Mostly For My Own Benefit.

As of yesterday morning, Twyla could take two-ish unassisted steps. As of yesterday evening, Twyla could walk—as in, while I was in the kitchen cleaning up the dinner dishes, she just walked on in, scaring me half to death. I managed to get video of some of her very first lurching around lunchtime yesterday:

Before you get too carried away by her grown-up brilliance, let me show you how Twyla plays peekaboo:

In the above picture, she thinks she is covering her eyes, I guess, or otherwise hiding herself. Basically, whenever she is in the mood (or hears the word “peekaboo”), she coyly clasps her hands to her temples, and then YOU are supposed to say “Where’s the baby?” even though it is patently obvious that the baby is RIGHT THERE, holding her head as if hungover/mildly concussed, at which point she will grin and throw off her hands for the big reveal (your cue to say “PEEKABOO!”).

The combination of smart/stupid delights me, and is a real selling point for this age. Twyla knows, in a rudimentary sort of way, how things work, what they are for, but the execution is not quite there. For instance, she will grab a toy phone off its little toy hook and, grinning, hold it expectantly to…the back of her head. It’s close! So close! And she is SO pleased with herself. I’d say she is about at dog-level, intellect-wise.

I found this while cleaning under the couch:

This particular Playmobil woman came in a nursery set with her baby and no other adults. Still. Let she who is without sin, Simone.

It was reassuring to hear so many people found age five to be insupportably whiny. The reason it was bothering me is that several times recently I have had the thought “I don’t like the mother I have turned out to be” float through my head, unasked for. It’s only partially true, because sometimes I DO like the mother I have turned out to be, very much! But it is also true that I am…snappier than I had anticipated. Snappier, and sterner, at least lately. And look, someone has to be the responsible disciplinarian one, and somehow that person is me (I am pretty sure my mother finds this hysterical, and I am likewise sure that the girls’ teen years are going to involve a lot of me sobbing into a wine glass while my mother tries to suppress a chortle), and I guess that’s fine, but UGH. So I am trying to reframe the whole thing—i.e., it’s not that I am a different kind of mother than I want to be in GENERAL, but perhaps I am not, as a mother, a terribly good fit for Five, and this year (well, the half of it that’s left) will take some extra effort. There are parts I AM good at—I am good at explaining and reassuring, and I am good at general silliness, and reading aloud, and lots of unglamorous things like making dinner and packing lunches. I still wish I didn’t hear myself saying SIMONE! CUT IT OUT! quite so often, though.

Since May I have been making lists of monthly goals, ala Jennie. Jennie is full of good ideas, but the thing I like about her monthly goal lists is that a) the lists are practical, ambitious but very doable, neither “aspirational” nor twee, and b) she doesn’t usually cross every item off, because she is a human living in the world, but she doesn’t self-flagellate, she just posts the honest end-of-the-month accounting and moves on. Anyhow, I forgot to post my lists for May (which I CRUSHED) and June (uh…a less successful month), but here is July:

1. Finish Simone’s room
(There are a couple of bins that need to be moved/cleaned out, bookends that need buying, etc.)
2. Finish essay
3. Submit proposal for second book to agent
4. Vanquish Mt. Laundry
(I had it almost entirely vanquished at one point, but the fact that I cannot do laundry when I am home alone with children ruins everything. Our laundry room is four flights down a twisting set of rickety steps and when it was just preschool-aged Simone I felt comfortable leaving her to dart to the basement, but now, with a baby…no. Add camp (filthy) and a toddler (filthier) and the need for nine quarters per load, and you have a nightmare situation. The worst part is, I like doing laundry! If I had a washer and dryer in my apartment (that I could use for free, mind) I would do laundry ALL THE TIME! I’d be doing laundry RIGHT NOW! I can’t wait to be able to throw in a load without worrying about trips to the bank and how many stupid quarters we have left, and I dream of the day—later this year, with any luck—we have our very own laundry facilities, preferably less than four damn flights from our living area.)
5. Lose five lbs
6. Go to park five times
(Where did summer go? We are very behind in our frolicking.)
7. Register Simone for sport/camp/activity
(Camp proper ends the 19th, but she’s expressed interest in a one week, mornings-only camp at our local park.)
8. Mail
(You don’t want to see the stack of mail I have been studiously ignoring. The shame.)
9. Plan August festivities
(In anticipation of kindergarten starting in September, all of August is pretty much devoted to Fun With Simone. We made a big list of things we want to do, and I need to schedule them, etc.)
10. Pedicure and dinner with Mother
11. Go through bank statement for things to cancel
12. Post ten times
13. Go to the Goat Show and write about it (notes/draft form is fine)
14. Organize Simone’s toys
15. Read five books
16. Clean out car, have washed

It looks like a lot, but many of these things are very near completion. There is no reason I shouldn’t be able to accomplish all of this in July. I know it’s likely that other things will come up and time will slip away and I won’t manage every thing on the list, but it is a challenge on a reasonable scale. I’m not hauling a boat over a mountain or anything, after all. It’s definitely sub Fitzcarraldo. That is my preferred difficulty level in all things.


