I used to call the moments of brain dysfunction writer’s block. But after the birth of my third (then fourth kid) mom brain has become the more appropriate term. It was about my second pregnancy when I realized how downright dumb I felt. As if my intelligence and actions were somehow blocked, like a kink in a hose blocking water flow. I’m smarter than this, when I walked into the kitchen for the tenth time forgetting I simply needed a glass of water. There was an incident, somewhere near the end of my second pregnancy, that involved a parked car and me fleeing to another grocery store to make it go away. Hit and run sounds so dirty, so we will call it a panicked pregnancy glitch followed by a knock at the door. It didn’t take long. It was the image of a pregnant woman, wet from sweat and tears on hot June day, and an equally confused husband who just couldn’t answer the question of why, that most likely got me in much less trouble than I deserved. To this day, I can’t answer the question of why beyond the loss of reason, intelligence and impulse control that goes along with a body swelling with hormones and water retention.
Just Add Water
There is a water obsession going on at the Taylor house. It is as much a part of our family as the dog or the cat. It started with Layla’s strange fear of running water. Every bath night was a struggle. If she was anywhere near the bathroom when I turned tub faucet it would end in hysterics and no bath. “TURN THE WATER OFF!!!” She would shriek. It didn’t help that her bedroom was across from the bathroom so I would have to be extra sneaky in my tactics. I would wait until she was engrossed in something like drawing or talking to her Care Bears to start my plan. Turn on the TV for added noise. When she wasn’t looking I would sneak into the bathroom and shut the door. I slowly put on the faucet so that she wouldn’t hear. I wait a few minutes until there was an adequate amount of water for her to clean herself. Before having Layla, I assumed the best way to get clean was to use the running faucet water and not the sitting bath water that was most likely filled with body dirt. But then again, I am not a fan of taking a bath at all. I am sure Layla spent the first five or so years of her life not getting totally clean..but at least she would let me wash her. Once the tub was filled and the water was off, I would go into her room and announce it was bath time. She would happily get in the tub like the water fear was never a thing. Sportscaster: In the 5th round of Mom vs. Toddler, Mom goes for the sneak bath. Mom takes this one.
Layla was a very hesitant swimmer. She didn’t want her face anywhere near the water as if she had been drowned in a past life. It took her two sessions of swim lessons before she would go under. Water activities like sprinklers or water balloons were not fun for her. There was a slip ‘n slide incident ended with the F-Bomb heard around the world. My brother in law took her for a slide into the little pool and her face hit the water. She stood up in a fury I have never seen on her before. “Teddy”. She yelled. “You make me so fucking mad!” Sportscaster: In the 50th round of Mom vs. Toddler – Toddler uses mom’s favorite word in front of family, friends and grandparents. Toddler wins this one by a landslide.
Liv immediately took to the pool. Her first impression of a pool was to immediately jump right in, not even stopping to think about it. No matter how many times I had to fish her out of water that was too deep, she never had a fear for swimming. I got reprimanded by the sixteen year-old life guard at the pool one summer. “Ma’am,” he said looking at eighteen month Olivia and over to three year old Layla who was sitting in the shallowest part of the water playing cautiously to her self. Liv was trying to squirm her way into the deep end. “you need to keep your kids with in arms length of you. Both of them.” He added. “Gotcha.” I said with a slight sprinkle of sarcasm. I knew Layla’s fear of the water would keep her in that spot all day if I let her and Livs lack of fear would have her throwing a tantrum to go off the diving board if I let her. I hope he ended up with a Liv one day and had to keep track of her at the crowded pool. Another time, We were at a friends house who had a back yard pool and a slide. I was chatting away with the other moms while the kids all hovered around the shallow end. They were all kindergarteners/first graders so they had a limited skillset with swimming that didn’t include the deep end yet but they had a fear of it that kept parents confident they would stay in the shallow end. “Wow, your daughter can go in the deep ends?” one of the mothers asked. I realized she was talking to me when I saw Olivia fly down the slide into the deep end. I mom-ninjaed over to the side of the pool just in time to fish her out of the deep end as she realized she couldn’t swim. Sportscaster: In the 75th round of Mom vs. Toddler, Toddler shows of bad momming to strangers and other moms. This is a win for Toddlers everywhere folks.
Liv’s water issues were a direct result from Layla’s fear of running water. She didn’t like running or sprinkling water. She was also a runner, so this began my water based parenting tactics. In her early toddlerhood, She would often run down the driveway and almost into the street before I would catch her. Of course the act of chasing a toddler only makes them want to do it even more. So with a determination, anytime I wasn’t looking she took off. Our driveway was an L Shape and our deck was right at the corner. One day I was spraying the deck with the hose when she started her descent into the street. I didn’t mean to but, I turned to yell at her with the hose still on and she got sprayed. She screamed and turned and ran the other way, toward the back yard. Spraying my kid may make me seem like a terrible mom, but it was for her own safety. And it only took a few times. They would play outside and I would sit at the corner of the deck with the hose. If she started to run, I would spray. If she kept running she got wet, if she turned and went into the back yard she stayed dry. Sportscaster: In the 101st round of mom versus toddler, mom busts out a secret weapon – the hose! This round goes to Mom!
