Gabe Turning Six

Gabe Turning Six

My sweetest Gabe,

Today, you are six.  Six years ago, I held you in our hospital room completely shaken.  Terrified of the unknown and of the little one that I held so tightly in my arms.  It all seems like a dream; like it happened forever ago.  And yet, I remember it all — I remember you — so vividly.  You were precious, and though I was experiencing some postpartum problems, you were so trusting and so comfortable with me.  Almost like you were soaking in every moment while you laid in my arms — as though you hadn’t been physically attached to me for nine months, prior.  I’ve never been so in love with and more terrified of anyone in my whole life.  You shook my world and threw me for loops I still cannot explain.  I’ve tried; I got nothin’.  But I can tell you this…

You were my first heart throb.  My look into both wonders and terrors my heart cannot always clearly decipher.  You are my popcorn giggling, wild one.  You are the reason all those years ago that I pulled through at all.  You were, and are, my hero.

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That’s not to say that you aren’t a tough one to handle from time to time.  You are not perfect; you are not angelic.  You are a hardheaded mule of a kid.  You are all boy — unless sweat is involved.  You have broken my heart once or twice (s’ok, though — it’s normal) and you have lit fires in me that the pits of hell envy.  You have, unfortunately, adopted your mother’s knack for all things clumsy and scare me with said clumsiness on the regular.  You, much like your younger brother, are part of the reason mom keeps a hard cider stocked fridge.  But, also like your brother, you are my beautiful little guy.  And I love you as bright as the sun shines.

You are compassionate and tenderhearted.  You love everyone and cannot understand how I can muster such hard feelings for some.  You are special and will do great, great things.  I plan on asking you a dozen questions later on things you like; bear with me… I’m getting old and nostalgic.  Your Aunt Catie says I’m already there, so you can thank her for that.  But for now, here are a few things about you that I think are pretty terrific… even the not always so great things.  Because they make you, you.

  • You love your little brother with everything you have.  I know one day this will change.  Not that you’ll love him less — but little brothers and big brothers do not always stay so close… and then one day, it’s like nothing ever changed.  For now, you’re smitten.  Thank you for that.
  • You have an affinity for pizza, YooHoos, and donuts (not necessarily in that order… or all together).  If I’d let you, that would be your meal of choice at least until you get married.
  • You build things with such flair and ease.  I’m very proud how well you do things with your hands and your fascination with figuring things out.  Though, I’m not always excited about all the broken toys lying around the house.
  • We’ve had a hard road since finding out about your SPD/ADHD diagnosis, but you really have made some awesome strides.  We haven’t really told you about it because to us, you’re normal.  And really, you are.  You love to learn and I’m confident that your “road blocks” will be just that: road blocks.  You can’t do everything, bud — but there’s NOTHING you can’t do.
  • You like to play dress up — usually in your Superman cape and a bow tie.  Don’t ask me why; I really couldn’t tell you.  But you call yourself “The Professor”, which is all kinds of funny and peculiar.
  • You are quirky.  I love it.
  • You are loud and loaded with energy.  I don’t always love that.  7 A.M. comes early on Saturdays, kiddo.  You’ll understand one day.
  • I put the “Motherhood HooDoo curse” on you and Connor the other day in a fit of pure agitation.  I’d take it back if I could.  But I can’t.  So, apologies if your kids are The Children of the Corn.  I’ll love them, anyway… but you’ll understand if I sleep with my eyes open.  Won’t you?
  • You’ve taken to bribing me lately.  Or, should I say trying to bribe me.  You’re really bad at it, which gives me confidence that you probably won’t be an outlaw one day.
  • Reading is one of your favorite things to do.  And by reading, I mean making me read any book so many times that you could repeat it by memory in your sleep.  True story.
  • You love your “Padre” dearly.  When he and I first got together (you were two, then), that was my first priority.  He was the first and only guy I’d dated after your dad & I split.  You loved him from the start and he has loved you like his own.  Pretty sure you believe he farts rainbows — although I’m here to tell you he does NOT.
  • You were born with an irregular ear lobe.  It’s not deforming (obviously) and hardly noticeable.  It’s pretty much your birthmark.  You came home the other day devastated because some kid teased you about it.  Honey, if your ear lobe is the only thing you’ll ever be teased about, be grateful.  People pay for their ears to look like that these days; at the very least, be thankful you’ll never chuck out $100 for a cosmetic ear lobe change.
  • You call Batman’s Bat Mobile the “Batmanbile”.  I correct you so you won’t be embarrassed, but that’s one of my favorite things.
  • If I’d let you walk about the house (or the yard, for that matter) in just your underwear and Converse, you’d be set for life.  For legal purposes and modesty’s sake, I cannot do that.  Again, one day you’ll understand.

