Tag Archives: mom

That time with the kid and the puke

Babysitting.

Growing up, our babysitter was Holly. She lived next door and was, perhaps, the coolest person in the history of ever. She would sunbathe outside and listen to KISS 98.5 FM, which was way more cool than Magic 102, don’t you know. She would give me her hand-me-down clothes and how awesome is it to get hand-me-downs from the coolest person in all of eternity!? I loved being babysat by Holly. I don’t remember much of what we did, or how often it happened, but I remember she was fun and kind and didn’t treat me like I was an annoying little shit. (Once Holly got too old to babysit, Denise from down the street took over. She was fine, but she was no Holly.)

Once I got to be 12 or 13, man, did I want a babysitting gig. I would rock the socks off that shit, because I had Holly to emulate. Plus I was a 7-years-older sister to my younger brother so I had practice with little kids. I hooked up with my first babysitting opportunities through a family whose son, Andy, was on my brother’s t-ball team. Two little boys, 7 and 5. They were ADORABLE. I babysat for them once or twice, their parents paid well (back then, babysitters didn’t demand a rate like they do now — or if they did, I was certainly too timid to do so! I took whatever people wanted to pay me and I was grateful for it, mostly. One family was really quite obscenely stingy and I didn’t sit for them again. I was conveniently unavailable – it’s amazing how timidity can translate into passive-aggressiveness, even as a 13 year-old.)

Andy and his little brother were a bit mischevious but nothing I couldn’t handle. I daresay we had fun.

Then, one time, I came over to babysit for an afternoon. As they were leaving, Andy’s mom mentioned that Andy said he was feeling a little “icky” earlier in the day and hopefully it would be nothing, and they would be back in about three hours.

About a half-hour into the afternoon, Andy says his tummy hurts. I get him a bowl, just in case. Ten minutes later, BAM, FIREWORKS. Ungodly amounts of vomit erupt from the nether regions of this child’s digestive system.

I am certain I inherited from my mother an innate ability to keep my shit together on the surface in the most disgusting of circumstances. I had a nasty bout of food poisoning when I was 13, the results of which, well, I’m just shocked my mom didn’t just say “fuck it” and tear out the whole bathroom. Is it a woman thing? I certainly can’t say for sure in a statistically significant way, but the fact of the matter is I’ve only witnessed men actually throw up when faced with disgusting crap (figuratively and literally). I have a tendency toward hysterics when faced with stressful situations but when shit gets gross, I get downright stoic. Puke and crap are literally my husband’s Kryptonite. They will crack his impenetrable exterior faster than a cold dish in a hot oven.

Regardless of how I came to have the ability, I kept on my big-girl pants and soothed this little person through his puking into the bowl. (Doesn’t this kid chew his food? I’d wondered throughout.) Once he’d finally wrapped up the pyrotechnics, he volunteered to take the bowl and dump it in the bathroom, because I think he felt bad for throwing up and wanted to help, sweet boy. I followed just behind him, far enough behind that he felt he was doing it himself, close enough that I could help if he needed it. Not close enough, however, to intercede in his cat-like stealth to dump this vast amount of very chunky vomitus into the SINK instead of the TOILET.

NO NO NO NO NO!! MOTHER OF GOD WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?! PUKE GOES IN THE TOILET ALWAYS IN THE TOILET!!!

That’s what I thought. What I said was, “Thanks, Andy. Hey, next time, dump that in the toilet, OK?”

“Oh. OK. Sorry.” He apologized and then I felt awful for even saying anything. We rinsed and dried the bowl and I sent him back to the couch.

But then I turned back and stared at the sink and dug my fingernails into the palms of my hand as I thought about how the hell I was going to clean that up. I certainly didn’t want to touch it. In the end, rinsing as much as I could down the drain and then getting whatever was left with paper towels was my chosen strategy. It worked OK, but I swore up and down at Andy and his parents the whole time.

This was the pre-cell phone era, and the parents were out running errands so they didn’t leave a number where they could be reached. So, I called my mom. “THEY LEFT YOU WITH A SICK KID?!?” my mom asked, rhetorically and disgustedly. “They better pay you double!!” She offered to come over and help me but I declined. This was my gig, after all. I didn’t need my mommy to bail me out. But it was nice to vent to her a little and hear that she had my back.