Jackson is both fascinated and annoyed by water. After I had Cece, Jackson realized acting out was a good way to get us to put the baby down and chase him. So basically, Jackson punished us for having a baby by extra toddlering. He would climb on the end table and start to lean forward like he was going to fall unless I ran over to catch him. He would climb on the couch and try to pull the picture off the wall. If I set Cece down in her chair or swing, he would immediately climb on top of her and try to “hug” her. There was just. so. much. climbing – all the time. I had to come up with some way to get his attention since yelling “No, No”, swatting on the butt and pulling him away only made him want to do it even more. This game was getting old for me since I wasn’t winning at all. I remembered the hose technique with Olivia. Should I? No. That is mean. I am sitting in my recliner nursing Cece. He comes over and pulls the recline button sending me back and putting the foot rest out so he can climb on it via stepping on one of his trucks. I am still feeding Cece with her cradled on my right arm while awkwardly trying to get him off the chair with my left hand. He head butts my shoulder then hugs me, burrowing his face into my shoulder blade. I feel something sharp. “Owe!! Did you bit me?” I scream. He laughs and repeats the head butt into biting motion again. He looks at Cece, then me, and plops down next to her. He grabs one of her hands and gives her a little high five. “Awe, high five.” I say. Then he clenches his fist and punches her in the arm. She hesitates; then lets out a terrified scream. He looks at me and says “Uh-Oh”. “You’re a jerk!!” I scream. He smiles and gives me one more head butt bite hug. Yes, I should. I filled a water spray bottle and when he made the facetious climbing look – I sprayed it at him. The water hit his back and he looked at me with shock and betrayal. I am such a bad mom. I kept thinking. He stacked pillows only to try to reach a glass vase off the high shelf. Spray, spray. “No!” I said. He stopped what he was doing and moved on to playing with his trucks. That was too easy. Now, I don’t really need to spray him anymore. When he starts one of his ass hole behaviors, I grab the blue bottle and point it his way. He cowers for a second then finds something else to play with. Perhaps parenting is just missing a bit of water. Sportscaster: In the 1000th round of Mom vs. Toddler boy, mom deploys the spray bottle decoy. This is all Mom!
I am sitting outside with Jackson. It’s a quiet Sunday morning after a rainy night. It was going to be a steamy day but not for a few more hours. Jackson is running around the yard and I am drinking my coffee and jotting some ideas down in my journal. I want to keep up my weekly writing cadence so i promised myself I would have a post up by Sunday night each week and I even procrastinate on my own deadlines. Jackson waddles up the steps and finds one of his trucks filled with water from the rainstorm. He starts drinking the water. “Ewe. Gross. Ca-ca”. I say. He throws it and finds his bucket also filled with water. He drinks this too and looks at me, knowing I would react the same way. “No!” I yell and grab the bucket, dumping it on the deck. He belly flops onto the deck and starts lapping the water off the deck like a dog while smiling at me. Then he finds a flowerpot base with dirt and rainwater and laps that as well. “Seriously? I just cant. I cant,” I say to him,or the air. He is back to lapping up water off the deck. Perhaps toddlering is also missing a bit of water. Sportscaster: In the 5000th round of Mom vs. Toddler, Toddler realizes Mom can’t make all the water go away after it rains. If he dog can lap it off the deck, so can I. As usual, Toddler wins this one!
“Home..let me come home. Home is wherever I’m with you.” Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Am I going home for the weekend? Or am I headed back home to work for the week? Did I leave my shoes at my other home or did I leave them at the place I am staying for the time being? I have started to become amused by how my life has scattered out over two cities. I have parts of me in an apartment where I spend my Monday through Friday and the other parts are in the home I have known for the last seven years. At first I was lonely, then confused now I am starting to create a shape in my mind of what our life is going to be like. June 8, the day Josh and the kids join me in Columbus is right around the corner and I am getting used to my new life and job. I am ready for them to be part of my new life. We were taking a walk today. Time, space, cities, jobs, houses cars, nothing seemed relevant at the moment. I was having a discussion with Layla about monarch butterflies. I told her how I saw a beautiful butterfly this morning sitting on a beautiful flower. I reached for my phone to take a picture but it was in the house. I thought about grabbing the camera..every instinct I have is to take a picture of such a beautiful moment. Instead, I just sat there, enjoying the simplicity of the moment. “Some moments don’t need pictures.” I told her. “they are the pictures that just exist in our mind and we get that beauty all to ourselves.” She slipped her hand into mine. At ten, she is at that age where I always appreciate the hand holding and butterfly talks. I still had a little flutter in my stomach when she held my hand. I thought about her tiny hand, grasping onto mine as she took her first steps and how that same hand apprehensively let go of mine the moment she started preschool. The more I think about where home is, the less I worry. There are three people who make up my home. The walls and windows and city are merely things that make up a house. As long as the four of us are together, home can be anywhere. I finally have a sense of peace, and gratitude for the butterfly sitting on the flower. It reminds me of the simplicity of the moments we share together.