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Now unveiling … August 17, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in It's how we roll.
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Dave has plans for world domination, or at least a small dream about a web space of his own, so I gave him the reigns to create a new blog for me.

Meaning he begged me and I said “Yeah, but this website is so comfy” and he reminded me that so are those pants with the stirrups under the heels but you don’t see people walking around with those anymore, and I had to say “touche” and hand him the keys.

So. Because we’re stifling over here under our own boredom, because painting the kitchen and rearranging the kids’ closet and cleaning the bathroom are SO MUCH WORK he instead decided to spend the last couple of months putting together my new site.

Starting now, I’ll be over at http://somewonderland.com. Bookmark it, love it, hate it … Whatever. Just don’t tell Dave you hate it or he’ll curl up in the fetal position and I’ll never get him out of bed, and clearly blogging doesn’t pay the bills.

A few housekeeping notes (and I’m not talking about that bathroom): The top rotating pictures are “featured” posts. The newest posts are below, and when you click on the headline of one you can click “Previous” or “Next” to go to older or newer posts; or you can click “Share this” and, well, share it on other sites. It’s what we in the business like to call “neat.”

So, see ya over there.

Because the last post went over my word limit August 17, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in The baby.
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I miss my baby.

On 12-hour trips in the car, family and McDonalds in truckstops August 16, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Home.
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I come back from my trip in Ohio utterly exhausted.

A summary would exhaust me further, so I offer snapshots of the verbal variety:

Like the snapshot of us at a table inside an Indiana McDonalds/ truckstop hybrid, where a couple and their boys and 20 truckers were trying to pretend Alice’s sobbing screams for her dad from our booth wasn’t really happening. He looked at me from his place in line to see Alice reaching out from where I’d put her, across from me in a dirty booth, a hungry Violet perched on my hip, torn between stopping Alice from fleeing in front of me and my purse to my left in the car seat … I yelled “DAVE” and let her run to him.

My iPod was in my purse, come on.

I’m exhausted.

And there was this big sticker on the table that suggested in happy phrases that we spin an empty milk carton on the sticker, which had all these idiotic suggestions on it a la “make a funny face!” I was nearly in tears over the inane idea that someone would a.) order milk at a truckstop McDonalds in this state, and b.) that I will ever, ever spin a milk carton over a sticker that tells me to make a funny face to create these happy little family memories at a truckstop McDonalds.

Other snapshots I’d rather delete: The sliding the car into park at the stroke of midnight, 12 hours after we’d strapped the kids into their car seats.

The hissing at Alice an hour later, who was laying at the foot of our bed in the spare room at Dave’s parents’ house, to stop pressing the Glo Worm’s belly at 1 a.m., out of the fear that the damn toy’s music would wake Violet, who was in her crib an arm’s length from where the three of us were doing said hissing.

The one where I stopped in to introduce Violet to my grandpa, and was running late and could only stay 20 minutes, long enough to flip through his Honor Flight photos, all these emotions running just under the surface. Grade A idiot I was, slipping in and out of his house with barely enough time to take a photo.

I teared up, angry at myself, wondering if I shouldn’t have stopped in at all, on my way out of his driveway, late to pick up Dave from his meeting with his friend, late to see our other friends, then late to leave their house. Returning three hours late to Dave’s parents’ house. The sleeping, dark house was screaming at our inconsiderate, selfish selves, even if no one else was.

Or the playtime where Alice screamed every time her well-meaning 2-year-old cousin came within a foot of her. “ALCIE SHIRT,” she’d scream when her cousin pretended to tickle her. “ALCIE CUP!” when her cousin retrieved Alice’s dropped cup. “ALCIE BLANKIE” when her cousin accidentally stepped on the part drooping on the ground.

It wasn’t a horrible trip, though.

We saw our families, Alice played with her cousins, many babies’ cheeks where smooshed and kissed by me; Violet was a doll, an absolute ball of chubby cuteness on my hip, the picture of contentedness if I ever gave birth to one. No one bled, died or suffered any tragedy.

No one threw up.

But family is messy. It’s really, really messy. There’s the family you miss, and the ones who never hold your baby. And the ones you see mostly just at Christmas but think about a lot and wish you had a tunnel straight from your living room to theirs. The family who you save your best stories for, and the family who overhears those stories and has no idea what you’re talking about.

I love them all, but I’m exhausted.

And before we have a chance to relax because we’ve survived the most contentious visit home since Christmas (the only visit home since Christmas, you might add), someone says “We’re doing our Christmas Dec. 27. Be there by 2.” And we don’t have vacation slips back or plans set and the other two sets of parents hear that and are on alert and doing some hissing of their own, and just GRRRR.

This is a really, really long rant. I apologize.

I will be in a better mood after I realize I have no bottles to wash tonight. Ha.

What kind of kid gets sick in August? Or: The post in which I invent the term ‘smile-stab’ August 10, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Kind of unreasonable, Pesky memories.
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Story time! Gather ’round children: When I was about 14, my family and I and some cousins and aunts and uncles were going to go to Chicago for a vacation.

The night before, my mom and my two brothers and I peeled ourselves away from late afternoon black-and-white reruns on TV to eat a dinner of macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. We were very, very healthy eaters. All the time.

I dug in my plate but my brothers hovered over theirs. “I’m waiting for it to cool off,” my brother Derrick said.

Famous last words. They’ve haunted us for more than a decade now; we still bring them up in jokes and when we’re really asking “Do you feel OK?” I remember it clearly, like he just said it a second ago: “I’m waiting for it to cool off.”

Seconds later, of course, he was puking to my left and then my youngest brother, Christopher, was puking to my right, and I was pinned between the table in front of me, a wall behind me and two puking brothers on either side. I screamed “NO, MOM, NO! MAKE THEM STOP, I WANT TO GO TO CHICAGO” and rammed Christopher’s chair forward — mid-puke because I’m that sympathetic — to run out to the garage. I held my breath the whole way out, all the way to the backseat of the car, where I hid, crying because I JUST DO NOT DO VOMIT.

I’m a natural born nurse, obviously.

Well.

This little family gem popped in my head this morning when Alice threw up over breakfast. I do mean “over” in the literal sense, SORRY INTERNET, but I think you, the childless bunch, need to know what you’re signing up for. It’s not just being able to watch cartoons and buy stuffed animals and cutesy dresses (oh, and that family togetherness thing, too). It’s not: Sometimes it’s puke at 7 a.m. I forget that often. Selective acknowledgment.

