24 February 2010

Rewriting the Ending

The scene: Target. Rodney and Zora are shopping for band-aids when Zora spots some with her favorite "Cars" characters on them. She turns to Rodney, imploring him with her large, brown eyes.

Zora: Can we watch "Cars" tonight?

Rodney: No, Baby Girl.

Zora: Can we think about it?

Rodney pantomimes deep thought and consideration for all of three seconds.

Rodney: Mmmmm. No.

A few minutes later in Electronics...

Zora: Can we think about watching "Cars"?

She pantomimes deep thought and consideration for all of three seconds.

Zora: Hmmm. Yes!

23 February 2010

What's Holding Me Back?

After a nearly six-year, part-time journey through graduate school, I am almost at the finish line. During those years, I've seen many of my friends juggle work and school and get their masters in two or three years. I feel sheepish admitting that I've been at this for such a long time.

Then I remind myself to keep things in perspective: in those five years I had a baby, had to come to terms with the sudden death of my father, and scramble to find care for my elderly, mentally ill mother. The journey has been rough, but on good days, the shrink in my head reminds me that I should value my persistence and tenacity--I could have given up, right?

I've reached a point where not so many people vying for my attention: my 2 1/2 year old sleeps through the night, my elderly mother is safely ensconced in an assisted living facility. I finally have time to devote to me.

So why am I having such a hard time asking for the time I need for my graduate work? My husband told me I should take any time that I need to work on my assignments, even if that means multiple evenings away in a single week. Yet, I hesitated to take him up on his offer at first.

"I can do work once my daughter goes to bed," I told myself. Or: "I can work while she takes her nap."

Even during those free hours, I found myself doing things like reorganizing the sock drawer and paying bills. Walking away from being a wife and mommy to focus on myself was, well, hard. But why? What was holding me back?

Fear of losing my control over the household? As harried as I felt sometimes, I did feel some smug satisfaction knowing that if our household ran smoothly, that it was in large part because of my efforts. Without me, their would be no food in the house, we'd run out of toilet paper, the bills wouldn't be paid.

Fear of losing the self I felt safe and comfortable with? Hmm. Possible. What would my husband think of me if I started demanding time for myself? What would happen if I (gasp!) inconvenienced close friends by asking them to watch my daughter so I could interview someone for my upcoming assignment? Would I be perceived as needy? Selfish?

My husband finally told me that if I didn't take the time, he was going to throw me out of the house, so one night last week, I kissed him and Z goodnight and headed to Borders to write.I felt fabulous. I had an interview set up for the following night. "I'll be home by Z's bedtime," I told my husband. "What if you're not?" he said. "Just take your time." So, I did, and got to spend a few extra hours focused on my work.

Take care of yourself and you'll be a better mother, partner, friend. I used to say it, but I'm beginning to believe it.

08 February 2010

Monday Morning Humor

Day 3 of being snowed in. After building forts, watching Winnie the Pooh, constructing and deconstructing cities of Legos, and baking banana bread, we have now moved onto naming our imaginary animals.

Rodney: If we ever have a ferret, we should name him Bueller. (He pauses for effect.) That way he can be Ferret Bueller.

Rodney continues: So far we have a donkey named "Xote" (pronounced hoe-tay, as in Don Quixote) and a ferret named Bueller. And two dacshscunds: Minerva Dash and Alowishious Flash.

As you can tell, he's quite proud of himself.

06 February 2010

Ladybug Shields: Protection You Can Count On

Mama, I have to use the potty."

"Okay, honey," I say, wiping my mouth on the napkin and grabbing my toddler's hand. We're in the middle of potty training, so any time my little girl initiates a trip to the bathroom, I'm thrilled. We weave our way through the dining room of the restaurant, and open the door to the restroom...just in time to see a cockroach scurrying across the toilet seat.

I suck my breath in, grab a wad of toilet paper, and go in for the kill: Pinch, squish, flush. As my little one watches the cockroach make its final journey, she looks up at me and announces, "I don't want to use the potty. I scared of ladybugs." All bugs are ladybugs.

"I don't blame you, sweetie, " I tell her as I vigorous scrub my hands with soap under the sink. "You can go in your diaper. I know you are a big girl."

My husband looks surprised when we return to the table. "That was quick."

"We saw a ladybug. I scared," my daughter says.

My husband looks at me quizzically.

I mouth the word "cockroach."

"Oh," he nods.

The roach sighting comes at a bad time, because at 2 1/2, my daughter is going through that I'm-scared-of-everything stage, which is coinciding with the I'm-stubborn-stage and the aforementioned anal stage. While I want to be hygienic and cautious about public restrooms, a full blown phobia is not what I had in mind. For days, she balks at using the potty citing ladybug concerns. Then, my brilliant husband taps into that magical and naive toddler imagination. He brings her into a public bathroom and plucks a disposable toilet seat cover from the dispenser.

"Do you know what this is?" he asks her.

She shakes her head.

"This is a ladybug shield. It protects you from ladybugs. Ladybugs can't get you now."

"Oh!" she grins. "Ladybugs can't get me?"

"Nope," my husband says, placing it and then our daughter on the seat.  Phew.

Now that she's using the potty again, I need to think of a way to get her to take a bath again. You see, she's afraid of the spiders...

01 February 2010

What's Better Than Five Minutes in the Bathroom? Mondays.

I remember when Sunday evenings filled me with a vague ennui, very much like that low-grade sadness that overtook me as a child the night of Christmas or my birthday. The lethargy. The aimlessness. The feeling that I could've used my time more wisely instead of letting the hours slip past.

Not anymore.

Sunday evenings are Christmas Eve for me now. Why? Because Monday means that I can be alone. I can drop Zora off with her nanny, I can kiss my husband goodbye, and bliss out to NPR while crawling up 395N. When I arrive at work, I can brew a pot of coffee for my floormates, crawl into my office, and not come out for hours. If I do leave my solitude, it's only for a meeting or a quick trip to the kitchen to nuke my lunch and grab a Fresca before heading back to my office. My Space. It's decidedly unsocial.

After a weekend of serving as my family's chef, chauffeur, concierge, personal shopper, accountant, entertainer  -- Mama, I want yogurt. Mama, I want up. Hon, can you hang up your coat and put away your boots? Play with me. What's for dinner? What do we need at the store? -- I'm ready to unplug. Five minutes behind a locked bathroom door once a day is not enough. Besides, my dear girl knows how to knock, turn the doorknob this way and that, and push her little fingers under the door to wave at me. "You pooping, Mama? Can I see your poo poo?"

Yep. I love being alone, and I am not alone in feeling this way.