Wednesday, April 29

When the binky, blankie, or irreplaceable monkey are MIA

It was bound to happen eventually.

I was doomed the moment his sister handed her mint condition stuffed animal to Mason that I knew I would eventually one day regret condoning the gift.

It was from his sister, the one whose name he could utter before "Ma-Ma". [Okay, so it was abbreviated, and simply is just "Dee". But regardless, Justine could give Mason a used Kleenex and he would probably sit it up on his dresser with other eclectic treasures.] And to my previous point it was his favorite animal: a monkey.

So it went, for the past nine months, his "comfort blanket" is his one and only monkey, so affectionately called Monkey. He's two and a half. Seriously, what would you expect? Before he decided on Monkey, it was "Ooooh oooh" in imitation of the animal's sound, then it moved up to "Mun" and now is officially Monkey. His fur is matted, with excessive saliva from Mason's eternally wet thumb he sucks, or it becomes his portable and reusable tissue. Most of all it is his go-to buddy.

He pretends with him, he tells me daily that "Monkey is funny, Mommy!" as he sits there playing with the animal beating itself in the head. I realize his sense of humor is sick, but his father is the type of person who will laugh until he's wheezing at the guy on "America's Funniest Home Videos" who just unexpectedly received a blow to the family jewels by his son aimlessly swinging the Louisville slugger intended for the pinata.

Oh well. So yes, Mason is attached to his Monkey and clings to him throughout most of the day. And in nine months Monkey hasn't been misplaced for more than five minutes. I remember my own animal as a child, my lambie [which by no means resembles anything close to a baaaa-ing creature]. It is so mangled and is probably crawling with some distant virus strain destined to sicken my family should I ever take it out of storage. [Lamb flu beware!] But this critter was lost on a weekly basis by yours truly, and to avoid that I've been pretty anal in where we keep Monkey to avoid heartbreak.

Lunch time arrives today. I am ready to kick up my feet, and I know the homestretch is in sight with the boys quickly approaching their afternoon snooze. I glance around quickly looking for his stuffed primate and fail to locate it. Our home is a rancher. It is 1500 square feet at best. The toddler duo are permitted to frolic in about half of that. Monkey is MIA. Emergency lock down.

When a screaming fit ensued after I put Mason in his crib without his BFF, I shut the door while he screamed "Monkey" repeatedly at the top of his lungs. I cursed at myself for being an unfit parent and continued looking under every cushion, behind every curtain, and even in the toilet. To no luck avail I looked outside too. Something clicked, and I realized that maybe it was left at Target this morning as I happily perused the isles in search of some gym duds to replace ones I currently wear that are nearly half my age. [Sick and yet also sad.] Worse than leaving him at Target certainly picked up by a monkeyknapper by this point, I recalled when I worked many moons ago I had a knack for leaving random items on the roof of my car when I loaded my gear in the mornings.

I had terrible visions of monkey's appendages being torn apart by the passing steady traffic beyond our driveway if I managed to leave him on the Jetta roof. I briefly contemplated scouring the road and digressed to going inside once more to look. Blasted scatterbrained mom!

Kicking myself in the ass the whole way into the house I envisioned some way of making it up to him. I didn't care about the cost... just to make up for my ill intentions in lieu of losing his best friend.

As I sulked into the house ready to scan Amazon for their monkey stock pile, I spotted his beloved in a glass cabinet where I store extra diapers.

Oh glory be, I never thought I'd be so happy to see that snot-ball of a primate in all my life, and if there were room to do cartwheels [and had he the know-how] Mason would have done five in a row when I brought that lil' bugger back into his arms.

BUT, I still plan to check out Amazon for the day I really do accidentally plunge the little furball into oncoming traffic.

Thursday, April 16

Curiosity killed it

After gleefully ending my very nonchalant previous entry about how loopy and downright psychotic I was for scheming a pregnancy in my mind, my good ol' friend I look forward to seeing approximately every 29 days decided to be a "no show" last week.

