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Thursday, December 13, 2012

For Someone I Love . . .

It's been too long since I've written.  I can't say it's because I haven't been inspired; I have.  But, in those moments of inspiration, there were sick kids to take care of, temperatures to take, tests to grade, clothes to fold, dinners to make, errands to run, workouts to complete, meetings to attend, and well . . . life basically.  Today, the inspiration to write was overwhelming, in part due to a conversation I had with someone whom I love dearly. 

I'm sort of like an emotional magnet - I feel what those around me, whom I care about, feel.  If someone I love is sad, it pains me.  If someone I love receives good news, I'm giddy.  Lately, this person I care about has been having a difficult time, and it's very hard for me.  I want to fix it.  I want to take away the pain.  I want to say just the right words.  But, I can't.

What I can do, however, is lend an ear.  Listen.  Support.  Encourage.  Because, that's exactly what this person has done for me.  You get what you give, and I'm returning the favor.  This person is a giver in every sense of the word.  The other thing I can do is share.  Share what I've learned through my trials and tribulations.  It might help; it might not.  But, it's worth a try.

Life is not fair.  No, it's not.  Not at all.  Our parents have been telling us this since we were young.  "Life isn't fair.  Deal with it."  Maybe we didn't want to believe it, but now we have no choice - life keeps showing us that fairness is nonexistent . . . over and over and over again.

People are not always kind.  No, they're not.  Not at all.  But that doesn't mean all people are unkind.  It doesn't mean all people don't deserve your friendship, your trust, your sympathy, and your forgiveness.  Don't let one or two people destroy your faith in humanity.  Don't let one person ruin your hope.  A favorite quote of mine: One person cannot destroy another person's capacity to love.  I believe that with all my heart.

Let go of the people who are unkind.  Let go of the people who don't make time for you.  Let go of the people who hurt you.  Let go of the people who don't treat you well, who don't add anything to your life, who stress you out.  Don't waste your precious time on these people.  You can't change them.  You can't make them see things your way or feel what you feel, so let them go.  Cherish the people who make you a better person and enhance your life.

Things don't always go as planned.  If you know me well, you see the irony in this.  I am a planner by nature.  I want to know what to expect, and I want to plan that shit out.  Every last detail.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, I haven't decided yet) this is life's favorite lesson to teach me.  It's clearly still a lesson in progress, and I am learning it day after day after day.  Oh, and patience, too.  Patience, patience, patience.  I should get it tattooed on my forehead.  Seriously. 
Life is hard.  Yep.  Sure is.  Why can't it be easy?  Well, I'm not sure, but my theory is this: If life were easy, we wouldn't learn.  And, if we don't learn, we don't grow.  And if we don't grow, we remain stagnant, we lose our way, we lose sight of our goals and our values, and we forget what really matters in life (or what should really matter).  Thus, life is hard so we can learn and grow and be reminded of who we are and what we value.

I've learned a lot of things the hard way - what other way is there really to learn, right?  One thing that life is kind enough to continually remind me of is kind of cliche but it's true: Life is too short.  Life has brought me this important lesson through loss, through death, and through various wasted opportunities.  Life is too short.  So, when you're sad, when you're angry, when you've been betrayed, when you've suffered a loss, when you've been let down, and when you're afraid, ask yourself, "What am I missing out on while I'm sitting here immersed in my pain/sadness/anger/disappointment/fear?"  For me, it's always my boys.  What am I missing out on in their lives when these terrible emotions seem to overwhelm me?  And, that always brings me back; it always helps me deal with those difficult feelings.

Smile.  Laugh.  This lesson I actually like.  No matter how bad my day, no matter what life has dished up for me, no matter what challenge is thrown my way, if I can find a way to smile, I win.  Smile through the tears.  Smile through the pain.  Smile through the anger.  Smile when you're afraid.  Because if you can do that, you have no choice but to admit that life isn't quite as bad as it might seem in that exact moment.  And, laugh.  Laugh until it hurts.  Laugh when you think you might cry.  Laugh when you'd normally be angry.  Laugh when you realize how little control you really have and how crazy and absurd and unfair and just plain hard life is.  Laugh so hard that you wake up the next morning and think, "I don't remember doing crunches last night . . ."  Laugh that hard.  Remember always that life . . . is a beautiful struggle. 

Everything is a lesson.  You grow, you become better, when you search for what you can take away from everything that happens and every person you encounter.  What are you supposed to learn?  How can this help you become the person you want to be?  Embrace the hard times (not enjoy, just embrace) and use them as an opportunity to find a way to live the life you really want to be living.

