#mightyifitkillsme, The Tiniest Capen

I do not love my body right now, but that’s because it’s a reflection of all the things that aren’t really working. I know how to lose the weight I’m carrying, and regain the strength I’ve lost — I just have to choose to do that. And choosing to do it means spending time on different things than I have been spending it on, and that’s hard, and it sucks, and it takes energy that I’m not positive I have and so I live in this body that isn’t who I really want to be because inertia.

But I don’t hate my body. My body does amazing things, and when I want to dress it to look fucking amazing, I do that. I paint my nails and do my hair and makeup because those things make me happy, bring Justin joy, and contribute to the image I’ve crafted of myself for public consumption. And I’m okay with that. I’m equally okay with dirty feet and broken nails because we’ve spent the weekend living under the sky with my toes in the grass, which makes me happy, brings Justin joy, and is a part of who I am.

So you won’t hear me talking about being fat or hating my body unless I’m in a sad, dark, place — and unless I’m way out of my happy place, you’ll never hear me say it when Gwyneth can hear me. Her body is also amazing — strong, healthy, and beautiful for the potential it holds, not the form it takes. She’s going to believe that if it’s the last thing I do on this earth.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook kale.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

~Sarah Koppelkam

Sitcom life, The Tiniest Capen, working mother

episode 1

Today in my sitcom life, I spend the day walking around parking lots in 90 degree heat because I can’t remember what my mom’s car looks like, carrying what has become a total mom-purse, while looking for the perfect diapers in every store in town and failing to find them.

The Tiniest Capen

Was totally your drunk friend at bedtime. Was super pissed that I couldn’t reassemble her crayon. 

Brushed mama’s hair with the cat brush. 

Refused to wear clothes, but happily paraded around the house in a diaper, sneakers, flowered hair clip, and a bracelet on each arm. 

Ate a lot of grilled cheese sandwich.

Refused the straw part of her Sippy cup and drank from the cup like a real human instead. 

Gave me a kiss when I asked for one. 

Sighed and pouted when I asked her to wait for me while I got the laundry from the basement. 

Was eating her dinner at the counter but when all three adults sat down at the table, she came over and demanded I move out of her usual chair so we could sit together for dinner. 

Started saying things that sound like phrases, even when she hasnt quite got the words yet. 

The Tiniest Capen

Or approximations thereof, often consisting mostly of the appropriate vowel sound:

  • Daddy
  • Mama
  • Kitty
  • BaBa (Blue Dog)
  • Ball
  • Fish
  • Apple
  • Tree
  • Goat
  • Llama
  • Cow
  • Teeth
  • Thank You
  • No
  • Mm-hmm (for agreement)
  • Cheese
  • Cracker
  • Curious George (this varies, between the start of “Cuuuurrr” and “KaaGaaa”)
  • Water (which sounds more like “aqua” which is pretty damn appropriate)
  • LIAM! (In just that way. Very loud, very excited!)
insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen

My kid. MY kid. 
Tonight she rejected the idea of pajamas in its entirety. I stripped off her clothes and diaper and she was hot – she had been wearing layers, and boots, and playing/running/climbing – and so she wiggled away from me and crawled into her bed naked, tucked her blankets around her, and closed her eyes. 

I put a diaper on her, regardless, and snuggled her into her down blanket without much commentary. Because I remember. 

One of my earliest memories is of finding nightgowns annoying. Of being frustrated that I had to wear pajamas at sleepovers when a pair of underpants was so much more comfortable. 

So I get it, kid. I really do. 

And then after some stories and some snuggles and some stretching out starfish-like, she fell asleep. On her belly, left leg pulled up to her chest. 

As I have always done. 

I get it, kid. 


The Tiniest Capen

Things Gwyneth Does Not Want Today:

  1. Ponytails
  2. Hairbrushings
  3. Barrettes
  4. Naps
  5. Her eggs
  6. Her sausage
  7. Her socks and shoes
  8. Steve to hide from her
  9. Broken crayons
  10. Advil

Things Gwyneth Does Want Today:

  1. Her hair out of her eyes
  2. Snuggles
  3. Daddy
  4. My omelette
  5. My bacon
  6. To go outside
  7. Daddy
  8. To hug Steve very tightly
  9. To put the crayon she just broke back together somehow
  10. Her mouth to stop hurting
  11. Daddy

It ain’t easy being a toddler. 

