Wednesday, September 2 2020

cleaning, adjusting to work, and poop disappointments



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. Happy Wednesday. It’s been a long two days. My life, made busier by returning to work, is starting to jump on my back, and I for one am looking forward to enjoying this cup of coffee before starting it all again. Here’s to coffee and mental healing.

I surprised myself this morning. What at first began as just a few dishes to clear room for making coffee organically became a very productive hour of cleaning the kitchen. And the kitchen really needed it. I shirked Tuesday’s chores yesterday, and when we went to bed we still had a stock pot in the sink. The dutch oven was filled with cold oil. There were so many greasy smudges on my counters and cabinets that it started to resemble an impressionist painting.

So this morning I put on a podcast, and before I even had coffee brewed, I had the whole kitchen put together and even got a jump on Wednesday chores as well. It feels good to clean the things around you before working, and it feels even better when you can just sit and enjoy a cup of coffee afterwards.

Sip. I’ll tell ya, the thing I probably miss most about not having a day job was the long afternoon nap. It felt so natural to work like hell all morning - slamming coffee, cleaning, listening to music, playing with Rodney. The morning would reach a natural climax in the middle of the day, when I’d make lunch for us. Then I’d crash on the couch for a few hours.

My body still wants to do that. And for some reason, it wouldn’t feel right to take a nap right in the middle of the work day, even though I think I totally could. While I was away, my team really leaned into the remote work culture. Many of our little rituals that required real meetings where we jumped in a Zoom room and talked at each other have since been moved to shared documents that we updated on our own time. We call them asynchronous meetings. It’s fun figuring out what to do with the extra time, designing my own work day.

Marissa has been adjusting well, too. She tells me that my return to work has once again triggered “mom mode”. While multi tasking with Miles, she wakes up with Rodney, and they’re back to eating breakfast and doing silly activities together - dinosaur toy puppet shows at the table, working on the roller coaster, and doing as much as possible to prolong the inevitable long stint in front of the TV for daily Blippi brain washing.

I gotta hand it to Blippi, though. At least he’s been putting out new videos. It almost makes me wonder if he got chewed out by his agent or something, because now there seems to be a new Blippi video released every time I look at the TV. What a time to be alive - said Alex sarcastically.

The transition to work life has been largely smooth, but we still had kind of a rough day yesterday. Coaching Rodney unsuccessfully at the toilet set the mood for the whole day - expectations and disappointments. Potty training has a way of wearing you down emotionally and physically.

The worst part about it is how often it feels like your kid is ready. They mention pooping in the potty unprompted, or they finally get excited about one of the incentives you’ve curated. You’ve found the perfect daily dosage of stool softener to keep them regular. But all the good omens get thrown out the window when they sit down to do the deed and come up with nothing. They squirm, flinch, and whine they same way they were six months ago.

Marissa probably spent all day with Rodney on and off the potty channeling a positive, squeaky voice through Rodney’s friendly rubber dinosaur.

You can’t force your kid to poop on the potty, it’s true. It’s really more about just giving them a good environment for them to figure out how to listen to their body. But that doesn’t mean you just sit back and relax. You have to encourage. You have to be a cheer leader. You have to answer questions. You have to correct dangerous new ideas like “pooping is scary” and “poop just goes in pull ups, not in the potty.” And of course there is cleaning. Constant cleaning. Hot cleaning. Daily cleaning, changing, rinsing, drying, and washing.

I didn’t mean for this to turn into a poop post, but that’s kind of where were at. When Marissa and I signed on to Zoom chat our family last night, we felt distant - emotionally wrung dry. Forgive the pun, but we were squeezed.

Sip. At least yesterday wasn’t all letdowns. Marissa came through yet again on her promise to accompany each of her Tuesday cooking nights with a dessert, and yesterday was churros.

“We have to zoom them in fifteen minutes, you’re really going to make churros?” I scoffed.

“Yeah, it will just take a minute,” she said.

“A minute… to make churro batter. And make churros. And deep fry them in oil?” I laughed in disbelief. Marissa began to laugh too.

Perhaps I was just jealous. Up until then, I enjoyed being the sole home fry cook. I felt like precarious deep fried food bravado was part of my own dad shtick, and that she was horning in on my turf.

The churros were pretty good. After the first batch, Marissa gave up on the hopelessly tiny piping bag and instead just ripped up the batter with her hands. They were just a little bit soft in the center, golden brown, rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They were delicious.

We had to just take the zoom call from the dining room. After the call, I put Rodney to bed, and we chatted in the kitchen while putting things away.

“Sorry I got a little frustrated with you today,” I said. “Poop training is tough.”

Marissa dropped a hand towel on the counter and began to rub her eyes. “I spent all day on it. All day,” she repeated. “It feels so unfair.”

“I think I was feeling frustrated with him. And being a parent, you know you can’t take it out on a kid, so the frustration sneaks out in other ways. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”

“It’s OK,” said Marissa. “Free pass. It was a long, hard day.”

Marissa disappeared into the basement, returning with two chilly beers. We each cut a slice of bread and headed to the couch.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a great Wednesday, everyone.