Eva’s Law

The occasion of one of your best friend’s weddings should be memorable for all the right reasons but when you are the mother of a two year old Murphy’s Law applies more often than not to each day, week and special occasion. I now call it Eva’s law, if something can go wrong it will go wrong. And Eva has lived up to her rule for this week has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.

I was anticipating a challenging week last Friday night when Eva and I dropped Daddy off at the airport for his nine day trip home for his Grandmother’s funeral. I could barely remember the last time he went away on his own over a year ago. It was to be my foray into single parenting, something many mothers do full time with multiple children, on one salary and in much worse circumstances but I can’t help feeling sorry for myself when the puking begins.

I made it through the weekend just fine, but then again it was the weekend and my energy was high and we even had a chance to go out on my parents boat on Sunday for an evening swim at Paget’s island in the middle of October. We live in paradise, how nice to have a moment to appreciate it I thought. Of course it was the calm before the storm. There were clues but I chose to ignore them, like the ill fated optimist I am. Eva was fussy when she woke up from her nap and had a tantrum about nothing. When we were on the boat she ate very little, and of course it is October, which always means trouble but alas I always pretend everything is okay.

As I was on my own, and did not eat dinner until after I put Eva to bed on Sunday night, I decided to stay up late and watch Boardwalk Empire, which I usually record to watch later in the week. Eva’s law applies here, because it is always the nights I choose to go to bed late that Eva gets sick, like it was always the nights I decided to go to bed with no clothes on that Piglet and Piccolo would get into a huge fight and I would have to try and separate them, wondering if I should let them kill themselves while I put a dressing gown on and call for help. At least on Sunday night I was clothed and caught up on laundry.

At 2am I bolt upright in bed and hear crying coming through the monitor. I race to Eva’s room ever the dutiful mother, determined that during Daddy’s absence Mommy would rise to the heights of favorite parent, the one that didn’t abandon her. It seemed to be working over the weekend and she even started calling me Daphne for a few moments, but after the sickness set in I was back to Scrappy do. I lift Eva out of her crib at about the same time I notice the tell tale stench of vomit. I immediately think of the hotdog she had for dinner, could an applegate uncured hotdog be at fault? I flipped on the light sat her on the bed and stripped her of her clothing. In fear I look into the crib at all the blankets, sheets, toys and books that are covered in puke and sigh. If Daddy was at home I would have woken him up and one of us would have cleaned up the puke and one of us would have tried to console the sick crying Eva. I put her on the big bed, and went about stripping her crib. Bundling the dirty sheets, toys and books into a ball and I tossed them out onto the lawn pretending they didn’t exist. Eva and I changed clothes, and I got settled in for what would be a long four hours till morning.

“Mommy is going to sleep with you in your big bed so we can cuddle, because you don’t feel well.”

“Okay mommy,” Said Eva throwing her little arms around me.

“Would it be okay if Piccolo slept in your big bed with us?” I asked.

To my surprise, “Yes,” was her answer. She usually never even lets Piccolo come into her room.

I had just finished tucking Piccolo in at the end of the bed, when Eva turned a shade of pale, became uncharacteristically still, and tilted her head over. I was a pro at vomit, so I threw a towel underneath her, as fast as a cowboy withdrawing a gun from his holster in a shoot out. Just in time. I bundled it up, wiped her mouth with a wipe, and took the surprise package to the growing bundle on the lawn. I then retrieved several more towels and lined the bed with them, before climbing in and draping myself with a sick crying child, it was at this moment that reality overtook my optimism and my denial and I had to admit that she had the dreaded stomach flu.

I think she vomited another four times before the sun poked its head above the horizon at about 6:45am and we got up for what I knew would be an even longer day. The pile of vomit laundry outside looked like Mount Everest to an exhausted mother of a sick child so I continued to pretend it didn’t exist, until my father came over to check in on Eva, and I took the opportunity to hose down all the sheets, books, toys, blankets, towels etc and begin the mountain of laundry of which four days later, I have whittled down to only one more load.

Now that Eva was almost three a pattern had finally revealed itself. Since she was 1, she ( and I) had contracted the stomach flu every April and every October. Evidently the virus springs to life and high contagiousness when the seasons begin to change. I promise to myself of future Aprils and Octobers to undertake some immune boosting measures before this happens again, as it will during another future, terrible, horrible, not so good, very bad week.

Needless to say work deadlines, schedules, errands, phone calls, emails and writing time were all postponed while Eva continued to vomit through the workday. It was far worse than usual so I put a call into the doctor’s office, who said what I expected.

“There is really nothing we can do about it.”

When the vomiting seemed to stop things got a little easier for a few hours, Eva laid on mommy watching Scooby Doo and then I put her to bed for her nap. When she woke up, I could smell something pungent but it wasn’t vomit, it was diarrhea. I am kind of on the fence about what is worse vomit or diarrhea, but my poor baby Eva had both making this virus the worst she has ever had.

By nightfall she seemed better and would be back to school the next day and we would both be rested, but at midnight she started crying again, and I rushed into her room only to find the same scene from the night before, a carnage of vomit. Like groundhog day I picked her out of bed, stripped her clothing, wiped her down, stripped the bed, added it to the now growing again mountain of dirty sheets, clothes, toys and books outside, and settled in for night number two in bed with Eva.

By Wednesday I managed to get back to work, and finally sleep through the night (both of us,) but by Thursday (today) the poor little baby is still having diarrhea. Today was scheduled as a day off for me, on a cruise boat celebrating one my best friend’s weddings, instead I am feeling like crap, writing this blog post and praying I don’t come down with the stomach flu and four day diarrhea, and god forbid- even worse give it to the bride – so I missed the cruise. I am hoping, however that Eva’s law does not continue its rule and render me unable to attend the wedding. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened, as last October Eva had the stomach flu and had just recovered before Chris and I flew for our first and last holiday without Eva for three days to New York for a friend’s wedding. Upon arrival in New York I contracted the same stomach flu and remained in bed for the duration, missing the wedding and barely making the plane home. I have no intention of reliving this experience. Of course, I am also looking forward to Chris’ arrival home on Sunday night and the triumphant return of co-parenting.

Xx Derelict Mom

Eva's Law

Scooby You and Scrappy Me

Eva’s imagination took off a few months into her second year, which is currently in its fall (she will be three at Christmas.) As a creative person I really felt this was going to be MY era or at least my best chance of being the favorite parent. Of course I was mistaken because in any good story there has to be a surprise and this was one of many in my own adventure in motherhood.

“Mommy tell me a story, tell me a story.”

“Once upon a time there was a magical fairy called Evangeline who was looking for a Rosemary bush to call her home.”

“No I want a story about a bunny.”

“Once Upon a time there was a mommy bunny who was looking for a den to raise her baby bunny in.”

“No I want a story about a daddy bunny.”

“Eva, I am your mommy, I DON’T tell stories about Daddy bunnies.”

“WAAAAAA”

This is how it went most nights when I put her to bed until at about age two and a half around her June 21st half birthday, Daddy and Mommy gave in to cartoons and Eva’s obsession with Peppa Pig bloomed. Soon much of her imaginative play had echoes of Peppa Pig episodes I had watched, half attentively, half blocking my ears from the annoying music. Officially children are not supposed to have any screen time until they are three years old, and part of me wishes she had never seen a cartoon or an ipad but you can only hold off technology for so long. Within a few months Eva can navigate my iphone better than her father who is still stuck on a blackberry.

In the Peppa Pig Universe, Peppa has a Mommy called Mommy Pig who is obsessed with working on her computer, which is very close to Eva’s reality. One night we were playing in Eva’s room before I put her to bed, and she held out the silver jewelry box she was given at her christening and said,

“Mommy, this is my secret box.”

“Why is it a secret?”

“It has a secret inside.”

At this point I began to remember the Peppa Pig episode when Peppa hid her favorite teddy in her secret box.

“What is inside, Eva?” I ask.

She opens the box and lets me look inside.

“Oh wow,” I said. “Your beautiful christening bracelet.”

Eva picked it out and gave it to me.

“It’s our secret Mommy, you are my best friend.”

Unsurprisingly I put her christening bracelet on my wrist and have been wearing it ever since in remembrance of the split second that I was Eva’s best friend. Of course my moment of glory was short lived.

I always knew Eva would be a tom boy but when her other best friend and cousin Sadie left her nursery leaving her, the only girl with three boys, it was pretty much the end of high heels, sequins, dolls, makeup, fights over the baby carriage and anything resembling decorum. Instead of being covered with lipstick she is covered with bruises, she can climb pretty much anything and is practicing her left hook. Soon she will ask me to call her Evan instead of Eva and want me to chop all her hair off, or finally convince me that she can actually pee standing up. The one thing that remains is her love for the colour pink- we will see how long that lasts.

Amid these changes she ditched another of her best friends, Peppa Pig and decided she would rather hang out with, and obsessively watch Scooby Doo. Scooby at least has more of a story than the Peppa Pig cartoons but for some kind of copyright reason full Scooby episodes are not on You Tube so if we are not at home and Eva has a craving, it is usually followed by a massive Scooby Doo tantrum and my commensurate frustration that she cannot yet grasp the concept of DVR and wireless internet technology.

