me or to herself. She will smile and say "I'm happy", "I love you", "You were nice today, Mom", "I love my family", "Today was a good day". My heart sings but I try not to get worked up. I hug her, agree with her, tell her I'm proud of her, tell her she's beautiful inside and out.

Charlotte's love is forcefully thrust upon the world. She likes to get riled up, wrestle, screech, jump around. Her hugs and kisses are assaults. Her words always pack a punch. I know her emotional status minute by minute, without breaks. I start each morning by stepping into her boxing ring and the gloves don't come off until bedtime. She gives the best brutal bear hugs and her glee is contagious (not to be confused with her energy level, which is inversely contagious). I tickle her and roughhouse with her as I compliment her. She is so easy to please.

Both of them love to swing and want to play outside as much as possible. I let them come and go from the backyard without much intervention. They spin around on the swings until they are dizzy or push hard and high to pretend they are birds or airplanes. They both can be caught laying calmly on their bellies, playing with grass, fingering the dirt, looking down at toys clutched in their hands, looking up at the clouds, daydreaming, talking to themselves. They have a fat black caterpillar (Fuzzy Bella) in a pickle jar that they feed leaves to from along the fence line. It is unnerving how much they don't need me anymore. That is, until it's lunch time or they hurt themselves or are a victim of sister violence, but even then, it's brief, and then they scurry off on their own agendas.

Bedtime is so idyllic now. They understand the concept and have grown accustomed to it. We read books. We talk about the day. We have our routine exchange of pleasantries. They like to be tucked in. I sing Amazing Grace. They ask for one more verse. They actually shut their eyes. I watch sleep come and pull them under. Their eyes stop twitching, mouths fall still, a last sigh escapes, breathes become slow and rhythmic. Every night I am amazed. I think I will bolt quietly out the door and be free at last, but I don't get up. Without all the daily blur, I can stare at them at leisure, overwhelmed by their place in my life.

Lizzie's extra tall body and lanky limbs betray my belief that she is a baby. She's a preschooler. A real person even. Making memories and choices that will be tangible for her later on. Charlotte's soft baby curls and her compact body are the reminder I need to build up all of her parts. Her fierceness, her empathy, her femininity, her insatiable quest for stimulus and experience. They are two very intricate and very different little girls.

They piece puzzles and color pictures and cut paper. They run and pretend. They fight and they share. They hit and they hug. Their manners are impeccable. They help each other up and mother the one who just got in trouble. If I give one something, they always take it to their sister before coming back for their own. They earn "gold" throughout the day and spend it nightly from the treasure box. Say "I have a surprise..." and they get goosebumps, wondering what it is.

And gone are the days of breast milk and cloth diapers and carrying that damn infant car seat around. They now wake up with a bang and I set them loose upon the house and the world. They race along unimpeded until they need something or get bored or try to kill each other (or themselves). They are bottomless in every way. We all fall exhausted into bed at night and do it again the next day.

I love the new "them" and I'm slowly adjusting to it all. Their words and deeds are so interesting and hilarious. I learn a lot from them and their fresh take on everything. I feel like someone should be taking notes on all of this. I don't want to forget our moments, big or small, happy face or sad face.

I also don't want to skimp on their paper trail. In the future there will be friends to investigate and boyfriends to interrogate and grandbabies (in a time far far away from now) that need to know what I know so they can bring it all full circle. I need to be ready for that future (karma) with advice (you should have listened to me) and empathy (yes, sometimes I wanted to punch you in the face, too) and humor (you'll laugh about poop smeared all over the walls one day, see me laughing now?).

It'll hit them hard, like it did me. And they will struggle, just like me. Until then, it's my job to record these memories and through them, learn to cling to the now. Every day is important and time is unapologetically falling through the hourglass. I love our family. I am amazed at this life we have. I am beyond grateful for this life I have carved out from the wreckage of my past. I blog as a commitment to myself - to keep my feet firmly planted on steady and rational ground.

End violin music and commence party mode. I'M BAAAAACK!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad