Saturday, April 11, 2009

Slippery Fish

Jackson LOVES to take baths. Tonight he stayed in the bath through both Camryn and Jared's bath, happily splashing away. When it was finally time to get him out, he was NOT happy. My first attempt at retrieving him from the tub ended with the bath towel falling in the water and Jackson back in the tub. My second attempt was slightly more successful: I managed to get all 30 pounds of wet, slippery Jackson out of the tub- despite his flailing and protesting, but I drenched my front half in the process. It took another minute or so of wrestling to actually get Jackson wrapped in the bath towel and out of the bathroom.

Jackson screamed, protested and waved his arms in a desperate attempt to escape my evil grasp. I put him on the changing table and spent another few minutes trying to get a diaper on my squirming, yelling, angry baby. When the diaper was finally in place, I picked Jackson up and attempted to calm him before continuing on to the additional indignity of putting on his pajamas. Jackson screamed, flailed his arms at me, arched his back and attempted to throw himself into the air, solidly clonking his head into the side of mine in the process.

It was very painful and it caught me be surprise. I lost it. Jackson got laid on the ground and I roared, "NO hitting mommy!!! NO hitting! No clonk the mom! You hurt mommy's head!! Mommy hurts!!" Of course, this didn't mean much to a 16-month old. All he knew is that HIS head hurt, he was cold and wet on the floor of his room and now his mommy was yelling at him, so his screams of anger at the suddenly-ended bath turned to cries of surprise at his mommy yelling incomprehensible words at him in a tone he had never heard before.

I got control of myself soon enough. I got Jackson back on my lap and managed to cajole him into putting on a blanket sleeper. Promises of a "ba-ba" helped him to calm down. Soon he was happily gulping down his bottle in the rocking chair with mom and all was right with the world again. Into the crib he went and after only about 5 minutes of popping up his head at 30-seconds intervals (to make sure mom was still there) he finally went to sleep.

Sometimes motherhood seems like such a strange juxtaposition: adoring your peacefully sleeping baby or enjoying quiet time feeding a bottle in the rocking chair... combined with trying to keep your cool while dealing with flailing and screaming toddlers, trying to get a pair of scissors out of your child's hands without hurting them or you in the process, or working yourself to exhaustion only to look up and see that your house is trashed and looks like a hurricane hit it. Sometimes the most precious experiences and push-you-to-your-limit traumas are separated by only minutes.

I've been thinking a lot lately about how opposing elements of life coexist side by side, almost simultaneously. The sublime and the ridiculous, the exciting and the humdrum, the precious and the hard-to-stomach.... Recently I've been trying to focus on appreciating things independently of the other things that surround them. It's too easy for me to feel like things "cancel" each other out: the fact that I didn't get the dishes done "cancels out" the fact that I did do the laundry; the fact that I lost my temper with Jackson "cancels out" the fact that I held on to it for about 10 minutes straight; it's too easy to let frustration with my kids or messy house interfere with enjoying the moment.

One thing living in the Northwest has taught me is to capture the sunshine while you can. It is rainy and gray so often here that when the sun does come out, you learn to take advantage of it while you have it and enjoy every last tiny moment of it. You don't worry about what the weather will be tomorrow or recall how many days of gray you've endured: you just bask in the sun while it's there and enjoy it.

That's what I've been trying to do with my kids. There will always be taxing moments, when one or the other of us is grumpy, frustrated or hard to deal with. There will always be more mess to clean up and more stuff that needs to be done. But there are also always moments of fun, beauty, discovery, cuteness, enjoyment, laughter and love to be grasped and enjoyed when they happen upon us. You just take them when they come and enjoy it.


ped crossing said...

The parenting conundrum. People said it would be hard, but some moments are beyond hard.

Have you tried just pulling the plug and letting the water drain out? Then wait until he starts getting cold and wants to get out? It might be worth a try.

Hope tomorrow has more ups than downs.

Jen said...

Thanks for the great post, Karen. I have never thought about ups and downs in quite those terms before.

Jodee said...

well said karen! And congratulations on the new addition! Next time you are in the Seattle area let us know! Take care!

Jacki said...

Thanks for the post.. It is hard to not feel like negatives "cancel" out all the moments of Joy. I like the way you said it, I think I will remember it next time a smnall negative occurs and try to stay in a happy mood knowing that it's all part of the package.