Any Other Name

She calls me “Mom Mom.” It’s kind of cute, I guess, but it’s what I called my grandmother. So it makes me feel like I should be calling jeans “dungarees,” complaining about the dry heat of California, expounding on the benefits of sleeping without underpants, and sending post cards from far-off places.

Mom Mom would absolutely love Z. As would my grandfather (plain old “Grandpa”) and Husband’s grandmother (“Mama Nona”), and so many other friends and family who have passed away. It gets me thinking, and remembering, and above all, hoping we can make these people come alive in our memories, so that she can learn about them too. I’ve never felt I had much of a heritage, because I’m a mixture of so many ethnicities no one ever bothered to keep track. Husband’s half-Italian, so we get a lot of through-the-generations-traditions from his side.

I think my “heritage” will have to come from the people I love, and I think I’ll need to remember them, find photographs of them, and tell Z all about them. I’ll need help from my family in remembering, but that’s what family is for, right?

And of course, we invent our own traditions and family culture as we go along, momming, writing, playing with our kids. It’s all (forgive the soft, poetastic description) part of the richness of life.

As far as my name, I won’t ask Z to call me anything different. But I’ve re-spelled my name to “Mamam” in my head. It has a European feel to it (“Maman” is French), so I can get on board with that. Especially if it erases those images of commando sleeping habits from my brain.

Lettuce Have a Moment of Silence

Not for anything you know, like, serious. My winter garden is far, far past its prime, and I’ve got to tear up the lingerers.

The Few, the Proud, the Romaine

The sad thing: I don’t know if you can see the little reddish bits in the background, but those are my red-leaf lettuce seedlings, looking super-scrumptious. But I just learned that lettuce doesn’t do well here in summer, and it’s hard to learn that something I’ve nurtured might not thrive. (Like my first novel. But when I actually think about that one, all I really feel is relief.)

But so much that I grow does thrive. I’ve got more tomato plants than the fields down the road (this is an exaggeration. Sort of), and carrots doing their carrot thing below the soil, and strawberries sunflowers and anything else I can make room for. It’s work, but it’s fun work. And Z loves the strawberries. Sometimes a little too early.

Mother’s Day is Sunday (in case you’ve been hiding under a rock and haven’t noticed all the cards, flowers, and the bombardment of advertisements thrown at you in every medium). I’m looking forward to having Saturday off, and then Sunday to enjoy my family. And yes, I’m hoping for a present. A little material recognition of how well I take care of Z, and how I keep our house tidy and the dishes done (okay, maybe not those last two).

At the same time I’m really grateful for Z. Sure she can be an Unholy Terror of Screaming Proportions. But she makes me laugh all the time. I’d get her a present in honor of Mother’s Day…except it would just be another thing for me to avoid picking up when I don’t clean the house.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

First, two cute toddler things:

1) Z has been dancing and trying out hand motions to songs for awhile now, and I believe this is a result of a couple of different factors: the Music Together program, and the fact that I often sing to Z and recite nursery rhymes and poems instead of suffering through enjoying her scintillating conversations about whether the dogs next door are awake, asleep, eating, wearing diapers, singing, or barking.

Of course I’d like to believe a huge part of her love of music and dancing is due to a) her inherent genius-ness and b) an inheritance of my own unrealized talent for singing and dancing (I can hear family and friends laughing aloud at this. Shut up. I’m totally talented as a singer/dancer. Chicago NEEDS me, and everyone would love Cats if I were cast as Grizabella and warbled out “Memory”).

Whatever the reason for the dancing and accompanying hand movements, it’s pretty cute.

2) Another cute thing is her Entourage. This is the name I’ve given her stuffed animal friends. Not all of them are animals, though. We have Mr. Penguin, Talula (a cat), Noop (a doll), Doggie, Giraffe, Giraffe (again), Bird, and…Necrotizing Fasciitis. Necrotizing Fasciitis is a giant stuffed microbe holding a fork and knife, a joke gift from when Husband did lab work in school.

Z carries her Entourage around the house. Usually she only has three A-listers, since that’s all she can manage to carry, and she switches it up a bit (perhaps Z, too, notices that conversation can get dull when hanging out with the same person day after day after day).