"We can make the best of it.  We can make the worst of it.  I hope you make the best of it.  And I hope you see things that startle you . . . I hope you live a life you're proud of.  If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."  F. Scott Fitzgerald.

To the person who inspired this: I love you with all my heart. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Because it's easy to forget.

It's almost 10:30pm.  Finally, finally, Gavin is asleep . . . in my bed.  The poor bugger just could not fall asleep tonight (probably because today was the first time in weeks that he's actually taken a nap).  Sometimes, the Battle of the Going to Bed can be frustrating.  Okay, it's often frustrating.  But, tonight, as Gavin came out of his room for the tenth time for "one more hug" and "one more drink of water," I reminded myself of something that I've had to remind myself of a lot lately:

He's only 4.

He's only 4 years old. 

I forget that often.  Compared to Kaleb, he's so big.  He's so self-reliant.  He seems so much older compared to Kaleb.  He's all legs and scrapes and bruises-that-barely-fit-in-my-lap-anymore.  His legs hang down to my knees when I carry him.  He can buckle the seatbelt in the car by himself.  He opens his own juice boxes without spilling them everywhere. 

But, he's only 4.

He's only 4, and sometimes I forget that he needs a lot of love and attention, too.  He needs time to snuggle on my lap.  He needs me to build forts with him under the kitchen table and make up silly songs.  He needs me to kiss his imaginary boo-boos.  He needs me to watch him do "something awesome" five hundred and seventy-two times in a day. 

He's only 4, but he seems so much older.  I'm not sure if it's because he can carry on pretty advanced conversations, but I look at him daily, and I think, "He's only 4." 

He's only 4, and he still needs a lot of affection.  He needs a lot of slack.  He needs silliness.  Sure, he can dress himself, put his laundry away, brush his own teeth, make his own bed, get his own breakfast, and even make his own hot cocoa.  But, he's only 4, and, more often than not, what he probably needs is for his mommy to do that for him.  Because, he's not going to be 4 forever.

He's only 4, and, sure, he needs to learn good behavior, but he also needs a little grace and understanding.  It's hard to be 4, I'm sure.  It's hard to have feelings and not know how to accurately express them.  It's hard to pay attention when there are more awesome things to focus on like toys and cartoons and hey-look-at-that-airplane-in-the-sky. 

He's only 4, and he doesn't understand all of the adult things that go on in this world, but somehow he's expected to.  And, he shouldn't be.  He shouldn't be expected to understand anything other than vegetables and milk will help you grow and if you leave your toys on the floor you're eventually going to step on them and hurt yourself. 

He's only 4, and he should be allowed to cry, and rather than telling him to stop, he should be comforted.  A lot.  

He's only 4, and sometimes it's okay if he needs to lie in my bed until he falls asleep. 

He's only 4, and sometimes he needs five more hugs and three more kisses and one more song and two more stories before he can go to sleep. 

He's only 4, and while I don't need to baby him, I need to remember how young, fragile, and needy he is.

So, for tonight, he gets to fall asleep in my bed.  And, as I sit here and watch him drool all over my pillow, I think about how heavy he's going to be when I carry him to his own bed in a few minutes.  But, he'll never be this light, or this young, again.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

No, your body doesn't do that.

I feel as though I've aptly documented my sometimes warped perception of reality.  I'm about to add another statement to support my case.  You see, when preparing for Kaleb's birth, and gearing up to give breastfeeding the ole college try, I had this mental picture of how things were going to go.  It went like this: I would go in the nursery and nurse Kaleb.  Gavin would stay in the living room, playing quietly, until I was finished.  Thus, he'd never see me breastfeed.


Ha ha.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Yeah,  . . . not so much.

For the most part, it hasn't been to weird, and I haven't had to answer to many uncomfortable questions. 

I mean, there was, "Mommy, why do you feed Kaleb from your tummy?"  My tummy?  Sweet!  I don't have to explain boobs to him!  "Because, Gavin, that's just how I feed him."

End of story.

"Mommy, why don't you feed Kaleb with a bottle?"  Because I don't.  And that was good enough.

He clearly doesn't think much of it, either, because he begs me to stay in the living room to feed his brother rather than going somewhere.  Honestly, I think this is because it's too hard to talk to me if I'm in another room.  If I'm in the same room, I can "look-Mom-watch-this" the whole time I'm nursing.

So, all was well . . . until the other day . . .

when he took his shirt off . . .

