Zoey is starting to get old enough to have conversations that might really matter. Not that conversations about princesses and poop don't matter. It's just that talking about things like god and race seem to carry more weight. Just a little bit. As these conversations leave me reeling, hyperventilating, and wondering, Did I answer that right? Or did I just scar my child for life?
Yesterday we were in the car and Zoey says, "Mommy? You know that lady who made me?"
"Um . . . yeah?" I answer, unsure if Zoey was talking about her first mom, god, or a robot (which she has been obsessed with lately. Demetri is often greeted at the door by being asked, "Daddy, are you a bad robot?")
"Well, you know how that lady who made me painted me brown?"
"Yes . . ." I'm still unsure who she's talking about exactly. "Yes, your skin is a beautiful brown." Ha! I handled that last part well!
"Well, that lady painted you white. And Daddy." Zoey pauses and I can feel her kicking the car seat.
"Yes," I say carefully. Please, please don't ask me about god. Yet. I make a mental note to resolve my crisis of faith and sort out my god-type beliefs immediately. If not sooner.
"Well, do you wish you were painted brown?" Zoey's question hangs in the air. My brain starts spinning -- do I say yes and express dissatisfaction with my skin color? Do I say no and possibly insinuate that I don't like brown? WHAT DO I DO? "Daddy says he wishes he was painted brown." Well . . . Daddy is a total kiss-up.
"Brown is a wonderful color," I start. "And I guess I'm happy how I am . . ." Is this the right answer? Am I doing OK? Maybe I should have said I want to be brown. Or maybe I should have avoided the question. Or maybe I should have offered Zoey a Starburst to keep her quiet. Or maybe I have NO BUSINESS being a mom.
"But Mommy! We don't look the same!"
Ohshitohshitohshit! This is one of those moments! I have to answer the right way or my daughter will end up addicted to drugs and in prison and a country music fan. Deep breath: "That's just on the outside, sweetie. On the inside we are a lot alike." I pause, waiting to be struck down by lightening or otherwise smote for my answer, but nothing happens so I go on. "We both like pink. We both like hugs. We both like cheeseburgers. We both like to be kind . . ."
"Yeah," says Zoey quietly at first. Then louder, "Yeah! And we both don't like pickles or spiders! And also Daddy has short hair and you have the longer hairs."
"That's true," I nod my head, "Daddy and I don't look totally alike either. We don't have to be the same or look the same to love each other-- that would be boring."
"Yeah," Zoey chirps. "I don't like boring!" Then she starts singing a made-up song about robots and I know the conversation is done. At least for now. There will be more questions and bruised feelings and maybe anger. But there will also be love and acceptance and joy. It's all hurtling towards us in the tornado of time that is our life. Our lives. Together. As a family.
Today Zoey requested a special setup for lunch. She wanted a small, round table brought into the kitchen so she and baby could have lunch together. "Mommy," she said, "Push the table up against the wall so no one else can sit with us." Then she looked at me pointedly.
So after much rearranging, we all sat down to our lunches. Separately. Baby was having grass and mushrooms from the yard, Zoey was having grilled cheese with pesto pasta stuffed inside and prunes (it was a, uh, hard morning), and I was having yogurt and fruit. Zoey chatted up Baby for a bit but then it got quiet which was rather enjoyable. For one of us.
"Mommy!" Zoey pushed back from the table. "I'm not having such good fun over her with this Baby. I'm coming to sit with yooooouuuuu!" Zoey carefully carried her plate and juice box over to the table and sat next to me. "Yup," she said while scooting herself in, "This is good. You are better at talking than baby. Also, you are fun. Very, very fun." Did you catch that? Did you? I AM BETTER THAN BABY. And I AM VERY VERY FUN. Ha!
So you know this whole parenting thing? I. AM. WINNING. For today anyway. Or, more likely, for 5 minutes during lunch time. But I'll take it.
A couple weeks ago I returned home from a chiropractor and massage therapy appointment to find Demetri drinking a shot glass of vodka in the kitchen. "So, um, how did it go?" I ventured.
"Check my facebook status -- that's all I'm saying." He downed the shot and walked out of the kitchen. As it turns out, Zoey de-tailed a rubber lizard and then snorted the broken off tail piece up her nose. This evidence was offered on his Facebook page:
Here's the story I got: all of a sudden Zoey says, "Daddy, I gots something up my nose." Demetri wisely told her that it was boogers but Zoey persisted, "No, it's not. It's something else." So Demetri got out the flashlight. And then the tweezers. But by then Zoey had snorted the tail so far up her nose Demetri could only see the tiniest part of the bright blue tip; the tweezers wouldn't reach. Well, they wouldn't safely reach. Finally Zoey was persuaded to blow. And blow. And blow. And voila!
And let me tell you, it took all my strength not to ask, "BUT HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN??? WEREN'T YOU WATCHING HER?????" I lasted about 14 minutes before asking, "So, I guess you didn't see it happen?" And then after we were in bed that night, "So, where were you exactly when our daughter snorted rubber up her nose and almost INTO HER BRAIN?"
"Oh," Demetri said, "Didn't I tell you? I was on the couch next to her."
I rolled over to face him. "I'm sorry. You were on THE WHAT? WHERE?"
"I was on the . . ."
And this is when my voice may have gotten a bit screechy, "You were NEXT. TO. HER. And YOU DIDN'T SEE IT HAPPEN?"
"Well, The News Hour was on and I was trying to watch it and . . . well." I like to imagine that he at least looked ashamed . . . but it was dark so, as he tells me, I'll never know.
