Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Touching Base

Who am I touching base with? Whoever may still read this after a four month hiatus and, I guess, in a way, my future self who will not remember what happened in this very intense period of my life. My future self will read the last few posts from May and try desperately to remember what I was thinking and what went on in these blank months. So, future self, here is what I would say.

Twins and a slightly older child are really, really, really hard. If you look back and say--ehh, it wasn't that big of a deal, you are lying to yourself. And I am not a fan of live and forget- you know, the kind of older person who claims their children never did anything wrong OR, worse, that they never did anything wrong. If I say my children were perfect, I have lost the flavor of this time. The sugar is their sweetness, the spice is the boundaries they push and I hope I never forget because the stories contain the essences of who Manny, Glory and Elena are.

And that is why it has bothered me that I have stopped writing on this blog. The stories slip away from me before the day is done. This is my only record. My only way of remembering. Particularly because I don't take any photos either. Add that to the long list of things I should be doing, like brushing my children's teeth in the morning and laundering Manny's underwear so he doesn't have to go commando to preschool on Friday.

I stopped writing because I was struggling with circumstances, but mostly with myself and people who love me a lot were expressing concern for my well-being and it made me want to never share anything with anybody again, at least through this venue. But the big, big downside of all that is that not only do I forget the stories, but there are some of you who would hardly know the children at all, if it were not for this little bit of illustration on my part.

So I am sharing today in the belief that when I share, I celebrate more and curse less. So if I say anything that makes you concerned for my well-being, I would ask that you please not tell me about it. Tell God if you're that concerned and you do that sort of thing, but spare me that kind of love because I can't bear it.

This morning, Elena ate a few bites of "oh-me-all" and then looked like she poured the rest on the floor and rolled around in it for a while until it sufficiently stuck. I was appalled as I saw her walking through the kitchen. It was as if her pants were polka-dotted with gummy oats. I exclaimed something nasal and annoyingly maternal and Manny genuinely uttered, "I think it's beautiful."

It is so common for the children to be dressed and then undressed in a matter of minutes. Soon after the daily oatmeal explosion, Elena went into the bathroom to wash her hands and immediately had water up to her elbows. There went the long-sleeved shirt. So now she was naked again except for her saggy diaper which had about a fifteen-minute lifespan left. So Glory thought she should take off all her clothes and then decided the diaper was too oppressive too. As soon as she was naked, it occurred to her it was the perfect moment to sit on the potty. I love watching her climb up onto the potty insert on the big toliet. It reminds me a little of the lady in Godzilla stuck at the top of the Empire State Building, only there's no monster and the lady is not afraid. She's exceptionally brave and demanding when it comes to the tissue. "Self!" she cries.

The kids asked me if they could turn on Earth, a gorgeous documentary about ecosystems across the globe. I was going to do the dishes, but every ten seconds, one of the girls would rush out and say, "Scared! Bears!" So I let them eat carrot cake and watch the bears with me from their little table in the family room while Manny assured them the bears were stuck in the tv. By the time that experiment was over, I was wishing the bears would emerge from the screen and vacuum up the thousand crumbs of varying sizes and shapes (depending upon whether or not they had been mushed) that were scattered all over the table, chairs, floor, and yes, Elena's new pants.

I pulled out the vacuum, in lieu of the bears, and then decided to be industrious and tidy the bookshelves, knocking an expensive and utterly delicious jar of raspberry jam from my favorite farmer's market berry grower 6 feet down onto the concrete floor. The jam blobbed onto the carpet.

"Stay back!" I shouted repeatedly, as I cleaned up the entire mess. It's like a dog that hasn't been well trained. You have to say "STAY" every two seconds as long as you want the dog to stay. If I ever stopped telling the kids to stay back, they would descend on me and the glassy mess like it never occurred to them not to.

By the time this was all done, it was only 10:30 and I was ready for bed. As were the girls. I have been having a very difficult time getting them to nap and have tried every strategy I can think of, with the exception of locking one of them in the dog crate, which Kathleen, only half-jokingly, suggested. If it wasn't so dirty and underneath so many heaps of stuff in the garage, I might just try it. Aslan liked it after all and the girls liked Aslan, so the power of association would tell me that the girls would like the crate!

(Long pause for trip to the library and now it is too late to write much more. The dishes are piled high and the laundry even higher.)

