Sunday, May 9, 2010

Behind every mother is a good aunt and uncle

Mother's Day was a mixed bag this year. Matthew has been working odd hours covering the Red Sox in Boston every day since Thursday. He hasn't been around for dinner or bedtime, which is taking its toll on me. But, I got a huge bouquet of lilacs from Matthew yesterday, which was exactly what I wanted. The scent fills our room. I just love these flowers, and they are blooming all over the place right now. And, this morning, after arriving home late last night, Matthew got up with Jonah while I slept in a bit, which I really needed since, at 7 months pregnant, I'm again having some trouble sleeping. (I have to get up to pee several times a night, my hips hurt and it takes a lot of effort these days to roll over and get comfortable again, not to mention the heartburn.) Luckily, Jonah slept in a bit, too, so that was great for Matthew.

We all had the morning together and had lots of fun hanging out at Matt and Kristy's house, chowing down on pancakes and strawberries and all kinds of other yummy brunchy foods while Jonah and their little boy, Rex, played around.

But, then, Jonah didn't nap. He just talked for two hours, yelled or cried once in a while and pretty much all around prevented me from taking a much-needed nap myself. Matthew had to leave for Boston again in the middle of the madness, and I ended up alone in the house, overtired and frustrated, with a nearly 2 1/2-year-old who was also sleep-deprived. I had planned to take Jonah over to my dad's after naptime so they could play in his yard before we all went out to dinner. But, that plan went out the window when I realized that I was way too tired to deal with any of it. An overtired toddler and restaurants usually do not mix. Plus, I had told Jonah that he needed to get lots of rest if he wanted to go to Pepe's. If he didn't sleep, he'd be too tired to play at Pepe's and go out to dinner. With my credibility on the line, I had to stick to my guns and cancel our plans.

Of course, as I sat alone in the living room and thought about my prospects for the rest of the day and evening, I started to cry. It's Mother's Day, for god's sakes! And, here I am all alone with a kid who seems fine now, as he plays with his trains, but will likely turn into a little beast in just a few short hours. I sat trying to figure out what to do when Jonah came over to me, put his hands on my lap and said, "Mama. Mama," in his raspy little voice. Not pleading, but almost like, "C'mon, Mama. It's not that bad." Then he pulled himself up onto my lap, wrapped his arms around my neck and gave me a big hug. After I put him down, he said, "You feeling better now," and went back to playing with his trains. That hug was another highlight of my day. And, I did, indeed, momentarily feel better.

I still didn't know what to do. I still felt sad that I was all alone with Jonah on Mother's Day. But, luckily, I live in someone else's house right now, and a short while later, the others came home: Neeni and Uncle Marc. Jonah was very happy to see them, and I was even happier. I told them what happened and how tired I was and started crying again. They promptly sent me to bed, called Pepe for me and then whisked Jonah away for a walk to the park. The house was quiet and I slept until dinner, a dinner prepared by Neeni and Uncle Marc.

Sadly, Pepe never showed up for dinner as we expected, but I felt much better able to handle my overtired toddler's evening routine after a nice nap. With little fanfare and no response to his protests, I peeled off the jacket he refused to remove for Neeni and Uncle Marc when he arrived home from the park. When he didn't want to wash his hands before dinner, I convinced him it would be fun to wash his toy onion in the sink while also washing his hands. I looked the other way when he chose to eat mostly ketchup and yogurt for dinner. I plopped him in the bath even though he protested at first (and I added a few drops of lavender aromatherapy oil for good measure), and got him out again despite more protests and his insistence that he wanted to sleep in the bathtub tonight. I convinced him to sing to the baby in my belly instead of kicking me while I put on his diaper and got him dressed in his jammies. I didn't care that he kicked his socks off into his sleepsack while we read books, then asked for a new pair but wouldn't let me remove the old pair. Fine. Sleep with your crumpled up socks in there. Fine. Who cares? I sang "one more owl" and "one more owl" and "one more owl" before finally saying goodnight. I succeeded in getting him down for bed a little early to compensate for no nap, and instead of chattering away for 20 minutes or more like he does some nights, he was quiet pretty much as soon as rubbed his head and said, "Goodnight baby. I love you."

If you had asked me even a month ago if I was totally happy about leaving DC and moving back home, I might have hesitated, overcome with sadness of all that we left behind so abruptly. All the good friends who were almost like family. Everyone who witnessed Jonah growing from a tiny baby into a 2-year-old. All the incredible kid activities I could get to without a car and for free. I would have said, "Yes, but we are still getting used to it," and so on. But, I can't describe how incredibly wonderful it has been to not only be near our family, but to live with some of them. Without help from Neeni and Uncle Marc, I don't know how I'd make it through some days, the hard days when Matthew is away or working late or odd hours, or the days when Jonah is just being downright difficult, a typical 2-year-old. I would make it, just like I always did, but I wasn't 7 months pregnant then, and now I am so glad I don't have to do it all alone anymore. As hard as it was to leave the wonderful life and relationships we built over seven years, that's why we left DC. That's why we moved back home. Family. They really came through for me today, without question, without hesitation, and Jonah was just as happy hanging out with Neeni and Uncle Marc as he would have been with Mama and Daddy.

When I woke up this afternoon, Jonah handed me a flower and told me, "Sorry I didn't take a nap, Mama," just like Uncle Marc told him to.

It wasn't exactly the Mother's Day I had hoped for, but turns out it wasn't so bad after all.

Happy Mother's Day to all those who mother. ~ Nicole