Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sometimes the Universe answers you...(an appreciation...eventually)

You’ve seen it. I know you have. Hordes of rampaging toddlers like knee high Godzillas pillaging while their hapless parents trail behind, saying, “No, no…don’t touch, be careful, no, NO” etc.

I may be exaggerating. But not by much.

Picture it--today started beautifully—sunshine and blue skies. The birds singing. If the mercury seemed to be a trifle high for that hour of the morning, well…it’s spring! We WANTED spring. Didn’t we?

Madam and I took the bus to the library, picked out some new books, and had lunch, all without incident. I did notice, as the afternoon wore on, that she seemed a little tired. “Ah-ha!” I thought, pleased with my prescience. “We should go home. She clearly needs a nap.”

Oh, too little, too late.

As the bus slid smoothly through traffic in the left lane, it happened to stop directly in front of the playground.

You can see where this is going. Madam took one look at it, shiny swings and enticing slide, and lost her little mind.

Now, the books all say that you shouldn’t give in once the screaming starts. That it just teaches them to scream for whatever they want.

Usually, I follow this advice reasonably well, but I was hard pressed in this instance.

However, the choice was out of my hands. We were at a traffic light, not just a traffic light, but what had to be THEEE slowest traffic light in all the known universe. I swear, I’ve seen couples meet, fall in love, marry, have children, and dance at their Golden Jubilee wedding anniversaries while waiting for this light to change.

And so we were parked there, and Madam was screaming and arching her back now, and I could see the thought bubbles pop up over the other commuters’ minds. First compassion, “Oh, poor baby. It’s so hot.” Then, annoyance. “Why can’t her mother calm her down already?” Then, frustration. “Now we’re stuck with this damn screaming kid for the whole remainder of this bus ride, and I”ve had a long day and I’m TIRED, damn it!” Etc, etc. People in MPLS are VERY nice, known for it, in fact, but they deal better with the bitter cold than this unexpected heat.

Meanwhile, I was cycling through my repertoire of calming techniques, with absolutely NO success.

Did I mention yet that I had a headache so powerful it had earlier brought tears to my eyes?

So, yes, today, I was That Mother. The one who cannot pacify her child, make her behave.

Finally, in about the length of time it takes Pluto to orbit the sun, the light changed and we lurched forward. As soon as we got to the first bus stop, my writhing Madam and I got off.

The driver said, “Thank you.” I’m sure the other passengers said it too, silently.

I walked the rest of the way home, trying to tune out her wails.

After I took a Tylenol and a brief nap (thank you, TEG), I had a “eureka” moment. I have the answer to yesterday’s question of “where have all the deep thoughts gone?” Every brain cell I possess goes into trying to understand Madam’s wordless wants, and finding a way to either give them to her or (more usually) to redirect her with a minimum of screaming. At the end of the day, I just don’t have ANY more mind to spare. I am spent.

And that made me think of so many of my favorite bloggers, who have babies or toddlers or (horrors!) both at home, and STILL manage to write beautifully and profoundly about their lives, their work, their art. To them all I say, WOW and “can you teach me how to do that?”

So there is my little Mother’s Day meme, and a way to express my admiration—check these people out, if you don’t already. You won’t be sorry.

A Little Pregnant
Be Alive Believe Be You
The Bean Counter
The Believing Soul

Better Make it a Double (twins!
Brooklyn Girl
Bub and Pie
City Mama

Colors on my Mind
Her Bad Mother
Here Be Hippogriffs

La Vie en Rose
Leery Polyp
Left Handed Trees
Life's Jest Book

Mimi Smartypants

Mother words: Mothers Who Write
My Topography

Pink Coyote
Phantom Scribbler
Silent K
Superhero Journal

Sweet Juniper

I know this is a VERY incomplete list (I am only including those I read who I know have babies or toddlers (up to age 3/4) at home—got any you’d like to add? I stopped at toddlers because older children are easier...right? RIGHT?

Thanks for giving me something to strive towards, everyone. You show me that the mind AND the children can co-exist, beautifully, something I am still working on myself. I bow and tip my imaginary hat to all of you.



Blogger Leah said...

but hey, you did just write beautifully and profoundly! i loved this post. and an early happy momma's day to you!

11:10 AM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger bee said...

hi, mardou....

happy mother's day. and even though i've never actually seen you with madam, i know you're a wonderful mother. it comes through in the way you write about her.

12:20 PM, May 11, 2007  
Anonymous fern said...