We were supposed to leave at 7 a.m. tomorrow for vacation, a misnomer because our three-day jaunt to Ohio is full of people (us included) smile-stabbing (new verb, I’m trademarking it) other people over how we’re going to divide our short time there. I’m pumped about seeing new babies, the only woman I can call my BFF without gagging at the junior high school-sound to the phrase, and of course our families. It’s just … Hard.

And now you have vomit on top of that.

You just know — you KNOW — that Violet’s next. You do. It’s coming. PLEEEEAAAASE, no. Please, fate, nooooooooooo.

Last night we were taking pictures of Alice kissing Violet. Note to self: STOP THAT.

Don’t get me wrong, sleeping til 7 definitely has its perks August 9, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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My mom and stepdad are taking vacation time next week to hang out with my daughters, and I have been looking forward to this week like kids before Christmas.

But I have to admit, all this talk about sleeping in til 7 a.m. and having a date night and cleaning the closet (I’m talking about REALLY, REALLY thrilling things, here) has me wondering how appealing this whole childless thing will be on Tuesday next week, when instead of playing animals with Alice, Dave and I will be staring at each other.

But at least our closet will be clean, right.

Sigh.

Tonight I was gathering little outfits up and putting them in a purple suitcase the girls will share, and I’m folding little dresses with bows on the front and little capri pants and stuffing in a pair of Mary Janes, and I have to stop because I’m feeling emotional.

WHAT.

Yes.

Emotional — My little Violet … My Alice. Oh, a week is an insanely long time.

My mom just gagged on her Cheerios because she thinks I’m backing out: I’m not. That closet really needs cleanin’. But I’m not sure how I’m going to be holding up.

Ohp, ohp! Wait. Wine. That’s it.

The hand-me-downs domino effect August 7, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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It started with some hand-me-down clothes.

Wait, wait. Back up. EIGHT GARBAGE BAGS of hand-me-down clothes, size newborn to 2T — EIGHT BAGS. Two of the bags were eliminated early in the game for being not from this century but not yet old enough to be called “vintage.” That leaves us with six bags of clothes that make you go “Awwww.”

We kept probably three bags’ worth, and the rest we’re donating and holding on to for friends and garage sales where we’ll charge grandmas 25 cents a pop and buy a pizza with the profits at the end of the day … All that work, a year or two of holding onto bags of clothes? WORTH IT. We’re getting extra cheese and extra mushrooms. It’s worth the hassle of stepping over the bags in the basement to get, oh, ANYTHING.

So, we’re down to three garbage bags full of clothes, some that fit Alice, some that fit Violet, and most that are somewhere in between the two extremes. Currently, Mount Oh My God Are These Really All From Your Sister Where Do They Store This Stuff and Who Do I Need To “Know” To Get An Attic Like That is sitting on the floor in front of our bed, because the one measly little hand-me-down dresser from my youth — its three drawers split between Violet and Alice — crossed its arms and said “Hell no, I’m not putting those in here.”

So, now we’re up to three bags of clothes and the need for a new dresser. Time for the girls to stop sharing: We knew this day would come, OK.

But then I start looking through all these clothes, and I’m getting weepy, right? “SO CUTE and Violet’ll only wear it like ONCE and outgrow it and MY BABIES ARE SO OLD and I’LL NEVER HAVE ANOTHER ONE.”

So, without tears I convey that to my boss at work, and we work out a deal to use my remaining maternity leave time to my advantage, meaning I get Mondays off and can work the rest of the hours Tuesdays to Fridays.

Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? I know. I know. I held myself together long enough to get home and shriek like that time Aaron T. called me in the seventh grade and sorta, kinda said he liked me. ME! YEEE! I was THAT thrilled, like OHMIGAH.

But now that means I’m working four days earlier in the morning til later at night, and now the whole one-car family schtick is becoming less schtick and more son-of-a.

So now Dave’s talking about a second car.

For those keeping track at home — pencils up — that brings us to three bags of clothes, one new-to-us dresser and a car, should I agree to that.

Now.

I’m a journalist, not a mathematician, but I think the value of the bags of clothes maaay be a little less than that of the dresser I sent Dave out to find at a thrift store and a car …

BUT. If the hand-me-downs keep coming I may be able to FILL the dressers AND have that yard sale-for-a-pizza. Right?

Someone help me with the math.

Catching up with my other life August 3, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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The other Erin, who is tanner, taller and thinner, offers three posts for your consideration:

1. I’m guessing this is a growth spurt … Lucky us: That one time my kid slept 8 hours … and then didn’t.

2. Quite possibly the lamest confession I’ve ever made: True story. Really is.

3. Grandparenting gives me something to look forward to: Ain’t that the truth.

Alcie Wib-web turns 26 months old August 3, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Letters to Alice.
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Dear Alice,

Your sister has been encroaching on your personal space for about three months now. Thanks for hanging in there. You’re here for comedic relief (laughing with you, not at you 78 percent of the time), to be another set of hands when I need someone to fetch a binky, and to have someone to converse with since we three spend a lot of time without your dad most nights.

As I mentioned before, you’re definitely 2 now. There are several phrases that poke that nerve that shoots right from your eardrum to the part of your brain that says “FLING SELF TO FLOOR,” and your dad and I have a mental list of them, which exercises our creative sides as we try to come up with euphemisms. “NO GO TO BEEEDDDDD!” You say. So we say, “OK, let’s go read some books upstairs.” “NO ‘MBURGER!” “OK, that’s not a hamburger, that’s ‘chicken’!” (Wink, wink.) “NO GO HOOOMMMEE!” “OK, then we’ll just go grab a bite to eat.”

Ugh. Two-year-olds.

I’d estimate three nights a week I get that edge in my voice around 8 p.m. that I can hear myself — the one that takes more than a few videos from “America’s Funniest Videos” to erase. I’ve accepted that no gold bars washed up into our yard after the recent floods, so I must continue working. But, by Thursday I am pushing your bedtime up to 7:30 and bribing you with promises of farmers markets and library trips and Target visits “in two days! Two days, you go to bed now and then one more time and then it’s SATURDAY and then we’ll go to Target. But you have to sleep now!”

I planned to be a much better parent — or at least more creative than this. I’m just … Tired.

But again our Mondays are our salvation. This week you grabbed Baby Cuckoo and her stroller — and instead of ramming it into your sister’s helpless body like last time, you grabbed your purse and asked for some monies so you could go to the store to buy diapers and formula.