Like Peppa Pig, the world of Scooby Doo crept into her imaginative play but in far less flattering ways. Last weekend we were playing what she calls her “clay-pen” because she can’t say “play-pen” properly or maybe she just can’t decipher mommy’s weird accent. While playing Eva decided to emulate her favorite cartoon.

“This is a treasure map.” She said, “Of South America.”

“Do you want Mommy to help Eva read the treasure map?”

“I am not Eva, I am Shaggy.”

“Okay, if you are Shaggy, who is Scooby Doo?”

“Piccolo,” She said referring to our miniature dachshund, and looking at me with a – you are a stupid mummy- look.

“Okay.” I said, “Can Mommy help Shaggy with the treasure map?”

“No, Fred has to help Shaggy.”

I look at her confused, “Who is Fred?” I ask.

“Daddy is Fred!!!!” She yells impatient with my ignorance.

“Is Fred going to help you?” I ask.

“Freddy! Freddy!” She demands from the other side of the playpen

“Read my map!”

Daddy reads the blank page and pretends to lead her to the buried treasure in South America ,which is what he has renamed the left couch in the living room.

“Can we get Mommy to help us Shaggy?” Chris/Fred asks Eva.

“You mean, Velma?” Eva says.

I choke on my water.

“Wait who am I, VELMA? Really… VELMA? “

“Yes Mommy, you are Velma and you don’t get to come to South America.”

“Oh,“ I say disappointed in being called Velma more than not getting to come to South America.

“Wait who is Daphne?” I ask.

“Bunny is Daphne.” She says referring to her stuffed bunny she carries around with her.

“VELMA?” I say again. Chris roars in laughter.

“I am no Daphne, but I am no Velma either! “ I say defensively.

“I don’t have glasses, I don’t have an old lady hair cut and I hate the colour orange.”

When Eva and Chris or rather Shaggy and Fred finally got back from their love affair in South America, Velma was ready to negotiate.

“Shaggy?”

“Yes?”

“In Scooby Doo, Shaggy and Velma love each other, right?”

“Yes Velma I love you.”

“Oh thanks Eva.”

“No, Shaggy.”

“Sorry, Thanks Shaggy.”

“Shaggy, would it be okay if Mommy was Scrappy Doo instead of Velma?”

Shaggy took some time to think it over.

“Shaggy would you like a piece of chocolate, Scrappy do has some in the fridge, but Velma is on a chocolate free diet.”

True to character she said, “Yes Scrappy I would like a piece of chocolate, a big piece.”

And so from that moment on Velma up-negotiated through chocolate to become, Scrappy Do which seems fitting to Derelict Mom as I have always been a bit Scrappy and Eva did not seem to mind as she was still chasing Daddy around the house, saying,

“Freddy, Freddy, Freddy! “

Eva’s attribution of Daddy as Freddy, Mommy as Velma, and herself as Shaggy made me wonder about self image, and when we should worry about our young girls and trying to lead by example. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so worried about being called Velma after all as she is the smart one. When I was young I wanted to be a boy and although I couldn’t wish that into reality, I did become a tom boy and Eva seems to be following suit.

I am not so sure what to make of my most recent finding from within her playpen, which is pictured below. Her cousin Sadie gave her some dress up dolls for Christmas and Eva has taken great pleasure not in dressing them up as was intended but in desecrating their naked bodies with scribbles especially the blonde one that looks the most like her. I wonder if I should I be worried?

Xx Derelict Mom    a.k.a  VELMA    Scrappy Do!

Eva'sBodyImageIssues2

Busted

In an uncharacteristic moment of gratitude, I want to say that I am really thankful for the growing network of parents of young kids in my small historic town of St. George’s and it makes me happy that Eva will have nice friends to grow up with, and it makes me even happier that I won’t have to trek up to Warwick parish for a play date and back. Hurrah!

Two weeks ago, a new friend and our neighbors invited us out for a cocktail cruise on Friday evening with the kids. I couldn’t wait, so I rushed home with Eva and got her prepared for the occasion. I had RSVPed for Chris saying that he would probably not get home from work on time, because Fridays are always his busiest day when he has to close off but the press continues to print over the weekend. He said he would call me when he got home and maybe the boat could swing back and pick him up if he wasn’t too late.

The boat slipped into our dock at 6pm sharp, and as I am always running late perpetually, Eva and I were the last ones onboard around 6:30pm. Chris was nowhere in sight, he had as expected missed the boat.

The plan was to pick up pizzas at the Wharf Tavern for the kids, so the boat motored into the dock of our local pub and restaurant a little later than planned. Sarah hopped out to pick up the pizzas, leaving us on the boat. When she came back, she came back with pizzas and a huge surprise for me. There standing on the dock in his Bermuda shorts and work blazer was Chris. I was stupefied. Chris was stupefied.

“What are you doing here?” I said as my mind began to whir.

“What are you doing here?” he said buying time.

“We picked up pizzas, that was always the plan.” I say stating the obvious.

I look over at Sarah who is holding the pizza, standing a few feet away looking as if she had grabbed him by the ear like a naughty school boy and dragged him off the bar stool to have a very public scolding by his wife.

“What are you doing here?” I ask again.

“I went to Somers Supermart and then stopped in to have a beer with Gunter.”

“Really?” I said still confused.

“Who stops in to have a beer with Gunter?”

“You do I guess.” I say answering my own question.

“You were supposed to call me and we were going to pick you up.”

“It’s 6:30, I thought you would be long gone by now.”

“You know I am never on time! “

“BUSTED”

Everyone chimed in, insisting that he board the boat immediately. He tried to hesitate and I gave him a glare. So he went back, poured his pint of beer into a plastic cup and boarded the vessel.

“Now you have me wondering how many times you do things like this?”

“What?”

“Pretend to be at work while having a sneaky pint at the Wharf?”

“Never.”

“Never except today.”

After first being really annoyed I realized that he never gets to have five minutes alone ever to be his own person, not someone’s boss, not someone’s employee, not someone’s wife, not Eva’s father, not Daddy monster, or Eva’s horsie, or Daddy shark. Sometimes, even Super Daddy needs a break, even if it is a stolen few minutes over a pint of beer with Gunter of all people!

On Sunday morning the same weekend Chris went into work to prepare for the week ahead so when Eva woke up he had already left the homestead. The first thing she asked me was,

“Where is Daddy?”

Annoyed I sucked my teeth at her and demanded that she first say “Good Morning.”

“Good Morning Mummy.”

“Good Morning Eva.”

“Daddy is at work.”

“Once I found him hiding in your bedroom.” She said

“You can check if you want, but I am not lying,” says the mother to the child.

She toddled into our bedroom and looked high and low for him.

“You see no Daddy.”

“WAAAAAAAAAAA.”

“He will be back later, we can call him if you want?”

It was the moment when she accused me of hiding her Daddy as if he was a stuffed toy, that I realized it could be worse, Sarah could have caught him in a Hawaiian shirt, with a suitcase, and a travel itinerary. And if Chris wants to sneak around behind my back with Gunter- of all people, it is okay by me. But I have one condition, and that is that he continues to be Daddy Monster, continues to model Eva’s Hello Kitty Jewelry line and give up all his beer cozies for her bottles. I think that is an agreement we can broker and anyway Eva loves you more than me, or so she says.

Xx Derelict Mom

Sarah took a picture of us on the boat cruise to immortalize the evening.

Boat Pic copyIMG_1703Hello Kitty

Great Gran 1909 – 2014

Eva family045 Eva Worsick fam010I woke up this morning to the sad news that Eva’s Great Grandmother, Dorothy Kinder, known lovingly to us as “Great Gran” passed away in her 106th year early this morning. This was not entirely a surprise, nor was it a tragedy, but I shed a tear for the wonderful woman I was so happy to have known in the last years of her life.

There were two stand out qualities of Great Gran that I admired and both had everything to do with her longevity: her optimism and her spirit. When we skyped Chris’s mom and dad this past weekend, they let us know that the end was near. Great Gran was asleep most of the time, and barely eating a spoonful; she had occasional moments of lucidity and was still managing to slap the nurse. “That’s the Great Gran I know and love!” I thought.

The last several months have been hard on her three children. As her great age began to take its toll, her spirit never dwindled but she became too great a liability for the home she was living in. When the staff were not looking she would run away like a rebel teenager bucking authority. Once she was discovered in the local pub and had to be taken home- which made all of her relatives around the globe giggle, but it was as funny as it was sad. During another thwarted escape attempt, she tried to hitch a ride on a street corner but luckily the car she flagged down was the owner of the old people’s home who promptly returned her to the premises. Eventually as her mind declined a victim of dementia, but her spirit remained she needed more care and was moved to another home, and was forced to give up her room with a view, which for an artist and a woman of the world was one of her last pleasures.

The family tried to make her comfortable but she became more and more paranoid and at one point asked Shelagh to light a candle for her, get a piece of the alter and something Jesus had touched. When we were away in New Hampshire, we got a phone call from Chris’s sister to let us know that Great Gran had had a stroke, but that she had only temporarily lost feeling on one side, but that she was all right. We marveled she survived. The following day the phone rang again and we all braced for the news we received today. But Uncle Ross informed us that actually they had done a CAT Scan and that Great Gran had not had a stroke, just a seizure, and she recovered just fine. As the nurse said a week or so ago, “Dorothy always surprises us.” Great Gran I think we thought would live forever.