. . .  and he pointed to his nipples . .  .

and he said, "Look Mom, I can feel my baby food in here."

Uh . . .

Yeah, you see, your body doesn't do that.  You're a boy.  Boys don't make baby food.

Which is what I maybe should have said.  But that would have been followed up by, "Why don't boys make baby food?  How come you make baby food and I don't?"

So, instead, I just, "Awesome!" and left it at that.

I'm sure it's only a matter of time until I walk in and find him trying to feed his brother . . .

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Uh oh. I'm fired up.

Warning:  If you're not in the mood to listen to me preach, then read no further.  'Cause I'm about to preach to the freaking choir like it's nobody's business.

It's not often that I get really fired up about social issues and debates.  I stand by my political beliefs, but I'm not really interested in arguing them.  I'm just not that passionate about it, and frankly, politics bore me.  I have opinions on abortion, gay marriage, and gun control, but again, not gonna engage in a heated battle over them.

But, sometimes, something fires me up just enough that I write ranty, ragy, preachy blog posts.  And that is what's happening right now.  From time to time, I hear about something that strikes me to the core.  It enrages me, it saddens me, it inspires me, or it disgusts me, and I can't stop thinking about it.  For instance, if someone has a seriously ill or dying child, it hurts my heart to imagine what that family must be going through, and I can't get it off of my mind unless I write about it.

In the past few weeks, I have had three friends come to me with horrible things that have happened in their lives, and it all makes my blood boil.  Why?  Because their lives have been forever changed, and they are sorting through terrible messes, by something that someone else did.  Someone else made a choice, and now my friends have to deal with that choice.  And, honestly, it makes me sick.  It makes me sick to look at these people I care about, who are hurting tremendously, from something that someone else did to them that they had absolutely no say in, and know that their pain could have been avoided.

The worst part?  All of these events involve children.  And that makes it even worse.

For some reason, our society is all for selfishness.  Not selflessness.  We are constantly told that OUR needs come first, that we deserve to be happy at all costs, that we should put ourselves before others, regardless of how it affects anyone else - even our children.  And, I'm sorry, but I truly believe you lose the right to be so selfish once you have children.  Agree with me, disagree with me, I don't care.  This is something I believe vehemently.  You lose the right to choose your own selfish needs over anything else once you have kids.   You owe it to your kids to make good choices, to make the right choices. 

So, if you feel like robbing a liquor store, and you have kids, you don't get to disregard their well-being and make the choice to do what you want.  Feel like getting high?  Tough.  You have kids, and your job is to look out for them and do what's best for them.  Unhappy with your life?  Figure out a way to be happy that won't hurt others around you.  Unsatisfied with your marriage?  Tempted by another?  Too bad.  You owe it to your kids to make the right choice and to try to make it work at all costs.  And, to me, there is no reason that can possibly justify any of these things - these things that will hurt and devastate the people around you.  Nothing.

And if one more person says to me, "Oh, I know someone who went through something similar and their kids are just fine," I will scream.  Scream, I tell ya.  Of course kids end up okay - they are resilient- but that's not an excuse to do whatever the hell you want.  Just imagine how much MORE okay they would be if they didn't have to go through what they did.  Imagine how much better their lives would be if their needs had been considered in the first place - not after the fact.

The worst part is that all of these things are widely accepted by our society.  And, by accepted, I mean no one says anything about it.  We try to stay out of the affairs of others because we think it's none of our business.  But, maybe that's the problem.  The problem might just be that we're so afraid of offending others that we don't say, "Hey, what you're doing is NOT okay.  It's not okay."  We make excuses, "Oh, she wasn't happy," or, "He made a mistake."  But, like I said before, there is no justifiable reason you can give me that warrants you doing something in which you knowingly and willingly hurt others.  No.  Justifiable.  Reason.

We justify racism, we justify hate, we justify greed, we justify addiction, we justify adultery, we justify corruption, and none of it is okay.  It's not okay.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." A-freaking-men.

We try to blame others, we try to blame our past, we try to blame our present, we blame our parents, our spouses, our teachers, our friends, our socioeconomic status - but you are responsible for the person you are and the choices you make.  Not anyone else.  No one can make you make a terrible and hurtful choice against your will.  At the end of the day, your actions are a reflection of the person YOU are.  They are not a reflection of anyone else.