Eventually we both burst out laughing. Things stuck up noses are funny, I guess. Especially when removed safely. But, I'll tell you a little secret: while we were laying there laughing together like a good parenting team will do, I was also feeling superior. Ha!I get to be the 'good' parent for a while -- I'm so aware it's like I have an awareness super power! I! Am! Awesome! Nothing like that has ever happened on my watch!
Until last night. When Zoey shoved bright pink play-doh up her nose . . . right under my nose. Well, to be objective and fair, I was walking the babysitter to the door. And then I was getting a snack. And possibly checking Facebook. And then Zoey says, "Mom, (yes she has taken to calling me mom instead of mommy. It's like a bullet to the heart)There's stuff in my nose." I come over to take a look and there's a whole wad of play-doh crammed up her left nostril. "It's like pink boogers," Zoey cheers, "FANCY ONES! Yay!"
"Zoey," I say sternly, "This is not funny. It's not safe to stick things up your nose." And then I burst out laughing. While I'm laughing, my genius daughter repeatedly tries to stick the play-doh further up her nose. "Do NOT touch your nose!" I yell as I exit the room in search of tweezers. (Note: this was a rookie kid-with-stuff-stuck-in-nose parenting mistake. ALWAYS BRING THE KID WITH YOU. Always. Kids are sneaky little boogers with ninja-like stealth and lightening-like speed. Plus, they CANNOT BE TRUSTED.)
I get back to the kitchen maybe 17 seconds later, and the pink play-doh has been shoved so far up the left nostril I can't see it and (see above note . . .) green play-doh has been shoved up the right nostril. The tweezers are not really helping because I can't get a good grip -- either I'm pushing the stuff further up or only tiny bits of paly-doh are breaking off. All I can think is, I've got to fix this before Demetri gets home or I will never live it down. N-E-V-E-R. Never.
Finally, after a promise of an ice cream bar, Zoey blows her nose. And the stuff comes out. Most of it anyway. I think . . . Maybe.
Zoey and the current 'good' parent. Which, you will note, is not me. :(
If I don't get to run I'm not such a great parent. Or, to put it another way, I'm "a crazy sh*t a** mother f*cker of a mother". Which is how I described myself over the phone to a friend last week. There was a pause and she said, "Well . . . at least there's no judgment." And perhaps I was not being as objective as one can be. Perhaps I was, in fact, being the teeniest bit critical. And dramatic. But here's the thing: I'm also a little bit right.
Running keeps my depression and fibromyalgia pain at bay. I haven't be able to run for 10 days due to an IT band injury. And those 10 days have not been pretty. Patience seems to be something I no longer possess. I'm snappish and yelly and, often, just plain mean. Frustration tolerance? Puh-HA. I can feel depression reaching out it's boney fingers trying to grab me and pull me in. I'm angry and anxious and needy and lonely all at once. Which, as one might imagine, is taking it's toll on Demetri. And Zoey. Which fills me with shame.
And not only do I have to deal with all that, but my side-butt seems to be expanding. As we all know, I have no real ass. But my side-butt, that flabby flap just below the hip on the side/back of the thigh, is getting wider. I was sitting on a lawn chair this morning and I swear I could actually see my side-butt coagulating and creeping outward. This didn't do much to improve my anger or anxiety. I had to go eat an ice cream bar just to calm down.
So, I'm in this place again. I'm on the edge of The Pit -- the place where my doubts and judgement and depression and fibromyalgia all meet. My toes are dangling in the murky water and I'm not yet sure if I'm going to be forced to take a swim. I hate this part -- the being-on-the-edge part. I want to just be well or . . . not. The worst thing is not hitting bottom; it's the ride on the way down. I'm going through the motions and doing the things I know I need to do: seeing my doctors, asking for help, surrounding myself with people that lift me up and show me the light. And still, STILL I don't know what will happen. Depression is tricksy -- it's one of those things that will knock you on your ass even when you're doing everything right.
So . . . I'm waiting and seeing. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe this afternoon I'll completely loose my sh*t. For now, right now, I'm trying to be gentle with myself and with my daughter. I'm protecting both of us. We're spending hours in the shade of the tree in our front yard making pretend salads with grass and flowers and weeds. And when things get hard, we watch TV and have a snack. Then maybe we'll have a little dance party. And a nap.
I know I'll be able to run again soon. And I hope I'll return to being just a mother instead of . . . that other kind of mother.
My 3 year old seems to think I'm stupid. And embarrassing. Already.
Example #1: me: Aw! Look at the baby cow! Zoey: Mom! It's called a calf. me: Yes, that's right. Zoey: Well, shouldn't you know that? You're not a kid, you're an adult. (pause) You know that, right?
Example #2: me: There's a button missing on these pants. I can't wear them or they'll fall down . . . Zoey: Mom, wear a BELT. Belts are for keeping up pants. me: That's true . . . Zoey: Daddy knows about belts. How come you don't? (pause) I think you should know more things.
In response, I offer evidence that I am still smarter than my child:
I know how to wipe my own butt
I don't think it's a Great! Idea! to make mud pies in the bathroom.
I don't put a blanket over my head, walk into the table and then yell, "YOU MADE ME HIT MY HEAD!"
I can read
I almost always put my shoes on the correct feet
I don't name my baby dolls Vajayjay
When counting, I don't leave out the number six
I can put my pants on without sitting down
I can get in the car and fasten my seat belt in less than 13 minutes
I don't try and stick straws up my nose
I know that Caillou is a whiney little bastard*
I don't have to wear a night-time diaper to bed
I don't lift my shirt up and say, "Look at my tiny boooooobies!"
I don't sneeze out pesto pasta and then eat it
* This exact phrase as applied to Caillou may have originated with SWMama over at Adjustment and Disorder. I'm not entirely sure . . . so if you don't like it, it's not her; and if you do, it's totally her!