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Friday, May 18, 2012

I spy with my little eye something that's getting really old really fast.

Like most four-year-old kids, my kids talks.  And he talks, and talks, and talks.  From the moment he gets up, until the time he goes to sleep at night.  He talks when he's eating.  He talks when he's in the bath.  He talks when we're in the car.  He even talks when he's playing and watching television.  I wouldn't be surprised if he talks in his sleep.  He doesn't talk to himself or his toys - he talks to me.  Honestly, I can't complain too much because I would rather he talked to me all the time than not at all. 

Lately, however, we can't just talk.  No, instead, we have to play games.  Two games in particular - "I Spy" and a rhyming game.  At least five times a day, he asks to play "I Spy."  The problem is that he's not very good at it.  For instance, he looks right at the object you're supposed to be guessing.

"I spy with my little eye something . . . RED!"  Um, how about the stop sign that you're staring at?

Or, the other weekend, he wanted to play in the car during a thunderstorm.

"I spy with my little eye . . ."  You see something?  Because I can't see shit right now.  And I should probably really focus on driving, dude.

He also asks to play when we go for a walk in the woods.

"I spy with my little eye . . . something . . . GREEN!"  Um, we're in the woods.  Everything is either brown or green.  Trees?  Green.  Bushes?  Green.  Grass?  Green.  River?  Brown.  Rocks?  Brown.  Benches?  Brown.  There seriously are no other colors to choose from.

It would be so bad if he didn't want to play it all the time.  And, I mean all the freaking time.

The only thing that can detour him from wanting to play "I Spy" is  playing this rhyming "game" he made up.  Basically, he says two words and I say yes if they rhyme and no if they don't.  It's not hard, but it's . . . interesting.

"How about boat and goat?"  Yes, those rhyme.

"How about house and house?"  Well, they're the same word.

"How about moose and groose?"  Well, if they were both real words then they would rhyme.

"How about sucka and fucka?"  Um . . . yes, those rhyme, but let's not say them anymore.

"How about soap and rope?"  Yep.  "How about rope and soap?"  Those are exactly the same words you said two seconds ago; you just reversed the order.

Then  . . . the other day, as we were waiting for the ultrasound tech to come get us out of the waiting room FULL of people:

"What rhymes with dick?  How about Rick and dick?  How about sick and dick?"  Ok, let's move on.
"What about pick and dick?"  Okay, seriously, stop saying that.  Pick a new word.

No idea where he heard it, or if he just coincidentally said it thinking he was making up the word, but everyone was staring at me. 

And, lucky for me, he stood next to me the entire time I was having my ultrasound, talking right in my ear, asking me if pairs of words rhymed.  The.  Entire.  Time.

So, it was a nice little surprise when he took a nap once we got home.  Because for an hour, it was absolutely quiet . . . except for the sounds of him kicking the wall as he slept.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Maybe calcium supplements are in order, but I think I'm doing fine.

After being ill over the weekend, I for some reason started thinking about strength.  Ironically, a friend posted something on Facebook last night about not feeling strong enough.  But, what does it mean to be strong?  In our society, we often thinking of someone who is fit.  We also equate strength with stoicism or apathy.  We look up to people who seem to never show emotion or fall apart. 

But, I don't want my sons growing up thinking that way.  Once you become a parent, strength takes on a whole new meaning, and it's demonstrated in various ways.  And, as you get older and experience more of the life's ups and downs, that definition also changes.

I want my sons to have a more realistic view of strength.

Strength is not stoicism.  Strength is not apathy.  It doesn't take strength to hate someone.  It doesn't take strength to be mean, unkind, or rude. 

Strength is being able to pick yourself up off of the bathroom floor after you've been sick for an hour in order to get a heating pad for your child who is having growing pains in his leg.

Strength is being at the end of your rope but somehow finding a way to take a deep breath and speak calmly to your child after they've just spilled an entire glass of milk on the floor (after you reminded them six million times to be careful).

Strength is allowing yourself to cry and then wiping away those tears and putting on a great, big smile.

Strength is not allowing other people to ruin your day, but instead, acknowledging that they've done or said something unkind and then moving on.

Strength is finding a way to be courteous to everyone, regardless of their attitudes and behaviors.

Strength is allowing yourself to see people for who they really are and not trying to change them - to just let them be themselves.

Strength is knowing when to say enough is enough - at work, in relationships, and when eating a disgustingly delicious brownie sundae (although that last one might be the most difficult).

Strength is not letting the actions of others be a reflection of you but understanding that it's merely a reflection of the kind of person they are.

Strength is stepping on a toy in the middle of the night and resisting the urge to smash it against the wall even though your foot hurts like hell.

Strength is having the courage to establish healthy boundaries with people who have hurt you and maintaining those boundaries when they're challenged.

