I wasn’t writing when Viva was as young as Pringles is now (one month old today!), but I know from reading my early blog entries that even when Viva was eight months old, I struggled to find time to write. Before you have kids, you think that you can just put the child down in its crib or give it an entertaining toy and you’ll have your hands free to do stuff. That is true sometimes, but as you moms know, babies and toddlers have a built-in “Mom is busy” radar that goes off, causing them to demand your full attention.
Perfect example: About ten minutes ago, Pringles stopped actively nursing and drifted off to sleep, nipple in mouth. I pried her off by using my pinky to break the suction. She frowned from somewhere in dreamland and stayed asleep. I transferred her to her swing and booted up my computer. Odie bought it in 2003, so it takes a LONG time to boot up. Do people even say “boot up” anymore? Am I showing my age with my outdated terminology?
When I finally got logged on to WordPress and began typing, she pooped long and loud. If I were home alone, that would have been the end of this attempt at writing. Luckily, Odie is here, so he spirited her away to the changing table, careful to first wash his hands. He has pink eye in both eyes. I have NOT been farting on his pillow. I’m way too tired. I just sort of fart wherever I’m sitting. I have no time to plan elaborate sneak fart attacks. Also, thanks to giving birth twice, I’m not exactly the lord and master of my elimination of late. I think I know how he contracted conjunctivitis, though.
Sunday, we went to our friends’ house for a party. Our best friends The Frenchies were in town with their two daughters, and we’ve been trying to get a party going at The Saints’ for months. They’ve been taking fabulous vacations since Papa Saint retired from over 30 years of teaching and it’s been nearly impossible to nail them down. Their house shows the improvements of an industrious man of leisure. There is a garden, rabbit hutches, a new door, a half-built addition, a hot tub, and a brand new barbecue gas grill. The Saints have two adult daughters who live with them on their large property. One daughter has two young children and the other has one. When Odie and I show up along with The Frenchies, the kid-count goes up to seven. Our friend Kit brings her grandchild too, making eight. Another pal, M.A. has a five year-old. Later, the preteens arrive for a cameo appearance, and it’s a child-free by choice person’s hell on earth. Grand total people under 18: eleven.
If I were another blogger, my website would be full of beautiful pictures of an idyllic afternoon by the pool. There would be close-ups of 11 pairs of feet. Sumptuous shots of the food, action pix of kids and adults jumping into the pool with broad grins on their faces, discreet snaps of mommies breastfeeding chubby pink babes, and glorious images of our shadows on the hot pavement.
And that would be beautiful. It would make childless people who dream of motherhood imagine a paradise of weekend family bliss. It would tell one version of a story, but not my story. What I discovered on Sunday is that taking two kids under three to a party is hard work. I had Pringles in the Moby Wrap when we first arrived, but the 90 plus degree temperature made that uncomfortable for both of us. In the old days, Odie and I adored parties at The Saints’ partly for the fact that everyone shows up with a couple bottles of wine. We used to par-TAY at these gatherings, carefully negotiating beforehand whose turn it was to drive home.
Now that we have two kids, we both have to watch a kid. Viva went swimming with Odie while I walked, shushed, bounced, and nursed Pringles. Then we switched off and Odie cuddled her while I took Viva to chase chickens, pet baby bunnies, and climb into a treehouse where the big kids declared her unwelcome and the five year-old snatched away every toy she could pick up with the admonishment, “That’s NOT yours!”
I’ve read on other blogs how wonderful it is to pass around sweaty babies and hunt for pirate treasure with toddlers, but my baby doesn’t much like to be passed. And the resident pirate was NOT sharing his treasure. Pringles is still so young that she wants Mommy and only Mommy. I also find myself a bit on edge when someone else is holding my newborn. Besides, everyone at this party has his or her own kids to wrangle.
It isn’t that we didn’t have fun. We absolutely had fun. I’m simply saying that I am struck by how different it is than before when we guzzled chardonnay and gossiped. While I thought that my two year-old would have a great time playing with The Saints’ grandkids and The Frenchies’ eight year-old and Kit’s six year-old granddaughter, the reality is that kids have complicated social hierarchies and can’t just be plugged into playtime together. They also do not share their toys or their spaces well. There is fighting and hitting and whining and crying. Accusations are hurled. Feelings get hurt. Constant intervention and negotiation is required.
It’s a whole new world. I love being a mommy of two, but this party reminded me how much my life has changed. I barely spoke two words to Papa Saint, and I had really been looking forward to seeing my Aries brother and hearing all about his recent excursions to Italy, Tahoe, and Balboa Island. But, alas, it was not to be this time around. I think Odie and I will get better at juggling the kids as we do it more.
And when the baby’s diaper explodes and Odie gets covered in shit, he probably won’t rub his eyes.