Down By the Pond
Mothers protect their young. This beautiful, universal truth of nature played out for me this afternoon down by the pond.
The pond part of our daily playground,playground, pond routine began with its usual frivolity; we searched for stones- me, for stones that skip, and Lia for stones that make a big splash. After a number of skips and splashes we moved on to sticks. In addition to playing“fishing” with her stick, Lia likes to try to reach things in the pond that are an outrageous distance away.
I watch and smile.
Sharing the pond with us are two geese and a gosling. We see them everyday. As though getting used to our presence there,the little gosling swims up to greet Lia and her stick. Well, Lia’s no dummy. She knows that she can use this stick as an extended body fulcrum point for applied force – just enough mechanical stress will bring the little goose closer yet.
I watch and smile.
Mother goose watches and takes action. From yards away mother goose swims up,positions herself in front of her baby, and begins to walk up onto shore while she open mouth hisses at Lia.
I take action.
I position myself in front of my baby. Mother goose hisses. She’s angry. Mother goose draws closer. ‘She’s too close to my baby’, I’m thinking. ‘I don’t like this’. The goose and I are each standing in front of our younglings now. The goose and I are each feeling threatened for our younglings’ safety. And if need be, the goose and I are ready to fight. Mother goose is still hissing. Her mouth is wide and I can see down her throat as she makes her menacing warning sounds. ‘How doI fight a goose?’ I wonder to myself. ‘I don’t really want to. Perhaps if we back away slowly… But if shemoves one more of her stupid webbed feet closer to my daughter I’m going to kick the beak off her face and break her fucking neck over my knee.’
We back away and Mother goose ceases to engage us. My hand stays on Lia’s chestas we continue to back away and the denouement of our encounter comes to a close.
Sensing that the height of the threat has passed, both of us mothers slowly posture ourselves beside our respective babies. We have protected our little ones and we have done so civilly.
I think and smile.
We are both mothers after all, and mothers protect their young – whether it’s in a crowded stadium, a dirty bathroom, or down by the pond.
This weekend marks the birthdays of both of my in laws. John and I have offered to host the family celebration. As nothing pleases an Italian mother in law like a well kept house, I set to cleaning. And what a top notch job I did; the kitchen sparkled. Gleaming countertops, smudge free walls, and even the glistening blue porcelain of my oven’s interior gave undeniable credence to my effort.
I surveyed my work. Feeling pleased with the results I shifted my focus to dinner. Lia needs something green today, I thought to myself, so I grabbed the broccoli out of the fridge. Considering the possibility that two stalks may not last long, I decided to add a head of cauliflower to the mix. Ah, there it was…
Behind the jar of maple syrup.
And so I got the cauliflower out of the fridge - but not before I sent the jar of maple syrup crashing to the floor. What a mess. Shards of glass shot out from a sticky, spreading mass of amber heralding danger and disaster in every direction.
Naturally, the crash caught my daughter’s attention and she came bounding into the kitchen with enthusiasm. There she stood, my curious little darling in her tutu and bare feet, on the other side of the mess. I willed for her not to move. I shouted for her not to move. No use. She was inching those cute, chubby little feet right toward disaster. And so I walked over broken glass. Without thought - I walked over it.
Love is walking over broken glass.
Tiny fragments bit into my own feet. I snatched her up and, on my knees, hurried over to the front door to get her into a pair of shoes. Still holding her, I brushed my feet off into the garage and set back toward the disaster site. I turned on Pocoyo, and for one of the first times, found myself grateful that she was so thoroughly enthralled with this show. It would keep her occupied while I tended to things.
I started. And, like every other time I’ve broken something, I thought to myself “how the f*** do you clean up glass?” I don’t know. I guess you just start and keep going. I got some paper towel - a roll that my mother had serendipitously brought the day before - and set to work. Again, pesky little shards bit into my hands. My blood mixed with the maple syrup. An interesting adulteration of viscosities, I thought. And now I can tell you this - while blood may be thicker than water, it is certainly thinner than maple syrup.
Fretting for the safety of my daughter’s delicate feet, I cleaned and cleaned. I swept and wiped and cleaned. I swept and wiped and cleaned. At one point I watched the syrup sneak under the fridge, and I smiled thinking that it was going to meet up with the beet juice that was estranged there a year ago.
