23 August 2006
Nothing from nothing leaves nothing
Nothing is a word that has a very special meaning in our house. Nothing is what Marc wants to do all day. Nothing is, apparently, all I do.

Nothing consists of getting the two monkeys out of bed. Carrying two wriggling, hungry, screeching animals down a flight of stairs without dropping either of them or falling is a whole lot of nothing that requires a lot of balance—something I lack. Nothing then means warming and mixing two bottles—one with formula and one with chocolate milk. Nothing sometimes has to stretch it’s prowess to include not mixing the two up (not always easy because nothing also sometimes means getting up several times during the night to soothe one or the other or even both monkeys back to sleep after a nightmare). After the bellies are full, nothing is changing diapers, dressing bodies that would rather be naked and, in the case of the older monkey, convincing him to sit on the potty long enough for a positive result—anywhere from five seconds to half a hour depending on needs and distractions. Nothing then becomes finding something to amuse the monkeys. Nothing can be as simple as putting the younger monkey in the walker and giving the older monkey a book or as complicated as nuclear physics. Sometimes nothing means beating my head against the wall because sometimes none of these things works.

Nothing is also trying to get the laundry from the washer to the dryer and from the bathroom floor to the washer, Nothing is cooking food that is good and nutritious (because while I could live on processed food alone, it’s not something I want Muppet getting used to). Nothing is cooking lunch and feeding a seven month old and keeping a toddler from burning the house down all at once. Nothing is trying to correctly align the time the noon meal starts with that microsecond where the older monkey decides it’s okay to sit and eat and with that precious moment his father comes home for the same reason.

Nothing sometimes means clearing the table and doing the dishes, though not always. Sometimes nothing gets a hand in this department.

After lunch, nothing means changing more diapers, sometimes changing clothes again—eating can be messy business, and getting not-very-tired monkeys ready for a much needed (by me at least) nap. Once that’s done, nothing is going back upstairs every ten minutes to put the older monkey back in his crib because he didn’t earn the nickname of Houdini without reason. Nothing means having his cries, tears, and even his screams grate my nerves raw. Nothing is keeping my cool and not super-gluing his mouth shut and his butt to the bed.

Nothing is feeding the younger monkey again and again and again, because she’s never full(y satisfied). Nothing is changing her again and again and again because what goes in must come out. Nothing is trying to get her to sleep at nap time and not meal time so she’ll sleep through the night and not wake up hungry because her feeding schedule is all out of whack.

Nothing is finding time to go pee alone, extracting the older monkey from his perch on the window sill, prying the keys he’s collected from their hiding place and used to drill holes in the wall, and sweeping up the dust from that fun activity. Nothing is finding a safe hiding place for the keys because nowhere is unreachable now.

Nothing is not falling over the walker, the potty, the boots, shoes, blocks, trucks and various other clutter one accumulates as a parent and that has no real home because there’s NO MORE ROOM. Nothing is trying to shove these things in a hole made by other things so the clutter only shifts from floor to wall to box to floor to wall to box to….you get the picture?

Nothing is running after a monkey who is not only capable of opening the door and escaping, but also of finding the key to and unlocking said door. Nothing is trying to keep enough clothes on him so he’s not taken in for indecent exposure when he succeeds. Nothing is changing those clothes when the potty was too far away from his current interest to make the effort to be a Big Boy.

Nothing is asking sixty times every hour “do you have to go potty?”, being patient enough to go from the plastic potty to the big toilet and back seven times in three minutes so potty training can be a fruitful exercise and not one of complete blockage, rinsing the plastic potty when things go OK, and scrubbing it when things go better. Nothing sometimes means not puking when things go really well.

Nothing is holding your tongue because the older monkey is learning how to talk at an enormous rate and little ears have big mouths. Nothing is actually filling in the gaps in his vocabulary with real words, deciphering what ever “qozngozoehgnbbndf eh” means because his inability to say what he wants is frustrating to him and a leading cause of his temper tantrums. Nothing is dealing with those tantrums in a way that neither glorifies them or prolongs them or allows them to turn into a moment of self-abuse—hearing a toddler’s head bang on the floor in anger hurts me about as much as it hurts the toddler.

Nothing is taking care of all the bo-bos, boo-boos and ouchies, the fevers, stomach aches and teething problems. It’s knowing who gets what drug and when and how. Nothing is never forgetting a dose.

Nothing is a never-ending stream of conversations about tractors, motorcycles, peepee, caca, don’t touch that, no really, please do not touch that again, do you want a spanking, please go play in traffic, don’t do that to your sister, did you go caca, do I need to change your diaper, close that door, no you can’t have the key, wow what a big caca, bravo! and other gibberish that means absolutely nothing to anyone who has neither a toddler nor an infant around them all the damn time.

Nothing is fixing dinner with a screaming baby attached to one hip because she has decided that that is the very moment she needs to be held and cuddled and with a whining toddler attached to the other thigh because he has decided that that is the very moment he needs to try to knock you off balance so you can fall to the floor and play horse.

Nothing is teaching the same lessons over and over and over again, especially that one about doing things gently. It’s soothing the hurts he’s caused his sister when he wasn’t gentle enough.

Nothing is tickle fighting, playing ball, hugging and kissing, giggling and laughing, hopping and jumping, hiding and seeking, peeking and booing. It is loving the two wildest monkeys on the planet. It is having their unconditional love in return.

Today, I did nothing. What did you do?
posted by Doc at 14:21 | Permalink |


  • At 16:53, Blogger meredith

    Rien du tout. And sometimes it's appreciated, and sometimes it's not.

  • At 23:05, Blogger Catherine

    I'll spare you, 'cause your nothing makes my nothing sound like chopliver.... with grilled onions... another topic altogether.

  • At 22:35, Blogger Julie

    And nothing is having time to blog all of the nothing. When did you have time to write this???

    Really great writing. Found you through Lizza's Blogworld Saturday post. Very nice.