Friday, January 29, 2010

Desire and Reality

Charlie and Manny at the zoo.

Yesterday Manny and I were in his room, preparing to change into "day-jams" after preschool. Sometimes, Manny emits a pained groan when he realizes he is still wearing daytime clothes and that he is not yet cloaked in jammies. So I was surprised when he paused to search for something in his nose. It took a while and I waited patiently because I had seen another mother at preschool speak sharply to her daughter about nosepicking and it seemed to me far too small of a thing to warrant such harsh criticism.

When the object made its appearance, I congratulated Manny on his find and whisked it off his finger to take it to the garbage. This one was too big to store on the inside of my sock for future laundering. He started to shriek, "I wanted that!" I said, "What were you going to do with it? Eat it?" I had a suspicion. "Yes!" he cried. "You can't eat boogers Manny. It's like eating pee," I said. How does one eat pee? But Manny didn't pick up on that. He accepted my explanation and got into his day-jams.

Tonight at dinner, Manny suddenly called out in a panicky voice, "WET TOWEL!", which is how he notifies me that he has sticky hands. I got him a towel and said, "You can just ask me in a calm voice and I'll get it for you right away. You don't have to get upset." He whined, "But I want to get upset!" I understood that. Fair enough.

I feel like our household is ruled by desires and not usually my own. Like when Glory ripped off her diaper in Manny's room tonight and peed boldly all over Manny's carpet. While I was cleaning that up with Glory's pants, Elena took off her diaper and crouched in the corner behind the dresser to pee. I didn't discover that until she went back later and stepped in the puddle.

If it were not for Curious George, there would have been no dinner because all three kids had to have physical contact with me simultaneously from 3:30 until 5:00 when the blessed monkey made his appearance. And the physical contact is specific to each child. Glory has to have her hand inside my bra, Manny has to be climbing on my head, my hair firmly in his grip, and Elena has to be everywhere the other two want to be, so the peace comes in very short intervals in-between a lot of jockeying for position.

And when I have the chance to go to the bathroom, I glance at the mirror and think, "Who is this person?" I don't even recognize myself. I look worn, which to me means I look like I'm in my 30s without a hairstyle, desperately in need of lip gloss and there is a stray, dare I say it, nose hair that glistens in the light that seriously needs some attention, but that would require a serendipity of opportunity and memory. I'm sure once it starts to tickle my upper lip, I will find the time. But, I also look loved and focused. And maybe some other interesting stuff, but who can say because these glances last half a second before Glory bursts in, climbs on the toilet with her blanket in hand, followed by Elena who pushes Glory onto the concrete floor and by the time I've ushered them both out, Elena has flushed the toliet at least eight times. This is seriously one of the best parts about motherhood. If you surrender, it really promotes discipleship- laying down one's self for the interests of others! Much easier to do when those others are screaming "MAMA!" at you and they are 2 1/2 feet tall, which really pulls on the heartstrings.

Most of the day today, I had a lingering desire to have a little time off. It was my morning to wake up early and Sam and I agree, the girls wake up earlier on my days. Somehow they know! But they aren't awake and happy. They are awake and somewhere on the scale between irritable and wailing. The four of us had plans to meet Kathleen and Charlie at the zoo today and I didn't think I was going to make it because it requires a hunt to kill commitment to dress any one of the children and I just didn't know if I had it in me. By the time I got to Manny, I was begging him to PLEASE HELP ME or we just wouldn't be able to go to the zoo. It wasn't a threat. It was the truth. I've heard that kids like it when you tell them the truth. Sure enough, Manny immediately stopped what he was doing and helped me. Maybe he likes my desperation. Maybe it makes him feel like he can relate.

But, thank God I didn't get time off today because some of the most beautiful things happened. The girls went right to sleep at naptime and I laid my head in Manny's lap while he watched PBS Kids and he gently stroked my hair all the while. Before they woke, Sam came home with the most beautiful book about Aslan that Carmen made for us and we wept together. Then, at bedtime, Sam and I each took long turns squeezing Glory and Elena. It's a new game where we say "SQUEEZE!" in a really strained voice, like we just whacked our funny bone on the washing machine and we jump around in circles while we're squeezing. They love it and gave me serious kisses afterward. And then, for the icing on the cake, I got to be the last one to see Manny before he went to sleep and I kissed his face and stroked his hair while he loudly sucked his fingers in my ear. What bliss.

Who's to judge desire and reality? Manny wanted to eat his booger. I wanted a day off. The reality for both of us was much better, and I'm really glad I didn't have to watch him eat his biggest one yet. It's the small things really.
P.S. Thank you Omar and Christy for your comments about Aslan. I really appreciated that.

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