Yes, I just finished writing doting comments about missing the sheer innocence of my toddler boys who it seems only last Tuesday were cooing sweet nothings in my ears. But then panic began to stir inside and I began to wonder if I really was, indeed, pregnant.

The day I came to this realization, was also the day that for the first time in a very long overdue time Jason and I were making a night of hanging out with friends and a few, if not many, adult beverages without the slightest sense of fear that the more intoxication and time that went by the wayside the closer we were to toddlers banging on their cribs at 7:30am. I am still cringing as I think of the glorious hangover headache that followed that evening of fun. However, it was Good Friday, and as I mentioned I vividly remember the positive pregnancy test I took on that very same day two years ago when Peyton was just as little as a gummi bear.

I imagined this as God's little plot against me: never speak too soon, Steph. Damn you, irony! Off I went to kill my curiosity like a shamed teenager holding a pregnancy test amid the horrid grocery store check out lines. I raced home and took the first of four tests [bearing in mind I knew I was going to do this all over again to make sure]. When only one stunning line appeared I was ready to bound out of the bathroom doing cartwheels. So the plans went on as usual and we indulged in a night of fun, and discovered how old we really were when 10:00pm began to feel like we were going to hear the last call bell toll in the bar.

One hangover later, and a few days passed and my friend still did not appear. Infuriated by this I continued to feel completely wiped out, and I felt the urgency to be sick at a moment's notice... not that my sharade with Kettle One had anything to do with it. By all accounts I was still convinced I was pregnant, so I took another test which again was negative.

Even with two negative tests, worry continued to settle in my mind. It was no longer an ideal I wanted as I knew it was just not feasible for this to happen. We are a family of five. We have three bedrooms. Two toddler boys plus another baby on the way- in one room? I can think of more entertaining ways to torture myself than considering that. At this point we are a two car family driving with three in one, two in the other because we cannot fit all of us together in one sedan. How would I get anywhere with three astronimcally large infant seats? I had visions of pushing a triple stroller all over town to get anything done. Worse yet, staying home literally every minute of the day for lack of any transportation. It sounds, admittedly, presumptuous to write that as I know there are families in just that predicament. Like, right now. And it's a helpless feeling in all seriousness.

Another day later, I woke up to find remnants of Jason's breakfast scattered among the kitchen. He left a mess from where he packed his lunch, used silverware remained unwashed, and the milk was left out, which sounds like no big deal but he has a breakdown if the milk sits out unused for more than two seconds and hunts for the perpetrator immediately. He called a few minutes later and said, "I have it all figured out."

"Eh what?"

"I decided that if you're pregnant, we'll just covert the family room back to a bedroom, put up some new walls, buy two door frames-one for the hallway and one by the kitchen, toss the furniture in storage, put the TV in the basement and keep the baby in that room until Justine goes to college. It'll work out just fine. I took the room measurements and have everything with me in school. I'm good now."

Well that settles that, I thought. Relieved that at least we would have somewhere to put this unnamed child besides the attic, I let the worry go.

It would have been fine. Really. A place to put a crib was a biggie. The car thing? It would have worked out. Food?! Heck we're growing our own veggies this summer, green thumb style, so at the very least we would have rabbit food for this baby en route.

Once we had our "ah hah!" moment, my friend showed up within a few hours knocking loud and clear. And just like that, we remained once more a family of five.

So with that said, motherhood to infants is officially one chapter that is closed for me. But hey, I like my family room as it is, so I suppose that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Monday, April 6

Retiring from the club

Although time at home marches at a snail's pace on a daily basis, when Friday is upon me I suddenly realize that another week has gone by and my kids are becoming little boys and only trace amounts remain of anything baby.

Okay. So Peyton is still regarded in age by months, and in the big picture is still a baby, but not baby in the sense of cooing-and-yearning-to-be-held-in-my-arms baby. And Mason, is nearly 2 1/2. He is definitely of the age when "half" is a mighty big deal, and so on Saturday he will officially be 2 1/2. But, frankly, they're aging too quickly for my liking.

The other week I caught up with a friend from high school who just welcomed his second baby girl to his growing family. His first daughter is not quite two, and thus has joined a club I formerly understood well: 2 under 2.

While I know that having two mini me's under twenty-four months is a not a large feat in light of octomoms and quadromoms and families exceeding any normal standard in terms of offspring. For me, however, it was a big deal.

Two years ago, after adjusting to the perks of normal clothing, the joy of being able to see my feet again, and bypassing the maternity section with confidence, I learned I was pregnant again on Good Friday. Mason was all but five months old. Out came the same blasted maternity clothes that I so happily packed away, and with it came the nausea and exhaustion that only arrives with a little human growing inside.

When the time came for Peyton to be born, I felt Mason was this ridiculously mature and independent young boy, but really was only two months younger than Peyton is now. Their births are separated by 14 months and 4 days. Now Peyton is nearing his 16th month and I can no longer wear the "2 under 2" badge.

I sort of despise that.

But my friend can wear that badge proudly [and quite groggily], and I'm sure he and his wife are doing fabulously at it. It is draining, and tiring and I need not emphasize so much of this because if you are a parent you are sitting there nodding your head in agreement. But once you get past the incessant exhaustion your infant becomes more mature and you hear of a friend's new baby, or you see a little newborn nestled in her stroller, and you know that though your kids are still relatively young they are in fact no longer in that newborn camp.

And I guess I honestly miss that. Peyton is no longer content sitting on my lap or playing patty cake. Hello? He's a toddling boy who is nearing his one-and-a-half birthday. Why would he want his crazy, emotionally wired mom ogling at him in his face wishing he were still young enough to enjoy this pastime? But I do so miss the tiny onesies, and swaddling, and iddy-bitty hands that grasp onto my pinky making it look of gigantic proportion.

I've been treading over this beaten path for a while now, knowing that we are 99.985% certain there will be no more babies in this home [of the human variety]. Two weeks ago I threw up out of the blue without any signs of flu or food poisoning. Then I was drastically tired thereafter wondering what in the world was wrong with me. Things started smelling incredibly pungent to my nose and I kept myself up for a few nights with my mind running a thought marathon as to what we were going to do with this imaginary baby growing inside of me. What else could explain all of the peculiar pregnancy symptoms? My rational brain cell intercepted this fantasy and concluded that my menstrual cycle is like clockwork now and I haven't missed my friend for about 16 months so I avoided the $15 cost of a home pregnancy test and accepted that no matter how much I am willing that tiny miracle again, I am not pregnant.

It's the process of retiring my "2 under 2" badge that has gotten to me. First, it was the empty, unused bassinet that sat in our room for months until my friend needed it for her newborn, since Peyton quickly outgrew it. It's the long overdue haircut that I just gave Peyton who was bordering on the ownership of a toddler mullet because I didn't want to have to do that first cut; because his first haircut meant the last time I would see his fine baby hairs. It's the pack 'n play that continues to sit in our room now, where the bassinet formerly resided, that Peyton once used to nap. But he hasn't slept in there for four months. It's a void I'm choosing to fill because moving it will be another reminder that, yes they're growing up.

Don't get me wrong. I love all of the new things they're doing now. I love the degree of quirkiness that Peyton shouts "Ma-meeeeee!" with a proud little grin on his face. And the full sprint colliding hugs I get from Mason out of the blue with a kiss landing smack dab on my lips. I enjoy the forward roll that he continues to practice daily, and the 5-word sentences he's putting together.

However, retirement by its very nature can be a bittersweet accomplishment. It's a celebration of working so damn hard, but I think retirement can also mean closing a chapter that is often times missed down the road. And I know the forfeit of my "2 under 2" badge is one of small magnitude but I haven't underestimated the challenge that club brought. I am proud to be an alumn. I don't yearn for baby puke, twelve feedings a day accompanied with equivalent diaper changes, or the shrill ear piercing newborn cry.

But the aforementioned good stuff? Yea. I miss that. And most certainly always will.