Today her life ended and she is, we imagine finally at peace. Her legacy in our family, affirmed. I can see her qualities of spirit and optimism in both Chris and Eva, and here is ever hoping some of that rubs off on me. Like Bette Davis said, “Old Age is Not for Sissies.” Great Gran was brave, brash, funny and beautiful. Although Eva won’t grow up to remember her two visits, I will remind her of the Grand Old Dame and make sure she lives a life, which Great Gran would be proud of and I am sure she will as I do not think apples fall far from the tree. At home we have one of her paintings, and a needlepoint she completed in 2013 at the age of 104, small works of her hand which Eva will have to “remember” her by, which is what she said when she gave us the painting, giving us both time to get used to the idea that she would not in fact live forever. Something else will live forever though, the interview I filmed with her in the courtyard of the pub down the road from her home a few years ago, when we quizzed her on her life, and when Eva is old enough I will let her watch the interview and eventually she will appreciate it, when she is old enough to be interested in her family and our collective past.

Cheers to a life well lived, to Great Gran, Dorothy Pilling Gregory Kinder 1909 – 2014

To read more of Great Gran’s life read my post from her 105th birthday in January this year at the link below.

https://derelictmom.com/2014/01/17/do-you-remember-the-titanic/

Xx Derelict Mom

The Dangling Conversation

If you have read my blog posts in the past you may have followed my interest in digging into my family tree. A few months in I realized it was more of a life long interest and not a temporary project, so I convinced myself to take a break. I have also been run off my feet with my living relatives especially the little one, who has no idea she has third cousins thrice removed who died in 1897 and lead a life full of intrigue. For Eva, Mommy, Daddy and Auntie Zoe are the most important people in the world and despite a few friends and her grandparents she is not sure why anyone else matters. Her biggest problem is that her mother, me, finds everything fascinating.

When my parents received a phone message from a long lost relative we had never met, I was eager to call the person back. As soon as my mother listened to the message she gladly passed it on to me, check that box! But I did not have a chance to call her until 7:30pm when Daddy came home from work and was playing with Eva.

The woman I called will be henceforth referred to as Shirley, which is not her real name in order to protect the guilty.

I dialed the number, she had said she was staying with some friends: let’s call them the Haywards.

I dial the number.

“Hello, is this the Hayward residence?”

A long mumbly pause.

“Hello.”

“Oh, um… Yeeeeeeesssssss.”

“May I speak to Shirley who I believe is staying with you?”

“Well, my dear, I am SHHHHIRLLLEYYY.”

“Oh” I say surprised that she would answer the phone so nonchalantly when it was not her home.

“You called and left a message for my parents Rick and Jane Spurling wanting to ask about the Davis family, I am their daughter and I am calling you back.”

“Oh, wow you called me back.”

“Yes.”

A long mumbly pause

“Hello???”

“Oh yes Oh yes, now who are you again?”

“Lucinda Spurling.”

“Who are your parent’s”

“Rick and Jane Spurling.”

“Why did you call me?”

“I called you because you called them?”

“Oh, I did?”

“Yes, this morning.

“What did I want?”

“You were looking into the Davis family. My great grandmother was May Davis Gurr.”

“Oh, and you are?”

“Lucinda.”

“Oh yes Lucinda Davis, I think we have met.”

“No we haven’t and it is Lucinda Spurling.”

“Who was your father?”

“My father is Rick Spurling, his mother, my grandmother was Marion Gurr, the

daughter of May Davis Gurr.”

“Huh?”

“May Davis married Frank Gurr, and their daughter Marion is my grandmother.”

“Who is your husband?”

“It does not matter, my husband is British, and I kept my maiden name- Spurling.”

“Yes, Lucinda Davis.”

“No Lucinda Spurling.”

“Whatever, well what I want to know is to look into the Davis side of the family.”

“We don’t know much about that side.” I say trying to discourage her.

“Well I am really serious! “

“I can tell.”

“I have been here two weeks and I am finally starting to call around. Did I call you or did you call me?”

“I called you back.”

I hear something that sounds very much like a swig.

“I am from New Mexico.”

“Oh that is nice.”

“Who is your husband?”

“It does not matter, he is British and I kept my maiden name.”

“Oh My husband thinks he is Bermudian.”

She giggles, “ I am from ALBUQUERQUE NEW MEXICO.”

“I know, you told me.”

“Did I call you or did you call me?”

“I called you back.”

“No one ever calls me back, you are so SWEEEET.”

So is that cocktail you are swigging I think.

“Do you know Bill Davis?”

“Yes”

“Bill Davis is going to help me; he is quite elderly.”

“Yes he is now.”

“Are you related to the Shelly Bay Davis’s or the Bailey’s Bay Davis’s’”

“Shelly Bay.”

“Well, we are related to both sides.” She says giggling again.

“Oh really, that is interesting.” By now I am wondering how to put myself out of this misery.

“I am 73.”

“Oh good for you, I am 38.”

“Is your name Ann?”

“No, Ann is my aunt.”

“Oh COOOOLLLL, I spoke to her today.”

“Oh you did, then you know everything you need to know.”

“Ann is a COOL lady.”

“Yes she is.”

“Ann was a Davis, what did Ann tell me, I can’t remember now.”

“Oh well,” I say sighing.

“ My mother, Kate married Harry Davis, Kate was a Barnes so I am related to everybody.”

“Everybody?”

“Everybody! So what is your mother’s maiden name?”

“Youngblood.”

“What is your father’s maiden name?”

“He doesn’t have one.”

“I want to ask you something, as I put my life together, can you help me put my life together?”

“Yes” enormous sigh from me.

“What is your number.”

“297-0221?” I gave her my old number that was disconnected many years ago.

“I am really serious about this, I will call you.”

“Okay.”

“So Who did you say was your husband?”

“It doesn’t matter, he is not Bermudian.”

“Did you call me or did I call you?”

“I called you back.”

“ No one ever calls me back.”

“I really have to go now, I have a two year old I need to put to bed.”

“Oh a two year old, I don’t have any of those anymore.”

“Okay, goodbye.”

“Goodbye, you will hear from me again- I am serious.”

CLICK.

The first thing I did was laugh, call Ann, and wonder what I would have done with those twenty minutes if I had not been on the phone with “Shirley.” Ann and I agreed that the drinking gene in all of our convening family lines, had many expressions and one of them was Shirley.

I have to admit that this is the first time I have given out a fake number to a drunk grandmother, which made me perversely nostalgic for the days I gave out fake names and numbers to hoodlums who tried to sleaze up to me- I guess I have lost my touch, or maybe just my youth. I also realized the danger of having years of dinnertime, bath time, and story time and then when the babies fly the nest replacing those activities with cocktail hour – even at age 73. Maybe I won’t wish for an empty nest so quickly.

Xx Derelict Mom.

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Escape from Alcatraz

Despite my decision to enact a moratorium on family holidays, we accepted the generous invitation of my parents to take Eva and the family dog, Piccolo to spend the holiday weekend on a luxury island off St. David’s. My father and a business partner have a holiday rental on a St. David’s outcrop, which they market to tourists and sometimes when it hasn’t been booked up there will be a weekend, which is free for the family. Don’t ask me why they asked us, maybe after my other siblings declined for other social engagements. My whiney screeching child scares off social engagements so Chris and I were free to accept what would turn out to most certainly be our last invitation. If my parent’s didn’t want to have Eva to spend the night before our holiday weekend, it will not ever enter the realm of possibility now.

One day after work, Chris came home nose in his blackberry as usual.

“Martin’s friend Kevin is visiting and we are planning on a night out on Saturday the 29th of August.”

“That is when we are going to be on the island.”

“I haven’t had a night out in 2014.”

“You are not counting your happy hours.”

“I would like to go. I will kayak out the next day.”

“Are you that desperate?”

“Yes”

“You don’t have to kayak, my brother will pick you up and bring you out.”

“Okay. Agreed.”

The week before our mini-trip, Eva came down with the dreadful summer cold that was going around nursery. Never to miss out on a contagious illness, Eva contracted the dreaded cold and cough the week before Labor day. When Eva comes down with an illness it is marked by a restless night of lots of crying and little sleep, I knew that this meant the cold had arrived, but when my 9am shoot the following day did, I was wishing for pajamas and an early night fall.

The worst childhood illness is by far the stomach flu, because as a parent you usually get sick too, and then there is cleaning up vomit and diarrhea multiplied by people in the household, because no one escapes. But at least the Norwalk virus only lasts 24 hours. The second worst childhood illness is the cold and cough combination, and that is what Eva contracted. Which meant not one night with frequent wakings but many because the cough was worse at night; she would hack and wake herself up then she would fuss because she was overtired then when she would eventually go back to sleep she would wake up again with a night terror brought on by lack of sleep or she would hack until she threw up. This series of events started the vicious cycle because without sleep the cough got worse, so the nights got worse, etc. etc.

And at the peak of this illness, I had visions of Eva taking long naps while I read my book with Piccolo on the hammock on Labour day, and so I began to pack her bags for the mini-trip.

After almost three years, disillusion runs high and I am still having fantasies about my life before Eva instead of getting used to the fact that I will not have an hour to myself for many years to come, maybe when she learns to read.