But for now, I am done. And tomorrow, when the Family arrives, I will likely hear “your floors are so clean!”
“Yes, they are” I will reply. “Yes, they are. But you might want to keep your shoes on.”
So today, I happily prepared the dish as my sweet daughter slept on the couch. I slid it into the oven. In 20 minutes, I would enjoy a tasty hot lunch. Or would I?
Minutes later, my sweet daughter awoke. I picked her up and held her on my shoulder, sacheting around the kitchen and relishing her unusually peaceful posture. Just then, steadfastly holding onto old stereotypes, Lia wriggled and pooped.
I whisked her upstairs for a new bum. I had a casserole baking away after all and this needed to be quick. I would be back downstairs in plenty of time to renew the gentle dance with my daughter and keep an eye on lunch.
The opening of her diaper revealed the off-putting realization that this was not going to be the quick bum change I had thought. Poo had made a violent escape from her diaper and raced up her back to an impressive height. No matter, I have been in this situations scores of times in the past 3 months. I removed the diaper, grabbed a washcloth to clean her bum and back, and got her clothes soaking in the sink. Almost there, but no, the change pad was smeared with poo as well. Ok. Well, I’ll just put a diaper underneath her, carry her over to my bed and rest her there while I remove and soak the cover. I have also been here before. I will be done lickety split. The inviting melange of chicken and broccoli crept up the stairs, up my nose and down into my gurgling belly. Almost there, casserole! Or was I?
Walking over to the bed with my sweet daughter, diaper resting protectively underneath her bottom, an alarming blast sounded. Oh no - poo. Poo. Poo shooting out of said protective diaper, poo all over dear daughter, poo all over thwarted mommy,.... and poo all over the white shag area rug. Good bye casserole. You are going to burn.
Back to the washroom. I cleaned up lovely little Lia as best I could while holding her against my own poo covered clothes, and not setting her down on the already poo covered change pad. I managed to do a decent job. This child was pretty clean. I recommenced my plan of laying her on my bed (with another clean diaper resting underneath her) while attending to these several intruding messes. What was I to tackle first? I dunno. I looked over at Lia who was happily kicking her legs and staring at the ceiling. She was fine. Just start. I removed the change pad cover and added it to the sink to soak. I disinfected the change pad. I took off my clothes and soaked them too. In a matter of minutes, the sink that I had cleaned earlier this morning, was now full of poo. I scurried over to my closet and grabbed a nightshirt to throw on. It went on backwards but so what; no one was going to see me. Or were they?
I now headed for the area rug with a cloth and a bottle of Shout. Should I go take the casserole out first? No time. Should I at least shut the oven off? Yes. Down the stairs, up the stairs, and now back to the the area rug. I started off with a wet cloth and dabbed. The mustard yellow stain smeared even brighter, announcing that something terrible had happened here. Good thing I keep this bottle of Shout in the bathroom.
After the rug no longer looked like a scene of where the sun got murdered, I stood and assessed the situation(s). Under control. I put a new change cover on the change pad and went back to my bed for my beautiful baby. What was this? Pee. Pee - all over my sheets. All over my sheets that I had just washed yesterday. Pee all over my baby’s back. Pee even up to my baby’s head?! Pee everywhere except for the diaper.
I prepared a bath. I prepared a bath for the second time today, and I was now bathing my darling daughter for the second time today. After a speedy but effective bath, I lay lovely Lia down on a clean change pad and reintroduced her bum to her nappy. I hoped that these two would play nice for awhile. I chose a new outfit from Lia’s closet and at last, with a fresh new bum and fresh new everything, we headed back downstairs. Or did we? Just kidding, yes we did.
I placed Lia in her swing, put on her music, and watched for a moment as she smiled at her favourite fish, whale, and turtle. I peeked inside the oven and, to my delight, the chicken divan looked perfect. The golden bread crumb crust was just right and I was eager to dig in.
I sat at the kitchen table, enjoying forkfuls of my tasty hot lunch, when the doorbell rang. Drats! Who was that? I looked unpresentable. I had not showered, I had not primped, I was wearing a dirty nightgown in the middle of the day - and it was backwards.
At the door was a delivery man. He was delivering a parcel from Toys R Us. It was a special gift that I had ordered for my precious little daughter who was now fast asleep in her swing.