Sunday, April 10, 2016

Deranged ramblings of a sleep-deprived woman

I erroneously imagined that Zoë would willingly sit through all of our Chitty Chitty performances because she's always pretty good about sitting through long church meetings and seems to enjoy the school performances we've been to. I forgot that I was taking out a very important part of her equation for happiness: me.

On Tuesday Grandma wrestled with Zoë during dress rehearsal. On Thursday it was Andrew's turn. We had our first performance on Friday and I thought that between the two of them they could keep Zoë happy, but Andrew ended up missing most of the show to wander the hallways with a sad baby.

Benjamin enjoyed his little date with Grandma, though.

Apparently at one point Andrew was in the back of the gym with Zoë on his shoulders and she had fallen asleep without him realizing it—or she was in the process of falling asleep and kept losing her balance. Either way he noticed she kept shifting her weight funny but she'd been fussing so he just kept her up there...until a mom who was taking a different fussy baby out did a double take and then approached him to tell him that his precariously balanced baby was falling asleep. He took her down then and she slept for a bit, but not for long, because if there's anybody who knows how to fight sleep, it's this girl:

The one wearing pink, just to clarify.

Rachel and Miriam did their parts beautifully. It was A night so they were a puppy and a fun fair attendee, respectively, and then were both Vulgarian children.

I fell over during Ol Bamboo and The Bombie Samba was a bit of a train wreck but other than that things went off without a hitch...for my part. There were a few other glitches, but they weren't my mistakes so...oh, well.

Oh! The curtain fell down!

Our ensemble sings from behind a curtain for several songs and at one point the entire curtain fell down so a couple of us quickly lifted it up and sang while holding it up above our heads, standing on our tiptoes, until some taller cast members stepped in and took over. That was pretty funny.

We got yelled at for it (as directors do) but I swear we weren't messing with it. It fell down all on its own. Seriously—we're not a choir of five-year-olds. We're all adults (besides the teens, but they weren't messing with it either—I'll vouch for them). Pretty sure we weren't mucking with the curtain. are a few pictures from after the show. Nothing during because Zoë.

Here's Rachel (second from the left) with her new friend Riley (to Rachel's left) and her old friend Katie (to Rachel's right) and Katie's little sister (far left). Riley moved into Katie's neighbourhood. Katie goes to Rachel's school. Katie's mom is Miriam's teaching assistant. It was so nice of them to come to the show!

I have a few more pictures that Katie's mom sent me...but they're on my I'll get them off later.

Here I am with all my little ones:

Benjamin said my face looked fake and asked why my hair was "smooth and crunchy at the same time." He didn't ask why the girls had "dirt" all over their faces. Clearly he's good at picking out things that are out of the ordinary (ie. makeup on faces is weird but looking like you've crawled out of a sewer is normal).

Oh, and on Tuesday when I went to relieve Grandma of Zoë for a while she stared at me long and hard before coming to me. She wasn't quite sure I was me.

This morning Andrew got up early to take Grandma to the airport, which means we're back to being on our own. We managed to get to the church on time and everything. Andrew decided to just drop us off and take Benjamin and Zoë out for the afternoon, since it was a matinee show and there are actually things to do with children in the middle of the afternoon that you simply can't do in the evening.

He imagined going to the park, walking around UNC campus, doing something fun. Alas, it was cold and windy. So they went grocery shopping and that's about it.

It was B cast today and technically Rachel wasn't given anything to do during B performances so I told her to just hop on in and be a Vulgarian child again. We didn't practice for ~10 hours every single week to sit out for half the performances (granted, the kids only practice 2–3 hours a week, but still). She was worried she'd get yelled at (as directors do) but I told her that in this case it's more of an "ask forgiveness rather than permission" scenario, that the director wouldn't even notice her if she just got up there and did what she learned (it's the same thing both nights, but they tried to make it so the littlest kids only performed one of the nights (but I think the confused Miriam and Rachel on their lists because Miriam ended up on the "both nights" list and Rachel was only on A nights, which doesn't make sense)), but if we asked she might say no.

So far, she hasn't noticed, and Rachel's had fun infiltrating herself into B cast.

Today I dropped my pole during Ol Bamboo! I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever get to really nail it. Probably not. But I think I should cut myself some slack because I honestly haven't slept more than a 2–3 hour chunk of time in ages. I think there was a night or two when Zoë was really small where she slept a whopping five hours all in one go. But other than that we sleep in 2–3 hour chunks.

It's so normal now that I can function on that just fine...ish.

But really, committing this much time to a show with a nursing (and sleep-resistant) infant has been a bit of a juggling act. Especially because Zoë really doesn't like other people to take over my role as caregiver. For whatever reason it's very important to her that I do everything for her, so she's been coming along to practices. I learned most of the dances while holding her.'s just been a bit of a juggling act, that's all.

A lot of the cast are mommies, but I'm the only one with a nursing infant.

The other mommies with small babies weren't crazy enough to try to be in the show (though Zoë is not the only cast baby, she's the only one whose mommy is in the show).

Mr. Potts—the main character, if you're up on your Chitty Chitty characters—has a four month old baby. I was chatting with his wife today and told her she must be a saint! I've felt so run off my feet trying to get through rehearsals and life in general...I imagine their family was feeling the same pull...and I also imagine I'd feel a little resentful of my husband for sneaking off to rehearsal for so long every week (in addition to being gone to work all day) when I had a brand new baby at home, but she just said, "Everyone's made so many sacrifices and it's been so much fun to see come together. It was worth it."

Of course, he did take several of their older children to practices (they were also in it) so maybe that lightened her load a bit.