And, if it's the last thing I do, I vow to be that voice for my sons.  If they do something in which they knowingly hurt someone else, you bet your sweet bippy I will say something.  I will tell them that they made a bad choice, that they knowingly hurt others and that's not okay, and that they need to rectify their mistakes and make better choices in the future.  Because, at the end of the day, I don't know that anyone else will.  And, I don't want my children to be so selfish that they devastate the lives of others without thought or care.  That they intentionally hurt other people because they're so selfish they make up some bullshit reason that half of their family and friends willingly believe.  I want them to make good choices, to work hard, and to not give up even when things are tough.  And, so help me if it's not the last thing I do on this Earth.

But most importantly, I want them to still have faith in people - to see that there is still a lot of good out there in the world.  But, I'm losing some of that faith myself as I see the selfish acts of others day in and day out, as I see so many people hurt unnecessarily, as I watch people make bad choices with no remorse or no acknowledgement or no desire to better themselves in the future.  Just excuses.

Well, that is my rant.  If you don't agree with me, I really don't care.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Take heed 'cause I'm a lyrical poet

In the past few days, I've been keeping track of some of the things Gavin has been saying.  Most specifically - words he mispronounces.  Because it happens at least four times a day.  Now, these aren't things that he just says once or twice.  No, no.  They're things he says all time. 

For instance, a few times a week we practice his handwriting.  I consider this a win-win situation.  His handwriting improves; he gets fruit snacks as a reward.  Everybody's happy.  Except that he doesn't call it handwriting.  What does he call it?

The other day, he asked me if I would help him find all of his "action chiggers."  I said, no, but I would help him find all of his action figures if he wanted me to.

In Toy Story, one of the character says, "Do you want a piece of me?"  In Gavin's brain, this translates to, "Do you want a piece of meat?"  So, I almost lost it the other day when he was messing around, got hurt, and promptly told me, "I pieced of meat myself."  Oh, you did, did you?

If I ask him to try a new food, and he doesn't like it, he tells me it's asgusting.  No matter how many times I try to tell him it's DIS-gusting, he says, "I know, it's asgusting."

Trying to explain the Olympics to him took some time, patience, and creativity.  It's hard for him to understand why the U.S.A. isn't in every event.  I don't think he gets it, though, because anytime a new even comes on, he asks me which person or team is "Captain America."  We always root for Captain America.

The other day, he said, "amicos."  I said, no, it's amigos.  He said, "No, it's Spanish."  Gotcha.

He's pretty obsessed with the Lion King, and often walks around singing the "Hakuna Matata song."  It goes something like this:
It means don't worries
For the rest of your days
It's our problem-free possumy
philosophy mossumy
Hakuna Matata

We're still trying to straighten that one out.

But, my favorite by far is this one:

Lately, he likes to watch PBS Kids instead of Disney Channel in the morning (which I don't mind because the shows are much more educational).  So, during every commercial break, they advertise their website at "P-B-S-kids-dot-O-R-G."  He says: P-B-S-kids-dot-OR-G.  And that's all I have to say about that.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I'll get you to stop picking your nose, but you might be scarred for life.

Today, after I picked Gavin up from daycare, he wanted to read a few books.  Since I'm tired of reading the same books over and over and over and over and over (get the picture?) again, I decided to pull out Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  I mean, come on, who doesn't like funny poems?  Gavin's into silly and gross and funny things, so I thought it would be entertaining to pick out a few poems and read them to him (I made sure to pick ones that had pictures with them).

As we were flipping through, I came across this poem:


Inside everybody's nose
There lives a sharp-toothed snail.
So if you stick your finger in,
He may bite off your nail.
Stick it farther up inside,
And he may bite your ring off.
Stick it all the way, and he
May bite the whole darn thing off.

And, I thought, "Awesome!  A poem about nose-picking!"  I figured it would be a perfect silly poem because I probably tell Gavin 14,592 times a day to stop picking his nose.  Literally, I probably say it at least seven times per hour.  

So, I read him the poem, and then we discussed it.  I said, "See, Gavin, you can't pick your nose because there's a sharp-toothed snail that lives up there, and if you put your finger in your nose, he'll bite it.  If you're not careful, he'll bite it off."  I then proceeded to put my finger partway in my nose and then screamed when the pretend snail bit at it.  He laughed.  And then we moved on to the next poem.

As I read the next poem, he wasn't really paying attention.  "Mommy, pick your nose!"  No way!  I'm not putting my finger up there!  The snail might bite it off!  "You're just kidding, Mommy!"  Am I?  Put your finger in your nose and see.  See if there's a snail up there!  "No, you pick your nose!"  Not a chance!  That snail is not biting my finger!

