Sunday, April 18, 2010

Instinct: Better than a Handbook.

I, like the rest of the Internet, have become a big fan of The Pioneer Woman. I like her self-effacing humour and the beautiful pictures she posts of her seemingly idyllic life on a ranch in Oklahoma. Her recipes are drool-worthy, though I haven't made any of them because, Hello cheese, butter, cream and bacon, meet my gargantuan thighs.

Recently Pioneer Woman posted a lovely set of photos of a cow watching nervously while a cowboy roped a calf to stop it from wandering away. She wrote about how the cow's maternal instinct gave her the ability to find her calf in a herd of a hundred cows and how the cow's concern for her little calf trumped her fear of the cowboy who was roping it.

I know that concern and fear. I've known it from the day Bug was born. I couldn't stand to be more than a few feet away from her. The night before we were supposed to leave the hospital, a nurse came to take Bug for one of the many look-sees they give newborns. I don't question nurses. I know better. They have needles and catheters and they know how to use them. If you're nice, they'll make sure you're comfortable and get the best meds.

The nurse was gone about a milli-second longer than I thought she should be and I started to sweat. I wondered if I'd carefully scrutinized the nurse's ID badge before she took my baby away from me. My heart pounded. Grinch saw anxiety pulling color out of my face and said, "Go get your baby."

I could hear all the way down the hall. Her cry wasn't the cartoon "wah, wah, wah!" It was "Lllllaah! Lllllaah! Lllllaah!" The nurses tried to assure me that, yes, she was safe, she'll be done in a second but I couldn't hear them. All I could hear was "Lllllaah! Lllllaah!" I paced back and forth at the nursery door like a lioness. A nurse finally gave me the go-ahead to come in. I pushed past her, and zeroed in on my sweet bug, wailing and lah-ing like her life depended on it and as far as I was concerned? At that moment, my life depended on it.

I carried my sweet, snuffling bug back to the hospital room, wheeling her bassinet behind me. I closed the door and collapsed in a chair, holding her tight to my chest, nursing and crying. "She's ok. She's ok." Grinch soothed me. I nodded through tears.

I may not feel like the best mother. I certainly don't know everything about being a mother and, you know what? No one does. Not even close. Everyone has their own way of doing things. We all know the difference between right or wrong but if you'd rather bottle feed than breastfeed, that's not right or wrong, that's just none of my business. We don't watch TV in my house, but if you let your kids watch Backyardigans and Dora, well, ok for you.

Everyone seems to want to be the "best" mother. I want to be the best mother I can be and whether or not I achieve that is really my kids' judgment, not mine. I'm not going to kill myself to live up to someone's standards. They can be the "best" mother to their own kids.

My instinct tells me to protect my children from danger, to breastfeed them, feed them healthy foods when they're ready, teach them to use good manners and not pick their noses in public. My instinct tells me it's ok to skip over the scary parts of books when we read, to enroll them in Sunday school and to avoid the creepy guy at the park.

That's all we're really working on here, isn't it? Instinct? Good, old-fashioned, motherly instinct. It works for cows and lions and for me and my girls. Right now, my instinct is to go give them big, fat, sloppy kisses.

Excuse me.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Speaking of Surprises

Springtime is supposed to be a time of renewal, so I'll (try to) renew my blog. Wish me luck and thanks for checking in.

Bug's language skills got off to a slow start. She started saying "mama" and "dada" a few months after she turned one and we thought she was the most brilliant child on the planet. Except for the addition of "dis" and "dat", that's pretty much where her vocabulary stopped for six months.

Just about the time I was getting worried about her, (Googling "my 22-month-old only says four words" and nearly fainting at the tales of woe and nightmare diagnoses) she let loose with a torrent of words. "Bus! Ball! Hat! Blueberry! Car! Daddy's car! Daddy's car is silver! Mommy has a blue car!" She went from four words to 40 in a couple of days. Our assessment of Bug as the World's Most Brilliant Child was proven, in our eyes at least.

Dosey is now 27-months old and still says just a few words. Her chosen way to communicate most things is to point and scream. Loudly. She can say "cookie" and "no", the important stuff.

She has also picked up on the words "die" and "beer." I can explain: Dos loves to drink out of our glasses and when she goes for a sip of Corona, we tell her "That's beer, you can't have that." "BEER!" Dos says.

Also, Bug is a daredevil. We don't mind her stage-diving off the couch and scaling the climbing wall at the park, but when she tries to use the window screens as vertical trampolines, that's when we step in. Simply saying no doesn't stop her. It has to come along with dire warnings of "If you do that, the screen will give way, you'll fall out the window, crack your skull on the driveway, your brain will spill out on the pavement and you'll die." "DIE!", Dos cheerily cries.

Your kid's first words may be please and thank you, ours is "BEER! DIE!" We're quite proud.

At her two-year check up, the nurse practitioner commented on Dosey's language skills, or apparent lack thereof so far, and said, "I wouldn't worry about it, but if it's getting frustrating for you or her, then give us a call and we can talk about ways to get her talking more." GETTING frustrating? Lord, honey, it's been frustrating for a long time, now.

Little Dos wants so much, wants to tell us so much, and just can't get it across sometimes.
"Dubbadoo?" she asks, sincerely, pointing to a book.
"W?" I ask.
"No! DubbaDOO!"
"Dubbadoo?" I ask, hopefully.
"NO! DUBBABOO!" her eyebrows scrunch, her cheeks redden and her voice goes from childish purr to siren-like wail.

Frustrating? Hell yes.

Words are coming slowly for her. New favorites are puppy, hill, pie, night-night, up, needle, boo-boo and boobie. Yes, boobie. More on that later. Know this: I've tried to correct it to "breast", but it just cracks her up. Whatever. Let's just get her talking, we'll work on proper terminology later.

I turned 41 last month. Holy crap. That's just sinking in. 41. Jay-sus. ::deep breath, exhale:: I turned 41 last month and Grinch surprised me with cake and presents. Dosey surprised me by repeating, as best she could, "Happy. Birfday. Mommy. Love."

That's the best surprise ever.