Friday, September 13, 2013

oy vey.

^^Oy Vey!!^^
Cecile does this thing lately where she holds her hand to her temple, cocks her head, and smiles. We call it the "oy vey." We find it funny, she finds it funny, everybody finds it funny. And so naturally with all the attention she gets from doing it, it's become something of a signature of hers. She uses it to flirt with strangers, for attention, and even employs it following a fit of frustration with a task she can't yet properly complete. 

Well, for me the last week week and a half was one oy vey moment after the next. Last Tuesday there was poop art. Wednesday delivered a fever of 103 for Cecile, and that Thursday night I, too, had the shakes. And by the weekend we were, yet again, back to the drawing board with our house. Then all this week Jon has been both working overtime and fulfilling his civil duty as a juror, and Cecile had a seemingly incurable diaper rash. I realize my complaints are all simple, solvable problems, yes; but after more than a month of sleep regression (is it teething? hunger? habit? who knows!), the challenges suddenly seemed insurmountable. 

Wait, hold on. Back up. Poop art, you say?

Yes. Poop art. Before the full story, a little background ...

Cecile's morning nap--oh, the sacred morning nap--is the closest thing our little cashew has to religion at the moment. Without fail, two hours after she gets up in the morning she starts rubbing her eyes and wants to go back down again. Oh, how I love this nap. I loathe the day she drops it. Because her morning nap is my time to feel like a functioning adult again--a functioning adult without a child. I'm able to shower, blow-dry my hair, put on make-up, tidy the house, read some of the paper, and make the day's to-do list, my favorite, favorite task of all. The to-do list is really more of a wish list, and even though I never, ever complete everything on the list, it gives me hope at the start of the day that I may, just once, get close. 

But last Tuesday something unusual happened. I put her down in her crib and hopped into the shower. By the time I got out, she was still awake. Sometimes she likes to "talk" to her animals, I told myself, and then I proceeded to go on with my morning routine. I got ready for the day, made the bed, poured a second cup of coffee, and settled into finishing the Sunday paper. I should mention, too, that we don't own a monitor--video or audio--because our house is small, and I've always found it to be slightly Big Brother. That, and I know I'd probably be a junkie looking at it all the time. But I digress ... 

So there I was, updating myself on Syria (vegetables) and pouring over the Sunday Styles (dessert) when Cecile's chatter turned from squawking to squealing to full-blown crying. OK, OK, OK! Fine, I said. I put down my coffee, got up off the couch, and opened the door to her room to see what all the commotion was about. There I found Cecile standing in her crib; a dirty diaper was thrown on the floor, and there was poop everywhere. Poop smeared across the wall. Poop on the bed, poop on the mattress, poop on bunny, Cecile's lovie. There was poop around each and every crib post. Poop on and up my child's nose. Yes: up my child's nose.

Oy vey. 

Fast-forward to last Wednesday evening, when I was over at Jon's parents' house for Rosh Hashanah. (Jon and I took shifts visiting with his family while Cecile, the poor thing, slept off her fever at home.) I relayed my poop art story to Jon's cousin Robin and she laughed and asked, "Did you take a picture?" Um, no. Why would I want a picture? My reaction was to pick up the pieces of poop scattered about the rug, draw a bath, strip the sheets, and start the laundry. My other reaction was so start sobbing, blame myself, and declare myself a total failure as a mother. "This is my job, and I'm terrible at it," I wailed to my mother on the phone that morning while sponging the poop off my daughter's neck in the tub. 

"Next time something like this happens," Robin told me, "you need to take a picture. We documented both the good moments and the bad moments with our children," she said. "I have pictures of Sydney with food all over her face and hair, and picture of Zack with enormous boogers in his nose."

OK, sure. Next time ...
This week--post-poop art, post-sicknesses--I picked up a book Robin gifted Cecile a month or so ago. And the timing couldn't have been better. The book is called Beautiful Oops! and it illustrates how accidents such as ripped paper and coffee stains can and should be perceived as art. A spill, a smear, a smudge, a tear--all mistakes in the world of grown-ups. But with a little imagination and the will to think a little differently (read: more like a child), the author Barney Saltzberg demonstrates how these mistakes have the potential to become, well, beautiful oopses.

Reading the book helped me realize Robin was right. (Full discloser: She's always right!) Cecile's poop art was messy, gross, and even horrific in the moment, but it sure serves up some comedic fodder now, no? What's more: not three minutes after I put the book down, Cecile spilt my cold coffee on our white rug. A beautiful oops! Yes, I still cleaned the rug. I haven't gone (completely) off the reservation, people. But I was better able to bless and release the crime. And that's something.

At the top of my to-do list I've started writing "get Cecile through the day." No joke. Because that really is the goal, that really is my job, and it's the one task that does and should take up the most of my time--not laundry, not errands, not dinner, not even this blog. (Maybe I should start writing to-do lists like a seven-year-old? Ha.) And, God willing, at the end of the day it's a task I can cross off, pat myself on the back for a job [mostly] well done, and feel like I've accomplished something. Amen.

Oh, and a note to my darling Cecile: The next time you stick poop up your nose, I'm taking a picture. Seriously. You don't want that on this blog, do you? So consider your prom date before you pull crap (literally!) like that again. Love you, sweetie.