As if my heart weren’t a soupy pile of sappiness as I stood in front of the drawer where I keep construction paper. I cut you up dollar bills out of green paper and you held them like a poker hand, treasuring them as if I’d handed you real money. “ALCIE GO SHOPPING!”

I can only hope that joy remains when you’re old enough to ask for an allowance, because I have a stack of pretty, bright green $4 bills for you and your sister as a little thank you for doing laundry. Now go put the dishes away while Mama watches her shows.

Other new developments: You chat on the phone, you remember people’s names, you put facts together to follow questions and stories. You’ve memorized “No David” by David Shannon, and I know this because I caught you yelling “NO DAVID” to the dog — odd, yes, but I was laughing aloud by the time you’d spouted off most of the phrases in the book: “DAVID BE QUIET. NO NO NO. GO TO ROOM. SETTLE DOWN. STOP THAT INSTANT. THAT ENOUGH. SAID NO DAVID.” Mr. Big had no blinking clue what you were talking about, but he knew to be afraid.

I’m a little scared that you too, my little firstborn, are growing up too fast; it struck me that you’re technically in your third year of life now, and I vowed to stop thinking technically after that thought had me gagging on my water the other day. Three years? Three years? I’ve had sweaters not last this long.  Also, three years — I’ve had dark circles under my eyes and jowls for three years now. This motherhood thing is serious.

Eek.

Love,

Mama

AirBwenture! August 1, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Bad ideas, Being a mama.
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Walking back to the car — parked in the lot as far away from AirVenture as humanly possible — while pushing a stroller holding only Baby Cuckoo and a bottle of water, my koala-like 2-year-old Velcroed to my chest, next to my mom who was pushing my whimpering 3-month-old in her stroller, I thought “This was a mistake.”

AirVenture, one of the highlights of my summer (commentary on that fact would not be appropriate aloud, thank you), was just too much for too long for the two little girls. I knew it would be going in, but I naively thought it’d be OK enough to fake it.

Well. I think our trek back to the safety of our car, where I could sit down, fan out my soaking wet sweaty T-shirt and snap “Let’s never do that again” solidified the fact that next year I’m going to need a babysitter while Dave and I go to AirVenture.

It started out better than you might anticipate: Violet slept through the air show, the wall of fire, fake explosions, a stroller ride over bumpy terrain. When she woke up, she was content to watch the planes soar overhead from her infant carrier.

Alice sat on our laps and held her hands over her ears, and after we told her the explosions were over she went to everyone — Dave, me, my mom and stepdad, Dave’s dad — and shook her head and said “booms go bye-bye,” and she was fairly content.

Until the trick pilot started swirling above the runway, that is. Violet, the uncultured little thing she is, wailed every time Sean Tucker came near us, so her cries ebbed and flowed with a rhythm that wasn’t at all embarrassing for me. I walked around the grounds with her, my mom trailing us, seeking shelter in a pavilion with a bottle (hers) and red cheeks (mine).

And I mention what happened next not because it really fits in with the rest, but because it doesn’t: The most symmetrical-featured, tan, dark-haired, white-teeth, starchy-pressed-in-a-good-way uniformed man appeared like a mirage. I thought, since I was holding a squirming baby among many, many childless people in this tent, that he was going to ask me to leave, and even was doing an inventory of how we were going to pick up all our stuff and flee in shame. CLEARLY there must’ve been a sign posted: “No babies. SERIOUSLY. GO HOME.”

“Put on your innocent face,” I was telling myself, “SMILE.” But he just wanted to say hello. He asked how old my baby was, and joked about the kids being “future pilots,” and I was staring into his eyes and reminding myself how to form vowels and consonants. “You have a nice day,” he said. “YOU” — adding in that extra personal attention. “YOU.” Not just “Have a nice day,” like you say to someone at the bank. And he DIDN’T add “ma’am” to that nicety, so I’m fairly certain it was my pre-maternity pants that led to this whole scenario. In other words, I left the pavilion, satisfied because no aircraft could replicate the thrill of not being that invisible pregnant lady anymore. Worth the admission fee.

But then I walked back into the sunshine and four jets roared overhead and I yelled to Dave’s and the grandpas’ backs: “I’M DONE.” Alice wailed behind me, Violet was beyond breathless, screaming in fear.

For shame. For shame.

After this whole thing — the walk of shame back to the car, the embarrassment I felt over bringing them in the first place, the annoyance at not getting to see what I wanted to see as we left the guys there … It stuck with me all night — a vague, nagging feeling that people would probably agree it was stupid to bring the girls, thus stupid to go … And a little guilty that I’m glad we tried it, despite that.

But then — this is where the redemption comes in that has nothing to do with a man in uniform in an AirVenture pavilion …

“At church someone said they were at AirVenture yesterday and saw a couple there with four young kids, and one was like Violet’s age,” Dave said.

“Oh?” Trying to act all cool and not affected.

“Yeah, they said the kids were acting up and crying and stuff and so one of the parents put something in the baby’s bottle — like alcohol. And then the baby settled down. And they put it in the kids’ cups, too, and they calmed down, too.”

“OK, WHAT.”

“Yeah.”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“I was trying to decide how I was going to frame my guilt about AirVenture in a blog post. You just answered that question.”

REALLY. I took mine home — I’m pretty sure THAT’S the commendable example here. SEE! SEE! I’m doing fine.

‘This one might be for real’ July 28, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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I knew I was pregnant right around this time last year.

The pregnancy tests said no, better luck next time, and I did the obligatory cry-into-a-glass-of-wine with my mother in law, and two days later I took another test because I KNEW it, and — whoops! — that wine may have been a mistake … Dave? David, where are you? Is this two lines? Do you see two lines? No? No, here. HERE. TWO, they’re kind of faint — YES, right there. You want me to take another one? Now?

No, don’t open that bottle of wine. I think this one’s for real.

Fine, I’ll take a test tomorrow morning, too. FINE. If it’s negative you’re going to be sorry, though. My hopes are all up, I don’t think I could take it. This one might be for real this time.

Oh, honey, was it ever for real. I’ve got five pounds hanging around my waist and a 14-pound baby on my chest sleeping now that vouch for how real that whole thing was.

This time last year. It seems like years ago. Years.

