Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Herd immunity.

Last year, before I started this blog, I was kind of concerned about Miss Anna, because while we knew she could talk, and she did talk around the house, she almost never talked to anyone who wasn't a close family member. Everyone, including her pediatrician, told me to give it time, and sure enough, within the year she had started preschool, come out of her shell by a mile, and was much more social.

Today was Anna's three year checkup and Lily's one year checkup, so the whole bunch of us, minus Tim, went to the pediatrician's.

"Hello Mrs. Cirque," the receptionist greeted me. I don't have an uncommon last name, but with three kids under the age of five, even just well visits make us frequent fliers at the doctor's office, and they recognize me by sight and, when I call in, by name.

"The circus is in town!" I announced, walking up to the window and forking over far too much in co pays and receiving forms informing me, that once again, our insurance was being wonky and insisting Lily wasn't covered by our plan. And then we waited.

"Mommy is this doctor for kids?" Mary demanded as I tried unsuccessfully to keep Lily from attempting to crawl into the bathroom, the office, the hall to the exam rooms.

"Yes it is," I said.


The father who was waiting for his teenager tried not to smile. The late high school boy sitting nearby looked ready to sink into the floor. I tried to explain how you could see the "kid" doctor until you were out of college if you wanted, gave up, and was grateful when we were called into our exam room.

The girls were weighed and measured. Lily babbled and cooed at the nurse. Anna eyed her suspiciously but acquiesced to stepping on the scale and being measured. And then we waited for the doctor.

"Let's see how Anna's doing," he said in a friendly voice. Anna looked at him with trepidation but to her credit didn't hide in my shoulder.

"Does she sleep well?"

"Yes," I said.

"Does she know her ABCs and count?"

"Yes," I said. "Anna, want to count my fingers?"

"One, two, fee, four, five!"

"Very good," the doctor said. "Does she-"

"I WANNA COUNT YOUR OTHER HAND! One, two, fee, four, five, SIX!"

"Er...I think you counted Mommy's thumb twice," I said, as it was now the doctor, and not Anna, giving odd looks. She managed to not make me the Six Fingered Man this time around and all was well.

"Does she eat well?"

"Anna, do you like to eat?"

"Can I have a juice box? I want a juice box," she muttered to me.

"She eats well," I confirmed.


"Later," I whispered. "Later."

"Great," The doctor said. "Does she-"

"I want a juice box with lunch like we had yesterday. We have juice boxes at home but not in the car," she said to the doctor.

"Oh," he said.

"So I want a juice box. I want a juice box. Mommy, can we have a juice box? Can we have one now? Later? I want one now..."

Somehow, we got off the juice box tangent and made it through the exams. And then it was time for vaccinations. Being a good mother, I had anticipated Anna needing some sort of booster and had bribed her with a McDonald's hamburger (don't judge!) if she didn't freak out too much.

"Do you want to do flu vaccines for everyone today?"

"Please," I said, as we are looking at a long year of a new preschool for Mary. He moved towards Mary first, explaining the FluMist was just drops in your nose, it just tickles, one, two, three, all set!

"AAAAAHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAA IT HURRRRRRRRTS!" Mary started screaming. I tried to talk her down. Nothing doing. I tried consoling her. Nope.

Lily got two shots, plus her flu vaccine, and cried. I hugged her. She tried to eat my hair and stopped almost immediately. Mary screamed on.

Anna got her FluMist and started to whimper, but didn't cry. She got two other needles and cried. I hugged her and petted her hair and said she had done very well and we would absolutely go to lunch. Mary screamed on.

She cried as we left the room. She cried as she received a sticker. She sobbed as I said goodbye to the receptionist and sniffled to the car. I told her only girls who didn't scream got treats for lunch. She screamed on. Anna got a hamburger. Mary hollered. She finally calmed down a half an hour later and had some non-hamburger lunch.

"I didn't like that," she said of the FluMist, after we were back home and I was attempting to talk to her about what had happened.

No kidding, kid.

I guess we know which one got the theater major genes.

I just can't wait for her checkup in October. It's going to be epic.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The blog returns at dark thirty

Lily started crying at 3:30 this morning. I was able to settle her until 4:30, and then again at 5. At some point Tim took her until he had to go to work. That's when we heard Mary.

"Daddy, can I wake up now?"

"No," he muttered blearily.

"Go hug Daddy and get back to bed," I said, desperately clutching my pillow and praying for sleep. She did so. Lily was less compliant. At 5:40, as Tim was pulling out of the driveway, Lily started crawling all over me (she has her own crib but by this point I was hoping she'd just sleep next to me) and babbling and touching my face, and I admitted defeat.

My eyes were slits as I laid her on the couch and changed her diaper. Lily babbled happily and cheerfully, as bright eyed as she would be at noon.

"You'll probably be ready for a nap at 7:30 right when your sisters get up," I thought as I cleaned her up. "I'll give them breakfast, settle them in front of a show, maybe I can grab a few minutes on the couch-"


Or Mary can wake up right. now.

"Anna, Anna, it's morning!"

"Mary, just come out and let your sister sleep," I said quietly, desperately.

"No, I wanna come!" Anna said, hauling herself out of bed. "I didn't poop!"