So, in closing, as I was trying to make dinner while preventing the kids from eating playdough, especially Manny who has a growing wheat sensitivity, I set a tea towel on fire and threw a dinner plate across the room, sending shards in a ten foot stream. Glory tried to make me feel better by eating a truly astonishing amount of rice pasta tossed in broccoli pesto. At shower time, her belly looked particularly huge, and yet still so small. It was packed with pasta and pesto and waffle with blueberry sauce which took Sam a good five minutes to scrub out of all the kids fingers and toes and backs of knees and elbows. By the end of the waffle dessert, the kids were body-painting with the blueberry sauce. Sam was holding his face in horror and I was trying not to laugh hysterically since I was a little loopy from the whole broken glass/giant Costco microfiber towel on fire incidents.

I rushed the girls to sleep, since they didn't nap. They wanted to laugh before they fell asleep so I had to wag my hair in their face like a dog tail until they got a good laugh going. They're an easy crowd most of the time. Then I asked which music box they wanted to hear. Grandma Barb gave each of them a music box last year. "Horse," they said. So I turned that one on and the girl one too because they only like to listen to them simultaneously, though they are not the same song. So it sounds a little busy and discordant, but cheerful and persistent, kind of like me.

As I walked out, relieved that they hadn't called me back for three more drinks of water or countless full body hugs, I heard Sam coaching Manny through his poops for the day. "There's another one!" I heard him exclaim. Another poop, another day, full of beauty, humor, brokenness and a whole lot of "Mama! Watch this!"

Watch this!

I'm about to do the dishes.

Bet you didn't see that one comin'.


Mom said...

I laugh. I cry. I can't express how much I love you, Sam and the children and how much I love your writing about your life. I would love to take away some of the work without dimishing the joy of watching such beautiful children grow. Regardless of the daily trails you are a wonderful mother.

Carmen Goetschius said...

Yes! You're back! I am delighted. I love these stories of the Lai family! xoxo

Sarah said...

Yes! I'm glad your daily chronicles are back too Angie. I love to read what is going on in your world. Even the cursing parts. Especially the cursing parts! Love to you.

Sarah Boyle Webber said...

I have been checking your blog twice a week since your last post, just to make sure I didn't miss it. So, please, keep posting. I understand your life and your frustration, even though our circumstances are different. Some days (months? years?) we only survive by digging in our fingernails and doing the next thing.

Both of my children went to school this morning, hence my cheerfulness. God bless their teachers and aides, seriously.

Hang in there, Angie. Wish I was local; I could at least help with the laundry. :)

Christy said...

Angie, I'm so glad to read a new post from your wonderful self and from your life. I've been wondering (not worrying! ;-) how things have been going.

Often when I read you, I find myself wondering if there isn't some way we couldn't co-opt together. I'm not even sure I accurately know the meaning of that word, but it's the one that comes to me. I'm single and with no children (another way to say that is "childless" :p), and sometimes with TOO MUCH time on my hands. All together, it can be very hard in it's own crazy way. Sometimes when I read about your three, I think about "community" and about what "carrots or potatoes" I might have to offer to a "stone soup" story in your life. I can run a vaccum, for sure. I can do dishes, or laundry. I can offer conversation about everyday things or spiritual concepts (or difficulties! :), and I'm especially good as a listening ear. And I think about what *I* sometimes need just as desperately as you need sleep or a non-chaotic moment or adult interaction in the middle of oatmeal and pooping. Sometimes I'm so desperate for a sense of belonging, of family, of connection, of purpose. And it seems like you have these things in such abundance... so much that often it's even TOO much! :] How blisteringly ironic is life sometimes?

Sometimes I wonder about why we - not just you and me but "WE" as a society - don't exchange and "barter" and support and invest more in community to help us (all) better negotiate our lives and find fulfillment in them.

These are thoughts I often have when I read your blog. :] We haven't seen each other in person in several years, but still I always feel ready to drive down the short distance and offer some of my time and energy and love that so often goes to waste in my own sphere, in a way that really breaks my heart, to offer it in a way that might maybe be a blessing in yours. Especially when I read about how much you could use an eighth arm and six eyes on the back of your head, not to mention a chef, a laundress, and maybe more. (Please don't take that last statement as a reason not to write about those things anymore!) You really truly are a superhero on this earth, with all that you do! I am always in awe...

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Christy said...

Sorry for the repeat posts. I kept getting a computer error and thought my post wasn't going through, but it was, and I can't apparently *fully* delete the evidence. :p :)

Marilyn Gray said...

I am so glad you are back to posting again, Angie! The girls and I read it faithfully and absolutely love being able to be a part of your livesin this remote way. It is good for you to write, and it is good for us to read. I'm in the same camp with your Mom on this one...you are a wonderful mother!

Susan said...

I love that you asked people not to tell you if they're concerned. Hilarious! Awesome! High-five! I like you a lot.