Power struggles … Only not the kind you’re thinking July 27, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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Dave was out on the AirVenture grounds late, which means the 5:30 scheduled pick-up from the sitter’s turned into a 6 p.m. pick-up, and by the time the three of them swung back around downtown to the office to pick me up it I was about to just bunch my jacket under my head and sleep under my desk.

Alice screamed “MAMA!!!”, with three exclamation points, as I hopped in the car but I could tell by the dark circles under her eyes that any conversation I might try to start with her held verbal land mines. I tested this theory, anyhow, and lobbed a comment about changing into pajamas; she shrieked “NO MAMA! NO JANNIES!”

Do I know my verbal landmines or what. What.

This continued every step of the way inside the house: No, she didn’t want Daddy to take her out of her carseat; she wanted Mama. She didn’t want Daddy to help her up the stairs into the house; she wanted to hold Mama’s hand. She didn’t want Daddy to put the pot on the stove for ravioli, she wanted Mama to do it.

Darling.

By the time I scooped Violet out of her carseat to feed her Alice was in hysterics: “MAMA NO VI-YIT. MAMA UP! ALCIE HOWLD MAMA!” I tried to ignore her with the good-natured smile because what am I if not good natured, RIGHT, but the kid just couldn’t handle life at that moment. She flung herself on the ground and wailed into the wood floor until Dave lured her to the table with ravioli.

I fed Violet in the recliner we’d shoved in the corner of the dining room (see also: We need a bigger house; and Oh this? I live like this, yes) as Alice and Dave silently ate; when Dave was done, we swapped duties — he held the content Violet, I got the touch-and-go Alice … who had just finished her last ravioli.

And had her eyes on my full plate.

Cue shark music.

You know on nature shows when the gazelle realizes it’s about to watch a predator yank its dinner from beneath its nose?

Well. This time the gazelle won.

I stared at my own ravioli — the now-cold, kind of pasty-looking ravioli laying on my plate in the most unappetizing heap ever. And I never wanted anything so much.

I knew — I did, I did know this, that it was our fault that Alice was so peeved: We worked too late, she ate dinner late, it was past her bedtime, and Dave never, ever makes enough ravioli.

“MORE AVIOLI!” Alice screamed, pointing to my plate.

“Dave. Tell me you have more ravioli on the stove.”

“No ..,” he said, backing away slowly. Land mines exploded in my head.

“David. DAVID.”

“MORE AVIOLI!!!!!” More exclamation points.

I sat down in front of the plate. I looked at her tired, teary blue eyes. Back to my ravioli. Back to her eyes. Back to my ravioli — and then I freakin’ ate it.

I did. I ate it. I ate it while she screamed at me. It was cold and it came apart in pasty bits in my mouth.

Dave — tired from being on the AirVenture grounds all day, working — handed me Violet to take on toddler damage control.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked over her screaming.

“I don’t know!” I shrieked, shoving ravioli in my mouth. More darling, I’m sure.

The best mother would’ve shared. A patient mother would’ve at least explained why sharing was out of the question. Another mother would’ve hidden the ravioli until bedtime and then reheated it.

But I am not those mothers.

I am the mother who eats the cold, lumpy ravioli because I WAS HUNGRY. Because I’d just worked 10 1/2 hours, because the world can be a cold, callous place when a mom’s tired, and because I’m teaching her that sometimes there just isn’t enough ravioli. Dave will never make enough ravioli.

“All I’m sayin’ is you’d better eat that whole plate,” Dave said a few minutes later as Alice stared at me coldly, wiping her tears with the back of her hand, pity graham cracker in hand.

“Watch me.”

My 3-month-old, version 2.0 July 27, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Letters to Violet.
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Dear Violet,

Not to constantly compare you to your sister, but compared to your sister at this stage in her life, life with you is like fumbling through a dense forest and wandering right into a marshmallow bush. Sweet, unexpected, delicious, a bit impossible to believe. With your sister, it was more like stumbling through a thicket patch and stumbling on a poison ivy patch a mile wide. Uncomfortable, unfortunate. Itchy.

You’re like a Real Baby: You cry when you’re hungry, you laugh when you see me or your sister or your dad; you snuggle on our chests and sleep while we watch PBS. Chubby rolls on your arms and legs are almost impossible not to constantly pinch; your smooth skin makes me weep over my old-lady exterior. Johnson’s lies; no lotion will ever transform my skin to replicate how feather soft yours is. Life is unfair.

You coo, you speak to Alice and I when we hover over your little flailing arms and legs on the blanket in the living room. Every night from 9 to 10:30 I hold you in the crook of my arm and alternately read and watch you sleep, staring at the little purple veins in your eyes and how your dark hair sticks to your sweaty head. Sounds creepy, but I think as you get older and start going to bed earlier, I’ll miss being pinned under a sleeping baby, as I say. It’s my excuse not to take out trash or fold laundry: It’s Violet’s time with Mama.

Plus I’ve read some really great books, so. There’s a personal satisfaction to this whole tradition, too. It’s Mama’s time with Mama.

But, confession: Remember all that whining and crying I did before I put the shackles of the working world back around my ankles? All that carrying on, never-see-my-babies stuff? Well. If I stumbled on a winning lottery ticket tomorrow I’d yelp in joy at getting the freedom of choice back, but I might not walk away from work completely. Might.

That “might” comes easily because I know I will never, ever be in that position — my lottery tickets tend to be more in the $0 to $2 range on the winning scale. But also because I feel like I have a balance, however precarious it is, with my temporary Mondays free and my four full days at work. I’m not thinking about the five-day weeks coming up, or the money I’m missing by only working four days a week — I just think I’ll never regret not working more now. I would regret not being here with you.

We sat outside on the deck today — Mama Mondays — and your sister pointed out airplanes over our heads, bound for AirVenture, and I plopped your chubby legs into the Exersaucer and you grabbed for the buttons that turn on the music. One: WHY must every toy play tinny versions of Bach and Beethoven? WHY. I DEMAND TO KNOW WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA. And, two: I didn’t know you had the dexterity to do anything but flop around in the Exersaucer’s seat. I gasped and snapped a dozen photos as proof that it’s all going to be over so fast.

Thrilling and sad, all at once.

Love,

Mama

She’s a poseur July 26, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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“Vi-Yit’s bell-button!”

“Yes, that’s Violet’s belly button,” I said as Alice jammed her pinky into her sister’s stomach while I was changing Violet’s diaper. (I’m sorry, Violet.)

“Baby Cuckoo have bell-button.” She pointed to the stomach on her unfortunately named doll.