So, given all of the above, today we have:

  1. Gone out for breakfast and shared our respective eggs, and charmed the waitress. 
  2. Compromised (by maternal force) on a ponytail and no hair clip. 
  3. Brought me my boots while also fleeing the room at the mention of her boots. After the booting, we went outside and she was mightily inconvenienced by the lack of a water table and sandbox. It was 29F. 
  4. Expressed grave disappointment that daddy was not outside. (He was at Walmart with Kyle.)
  5. Chased Steve a lot, stomping her feet in irritation at his ability to escape the full body hugging. 
  6. Colored. The broken brown crayon was THE WORST. I drew a family picture with it to make it less horrid. 
  7. Also advil, because teething. 

I somehow have also managed to start sorting mail, cleaned off the outside of the fridge and put up new family photos for G, framed some pics for her room, did some online chores, and started cleaning off the kitchen table and its week of mail. 

And now she naps, and I face the eternal question: steal productivity, or steal sleep?

The Tiniest Capen

Last night I committed to just spending one on one time with Gwyn before bedtime, with no agenda and no rushing and minimal NOing. After we did teeth and jammies and diaper, I shut the door, turned on her noise machine, lowered the lights, and let her play in her room on her terms. I sat on her bed surrounded by books, flipping idly through them (fortunately for me she has great books of fables and fairy tales and myths), and she played. When she wanted my attention, she came over and took my glasses off — she’s realized that if I’m wearing glasses, I’m not paying attention to her. Smart kiddo. She stacked blocks, and asked for my help. She played with her matching game tiles, and asked for me to play with her. We read some stories. She talked to Blue Dog. And then when she started to slow down I shut off the lights and suggested she should lie down with me. She wandered around for a while, and then she did.

There was very, very little crying. I sang a whole lot of songs to her – at her request – after she chose to come to bed, but that was nice rather than hard.

And then we slept.

I woke up around 3 and realized I was still in her bed and still wearing jeans and a tank top, and I had a tiny little butt in my face because she decided to sleep in child’s pose with her head pointed toward my feet…

There are worse ways to pass a night.

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen, working mother

3:45: woke up to a screaming headache — a tension headache that was building toward a migraine. I tried to stretch through it.

4:00: give up on stretching, get up to take Tylenol and magnesium and get an ice pack for my head and a heating pad for my back.

4:05: return to bed to discover Steve is asleep on my heating pad and Jack is asleep on my pillow. At least they’re both purring, I think, and move them both aside and crawl back into bed.

5:00ish: fall back asleep, pain abated somewhat, and migraine averted.

6:30: turn off alarm.

6:45: turn off alarm.

7:00: turn off alarm.

7:45: wake up to my “get your ass out of the house now” alarm.

7:46: wake Justin and Gwyn, and ask him to please, I’m so sorry, I know I said you could sleep in today, but can you get her ready for daycare FAST while I take a quick shower?

7:52: as I fumble for a towel, I wonder why it’s so hard for us to keep clean towels stocked, and think maybe that, I dunno, WE COULD BUY MORE. (I think it’s been, like, 10 years…)

7:59: showered and dressed in the only clean pair of dress pants that currently fit me, I help hunt down shoes for Gwyneth. She has a dozen pairs of shoes, and only one pair at any time is actually a pair. But we find the second shoe! And it’s red, which is great, because it’s Red And Denim day at daycare for Halloween dressup week.

8:12: Finally pull out of the driveway.

8:19: Drop Gwyn off at daycare, which goes as smoothly as I could ask for, excepting the awareness that G really wanted me to stay and snuggle for a while.

8:29: Arrive 14 minutes late for my 8:15 appointment at Bodyworks. Discover on arriving that my zipper is down, and there’s a hole in the crotch seam of my trousers. Fantastic.

9:30: Leave Bodyworks with about 20% of my headache remaining, and call it a win.