Hey babe,
So sorry to hear about your miserable day. Wish I could be there to give you a hug! I had an awful day myself, two words: poison ivy.
Happy Mother's day! You write wonderfully, inspite of what you go through every day. I know that things will look up soon. :)

10:00 PM, May 11, 2007  
Blogger Amber said...

Actually, you're one of the more profound "writing mamas" I've seen on blogger!

I completely understand the insanity of having babies... my daughter, still unable to walk but able to crawl like a cheetah, keeps me out of my chair for most of the day. With headaches galore, usually. And yet - it's not so bad all the time, right?

Please tell me it gets easier!

12:12 AM, May 12, 2007  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Awww, thank you! But you know - I am totally THAT mother - who can't calm the crying/yelling/freaking child.

I'm that mother right now, actually...

1:10 PM, May 12, 2007  
Blogger bubandpie said...

"because older children are easier...right? RIGHT?"

That's what I keep telling myself, anyway. And so far it's been true.

Your story reminded me of my latest comforting theory - that when we're feeling my like bad mothers, that's when we're BEING good mothers.

2:16 PM, May 12, 2007  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

Happy Mother's Day!

2:34 AM, May 13, 2007  
Blogger kate said...

My dear, thank you, but I actually turn to you when I am feeling spent and horrible. At least Madam doesn't beat other children or throw them down the stairs at the park. Does she? These were my finest moments as a parent. But, in the end, they passed too (thank God).

But I feel the same way. At the end of the day all I am capable of is watching television. I do nothing that involves thinking because I simply cannot think.

You write beautifully, always, and because of this I wouldn't give a second thought to crisis. Embrace peachy.

6:35 PM, May 13, 2007  
Blogger Rach said...

I think your writing is amazing despite Madam and the tantrums. Keep at it, I love reading your posts

4:04 AM, May 14, 2007  
Blogger Melba said...

Oh how I wish we could have a playdate.
I soooooooooo understand you and have been exactly there just yesterday when we were leaving my sisiter in laws. I was tired with a headache and Maggie screamed and screamed because she did not want to leave and I just breathed.
and today I have some time to make collages, but I am blogging instead because I lost my groove. Motherhood is tiring. I hope after I pick Ethan up from school to just try.
I hear you.
I hear you.
I am with you.

and Hey and thanks for the love! :)
Right back at you!!!

12:49 PM, May 14, 2007  
Blogger Maddie said...

I laughed and loved this post -
and wanted to hug your little girl.


Make tea.



8:30 PM, May 14, 2007  
Anonymous KG said...

Oh, yes. I feel your agony in this moment --- nothing like a public transportation meltdown!

And the insight about being "spent" at the end of the day? Right on. I've read studies that mothers' brain actually increase in intelligence and problem-solving skills because of the challenges and quick thinking we must do every day. So there is an upside to all of tantrums --- they're making you smarter! ;)

Hope you had a wonderful mother's day.

10:08 AM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous tammy vitale said...

older kids are easier, right?

Well, mine are 26 and 31 and, yeah, sure, older kids are easier...of course that depends on how you define "easier..."

11:26 AM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Amber said...

HAHAHahahahaaaahahahA! Boy, do I have you fooled, it would seem. Honey, I have no brain. None at all. Any bit that looks like it might be a brain, is really just Starbucks. Sometimes Petes. That is it. That is all. I actually stood naked in front of my closet yesterday for what must have been five minutes, wondering what I was looking for again?? What was it?? Oh! Undies. Yeah. And I only remembered when Georgia said to me, "I see your booty!"

I am NOT kidding.

We are all on the same boat. But it will dock soon. Right? Hello?


10:54 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger Alexandra S said...

Happy Belated Mother' Day to you. I know if I had children I would share so many of these struggles and experiences in their first years. I don't know how you do it and I have the utmost respect for you for hanging in there with the toughest job in the world. And I don't know what you are talking about regarding your writing and thoughts. You just don't see your strengths and gifts somehow right now but that don't mean they ain't there! xo

11:45 PM, May 17, 2007  
Blogger paris parfait said...

Ah, the joys of motherhood! And best of all, they change constantly, as the children age. :) You're doing fine; don't worry so much. Hope your Mother's Day was happy! xo

3:22 PM, May 18, 2007  
Anonymous krista said...

Sheesh, I've been particularly short tempered with George lately, I feel your pain.

Thanks for including me on that list, I am honoured to be among the great bloggers you listed there, and I'm honoured to write a blog that YOU read.

9:03 PM, May 18, 2007  

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