“Yes, I’m sure Baby Cuckoo has a belly button.”

“And Mama.”

“Yes, Mama has a — OK, yes, there, now you see it, great. That’s my belly button. It looks different from yours because I had two babies.” She let my shirt back down. (Note to self: Teach “modesty” next week.)

“Alcie have two babies, too. Alcie have big bell-button,” Alice said, lifting up her shirt.

“Uhhh. Wow? Two babies? Your abs look fantastic. What’s your secret?”

You know my name, look up the number July 22, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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Actually, we’re not in the phone book. That’s a reference to one of my greatest accomplishments: Tonight as Alice and I were giving Violet a bath, I started singing the Beatles’ “You Know My Name” (because nothing says retro-indie-hip like bathing your baby). Alice said “NO MAMA! ALCIE DO!” and I was so flabbergasted by the lyrics coming out of her mouth — correctly — that I let the attitude slide by. More proof that I’m teaching her less of the stuff she should be learning and more of the stuff I want to crowd her little brain with: Teaching the real life skills.

I confidently said I’d take my kids back to Ohio for a “A-Palooza” reunion my family throws, but then I gave birth to a second child and whimpered a little bit at all the fun I’m pretty sure I’m going to be missing. An eight-hour drive becomes an eternity when kids are in the car. That’s a fact.

This two-kids thing is kicking my … Yeah July 21, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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I had it all under control. Dishes, laundry, junk mail collections. It was all under control.

For about two hours on Monday.

Today, after the baby was up last night three times for reasons only God knows, and after a full day at work and after Alice refused to have anything to do with me because I’m MEAN MAMA and Dad is fun! and he can flip her upside down! and he needs 17 kisses before he leaves for the second half of his shift! yay, Daddy! — after that, I just can’t … Just can’t. Go. On.

And it’s only Wednesday.

Two kids is one relentless, drooling, often whining, chubby-cheeked monster. If I had the strength to do a dramatic collapse, and if I weren’t currently pinned under a baby dozing in my arms, I’d be laying face-first on the floor, nose in the carpet, sleeping the deepest sleep one could ever imagine. And I’d wake up in February.

If not for that nagging sense of, ugh, love and, ugh, extreme homesickness when I’m apart from them I’d be signing the hotel bill right now in some other state.

That motherhood … it’s a sticky thing.

Look at those eyes. Sigh. She’s got me right where she wants me, the little booger.

Some discord among the siblings July 19, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama, Kind of unreasonable.
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Some strange, sticky yellowish green substance had dripped along the top shelf in the fridge, all the way to the back, down underneath the bottom drawers that hold our yogurts and apple sauce cups.

I don’t eat green things, I don’t drink green things … I’m not really sure what it was, but perhaps lemonade? But we haven’t had lemonade since … uh, we had that party in August 2008. And I’m quite sure I’ve cleaned the fridge out since then. Right? Uh. Awkward silence.

Anyhow, today I said, Well, there’s no time like today to clean up the mess that I’ve been wiping at with paper towels and cleaning off the bottoms of milk jugs for at least Violet’s entire life. YES. Look at me go! Violet was sleeping in the swing, Alice was talking to “Sesame Street” on the TV. I got a bucket of warm soapy water and started pulling out items from the shelves and wiping up crumbs and feeling very Hints from Heloise and accomplished on my happy little Monday off work.

But then Violet woke up, and I had to stop and feed her (babies are such a drag, man), and Alice wanted apple juice NOW and I had many small toddler emotional fires to put out. Smoke still lingering in the air (figuratively), I put a happy Violet on a blanket in front of the TV (which you’re not supposed to do, TV makes babies stupid — but I had a strange green sticky substance in my fridge and I needed Elmo’s help). Alice yanked her baby stroller from its place in the corner and put Baby Cuckoo inside and as I dashed into the kitchen I thought I had five, maybe seven minutes to work with.

I was just removing a shelf from its hooks in the fridge when I heard the scream that can only mean a.) “I’m in a great deal of pain” or b.) “WOLVES HAVE BROKEN IN AND THEY’RE LOOKIN’ HUNGRY, MAMA,” and luckily for me (because Mr. Big was nowhere to be found to toss for bait), it was the former, from my baby. My BABY? I dropped the shelf on the ground and did the most graceful flying leap over the pile of pickle jars and ketchup bottles and leftover containers on the floor to run at Olympic speed to the living room.

Where Alice was standing, frozen in place, her STROLLER ON MY BABY.

OK, “on” is a little misleading, it wasn’t like ON her head. But its front two wheels were clearly touching Violet’s — no, POOR, defenseless Violet’s — head and belly.

And Alice was just frozen. “WHAT DID YOU DO?!!!” I yelled to Alice, the little traitor, the little booger who’d all Violet’s life been nothing if not gentle with Violet (except for that time she dropped the toy piano on Violet. But I would’ve — until this moment — called that an unfortunate toddler’s misjudgment of spacial relationships). Alice jerked from her “Oh shit” stance and backed away from my red-faced and gasping baby.

“DID YOU HURT VIOLET?” Clearly I had the screaming answer in my arms as I tried to survey the damages. Visions of an ER visit ran through my mind: Was it her KIDNEY? Did Alice ram her hard enough for there to be internal bleeding!! HOW WILL I EXPLAIN THIS TO MY MOTHER.

“TIME OUT. YOU NEED A TIME OUT,” I said, and Alice nodded and sat on the couch willingly, scared, I think, at both my all-capital-letters and of Violet’s reaction to a little friendly nudge with the stroller.

Seething. I was seething, positively fuming. Violet’s head and belly are fine, and judging by her smiles she’s going to survive her injuries.

But jeez. JEEZ. Poor little Violet, who did nothing but lay there and love her sister and smile and kick her chubby little legs and flail her little arms.

Anyhow, the take-home lesson is this:

You know that time you asked your mom whether she liked one of her kids more than another, and she told you in a falsetto “No! Absolutely not! Don’t be silly!” — SHE WAS LYING.

Observations on how old these kids are getting July 15, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama, The baby, Toddling it.
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She started singing the ABCs — mostly correctly (L-M-N-O-P becomes “Applebees,” though we never eat there). Just out of the blue: “A-B-C-D … F-Geeeee,” she sang. One second she was stuffing blueberries into her mouth, the next her voice pierced through my heart with her confidence in her attempt.

