Can I just take a minute for an unearned pity party? Wait a second – to whom am I asking permission? This is a mommy blog, right? Readership is voluntary. Therefore, permission granted. Because, I mothered hard today, it’s only 1pm, and I just need to vent.
It started early: when I entered their bedroom around 7am, Dylan screamed at me that he didn’t want me – he wanted Daddy – and he wanted me to go away. When I refused, he kicked it up a notch, tearing at my robe strings, trying to pull me out of the room, and choking hard on his tears he as he assured me that he didn’t love me.
Next, I made them scrambled eggs with feta, basil, and tomatoes straight from the garden, alongside apple slices with peanut butter on them for breakfast. Dylan spit the tomatoes on the floor and refused to eat the apple slices that didn’t have peanut butter smothered on every surface of apple. Then, we biked to the co-op. Dylan insisted on carrying his book into the co-op, pushing the cart with Oscar in it, and told me he wasn’t going to help. Next, they played outside, followed by an hour of Sound of Music with their favorite peanut butter pretzel snack. Oscar smeared peanut butter all over the couch. Finally, I made them quesadillas with (a friend’s) homemade salsa for lunch before putting them down for a nap. Dylan ate only the tortilla, scraping out the insides of the quesadilla. Oscar ate only the cottage cheese. And now, Dylan refuses to take a nap.
Instead, he’s marching up and down the length of his bed with rain boots on his hands as he rolls a sleeping bag back and forth. Not only that, but he’s reenacting scenes from The Sound of Music loudly enough to wake Oscar, sleeping in the crib a few feet away. Sure, sounds cute. But wait. Because the character he’s chosen to emulate today is Ralph, Liesl’s 17-year-old boyfriend.
He’s done this character before, and, at first, I laughed when he asked me (Liesl) if I wanted to check out his gazebo. But there was no laughter when he told me (suddenly Captain Von Trapp) to deliver this telegram at once (!!!) before saluting “Heil Hitler!” Ummm yeah. Not so cute anymore. Of all the lines he could have absorbed from that movie…
The first time my neo-nazi started repeating Ralph’s catch phrases I went ballistic and launched into a completely age-inappropriate lecture about anti-Semitism and why we must never salute Hitler or support any demagogue like him (I may have veered into election sound bytes as well); by the time I got the conversation turned back around to my son, he was certain of only one thing: the Hitler comment made Mama stark raving mad, and was a surefire tool to stir things up whenever he felt like it. Which is almost all of the time. And especially when he’s got an audience.
So there’s that. There’s also the summer slipping away with an embarrassing lack of success with our garden. Embarrassing because we were so confident in the abundance of seeds we planted this spring that we let friends and colleagues know ahead of time that we’d have plenty of produce to share – we even said we’d do a wine-based CSA – bring a bottle of wine and leave with a basket of fresh veggies! I imagined smiling wide and telling them to come back as often as they’d like, secretly coveting a fully stocked wine shelf again…
Instead, we lost our peas, brussel sprouts, leafy greens, and corn stalks to critters, our strawberries to the birds, our asparagus to the weeds. One of the three apple trees we planted died and the verdict is still out on the potatoes, squash & pumpkins (fall crop), but it doesn’t look good. What’s more: we never even planted our blueberries. Three rather striking potted blueberry plants still stand tall on the white, rectangular table on our patio, waiting for an afternoon not already promised to lawn mowing or napping, their once green leaves now brown and curling inward.
In the beginning, we were out there with the boys trying to live out some of what we say we believe in: taking responsibility for what we put in our bodies, eating real food, saving and planting organic seeds, etc., but I’m scared that this is a metaphor for other dreams we may have for our kids that, if we simply drop the ball on following through, we’re only teaching them what something looks like when you half-ass it.
Dylan started out the season pretending to plant in the dirt patch to the right of our garden. He’d dig the earth with his “digger” (a battery-operated bubble machine) and tell me he was going to plant “all the vegetables I need.” When prompted, he’d confidently list: tomatoes, potatoes, and macaroni & cheese.” Awesome. My kid thinks mac-n-cheese is not only a vegetable, but something that grows from the earth. That might be all we feed him. Mental note to do better. Moving on…
It might not seem like such a big deal to have an overgrown garden, but it feels connected to parenting right now. The drooping rhubarb is my body. The hearty weeds manhandling my peppers are Dylan’s temper tantrums overruling my better sense of judgment. The shriveling blueberry leaves: my lack of motivation to meal plan beyond the usual rotation of macaroni & cheese and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. The abundance of tomatoes: the overwhelming signs that Dylan is ready to potty train; the overripe tomatoes splitting and dragging on the garden floor: our eye-rolling at the actual challenge of potty-training.
And now this: Dylan just woke up Oscar. Sweet. Mission accomplished, son. Way to go. You win. Where shall we go this afternoon? Planet crazy? I’m on my way. End rant.