Mama’s Little Girl

Posted: December 28th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Misc Neuroses, Miss Kate, Mom, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop | 1 Comment »

My mother used to make up crap constantly. I mean, it was all in the service of urging one of her four daughters to do something, and as the mother of one child who’s turned the unbearable age of three, I can feel her pain. At one point the poor woman had a newborn, an 11-month old, and a 22-month-old. (Then ten years later I happily hit the scene. Surprise!)

Anyway, knowing what I know now, whatever the woman went through to get through the day is totally fine by me.

Her specialty was outlining elaborate reasons why things should be done. Often she’d add some statistics to back-up her argument. And I’m not talking about the classics like “you have to wait at least an hour to swim after eating.” She’d bust out much more detailed data. And although she’s not around to ask the origins of her plentiful stats, I have every reason to believe that based on how convenient they were to her–and the fact that with re-use the numbers sometimes changed–I’d wager she made them up on the spot.

“95% of household accidents happen from untied shoes!” she’d bellow after me as I ran through the house.

Throughout the winter months I’d hear some variant of:
“If you don’t wear a hat you lose 85% of your body heat through your head.”

And of course there was:
“70% of kids who sit that close to the TV develop vision problems, you know.”

Her: “Do you know how many kids who ride their bikes without helmets get into accidents and turn into vegetables?
Me: “Uh… sixty-five percent?”

Who knows. Maybe in Reader’s Digest or whatever women’s magazines she was reading at the time they had entire sections devoted to citing maternally-weildible stats like these. Perhaps she really did have primary sources for it all.

She also had an arsenal of other warnings. They were statistic-free but still rife with veiled health threats: “Drinking coffee will stunt your growth” was one of her evergreens, though I don’t remember ever wanting so much as a taste of her coffee when she was having a cup. Maybe the sum-total of her maternal sleep deprivation by the time I was born led her to preemptively fend people away from her coffee. And again, who could blame her?

Even later in her life when she was so sick that her body could barely process food, she’d insist we stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way home from chemotherapy. Something I argued fruitlessly with her about until, requesting the doctor back me up one day, he pulled me outside the exam room to gingerly advise me that if coffee was something she enjoyed “at this point in her life” I should just let her have it.

Hello gut-wrenching reality check.

But anyway, where the hell was I? Mom. Coffee. And most importantly stunted growth–believe it or not, that being the little nugget that I was making my way toward. (Still happy you’ve come along for the ride?)

The thing is with Paige–the gal I’ve been trying to get to through all this Mom memory blather–is that she’s so utterly delightful, delicious and unbearably baby-like still. It devastates me to think of her growing up. Truly! If only I thought the coffee could stunt her growth, I’d give it a shot. (Then I’d just need to figure out how to administer it, since at the ripe age of 11 months beverage-wise the gal’s still exclusively about the boob.)

When Kate was a baby I did one of the smartest things a new mother could do. I got a sitter to come over one day a week–the neighbor’s part-time nanny who wanted extra hours. She watched Kate on Friday nights too so Mark and I could go on dates, ultimately talking about how much we adored (and missed) Kate.

I’ve said it before and no truer words have I spoken: Better to pay for babysitting now than marriage counseling later. (Copyright, 2005-2008 McClusky)

Aaaanyway, it was that nanny, Blanca, who dealt me my first eye-opener about Kate’s growth. I was looking through some larger-sized baby clothes and commenting on how darling they’d be once Kate fit into them. And in her sweetest, non-confrontational, most respectful way, Blanca looked me straight in the eye and said, “Uh, Kristen? She’ll fit into those now!”

And sure, it turned out that maybe I was infantilizing ole’ Kater Tot a wee bit. I realized that maybe we were shimmying her into the 3 to 6 month clothing when really, heck, those 9-month duds weren’t exactly big on her. (Or maybe even fit.) It was just…she was my baaaby! If she was fitting into these bigger clothes it meant–absurd as it is to consider when it’s a matter of months–she was growing up.

This brought into perspective the crying jag a friend told me about years earlier when her husband assembled their first-born’s crib. The baby wasn’t even three-months-old, and was just making the move out of the bassinet. As her husband toiled over the assembly directions, Lisa threw herself on their bed for a dramatic “she’s growing up sooo fast” bawling sesh.

Today I think this is not crazy-lady behavior at all.

Well, whatever psychological force was holding me back from Kate’s move away from babydom seems to only be amplified with Paigey Wig. With Kate, I think it was that she was my first. But with Paige, she’s my last! And such a dumpling, that one! A living doll, I tell you!

Isn’t it okay for me to still dress her in snap-crotch onesies when she’s in high school? And really, what 8-year-old needs treads on their shoes when a soft hand-knitted booty is so much comfier? And say what you will about the independence kids get from walking about on their own. Isn’t there something to be said for the cozy warmth and security that a sling could provide a preteen during those often awkward and trying pubescent years?

Of course, taking the worst possible opportunity to do it, when she’s pushing herself backwards around her room (her brand of crawling) and sobbing dramatically because she needs a nap, I decided to go through Paige’s drawers today and purloin all the obviously outgrown clothes.

Alas, there’s no future sib to get another round of wear out of the burgundy Catamini romper, or the brilliant NASA shirt our friend Kenneth gave Paige. Gone for good is the peach cashmere cable knit cardigan that made both Kate and Paige’s cheeks look flushed and utterly edible. And even the threadbare but darling Carter’s standbys–the now-pilly footy PJs with the lamb and giraffe appliques. I’d think twice about putting them in a thrift store pile based on their condition alone, but can’t bear to rid myself of the outfits my sweet girls wore curled up like angels asleep in their cribs. (Sleep has so many rich positive memories for mothers.)

For weeks–maybe months–now, Mark has emerged from dressing Paige remarking that he’d had to “wedge a leg” of hers into a certain pair of pants or had to “stuff her into” her pink hooded coat. (His none-too-subtle cues to me to get the girl some new clothes.) And half-heartedly I’d mumble something to appease him for the moment.

Well Miss Paige, today you’ve officially made the transition to 18-month-old clothing. (The fact that baby clothes are often sized older than the wee ones themselves is particularly cruel to me and my type.) May your plump little ham hock thighs never strain beneath the pressure of the 0 to 6 month pea green Zutano fleece pants again. And know that even if we don’t have the good fortune that you somehow acquire coffee, devise a way to consume it, and it actually results in retarding your growth–even if that never comes to pass, just know that you’ll still always be my little girl.    

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Mama’s Little Girl”

  1. 1 Mary said at 8:00 pm on December 30th, 2008:

    Love the statistics. Your mom and I would get along. Also- thanks for the shout out! New friends that feel like old friends. Ahhh…

    P.S. Tell Mark I want my nail back.

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