And colors! She knows a few of them. “Alcie www-eeear boooo shirt. Mama wwww-eeear pritty dress,” she says when I shut the hair dryer off in the morning. “Mama www-eeear peenk shirt.”

Sob.

And this one … this one sits in the Bumbo and laughs silently at the three of us eating our dinner around her. Her eyes lock onto Alice the second Violet registers Alice’s voice in her little ears. The pile of outgrown clothes that need to be put in the closet (whenever I get a second or 60 … so, in 2014) grows beside her dresser faster than I can emotionally handle never seeing these tiny, itsy clothes again (til that garage sale I’m daydreaming about).

I mean, her clothes have little smiling elephants and sunshines and polka dots. In a few short years she’ll be wanting to wear something insanely gag-tastic like Hannah Montana and I’m going to have to stop her mid-beg to point to the promises Dave and I made ourselves before having children: No Barney. No Thomas the Train. No Hannah Montana. No sing-alongs, no Boobah, no scantily clad pre-teens. No calling our 7-year-old a preteen. Op! Sorry, dear. Rules are rules. Find something with an elephant on it. I don’t care what the other fifth-graders are wearing, young lady. Don’t give me that loo — DON’T YOU ROLL YOUR EYES AT ME, YOUNG LADY.

I just don’t want to fight that fight too quickly; this is all happening too fast — I want to hold onto these smiling elephant shirts and incorrectly recited ABCs. This is what I was looking for: the warm and squishy, cuddly baby hugs and the “Mama? KISS!” demands.

I despise cliches and repeating lines from told-you-so conversations, but really: Fast. It’s too fast.

Now let’s not be unreasonable: the whining and those diapers — you know the ones I’m talking about, the kind that send the dog running in the opposite direction — drag that second hand around the clock with all the speed of a toddler getting ready when you wake up late (that’s deadly, painfully slow, if you’ve never had that special experience).

But most of the rest, I can’t even account for.

More about motherhood, blah blah blah July 14, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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More Stroller Diaries posts (and, no, I don’t know why there are no paragraph breaks. I’m a journalist. I know how to make paragraphs. I don’t physically post the Stroller Diaries posts.)

1. I am not kidding about that whine Alice has perfected: Anyone have a cure for the perpetual whines? Really, it must be excruciating to struggle to communicate what you feel or want or don’t like when you don’t have the language skills or the comprehension skills to do so. Sure. Sure. But, COME ON, that whine is grating!

2. I had the best night ever, since April 28, the other night. Pants buttoned (somewhat, some of them); we made tents in the living room. Much rejoicing: Never underestimate the power of pants that fit.

‘AFV’ and ravioli night is the new wine and strawberries night July 13, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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After one of those days at work that began entirely too early, had a lot of crap in between signing in and logging out; a day that ended later than I’d hoped, punctuated with me throwing a lunch bag at Dave because the man canNOT understand the concept of “all right, I logged off my computer. Let’s. GO,” I just wanted to go home.

And … confession: I kind of wished I could come home, sit on the couch with a glass of wine and a bowl of strawberries and Cool Whip and zone out for four or five hours while watching TV that’s the equivalent of junk food for the brain.

It was that kind of day.

But, ha, funny: I have two kids. Two kids we had to pick up from the sitter’s, two kids we had to feed a whole meal of food from multiple corners of the food pyramid, kids to bathe and dress in pajamas and kids to read to before bed, a baby to stay up with until 11:30 p.m. … all of which I love doing and appreciate and yawn, yawn but, listen … it’s kind of, well, tiring.

LAZY! LAZY! I hear the judgments boring into my skull from across the miles; thank you, I know: Lazy. Bad mama!

I leaned my head against the headrest on the drive home from the sitter’s, calculating everything I had to do tonight, and I was practically comatose from fatigue. It just catches up to you! This parenting thing. It knocks you down and when it’s asking if you’ve had enough, it whispers “Toooooo bad! It’s ravioli night! Muuu-ahh-hahaha!”

But, there’s redemption. That’s right — this isn’t one of those anti-parenting rants.

We filed into the house, let the dog outside, threw the mail on the end of the dining room table and gave Alice some juice, and we sat on the couch with some “America’s Funniest Videos.” And a DOG slid down the HILL! And a man ran into a tree, family parts first! And Alice laughed, and laughed. And I laughed so hard Violet woke up from a doze in my arms, and I was so grateful for stupid people on television, and Alice’s good mood, and ravioli night.

The relaxation didn’t come from a glass of wine, sure (yet “AFV” — the best show on television for my money — is about as mindless as it gets). But it was something close to as much as I could’ve asked for out of a day that left cement in the pit of my stomach.

“What’s this? I’m 2? Clear the floor! I’m about to fling myself upon it in protest of Mama taking too long to fill my sippy cup! Commence wailing!” July 11, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Kind of unreasonable.
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You know when you have a baby on your hip and another one pulling at your leg whining “Alcie HUNGY,” and you’ve just worked all day and all you want is a bowl of spaghetti and for it to be 8 p.m., and you grab a stack of mail from the box and it doesn’t look “that” important, so you shove it in the only open space on the counter in the kitchen, between the mixer and the cupboard?

Then a month later you say “What’s this? A dentist bill? But I haven’t been there in … Uh oh.” I call that Tuesday around here. What’s new. I’ll tell you what’s not new: Those dentist bills. Wah-wahn.

Beside the point.

Alice apparently does that with her toddler mail, because she obviously found the envelope last week that was postmarked her birthday, June 3, and had the “open immediately” sticker on the outside. Inside was a reminder card that — hey! Alice! Yoo hoo! You over there, all quiet and content on that couch! — she had turned 2. And what does 2 mean? Oh you KNOW what it means.

Mama — You know. You knew this day was coming.

Insert scheming toddler cackle here. Oh, you don’t think toddlers have cackles? YOU HAVEN’T MET MINE.

OK, so that’s not fair … She’s yet to set fire to anything, or even kick the dog. That’s the good news: She’s probably not evil. Always a relief to know I won’t have to go on “Dateline” 20 years from now and lie about not knowing my daughter always was a little off? You know? Just a little … Psychopathic. Just a little though! Dab eyes, cue close-up.

No. She’s not psychopathic. She’s just 2. (These afflictions share some similar traits.) And she just realized what 2 means.