When I started hunting around for a portable water bowl for Piccolo, and Chris was ironing his outfit for his night on the town he said,

“I don’t think it’s the best idea to take Eva AND Piccolo out to the island by yourself.”

“I want him to come!’

“What if he goes missing in the bushes, why don’t I bring him out tomorrow.”

“On the kayak? Just kidding. Okay you might be right.” And I put down the water bowl.

As I counted the bags of food, clothes, toys and books, my mothers words rang through my mind.

“Don’t bring too much stuff.” I didn’t really think that was possible and my mother should no, she ships her entire wardrobe around in advance.

Before I boarded my dad’s boat with all the bags of supplies I said to Chris,

“I think I have packed everything.”

“Oh I am sure you have forgotten something, but I can bring it out tomorrow.”

“Okay have a great boys night out, Eva and I will read stories by the campfire.”

“See you tomorrow.”

When we arrived, we heaved all the groceries and supplies and suitcases into the house. I unpacked Eva, showed her her bed and mommy’s bed and explored the house. Her favourite feature was the extremely steep steps with out a proper railing, which was in the center of the house.

All I could think was, “If she falls down those steps, Chris will kill me.”

It was then I realized that luxury houses were not built with child proofing, nor were their modern sleek lines and glass furnishings at all suitable to allow a kid to run around in. The entire place was a very pretty version of hell for the mother of a two year old. And I was facing the night alone.

We capped off the afternoon with a tantrum because we could not work the television, and therefore she could not watch her favourite cartoon.

“Scooooooby Dooooooo” she kept saying in sobs.

“I really need to figure out how to download those on the ipad, I am sorry Eva.”

Not that that made any difference.

When she had finished sobbing, she agreed in exchange for stories and her milk that she would go to bed. Unfortunately for me “go to bed” doesn’t mean, “go to sleep.”

I put her down on her mattress on the floor, having learned on holiday that she was not really ready for a big girl bed. I laid next to her, read her lots of stories and then stroked her arm and leg and face in little fairy circular movements which she says helps her sleep, but I think she might be testing me to see how much she can ask me to do for her before I give up, get annoyed, and leave. But today given the circumstances I was willing to do a lot more than normal. How I envied the parents who just plop their kids in bed and say “Go to sleep.” I guess that’s what you do to number 2 because you still have to read books and go through the bedtime ritual for number 1.

Eventually, she was content enough for mommy to leave her so I slipped out and flipped off the light.

“WAAAAAAAA”

“Fuck, I forgot her nightlight.”

“Mommy I am scared. Tell me a story.”

I wonder if she is scared because I swore, not at her but at the dark. Twenty more minutes of reassurance, stroking, and stories, after I had figured out how to turn on the closet light to cure her fear of the dark. I slipped out, scaled the stairwell and poured a glass of wine.

A few minutes later a face appeared at the bottom of the stairs,

“Mommy I am thirsty.”

“So am I.” I thought.

So I got her a drink and took her back to bed. Bedroom routine x3

I snuck back upstairs, and made the salad for dinner.

A face appeared a few minutes later at the top of the stairway.

“Mommy I am hungry.”

“So am I. “ I thought.

“I want strawberries.”

So I cut her some strawberries and she ate half of one strawberry. Clearly this was a new delaying tactic… strawberries.

Bedroom routine x4.

I was starting to get lactic acid build up from climbing the stairs over and over again.

We sat down and ate dinner, and I finally relaxed into my Holiday weekend, sure that she had to have collapsed by now. As we were clearing up that same face appeared at the bottom of the steps to my astonishment.

“Mommy I am scared.”

I looked at my watch 11pm.

“I am just going to go to bed with her, “ I said.

And I climbed down the stairs for the last time until morning, I thought.

“Do you want to sleep in mommy’s bed?”

“Yes.”

So I snuggled with Eva in the bed, and all I could think was thank God I didn’t bring Piccolo.

At 4am I was awoken by a mini puke/spit up next to my head and loud screaming.

Three glasses of wine and five hours of sleep don’t mix very well, but I staggered out of bed trying to man handle my screaming, coughing child. At some point I got the whiff of spit up emanating from my hair.

“Did you have to throw up into my hair?” I thought.

“Mommy my mouth hurts.”

“You coughed so much you threw up, and the throw up is hurting your mouth.”

I took her into the bathroom and told her to open wide, which she tried to do but I could not see in until she began screaming. I carried her into the hallway, where her screams bounced off the post modernist open plan house.

“Powerful acoustics.” I wondered when Gigi and Hamma would wake up, but I could hear them safely snoring.

“We will get you something to drink to make it better.”

When I got upstairs, I opened the fridge door.

“Fuck, I forgot the Nurophen! “ Her pain relieving medicine and her night light, the two things I forgot and the two things I really could have used.

She started crying again until I stuck the bottle in her mouth and prayed for sleep.

“How could I forget the Nurofen!” I wondered. I had a line of empty bottles on a shelf at home, like I used to have a line of Bacardi light bottles in college, and in Eva’s drawer there are more syringes than in a crack dealer’s bedside table. Not that I believe in over medicating your child, but when you have really had enough of being up all night, a good pain reliever comes in handy.

I went upstairs and downstairs meeting her every demand, stroking her back, her face, her arms, singing, making up stories about magic trap doors in her closet, fairy houses, and building a bunny burrow under the sheets. She fell asleep for a few moments a few times, short lived and very very disappointing.

By 6am we were permanently upstairs and out of bed. We had tested out every outside chair together and I explained to her what happens in the sky when the sun rises and that it turns the sky pink, her favorite color. As soon as I told her that, I knew we were up for the day and sleep was not going to happen, so I suggested we move to the hammock in a last effort to bring on slumber.

“Yes” she said and within a few minutes we were swinging under the morning twilight.

And then a minute later, “ I want to get off.”

“Yeah so do I, off this bloody island.”

“Let’s go to the dock.”

We sat down on the floating dock, watching the sunrise. I tried to feign gratitude and appreciation for beauty but all I wanted to do was go to bed. As we sat and walked along the dock and looked for fish- who were all asleep, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself, and think about that woman who drove her car with her five children into the sea. If I had five children, I would have asked to carpool. If I had five of these who kept me up all night I would not survive, I already have several auto immune diseases, a burnt out thyroid, shot adrenals, hibernating mitochondria and several parasites, including the one looking for fish over the edge of the dock. So I thought nothing of adding a IUD to make sure I didn’t get anymore.

“I think we better go upstairs.”

“Why?”

“In case mommy falls asleep and you fall over board, everyone will think I pushed you.”

“Let’s go upstairs and make eggs.”

“Okay.”

I had read somewhere that eggs had a lot of omega fats and that they were good to fight off post partum depression, something I had clearly been suffering from since her birth, but on second thought I would rather self diagnose myself with toddler induced insomnia and post traumatic stress disorder which happens after giving birth to children like Eva.

I eventually fell in and out of sleep on the couch while playing Peppa Pig toons on my ipad off of youtube. I was so tired I fell asleep while listening to “My Name is Peppa Pig….” I had either a dream or a hallucination that I was trapped on an island with Peppa Pig and her entire family, but then I woke up to Eva banging my temple with the reflex hammer from her doctor kit and then I knew that no I was trapped on an luxury island with my family, in a Peppasode called “Escape from Alcatraz.”

When I had had enough of being tortured with toddler sized multi coloured doctor instruments, I took Eva downstairs, where the snoring had stopped. Miss Eva slipped through the door into my parent’s bedroom where they complained about not having a good night’s rest.

“Tell me about it, I have been in toddler hell since 4am.”

“Hamma will you take me to look for fishes.”

“Yes.” Hamma was always the weakest link.

As she took his hand, I made good my escape into the bedroom. A few hours later I woke up, recovered.

By the time I surfaced, most of my parent’s lunch party guests were en route, so I had to quickly make the salad and dressing I had been assigned to make as part of the party pot luck.

When the first guests arrived I was still in my nightgown, perpetuating the night from hell, and come to think of it, I probably still had spit up in my hair.

“Go downstairs and get tidied up, I know Dr. West has seen everything, but no one else has.”

You would think I was in a negligee not a Williamsburg dowager night dress, but it was more unseemly than anything else, especially with spit up as an accessory. Eva and I went downstairs to try and reinvent ourselves before everyone else arrived which we achieved barely.

I was more than relieved to see Eva’s Daddy step off the boat, and as soon as she saw him she burst into tears, more or less as she had been doing all morning, and her speech had morphed into a mono syllabic whine.

I quickly debriefed him as I handed her over and sat down for a minute of silence and a glass of lunchtime wine as Chris attempted to put Eva down for an afternoon nap.

About when Chris determined that the nap was never going to happen because she was just too sick, overtired, out of place, and generally pissed off, it started to torrential downpour, putting the breaks on our escape plan. These are not common in Bermuda, but during the month of August we had record rainfall. This narrowed our play area substantially, especially when we brought Eva near the lunch party, and explained that she had been up from 4am and was sick and that was why she was screaming and ruining their afternoon- there was not much sympathy from the congregation of adults who hadn’t been in charge of a toddler for over thirty years, because if you knew my mom you knew she liked to keep younger friends in case the older ones started to die off.

Chris let Eva look out the window, played hide and seek and make believe. At one point we rendezvoused on the couch when it was clear the rain was here to stay.

