…I like my husband a little more. =)
I can remember three separate occasions on which I’ve cried openly in front of my father since learning the shame inherent in crying openly.
The first was the night my mother left us. I was fifteen, and he sat beside me in my bedroom while I sobbed into my pillow, hiding my face because I was so embarrassed and confused. He stroked my hair, patted my back, and asked me if I wanted to go to my grandmother’s house for the night. I told him no. I never told him it was because I didn’t want to be the second woman to leave him that day.
The second was the night before I went to jail. I was twenty-one, and he drove me from his house, where I’d gone to visit one last time, to my mother’s house, where I would spend the night before I had to turn myself in the next morning. He told me that we all had to face consequences and that everything would work itself out. It was only thirty days I had to spend away, but that night in the glow of the dash lights it felt like thirty years. I faced the window and pressed my lips together tight, but the pitch of my voice gave me away. I told him I was crying because I didn’t want to go to jail. I didn’t tell him that it was really because I was so embarrassed for having let him down, and disappointed in myself for having to leave him.
The third was tonight, when you cut him off in the middle of his sentence. He was telling me about his own memories of being my age. The sun had just gone down and the overwhelming humidity of the day had finally broken and I was rocking in my rocking chair and listening to him and thinking how unusual – but how thoroughly nice – it was to have him visit and tell stories and just be with me. I know you don’t know this, because you didn’t take the time to stop and wait for my attention. You burst through the screen door with that wild, pissed off look I’ve gotten so familiar with, and you didn’t yell, but you hissed, “I can take this anymore. They’re both fucking crying and I don’t know what to do.” Then you stormed back inside to sulk and pout. I’ll bet I know another thing you didn’t know. I’ll bet you didn’t know that I’d been listening on the monitor and they’d been crying for under two full minutes.
Tonight is the last night I cry in front of my father over you. Tonight, I’m going to let you deal with them the way you let me deal with them for the first three weeks of their lives: all alone. All those nights that I dealt with two howling newborns completely independently because my husband “needed his sleep for work.” All those nights, frustrated and bewildered and completely forbidden to call you downstairs from your air conditioned bedroom to help me, or just to console me while I attempted to console them. I had no idea what to do with them. I had no idea what to do with myself all those mornings afterward, when I’d had no sleep and my breasts ached and bled from my failure at breastfeeding, which mirrored what I considered my horrible failure at motherhood, and when no one was coming to relieve me of any of it – not for a shower, not to go to the bathroom, not to sit quietly in another room or have a bite to eat – for hours. And I figured it out because you gave me no other option. And I’m a god damned good mother for it now, so it’s time you became a god damned good father.
I’ll be back tomorrow. Until then, it’s up to you to figure it out. If I can do it, so can you.
I’ve been posting all of the not-so-nice moments of parenthood and I sound like a Whiny McWhinerson. Oooh, speaking of whine which -> wine, I have a bottle in the fridge now that I’ve given up attempting to be Mother Superior and breastfeed twins. I know the social etiquette about drinking before five p.m., but what about drinking before five a.m.?
For the past two nights I’ve gotten these girls down at eight in the evening and they’ve not woken up until three in the morning. I think someone may be coating their bottles with Robitussin. And I love that person. But Thursday night was a bad deal all around. Harper was screaming bloody murder and absolutely refused to be consoled. Neither bottle nor poop cleanup nor dark of night could quiet the noise and I love her, dearly and with all of my wasted heart, but her cries can be mind-numbing and infuriating at the same time when one cannot puzzle out what it is that she wants.