Evidence: Before church this morning I’d told her to start her 10-minute trek upstairs so I could brush her teeth. I was picking up dirty clothes from the living room floor, where I’d changed the girls 14 hours earlier (shame). Well, my appreciation for a chaos-free living room floor turned Alice’s world upside down, because she was at the top of the stairs before me and OH MY WORD MOTHER. She yelled, and I quote: “EH-WIN. COME. UP-STAY-UHS. NOW.”

Wait, what? Oh, uh-unh: She called me by my NAME? And ordered me? And used that all-capital-letters “NOW”?

Oh. Uh-UH. NO SHE DID’UHNT.

And later: The whines. The perpetual whines. And the “no”s. And the little not-mischief-but-obviously-someone-forgot-to-turn-on-their-listening-ears toddler pranks like hitting us — but never hard, just enough to know she knows Mama’s starting to get that crazy look in her eyes — and suddenly I’m dropping lines like “WHAT DID I JUST SAY?” “DO YOU WANT TO GO TO BED?” “DO YOU NEED A TIME OUT?” And yes, I speak in all-caps.

YOU try speaking in calm, lower-case words lined in sugar and gumdrops after 12 hours of someone saying “MAMA rweeeead boooks! NO MAMA. NO WREEAAD BOOOOOKS.”

WHAT. PICK ONE. Just please stop making that whining noise, please, I beg you.

Where, oh where, has my sweet baby gone? I look down at Violet in my arms as I type this and I want to squeeze her baby cheeks and beg her not to pay attention to this screaming sister (“MAMA SAID NO! OH nooooooooooooo! End times are here! WORST MOM EVER!”) and to love me and never make me say “WHAT DID I JUST SAY?” because it’s not very becoming.

But I know now. Two is inevitable.

Stroller Diaries: Workin’ and datin’ and stuff July 8, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama.
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1. Remember that one time I had to go back to work? I don’t. It’s such a horrible memory that I’ve suppressed it. This post — My triumphant return to the working world — brings it all crashing down on me.

2. The last time Dave and I had a date — before Violet — my mom had Alice for a week. In July 2009. The time before that? I’d have to check my busy datebook: Oh, look, June 2, 2008. The day before Alice was born. Now, with the birth of my second child, I’ve gone on two dates in two weeks. I feel borderline spoiled. And a little sick of Dave. Just kidding. Anyhow, Mama needs a night out details the jazz of going out the weekend after I returned to work. Ah, bliss.

I kind of forgot why I like Dave. Isn’t that sad? I know why I LOVE him, but that date night helped me see him beyond someone who carries heavy, wet loads of dirty towels from the bathroom to the washer in the basement. Ah, marriage.

Hot date night July 6, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama, It's how we roll.
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Dave and I had a date Saturday.

Like, a real, leave-the-house kind of date. The kind where you get dressed up in your fancy pants and you do your hair and you eat your meal while it’s still warm and your meal includes no ketchup at all. And the kids are in someone else’s care, and you don’t even feel obligated to check your phone every few minutes.

Fancy pants.

Our friends watched our girls while we ate at a downtown restaurant and then went on Gallery Walk, where we lingered over pretty things, bought a ridiculously cute candle and took a tour of the Masonic Temple downtown, just because we could. We drank a glass of wine at the bar afterwards and tried to talk about something other than kids …

But we failed. We failed badly.

If it wasn’t kids, it was work. Or people from work. If it wasn’t kids, it was how much our cool points suffered because of our kids. If it wasn’t how uncool we were, it was how cool we wished to be. If it wasn’t any of that, it was our “five-year plan,” which Dave is dying to know and which I’m dying to just ignore for a little while, until I can convince my baby to sleep all night every night. Life plans? Shoot — I’m just dying to sleep past 7 a.m.

“Is it me? Am I too mom-ish and not, uh, desirable (air quotes) anymore?” I asked on our date, after he pulled his hand away from mine to Google a picture of some damn dog on his phone … A dog. REALLY. (Friendly tip: Maybe Google “seduction techniques” next time, Dave.)

“No, not at all!” he said, high voice and all.

“So it’s not the mom belly? Cuz I’ve been trying to get you to see me as NOT a mom, and I don’t think it’s working,” I said.

“No!” he said, slamming his phone shut.

Liar. Turns out, cleaning the spit-up scent from your neck doesn’t make you automatically as hot as, who, Keira Knightley? DAMN.

“I likey you,” Dave said. IMITATING OUR TODDLER.

OH BABY. YES, speak to me like our toddler again! That’s it! HOT.

Ah. So we need some more practice, I guess, in shedding our parent-selves. No one wants to make out with a parent. Gross.

(Photo: Two hours before I ditched my kids for a few hours for a night out to talk about my kids and have Dave whisper toddler-speak “I wub you” in my ear. HOT, HOT HOT.)

Monday, Monday, Monday July 5, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Being a mama, It's how we roll.
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I’m guarding my Mondays like no one’s business.

“We need the money,” Dave said a week ago, when the second of many, many hospital bills landed on our bank account like a bomb. “Seriously.”

“I know,” I snapped. I KNOW. I have searched every aisle of Walmart but I have not found a box full of dollar bills, so I KNOW this is one of those things I must do: Work, work, work. More hours during my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays. So I started working four full days instead of my precious four half days.

Do not ask me how my soft, slumping stomach will find its way back north when I don’t have time to use the Wii Fit. Do not ask me how dishes will be done or how bottles get filled. It’s best to just assume the clothes on our backs have found their way through the washer and dryer cycle. Just don’t ask.

But the money … I love money. I love it. So, what are you going to do?

I’ll tell you what you’re going to do: You’re going to guard those precious Mondays off with your kids like they’re coated in gold flecks. You’re going to yell and kick and scream when these Mondays get taken away: Because it’s not about staying in your pajamas until 8:30 or 9, or the whole day alone with two kids — which isn’t that terrifying anymore, just kind of nice — is irreplaceable. Having Dave come home at 5 p.m., for good on his only day shift … irreplaceable.

You can steal away my half-days with Violet on Tuesdays to Fridays, and you can convince me our bank account thanks me for my sacrificing my FMLA hours for working full days — but you can’t have Mondays.

Today didn’t count, technically, since it was a holiday. But every other week: Mondays are MINE.

Mondays are building tents in the living room. Mondays are clean rooms, clean laundry, tasty dinners not eaten in shifts while the other holds a baby. I’m only agreeing to full days Tuesdays to Fridays because of my free Mondays. Do. Not. Touch.

