Grandparent Withdrawal

Over the weekend, we had a wonderful time with Nancy and Alan. We took lots of walks and ate lots of food and enjoyed lots of conversation.  Now that  Grandma and Grandpa have returned to the Midwest and Aaron to work, today was a bit of a transition day from four pairs of hands to hold crying babies and play with eager toddlers to my humble one.

It was not the best of days. We began at the library for story hour. Clara and I are so well acquainted that I can feel her mood change from across the room. Stormy Clara weather came to visit when another unassuming one-year-old tried to climb into the chair that Clara had sat in ten minutes ago. There might have been a little push. I pull out The Mom Whisper—the fierce “we will leave this instant if you do not refrain from hitting the other children” into your child’s sweet ear so that the other mothers can see that you’re handling the situation authoritatively but discreetly. The Mom Whisper worked for the duration of story hour but after, when all thirty kids go to the 5’x5’ book fort for a claustrophobic romp fest, Clara sees from the fort that another child has shown interest in the nasty library stroller she insists we stroll around to look for books.  Her “MY STROLLER!!!” pierces the first floor of the library and all the moms stare. William is crying now as Clara hurls herself toward the stained, nasty stroller. We are beyond The Whisper. We are approaching The Momisms plus The Authoritative Handhold whereby I explain audibly that the stroller in fact belongs to the library (an abstract, nonsensical concept) and that we all need to learn to share. Blah, blah, blah—boring old Momisms she’s heard a million times.  Clara’s insistence intensifies.  We have an audience. It’s time to go; the other child has evacuated the stroller; we head out.

I don’t know why, but I thought maybe, after all this, I could go to Target, too. We arrive looking for lighter fluid, a drying rack, and hangers. Now, it’s William’s turn. He’s bawling and lurching in the sling. I feel that every 19-year-old Target associate is looking at me and my sling and thinking that my usually highly dependable Moby Wrap is really a form of abuse inflicted on children of people who drive Subarus and prefer their sugar to be cane and their flour unbleached. I’ll give Clara one thing: she shapes up when William cries.  Oh, and when I get her a very expensive Odwalla juice with an absurd amount of vitamins and fruit content. She’s drinking her juice. We’ve agreed to be on our best behavior so we can get the baby home. She puts the cap on the juice and tosses it in the back of the cart. Rewind. She did not quite put the cap on the juice. The juice opens and floods its gooey strawberry-banana pink slime all over our hangers and hamburger buns and into aisle G89.  I find an associate who says she’s on lunch; she doesn’t know who’s in charge of mopping. In my haste to reach Electronics where supposedly they can do an all-call for a mop, I see someone is already cleaning it up.  My cart is dripping juice. William is still crying. Customers pass and say, “You poor thing.”

We make it home and Dakota, who wouldn’t come in when I called for him earlier, is nowhere to be found. He hasn’t escaped the backyard and I’m left believing for the remainder of the day that he has gone under our house in a permanent way because we talked a lot last week about trying to give him away to family.

I pull out the drying rack. The leg is broken. We will have to return it.

But, soon, like so many things that involve children, everyone is napping and Dakota is letting out a small whimper from deep beneath the deck. He’s stuck but alive. Aaron is able to get him out when he comes home.  At home, Clara looks at my feet and says, “Shoes off.” She takes off my shoes and puts them in the closet. She puts on her favorite Sunday dress and says, “Help Mom clean.” William is peacefully taking it all in from his bouncy seat. When it’s hard, it’s hard, and when it’s good, it’s really good.

Some pictures from the weekend:

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