Strength is finding your limits, recognizing your flaws, and working within those restraints to continuously improve as a person.

Strength is the ability to play I Spy 500 times in one day and not completely lose your sanity.

Strength is kindly ignoring people when they try to tell you how you should feel or what you should be doing - even though they have absolutely no understanding of your situation.

Strength is being able to stifle a laugh when your child loudly asks, "What rhymes with dick?" in the middle of a crowded waiting room.

Strength is being able to bite your tongue when you know the words you are suppressing would only be unkind and damaging.

Strength is allowing yourself a few moments to mourn what "should be" but isn't, and then moving on and making the best of what is.

Strength is not allowing your disappointment in others to affect your outlook on people in general.

Strength is trying when you know you're probably going to fail and not feeling like a complete failure because you gave it everything you had.

Strength is finding just one more way to keep your child occupied while you continue to wait and wait and wait at the doctor's office (and not strangle the receptionist if she tells you one more time that it will only be "a few more minutes").

Strength is being able to carry a child, a purse, a diaper bag, a backpack, two bags of groceries, a pizza, a sippy cup, and a latte and not spilling one single thing.  It's also a skill that is finely tuned once you have small children.  So, if you're not there yet, don't worry.  you will be.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Motherhood IS my gift

There are few people out there who would argue against a day that celebrates every woman who is a mother.  Even fewer would say that being a mom is an easy job.  It is an incredibly hard job, but that's not news to anyone.  So, even though this is a day meant to thank all the moms out there for their selflessness, their unconditional love, and just the sheer amount of bodily fluids that they have cleaned up over the course of their children's lives, for me, it's also a day about celebrating being a mom.  Not everyone gets this life-changing opportunity.  And while flowers and jewelry and pedicures and lunches at fancy restaurants are appreciated, getting to be a mom is the best gift I could ever ask for. 

There are so many things that come along with being a mom that are priceless, that many other people don't get to experience, and some that only a mom gets to experience.  And I'm not talking about changing diapers, making doctor's appointments, going on field trips, remembering the snack for soccer, doing the laundry, cooking meals, packing lunches, surviving on a minimal amount of sleep, or any of those sorts of tasks. 

No, I'm talking about things like getting to carry another human being inside of you.  Sure pregnancy is uncomfortable and, frankly, pretty gross at times, but it is the most amazing experience that only you and your child share.  No one else gets to feel your child moving and hiccuping and growing like you do.  No one else gets to know your child like you do during those nine months - what makes your child wake up and move around, where his or her little feet are at any moment.  Of course, no one else gets the heartburn or stretch marks either, but I'd happily make that trade any day.

There's the magic that comes along with being a mother.  You know, the ability to take away the pain of any cut, scrape, or bump with a small kiss, the way you instinctively know exactly what your child needs from the minute they are born, how your body just molds to your child, whether you're rocking them or carrying them on your hip.  There are many, many times when your child is sad or hurt or happy, and at those moments, no one else but their mom will do. 

I cherish things like getting to tuck my child into bed.  Not because I'll finally have a little peace and quiet (that's just an added bonus) but because of the closeness we share in those few minutes.  We sing songs, we talk about our day, we come up with silly sayings and rituals that we repeat nightly, and we read books.  I honestly think that those ten minutes I spend with him are one of the main reasons he's comfortable talking to me about anything - even things as difficult as feelings.

I also relish in the few moments in the morning when my son climbs into my bed, even though we're both awake and ready to get up.  Again, these are some of the best times I have with him.  We talk about the things we did the day before, the things we'll do that day, or we make up silly stories.  And those moments are all mine. 

The pride and the joy I often feel when I see my son acting in a certain way or saying a certain thing is beyond words.  Despite all the doubts and uncertainties that come along with parenting, those are the moments that really make me feel like I'm doing something right - when people tell me he's kind and he's polite, I know I had a hand in that.

There are also those tiny, fleeting moments that happen all the time: holding his sweet little hand in mine, knowing it will never be this small again, looking at his face and thinking he's the most beautiful thing I've ever laid eyes on, the way my heart melts when he randomly tells me that he loves me. 

I could go on and on.  There are so many amazing little things about being mom that easily outweigh all the hard parts.  No matter what life throws at me, no matter how hard things gets, I look at my son every day and think I'm the luckiest woman on this planet.  Except maybe when I'm cleaning up puke.  I don't seem to be able to make myself feel lucky about that.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I need to make a phone call, so it's probably time for you to be super needy.

