It’s been snowing. It’s been snowing all day long. It’s been snowing all day long and I have been trapped inside with one crazy puppy we call Lucy, Lulu and often Loco. She is also referred to as Psycho, Whacko, Lucifer and “No, Stop that.” My daughter has heard the word psycho in reference to this puppy so many times that she actually named her stuff dog “Psycho arf-arf” and has started calling people being silly “loco.” Lucy is a natural herder and really needs a job (we will be getting chickens in April) because during the day she periodically bites my ankles and tries to drag me around the room by my pant legs. I don’t know where she thinks I belong, but I often fantasize that she will drag me to bed and perform guard duty while I take a nap. This never happens though (much to my dismay). Most of my pants now have teeth marks and holes in them. I am just grateful that they are on the back of my pant legs so I don’t have to look at them and can pretend they are not there, much like I do with the back of my hair when I only have time to make the front look good.
Lucy and my daughter are as thick as thieves always plotting to perform some unfortunate event that usually involves food (dog or human), water, and anything chewable. I recently found Lucy and my daughter curled up together on the dog bed. My daughter was, of course, chewing on Lucy’s bone and Lucy was eating cheerios right out of a nice clean bowl. Lucy has tried to jump into the bathtub and has, on occasion, walked right into the shower with us. My daughter likes to play weights and measures with the dog water pouring it from one container to the next until the floor is soaked and so is she. Sometimes, my daughter will carry the bowl of dog food around and dole out one piece at a time to the eager Lucy. This is the same food Lucy will refuse when I pour it into a bowl for her. Who knew that an almost 20 month old child could master the concept of supply and demand so quickly?
Lucy is not the only trouble maker living in this house. We also have a horribly vicious cat named Mik-Mok that actually tried to kill me once. I am not being dramatic. That cat has me on some sort of “people I’d like to kill” list. One minute she was sitting on my lap purring and the next minute she was attacking me vampire style. She left two holes in my neck (claws) and bit my chin (teeth). This was during the Obama inauguration. I am not sure why that fact is important except that now I respond to Yo-Yo Ma like a B.F. Skinner research participant. Mik-Mok or “Mickey-Mok” as my daughter calls her now lives in my husband’s shop where we have very supervised visitation. I posted a picture of her at the top of this blog post because I once read that people like pictures of cats. I’m not sure she will increase my blogging popularity, but she might attract some curious bystanders much like a terrible auto accident does. Some things are so scary you just can’t look away. Maybe once they see her they will stay and read my blog.
There I was with peanut butter on my pants, gel medium on my phone, and a permanent slice of very old banana permanently affixed to my linoleum floor. That was the moment I realized my life had become one big, sticky mess. Life with a toddler can be summed up in one word: messy. Maybe two words would be better: super messy. No, it’s three words: Super, Sticky, Messy. There is just no avoiding it no matter how hard you try to.
Sometimes, however, I do like to keep score. For example, it is 1:30pm and so far my daughter has worn three different outfits and I am not even dressed yet. When I do manage to get dressed and out of the door I find jelly hand prints on the back of my pants or marker drawings down the arm of my jacket. Toddler win; motherhood fail.
Her hair is combed and styled in a cute little ponytail and mine…well…mine is a disaster. Speaking of hair, my hairdresser suggested that I blow my hair out and style it once every three days. I should just wake up on the non-styling-days, spritz it with a little water, and go. She obviously does not live with a toddler. Most days I end up with oatmeal, dog water, or some other food related item in my hair. It has to be washed every single day and I usually don’t have time to style it in any flattering way. My daughter, however, is dressed and coiffed beautifully every morning!
My daughter helps me clean up her spills by dragging a paper towel through the puddle on the floor while yelling joyfully, “Messy! Messy! Mess!” Then she usually rolls around in it, walks through it, or tries to eat it. On the other hand, I have washed the floor several times and it still looks like a barrel of monkeys has taken up residence in my kitchen. Two points for team-toddler and zero for team-mommy.
In this game of mommy versus toddler, my daughter is on a winning streak. She is a champion at this game and I will never score enough points to catch up. One thing I have learned from my messy life with a toddler is that banana is stronger than Gorilla glue and Crazy glue combined. It is stuck to my floor and it is not coming off anytime soon. I’m thinking of marketing it as an all-natural, organic alternative to the glues available in stores now. Anyone interested in buying some? It might even come with a free piece of linoleum stuck to it.
Painting, after some success, can quickly become an obsession. It sure has for me!
I recently dove back into using watercolors after about a twelve month love affair with acrylics and collage and now I-just-can’t-stop. I’ve been painting flowers and more flowers. I have created an inside garden complete with flowers that probably wouldn’t even grow in my actual, outside garden. This can be dangerous. The laundry, dishes, and floors have completely been neglected. My email goes unanswered. My family can survive on frozen pizzas and other convenience foods for only so long! I have been bitten by the painting bug and have come down with a severe case of painting fever.
This seems to happen to creative people. We can go days, months, and even years without succumbing to our creative work, but when the passion and obsession strikes we can become very prolific and completely consumed by our creative work. This can be very difficult to reconcile with the demands of a small child and the obligations and responsibilities that come with being a Stay-At-Home-Mom. I cannot hide in my studio or concentrate on what I am doing for long periods of time like I did before my daughter was born. At this stage, she is usually redecorating my studio while I paint or, trying to stick a paintbrush in the dog’s mouth.
Watercolors are terrific for this mode of painting because if the paints dry out while I am wrestling my most-loved paintbrush from the dog’s mouth, I can just add water and be back in business in no time. I often paint while my daughter is napping or has gone to bed for the night. I spend quite a bit of my day lost in thought about what to paint next, which color to use, or if my painting would benefit from some pen and ink details. I can only hope my daughter doesn’t notice my distracted interactions or, even better, I hope she will grow up and find something that she can be just as passionate about.