Chris said to me with a pleading tone,

“We are stuck on an island and we can’t get off.”

“It’s still your turn with the gremlin.”

“If it doesn’t stop raining we might have to spend the night.”

The wine flowed as the revelers had an easy excuse not to leave.

“We can’t get wet.”

So they made sure their wine glasses were never dry.

I was enjoying myself as Chris and Eva paced up and down the open plan designer showcase house, desperate to find a convincing argument for why coloured fragrance hand soaps are not block like crayons with which you can draw all over the walls.

I had packed all our bags. They were waiting by the door for the first party weary guest to offer us our escape route.

Finally it came, a beautiful rainbow glistened in the sunlight and rain as the downpour subsided to a sprinkle and there was a collective movement to leave.

“Finally! “ I said to Chris

“The Vodka must have run out, your mum is sending the boat back for supplies and we can stowaway.”

And so we boarded with our seven bags, which had barely been unpacked. Holiday weekend thwarted by sickness, rain, and an optimistic mother of a toddler.

Once home, we unpacked our bags from the dock and put everything back where it had always been, careful to put it back exactly in the dust circle it left behind, and convinced never to move it ever again.

Chris and I finally were able to connive Eva and her cough to go to sleep at 8pm and we were able to enjoy an evening at home, like the many before and the many I hope in our future.

The luxury island was a nice idea but maybe we could escape there when Eva is a teenager and wants the house to herself.

I said to my mother while at the island,

“I can’t wait until she is seven.”

But I am thinking now that “I can’t wait until she is seventeen.”

I might regret that statement later but for now let me wish away the toddler years but be grateful for our Escape from Alcatraz.

Xx Derelict Mom

Family Holiday Part II

Family Holidays should be a time for children and parents to reconnect outside of their regular routine and for those of us whose kids go to daycare it is time to find out what they are really like. For some reason although you have 24 hours a day together during a holiday it is always the necessities of life like eating and sleeping that become an enormous struggle for one main reason, you have abandoned your routine. The routine of paying someone else to look after them, while you work which most of the time feels like a vacation from your child. I think the only reason we take a family holiday is to escape the relentless drudgery of doing the same thing at the same time every day over and over again, and also to make us appreciate the life we have created and that routines are good even if they are boring.

We also have shopping to do, so when I arrived in Boston, Nana, Eva and I went off to the Apple store so I could have the keyboard on my laptop replaced after Eva the toddler turned computer eating tiger destroyed several keys. The young man at the genius desk returned with bad news,

“I am sorry Mame, but your computer is what we now term – vintage, and we can no longer replace parts.”

In the same sentence he called me Mame and called my computer vintage. I was left reeling by multiple disappointments.

“So what you are telling me is I have no choice but to buy a new laptop.”

“Yes.”

I felt like an insurance company that had just been told its client was going to have to undergo an organ transplant. I wish toddlers came with a warning alarm, one that would sound when they were about to cause you $3000 dollars in damage. Eva the pretend tiger was getting a lot less cute by the minute.

This horrible realization was made worse when the Apple genius bar tech called all his friends around to look at the dinosaur computer I had brought in.

“Take a look at this machine, it has about 30 seconds of battery life.”

“What year is that from?”

“2008” I say preempting their About this Mac search.

“Look,” one tech says to the other, “ She has no apps on her computer!!!!”

“Listen boys, I know I am old, and my computer is old but I have never had any problems with it.”

“They are built to last.” one of them answered.

“It’s that over there I have problems with.” I say pointing at Eva with Nana playing with the apple ipads on display on the Kids table.

“Are you sure you want her playing with your ipads?”

They walked me through the specs of my hypothetical new laptop, hypothetical because I had no idea where the $3000 was going to come from or when.

When we finished Nana and I had to pry Eva off of the ipad where she had discovered the kids app “Endless alphabet” which helps you learn letters and spell different words and had the unexpected bonus of increasing her vocabulary which I discovered when trying to feed her dinner that night.

“Yucky”

“Yucky”

“Yucky”

We gave up and ended up going out to eat at Legal’s seafood. They gave me a kid’s menu but I ordered Eva a meal off of the adult menu since she preferred real food to pasta and fish sticks, and maybe just maybe mommy was schooling Eva to be a food snob in the fine tradition of food snobs in the Spurling family.

I ordered her smoked salmon with toast points, and Mussels for myself. In an unpredictable toddler rage, she began shrieking at the top of her lungs, making the nearby childless diners grimace and wince and cut their eyes in our direction. If I could have anticipated her screaming fit, if I could have done anything to prevent it,

I would have. So Instead I cut my eyes back at the wincing childless diners next door. I later discovered through sobs that I had done something terrible. I was guilty of precipitating the toddler rage because I used the blanket attached to her bunny to wipe up a spot of milk she had dripped on my lap. Well I won’t do that again.

This scenario and in fact the whole trip, made me realize the problem with toddlers, you can’t lock them inside, nor can you take them out in public, so you do each equally and terribly hoping to spread out the torture of other people’s ear drums.

My solution is that when I am old and grumpy and don’t want to be around children, I will not choose to go out to dinner at a family restaurant like Legal’s seafood, and I will certainly think twice about trying to catch the early bird. There are so many thousands of restaurants in cities like Boston, if you can’t take the screeching choose somewhere else. People without children have plenty of choice, but those of us with kids are limited to restaurants with kiddy menus and highchairs- there aren’t nearly as many or even enough.

And my darling Eva just to be unpredictable for unpredictability’s sake sat on my lap and ate my entire order of mussels and I got stuck with the salmon. Our waitress brought her, her very own seafood bib, and she moved up a ranking in food snobbery. She will soon be coming out with bumper stickers that say “Say No to Fish Sticks.”

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The other thing with toddlers is that like horse and miniature daschschunds, they need to be exercised and when visiting a city, you have to find the nearest park. The next day Nana, Eva and I decided to head down to Boston Common to find the free yoga class Nana had spotted on a flyer. We hadn’t read the fine print and missed the yoga class by 24 hours so we found a grassy spot and did a little bit of stretching ourselves.

Our yoga class soon turned into sprint training, when Eva realized that there was miles of green space where she could out run her mother. When I was close to exhaustion a man appeared with enormous magic wands and began blowing bubbles the size of me, and sending them floating in the sky over the park. Like the Pied Piper children flocked around him as he dipped his wands in buckets of bubble juice and sent them off chasing bubbles from big to small and everything in between. Eva’s eyes lit up and she chased the bubbles around with all the big kids for at least thirty minutes while I tried to make sure she didn’t run out into oncoming traffic, and trailed behind her apologizing to all the little boys she mowed over chasing a bubble- there were a few.

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When it approached twilight and the bubble man had had enough, he started to pack up and I took Eva up to him and asked her to say Thank You.

“Thank you for the bubbles” came a little voice.

Then in an instant he made my entire holiday when he said,

“Your little girl, she will go far in life because she is so persistent.”

“Yes that is her to a T, you can tell that just from bubbles?”

“ Yes, I see children all the time, and very very rarely do you see a little one like her, I have only seen a few myself over the years.”

“You are just saying that because I look tired.”

“No, its true, she will go far.”

I know he is just a bubble man, not a child psychologist but it made my toddler induced exhaustion bearable and it was a lot better than getting eye cutting glares from other people. Yeah! For the bubble man.

I also asked him to tell me his secret recipe, which he did, for the perfect Bubble Mixture:

Here it is:

Home Made:

Ingredients:

1 Part      Dawn (Classic)

1/4 Part  Vegetable Glycerin

1/4 Part J&J Baby Shampoo

12 Parts water

 

On humid days use  13 to 14 parts water

How to make:

put into container hot water

gently  add and mix the Dawn, Glycerin, Shampoo

best if left uncovered one day before use

 

For the rest of our time in Boston, we hit Marshall’s a tourist attraction if you are from Bermuda, but also made time to go to the Boston Aquarium. There were more people there than there were fish but we were able to satisfy Miss Eva’s craving to see a shark. We found a perfect spot in the window of the large several story coral tank, at the top where we could watch the sharks lap the tank and the enormous turtle taking a nap on a coral bed. Eva was frightened by a fish which swam right by her head, and I think she in turn frightened the fish, but it made for a fun day out even if Eva refused to pat a sting ray but insisted that mommy pat one instead.

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The following day when Daddy and Pops flew in from Bermuda, we went for a duck tour and they had to detour our route because of the annual Puerto Rican parade, so after we got off the duck boat, we walked a few streets over to catch the parade.

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“ I feel like we haven’t left Bermuda.” I said watching the majorettes.

“I always wanted to be a majorette in primary school but my mother wouldn’t let me. In Hindsight I think she must have known I would have been really really bad at it.” I thought as I watched the young girls in tight sequined jumpsuits twirl batons.

“We watched a parade back in March when we visited Madeira.” Nana said.

“ Really, was it anything like this one?”

“No.”

“What was it like?”

“Well, I was a bit shocked.” Nana Giggled.

“Why?”

“The Madeira people paraded down the street, not with floats or cars or majorettes but enormous paper Mache penises.”

“Really! “ I giggled

“Like a Bacchanalia?”

“ I couldn’t really believe it myself, but there were huge effigies of the penis.”