Kudos, kid.

Mary came barreling out to the sofa. Anna joined her. It was 5:55.

"Hey, you're right, it's the middle of the night!" Anna chirped from her perch, looking out the window. You could still hear crickets. I gulped from my coffee cup.

By 6:00 they had dragged out noisy toys. By 6:05 they were fighting over them, Anna overtiredly sobbing because Lily had the audacity to play with one of her own toys. Mary started whining.

"YOU CAN ALL GO BACK TO BED IF YOU'RE GOING TO FIGHT LIKE PSYCHOS!" I snapped from my vantage point at the dining room table, guzzling caffeine like there was a ban going into effect.

By 6:07 Anna was still whining, this time because Mary had turned her back to her and announced "I just want some time alone with Lily, you can't play, Anna!"

"Heck no, Mary," I said. "You all play together or you go back to your room."

Mary started sobbing. Loudly. Dramatically. Shrilly.

My coffee cup was empty. I eyed the Keurig. I eyed my daughter. Anna started to sob. Again.

"Back to bed, Mary," I said. She opened her mouth and began wailing loud enough to wake the neighbors, of whom I was supremely jealous at the moment. I carried her down to her room. Anna, free of torment, settled down on the couch. Mary hollered from her room for a few moments but quieted down.

It's 6:13. Mary may be asleep, but I don't think so. Lily and Anna are copacetic for who knows how long. I am presently unable to make out what I am typing.



"You're right there, you're right there, you're right there, she's right there, she's right there, she's right-" (Anna)


And then Lily scooted over and began poking a clothespin into my side, over and over. It's happening as I type this. 

Bedtime is in 13 hours, 46 minutes.

But who's counting?

Monday, August 6, 2012

I don't know how she does it.

Right now, I am in the midst of finishing rehearsals for a show that includes a children's chorus. The kids range in age from around five years old to a couple of middle schoolers. So, unable to keep my mouth shut for any appreciable length of time, I've chatted with some of the other parents as I wait to be needed for whatever number.

One mom comes with a small child who is probably two and a half, unlike my small children, he is capable of sitting quietly and watching the musical unfold. I think his sister is in the show, and his mom looks to be in my general age range.

"So you have three kids?" she asked me one day recently.

"I do," I confirmed.

"And they're how old?" This is not uncharted territory for me. I look younger than I actually am. When Mary was born, the nurses treated me like I was on the show "16 and Pregnant," addressing questions to my mother or mother in law instead of the woman in bed holding the baby. I think they reviewed diaper changing 101 with me each time Mary required it. So I smiled and rattled off their ages once more.

"Almost five, just turned three, and almost one," I said.

"And you're in this show? How do you do it? I haven't gotten time to myself in years. How do you get away all by yourself?"

The question wasn't rhetorical. She actually wanted to know. The sarcastic answer: "Well, I'm actually in three shows right now and I'll probably be divorced by Thanksgiving" seemed too flip. The obvious answer: "I have a very supportive and loving husband," seemed too simplistic, though it's completely true. I couldn't pursue any of these hobbies like I do without Tim, who works his butt off to allow me to be a stay at home mom and who also supports a lifestyle that pretty much means Mommy exists only in theory during tech weeks.

But the long answer is much more complicated than that. I do it because I need to. I do it because after a long day, I need a break from being Mommy. I need to do something that reminds me of the person I was before deciding to become a parent, that thing that was part of me before kids, before marriage, the thing that helped define me. I'm a different person now, but one day, my kids will be different people, too. They'll be more independent, have different interests, and, as hard as this can be to contemplate on some days, will eventually move out and have their own lives. Maybe it makes me selfish, but I can't define myself only as "Mary, Anna and Lily's mom" because they will never define themselves solely as "Kim's daughters."

When I was at my baby shower for Mary, the guests were asked to write down some parental advice on an index card. Some were silly: Tim's grandmother advised me to "give her whatever she wants." (That's your job, Nana. My job is to raise her to not be a jerk.) Others reminded me of the importance of a healthy church upbringing. (Note to self: You are failing in this department and don't really want to be, so get on that.) But the one that stuck with me was from a woman who, instead of something off my registry, gave me a silky, pretty bathrobe for the hospital and some really nice, scented body lotion.

"Make sure to take time for yourself."

As a fairly self centered person by nature, that didn't strike me as radical advice, but it wasn't until I was knee-deep in Mommyland that I realized just how important it was to follow. For three years I did the Mommy thing all day, worked at night, and came home in time to fall into bed. Then I quit, and got pregnant. When I could finally leave the baby and audition for a musical, I was so ready it was almost painful. Getting back on that stage reconnected me to something I had lost, and even Tim noticed how much happier I seemed.

So when I was at a baby shower this past spring for one of my best friends, and the advice book circulated, I glanced at the other tips. "Relax." "Read to your baby." "Take lots of pictures, it flies by." All excellent advice. And then I added my own.

"Remember at least one thing that you enjoyed before you became a mom. Find a way to make time for it."

It doesn't have to be big, or expensive, or time consuming, or even the same thing every time, but it should be something.

How do I do it? I don't know, exactly. But I do it because I have to.