Today I told my 2 ½ year-old to stop sweating the small stuff. As you can imagine, it did not have a great impact on her latest meltdown. She was terribly upset over the fact that our lab Martini had grabbed the top of our water bottle and was using it as a toy as she pranced down the hall. Of course by the time I recovered the bottle cap, it was chewed and crushed and pretty much destroyed. This caused my daughter Dylan to immediately become hysterical. So I tried to explain that in the great scheme of life, it just didn’t matter and there would be a million (or at least thousands for sure) bottle caps in our future and they would all be shiny and perfect and fabulous. Of course, she kept crying.
I kind of understand where she’s coming from. I am definitely one to stress over and attempt to fix the little stuff. I am a stickler for details and I just love things to be perfect. Look, some things are worth fixing. We bought a rug a couple of years ago for our kid’s room that refuses to stay flat. The thing loves to bubble all over the place. I tried to live with this rug. Really, I did. But one day, I realized that life was too short to live with a bumpy, defiant rug and goddamn it, I was going to replace it. I seriously sleep better at night now.
But sometimes in life, there is so much big stuff going on, you just have to let go of the details for a while. Like this past month, an old friend of mine died of brain cancer at the age of 36. For most of his life, Steve Higgins didn’t know he only had a short time to enjoy his friends, his wife, his family, sunny days with no humidity, watching a movie or eating at a great restaurant. One day, it was just all over. So in the spirit of remembering this funny, sharp, authentic guy, I am going to try to worry a little less about the dented bottle caps when they come along. Because I’ve realized that most of the advice I pass on to my toddler, usually serves me pretty well too.
I remember a time when the bathroom was a place of solitude. No one followed me in there. No one stared at me or asked questions while I tried to take care of my personal business. I even did my own flushing. Those days seem very far away.
First it was my dog who infiltrated my private time. If I left her outside the bathroom door, she would scratch and whine until she gained entrance. Then my first daughter Dylan joined in the experience. Now there are times when my dog Martini, my toddler Dylan and my 7-month-old Presley are all witness to my bathroom activities. Last week, Dylan offered me two M&M’s if I could make a poopie in the potty. How did it get so crowded in here? Making a visit alone to a public restroom is starting to feel like “me” time.
There is one person that won’t be gaining access to these potty get togethers – my husband. I want a close family but not quite that close. He can have his not-so-private potty time and I can have mine. Trust me, it’s the only way to keep the romance flickering. As for the rest of my studio audience, someday they’ll tire of watching mommy pee. I’ll probably miss them once they’re gone.
Why does my 2 ½ year old seem more like a teenager? First of all, Dylan sometimes calls me mom. She says it in this annoyed teen tone like I’m taking way too long to respond to her needs. Can’t I still be mommy? She’s only two for heaven’s sake. I’m half afraid she’ll start calling me by my first name.
Also, I don’t get to pick out any of her clothes anymore. This was one of my favorite things about having a daughter. But she isn’t interested in my opinion. Each day, she carefully considers her options and then chooses a shirt and usually a pair of shorts. There are cute clothes in her dresser drawers that have never touched her body. No matter how much I plead, she will not even consider an adorable eggshell long sleeve shirt I bought at a sample sale last month. And no matter how quickly I try to put it on her, she immediately removes this pink retro wonder woman t-shirt she got for her birthday. I asked her, “when will you wear this wonder woman t-shirt?” She responded, “later.” I’m beginning to think “later” will never come. At one point this past winter, we had three weeks of the same red shirt and red corduroys.
Finally, these days she often ignores what I say all together. My questions are met with long silences. I know she hears me. I can prove it. When I threaten no Elmo or no books, suddenly she is answering the question with enthusiasm. Well, she does still like Elmo. So there must be a toddler in there somewhere.
I think I’m sick of my kids’ names. Can I get a do-over? I love my children. Dylan and Presley are the cutest, most beautiful two little girls on the planet. But for today, I’ve outgrown their names. You know when you’re pregnant and you love a name and then three weeks later, you are so over it. When I was engaged, I returned my everyday china three times before finally deciding on a light blue very simple Pottery Barn-esque pattern. Three times. It’s not easy to lug a set of china via taxi back to Macy’s three times. But I wanted it to be perfect. Of course, it’s not. I mean, there’s always more china out there. But it’s not like I have time to peruse the latest dinnerware at Michael C. Fina these days.
Not so with the names. Every trip to the playground is an introduction to cooler, more fabulous names. For girls, the choices seem to be endless: Violet, Charlie, Scarlet, Parker, Tenley. Do you see what I mean? I’m salivating. I wish I could name my girls over and over again. One week, something edgy and cool like Tuesday. The next week, something more traditional like Priscilla. And the following week, something hip and now like Harper. Of course, I could have another baby but I guarantee you, no matter what I decided on, I’d never be completely satisfied. By tomorrow, I’ll love my children’s names again. But for today, I’m thinking of them as Liv and Serena.
I am a complete neat freak. I like order. I like to put things away in the right place. Organization is the love of my life. Straight cushions, wiped counters and wrinkle free bed linens fill my heart with joy and satisfaction.
Neat freaks should not have children. My 2 ½ year old daughter is like a wrecking ball in my apartment. Within minutes of opening her eyes each morning, she is dismantling my living room. Her toys sit quietly in the corner like unwanted house guests while she rearranges our kitchen drawers, smears her fingerprints on our computer screen and empties our bin of dog toys. Anything without a child lock is up for grabs.
I try to be calm. I give myself mantras like, “it will all be cleaned up in time.” I tell myself that these are just material objects while my daughter is a living, breathing amazing person who is discovering the world. Why am I so neurotic? I could leave dirty laundry on our kitchen counter for days and my husband would never even notice it. But for today, I can’t take the chaos anymore. We are headed to the playground where my toddler can be free to explore and I can be calm.