In my last post, I briefly discussed how I'm trying to spend a lot of quality time with Gavin before his brother arrives in a few weeks.  You know, give him some extra attention and do a lot of fun things with him before all of my spare time is filled with changing diapers and washing spit-up out of my hair and off of my clothes.  Oh, and not sleeping.  That, too.  He's definitely enjoying all of this "Mommy Time."  He's eating it up.  Unfortunately, he might be liking it a bit too much.  The kid is stuck to me like glue.  Not like Elmer's School Glue, but more like Crazy Glue.  He's like my black lab in a sense.  I could pet the dog all damn day, and he'd still act starved for attention.  Starved.

Even though I spend the majority of the day giving Gavin my undivided attention, he still acts like I haven't given him enough.  Especially once my phone rings or I have to make a phone call.  The other night, we were sitting on the couch watching a movie together.  We were snuggled up under a blanket, watching the movie, and he was in a movie-watching trance.  My phone rang.  At the time, Gavin was so engrossed in the movie that he didn't seem to notice.  I quietly got up, went into the bedroom, and attempted to have a conversation.

Two seconds later, here comes Gavin, on his scooter, into the bedroom.  He doesn't just come in to see where I am; he suddenly has something super important to tell me.  And, he wants to jump on my bed while holding my hand.  Even though he didn't notice I was alive two seconds ago during an intense scene from the movie, he suddenly can't live without me at this very moment - this very moment when I'm trying to have a brief adult conversation.  I attempt to leave the room so I can actually have a conversation, and he grabs his scooter and follows me.  I loathe that scooter by the way.

If that's the worst his attention-seeking got, I would be okay with that.  But, it's usually much worse.  If I'm sitting on the couch trying to talk on the phone - like the day I was calling the cable company - he'll come over, climb on my lap, climb on my head, whisper in my ear, jump on the cushion next to me, pull on my hands, bark like a dog, or start crying over some fictitious boo boo he miraculously acquired. 

And, this doesn't just happen when I'm on the phone.  The other day, I was trying to listen intently to my doctor as he explained the general idea behind how upcoming c-section should go.  Mid-conversation, there's Gavin, pulling on my arm, crying because he can't get the Lightening McQueen coloring app to work on my iPhone.  I tried to ignore him, but it was quite difficult to do since he was ramming his head into my rib cage.

I've tried many times to explain to him that he needs to wait to talk to me until I'm off the phone unless it's emergency - you know, if he's on fire or something.  But, that appears to be going in one ear and out the other.  In fact, I'm not even sure it's going in. 

So, I'm thinking that when I suddenly have an infant whose needs will need my attention a majority of the time that things are going to get . . . interesting.  Very, very interesting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mommy Guilt Revisited: Slightly serious with a dash of humor

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the tremendous guilt I felt after Gavin was born with a birth defect, and how I eventually spent a lot of time working to somehow compensate for that.  At the time, I felt like a terrible mom.  I told myself that I had put my own goals and needs before those of my child and my family.  I was really hard on myself about not being to do all of the "mom things" I thought I should be doing with him because I didn't have the time or the energy.  Well, I'm rethinking all of that now. 

You see, part of the problem is that for most of my life, I've let the thoughts, opinions, and criticisms of others affect me more than they should.  It's something I've gotten much better with, but it's still a battle at times.  Directly or indirectly, others made me feel that the time I spent focusing on advancing my career was selfish - that I was only concerned about me.  And, I allowed people to shape my opinion of myself.  I felt selfish.  I felt that I had let my son down.  But, the truth is, I wasn't being entirely selfish, and I did what I did for my son regardless of what anyone else chooses to believe.

I knew I wanted to get a job at a community college so that I could have a more flexible schedule and earn a better living.  A more flexible schedule would finally give me more time to spend with my kids.  Better pay would allow me to provide them with more experiences.  I didn't want to make money just to make money.  I wanted to make money so I could take them on trips to Disney World, so maybe one day I could buy a small cottage up north where we could spend our summers making memories, and so I could afford things like a boat that would provide for hours of entertainment and wonderful childhood recollections for my kids.

I'm not saying I did it in the best way possible.  I'm not saying I wasn't stressed and cranky - believe me, I was.

But, you know what?  All of my hard work finally paid off.  All those years of working three jobs, not turning down the opportunity to teach night courses even though I was exhausted and tired, taking classes to advance my education - all of that ended up getting me where I am today.  Today, when I have an entire extra month of summer vacation.  A whole month that, this year, will be devoted to giving Gavin a lot of attention before his brother arrives in a few short weeks.  Today, where I have a job that allows me to only work four days a week without sacrificing any pay - an entire extra day I get to spend with my kids every single week.  People say, "Oh, it must be nice."  And, it is.  It is nice, and I worked my ass off to get here, and I made a lot of sacrifices. I get to reap the benefits now.