Andy threw up once more, and *I* took the bowl that time.

When the parents returned, they did apologize but they didn’t pay me double. But they did make me appreciate my mom just a little more.

Your slip is showing

Lacking motivation or inspiration to come up with my own topics, I’m joining in today with Kate and some other folks and we’re doing a weekly theme, a shared topic each Wednesday.  Today’s is “Freudian Slips”.

This just goes to show how dry my creative font is.  Even though I was a psych major and still pick up my textbooks to read for fun, the only thing I can really think to say about a Freudian slip is that I didn’t know that Freud was a transvestite.  Thanks, I’ll be here all week!  Try the veal!  (Not really, veal is mean.  Try the penne vodka.)

I don’t have any stunningly funny stories about my own Freudian slips, and I can’t even muster the mental fortitude to remember something funny that happened to someone else.  Actually, I could link this topic back to parenthood.  But shit, I seem to link every topic back to parenthood.  As much as I love my kids I got sick of ‘hearing’ myself blog about them constantly, and I find my kids infinitely fascinating.  Or at least more infinitely fascinating than any other person on the planet would find them.

Well, darn it, I’ll go there anyway.

I slip up a lot when I yell at Jake.  He is, 98% of the time, an affable, friendly, independent, happy little guy.  Occasionally though, he pulls out the big guns and does something like write with a Sharpie on the wallpaper in the hallway.  Or color his whole hand in with a Sharpie.  Or other destruction, Sharpie-related or not.  When these things happen I am obligated, as mothers are, to yell.  (OK, I know some moms don’t yell.  And I’m all for natural consequences.  But really — if you do something dumb and destructive, I think a perfectly natural consequence is dealing with someone else getting upset about that boneheaded thing you did.)  Only I find when I go to yell at him I often don’t call him Jake.  Sometimes I call him Lane first…. which sort of illustrates who I’m usually yelling at.  And now that my brother’s living here, I will occasionally call Jake “Mark” when I yell at him… which sort of illustrates which other male in my life has supplied some of my most frustrating moments.

And speaking of Freud, let’s touch for a moment on the dream I had last night, which I’m sure Freud could have a field day with.  I don’t often wake up remembering a dream, so last night was notable for that, if nothing else.  But it was a weird couple of days… Lane’s been sick, I worked last night, I found out my friend Abby is expecting baby #2… and not that all that is weird but it made the last couple days a bit beyond run-of-the-mill.

(Edited to add a couple, in my opinion, pertinent details, for those who may be visiting for the first time:  my mom passed away ten years ago, and before I became a stay at home mom, I worked for seven years in human resources for a major pharmaceutical company, where I gained a healthy respect for the business and the products they make, but a general disdain for the currently popular sales model that most pharmas use to peddle their products.)

So… the dream.

I’m in the hospital with my mom.  Neither of us are IN the hospital, but for whatever reason we are hanging out there.  My mom tells me she thinks I should take a pregnancy test.  I don’t see why, I don’t think I’m pregnant, but whatever.  Lo and behold someone shows up, who functioned in the dream as both some sort of nurse AND as a pharmaceutical rep, wanted me to take a pregnancy test that for reasons unknown would cost my insurance company like $40.   I completely freaked out in the dream, yelling at this nurse/rep and telling her what a scam this was and there was no reason a pregnancy test should cost that much money, get me a $5 Target brand test and I’ll take it but I’m NOT peeing on a $40 stick.  She says, “would you really trust the results of a store-brand pregnancy test?  Do you think that’s the best decision for your baby?”  and I start yelling at her more, that she can’t make me feel guilty and like a bad mother for this decision and then I kick her out of the room.  That was about it.  I never did take a pregnancy test in the dream.  Your thoughts welcome!  🙂

A Cat, A Kid, and A Mom by Shel Silverstein

“Why can’t you see I’m a cat,” said the cat,
“And that’s all I ever will be?
Why are you shocked when I roam out at night?
Why are you sad when I meow and I fight?
Why are you sick when I eat up a rat?
I’m a cat.”