Turns out what she wanted was to poop. Poor thing was constipated all that day, that night, and most of Friday. And let me tell you, after a quick convo with the pediatrician after discovering what can only be described as a poo cork on a Friday afternoon diaper change, the last thing you want is for your child to become constipated. Because what they want you to do before you resort to apple juice or Karo syrup…what they want you to do to your infant daughter with the thermometer and the Vaseline and the warm bath…well, it just seems as though it may border on wildly inappropriate and I really didn’t want to do it. I’m thanking all that’s holy that the warm bath was all we needed, and that the subsequent daily dose of apple juice has realigned the planets and kept Chaos at bay. They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, apparently it keeps the rectal thermometer away as well, so I’m now the biggest fan of apples in the history of apple fans, I do declare.
My brother in law has really taken to these girls, and fawns over them and buys them presents as though they are famous socialites or something. The one thing he just doesn’t have the stomach for – bless his heart – is poop. He’s always here helping and playing with them but when he opens a diaper to find that they’ve cooked him a treasure he hands them off to us. Even the talk of poop brings a reflexive grimace to his face. I’ve assured him that having children throws one headlong into a necessary comfort with poop and pee and puke and all of the important “p” words, really. One month ago I would have needed an entire Hazmat scrub-down had I found myself with poop on my finger or puke between my breasts. Now here I am, having had a close encounter of every kind with pretty much every mucousy, smelly, biohazardy bodily fluid an infant girl can produce and standing here to tell the tale.
It’s amazing how comfortable one gets with children – and with all of their byproducts – when one is given the task of keeping one of the little creatures alive. It’s funny…the thought of handling another person’s baby still makes me cringe with discomfort, but I’ve gotten comfortable swinging mine around like those crazy ass mother apes you see on the Discovery channel.
Random note to close on: I’m craving cigarettes and chocolate soft serve ice cream like it’s my job. The ice cream I get. Ice cream is delicious. But I’ve not had a cigarette since day three of my honeymoon. The day I discovered that I was pregnant. The smell of cigarette smoke now turns my stomach. Yet all I can think about right now is rocking on my porch with a Camel Crush. What is wrong with me?
I knew it was coming. Mike works first shift. With saws. Big, scary saws that hunger for fingers and human blood. He needs to sleep before he clocks in. Which means I’m on third shift with the kiddos. Which means I don’t sleep for more than two hours at a time. That’s on a good day. And it’s usually during the day after my (wonderful, fabulous, life-saving) mother shows up.
Recently (read: within the past two days) Harper has decided that falling asleep is for suckers, and she fights it, Gladiator vs. Lion style. June, as well, has taken to a recent bout of fussiness and all I can say is bless the poor fucker who has a baby with actual colic. Because this is nowhere near that bad and there are times that I need to go into another room and curl up into a corner and weep silently to myself for a few moments. And we’re only three weeks in. Yee Haw.
Anyway, I’ve discovered Harper’s kryptonite. It’s this video:
Bad news is that that video is so…fucking…disturbing. For real. I try to play it for her with her back to the computer screen so that crazy shit doesn’t scramble her little brain. I, on the other hand, can’t seem to tear my eyes away, although watching that time and again for the past two nights has given me the intense compulsion to tear my eyes out.
Jesus wept. Who came up with that unholy mess? And why does Harper like it so much. Could she be the evil twin? Could she be secretly trying to break me down already? I thought the mind games didn’t start until they developed an understanding of the concept of manipulation.
I’m so screwed.
I get them back, though. Every morning, when they’re trying to sleep, I wake them up to this:
Gotcha, kids! Har har.
…that it was possible to love something as intensely as I love these.
Harper Lennon (right)
5:04 pm May 18th, 2012
6 lbs 11 oz
Juniper Cash (left)
5:06 pm May 18th, 2012
6 lbs 13 oz
And this is us 6 days later…
I don’t know how regular my posts will be for the next few weeks as I try to learn how not to kill, maim or otherwise damage my children (or myself). What a long strange trip it’s going to be. Love you, WordPress.
“Dear” Mike’s Cat:
Please be advised that up to this point I have been exceedingly forgiving of your poor attitude and refusal to be a player on Team Geer. It is now four o’clock in the morning and, although you have let me sleep an extra two hours this morning, I feel compelled to inform you that my position on the Humane Society is rapidly swinging to a dangerous end of the spectrum. What once sounded cruel and heartless is now sownding more and more like the appropriate response to your terroristic behavior.
