In honor of Mother's Day, allow me to be frank with you this morning:
I am totally in over my head.
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.
(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.
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?
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.
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.
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.