Eva looked up and pointed and yelled “Penis! “

She has a point I thought, especially as the parade went on and on, the cars got bigger and bigger and the sound systems got bigger and bigger and louder and louder and louder. I wonder if the paper Mache penises got bigger and bigger too. Certainly the final car that came through, even though I didn’t have my measuring stick out ,was very impressive… Check out my phone snap below, yes those are speakers. Yes it was loud. Yes there were men driving it.

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Then Eva announced

“I have to go pee pee.” So I weaved her through the crowds to the Lennox Hotel and used their bathroom. Eva took her undies off and then very loudly told me,

“You and I are girls so we pee like this.” And she squatted in the stall.

“But Boys pee like this with a penis” She whipped out her imaginary penis and held it over the toilet bowl then shook it dry.

“Yes you are right Eva.” I said wondering if it were me, Nana, or Endless Alphabet who had taught her the anatomical name for the male appendage but what did it matter she was building her vocabulary. At least Eva wasn’t a repressed Catholic.

The next day we drove up to my parents house in New Hampshire: mountains, quiet, bliss = no cell phone reception.

When we arrived Eva said, “ I remember here, there is an orange and green froggy potty.”

“Really?” I said.

I hunted around the house, and what did I find in one of the bathrooms, but an orange and green froggy potty. She was right. Now I believed the Bubble man- my child is brilliant, she remembers the color of the Froggy potty she used a year ago. Sign her up for Junior Jeopardy.

The only thing missing from our week in New Hampshire was sleep, because we decided to put Eva in a big girl bed with protective sides. Looking back it was probably a mistake but what followed was a week of not napping, not wanting to go to bed and frequent night wakings paired with early morning rises. Holiday? Send me back to work.

Sleep deprived Eva loses all of her charitable nature and so she became a fussing Mommy hater, insisting that Daddy put her to bed, sit next to her, and otherwise become her sole parent and entire world. I would try to put her to bed but she would scream until Daddy came running, we would switch places and then she would look at me with her big blue bossy eyes and point at me from the crook of her Daddy’s arm.

“ You, You go downstairs and on your way out turn off the lights and shut the door.”

“Yes Mame.” I answered and Little Eva nestled into her favorite person in the world.

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Later on, I said to Chris, “I think Eva is your soul mate and you must have known each other in a past life.”

Nana said, “That could be true.”

“Who is my soul mate then?” I asked.

Chris without hesitation answered, “Your soul mate is Piccolo.”

“That could be true.” I said imagining my overweight aging Miniature dachshund who spoons me every night at home.

“I miss him.”

A few days later we went to the summer festival at The Fells, a historic house, and park. We patted Alapacas, and built a fairy house. Eva learned how to paint watercolors with real food, using black berries and spinach to create dies and paint a picture on a card. Then she frosted a cookie with spinach frosting, and devoured it. We waited and waited and finally the Face painter arrived, and Eva patiently waited her turn to be metamorphosed into a tiger. When we got home horseplay went to another level. I became the Tiger’s prey, and Eva stalked me around the house continually, catching me off guard and sinking her teeth into my leg and arm flesh.

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The next day was my birthday. I woke up with Strep throat- it had returned. The night before I asked my husband to bring me coffee in bed in case he wouldn’t think of it. Before we had Eva, Chris used to bring me coffee in bed every morning, but our life is different now. My birthday morning started off on a caffeine high with little Eva coming to jump on my bed and give me her present. I unwrapped it, and it was a hot pink Bermuda t-shirt.

“Thank you little Eva.”

She smiled proudly.

“Mommy and Eva can dress in matching pink for mommy’s birthday.”

“Yes” she replied.

Eva is obsessed with pink, if anything I encouraged the opposite. Her favorite colors in the past were purple and red, but now that she has settled on pink, everything has to be pink. She will only wear pink and if I try and dress her in something else she complains,

“But Green isn’t my favorite.”

I used to hate pink, but not anymore, now I accept it and even wear it if it will make her happy. Later on, on my birthday I ordered a bright pink dress for myself off the internet to make Eva happy. I also added a wonder woman bathing suit, because even if I don’t feel like a super hero, I might as well dress like one. It was my present to myself.

When I came downstairs my in-laws gave me their birthday gift. An ionic hairbrush, promising : brilliant shine with active frizz control ionic generator, releasing conditioning ions directly into the hair to remove static and smooth the cuticle for noticeably softer hair that looks and feels, shiny and manageable.

Yes my hair really is that bad, to brush it I need something with an on and off switch. They used to call me: Hairzilla in college. Those were the days. Some people’s hair thins when they get older, I think mine has just gotten worse, added by the infrequency of having time to wash it.

Their gift inspired me to tackle the mane, and I retreated with an army of bobby pins in an attempt to style my hair in pin curls, let them dry for seven hours, then brush them out with the ionic hairbrush and wala… I would reappear more Lauren Bacall than Hairzilla.

We didn’t do much on my birthday, we took the trash out, filled up with gas for the return trip and took Eva to the playground, and on the way back stopped off at the graveyard, just the way to make me feel every year of my thirty eight, and in pin curls no less!

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When we got home I told Eva that Bunny was going to make mommy a birthday cake, but unfortunately Bunny didn’t know how to bake yet, mommy hadn’t taught her.

Later on I tried to brush out the pin curls, and a few minutes and a lot of static later I looked exactly the same as Lauren Bacall- Nope- not even close, I looked exactly the same as I did the day before.

“I think this hair needs a professional.” I said to my disappointed family.

“I just have too much hair.”

The next day we drove back to Boston, when we got back to the apartment I started the never ending process of unpacking and repacking. At some point in this process I managed to knock the bottle of hot pink nail polish my mother had leant us for the trip to paint Eva’s nails with, and it shattered on the bathroom floor, splashing me from head to toe in hot pink paint spray. Unfortunately nail polish is not meant to be easily removed, so I sighed and accepted my new splattered look as part of my derelict mom décor.

A little while later the concierge called up to the apartment.

“Hello, this is Shucredev downstairs, I was calling to let you know that we just received a very important federal express package addressed to you from Pin Up Girl Clothing.”

… Pin Up Girl Clothing… I sighed. You know as a mincing nosy front desk man, he took pleasure in making calls like these and imagining what kind of whips and chains were inside.

“Would you like me to bring that up to you, or would you like to collect it.”

“I will collect it thank you.”

When I went downstairs, I had the elevator ride down eight floors to contemplate how sometimes people just get the wrong idea about things. I looked down at myself, covered in splattered hot pink nail polish, called “Kiss Me I’m Brazilian.” If I drew his attention to it, Shucredev might have been able to recognize the shade. As I felt for the edges of my hair to see in what direction it was frizzing and I kept finding stray bobby pins in my hair suggesting some previous attempt at decorum. Then I looked over my arms, legs, and neck, every visible area of skin was covered in bites, not mosquito bites but human bites, from a toddler impersonating a tiger. I could have tried to cover up the bite marks up with band aids, but all we had, were- you guessed it- hot pink Peppa Pig plasters—and I figured covering myself in those would do more to draw attention to my wounds than to distract. Looking at my reflection in the elevator door, it occurred to me that I looked like I had spent the last two weeks in some kinky sex camp instead of on a family Holiday with Eva’s grandparents. I couldn’t wear a turtle neck in August, like we used to do as a teenagers when we came home with hickies from an eventful date. I could have covered myself in concealer but I didn’t have the time or effort left after the last two weeks with Eva and the last time I bought make up was in 2005.

I approached the front desk.

“I have come to pick up my package.”

Shucredev went hunting through the Land’s End, LL Bean and Talbot’s packages.

“Ahah, here it is, one package from Pin Up Girl Clothing.”

I saw him feel the package up, trying to discern its contents.

“It’s a wonder woman bathing suit.” I said satisfying his curiosity but disappointing him as well in some way. But he still had plenty of time to wonder about the bite marks.

The next day we flew home. When we arrived, Hamma and Gigi greeted us,

“How was the trip, did you have a good time?”

“We had a great time, Eva cost me a 3000 dollar laptop, She bit me, ruined my reputation at Trinity Place and she might have left a scar.” I say pointing to my neck.

“What did you expect, you went on a Family Holiday.” Gigi said.

“We have made you dinner, come over with Eva tonight for your birthday cake.”

Derelict Gigi had really pulled out all the stops, she might even have missed us.

“Hurrah we are home and Bunny learned to bake! “ I said.

A couple days later when my wounds had healed and the hot pink nail polish had flaked off my skin, I asked Chris, “So where are we going next year?”

Xx Derelict Mom.

 

 

 

Family Holiday

If the title of this week’s blog sounds like a Peppa Pig episode – it was intentional.

“I’m Peppa Pig, snort this is my little brother George. Snort snort, This is Mummy Pig snort and this is Daddy pig, snort. Laugh. Peppa Pig. Snort.”

Ad infinitem.

In case you don’t know who Peppa Pig is, which probably means you don’t know anyone who is two- here is a link to one of Eva’s favorite episodes “Night Animals.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSJx-c32J4A

The Peppa Pig obsession/ TV watching/ ipad watching got so bad even the grandparents asked us to turn the volume down. All I could think was:

Gigi can you take back the ipad. Gigi? Gigi?

