Thursday, December 22, 2016

Twenty One Months

I got possibly my first three-word sentence last night, "Thank you Mommy." Though maybe "thank" and "you" don't count as separate words since kids learn them together as one "thank you." Anyways, it's a sweet little development.

Amelie's more cooperative in some ways, following along nicely when we go downstairs, across the lobby, and outside to the trash and recycling area. And more challenging in others -- constantly saying "no no no!" and "stop!" and "otch!" (ouch!). She's much more ferocious in her opinions than I remember Calliope ever being.

She's obsessed with shoes and tries on every pair she can find, her own and everybody else's.

She's been eating up a storm and feels a ton heavier than just a few weeks ago.

Calliope is doing well. She's pretty even keel. She wears nothing but fleece pants (from the boy's department, because god forbid her pants be more snug fitting like girls' styles), preferably topped with pink flowered snow pants. She's generally the only kid in her class wearing snow pants but I respect the fact that she doesn't care what others wear. She's very interested in "math facts" at the moment. Also in drawing. She draws constantly. I love her creativity. We got home from work today and she immediately set to work transforming a cardboard grocery box into a car that became a stroller that became her bed for the night.

I'm working really hard on being more patient with her. It's hard when we are always rushing to get out the door to get to school and then rushing back home again. Five year old pace seems unbearably slow to me. I've started getting up a bit earlier, though not entirely by choice, because Amelie has decided that the world has started at 5:30 AM. So I get up then and get Calliope up by 6 (instead of 6:15) and try to stay in the room with her and keep her on task instead of yelling from the other room as I get myself ready. Then she gets to play briefly before starting the process of putting on snow pants TWENTY MINUTES before we leave. But I'm mostly succeeding in not yelling. And it's paying dividends in much more cooperation and less dawdling if not actual speed.

Does anyone else worry about their grown kids not liking them if they aren't nicer to said children when they are small? I feel like that was my experience with my own parents and I desperately want grown up Calliope and Amelie to like me. So this line of thinking torments me a good bit.

As far as me... well, things are slowly, gradually improving. Today at work I felt, for the first time in over a month, like I wasn't terrifying behind in my list of things to cram into precious breaks between patients. Of course then I had a frantically busy day with patients, alternating between those with the stomach virus and those who needed a pregnancy test before the holiday break. Good times.

I've had a couple little social upsets recently. One was with a friend, who often seemed a bit short with me. I couldn't tell if it was just her style or something about me, so I tried to ask her if I had done something that had bothered her. I really don't like being on the defensive like that, in principle, asking "how have I annoyed you?" but I just couldn't figure out another way to ask. To my shocked disappointment, she seemed totally surprised and completely offended by my question. I can't quite figure out why she's offended. And the more I tried to fix things, the worse it got. Finally we agreed to drop it but we still haven't seen each other and I'm worried about what that will be like.

And then my brother called me and proposed a couple of "ground rules" for my visiting him in the future. The first being that I not visit when we are sick. Well, I called him the day before we left and informed him that Amelie had thrown up and asked if he wanted us to not come. He told us to come the next day if the night was quiet, and it was. It seems that Amelie developed a runny nose on the trip up (because my nanny swears she didn't have it the previous day, and I certainly didn't notice it) and his wife and him are very upset that my thirteen month old niece got her first cold as a result. Plus Calliope got the stomach bug the night after we arrived and then a bunch of cousins got it a day later, and while I felt absolutely terrible about that, a) I did call the doctor and get guidance from them about when it was safe to travel, and followed it, and b) his family had already had the stomach stomach two weeks prior and none of them got the stomach bug again. Obviously if I had had any idea that Calliope would get the stomach bug (plus a high fever that no one else got) and would share it, I would never have come. Spending Thanksgiving alone in someone else's house with a feverish child was pretty miserable, even without all the packing and loading and the eleven hours of driving alone with sick children.

