February 23, 2003

I just knocked my head against the freezer door six times on purpose

Excuse me while I hurl myself off the deck.

It's about being a mom. You see, I just spent the last two-and-a-half hours trying to get my kid to sleep. No, it really is that bad. When you're a parent (especially parenting solo--week two with George gone), you look forward to the sleeping child like you once looked forward dancing and drinking the weekend away. It's your time, when they pass out. It's the only time you get. Because you know where they are, and you know they're safe, and for once in the long fricking day they are QUIET! Angelic. As soon as the eyes seal for real, your whole spine relaxes.

Jenna's been sick with strep throat. For some children, that might mean they quiet down and rest. Not mine. She has this internal energy bank where she puts her hyper tokens, so if she's out of sorts for a day, that bank fills up with these little coins, and the minute she feels an ounce better, she cashes those suckers in--the whole lot at once, and spends them in one wild frenzy. It feels like she's pelting me with them. I can't keep up. Not with the crafts, not with the mess, not with the books, not with the meals, not with the questions, not with the smarty pants answers, not with the baths, not with the hair, not with any of it.

She's a tornado of wellness. I am useless. Where in the hell did Kansas go?

I should be used to it by now. She's five and she has never slept.

She's the baby who nursed every hour and a half, for 20 minutes on each side, and you do the math, okay, you do the math on what kind of break I had in between feedings. And you think it gets better, right? I look at other people's kids, and I think, look. They're so calm. It's clear that the parents are in charge. I bet their kids go right to sleep at night. Yah well, not if yours is like mine. She is in love with life, and that means she's going to suck mine right out of me.

Parents with calm children give me a lot of advice. It doesn't work with our kid. If she's painting, she's quiet. If she's drawing, she's quiet. That's it. The rest of the time is a manic dash through the day, me being rained on by her energy tokens that she saved up the last time she was sick.

In my day, parents drugged their kids. Horrific? My entire extended family raised their kids on "Dr. Parker's Green Medicine," which worked just fine for us kids when we were fussy and couldn't sleep, and worked on the mothers too. A teaspoon for you, a teaspoon for me. Dr. Parker practiced and made house calls until he was in his 80s. I think the entire city of Rochester was raised on that green medicine.

And was that really so wrong?

If I had some now, I'd drink the whole bottle.

Dr. Parker, God rest his soul.

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