Anyway, I'm totally rambling here...but last thing.

On the way home from our performance this afternoon I was telling Andrew about this post in this LDS Mommies group that I'm a part of on Facebook (that I really should probably just opt out of because I'm only in it because a friend added me and I don't find it that interesting, except I do...I'm mostly a creeper on there, reading things and thinking, "My, that's interesting that they think that.").

A post recently was someone saying that they'd been called to be an Activity Day leader and was looking for ideas, so I posted a link to a website that a friend of a friend started—a list of ideas that goes "beyond cupcakes and crafts."

The comment after mine, though was this:

"My daughter just did a 'manners' activity. They talked about all the manners at the dinner table and had pizza. They have also made bracelets. Recently, they talked about being beYOUtiful and having confidence. I think it is so important for that age to continually give them positive affirmations."

That got me all riled up so I was ranting to Andrew about how I always hated activities like that—the ones where everyone gets a random award or whatever, for something trivial. "Nancy is nice" or "Beatrice has such a beautiful smile."

Goodness! What if Nancy has a bad day and snaps at one of her children? Is she no longer nice? Is she no longer of value? What if Beatrice's baby teeth fall out and her adult teeth grow in terribly crooked? Is Beatrice still beautiful?

Maybe that's not how the activity went down. But I have an inkling that it did. And I've always just hated those activities so, so much.

Positive affirmations are nothing if they aren't of substance. And it felt all too real because I recently heard of an activity where the plan was to "discuss Elder Uchtdorf's talk entitled, 'You are My Hands' and end with manicures for all."

The talk is a beautiful talk. Inspiring. As inspiring as the talks about refugees were.

But paired with "manicures for all" was difficult for me to wrap my head around. Paired with "cleaning and organizing the nursery toys" made sense to me. Paired with "raking Sister Widow's lawn" made sense to me. Paired with "taking these cookies to girl-who-rarely-comes and visiting with her" made sense to me. Paired with "dusting the chapel" made sense to me. Paired with "a big ol' service project" made sense to me. Paired with "manicures for all" made my eyes bulge.

Especially because President Uchtdorf says this:
True love requires action. We can speak of love all day long—we can write notes or poems that proclaim it, sing songs that praise it, and preach sermons that encourage it—but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” 
Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. 
I think the girls would feel more positive affirmations from carrying out an act of service than by someone telling them, with teary eyes, that they're beautiful. I think they would feel more positive affirmations from learning a new skill than by merely praising a blossoming skill.

"Like, having the girls participate in this musical," I mentioned to Andrew. "This will do far more to help them develop their self confidence than painting their fingernails ever will—learning all this music and having to dance in front of a crowd and making new friends and recovering after being chastised by the director...."

Our director is a wonderful lady. But she's definitely a director and we all cower in her presence.

And that's as it should be. But I think she'll be more fun to know once the show is wrapped up.

"This experience—learning the music, dancing in front of a crowd, making new friends, singing at the top of your lungs, hearing that applause, learning they can do things they didn't think they could do if they put in enough work—that's where their positive affirmations are going to come from!" I said.

"Girls need to actually do things, not just talk about doing things. I feel like the boys get to actually do things. They get to build things and go places and serve others and girls often just sit around talking about doing those things," I said. "And we need to change that because girls can do things, too!"

And I said a lot of other things, too. And then Andrew started smiling funny.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"Look at you, my little feminist," he said, with an impish grin.

"What?" I asked. "You're a feminist, too."

"I mean look at you," he said.

I glanced in the sideview mirror and then understood exactly what he was talking about.

"This is what a feminist looks like," I said, quoting a slogan from a t-shirt I once saw (on my friend Nancy O'Barr, as it happens).

"You're a poster child for feminism right now," he said.


I just got a notification of another comment on that Activity Days thread. 

It's two words: pedicure party.

*double cringe*

There is nothing wrong with makeup or nail polish or feeling pretty. But there is certainly more—so very much more—to being a woman than that. 

Rachel had a "positive affirmation" style activity the last time they had activity days. I wasn't able to go (because play practice!) but Daddy and Grandma were able to go support her. I sent in all the stuff we were supposed to—a picture and "one or two characteristics that makes your daughter special."

I misunderstood the assignment, though (lack of sleep, folks) so I wrote this:
Rachel is perseverant; she's completely willing to make mistake after mistake until she learns to get it right and I really admire that about her. Because of this trait she excels at learning (and teaching others). She's also a wonderful big sister and my biggest helper.
And what they ended up doing was printing off the word "perseverant" and gluing it to her picture. I don't know what words the other parents sent in to describe their daughters, I don't know what other parents said (or even what Andrew said), but I did want Rachel to know what I wrote about her.

I want her to know that she's one of the most beautiful sewer children I know. I want her to know that a drab, bedraggled, dirt-smudged girl is every bit as important to the show as the beautifully primped Truly Scrumptious (and, frankly, is ultimately way more important to me). I want her to know that with a lot of work she can accomplish hard things. I want her to know that she can even change the world (and if not the whole world she can change the world for someone). I want her to know that sometimes that change might come about by painting her sister's fingernails and other times it might come about by picking up a shovel. I want her to know that both the shovel and the polish brush are fine tools of service (but for goodness sake, Activity Day idea generators, strike a balance!).

Mostly I, guess, I just want her to know that I love her.

And I guess I want Miriam and Benjamin and Zoë to know that, too. I guess...

(And now, with my preschooler pottied and my infant finally asleep, I am off to bed).


  1. This! I shared this post with my daughters, and it should be required reading for every Activity Days and Young Women's leader every where.

  2. I like your friend's website. Very nice!