His second ground rule (his expression, not mine) was that my life be "less complicated, without an agenda, like doing laundry or teaching Calliope to swim or ride a bike." I spend a week with them every summer and not surprisingly, I think, I always have things to accomplish.

This condition really took me by surprise, not in a good way. I was outraged. My life is, indeed, complicated. And packing us up (especially from a 6th floor apartment building where I don't have a garage spot) and getting us to a different state is incredibly "complicated." Of COURSE I'm going to do laundry when I'm there! I generally miss my cleaning lady's laundry day when I'm there, and even if I didn't, why wouldn't I do my laundry there when they have an actual laundry room, of all blissful things, which I can use while my children are ALSEEP (my laundry room is 6 flights down, and involves bringing both children along, including my runner, which is, shall we say, challenging.)

Anyway, I have a really hard time with people being mad at me. I think because of my codependent mother. I learned that it's always my fault if people are mad at me, and it's my job to fix it. I'm trying really hard to just sit with the discomfort and remind myself, over and over like a mantra, that their reaction is not my responsibility. But it's very uncomfortable.

Thank goodness tomorrow is my last day of work before the break! We are absolutely definitely not going anywhere this break! At least, we are not staying with anyone. I wanted to be sure there was no risk of infecting anyone -- the guilt over sharing the stomach bug was enormous -- and also, I'm am so freaking burnt out from the election plus stolen wallet plus Thanksgiving illness extravaganza (for our family alone: three stomach bugs, one extremely high fever, two bad coughs, one scary asthma exacerbation, one possible asthma exacerbation, one persistent case of laryngitis for me which lasted five days) plus my car getting crashed into plus my keys getting stolen (by the same kid who stole my wallet... I called the police this time) plus two sex ed presentations to 9th graders who were great but also absolutely exhausting plus, of course, the loss of Bethany. An absolutely challenging month, shitty in many ways but thankfully we are all healthy and I am gainfully employed.

So I'm very much looking forward to some quiet time with my girls. Hoping to make gingerbread houses with them, if it's not too many steps (I have a Manichevitz "Hanukkah House" kit on standby, just in case the from scratch recipe is too much) and taking Calliope ice skating and maybe potty training Amelie. My main goal, honestly, is just to not snap at them. To slow down and actually enjoy my girls.

Kicking off the break with a child free night, since my sitter volunteered that she'd be happy with a few extra hours. So my friend Emily and I are going to the Russian bathhouse tomorrow night for hopefully a relaxing evening free of awkward encounters with Russian (or otherwise) men. Hopefully the fact that it's the night before Christmas Eve will work in our favor. I'm hoping this will set the stage for relaxation over the break.


  1. I hope you were able to get some rest, and that your time off is settling in to a nice and relaxed groove! What a month. You have some healing to do.

    Happy Holidays,

  2. Ugh. This all sounds so tough. I'm sorry you about all the crap and think it's wise you are lying low for the rest of hte holidays. Family stuff is just so hard (I'm currently hanging out with my brother after needing a THREE YEAR break after our last awful visit). And, I think that the 12-24 month age is by far the toughest, at least physically, and when you're a single mom of two, it's just incredibly hard. Hang in there, keep taking breaks when you can, and get soem rest. I'm sending healthy vibes your way!

  3. I'm sorry about your brother laying all his frustration/feelings on you. Not fair or cool. Not sure if you want any feedback so feel free to ignore... my thought is to respond with what you said in the blog about your thoughtfulness around the whole thing and also your regret that the cousins got sick. Maybe he doesn't realize. I also wonder if the bizarre request to do nothing and have no agenda is really his desire to "hang out" with you and connect a bit more, said in a totally unskilled way? I totally get the laundry thing with not having one usually and of course it makes sense you have to do laundry so maybe it could be a "both/and" where you make an effort to have more down time to connect and he understand the need to get laundry done. In any case, I fee the same way about people being mad at me - yucky. Your friend sounds like she was overly sensitive/defensive. You were just trying to reality check which is totally okay and necessary for clear communication. Sending care.