Now. What was I going to work on, today?

insert emoticon here, The Tiniest Capen, working mother

We’re in the middle of the 18 month sleep regression, so seeing 3 am, 4 am, and 5 am is common right now. Gwyneth is teething, and popped a tooth yesterday, and she’s about to pop on talking, too — her brain is working overtime — and keeping up with her just got hard and different again. We welcomed two new people into our home this summer, and changed our adult family dynamics, and Justin and I are still sorting that out. My cat is slowly dying, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m overbooked on summer travel, and had to postpone visiting my grandmother, and I feel awful about that. And I work a lot, and have recently started feeling like I’m trying to move a mountain with a teaspoon, or tow a boat with just my teeth… the odds don’t seem to be moving in my favor on several of these projects and initiatives, but I’m trying to remain positive for the good of the institution and my people, putting on the best face I can while I fight for us in private. There are 7 ongoing summer construction projects in my main library, and several of those caused a lot of emotional, political, and power-dynamic disruptions that had to be addressed.

In short, I’m stressed. Right now, on a Friday night at 10:42, I’m sitting in my darkened living room, listening to Gwyneth wail as Justin tries to soothe her to sleep. She wants, depending on the moment, to do her bedtime routine again (stories! milk! teeth! snuggle!) or watch Curious George on one of our phones, and she’s frustrated and angry and sad and so are we… but she will sleep. Eventually. And our car is 90% packed, and in the morning after we all sleep a little we’re going to the Pennsic War in Pennsylvania, to camp with Sam and Suzy and Liam and a bunch of other friends for a week in medieval summer camp.

And that’s a good thing. I’m at the end of my rope. Today I realized that my tattoo hurts. All my scars itch. My joints ache, and my muscles are knots. I’ve been clenching my teeth all day and night. I can’t turn my head to the right because of a muscle spasm. I’m not sleeping, and I’m subsisting on carbs and cheese and coffee. A lot of coffee.

So this week I’m going to read books. I’m going to play with my kid. I’m going to wear medieval-esque garb and eat communal meals with my friends and sleep in a tent and nap during the day and tickle my baby until she giggles insanely and wander through the merchants and take some classes on arts and crafts and generally live differently for a while.

Because I need to reset. This is unsustainable. This is insane. This is not who I want to be. This is not how I want to live.

So I won’t.

The Tiniest Capen, working mother

Last night I set my alarm for 6, with a plan to get up, do yoga, shower, and then wash the baking tools and dishes I’d rinsed and left in the sink. It was too hot last night to wash them, but it was supposed to be significantly cooler this morning.

It was, in fact, cooler. What it wasn’t was time for me to get up, because Gwyn was awake and squirmy and babbling, and Miles was purring and MAAAAOOOing and demanding love and so Gwyn was KITTY!ing and demanding to love him — all from 3 am to 5:30, in our bed. At 5:30 when Gwyn finally passed out in the crook of my arm, I said “to hell with it” and turned my alarm off. I got another 90 minutes before I needed to get up and shower, and when I woke up Miles was asleep on my pillow with his paws in my hair, and Gwyn was asleep next to me, with two of her three dogs lined up in the crook of her arm. Symbolic play in her sleep, with Blue Dog and Gladys, but man would I prefer some symbolic play that involved her FALLING ASLEEP DURING THE NIGHTTIME. Good thing she’s just adorable cute and has learned how to say HI in response to a smile from an adult.

Of course, the downside to all of this is that my sleep deficit is growing. I just went to get myself a snack from the vending machine and I paused at the water station — used to fill refillable water bottles for free — and I stood there looking for where to swipe my SUNYcard. Then I mentally shook myself and went over to the vending machines, and thought “I already feel like crap, I shouldn’t eat any sugar” and punched in the number for a Snickers bar because apparently my fingers and my brain aren’t actually connected. Then I got all mad because the seltzer in the machine is black cherry and I hate black cherry it’s the only kind I don’t like… except… wait. No. I love black cherry. It’s black raspberry I hate.

So I have a snickers bar and a seltzer and 200 pages of reading to to review vendor responses to SUNY’s request for information re: ILS migrations, and I’m going to not fall asleep at my desk how?