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By JAIME THOMAS
They don't tell you about the bruises or the busted lips or hair pulling. They don't tell you about the biting, the head butts, the scratches and the kicks. Being a mother takes its toll. We are routinely stomped on, both literally and figuratively. For example, I have long hair. I think everyday about chopping it off but my son loves to play with it, or more specifically, to pull it, especially the single strands at the nape of my neck. Now if anyone else decided to do this, it would probably happen once before I got incredibly angry. But with my son I allow it and even encourage it. If he's being restless I'll just give him my hair to play with.
He likes to explore with his fingers, especially his fingernails, which means I end up with scratches all over my arms (okay, that may be my fault since I don’t keep his nails as short as I should.)
I am routinely head-butted in the mouth when he gets excited, kicked in the gut when I change his diaper, pinched when I put him on my hip and he grabs my arm, smacked, stepped on and, on occasion, bitten.
I have been dragged out of bed at 4:30 by my son standing in his crib yelling. This morning, for example, nothing would get him back to sleep. I tried laying him in our bed, hoping he would fall asleep like he has in the past. I let him crawl around a little bit, trying to get comfortable. He finally was still, but in the most awkward position he could be in (for me, not him of course). He was laying across my chest with an elbow in my neck and a knee in my side. I just wrapped my arms around him and took short breaths. This lasted approximately 38 seconds, then he was squirming again.
Once we were up he followed me around while I got ready, crying real tears until I picked him up. As soon as I put him down to perform a task I couldn’t do one-handed, he fussed again. When I dropped him off at daycare, though, he twisted his body around in my arms until I put him down to play. I picked him up to give him a kiss and hug and he fussed and yelled until I put him back down.
If I want to get any gardening done I have to set my son in the yard where he's near me. This usually involves a lot of me running back to him and taking away whatever flower, rock or handful of dirt he's attempting to put in his mouth. Most of the time I get there in time to see him spitting out whatever he's just put in. I'm using the theory that dirt has fiber in it and is good for him. That works, right?
It usually takes me a week to get clean laundry from the baskets into the closets. I have no idea where time goes and have all-but given up on ever playing the guitar again or completely finishing a sewing project. My flower beds are a mass of overgrown weeds.
I am habitually exausted, regularly busy and consistently confused. I worry more than I ever have, and I'm a continual worrier. I'm stressed, I'm tense and I can't seem to keep my house clean. I cry at least once a week. My husband is long-suffering.
But then, my son will wrap his arms around my neck and squeeze. He'll grab anything he can find to put up to his ear and say "Lo?" He smiles with his whole body when he sees me. I watch him flip over his stuffed bear, wrestling with it, or crawl after cats, giggling. He loves other kids and lights up whenever any are around. He's fearless and tough and solid.
He makes every day the hardest, most exhausting, most exciting, happiest and best that it can be.
It's been the best 11 months of my life. Happy almost-birthday my rambuctious, rowdy, irrepressable little man.
Jaime Thomas is a presentation editor and can be reached at The News-Enterprise. She can be reached at (270) 505-1761.