Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why Mom Hands Feel Like Velcro.

Those little fingers are no longer peely.  In fact, they are so soft you can hardly feel them.

I have to make a horrible confession here.  Growing up, I often judged my mother's hands.  Her hands actually looked a lot like mine.  Sturdy, somewhere in the middle of manly and feminine.  Dusted with freckles.  But they were much rougher than mine, the nails short and unpainted.  Her bathroom counter was lined with various lotions and balms she slathered on to smooth them, but it never really worked.  I don't think I ever saw my mom's nails painted.  I remember her saying she gave it up when she and my dad got married, but I never really did the math on what that actually meant.  I just thought she didn't care enough to keep them painted.  I thought that if she just tried a little harder, she could keep her hands smooth.  After all, I was a busy college student, I worked a lot with my hands, and I managed to keep my nails manicured and my hands soft.

But now I'm a mom, and my hands are not so smooth anymore.  And I did the math on the end of my mom's manicured nails.  I was born 13 months after my parents got married.  And 6 more kids were born in the next 11 years.  In that time my mother cooked and cleaned and crafted and gardened and bathed and loved and hugged.  Now that I'm a mother of four, I understand that most of those activities probably were taking place at the same time.

For instance on a typical evening, dinner preparation goes like this:
  • Wash my hands.
  • Take the chicken out of the freezer to defrost.  
  • Wash my hands.
  • While the chicken defrosts, help a child go to the bathroom.  
  • Wash my hands.
  • Pat the chicken dry, place it in the pan.  
  • Wash my hands.
  • Help another child go to the bathroom.  
  • Wash my hands.
  • Cut up the vegetables.  
  • Wash my hands.
  • Help a child with her homework.
  • Wipe a nose.
  • Wash my hands.
  • Work on dinner some more.
  • Wash my hands, and pick up the fussing baby.
  • Return to cooking while holding the baby.  She spits up all over me.
  • Clean off my shirt, but don't change it. Changing it would only invite more spit up.
  • Wash my hands.
  • Someone else is hurt and crying.  Kiss it, put a bandaid on it.
  • Wash my hands.
  • The first child has to go to the bathroom again.  Help her out.
  • Wash my hands.
That's eleven (ELEVEN!) hand washings and I haven't even gotten dinner on the table.  No amount of lotion can keep up with that.  Add in breastfeeding sucking every bit of moisture it can out of my body, and my hands are even drier.  Plus baths and dishes and gardening and laundry and life.

My nails keep getting shorter, too.  For one thing, they are dry.  For another, with everything I have to open, every sticker I have to scratch off of somewhere it doesn't belong, every orange I peel, my nails split a little more.  It's not even worth trying to grow them.  And painting them, hah!  One sink of dishes and my manicure is ruined. 

My nightstand is filled with various potions.  I often sleep with thick ointment and gloves on when my hands start snagging delicate fabrics.  But  most of the time, I'm really okay with having mom hands.  I earned them.  And I have 4 daughters with beautiful hands.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Tale of Two Haircuts

This is what Addie's hair looked like.

This is what Maggie's hair looked like.  Now I admit there wasn't a lot, but I could put it into two little piggies in the back, and it was starting to spring up in the cutest little curls.

Then, last night, after feeling kind of gross all day, I decided to lay down for a few minutes.  Bracken was home, the girls had been entertaining themselves in the back yard.  Suddenly Bracken calls me to the table to take a look at Maggie's hair.

She had been shorn.

I looked to Addie to see what had happened, and discovered her bangs were missing. 

I don't remember anything after that.

Fine, I remember a few things.
  • I remember screaming at my two bald-ish daughters without words.
  • I remember going out to the trampoline and gathering what few wispy curls I could find.  This was, after all, Maggie's first haircut.  (It was the third one Addie had given herself.)
  • I remember removing all of the dresses from their closets to be returned at a later, more obedient date.
  • I remember scooping up all their beloved toys from the playroom, placing them in garbage bags, and setting them in the garage, to be slowly earned back.  To tell you the truth, I wouldn't be sad if all the toys didn't get earned back.  I would be happy to place most of those toys straight into the garbage before Rosie gets a chance to choke on them. 
  • I remember emptying their "Good Behavior" marble jars.

Then, the energy of my rage slightly exhausted, I lay down in my bed and attempted to read.  I heard sirens approaching, and shortly thereafter, the doorbell rang.   I listened, almost certain that it was Child Protective Services at the door, having been called by someone who lives miles away, but still heard my screaming.  Perhaps one of the moms from preschool? Turns out, it was just the Schwan man stopping by to try to sell me his frozen goods.  (Perhaps he thought I needed to chill?)  But all was quiet at that point, the miscreants peacefully sleeping.  I did not sleep so well. 

