Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another busy, chaotic, challenging, exciting, and beautiful day of an older mom like you!
So, this pandemic has brought about such unexpected challenges, right? Well, I could speak about many things, I think today I’m going to concentrate on talking about the challenges that I’ve had to face with my now five-year-old son, Bug. Now, as you’ve heard me speak before, Bug is incredibly full of, oh my goodness, energy, just an incredible amount of energy that has to be encapsulated in 1600 square feet, in this tiny little condo, where there is no backyard. I think up until this happened, I have fallen victim to the idea that boys were easier than girls and now I’ve come to the realization, boys are just as challenging as girls, just in a completely different way.
So, what do I mean by that? Well, for starters, Bug is a charmer. Okay? Oh my God, this boy can lay it on thick. As soon as he knows that I’m about to reprimand him for something, or he realizes that I’m angry, whether with him or somebody else, he lays on the charm and he lays it on thick. “Oh, mommy! Are you tired? What can I do to help you? Oh, I love you so much, let me hug you, let me kiss you.” Even though two seconds ago I couldn’t stand to be near you. And of course, oh my goodness, how many months are we into this lockdown to semi-lockdown?
It started in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, oh August, eight months! Eight months! But of course, we’re blessed, very lucky. No one in our family has gotten sick. We’ve taken lots and lots of precautions but it’s come at a price — there’s so little that we could do in this situation. And we’re all going crazy, we have major cabin fever, we’re not used to being this inactive and as a result, tempers are flaring, not just from us the adults, the parents — we try to keep it under control — but also from the kids!
The kids lose it every once in a while and it’s normal and it’s natural but we have to understand that and help them through it but holy guacamole! I mean there are days when we can barely tolerate each other and as I said he really knows how to put on the charm which is a good thing because he’s driving me crazy almost every single day! He’s jumping up and down constantly. Of course, there are days when I can do the “Simon Says”, run up the stairs, run down the stairs, run around the couch thing and tire him out just the little bit, but given that he is a self-recharging battery — I mean he would do great in the “Matrix” — Keanu Reeves would have loved him or at least the bad guys in the movie would have loved him. It’s not enough. It’s never enough. And even when I think I’ve tried him out, you know, I make him go outside and ride his bike (we got him a bike for his birthday) and I take him out.
Now, here he is, my rechargeable battery. Okay? He definitely inherited my energizer bunny battery. He just doesn’t want to ride this bike! He doesn’t want to! He knows that his sisters have electric bikes (he’s too young for one) and he doesn’t want to! Just doesn’t want to! It’s terrible getting him to ride around… forget the complex! Just around the block, okay? “Ooh, so tired. Oh, mom why are you making me do this?” But sometimes I push through it, okay? I have to admit. Midway through the circle, I’m losing my mind thinking why am I doing this to myself because he just doesn’t want to do it and he would fight it every step of the way and that’s the thing, right? It’s not just them, it’s also us. We’re also stuck. We’re also dealing with cabin fever. How do we deal with them being moody when we are dealing with our own feelings? It’s such an overwhelming situation right now and we’re all just desperately trying to do the best that we can by our children and ourselves.
But as he’s whining for the fifty millionth time, sometimes I want to choke the living daylights out of myself and wonder “Why did I ever decide that I needed or wanted another child?” Of course, then he smiles at me and he does something cute and I melt. Like butter. In the microwave. What can I tell you? I’m a sucker for those big brown eyes and that wide, gorgeous smile. So, here I am. I forced him to go around the circle in our condo and he swears that he’s exhausted and I think, oh my goodness. Okay, finally I can take him back in, I’ll let him watch TV a little bit and I’ll get some of my home school grading done.
So, true story, I sit him on the couch, he’s watching TV, I am maybe ten steps away from him when he starts flipping over the couch. Now mind you, I have told him, my husband has told him, the girls have told him more than a hundred billion times to not jump on the couch, to not flip on the couch, don’t do that you’re going to get hurt — and he falls off the couch. And I didn’t hear it. I didn’t hear a “bam!” you know, when you have wooden floors you hear it but here’s tiles and I didn’t hear it. He goes into the bathroom and he’s trying to deal with the blood because yes, there’s blood — tons and tons of blood. It sprayed on the wall. It sprayed on the toilet seat. It’s all over the sink and then all of a sudden I hear his, “Ugh, ugh, ugh!”
But one of the problems with Bug is his fake cry sounds just like his fake cry and I knew he didn’t want to sit down to watch TV so I thought he was fake crying and then thirty seconds later I hear, “Ugh, ugh, ugh!” again and I’m like, “Oh shit!” So, I go and ask him what’s going on because he’s in the bathroom, locked door, and he says, “I’m bleeding!”
