Sunday, April 27, 2008

I have two kids... I think...

Yesterday I took advantage of the single, solitary day that we've had in the last week that was both warm AND dry and went garage-saling with a girlfriend of mine. Luckily (or un-luckily, depending on your take on garage sales... and walking), it was city-wide garage sale day in my little suburb, so we were able to park and hoof it most of the morning.

As my girlfriend was trolling from sale-to-sale with her 2 and 3-year-old in tow, I was thinking about how brave she was, at least according to my standards, because neither one of her kids were in a stroller. Now as far as my little angels were concerned - Jericho was securely strapped into his stroller with Joci never more than about 3 feet from the stroller and I wouldn't have it any other way - unless, of course, I had the option for a double stroller. While I do believe that kids will be kids, I also believe on controlling the variables that you can in order to reduce your chances for loss.

While we strolled and garage-saled along, I found myself doing what I do and constantly keeping an eagle-eye on Jocelyn. For those of you who don't know me or my parenting style so well, I'm always afraid of having "that kid" so poor Jocelyn gets away with nothing. The phrases "Jocelyn - no touching", "Jocelyn - stop teasing that dog", "Jocelyn - act like a lady", "Jocelyn - get your finger out of your nose", and even the occasional, firm "JOCELYN" followed by the ole evil eye, were all muttered several times throughout the morning.

It wasn't until we had bargain-shopped away about an hour and a half that I realized - - I had Jericho in the stroller, right? I had been spending so much time and effort making sure that Jocelyn wasn't going to drop that old lady's ceramic duck or pull down this old man's tattered blue robe that I hadn't paid one iota of attention to my other kid. I have two kids, right? Is he strapped in? Is he awake? Or asleep? Is he even still THERE? I ran around to the front of our SUV-sized stroller to see my little man not only still there, but awake and gleeful, enjoying the day from his shaded strolling haven. Sippy cup tucked under his arm and binky firmly placed in his mouth, he was great - perfect even - not so much as noticing that I had neglected to even check on him for over an hour now, but just pleased to see me. It was easy to see his delight as he smiled so big that his binky even fell out of his mouth.

So I got to thinking - Am I a bad or unfit mother? Did I just forget about my own child? How did this happen? I would have had to have been surgically removed from that stroller handle, yet I seemed to have forgotten why I was pushing it. Or was I subconsciously checking on him all along and just didn't realize it? Surely I would have noticed if my own son were missing, right?... RIGHT?

The more I thought about the situation, I realized that I'm not a bad mother and this doesn't mean that I love my son less than I love my daughter. Upon further reflection, I decided that, as far as I can see it, we as humans tend to give our attention to those things that seem to need it more - especially in the heat of the moment. If we're bad at cooking, for instance, we tend to think that we need to spend more time cooking in order to get better at it. Instead, what we should be doing is spending more time gardening or writing or showcasing a talent that we have and that deserves - not needs - our attention. Focusing on something just because we think that we should focus on it doesn't do any justice to the things that deserve to be focused on. Poor Jericho didn't need my attention, so I didn't give it to him. Jocelyn's disobeying actions didn't need my attention either, but since she was the bigger risk, I chose to focus on her. What I should have been doing was focusing on the positive (easier said than done) and finding a way for Jocelyn to enjoy this time that we all had together. I mean, let's step outside the box - Is she really doing to do any damage to that 4 year old Barbie, especially when it's obviously seen better days anyway? Probably not. Let her play with the Barbie (if you can handle breaking her heart to tell her that now you're not taking it home), and take a minute to make some silly faces at Jericho while you're waiting (to tell her that she can't take that Barbie home).

As far as the abandonment-situation-at-hand is concerned, I blame it on preoccupation. My thoughts, my brain, my eyes, my hands were all focused on different things. And I'm only human, after all (and contrary to what most people believe, all mommies are). In retrospect, I know that it wasn't that I'd forgotten about Jericho. I'm sure that I'd heard him babbling or seen his fat little finger pointing at something from the side of the stroller. But for some reason, when that feeling comes over you as a mom - it's the same feeling that awakens you in a panic the middle of the night to make sure they're breathing - you just have to act on it. And just having that feeling is what makes you a good mother. At least in my book.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Welcome to The Mommy Diaries. Come as you are.

Let me be the first to welcome you to the inaugural edition of The Mommy Diaries. Every week in The Mommy Diaries, we will be discussing all things mommy. If it pertains to being a mother, it will be covered here.

Some future topics of conversation may include: sleep deprivation, "enlightening" stories about poop, how to cook 4 meals for 4 different people, why you bother to cook 4 meals for 4 different people when no one eats it anyway, how to clean pureed squash off of a textured ceiling, important occasions that require your "nice" sweats, loving your fabulous mommy body (it must be nice to be you) OR hating your flab-ulous mommy body (to each her own). All in all, you get to hear stories about my everyday not-so-glamorous life as a mommy that may make you feel better about your own not-so-glamorous life as a mommy. And along the way, I'll try to throw in some tips that make this mommy's life a little easier.

So kick back, relax... throw on your favorite ugly sweats and grab a late-night cup of Joe. This is The Mommy Diaries.