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kids inc

Please mama, can I have more food?

I’ve forgotten what a messy affair introducing solids to a baby is. Kirsten started her first meal of baby rice a couple of days ago at 18 weeks, 2 weeks earlier than Tru. It’s even messier because her tiny mouth is so small that most of the cereal dribbles out before it even gets in. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she’s not ready but I’ve done this before, so I’m like an expert on weaning now.

With the first kid, you’re stumbling in the dark, not sure if it’s too early to start solids, whether it will cause indigestion or hives. You panic at the slightest sniffle and rush him to the hospital. The first sign of teething sends you into overdrive because at first, you don’t know why your perfect little baby is cranky and acting like a monster.

That’s what comes from being a second-time mom. Experience. And bigger boobs. But mostly the first one. This time, you see all the signs coming from a mile off. Baby girl has been in a foul mood the past few days, refusing to nap and wanting to be carried all the time. She used to entertain herself talking to her friends (cot mobile) but it was impossible to put her down even for a minute. When Tru went through a similar phase a year ago, I was flustered and frustrated after a day but this time, I was cool. Relatively.

Slight temperature, fussiness, finger chomping, drooling, all classic signs of teething, so I put some ice cubes into a baby feeder to soothe her sore gums. Worked like a charm.

She’s also been licking her lips every time she sees us eating, so I figured it was time to bring out the baby rice. It just confirms my theory that my kids are foodies. I have friends who, if they could, would take a pill to meet their entire day’s nutritional needs. To them, eating is for sustenance. Kinda like crapping and flossing. (I’m sure there are people who derive immense pleasure from these activities, but most of us just do it cos we have to)

My kids, on the other hand, LOVE TO EAT. Kirsten took to the baby rice like a fish to water. She chomped down every last bit and started screaming when it was all gone. My 18-week-old baby. Screaming for more Healthy Times brown rice cereal. I know some folks advocate introducing solids after 6 months, but when it comes to food, my girl is way ahead of the pack. Less than a week in, she’s on half a bowl of cereal (ok, a really tiny bowl) twice a day. I think those juicy rolls on her thighs are going to explode.

Food makes me smile

Food makes me smile

Incidentally, every time I feed baby girl, Tru goes into a frenzy. Seeing his sister slurp up every bite, he seems to think plain baby rice is like manna from heaven. When he sees me taking out the bowl, he’ll point to it and go eat, eat, eat, EAT, EATTTT! Next time I want him to eat his broccoli, I’ll pretend to make Kirsten eat it first to see if it works.

kids inc, motherhood

By the powers combined, I am MegaDutchess.

Sometimes I astound myself with my abilities. And by that I mean I’m like a new X-men, with special powers and all. If I were an X-men, I’d be Vishnu, or is it Krishna or Shiva. You know, the one with a thousand arms sticking out from everywhere. But I’d have a much cooler name like Megadutchess. Incidentally, I got the name from a kick ass Superhero Name Generator (this is the kind of thing I spend my free time doing).

Right, so yesterday, I brought BOTH kids out for a walk around the neighborhood alone. By myself. With only 2 arms and 2 babies. Impossible, you say? Not with Megadutchess to the rescue. Because I’m a psychopath superhero.

Tru has been down with a long-drawn battle with the flu and he’s been itching to leave the house. After whining for the whole day, making me wear his shoes and saying BYEEE repeatedly (his cue to leave the house), he finally got his way and I figured it was way easier to take him out for a walk than to be driven mad cooped up at home. This would be easier if I had a lift that came right up to my house, but I have to walk down a flight of stairs to get to the lift. Which means lugging a stroller up and down with 2 kids is out of the question.

I grabbed Kirsten with one arm and handcuffed Tru’s hand to my own and made my way slowly downstairs. It took me 20 minutes just to get from my doorstep to the playground and half of that time was spent shouting “Tru, come back here this minute” while he attempted to lie on the floor, pick at dirt, eat ants and dig out trash from the bin.

Then when we reached the playground, there was this brattish 4-year-old girl who tried to terrorize him. Obviously she could run faster than Tru and she monopolized every inch of the playground that he tried to touch, the whole time raining curses on him like “you are very naughty” and “I’m going to beat you”. When she thought I wasn’t looking, she threw a bottle cap at him. I was about to burn her with a cigarette stub when her mother suddenly appeared and started going ballistic. It was like I had some psychic powers that summoned her.

She pretty much smacked the living crap out of her right there in the playground and I watched with more than a little bit of satisfaction before grabbing the kids and making a quick getaway. Talk about poetic justice.

But I digress. The point is I don’t even know why I do these things. Like finding new ways to torment myself. By the time I got back, my arms were deadweight. But Tru was happy though. And Kirsten looked better with some fresh air. Although now I think they expect this is going to be a regular feature in their daily activities. Megadutchess, transform.


The Perfect Mother

After 16 months at this motherhood thing, I’m beginning to realize there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. It exists in the realm of fairies and flying unicorns – that is, a nice notion but pretty much codswollop.

At first, I wanted to do it all. Be the perfect mom and even look the part. After day 1, I gave up on the looking bit, and I’m content to get through the day without once looking in the mirror because it was too depressing to face the crazy hair. But I still tried to get the rest of the mom stuff right. Most days, I would beat myself up trying to cook the meals, do the laundry, clean the house, sing the nursery rhymes, think of new activities to entertain the kids and make sure they’re relatively clean. It was like a never-ending cycle of things to be done.

These are the things they don’t teach you in school and what I managed to pick up from other moms are all the taboos like what not to do (most of which I’ve committed anyway). Like you can’t have dirt on the floor – what if your kid EATS THE DIRT? Or you can’t let your kid eat processed snacks or don’t let your baby cry.

All of which are good advice, no doubt, but I’ve come to realize that being a mom requires choosing your battles and letting go of the things that are of the least consequence. It’s called prioritizing.

So on any given day, I’ve got a thousand urgent things to do, like wash the mountain of clothes that threatens to fill up my kitchen and do the dishes and vacuum the floor, but in my list of mothering priorities, those are way down the list. Which is not to say that my kids live in a slum (I make the husband do the housework in the evenings) but given a choice between sweating the small stuff like cleanliness or playing with the kids, I pick the playing every time.

Sometimes I get surprise visitors and they get a shock because they think I was just robbed, but I’m totally cool with it.

Please don’t rob me

Honestly, I would do it the same way all over again if I had the choice because Tru is absolutely delighted when I wheel him around the house in his little car for hours everyday or when I take him to the park. I could probably multitask but kids know when you’re distracted and Tru starts shouting and grabbing my face if he notices that I’m not paying undivided attention to the blocks he’s building.

Baby girl isn’t into the activities much but she loves being on my lap and listening to my Mother Goose rendition. So I guess what I’m trying to say is when you become a mother, your priorities become very different and you learn to live with things you never thought you would. Because when you end your day, you don’t think about how many dishes you washed but how your kid’s face lit up when you sat down beside them and sang silly songs.