Now another habit that he has is he picks his nose, constantly. I don’t know. What can I tell you? It seems to be an age thing. All my kids have gone through that and he will pick it until he bleeds so I thought that was it and he knows he’s going to get in trouble (okay, let me rephrase what I mean by trouble — me and his dad are going to sit down and talk to him and tell him he’s not supposed to be doing that. It’s not good for his little nose and so that’s the extent of the trouble but he still fakes cry every time he gets the nose bleeds).
So, I opened the door preparing myself for this when I see this looks like somebody’s been murdered in the bathroom. Now, I’m wondering, what the hell did he do to himself this time? Again, back to the nose thing and he says, “I fell off the couch! I just rolled off of it”, he says. Now, I’m looking and he’s cut his lip, he has blood coming from the side of his mouth, from the inside of his mouth where he’s cut his lip on the inside, and he’s cut his mouth on the outside with his teeth, and he’s bleeding from his nose.
Now, fortunately for me, he’s the fourth child, right? So, I’ve been through this with the three other kids and I know even though it looks like a copious amount of bleeding and you think that they’re dying. Fortunately, one of the benefits of being an older mom is you don’t need to panic because you know it’s not a big deal, okay? So, I’m putting pressure on his nose, dealing with the cuts, cleaning them up to see exactly what is going on, how much of this is, you know an actual need for concern, how much of it is just scandalous blood and I realized, okay, I’ve gotten the lips, that’s good but no matter how much amount of pressure I applied to the nose, the blood’s still rolling. So now, I’m screaming for my husband (screaming as in loudly not as in panicking), thinking, “Oh shit! This is another trip to the emergency with this boy.” I mean, he and Emmy (Emmy, being one of my thirteen-year-old twins) seem to love the emergency room!
So, here we go, a pandemic, we don’t really want to go to an emergency room. We call Nemours, that’s the children’s hospital here in the Florida area that we live in, and find out where there’s urgent care and we take him there. So, the doctor looks at him, he’s like, “You’re an older mom!” What a nice compliment, right? “No wonder you’re not so panicked.” But he looks at it and he says, “Well, it could be broken, might be broken. We don’t have the ability to do X-rays. We can send you to the emergency room but do you really want to go to the emergency room? I mean it stopped bleeding, the swelling is going up but that’s normal.” So, I’m trying to discern what the doctor is telling me. Are you telling me we don’t really need to go to the emergency room, we probably don’t need to go to the emergency room? There’s a greater danger in going to an emergency room than not going to an emergency room but you don’t want to say it to me because of the potential for liability and this is one of those times when I’m thinking, “Oh just say what you mean!” But at the same time, they’re not that concerned.
So, my husband and I are looking at each other, thinking okay, what’s the right thing to do? We decided to go home. Now, fortunately, I have a friend who is a very sought after pediatrician in California and I call him and we Facetime and he’s laughing. He’s like, “Oh, the nose is one of the places where you even move it, hit it a little bit, it’s just going to be a copious amount of blood. You could fill up a swimming pool.” He’s like, “Ice it down, have him sleep, sort of sitting up, and let’s see where he’s in the morning, we’ll look at it again.” Because I don’t really want to go into an emergency room right now and that’s that. I was even, “Should I give him Tylenol?” He’s like, “If you want to but he’s not asking for it if he’s not complaining, you don’t need to.” So, fine. We go with that advice.
And I really thought by the next day, his face was going to blow up like a balloon. But no, actually the swelling was down. I had stayed up all night, icing his nose, icing his face and he only had a minor bruise which is another amazing thing. He seems indestructible. My little Bug is absolutely indestructible. I think it is nature’s or God’s way of ensuring that humanity survives. He makes little boys indestructible.
But of course, I spent an agonizing night, the whole time thinking, “Okay if this pandemic wasn’t going on I would have taken him to the emergency room. What if I made the wrong decision?” It’s endless, isn’t it? Absolutely endless self-doubt as a mom. The constant concern that you have to do the right thing but you’re never absolutely certain that you did it even when you’re doing your absolute best or what you believe is your absolute best because here I was really weighing the risks.
At that time, Osceola County had 560 cases of COVID and I thought that was a big deal. Now we are at 7,000 something, close to 8,000 the last time I looked (bigger deal). We’re just trying to mitigate risks both for our children and ourselves because as older parents we are in the high-risk group. So, the whole night I was wondering if I had done the right thing. The next morning, the child’s acting like he’s fine. I feel like I’m dying because I didn’t get enough sleep. But I’m happy. I’m happy that he’s okay and I think, “Well, we will see how the days go.” Of course, I Facetime my friend several times during the week, and Bug is fine. Bug is fine.