 In the morning, I got them dressed, then had a little photo shoot. I'm glad they are looking remorseful.  Even Maggie's characteristic cheesy grin has lost some of its sparkle.

This looks appropriately pained.

Those light patches?  Those aren't where hair has been pushed aside and can be smoothed back.  That is where it has been trimmed to the scalp.

 All except for the long pieces behind the ears.


And here's the little master mind, though I did find out she was not the sole participant in the cutting.

 I packed them up and hauled them down to Great Clips.  The poor stylists there didn't even know where to start.  The lady working on Maggie was sure that the girls had gotten hold of a pair of clippers, her hair was cut so close to the head.  Nope, I replied, just a pair of children's safety scissors I had gotten down for their friend to use.  It was so short, though, that all she could do was trim the two curls behind Maggie's ears and even up her neck.  Any attempt to do more would only make the bald spots more obvious.  

And Addie.  Despite many suggestions that I just clip it to the side until it grew out, I  knew it wouldn't work.  She had cut such a thick swath, so far back, plus her hair is so very, very straight and unbendable, I knew it just wouldn't happen.  So her stylist evened it up as best she could, fringing it a bit to make it blend.  She finished and sort of shrugged her shoulders.  And I told her I understood there just wasn't much she could do.  

So here they are, looking as good as they possibly can at this point.
Little Mag-leberry Finn, poor motherless thing.  With snow boots on in 90 degree weather.

No more wispy little curls.

Often throughout the 90's I considered cutting baby doll bangs.  Would I also have ended up looking like I was out of my Vulcan mind?

 Her alternative rock album will be coming out later this year.

I think we're all going to survive.  My boiling blood cooled to a simmer by this morning, and tonight is back to 98.6.  Mostly.  At least I'm able to laugh about it now.

 And my playroom has never looked better.

Why moms wear Mom Jeans, and other fashion dilemmas.

In honor of Mother's Day, I thought I would share a few realizations I've had of late about motherhood.

I have a degree in costume design.  I remember being taught once that women tend to wear the style of clothes they liked in their forties for the rest of their lives.  I am currently passing the hump of my thirties, and I've got to say, I am totally understanding that now.

The other day I was in a shoe store, and there on the counter was a display of scrunchies.  I actually picked one up and examined it, just to make sure it was a new product, and not something they'd pulled out of an old bin in the back.  This is the first time in my life that the fashion trend of revisiting previous styles has brought me face to face with choices I made in the past.  And therein lies the problem for moms.  It is twofold.  On one hand, we are faced with clothing choices we hated in the past, and now hate again, and are therefore unable to embrace.

On the other (and more vicious) hand, we are faced with styles we loved.  Things we wore, and wore and wore, and one day realized we had to give up.  We sadly said goodbye, forced ourselves to walk away and not look back.  We learned to mock them, though we once loved them.  And now here we are, face to face once more.  How can we go through that pain again?  Is the world just playing a really cruel joke on us?

I clearly remember the first day I wore a belt over my shirt.  It was in the fifth grade, and I talked to my friend about it as we walked to our class.  I also remember my mom gradually starting to wear belts over her shirts, hesitant to do so.  Was it because she was unsure about the look, or was it because she had been down this road before and couldn't believe it was acceptable to do it again?   I wonder every time I put on a decorative belt.  I talked to a mom yesterday whose preteen daughter was trying to slip out the door with an off the shoulder shirt with a tank top underneath.  I remember wanting to wear that look so badly in 1988, but my parents would not approve.  Now I'm the disapproving parent.

Here is a brief list of other things I either wore in the late eighties/ early nineties, or was desperate to wear but they didn't work for me then and certainly don't work for me now, that are all back in the stores now:

Leggings with tunic tops
Skinny jeans
Maxi skirts
Acid/Stone wash
Gladiator sandals
Tiered skirts
Denim jackets
Chambray shirts
Braided belts
Crop tops 
and of course, 

Yes, I have already added several of these things to my closet, or my daughters' closet.  I will probably add more after I fast and pray about whether or not they really are acceptable again.

Which brings me to Mom jeans.  They are a comin', mark my words.  It won't be long now before we are all wandering around looking like the cast of Saved By the Bell.  And I, for one, am excited.  I have (mostly) accepted the fact that my Lenten experiment was a failure, and this is the size I have been while nursing each and every one of my children, and that my body does not like to relinquish weight while I am breastfeeding.  But this loose and jiggly area of stretched out skin around my midsection is killing me.  I think the only thing that will save me is the return of high waisted pants that reach above and beyond my lububrious middle, enhancing my (comparatively) slender underbust.  And if I had a sexy vest to wear with them?  Boy, Howdy! (I have to admit, that video is not so funny to me anymore.)

I do have one other request from the nineties.  Can you bring back baby bangs?  For Addie's sake?  (to be continued . . .)