Sunday, May 11, 2014

In Over My Head

In honor of Mother's Day, allow me to be frank with you this morning:

I am totally in over my head.

When I was expecting Annie, I often heard that parenting four isn't much different than parenting three.  In some ways, that's true.  Parenting children, no matter how many, requires constant effort coupled with boundless energy and patience.  It doesn't matter whether it's 3am or 3 pm, Monday or Sunday--I'm still Mom.  The shift never ends.

Mothers (and fathers) wear an awful lot of hats, functioning as chef, nutritionist, server, hairdresser, chauffeur, tutor, wardrobe designer, maid, project manager, police, bodyguard, doctor and more--all within the course of a day.  Lately, however, I can't seem to get beyond the role of Emergency Responder.  Whether coping with overscheduled appointments or overdue library books, I am certifiably overwhelmed--bouncing from one crisis to the next.  As Annika becomes increasingly mobile, she requires constant vigilance in the hopes that she will actually survive to adulthood.  Her daring antics, while cute, leave my nerves frazzled and my sanity compromised.

Case in point: last week the piano tuner came to tune our recently acquired Baldwin Hamilton.   I was already feeling a bit embarrassed when he arrived because I'd just barely gotten back from a run with the double jogger and was a sweaty mess, plus we ended up having to move the piano to a different wall so that it wouldn't be directly in front of an air vent.  As soon as the tuner got his stuff out, Annika immediately started gnawing on his tools so I took both kids upstairs to play trains and shut the baby gate.  Everything went smoothly until I came back down for a moment to explain how we needed to take off early to see Brooklyn's horse display at school and could he please let himself out?

Well, by the time I got back upstairs, Annie had trapped herself in the upstairs bathroom.  While I was gone, she'd managed to push open the closed bathroom door, pull it shut behind her, and then open the bottom drawer of the vanity (presumably to chew on our toothbrushes), thereby making it completely impossible to open the door more than a few millimeters.  A few stiff shoves against the stout door, and I knew I was in trouble.  The hinges were on the other side, and Annika was already getting upset, lying on the floor and crying as she slid her little hands underneath to touch my fingers.

At fifteen months of age, Annie is old enough to get herself into a pickle, but not old enough to get herself out.  My coaxing pleas to "shut the drawer, Annie!  Push the drawer shut!" were futile.  In desperation, I started sliding fig newtons and graham crackers beneath the door to help her calm down while subtly gathering rescue supplies like a wire hanger and screwdriver.  All the while, the piano tuner is still downstairs plunking away and I'm calmly trying to pretend like nothing's wrong.  In whispered but urgent tones, I did what all girls do--I called my Dad--who was as clueless as I about how to solve the problem.  Next I called Jason, who did his best to provide advice from his Iowa office.  While Jason was explaining to me how I could climb in through the upstairs window, Annie pushed the drawer in partway, jamming it in the process.  I could now open the door three quarters of an inch and see more fingers peeking through.

Eli, by this point, was also upset, crying about how "I miss my Annie!"  As I went down to look for a hammer, he went and told the piano tuner all about how "his baby" was locked in the upstairs bathroom.  Before I know it, this complete stranger is upstairs helping me free Annika.  It was an emotional moment being reunited with my babe.  Mostly I felt grateful, although "mortified" ran a very close second.

By now, I'd completely missed Brooklyn's presentation on her proposed pet Morgan horse at the Envision expo.  My mother kindly offered to bring the big girls home from school, so I could have stayed around until the tuner finished.  Instead, my shame was such that I thanked the piano tuner and vacated the premises before we could do any further damage, hanging out at a park until I was sure he would be gone.  When I came back, the following bill was sitting on our piano:

Toddler Rescue: No Charge.  I guess everyone who enters our home likewise becomes an Emergency Responder.


In the time that it's taken me to compose this blog post, I've removed Annika from the middle of the kitchen table where she was sitting in a puddle of water from the cup she dumped, removed multiple crayons from her mouth, and listened to Jason's exclamation when he noticed that she was, I kid you not, hanging from her high chair like this:

So please excuse the sparsity of blog posts.  As I mentioned before, I am totally in over my head.


Chou said...

I'm laughing so hard it hurts. I think we need to move to Omaha and take up permanent guardian angel status.

Crys said...

This is cheetah and I totally understand'

Jessica Bybee said...

I so appreciate your honesty in this post! Funny and yet so exhausting. Makes me realize what life with four may be like! :)

Susie said...

Thanks for making me smile and laugh! Remember--you will look back and laugh at these moments :) I remember the time Christy did the same thing in the bathroom when she was a little one. Hard to get them to open the door at that age. No--impossible! Impressive high chair acrobatics!

Erin said...

Right there with you! Emily is 2 and she is the sweetest force of innocent destruction that I have ever known. From scaling the pantry shelves to retrieve cereal to dump on the floor to scribbling on herself and books and walls to removing all her clothing and diaper to play in the planter on the front porch naked... Hang in there.