July 30, 2014 by Heather
With the summer mornings being wonderfully mild lately, Parker and I have made an effort to get out and do things. We’ve found three snakes in our yard fairly recently so I am not a huge fan of just going out in the backyard and letting him roam freely like we used to do. So we’ve been going to various playgrounds and play dates and the occasional public shopping location, the latter of which inevitably turns out to be one giant, regrettable disaster.
Going places outside the home requires making one’s self somewhat presentable – at the very least a bra, a headband, sunscreen, and brushed teeth. Also shoes. Shoes are helpful. However, getting ready to go somewhere in the mornings has become so frustrating that I’m thisclose to never ever going anywhere ever again.
It starts in the bathroom. While I’m trying to wash my face and brush my teeth, Parker has hoisted himself up onto the toilet, almost pulling the over-the-comode shelves on top of him in the process. He braces himself between the toilet and the sink and turns on the faucet, which fills the non-draining sink full of water that he then dumps all the toothbrushes in and starts splashing around. There are disciplinary words coming endlessly out of my mouth this entire time but nothing fazes him. I remove him from the toilet while he kicks and screams, making him look me in the eye while I explain what I’m trying to do and why and how he is hindering it. I realize that his ability to reason is gigantically underdeveloped at this age, but this is my feeble attempt at patience and gentleness, my two worst categories in life. I try to wash my face again. In no time at all he has taken a more aggressive approach to mounting the toilet, thus causing the contents of the shelf to come sliding off and me to throw out a soaking wet Mom Arm to keep the whole piece of furniture from crashing down onto his determined little head. I do the thing you’re not supposed to do – I set him outside the bathroom, in the hallway, and I close the door while he screams so I can freaking wash my face and brush my teeth so we CAN GO TO THE PARK AND HAVE FUN OKAY. Once again I send up a prayer of thanks for the amazing human being who invented the childproof door knob cover things. And for a whole minute and a half, I have some space.
Oh wait, but then I need to change out of my pajamas. I come out of the bathroom and he ruuuns down the hallway past me (“PARKER COMING!”) to our bedroom where I need to just very quickly grab some underwear and socks. This too becomes an event with him jumping on our bed, opening hand cream, unscrewing bulbs from the nightstand lamps and poking his fingers in the socket, turning the fan on and off and on and off, and going in Andrew’s closet and throwing out all of the shoes. “Sit on your bottom, that’s dangerous, that’s mommy’s, stop doing that, put the shoes back.” The cautionary words never cease.
Although my undergarments are in the dresser in our room, all the rest of my clothes are across the hall in the closet side of the laundry room. Oh, joy, this is also where the litter box is kept, as well as the washer and dryer and usually at least two piles of clothes that need folding. Parker immediately goes for the pile of clothes, jumping in them like a pile of leaves and throwing them in all directions. He laughs while I’m getting dressed, “Haha Mama’s belly, haha Mama’s bwa,” and reaches his little finger up to stick it in my droopy belly button and laugh some more. I reach over the pile to grab a t-shirt and shorts while he goes in the other direction toward the dryer, telling me “Bye!” and pulling out all the clothes and climbing in. For about the thousandth time that morning I warn him of the dangers of what he’s doing. He climbs out and begins putting the clean clothes in the hamper with all the dirty clothes. While I’m pulling on my shorts and socks he grabs an attachment off the vacuum and shoves it into the opening of the litter box, stirring it around. I’m dressed – finally – and just as I go to pick him up and get the heck out of there he reaches in to get a handful of cat litter and who knows what else and flings it across the room, sprinkling the pile of clean laundry with Arm & Hammer Double Duty Clumping goodness.
I need to eat before we go to the park. I make a smoothie for breakfast pretty much every morning, so I get to work filling the blender as fast as I can with various fruits and veggies while Parker pulls things from the bottom cabinets and opens the dishwasher and climbs inside of it (“Parker, please don’t do that”). Once he realizes what I’m doing (“MAMA MOOTHIE!”) he starts jumping up and down and pulling on my shorts. He used to be terrified of the blender but now he has to watch every time I use it. Once I have everything in it, I pick him up in a swinging motion, smelling his head and holding him tight against me while he squeezes his arms around my neck in excitement. “You ready?” I ask. “K,” he says, nodding and smiling. I push the button and the loud whirring begins. He laughs and laughs. Our blender is currently riding the Struggle Bus, so it takes a good 2-3 minutes for everything to get, well, smooth. I hold him while the blender works and we spiiiin around the kitchen and sway from side to side. The ridiculously loud machine has become our dance mix, as he throws his head back and I swing him down between my legs and throw him up in the air, then we twirl some more and I inhale his sweet morning smell and kiss the side of his head and laugh with him.
It doesn’t make sense, really, but somehow that one small moment in a day filled with hundreds of other moments is enough to make me forget the anxiety that grips my heart and mind when parenting feels like more of a burden than a blessing. In leaps and bounds, those few minutes of blender-dancing surpass all the times when I think, having a child makes everything harder. Because it’s true – he does. But holy moly at all the inexplicable joy he brings. He can simultaneously suck all the life out of me while also breathing into it remarkable growth and, in a sense, new life. A new way of being, of looking at the world around me. Sure, it’s frustrating and annoying and makes me feel beat down sometimes, but it’s also spectacularly life-changing (it sucks, but it’s great!). I wouldn’t trade it for all the bathroom alone time in the world, and that’s the cold hard truth.