Please allow me to explain something to you: I sleep poorly to begin with. I have a beach ball strapped to my abdomen. I am a stomach sleeper. It is not fun to wake up realizing that I’ve rolled onto my beach ball and that the human beings inside my beach ball are probably being deprived of oxygen. Therefore, when I happen to have a good night, and find myself still dreaming at two, three, or four in the morning, I would like it to stay that way. I would not like to wake up to the sound of your deep-throated howling.
At what could you possibly feel frustrated? The dynamics of my entire househould were thrown into upheval the moment you entered. Everything, everything, in this house revolves around you, oh feline queen of all that is dramatic. Verily, verily, you are without a doubt, the most blatant example of everything about a cat that makes people not like cats. You are the reason that I – who love cats dearly – can understand why some people don’t.
You scratch my walls. You scratch my couch. You scratch my cats. The only things you don’t scratch are me and my husband which, it is my belief, is true only due to the fact that you are just smart enough to realize that, were you to scratch one of the bipedal creatures you consider your staff, you would find yourself (to borrow and adapt a phrase from one of the greatest skits of all time) in a burlap sack down by the river.
You refuse to allow any of the other cats in the house, who all got along reasonably well before your arrival, near you. You sit behind the futon in the living room or in front of the mirror in the dining room, dolling out the stink eye as if you are somehow better than everyone else. You have an attitude about you that reeks of condescension. Were you human, you would take the form of an emo teenager. You would probably cut yourself superficially, not due to a legitimate psychological issue with which I would be able to empathize, but due to your own patholocial narcissism, which would merely annoy me.
We are about to have twin human babies in this house. I would like them to eventually sleep through the night. In order to do that, they will need you to cease this outrageous rending of the peace and quiet of the household. I have hitherto been, in my opinion, exceedingly forgiving of the many faults I find in your personality – even with new and greater faults emerging almost daily. My patience and forgiveness were tested most recently, almost to their breaking point, three weeks ago when you ate an entire tray full of vegetable seedlings, I can only assume, as an act of willful defiance. A statement that you have no regard for the rules of good behavior that ought to dictate the behavior of even the most antisocial feline. Believe me when I say that I understand feline personality, and I embrace it. Sometimes I wish I could emulate the casual aloofness that your kind is so well known for and exemplify it in my own lifestyle. But you, Cat, are proving unmanageable.
Surely you must know that when humans lose too much sleep they tend to become cranky. You must also be aware, regardless of the fact that you act foolish, that our possession of opposable thumbs puts us at a distinct advantage over you. Were you to have evolved with an ability to manipulate your surroundings sufficiently it might be us renting rooms from you. Sadly for you, this is not the case. My soft heart is calcifying daily, and at a more and more rapid speed. You are in dangerous territory and I feel compelled to warn you what awaits if you persist in this truly senseless behavior.
Instead of lounging in front of a wall heater, striking fear into my walls, couch, and other cats, you may find yourself crouched at the door of a steel cage with your litterbox located only inches from your food bowl. Instead of striking fear into the hearts of the other cats that surround you – now crowded around you rather than hovering nervously a few feet away – you will be the object of all of their hatred, both righteous and displaced. You will still howl nightly, but rather than being greeted by your father or myself coming down the stairs to placate you, you will find yourself howling yourself hoarse until morning, when someone will come to feed you kibble that is far, far below the standard you’ve come to expect. And no one – please believe me when I say this – no one is going to adopt you. Ever.
I urge you to modify your behavior to bring yourself within the scope of acceptability. I can only take so much.
The Woman Who’s Running This Show
Author’s Note: This really needs some heavy editing, but I felt compelled to publicly declare the conflict and then attempt more rest. Line edits will come later.