“Why can’t you see I’m a kid,” said the kid.
“Why try to make me like you?
Why are you hurt when I don’t want to cuddle?
Why do you sigh when I splash through a puddle?
Why do you scream when I do what I did?
I’m a kid.”

“Why can’t you see I’m a mom,” said the mom.
“Why try to make me wise?
Why try to teach me the ways of the cat?
Why try to tell me that ‘kids are like that’?
Why try to make me be patient and calm?
I’m a mom.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

I picked up Falling Up on a whim at bedtime and turned right to this. It kind of fit for the last few days I’ve been having.

Never the twain shall meet

Kate got me thinking today, with this morning’s post.  Mostly about life experiences and expectations, and how much they can vary from one person to the next.  How things that are ‘normal’ for one person can be so alien to the next.

Knowing what I’ve heard of the relationships my mom had before my dad (mostly from stories she told me), and knowing that she married my dad, it is safe to say she was drawn to the bad-boy type.  Maybe she liked the drama, maybe she thought she could change them.  I dunno.

Frank is, simply, NOT the bad boy type.  He does not swear beyond an occasional “dammit” and he gives me dirty looks if I do.  He’s quiet and introspective and just generally nice and well-intentioned.  I’ve had to do a lot of training in the ways of chivalry and courtesy because that is apparently not something that thrives in his family, but my touches have stuck and he’s definitely a keeper.

Once my mom realized our relationship was serious — like going on our third year serious — she asked me if I was sure I wanted to be with him.  Her reason?  “Well, he just doesn’t seem all that…. well… exciting.”  I responded, “You know Mom, he doesn’t do drugs, he doesn’t swear, he barely drinks, and I don’t think I ever have to worry about him cheating on me or physically hurting me or any kids we have.  We get along really well and have shared interests and have fun.  He’s exactly the type of person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

At first it seemed weird to have to justify a relationship with such a nice guy to my mom.  But over time, as I’ve thought about that conversation, that one question has more and more shone a revealing light on many of the choices she’d made in her life.

I miss my mom

I was laying with Lane tonight, trying to get her to fall asleep.  I was stroking her soft blond hair and singing her favorite Disney movie songs to try to lull her to sleep.  And as I lay there, I thought of my mom.

I thought about how she died, nearly ten years ago.  I thought about how she was only 47.  I thought about how, if I live as long as she did, that means I still have 15 more glorious years of life left, to play and cuddle and love and laugh and cry and squeeze every bit of joy out of every moment that I can.

I thought about what it would mean if I died when I am 47.  Lane will be 19, Jake would be 16.  I was 22 when my mom died, and I wasn’t nearly ready for it.  Of course, I had no warning.  She just died.  No real rhyme or reason, just slipped away quietly in the middle of the night.  And I wasn’t ready.  I wanted more time with her.  I needed more time with her.  I had only been an adult for a couple years at that point, really, and our adult relationship was really blossoming.  My brother was only 15 when she died, and I know he needed more time too, way more than I did.  Our dad sort of dropped the parenting ball after mom died, (not that he was great at carrying it before she died) and my brother was left to flounder.  In retrospect, I knew that would happen.  I knew it, but I wanted to believe it wouldn’t.  I wanted to believe my dad would rise to the challenge and be the parent that my brother needed through his formative years of high school.  But, it didn’t happen.  Part of my denial was self-serving — to admit my dad would shirk his parental duties would obligate me to move back home, to drop out of the graduate school program I’d just started when mom died, and make sure my brother became the man I knew he was capable of being.

Not to imply he’s turned out poorly.  Now, he’s 24, and he’s doing OK.  Career- and education-wise he’s a bit of a ship without a sail.  He knows he wants more for himself, but he’s not sure what and not sure how.  I feel like he harbors a lot of anger.  But he laughs a lot, and smiles a lot, and has healthy (from what I can tell) relationships with decent girls.  He has artistic pursuits that bring him contentment.  I love him to death and no matter what, I’m really proud of him.  But I think with better, stronger, and/or more present adult guidance after mom died, maybe he’d have his bachelor’s degree by now.  Maybe he wouldn’t ache inside quite so much.  Maybe he’d have more direction.  I don’t know.  I just want him to be happy, and I know for a long time he really wasn’t… and I probably could have helped make that happen but I was too involved in my own world, 300 miles away.