So, is there a takeaway from this? No. No takeaway. Just that he survived. He survived, I survived, my husband survived because of course, if mama ain’t happy, husband definitely is not happy and the whole time that I’m concerned about expressing my concerns to whom? My poor husband, who never gets enough sleep. But now I think of it, it’s only fair. If I can’t sleep because of the kids, he shouldn’t be able to sleep either. That’s my motto.
But that is not the only challenge with Bug. My Energizer Bunny. My self-recharging battery loses all the energy the moment he has to do his share of the chores. Now, mind you, his shares of the chores are helping take the trash out, which means taking the trash bags that are in the small trash cans all over the house putting them in a bigger trash can and then putting new bags in and suddenly he looks like a wet spaghetti noodle. “I’m so tired. What kind of a mom are you? How can you do this to a little boy?” Ugh! Seriously?
There are days when he makes me laugh and there are days when I want to throttle him. Ugh! Are you kidding me? Just take out the trash! But he doesn’t. He looks like a wet spaghetti noodle. His hands loosen up. Then, the injustice of it all, “Why do I have to do it? Why can’t my sister do it? They’re older.” Well, his sisters have
different responsibilities, loading the dishwasher, vacuuming, you know, there’s three of them. It’s a small condo. They can handle it. I do all the laundry, all the cooking. Although now I’m letting the girls do their own lunches but taking the trash out is doing his fair share for the family. We all have our responsibilities.
However, he wet noodles it and his responsibility becomes my responsibility or one of the girls’ responsibilities because we have to follow him around making sure he’s doing it, as he bitterly complains about his exhaustion the whole way through. Of course, as soon as he’s done in taking out the trash, he’s full of energy again and doesn’t want to sit down. Certainly doesn’t want to do his home school work or ride the bike! Again, I ask myself, “Why? What did I ever do to deserve this?” And then I remember my mother saying this is exactly the kind of child I was. Okay, I’m making up for making my mother suffer and that’s always kind of funny, isn’t it? As an older mom when you’ll remember what your mother used to say you did or didn’t do and now karma has gotten you and you’re sitting there laughing at yourself.
The other big challenge with him lately has been that I got him a Kindle. I got him a Kindle so he can play educational games and he could read (which he does) but I’ve got to put a lock on Youtube because the boy is addicted to Youtube videos and these are the most insipid Youtube videos that you can imagine. There’s one of a dad playing with his two-year-old and his four-year-old video games. It is the most inane and ridiculous thing. It makes me crave the Teletubbies days. Remember Teletubbies? “Oh! Ha-ha! Ugh!” I thought those days were bad. No! This is worse and when I take it away from Bug he finds new and creative ways of getting around it.
Now, he has these long bathroom sessions and comes out with the Kindle. So, now I have to be on top of it too because of course, the kid throws you a curveball now you have to learn to catch it, right? And I think that’s one of the things that’s wonderful about being an older mom because we tend to be more patient about these things but on the other hand, it’s still just as annoying, no matter what age you are! It’s like, why?! So, I have to limit his Kindle time and I have to limit his TV time because this is the kind of junk that he likes to watch and there is a lot of fake hitting in these shows which leads to real hitting and his sisters do not appreciate it.
Neither does his dog, Shamy. We named his little Shi Tzu “Shamy” for Amy and Sheldon from the “Big Bang Theory.” When they first start dating, they’re called “Shamy” and we just love the “Big Bang Theory” and our favorite characters (well I can’t say the favorite characters. We love them all!). What can I tell you? We’re devastated when the series ended. The whole family really enjoys it.
So, Bug and Shamy. Bug loves Shamy. Shamy does not love Bug. Okay. He wants to hug on her, he wants to play and thirty minutes into it (even though she’s still a puppy) she’s done. And it’s not that he’s too rough with her. He doesn’t try to hit her. He doesn’t try to bite her (the girls tried to do those things when they were that age). No. He just wants to love her but it reminds me of that old Warner Brothers cartoon with that, I think it was a giant or something, who liked to pet things, and would squeeze them, and hug them, and love them, and the poor things were just like, “Let me out of here!” That’s our poor Shamy.
Our poor Shamy is tortured because she’s too loved. So, I have to pretend to give Shamy time outs, “Shamy has been bad. So, Shamy needs a time out.” And boy, let me tell you, Shamy appreciates the timeouts. It’s just a nice rest period for her. You know what I mean?
I wish I could take a time out but no, no. Although, that’s not fair because we do take a time out in the middle of the day, every day. Blissfully, he naps. Now, before you say, “If you didn’t let him nap, he wouldn’t have so much energy.” No, it doesn’t matter. Whether he naps or doesn’t nap, he’s still my little energizer bunny. So, the nap is not as much for him as it is for me. I’m 53. I have a whole bunch of health problems and it helps me keep up with him. Sometimes, you have a nap for them. Sometimes, you have a nap for you and older moms, let’s face it, we have them nap for us. We need that nap, ladies. We need that nap.