But we were on holiday in the U.S. with Chris’s parents Shelagh and Duncan and Eva. If I had one regret in my child rearing experience it is that I ever let Eva watch a cartoon ever. After one cartoon they are hooked. It has to be worse than crack. Although not all kids are born addicts. My sister’s kids (the perfect ones) happily watch thirty minutes then go and do something else. For Eva there is nothing else to do, there is just things to do to waste time until she can watch some form of television. She is an addict and part of that is my creation.

I probably should have probably seen this coming as I was called square eyes as a child and could never get enough TV, which may just perhaps have had some bearing on my career choice. This vacation made me realize that if I didn’t break Eva’s TV habit soon it would not only drive me around the bend but she might, god forbid, grow up wanting to become a documentary filmmaker, and I just can’t have her do that.

In baby class they tell you a child must not be in the vicinity of a television for the first three years of its life. I did what I was told, almost. I did not let her watch television until she was two and a half and when we started letting her watch it we tried to limit her exposure to certain times or situations, but soon the monster otherwise known as Peppa Pig took over.

I used to say, “You can only watch toons when you are sick,” which is such a first time parent trap. From that point on, every day when she woke up she said.

“Mommy, I am a little bit sick.”

“Where are you sick?”

“My tummy. Can I watch toons?”

And if that didn’t work,

“Mommy, I have a boo boo, I need a plaster.”

Peppa Pig plasters- flown specially in from the U.K from her long-suffering band aid buying relatives.

As soon as I had affixed the bandage, she would say, “Can I watch a toon?”

Her manipulation hit an all time high, before our holiday after I surfaced from my bedroom after being sick for two days.

As soon as she saw me, she announced,

“Mommy I am a little bit sick, I am not sick like you are sick, but I am sick like me.”

“What do you mean how is Eva sick like Eva?” I asked

“I am a little bit sick so I can watch toons.”

After that elicited no response, Eva began to wail in agony.

“What’s wrong?” I said.

“An ant bit me, I need a plaster.” She lifted her right foot onto the chair.

“Can I watch a toon?”

“No.”

She began to fuss and cry so Hamma picked her up to cheer her up.

A few minutes later, she tried again.

“My foot is sore, can I watch a toon?”

And she propped up her left foot in false agony and tears.

“Is that the foot the ant bit?” I asked her.

“Yes” she said with a painful yelp.

“No it was the right foot.” Hamma said with a giggle.

I had to give her credit for her persistence, a reoccurring theme.

While still popping antibiotics, Eva, Shelagh and I boarded a plane for the U.S. for our summer holidays. Daddy had found a way to have three days off at home for Cupmatch before joining us to watch cricket with his dad.

I was a bit nervous, as we had not been away for about a year and travelling with Eva at this age was entirely different than the year before, but I was armed with the ipad- all would be okay even though we were travelling on the busiest day of the year in Bermuda, the Wednesday of Cupmatch. It was also the first flight that Eva would have her own seat. The long queues were tempered by little Eva excitedly tiptoeing so she could see out the window at the airplanes on the runway.

“Airplane, I am going on an airplane.” She sang and danced and ran around, while mom and Shelagh dragged the carryon luggage through the airport. I had done her hair in pigtails so that when she had a tantrum she would at least be the cute kid with pigtails having a tantrum, rather than just another snotty nosed kid losing it in a public place.

When we were leaving the house, I had been sure to pack Eva’s blankie in my carry on- because she was particular about the softness of blankets and she was as attached to her cuddly blanket as her bunny. It was not something that could be forgotten. After we checked in, I put Eva in the stroller and put the blanket over her, catching the distinct whiff, well it wasn’t a whiff – it was the persistent odor of pee.

The day before, derelict mom had had a moment of fluster when she put Eva down for her nap without a diaper and Eva had wet through the bed. I jammed all the blankets in the wash or so I thought. As it turned out, I had neglected to wash the one blanket that was making the trip and so make the trip it did. The odor of day old pee wafted around us, like the smell of an old folks washroom. When we approached security, I took it upon myself to warn them.

“We had a little accident on the blanket, so I would hold your nose.” I made it seem like Eva was guilty of wetting herself that very moment rather than draw attention to the fact that it was actually mommy that packed a pee soaked blanket without noticing. When in doubt, blame the toddler.

The security lady put on rubber gloves and gingerly sent it through the scanner. We carried the blanket around the airport, occasionally someone would catch a whiff and we would stand next to an elderly person and no one was any the wiser.

To my utter surprise and amazement when we boarded the flight, little Eva ran into her seat, climbed up and put her seat belt on like she had been a frequent flyer in a past life. I tried not to react but I was relieved that she didn’t fight the assigned seating like the anarchist most toddlers tend to be. I knew that it would only be a matter of a small increment of time on the hour and a half flight before Eva rebelled against the common order. She was good for about ten minutes, until the plane was fully boarded with 100 other people ready, bored and gawking ready to judge my parenting skills which I was always the first to admit were lacking.

Ding dong. The seat belt light went on, and the plane began to taxi back from the runway.

“Mommy, I have to pee.”

I sighed, and then like lightning I grabbed the toddler and released her from the seatbelt like taking a gun from its holster and I ran with her down the aisle to the bathroom as Eva clenched her hello kitty underwear in an attempt to stem the flow.

I locked the bathroom door and plunked her down on the potty in time. “Phew we made it. “

We were back in our seats, belts buckled before the jet engines engaged.

“Mommies need to be fast.” I told Eva.

“Airplanes are fast.” She said.

The rest of the flight she played with her mini peppa pigs, her sticker book, her quiet book, and then I decided to whip out the ipad, little did I know she would wake up out of a cartoon haze two weeks later with crossed eyes and a grumpy dependency on electronic entertainment.

About ten minutes after the pilot announced our decent into Boston and put the seat belt sign on, a little finger tapped my arm.

“Mommy I have to poo.”

I sighed again but harder this time and then repeated my holster release of child from seatbelt and began the illegal sprint down the aisle to the bathroom during landing.

“Wait” Eva screamed.

I paused, convinced I was going to have to go back for my change of clothes.

“I need my books,” Reading on the potty had become a habit at home, a habit which she could not let go of while on a plane in mid descent.

To avoid a tantrum and poo combination I ran back to the seat grabbed two Curious George books and sprinted back to the bathroom, not knowing when we would come out or if anyone would miss us when they boarded the next flight. I stripped her off and let her dangle into the potty while clutching my legs, and to my total shock and amazement and enormous perfectly formed poo emerged in record time and we were back in our seats, hands washed, and belted in before the plane hit the tarmac.

“Must have been the pretzels.” I thought.

“Maybe I need to feed her more fibre?”

With Eva’s history of plane travel no one was more shocked than me that we made it to Boston without being fined for some incident with excrement ( a near miss) or for refusing the direct warnings of the cabin crew- a habit of toddlers.

While waiting at the bag claim, I overheard someone say to the friend who picked them up,

“There were loads of kids on the plane, and I was surprised they were all really well behaved.”

Oh if only she had known how close it was from an entirely different outcome. I inhaled a large breath of pee blanket and sighed in relief when Eva, Shelagh ( Nana) and yours truly finally turned the key in the lock at the Boston apartment.

The following three days were a challenge as I like most Bermudians had a large shopping agenda. Imagine you get off the island once a year and have to do all of your shopping in three days, with a two year old, a stroller and her grandmother all in tow. Underwear check, socks check, CVS check, makeup check, shoes check, birthday presents check, weird health foods from Whole foods – check etc etc etc.

I am sure Nana, along with all the staff of the apartment building think Bermudians have a shopping addiction but what we have is shopping deprivation and we have to make up for it either online or in a three day metropolitan visit or both. To my surprise Eva liked going shopping even though she took to running as fast as she could through the aisles of Marshalls and hiding under the clothes racks but she couldn’t stay hidden for long because her little pigtails stuck out where ever she went. But the exercise of chasing Eva around a department store while pushing a stroller and trying to buy clothes gave rise to all my small town paranoia that my child would be baby snatched in the big city.

Nana and I, and Eva popped into a CVS drugstore one day to pick up some necessaries like lipsyl and hairspray. Eva wanted to get out of her stroller so I lifted her out and she ran ahead of me up and down the aisles. I followed her as quickly as I could but things happen quickly and as I rounded one aisle I found little Eva with a little old lady who had bent down and was giving her sweets. I ran up to her, bent over and snatched them out of her hand. Then I said, pretending to be nice to the potential childnapper.

“Mommy will decide when Eva will be allowed to have sweets.”

Which started the never-ending chorus of,

“I want my sweetie, I want my sweetie.”

So I made Nana buy her a package of M&Ms, which she scoffed the entire package in one sitting and then passed out in her stroller. I am not sure if the old lady was a childnapper but who in their right mind gives a stranger’s child candy. That was as close as I ever want to come to seeing Eva’s face on a milk carton and it was only day two of our two week holiday.

For Part II, of the Family Holiday tune in next week.

Eva on plane

A Reading

Derelict Mom, has been well – derelict – and not written a blog this week. Next week’s blog will be ” Family Holiday” because I was on holiday for the last two weeks. I will explain the italics later.

So this week please enjoy this video of my reading of an excerpt from my first publication, “A Real Mother.”