Now, I finally have the time to do all those "mom things" I felt guilty for not having time to do before.  I have time to create a whole alphabet out of animals with Gavin.  I have time to make turtles out of bread, to take him to the baseball field and hit "home runs," to make rockets out of left over cardboard, and to go on adventures with him.  And that's all I ever wanted.  That's been my goal from day one.

I'm not trying to be super mom, I'm not trying to be perfect, - lord knows I'm chalk full of flaws and I embrace them now - and I'm definitely not trying to make other moms feel bad or guilty.  I'm simply enjoying this time I have with my kids - this time I have because I worked incredibly hard to earn it.

And the guilt?  The guilt has dissipated.  I know now that I am doing what makes me and my son happy, and no other opinion matters.  I now know that my efforts weren't futile or selfish or completely misguided.  I feel like I'm doing a good job as a mom, and no one - not even the ever judgmental societal beliefs - can convince me otherwise.

On a lighter note, I'm worried that spending ALL this quality time with Gavin is going to backfire on me once the baby gets here.  Why?  Because now the kid is stuck to me like glue.  The other day, I took him to my office - where he's been dying to go.  I let him help me make copies and put things in binders.  We played with math things, and we walked around campus.  Then, we had a picnic and went to the zoo.  After that, we did alphabet animals and had a "dinner date."  Somehow, even after all of that, he hadn't had enough of my attention.  When we finally got home, I went to use the bathroom, and rather than playing with his toys or watching television, he laid outside of the bathroom door and talked to me.  And, I thought, "This can't be normal.  We must have some healthy attachment."  I guess we'll find out in ten years if he has a "mommy complex" or not. read to be read at

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Golden Rule or some crappy adaptation of it.

For one reason or another, the old saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," has been stuck in my head lately.  You know, The Golden Rule that we were all supposed to learn in kindergarten or first grade that basically boils down to, "Treat people the way you would like to be treated."  Yeah, that one.  I don't know why - though I have a few suspicions - but it's been playing over and over in my head for days now.  Once I stopped treating it like a bad 80's pop song that was trapped in my head, I got to thinking about this . . .

Do we really do this?  Do many people actually treat others the way they would like to be treated?  Or, do we simply treat others the way the treat us?  It may sound like the same thing, but it's not.  For instance, if I want my son to be patient, I should be patient with him.  Instead, I often find myself directing him to be patient, and then I turn around and tell him to hurry up.  (I counted the other morning - in one hour I told him to hurry up six times.  That's once every 10 minutes.  So much for patience.) 

I think we do this often in the various relationships in our lives, as well.  Well, if she can't make time to call me, then I'm not going to call her.  If he's going to be rude to me, then I'm going to be rude to him.  If she's mad at me, then I'm going to be mad at her.  If he can't listen to me when I need someone to talk to, then I'm not going to listen to him.  And on, and on, and on. 

And, honestly, where does that get us?  Now, we're all not speaking, and if we are, we're rude, angry, and not listening.  All because we're choosing to treat people the way they treat us, rather than treating them the way we would like to be treated.  So, we're all stooping to each others' crappy level.  Great. 

I thought of this the other day when Gavin hit me in the face with a stuffed toy.  I said to him, "How would you like it if I hit you?"  If I started hitting my kid because he hit me, I'd end up in some serious trouble.  "But, officer, he hit me first!"  I don't think they'd buy that one.  At some point, I have to be the adult, the parent if you will, and set a better example.  So, why don't we do this with the other people in our lives?

Part of the reason, in my opinion, is because it can be exhausting at times.  It's hard to feel like you're putting a lot of effort into treating someone a certain way,  or investing a lot of time and energy into some sort of relationship/friendship, and there's no reciprocation.  It's defeating, and I'm not saying that we should continue pouring effort into being incredibly kind to people who are unkind to us, or investing a great amount of time in people who won't invest time in us.  That's just silly. 

But, if you're constantly putting forth a great effort to be kind, and someone is continually apathetic or even rude, it doesn't mean you have to be apathetic or rude back.  In fact, I've found that I often feel really shitty if I'm rude to someone who has been rude to me.  I don't feel justified; I don't feel vindicated; I just feel like I sold myself short.  Instead, I just decrease the amount of effort I put forth while remaining polite and courteous.  That seems like a better option to me.

Again, I think this stems a lot from my (often idealistic) ideas of raising my kids right.  What kind of people will they turn out to be if they continually witness me stooping to the level of others.  What will they be like as adults if I color on their arms after they color on mine?  If I bite them back when they've bitten me?  If I break one of their favorite toys because they broke a vase I really liked?  Pretty sure they might end up in jail.  Or a psychiatrist's office.  Probably both.

So, that's my philosophical rant for the day.  Or maybe it's just my justification for trying to remain true to the person I am, and the person I want to be, in spite of the actions of others.  Or, maybe I need another hobby.  Or a beer.