Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dispatches from Home Quarantine: Mother's Day 2020, Baby G Update, Odds & Ends

Sometimes I wonder if I actually have feelings or if I am merely reflecting the weather because today's rain has me feeling bleak even though nothing has really changed.

This was the first year that I didn't feel compelled to excavate my feelings about mother's day on the blog. It's still a complicated and emotional day for me, but this year felt... okay.

I was talking to David last night about how before G was born, families with three kids always made me feel a pang of jealousy. I assumed it was obvious: if Eliza hadn't died, we would be a family with three kids (I mean... there's no way to know what would have happened if Eliza hadn't died, but you get my drift). Anytime I heard of someone being pregnant or having a baby, I felt a similar pang. A wistful feeling of "if only..."

Since G has been born, I feel none of that. If anything, that kid has given me a gift in knowing that I am so 100% completely uninterested in having another child ever.

I hope that doesn't come off as insensitive. My best friend now has two children after more than two rounds of IVF and a pretty harrowing pregnancy this last time around. She told me if they had frozen embryos and funds to pursue another transfer that she'd do it in a heartbeat. That made me ache, because she's an amazing mom and she makes delightful people.

I am so incredibly relieved to know that I will never, ever be pregnant again.

This is weird talk for Mother's Day reflections.

I should also say that it was such a delightful day. We didn't have to go anywhere--even to church, which I realize now has still felt pretty loaded. I woke up and did my yoga and had my coffee. The girls treated me to a "spa day" of manicure and pedicure and hair styling. It was the opposite of relaxing, but I loved it. David made a delicious brunch with omelettes and French toast and pineapple juice mimosas.

When G woke from her nap, we went to see Eliza's tree in Forest Park. They hadn't mowed around it so we couldn't really sit by it for pictures (the weeds were literally taller than Genevieve) but we took a photo several yards down the hill. It was a chilly, windy, cloudy day, so we didn't stay long a the park, but I was so glad that we went.

We came home, watched the original Mary Poppins, and I did a lot of reading, which was nice because I've kind of had a hard time reading since this whole pandemic started.

I'm anxious about school starting again in the fall. Honestly, I'm bracing myself for us not going back. It is hard to imagine that the university will be ready to open again, and that worries me as well. I've been asked to teach a class this fall that I'm really looking forward to, but it's likely to be online, which is certainly much less fun. And I'm just speculating here--no one has said anything for certain, but the uncertainty is stressful.

And what about G? Will she ever go back to her babysitter? Will we extend her time at her babysitter instead of enrolling her in preschool so that she's only exposed to two other kids instead of 20?

What will this summer look like? Will we go anywhere? Will there be another big spike? Are they discovering the virus is dangerous for kids, it just looks different than it does for adults? It's still deadly, even if hospitals aren't overwhelmed, so when will we feel safe again? Are we going to wait for a vaccine? How long will that be? Why is this virus so mysterious? When will there be enough testing?

I know everyone has these same questions but no one has clear answers and it's so frustrating, even as we are perfectly comfortable at home except for the general quarantine fatigue and of course the ongoing existential crisis.

Although my whole mother's day was great, the highlight was bedtime when I read a story to Coco and Zuzu and then Coco read aloud while I read my book... and Zuzu read her own book to herself! Unprompted with no nagging or encouragement from me! I ordered her a Secret Mermaids book from an Usborne book party and it is literally the first book she has read start to finish all on her own. I am beyond thrilled. Thrilled enough to order her the next three in the series (they end on a cliffhanger, so she asked for the next book).

Genevieve is a tornado, into absolutely everything she can get into. Pantry door left ajar? She's pulled out spices, intent on trying to twist off their lids. She actually succeeded in getting the lid off an extra-large bottle of vegetable oil and pouring it all over herself and the floor. Talk about a mess--have you ever tried to clean up a half gallon of oil on hardwood floors?

Last year, a friend of mine had a very active toddler. I laughed in astonishment when she told me that he liked to splash in the toilets. My kids would never!


Guess where we recently found Genevieve, elbow deep? And now she makes a beeline for it every time. We have to keep all bathroom doors closed.

She unspools toilet paper, rips book pages, ravages Lego sets, and scatters puzzle pieces. If she can reach it, she's wreaking havoc on it. I wonder if we would view her as such a wild child if we were going to work? I have to imagine that with less time at home and more out-of-the-house activities on weekends, we might never see the destruction she can accomplish in a remarkably short amount of time. So I am celebrating her wild ways, even though it's maddening that we can't seem to remember to keep the laundry room door shut and keep her out of the dog water!