Thanks

Xx Derelict Mom

 

Gigi Saves The Day

As a working mother I seem to perpetually spread myself too thin. Although I try my best to avoid this it seems the world conspires against me, with an unpredictable job and a toddler’s unpredictable immune system. 2014 was always going to be a busy one, I dubbed it “The year of the visitor” as we had Chris’s aunt and uncle visit for ten days, his parents for three weeks, his sister and her family are coming for a week later this month, and then Eva’s godfather for ten days or so in September. When looking ahead I knew July was going to be a bit of a nightmare. My friend and co-co-director Kara could only come to do our shoot for our documentary, for ten days at the end of July, so we booked that out to shoot our many and varied interviews for our current film. During that week my in-laws would arrive, and the day after the shoot ended I would be flying with Eva and my mother in law to Boston. Nothing like leaving no time to pack, that was acceptable only before I had a two year old- if I forgot something like her bunny, then I might as well fly home. It was also the week of my husband’s 48th birthday, considering I forgot his birthday last year it was high time I made up for it, before Linked In beats me to the punch again with their scheduled happy birthday email- damn automation. Chris had reminded me several times of the date at the beginning of the month so I would not forget but I had my own version of automation- I decided to throw a party. I invited all the relatives who were in residence on the family compound to dinner for Chris’s birthday on Saturday July 26th, in the middle of our shoot and four days before we left for Boston. Hey at least I wouldn’t forget.

To make matters more confusing, I got the dates mixed up for Auntie Zoe’s holiday and she was planning to be away from July 16th through August 4th, not from August 1st through the 14th as I had planned for our holiday to coincide with hers. With my shoot beginning on the 19th of July I would not only have a shoot, guests, and a dinner party to throw and a trip to plan, but I would also have no daycare. This was an impasse. The only answer was to ditch Eva with daddy over the weekend of our shoot, which did not make me the most popular wife or mother, and then on Monday and Tuesday I had to ditch the shoot to take care of Eva, which did not make me the most popular co-director with my co-directors. To make matters worse both Eva and Chris were recovering from the summer flu, and I had finally made it a mission to take my old man of a dog, Piccolo for his yearly checkup several months late. At the vet appointment I learned that he needed an operation immediately to have several teeth removed before an abscess grew so in addition to everything else my firstborn had to go under the knife. So when my in-laws arrived fresh off the plane I ditched them not only with a two year old but also a dog recovering from surgery and disappeared to join my fellow filmmakers who I then abandoned at 5pm to run home, take Eva to swimming lessons, come home prep her for bed then cook dinner for four people and think about doing it all again the following day.

Around the same time every client I have had in the last two years called, emailed and asked for something to be done immediately and without delay, none of which was possible because my editing suite died and was stumping the apple technicians who could not figure out what of a myriad of possibilities was preventing my computer from even turning on. In the meantime, I resorted to leaving Eva watching cartoons on YouTube on my laptop in order to cook dinner, organize the shoot or otherwise get rid of client demands. When I came back Eva had not only chewed through the power cord, she had also removed five or six letters off of the keyboard, she was part toddler, part tiger or so she told me.

“Eva, mommy’s puter is not a toy.”

“But mommy I know it’s not a toy, but I am pretending it’s a toy. Roar Tiger” while making claws with her hands and trying to bite my arm.

What do you say to that? I just sighed. I wasn’t sure what was going to go wrong next but I ran around unplugging appliances sure that the house was going to burn down, well it didn’t but my fridge died, so we fed on rapidly defrosting mystery food for a week.

Amid all this chaos, there is always the unforeseen to tip things totally over the edge. In our case, it was a hostile take over of sorts, what happened next was that it rained. Although rain in and of itself is not a game changer, it invites a congregation within the house, which are unwelcome by the human inhabitants: ANTS. Five days into our shoot as I collapsed into bed I heard the distinctive ear flap of my dog Piccolo and then I felt an ant crawl out from my hair line, then another one on my ankle, then one bit my butt when I had the nerve to roll over. At midnight I flipped on the light to reveal the invasion, which had infiltrated the last bastion of peace for any over subscribed working mother, my entire bed. They were everywhere, I killed what I could see and tried to go back to sleep. Five hours later when they were biting my eyelids I gave in and got up without any sleep.

The following day I made it to my shoot, but almost crashed the car a few times, and found it difficult to finish my sentences but it was almost over, the next day I only had a dinner party to prepare and a forgotten birthday to make up for. I went to bed early, my husband very generously switched sides of the bed with me after I shared with him my thoughts that entire world, ants and all had turned against me, that or I was high on ant venom from the night before.

The following morning I woke up, momentarily victorious that I had slept through the entire night without being bitten by an insect or wild animal, until I got up and collapsed back into the ant’s lair. It was the flu, I was on fire and I could hardly speak but it was okay I only had a dinner party to prepare. I managed to eek out

“Happy Birthday” with a flu-ey exhale.

“I have to go to work” Chris said.

“On your birthday?”

“Yes.”

The day before his company had been taken over -not by ants but by another company, and the future was as uncertain as my dinner party. After Daddy went to work, I did as any hard working responsible birthday party host would do, I put my toddler in front of the T.V. and got to work making the starter course, and the dessert. After completing a culinary masterpiece tomato orange soup and chia seed pudding, I made Eva lunch and force fed her as the room spinned, my head pounded and the annoying Peppa Pig theme tune repeated ad infinitum. When the clock struck one, it felt like cocktail hour had finally arrived. I measured up a strong bottle of milk and gave it to Eva to sip until the heady eyelid drooping arrival of naptime dawned.

I propped her up in bed under a pillow and prepared to sneak out of the room. As I turned the doorknob Eva cried.

“Mommy I have to wee wee.”

It was her new procrastination.

“No you fucking don’t have to pee.”

Immediately I felt guilty, I didn’t think I had ever sworn in front of Eva. I am pretty sure she thought I was speaking Spanish anyway but she was a bit shocked by my tone of voice, and so was I, it was more than I had said most of the day.

I picked her out, put her on the potty, read her another book, and then put her back to bed. Within five minutes if anyone followed the trail of pain pill wrappers and Ricola sweets they would find me, prostrate on the bed surrounded by the dead bodies of about one hundred ants, murdered by me in fever fueled “fucking” rage and the few survivors drowned in a feverish sweat, even the ones that clung to my eyelids.

When Chris came into the room when he got home, he found the outline of a dead body drawn by the tiny black ant bodies outlining where I had collapsed. I managed to say “happy birthday “ in half enthused baby sign language. I didn’t cancel the birthday party, nor did I promise it would go forward. At four pm I surfaced to take the beef out of the working fridge so it would return to room temperature, something no one else would remember.

At 5:30, an hour and a half before the guests were due to arrive Chris returned to my flu lair and announced,

“Your mother, back from her trip, has taken over the party.”

“Thank god for mom.” I said and rolled over.

Somehow like a miracle worker, my mother was able to whip up a chocolate cake complete with home made cream cheese icing, roast potatoes and cooked my roast beef tenderloin to perfection. The guests were notified of the location change, and I was left in peace.

Chris had a birthday party after all and I survived the night.

The next day, I did not come out of the bedroom and I had only two visitors.

My mother came first to see if I was still alive.

“Thank you mom, for saving the day.”

“Not a problem” she said bringing me tomato soup, taking my temperature and checking my medicine dosage.

“I guess moms are really good to have when you are sick or you need to throw a party.”

“The show must go on.”

A little later on, a little face appeared at my bedside, it was my second visitor, my daughter Eva coming to check on me.

“They told me you went to work. You didn’t go to work!” she said with a tone of total disgust of having been lied to.

She played with me for about forty-five minutes bouncing on my bed and being generally worried about my wellbeing. When her father had been sick with the flu the week or so before, she had gone into see him and announced,

“Mommy will be very upset if you die.”

When I was sick I think she was more concerned about who would make her lunch and dinner.

About forty minutes later someone realized Eva had escaped from the playpen. She gave me a kiss to get better and was ushered out, but within the hour she was back checking up on me again.

“Mommy will you be better tomorrow?”

Amazingly I was much better the next day and although I had to cancel the rest of the shoot, I was able to leave on our family holiday a few days later.

And Eva also returned to her normal self.

“I like Daddy better than you.” She said the next day.

“Why?” I asked

“Because he is taller than you, and he has bigger hands.”

“Okay” I said knowing I would not be able to change that.

“I love you mommy, but daddy is more fun.” I might have been wiping her butt when she delivered that line. I was growing accustomed to her abuse as any mother must.

The day we left for our trip, my own mother showed up the morning to help us pack, she took us to the airport, gave us the keys to her apartment in Boston, my parents house in New Hampshire and the keys to their car. She made sure we packed the ipad she had given Eva and that we had all the right forms and passports. She also took Piccolo for two weeks at her house, allowing him to sleep in bed with her every night, so he wouldn’t miss us too much while we were gone. And when we get home rest assured there will be a carton of milk in the fridge she will have bought for us, because that is what mom’s do they save the day.

We were about to pull out of the driveway for the airport when she yelled,

“Wait, you have forgotten Eva’s bunny.” Picking it up off of the front stoop where it had been draped over a suitcase, fallen off and almost been forgotten, she passed it through the window to Eva.

“Thank God!” I said. “Thank God for Gigi.”

Thanks Gigi for saving Chris’ birthday and all the days in between.

Xx Derelict Mom

#Momcan’tgetsick

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