Dear Alice: Slow down July 3, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Letters to Alice.
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Dear Alice,

Slow down. That’s the main thing I’d like to say to you. Your personality has exploded — mostly in a good way, but if I had a dollar for every time you broke out the grating whine you have mastered I’d never have to work again.

Speaking of money, you have this purse. This little red purse I didn’t want anymore hangs on your shoulder and hits your knee, and you carry it around while you take your baby — whom you’ve named Cuckoo for no reason I can discern — on a walk in the play stroller. You were digging around in the bag for money, because your grandpa had given you change from his pocket awhile ago; upon not finding it you reiterated a lesson I have been nailing in your malleable head since birth:

“Alcie need money.”

“Alice had better get to work then,” I said.

“Alcie need job. Alcie get job.” You nodded wisely and swung the purse back up on your shoulder. “Couple days.”

So the next day I circled some help wanted ads for you. Just kidding.

Alice, I can’t keep up with you. I don’t mean physically — you may do yoga alongside me in the living room, but you’re pretty content to forgo that whole running thing. I mean that while I’ve been out making money (until your work permit comes through, then Mama’ll be out on the back deck with a glass of wine while you do the makie moneys), you’ve been picking up something like 700 words a day. You’ve been mimicking me, mimicking the sitter, mimicking your dad (whom you call “No David” after reading David Shannon’s book by that name), mimicking Violet. “Mama, Vi-yit do dis,” you say, and then freeze in whatever pose or facial expression your sister is making.

You say that about 54 times a day — I know what Violet is doing AT ALL TIMES.

I want to remember everything, but it’s happening too fast. I want to remember how you say “Al-cie Wib-weth” when I ask what your full name is. I want to remember how you say “I play wit Lucy!” after church, which is a lie because you mainly just watch like a creepy kid from the sidelines while the other kids play. How when the doctor tried to get your weight, you screamed and put a foot on the wall and arched your back to avoid touching the baby scale (she ended up having to use the scale they use to weigh people in wheelchairs … Proud moment). How you still sing the “Happy Dirty Cake” song to yourself, weeks after we sang the original “Happy Birthday Song.”

I want to remember how you insist I kiss all the animals in your bed goodnight. How you eat more ravioli than I do in one sitting. How you beg us to put on your sandals immediately after you wake up. How you read to yourself aloud at night after I put you to bed — you have so many books memorized you don’t need me to tell you not to let the pigeon drive the bus.

I’d love to forget that whine, though, and it’s led to many-a-nights recently where I’ve come home from work overwhelmed and you start whining and I do the shrill Mom-Almost-Yell, and I’m not proud of this. I miss you (and your sister) so intensely all day, and when I come home sometimes all that’s left of me is a worn out shell of an impatient wench. You sometimes get the worst part of me. I end up feeling so sick over this that I let you stay up later and we cuddle on the couch and watch Alice and the Cheshire Cat and the White Rabbit in your favorite movie, “Alcie Weh-wahnd.”

Yeah, more TV. Alice, someday you’ll understand — though I still don’t — how one guilt-laden decision can lead to another, only slightly less guilt-laden decision.

It’s called parenting on the fly, and I’m really good at it. Sometimes I feel not so great about most other things (see: the time I don’t get to spend with you girls, my bad attitude at 7 p.m., eating two s’mores and then pleading with my pre-pregnancy pants to fit just this once, just take me back I LOVE YOU WE CAN WORK THIS OUT!) — But I’m getting great at winging it.

Love,

Mama

Happy 2 month birthday, Violet June 30, 2010

Posted by erinfrances in Letters to Violet.
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Dear Violet,

Forgive me for being a few days late on your two-month post. Well, actually, don’t forgive me. My tardiness is a proliferation of one major and a few minor events. The major should be obvious: My return to work; the minor are all a direct result of that big step back into my office.

What was supposed to be a June and July filled with half days of work and afternoons spent smelling your baby-scented head (and folding clothes and washing bottles and writing and working out) has instead turned into one big guilt-laden mad rush. I’m not working four hours; I’m working from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., four days a week. Four whole days. I’m doing so because there’s work to do, and I have a hard time walking away from that. A major reason I do it is because, simply, we need the money.

But I also do it because when I was at home with you, smelling your baby-scented head, I felt as if I weren’t doing enough, or as if I were dragging my feet about the inevitable.

This, as any casual reader or mother on the face of this planet can probably see, is a recipe for evenings filled with rushing: Rushing to wash bottles, rushing to bathe you girls, rushing to feed you both, to play (quick!), rushing to get you to nap (guilt!) so I can throw in that load of towels that’s obstructed our path to the shower, rush to pick up dirty diapers left laying on the floor by your changing table 12 hours ago (gross!), to turn on night-lights, to put away leftovers and do dishes and pack my lunch for work and your diaper bag for the sitter’s so we can go to bed and wake up and do it ALL OVER AGAIN.

MARRY RICH, VIOLET.

The whole charade of a working mom having it all (insert fake smile and two thumbs up here) is — pardon my language, baby — shit. It really is. I, the writer, have tried for like 35 seconds to think of another word, but no other noun quite escapes through my teeth with as much intensity as “shit” does. (Sorry, Mom.)

I just want it to be a choice. It’s not a choice. “What’s your deal?” your dad will ask when I’m rushing through dinner to wash my plate. My deal? THAT is my deal. It’s a decision masquerading as a choice. It’s not a choice.

MARRY RICH. OR INVENT SOMETHING REALLY COOL, VIOLET.

You’re getting so big, and you’re my baby: My last baby (if, God forbid, I get pregnant and your younger sibling is reading this, I am going to feel a little bad about the relief I felt as I just re-read that part). You’re my happy, happy baby. You make me understand why people have babies: You smile. You silently laugh, your little mouth opens wide and little gasps escape and your head leans forward toward your toes. You love baths and being naked, love your Mama and love when I dangle my hair over your face to tickle you. You love your sister — as soon as she walks in the room or speaks, your blue eyes fix on her and you smile.

Someday you’ll wear her jeans without permission and she’ll punch your arm. I know this. But for now, this is the kind of stuff that makes the long work day almost unbearable by about 4 p.m. With Infant Alice, I dropped my mama status at the office door. The way I perch you on my hip (and the extra mama belly) doesn’t let me forget what I’m giving up by being at work.

It should also be so written that you sleep about six or seven hours a night. That has a lot to do with my liking you so much. I’d say “JK” but that’d be a lie.

Love,

Mama