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Monday, May 04, 2009

More toddler fun and a short work update.

Over the last week, I've composed a hundred posts in my head. That's an exaggeration, but you get it. I love my job, I really do. I'm trying to find people to help me do it, so if you know someone who wants to be in ad sales on commission, do let me know. I'm also looking for a free intern and I give great recommendation. me!

I know what you all want to know. Just how is the potty training going? Well, if you ask me, pretty well. If you ask the teachers at the Tank's school, on the other hand, they would probably give a slightly different answer. You see, a parent can look at her child through different eyes and see a mishap as a step in the right direction. A teacher, on the other hand, might see the little error in another light. Espcially if the little error is a big pile of poop on the sidewalk. I wasn't there, but as far as I can tell, he announced he needed to wash his hands and began removing his pants. On the sidewalk by the playground. This is progress. Now we know what "I need to wash my hands" means. Hooray!

Well. After removing his pants, he took a big dump on the sidewalk. There's no nice way to put that (sorry, Mom.) I mean, it's a load of crap. According to one of the other parents,

The Tank was hilarious at nursery today. Ms. L was running around all crazy like."

Ms. L, the nursery director, was called by the teachers to deal with the situation. She is a saint. Not that his teachers aren't, because they've had plenty to deal with, too. Drop-in nurseries are different from school. I think all ladies who work in drop-in nurseries like the Tank's or the ones at the gym are saints. They work tirelessly, like missionaries. And their mission is to help mothers*. I hope other mothers appreciate them. Even when they have to tell me something terrible (about half the time), they never say it meanly. Bless them.

Several months after I had my second child, I was still thirty to forty pounds over my fighting weight. That's just an expression, by the way, because TF will agree I had plenty of energy to fight. The weight came as a surprise, even though I had gained it honestly. I gained eighty pounds while pregnant with our first and lost it within two months. My only exercise was putting the tiny O. into a stroller and walking to the ice cream store or the Hunter Gatherer, a brew pub. Ice cream stores and brew pubs aren't great hangouts for dieters, but I still had the metabolism of a teenager. After the X-Man, for whom I had gained another eighty pounds, just to be fair, I smugly shovelled in ice cream and whatever else I could get my hands on. By that point, we lived within walking distance of Ben & Jerry's. Well, guess what? Walking to get ice cream isn't enough exercise when you're heading towards thirty. When he was four months old, I went to the gym.

It was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I wasn't exactly happy in grade school. I certainly wasn't cool. But at least I was skinny. I live in a small town and didn't relish the idea of seeing my former - still cooler than I was - classmates at the gym. They were still childless, thin and pretty. I had two children, was forty pounds overweight and dressed in maternity bike shorts and my husband's old t-shirt. At least I was never particularly pretty, so I had nothing to lose there. Why in the hell, by the way, do they make maternity bike shorts. That's just hateful. And why did I own them? I certainly didn't exercise during that pregnancy. At least I had something to wear to the gym.

I got there and, after nervously depositing my children in the nursery, shuffled to the back of the classroom, terrified of the step class to come. I hadn't been to a gym since I was fifteen, when I spent most of my time in the tanning bed, not the exercise room. Smart. So, I did the class. I left for a few minutes in the middle to nurse my baby, standing up so my heart rate wouldn't fall. Call me shallow, but I really didn't want to be fat. It hurt. It hurt my feelings and it hurt physically. At the end of the class, I was thrilled to learn we would get to stretch for a few moments. I am a very good stretcher, even when I look like Jabba the Hutt. Standing, I spread my legs and bent over, as instructed, so proud that I could reach the ground with no effort whatsoever. In the mirror, I saw an enormous bottom. I snickered to myself.

"At least I'm not that fat. What a beast!"

The laughter bubbled up in my throat as I tried to contain it. I choked a little. Remember? I was still upside down. Ah...hubris. Yup, it was my very own fat a**. Demoralized by the width of my a**, but pleasantly surprised to have finished the class without dying or looking too terribly stupid, I collapsed onto the mat for the final stretch. The instructor, a saint known to many as Nancy T, spoke in a soft, soothing voice. It was the voice of an angel, a therapist, your best friend, your favorite aunt and your mother, all rolled into one**.

"So many of us," she murmured, "do things for other people all day long. Especially us women, especially the mothers."

I cried, right there on the mat, in my maternity bike shorts, triple-layered jog bras and grimy t-shirt. For the first time since my second child had been born, I had spent a full hour doing something for myself, available to my children if they needed me, but not immediately responsible. When the X-Man started to fuss after eating, one of the girls in the nursery took him, shooed me back to my class and soothed him to sleep. With a smile on her face. Nancy T continued,

"I know y'all are in a hurry to get back to work or to get to your children. I know a lot of you leave early, but you really need to take these few minutes to relax."

She said some other really nice stuff, too. I thought she was talking directly to me and wondered if she would take me home with her. I pulled myself together when it was over and got up off the mat. I was afraid if I stayed there crying, someone might think I was dead or crazy. Which I kind of was, but that's beside the point. I'm not sure how I got myself to the gym, because anyone in my family will tell you that I was not an athletic child. My P.E. teacher might remember me as the person hiding on the sideline, trying to avoid physical activity at any cost. I do know why I went back. Nancy T made me feel better. She also cheered me through my last pregnancy, as I exercised away. Maybe that's why the Tank is so "busy."

Occasionally, I'll talk to someone who doesn't believe I didn't exercise during my pregnancy with the X-Man. They'll insist they saw me at the gym. I know the truth. They saw me at the gym in maternity clothes, but I wasn't pregnant. This is embarrassing to explain, so I skip it and agree that perhaps they are right: I don't remember and I did exercise. My medical file would prove otherwise. I remember telling the midwife, when I hit 196 pounds, that I really didn't need the announcements any more. They hurt my feelings. I was pregnant for a couple more weeks after that, I think. all those women who are on a mission to serve other mothers of young children: Thank You. I hope they know how much of a difference thay make for people like me, who are often too busy or crazy to tell them. Although my babies' daddy is a good one, he never quite got the reassuring thing down. And I don't mean he couldn't soothe the children, becasue he does it as well as I do. I mean me. He never made me feel like taking care of our children was the most delightful thing he could imagine, poop and all. Those ladies act like the whole thing is one big happy shower of rainbows, hearts and flowers. I know it isn't. A couple of shifts in the church nursery proved what I already knew: Toddlers are cute, but they can be really gross and obnoxious. The Tank isn't the only one, but he does fall pretty close to the "most difficult" end of the continuum.

I have fantasies about being the parent who comes to the nursery bearing gifts - coffee, sweets, homemade afghans. But I'm not that mother. If I was, I probably wouldn't need those angels as much as I do. I think we just need to start saving money so we can donate a wing at the drop-in. Or a spa for the caregivers. I would say a pool, but the Tank would probably poop in it.

Namasté, y'all!

* And fathers, but it seems that 90% of the time, mothers are most tormented by toddlers. Incidentally, the note about the Tank's big day at the nursery was from a dad. So there.

** I know some of you reading this know Nancy T and know exactly what I mean. Her voice is soothing, but not irritatingly so, like a Yoga teacher who's trying too hard. It's her actual voice and she really means it.


Tracie Broom said...


Kirsten Palmer said...

love Nancy T and her soothing voice. great post!

Anonymous said...

You should come back to the Nancy T. She taught me yesterday and today. She's amazing. Love this one!