October 30, 2007

Day 573: All dressed up and nowhere to go

My mom found this hand-made, pearl-embellished, pink, crocheted handbag for Mads at a yard sale recently. It's got clear plastic handles and gold beading and is, in a word, god-awful. But whoever actually sat down and created this atrocity of an accessory would likely be thrilled to know that it is among Maddie's most prized possessions.

She fills it with her garish strings of Mardi Gras beads, slings it over her shoulder, says "bye bye," and toddles right past us and out of the room. She looks every bit the pint-sized socialite off for some shopping or lunch with the girls. And she's got the attitude down, too - her chin in the air and a little wave over her shoulder as if to say, "Don't wait up."

As soon as she turns the corner she laughs her head off and two seconds later comes running back, squealing, only to empty out her purse and start the whole thing over again. And over. And over. There's no such thing as too much repetition in the life of a toddler, it seems. In the life of a mommy, of course, things tend to get a bit old on say their hundredth time around. But she's quite convinced these days she's the most hysterical person on the face of the planet. She cracks herself right up - and me too.

Happy Halloween to all your little ghouls and goblins! Maddie is of course forcibly resisting the idea of any sort of costume, so I'm sure I'll have some stories to tell!

ps - excuse the horrible picture, I'll get a better one tonight. Although, it's kind of fitting to see her in the midst of our renovation chaos. We just got our cupboards! Yay for minor miracles!


October 27, 2007

Day 570: Late night confessions

I would like to be someone who takes things in stride; someone who sees the big picture and understands the journey. I would like to be a mother who does these things. Those mothers exist, don't they? I see them out there, talking lovingly to their toddlers as they kick and cry on the floor of Toys R Us. They're not panicked, they're not overwhelmed, they're not covered in the sheen of a cold sweat. How do I become one of them?

But really I don't have time to become one of them because I am far too busy worrying to concern myself with anything else. I don't know when I started down the path to near-obsessive worry-dom, but the transition seems to be complete. And let me tell you, it's exhausting. It's never-ending, self-inflicted, utterly pointless mental anguish. I read a quote once that said something along the lines of, the job of a parent is to prepare a child to live in the world without her. I think I took it too literally. Every second seems crammed with meaning. I should be teaching, encouraging, disciplining. What if I forget something? What if I've already forgotten something? I vaguely recall what it feels like to have a head that is clear, that is quiet, but it's a very distant memory.

I sometimes wonder, though, if this is just part of motherhood? If this is something that all mothers feel to some extent, and I feel it slightly more because - well, let's face it, I was a bit neurotic to begin with. And then I worry that I spend too much time trying to figure out what it means to be a mom instead of just being one.

In case you're wondering, or hoping for resolution, I'm not going anywhere in particular with any of this. It's midnight, I'm still awake, and just emptying my head of all its doubt and craziness for your reading enjoyment.

And now I think I'll go to bed. Good night!


October 23, 2007

Day 565: A list

Here are a few signs that you may be spending too much time in the company of people under the age of 3. This is far from a complete list, your additions are welcome!

  • When the guy standing next to you at Starbucks drops his coffee you point at him and say “UH Ooooh!”

  • You catch yourself looking in the mirror and wondering if Dora’s hairstyle would look good on you.

  • You’re in a crowded room and someone passes gas. Instead of being discreet you sniff loudly and ask, “Did somebody make a poopy pants?”

  • You go to the lingerie shop and are disappointed to find they don’t carry adult fuzzy suits. They just seem so comfy!

  • Your answer to the question, “What did you do this weekend?” somehow veers into a monologue on why Uniqua is clearly the funniest of all the Backyardigans.

  • On your way out the door you notice your shirt is crusted with chocolate pudding. You think, “Oh good, it’s not poo,” and go out anyways.

  • You find yourself stopping to clap at inappropriate times – like when you see somebody eating a vegetable or when a bus drives by. It’s awkward.

  • You bring Goldfish crackers to a wine and cheese party. (And eat half the bag on the drive there.)

  • When you see someone who is sad you sneak up and try to tickle them. Turns out not everybody likes to be tickled by random strangers. Who knew?

Luckily, there is a remedy. It’s called wine.

Happy hump day!


October 19, 2007

Day 561: My name is Carolyn, and I'm a coffee addict

I've started drinking coffee. This might not be a big deal to all you who are hooked up to a caffeine IV drip, but to to me it's pretty apalling. Let me explain a bit of history: I worked at Starbucks all the way through University. It was five long years cloaked in a god awful green apron with ground coffee in my hair and chocolate syrup underneath my fingernails. Five years of throwing out day old pastries and talking ad nauseum about the decaffienation process. Five years of humouring people who seemed to think that the more words there are in front of their drink the more important they become - kind of like degrees after a name, only instead of Jane Smith, MSC, PhD, it's Jane Smith, Double-tall-non-fat-easy-foam-half-vanilla-half-hazelnut-108 degree-pumpkin-spice-latte. It actually wasn't a terrible job at the time, but it did breed a certain disdain for the fancy pants coffee set.