  1. HereWeGoAJen says:

    I cannot describe how delighted I was to finally get in home laundry. And when I had to walk up flights of stairs with teetering laundry baskets? I didn’t even have kids yet. That must be the worst.

    Elizabeth learned to walk the same way. One night when she was supposed to be in bed but instead had screamed her way out, she took her hand off the end table and walked into our bedroom. Just like “oh, yeah. I do this now.”

  2. Lea says:

    9 quarters for laundry?? Sheesh! I remember the olden days when it only took 4! Have you…ummm….tried that trick…ummm….with the old pantyhose? (I feel kind of bad encouraging you to become an immoral launderer, but I can’t help myself.) You put the foot of the pantyhose down first, covering the place where you set the quarters, then put the quarters on top of the hose, put the other side of the hose over the quarters, and if you are lucky and can get it to still slide in and out, your quarters come right back to you! This doesn’t work if your machine just has slots that drop down of course. Only works for the slider-types.

  3. Jennifer says:

    oh-my-god the playmobil woman literally had me in tears laughing so hard. Someone needs to learn the alternate definition of ‘ho’ very quickly. still wiping tears away, sooo funny!

  4. Oh, honey. I have so much sympathy for the laundry situation! I don’t even have children, and four years ago, I decided that I couldn’t live in a place without washer-dryer in unit. Being a med. student, I’m doing laundry from probably 10 p.m.- 2 a.m., and like hell if I’m going to walk four flights of stairs (or into another building, like I had to at one apartment) at that hour! If I could send you a built-in washer-dryer, I would do it in a second!

  5. Ellie says:

    I definitely found that the middle-ish years (kids ages roughly 5-10) were the years of The Stern Mother. I didn’t like being that way — so different from baby-toddler-prehool mothering, and then the teen years are just plain silly, if you ask me, and I don’t tens to be phased by them — but it seemed to be what was required. Perhaps if I were so blessed to be anle to do it again it would be different? I, too, rocked things like reading aloud and general silly playtime and meals and so on … And then then was the Gen.Mother.Yes.Ma’am!! that the children had to contend with …. They sre 11, 13, and 24 now and given to chatting about me, pondering how I’m not stern any more (“you were always nice!” They hasten to reassure me. “Just …. Stern.”), and how they find that bemusing. Mnd, they pin the change to my brain tumor of three years ago. I am not recommending one for you; but perhaps, in the fullness of time, SternParenting will become less necessary.

  6. Jennie IS inspiring, non? Maybe I should try to nail down some goals in a public way too. Perhaps that would inspire me to achieve them.

    I love Twyla’s version of peekaboo. I personally choose to believe that she’s actually punking you, seeing if you’ll play along.

  7. Becky says:

    Twyla is delicious!! And I loved your dog reference; I remember the day I realized my kid and my dog understood pretty much the same things. So glad to know I’m not the only one comparing my kid to a yorkie.

  8. Jennie says:

    I think next month I’m going to add “eat cake” to my list because 1) my lists are lacking cake and 2) cake.

    (Thank you for the nice words!)

  9. Flyover Belle says:

    I *knew* there was a reason I liked having my own machines.
    Good grief. Hope that situation resolves soon.
    And thank you for the monthly list idea.

  10. Olivia says:

    Oh my, if I had a laundry situation like yours I’d have a mountain of dirty clothes, too. I used a laundromat for 5 years, but most of those I was single and then just husband and I. When we moved I said I didn’t care if the washer/dryer were in the living room; I simply would not consider a house without it. Mine are practically in the living room, they are in a niche between the entryway and the kitchen right next to the living room, and I don’t care. It’s actually really convenient to hop off the couch and switch loads around.

  11. Alexicographer says:

    I’m mothering a 6-year old and feel *I* need to remember to say, “Cut It OUT!” more often, so there’s that. No doubt someone’s got this exactly right, but it’s tricky.

  12. SO LOL at your 5 year old whining sitch. I’m in the same boat, but mine are 6 and 4, and I’m an ECSE teacher, for Gawds sakes! LOL I find myself wondering if my kids will grow up with a complex and be in therapy because of the way I’m PARENTING, when here I thought I’d be So awesome at it! It’s tough! Tough tough tough!
    And LMAO at Playmobil as well!

  13. Joyce says:

    My husband, waking up when my older daughter was five: I dreamed vampires were real, and we had to stake Juliet.
    Me: Was she a vampire, or was it the whining?

    • Jessica says:

      I have found that my best laundry solution is to throw money at it and send it out. I still do my own, er, unmentionables. But socks/gym clothes/sheets/towels/napkins/tableclothes/tee shirts/ jeans — anything that’s un-f’up-able and not too personal goes out. I did the math – my laundry in my building is expensive too — and it worked out to be like $30 to pay a woman to do my laundry for me. She picks up and drops off. IT’S AWESOME.

Leave a Reply