The cute things are totally necessary right now, because life has not been serene or happy in my house lately. I have to steal these cute moments when they come, because at naptimes and most of the night she has been an Unholy Terror of Screaming Proportions (UTSP). The UTSP is not happy, and everyone knows it. Including the neighbors, their dogs, and the people one county over. There has been so little hand-clapping, foot-stomping, shouting-hooray fun here that I even -gasp!- considered getting a job and sending the UTSP to daycare just so I don’t have to deal with her anymore. Last night I was about to give Husband my formal resignation.

But then, she was falling asleep in her enchilada at 6:30, so we (er, Husband, that is, since I was still busy sulking) whisked her off to bed, and she didn’t wake up until 6:30 this morning. Which for Z, and by default, me, is sleeping in.

I don’t know if the sunny disposition will last, for either of us, which is why I’m going to clap my hands, stomp my feet, shout hooray, and let my face show the tiny, stolen happinesses I find.

The Unsung Clarkie Underfoot

A Wednesday Momming Around Entry

Clarkie

Don’t sit down. Especially with a blanket and a book or notebook. This cat has Couch Radar and she knows when your lap is easy game. Even the dinner table and the desk are fair hunting grounds for her. Your lap is her prey and she is a skilled huntress.

Clarkie (Clark) is my other baby, and she will never allow herself to be forgotten (you’ll feel the prick of her paw on your face in the morning, or trip over her as you prepare breakfast). Since Z made her screaming way into our lives, though, Clarkie has been shuffled off to the side in a classic case of Forgotten Older Sibling. Has anyone read Socks by Beverly Cleary? Because that’s what I think of sometimes with Clark, and it makes me very sad.

We feel bad for her, especially now that Z is on the move. It used to be that we’d drag a toy mouse on a stick over the bed for her to chase, or toss paper balls around the house. Now Z runs after Clark, an old paper ball held in her sticky, outstretched hand. Screaming. And Clarkie just trots in the other direction. Quickly. I can see a martyred expression on Clark’s face. I think she’s grateful that she is unable to have children, and a little resentful that we did.

Everything Zen in the Tibetan Singing Bowl

Now that Z takes one long nap instead of three excruciatingly short ones, Clark has found my lap again. As I type this she’s tucked into  my sweatshirt, twitching her ear occasionally, but I can tell she’s happy. Ah yes, there’s a purr.

And yeah, she’s obnoxious sometimes. When it was especially difficult to get Z down for her nap for awhile, Clark would wander into Z’s room, meowing loudly. It was like she had Spidey (Kitty) Sense that Z’s eyes were closing, and she just had to foil my hard work. Punishment for spawning. I could read the vengeance in Clarkie’s eyes.

Clarkie is infuriating in some ways, and we have to be, you know, responsible for her, and clean up her poop and make sure she’s fed. But she’s soft, and cute, and so full of love and joy, and she makes us laugh. So really, she isn’t that different from Z.

*   *   *

Writing update:
No longer rushing to finish revisions. These things take time, and I don’t want to ruin chances with this Dream Agent by sending anything less than my very very best.

Not Now, Babykins

“Up!”

“Not now, Babykins.”

“Read please.”

“Not now, Babykins.”

“Sit…down!”

“Not now, Babykins.”

“Play!”

“Not now, Babykins.”

“Go bye-bye?”

“Not now, Babykins.”

“Hello song.”

“Not now, Babykins.”

If I’m making myself sound like a heartless jerk, well, sometimes I feel that way. The above is not exactly how a day-in-the-life goes, but sometimes it feels close. Why is it such a struggle to do these three things: 1) interact with my daughter (i.e. entertain her), 2) accomplish day-to-day chores and errands, and 3) try to rescue that weakening hold on some semblance of my old, not-mom identity?

This isn’t a unique or original concern; I’m certain millions of parents wonder the same thing every day. My usual compromise is to run errands, because Z loves getting out, and if the car ride is long enough I can usually get inside my own head for a little while to just think. Then we get something done, and if I’m lucky I can think on the way home with the “Hello Song” blasting.

[I’m going to pretend she didn’t just now hurl a bowl of Cheerios across the basement floor. Which is carpeted in Cheerio-colored shag.]

[Oh lovely, now she’s picking them up and handing them to me, because she knows our floors aren’t clean enough to eat off of.]

It’s time for breakfast, anyway. Our internet connection has been fritzy the past couple of days, so I wanted to seize this rare moment of functional internet to write. The spastic internet is probably a point in Z’s favor, since it forces us out of the basement office and up to the play room, or the back yard, or the library, or the plant nursery. And maybe on the way to or from those places, I can get some me-time in.