And now I am one of them. I skulk in shame in the line at Starbucks every single morning. It might be forgiveable if I just ordered a plain old coffee, but I don't. My drink comes with adjectives. I can barely look at myself in the mirror. And I blame Maddie.

Before Mads I never drank coffee. I never had grey hair. I never considered anything past 10:15pm "staying up late." I never gave two seconds' thought to my pension plan or the interest rate on my credit card. Now I do all of these things. It's like I've become a grown up or something.

But then again, before Mads I never went outside just to kick through a pile of leaves. I never enjoyed an episode of Sesame Street over a shared snack of apple juice and Goldfish crackers. I never played hide and seek under the kitchen table in the middle of the afternoon. Funny that it took growing up to be able to act like a kid again.

October 15, 2007

Day 557: Underwater worlds

We took Maddie on a little family outing to the aquarium last weekend. This was actually her second trip there. The first time she was about 9 months old and had expressed passing interest in a fish on tv one morning. Looking back, though, it could have just been gas. Either way, convinced she was a budding marine biologist I optimistically packed us up and headed out to the aquarium where she of course paid more attention to the ceiling fans than the vast aquatic ecosystems. And then she cried for 30 minutes. And then we left.

It's fun now that she is old enough to understand and enjoy these little activities, although of course it still doesn't turn out quite the way you imagine it in your head. I pictured her squealing with glee over the diving dolphins, clapping her little hands in awe at the sight of the beluga whales. But no, the tops draws, determined by decibel of grunting and yelling, were:

  1. A cartoon fish painted on the wall

  2. A bunch of crows eating garbage in the parking lot

  3. A lightbulb underneath one of the display cases - that one really blew her away.

A close runner-up to that list would of course be the gift shop. She leveled barely a glance at the majestic whales before catching sight of the gift shop across the room. Her eyes widened in wonder and off she took, running.

Oh well. I guess the point is that she enjoyed it, right? Though honestly, if we'd known about the crows we would've saved ourselves the $20, bought a bag of popcorn and sat in the parking lot for an hour. Lesson learned, I guess!


October 09, 2007

Day 551: My not-so-busy busy life

I had one of those cliche mommy moments the other day. I was putting Maddie into her carseat when all of a sudden she became really excited, frantically pointing out the window and doing her signature grunt. I figured it was the usual - the sky, the trees, the mailbox, the bus (the girl loves city buses - probably because she never has to actually ride on one). Her glee was particularly insistent though, so I turned to see what all the fuss was about, and there it was: A leaf hanging suspended at the end of a strand of spiderweb, twirling in the Fall breeze.

So there we were, Mads and I, watching this leaf dance about, her giggling by this point and me with nothing more pressing on my mind than the wonder of nature. Had she not been there I am sure I would have walked right through the web, and spent the rest of the day worried that spiders were building nests in my hair.

That is the strange thing about life with baby. The days are so busy that I often feel run off my feet. But when I stop to think about what exactly is filling my days, I realize that a lot of it is nothing at all: looking at ladybugs, splashing in puddles, singing the same song over and over and over again. It feels hectic because I am always doing something - and true enough it can get mind numbing at times - but all things considered I guess it's not such a bad way to spend your days.


October 02, 2007

Day 532: Water torture

The renovations continue to move slowly along, but this weekend brought some really big news: We have walls! Real walls, with insulation and everything. With the possible exception of the day Maddie started walking, I’ve never been happier. So of course while Fernando was working on that project this weekend, the girl and I had some serious quality time together.

On Saturday I took her to swimming lessons. I figured we should probably put in an appearance seeing as we’ve only made one of four classes so far. I should feel badly, I know, but to be honest I’m not too worried about it. At worst she is falling behind in vital skills like bubble blowing and ad nauseum repetitions of “Motorboat, motorboat.” I think she’ll survive.

It’s a bit of a stretch to call them lessons in any case. She basically spends the half hour trying to figure out ways to get out of the pool and I spend it trying to keep her in. Keep in mind that my bathing suit and I are not on the best of terms right now, so chasing Maddie in circles around a public pool deck in my old one-piece is not really my idea of a good time.

The thing is, she actually does like the water. She loves it, in fact – on her own terms. If it were up to her our time in the pool would be spent with me bouncing her up and down and saying “Whhheeeee!” But of course the cruel instructor wants her to kick her legs and float on her back and such things. Oh, the horror, I know. So there she is, forced out on her back, her little neck straining up at me as she grunts and squirms, all the while giving me this look that very clearly says, “Have you lost your mind, woman?” And I of course ignore her, rambling on endlessly: “Ooooh, this is so much fun, you lucky girl! Maddie loves swimming!” As if my saying it will make it true.

So that was our weekend. Ooh, but did I mention the walls?