More horrifying is the list of things I've had to dig out of her mouth--wads of toilet paper, a bitten off chunk of eraser, a fake plastic coin, a googly eye... I swear I'm constantly scanning the floor for choking hazards, but she is quick and has sharp eyes. Most horrifying of all was the other night after bath, when I watched to make sure she got down the stairs safely, then went to turn off the bathroom light. I heard her gag and came running to see what happened, but she started crying immediately. This was a relief, since I knew she was choking, and then I was gagging because I discovered she was holding a small dog turd in her hand and had evidently tasted it.

(Why was there a dog turd in the house? Because Cooper had inexplicably decided to climb the stairs and apparently the effort made him poop out a little turd, which he left behind on the bottom step.)

We googled poison control and "what to do if baby eats dog poop." It made me feel slightly better to know that babies actually eat human, dog, cat, and bird feces fairly regularly, according to all of the google results. But there's not much danger of toxicity and you just need to watch for vomiting and diarrhea in the next 30 minutes to 4 hours. I'm pretty sure she'd barely tasted it and hadn't actually swallowed any, and she had no adverse side effects, so I guess we dodged that bullet.

G's one year doctor appointment was Monday and it was also bizarre. We had to go in a different entrance to the doctor's building at the hospital and have our temperatures taken before we could enter. I had to wear a mask. I got a green sticker indicating that I didn't have a fever. There was no furniture or toys or books in the doctor's waiting room. We went right back to the exam room, where G careened around pushing the stroller and the doctor's stool, crawled everywhere, and ripped the paper on the exam bench to shreds.

She measured 31" and weighed 21lbs, which puts her in the 95th percentile for height (what?!) and the 75 percentile for weight (a giant among one year olds!). Her head measured in the 60th percentile. And her iron levels were perfect, even though I haven't been giving her iron supplements. She's growing beautifully and she even giggled when the doctor pushed gently on her tummy, which was adorable. She has a mouth full of chompers, so I really need to start brushing all six of her pearly white teeth.

Zuzu and Coco are both still hanging in there with remote learning. I've backed off Zuzu and she's basically choosing herself what gets done each day. I figure now is as good a time as any for her to have intrinsic motivation. Really I just can't stress out about second grade school work.

Coco misses her friends so much and tells me that she likes school at school better than school at home. Which, yeah. Me too. She's doing the art unit right now in kindergarten and she enjoys it once she gets going, but it's hard to get started.

Fortunately, they still love playing with each other and they are pretty good about being entertained by Legos and puzzles and dolls and characters. Last week we had a pretty ugly meltdown after way too much screen time and we took a screen time hiatus on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday except for viewing Mary Poppins. It was a much needed reset.

David has to go into the building next week to bag up student belongings and distribute them. He'll be there for a good chunk of every day. I'm asking my parents to come up because there's just no way I can manage three kids and work from home on my own. I know there are people who have no choice and may be unable to expand their quarantine crew to include grandparents and I just don't know how they are managing. We may all be in this together, but we're also seeing how uneven and inequitable the distribution of access, support, and supplies. It's distressing, especially as there is no end in sight.

Trying to end this on a positive note, though! So I'll just say how grateful I am that my tenth mother's day being a mom was the sweetest one yet, that my house is so busy and noisy and fun, that we still have some blessed quiet time after the girls are asleep each night, and that my friend Michelle and I did a no-contact book swap so that I have some new reading material.


  1. I hear you on the third kid giving you that "DONE" feeling! I can only imagine all the dish detergent you had to use on the oil cleanup! Sounds like you're doing a great job and you don't need to have any guilt about all those feelings.

  2. So many things. G sounds just like Ethan- he still really hasn't slowed down. Something about that "third" kid I guess. Ellie is wilder than the first two but not quite as bad as Ethan.
    I've skipped Ellie's well visit. There's nothing they can say to reassure me to bring my healthy baby anywhere near a ped's office/hospital right now unless I actually had a concern. But kudos to you for being brave and doing it.

    It's crazy to me that Warren county thinks it can start 3 weeks early in August, absolutely nuts. I don't think anyone can predict what August looks like but man I hope they get to go back. :( Trying to do three kids worth of distance learning has been ugh. I am about the same as you with Zuzu on Matthew, like I am so tired of fighting him all day every day to do it. Thankfully Lucas pretty much does it (on his own), I guess! Why do they have third graders doing geometry word problems though?! (Like finding perimeter/area)...I think it's a bit absurd to start in third grade. Maybe with the reduced time they can cut out some of the educational fluff (like 9th grade geometry concepts in third grade! Angles, lines, Who thought we need to teach this to third graders?!)

    I know what you mean about feeling DONE. I never had that before Ellie, and I never knew if I would ever actually feel done with Olivia always missing. The minute Eliana was born though, it was like our family really did feel complete. I am glad you get that feeling too even while always missing our first girls. <3