Then, all of a sudden, he jumps up off of the couch.  He returns seconds later.

"Mommy, I just looked in the mirror and there's no snail in my nose."  Are you sure?

"Yes.  I didn't see one.  Pick your nose, Mommy!"  No!  There's a snail up there and if I pick my nose he might bite my finger.

 He gets very quiet.  He looks at me for a long time.  "Mommy, look up so I can see in your nose.  I don't see a snail."  Oh, he's way up there where you can't see him. 

Suddenly, his eyes start welling up with tears.

What's wrong?  "I don't want there to be snail in my nose, Mommy."

I was just kidding, Gavin.  It's just a silly poem.  There's no snail in your nose.

"You were just kidding, right?"  I don't know.  Stick your finger in your nose and find out.

More tears. 

And now, I'm laughing.

Gavin, it was just a silly poem.  It's fine.  There's no snail.  "Okay, then I'm going to pick my nose."

And because I can't resist: Okay, but be careful. 

"Mommy, I'm mad at you."  Why?  "Because you're lying.  There's no snail in my nose, and you're lying to me."  (Note: both hands are on his hips as he says this to me.)  So, at this point, I'm laughing so hard I can't stop, and he's just getting angrier and angrier. 

Okay, Gavin.  I'm sorry.  I was just kidding.  There's no snail.  It's all made up.  There's nothing to worry about it.  It was just a silly poem.

"But, Mommy, my nose is running!"  Then get a tissue!  "What about the snail?"

Sigh.  There's no snail.  It's fine.  Just get a tissue.

We went around about this for over thirty minutes.

But, you know what?  I never once saw his finger go near his nose . . .

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thank you for eating your dinner . . . in under two hours.

Gavin might be the slowest eater on the face of this planet.  I wish (for my sanity and my impending grey hairs) that I were exaggerating.  But, alas, I'm not.

Now, I know that I've mentioned before that he's a good eater, and he is.  By good eater I mean he eats a diverse selection of foods - probably more diverse than many adults that I know.  He'll still try new things, and he never really complains about what I serve him for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

It's just that it takes him two freaking hours to eat every single meal.

We went to a baseball game a few weeks back, and he ate a hot dog and chips.  It took him two and a half hours to eat the damn hot dog.  That's averaging one bit every twenty minutes, I think.

Why is he so slow?  A variety of reasons.

First and foremost, the child has to go to the bathroom twice at every meal.  I kid you not.  This is always guaranteed to happen when we're out to eat.  It goes something like this:

We order. 

Not two seconds later, Gavin announces that he has to go potty.  I take him to the bathroom, he goes, we return, and all is well. 

Until our food arrives. 

I cut up whatever he ordered, and just as I'm about to get the second or third bite of my food into my mouth, he announces that he has to go again.  I sadly look at my food, sigh loudly, and take him to the bathroom AGAIN. 

It happens every single time without fail.  Without freaking fail.

Now, let's look at a typical lunch.  I try to make Gavin's lunch and then sit him down to eat while I'm feeding Kaleb (because, consequently, they're both hungry at the exact same time).  So, I'll make him, say, a grilled cheese sandwich with applesauce and carrot sticks.  I make him sit down, he picks up a carrot, and I commence feeding Kaleb.  Two seconds later, I look over, and Gavin's lying under the table.  I tell him to get up, and he says, "But I fell out of my chair."  Uh huh.  Right.

He gets back up in the chair, eats a spoonful of applesauce.  I work on burping Kaleb, and next thing I know, Gavin is riding his scooter down the hall.  I yell at him to go sit down, and he does, but only after he tells me something "really important" (i.e. "I.  Killed.  Mufasa.").

After a few threats, he sits in the chair for an entire five minutes, but only manages to eat one more bite because he's busy singing a new song that he's just composed.  Sadly, it's not about how he's going to hurry up and eat.

About thirty minutes in, I'm losing patience, and he's lying upside down in his chair.  Since I'm now done feeding Kaleb, I go sit at the table with Gavin, and he sees this as a prime opportunity to talk.  And he talks, and he talks, and he talks, until finally I have to tell him that I'm not going to talk to him until he's done eating.  That's okay, though.  He just talks to himself then.

About an hour in, the threats get serious (throwing away toys, removing his tongue, etc.).  And, somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours, he finally eats the last bite.  And I kind of want to cry tears of joy while simultaneously choking him (not really choke him, but you get the idea).

And guess what happens not even 20 minutes after he's finally released from the table?

"Mommy, I'm hungry!"