Sunday, May 23, 2010

For Sale: One Hot Pink Tutu (Not-So-Gently Worn)

Bursting into Costco last Tuesday morning, on a covert mission for one gallon of milk and a rotisserie chicken, we definitely looked like some weird trio of Dick Tracy comic book villains: Jeremiah, aka Pukeface, was still decked out in his feety frog pajamas at 11 a.m., a little bit of spit-up and just a touch of snot covering his arms and neck; Me? I was like The Shadow, no one knows where I go when I'm completely concealed by my post-pregnancy uniform of all black sweats. And Erin "Tutu" Mahoney, in a pair of sunglasses, some way-too-tight purple leggings and her ubiquitous hot pink tutu - well nobody wants to mess with her.

Our evil powers? The baby could probably puke or poop all over any copper who tried to ruin our mission for giant packages of paper towels and toilet paper. I could evade all line-jumpers with my camouflage attire and cat-like reflexes. And Erin, well she could spin for hours in that tutu, grabbing free samples of yogurt and tiny pieces of pork on toothpicks with some serious ninja-like ballerina moves.

It was definitely a sight. But then again, we look like that wherever we go.

"I'm gonna wear this today, OK Mommy?" That was yesterday when she pulled some random polka-dot socks from the back of the drawer, paired them with a pink halter top and green shorts and completed the look by clipping her hair into a "Snooki." (Yes, I know, I have to stop watching Jersey Shore when she's in the room.)

The tutu, of course, was the piece de resistance. Some silly mistake I made last year, buying this stupid dime-store dress-up Barbie thing for her to spin around and play in which somehow made it into the daily rotation. No outfit is complete without it. When I say she wears it with everything, I mean it. Even pajamas get the tutu treatment before she goes to bed. I can usually pry it away from her once a week in time for laundry day and I've enforced a strict "no tutu at school" rule but other than that, it goes everywhere: The Supermarket, the bank, the playground - even Christmas, Easter and a couple of family parties. I'm starting to get creative with my explanations just to change things up.

"She was drunk when we got dressed this morning," I told some woman at the park last week.

I must remember that not everyone gets my strange sense of humor. I must remember to go to another park.

"She's drunk right now," I told someone else as I ran after her in the frozen food section of Pathmark, trying to prevent her from knocking over cases of pizza bagels with her pirouettes.

Maybe I have to lay off of this drunk thing. Or start going to Stop and Shop.

I think it would be OK if the tutu wasn't completely shredded from an excessive amount of trips in the washing machine. It would probably be even better if there weren't two more tutus that she layered under the first ratty one. (I bought them in the hopes that we could get rid of the first one...didn't work. Yes, I am an enabler, I know.)

But as I was 30 minutes into an argument with her recently over why she shouldn't wear tights and tutus on a hot May day, she had a very real retort.


I honestly did not know what to say. Why shouldn't she wear what makes her feel pretty and comfortable and sort of like a superhero? Don't I do the same thing with my slimming black sweatpants? (I tried to wear them to that wedding, but apparently there's some sort of "rule" about that.)

And if spinning around in a bank or the frozen food aisle makes her happy then why shouldn't she do it? After all, there's only so many years you can logistically get away with stuff like that. I think once you turn eight or nine it's sort of frowned upon.

So I'm putting my own hang-ups aside and celebrating my three-year-old's fashion joie de vivre. You might even see me sashaying through Target or on the school pick-up line next week in something less safe than my comfy sweats. Think they sell tutus in my size?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This

“Mommmmmmyyyyyyyyy! Look at me. I can do a split!”

One foot up on the coffee table, the other one of the couch, Erin, clad in nothing but a red bikini and socks, was eating black olives and chocolate pudding and trying desperately to get my attention with her latest gymnastic acrobatics. Like the bikini and the olives weren’t enough.

In my arms, Jeremiah wailed. The microwave beeped. The phone rang. The TV blared. I juggled baby and splitting three-year-old while trying to pour and construct a bottle. The whole Gorman world was literally falling apart. In the driveway, Pat was hoisting a refrigerator from a borrowed pick-up truck into the garage. Erin, in her bikini, shook her hips and waved to him from the front door. I think I could actually hear the neighbors whispering about us from across the street.

In my defense, we had just got in the door from Target. What started as a quick trip for one pair of summer sandals for baby turned into an all-day shopping excursion that yielded summer bathing suits for the whole family, a couple of packs of pudding, a can of black olives and a refrigerator, of course. Believe it or not, unpacking all of those wares was actually the hardest part of the day.

“Everything ok over there?” my mother asked when I finally answered that ringing phone. “It sounds a little hectic.”

Hectic. Good word.

“Yes. Hectic,” I said. “Can I give you a call back?”

At 11:45 pm, after baths had been taken and bowls of pudding pried from little fingers, one kid fell asleep (sans bikini) on the couch and the other in his car seat. So I started the nightly ritual of sifting and tidying the mounds of toys and dishes before I passed out myself. As I was chipping flecks of orange Play-doh off of the coffee table, I remembered that I never returned Mom’s call.

Tomorrow, I said. If anyone understands, it’s her. And as I scooped up all 35 pounds of Erin, settling her in bed before ushering little chub-rock into his cradle, I dropped kisses on both of their foreheads and thought about how many times my own mother had done the same thing at the end of an insane day.

After all of the messes and madness, we always ended the marathon days of our childhood with a kiss and I love you. No matter how chaotic things got – when my sister spread peanut butter on the living room table, when I flipped over my tricycle and slid down the driveway on my two front teeth – she never lost her cool. To this day, I cannot recall ever hearing her shout, yell or even threaten. Instead, she was our best playmate, our closest confidante and teacher of those colossal daily life lessons.

And at the end of the day, we always had fun.

She let us jump on the bed. She let us hop in puddles and taught us how to make mud soup when it rained. When she hung the laundry on the clothesline in the backyard and we ran through the sheets and wiped our messy hands all over the towels, she ran with us. We played cops and robbers in the big bed. We enjoyed crazy roller-coaster-esque rides in the Supermarket shopping cart.

She held our hands, closed her eyes and spun us around until we all fell dizzily to the floor. She danced with us in the living room like no one was watching. And we laughed. A lot. In all that she did, she showed me exactly how to be that same wonderful mix of playmate and teacher for my own kids.

As I finally crawled into bed sometime after midnight last night and considered all of my own chaos – the bikini dancing, the crying, the Play-doh and yes, even the pudding – I thought of mom and how effortlessly she always handled all of those disorderly moments in such a completely composed fashion.

Yes, this was a good day. But tomorrow, I will spin and dance and make things even better. For that, I thank mom.