Anyway, that was a tangent I didn’t really mean to go on but I just feel like spouting some emotion for a bit, even if it’s a bit incoherent.

I guess it all comes back to that I feel like a lot of how I define myself sort of goes back to losing my mom when I was still pretty young.  I read a book a few years ago called Motherless Daughters which helped validate those feelings.  (If you have also lost your mom, especially early in life – through death or abandonment – this is an excellent read.  I can’t recommend it enough.)  I do wonder how much of who I am today would have been the same even if she were alive, and how much was shaped through the lack of her presence and the process of grief of losing her.  It’s a riddle I know I’ll never have the answer for… but it really doesn’t matter.  I am who I am (or, “I yam who I yam” if you’re a one-eyed sailor with a spinach affinity).

And I guess more than anything, I want more than the cards my mother was dealt.  I want to meet my grandchildren.  I want to live long enough to use my retirement savings.  I want to get old enough to have lots of wrinkles.  I want to celebrate all those metallic wedding anniversaries (my parents only made it to their 23rd).  But if I do go early like my mom did, I want to have been a good enough mother that Lane and Jake will miss me terribly.

I actually have time to miss, now

It’s been two or three days since my kids had any presents to open, and I think they have realized that the cornucopia has finally emptied.

They got so. much. stuff.  Oh my goodness.

But they got some great stuff, I must admit.  Nothing too violent or huge or lame.  They got some clothes. 

Some of my presents, however…. yeah, some lameness abounded.  My dad’s presents always seem to reflect a strong influence from whomever he is dating that birthday/Christmas.  His female companionship of late, let’s call her Linny…. Linny seems to have a great deal of sentimentality coursing through her veins.  She is a lovely woman, and in many ways that make my heart smile she reminds me of my mother a lot.  It’s been nearly a decade since my mom died so that striking resemblance is very heartwarming, and not at all threatening in a way it might have been 7 or 8 years ago.

And now that the madness has ended, I actually have had time to miss my mom.  Since it has been over 9 years since she passed, the memories are fuzzier.  In fact, they are starting to be less of “how it was” memories and more of imagining how it could have been, since time has mercilessly marched forward since she died, and she hasn’t been around for her memory to evolve with the lives we have that are so much more different than they were in 1998.  Then, I was just starting grad school.  I knew my husband, but he was just a boyfriend at that point — a serious boyfriend I’d dated for three years, and we both figured we’d get married, but there was no ring and no firm plans at that point.  I certainly didn’t have kids.

And now, having the time to think about it post-madness, I’m sad.  I can’t say I miss things the way they were — because the way they were was me single, no kids, no dog, etc. and I like where I am now.  I miss what could have been.  My mom would have been a wonderful grandmother.  She would have doted on my kids, cuddled them incessantly, loved them fiercely, and bragged about them constantly.  She was a woman with a big heart and a wealth of kindness, and my kids’ lives would have been enriched to have her around. 

So I miss my mom.  I miss her laugh, and her smile.  I miss the way flicked her middle fingernails with her thumbs when she was thinking.  But mostly my heart aches for her love – the unconditional love she had for me, and the love I know she would have had for my children.

At the same time, it is certainly nice to idealize what would have been.  Maybe she would have though the extending breastfeeding relationship I have with my kids is weird.  Maybe she would pin the blame on me that my daughter is such a night owl (I’m writing this at 1:50 ish in the a.m. because she only fell asleep at 1:30 a.m.).  Maybe if she hadn’t died we would have had a big falling-out over something.  Maybe if she hadn’t died, she wouldn’t have gotten along with my in-laws and that would have been a big source of tension.  So in a way it’s nice that I can imagine that everything to this point would have been hunky-dory, but I have no way to know if it would have been or not.

But that doesn’t change that my mom was awesome, and I loved her immensely, and I miss her with every ounce of my being.  I wish she were here.