This is the cute age, a friend said of our two-year old children. Her blond son draws smiles wherever he goes. She holds him with frank adoration. I can hardly keep my hands off my own two-year old Legume. They walk! They run! They even talk! And yet they still have round cheeks, round arms, dimpled thighs. Babies with personalities, babies with (semi) thinking minds!
I’m not a baby, Legume tells me.
She tells me other things, too, not all of which I understand. Did I really hear her sing about going to “the miracle moon?” Or was it “miracle room?” Do you know what your sister is saying? I ask Bean-girl, and Bean-girl, absorbed with a toy, says indifferently, No.
She is fastidious, our Legume. Which is sad, in a way, because she is also so very very sloppy. Which directly contradicts her fastidious intents. I spilled! she screams at dinner as a spoonful of soup slops onto the table. I spilled! she yells when food ends up on her chair and her shirt. She is constantly asking for napkins to clean up. Yesterday our family went out to lunch at a casual restaurant, and Legume mistook the cracks in the booth seat for some kind of spill or marking. Frantically she tried to wipe them away with a napkin. No, no, it’s fine, her father said, and tried to seat her on the cracked seating. Legume screamed in the purest panic that I’ve ever heard. (I rescued her by seating her next to me on my un-cracked seat).
Is it funny? she asks me, holding up a toy or showing me some simple object or action.
Um, okay, maybe a little bit funny, I say.
A little bit funny?
A little bit funny.
Is it a little bit funny?
Just a little bit.
It’s a little bit funny?
Only a little bit.
Is it a little bit funny?
And so on . . .
She is mysterious, this funny funny little girl. How can she eat so much and still be so tiny? What solo game is she playing as she arranges books and toys in complex patterns on the floor? Why does she hate it when I pour water on her head in the bath, but laughs when Bean-girl does it? Why does she erupt into laughter at the scary part of a movie? What on earth goes on behind those glinting black eyes?
Do you understand what she’s saying? I ask Bean-girl again, as Legume repeats a mysterious, incomprehensible phrase.
No, Bean-girl says, again indifferently.
So much for older siblings interpreting for the younger ones. . .
I haven’t been writing much, lately. I had thought—hoped—that I might have more time when I went to part-time status at my job. But really, once you have kids I think you never have time. Full-time stay-at-home mom, full-time working out-of-the-home mom, part-time working-from-home mom and part-time working-out-of- the-home mom—I’ve been through all the permutations now, and in every single case there STILL IS NO TIME! In some cases there is more time spent with the children, sometimes there is more time for work or home-cooked meals, but THERE IS STILL NEVER ANY PERSONAL TIME!
I admit that I fantasize about personal time. I imagine working out a gym, toning my abs and honing arms like Michelle Obama’s (my husband would be snorting if he were allowed to read this now). I imagine decking myself in the latest fall fashions, becoming one of the stylish, thin women I see and envy on the street. I imagine finally printing out the family photos that are stored in the computer, hanging up pictures and decorating our home to look like a magazine spread or at least like the other suburban bourgeois homes I see. I imagine that I have time to write, that I finally finish this damn short story I’ve been working on. I dream that I write a series of lovely, heart-catching short stories; I publish a book to critical acclaim. And along the way, I succeed in science and publish a few Nature/Science/Cell papers along the way.
And yeah, I imagine that I do all this while still retaining the status (both outward and inward) of “good mommy.”
Not sure where I’m going with this post. Guess I just wanted to say: I’m still here. I want to try to keep up with your blogs, your lives. I want to have the time to keep up with my own.