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You are the Calvin to my Hobbes.  Not a day has passed that I haven’t been honored to be your momma — even on the hardest of hard days.  You may not like me much some days, and you may not always understand, but I hope one day you’ll get it.  I hope, sooner than later, that you’ll understand how deep my love has run for you.  Happy birthday, sunshine.

Love,
Momma

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Connor Turning Two

Connor Turning Two

My littlest grizzly bear,

Time has flown by in a whirlwind, leaving you at an altogether difficult age for all parties involved.  You, vehemently searching for your independence — all the while still needing momma & daddy; and the rest of us, wanting you to find your independence so we can catch our breath — all the while needing you to want us a little while longer.  You, not unlike the daunting task that is parenting, are a ticking time bomb wrapped in a riddle.  To say I have enjoyed every moment of your life would be false.  You are HARD.  You are WILLFUL.  You are the toe up my nose every God bless-ed morning at 2 A.M.  But you are also an award winning hug giver.  You are the smile and the giggle every afternoon at five when I pick you up from daycare.  You are my “for no other reason than to flush the toilet” toilet flusher.  You are part of my heart-song and the reason for our hard cider stocked fridge.  Most importantly, you are my beautiful, blue-eyed, old-soul little boy.  And I love, love, love you.

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One day you will grow up for good; you will not remember the headaches you caused any more than you will recall the smiles you so casually produced.  You will grow up to be tough and strong, despite your small stature.  You will be fearless and bold; I hope you will also be kind and compassionate.  But for now, you are the hell-raising, ankle-biting age of two.  Compassion and kindness are not often synonymous with “terrible twos”, so I will keep praying that you develop those traits.  Until then, here are some things about you that I am somewhat fond of:

  • You call anything not water, “moke”.  Probably because I made the mistake of giving you a sip of my Coke once, and in a fit of desperation to get you to drink anything else, I called your apple juice, “Coke”.  You replied, “moke?”  And so it stuck.  I have no shame.
  • You love hot dogs (no judgment, Earth Mommas) but refuse to eat them if I cut them up.  So I watch you like a hawk anytime a hot dog of any ilk is in your presence.
  • You are your bubba’s biggest fan.  Which is crazy, because before you came along, I thought I would always be his biggest fan.  But you have beaten me, bar none.
  • If I’d let you, you’d eat a family size box of gummies EVERY DAY OF YOUR EXISTENCE.  But hey, if a bag of gummies gets you to relinquish your pacifier and get out the door every morning, then so be it.  Again, no shame.
  • In keeping with the “m” theme, you call your binky (pacifier) “mink”.  Actually, you always say, “my mink! my mink! my mink!” anytime you’re looking for it — even if it’s in your chubby little hand.  I’m going to miss that one day… but probably only after we’ve paid off your braces for pacifier-induced overbite.  You also call Mickey Mouse “meeka moush”.
  • You are a foodie most days, but only on your terms.  If food is not made to your liking, or if you’re simply not in an eating mood, to the floor it goes.  Or my hair.  Or to the walls.  Wherever.  Did I mention that you’re a hard kid?  If not, there it is.
  • You twirl my hair when you are falling asleep.  This is sweet but also painful.  I recently cut my hair and you were not happy with me.  Don’t worry, though; my scalp is paying for my treason.
  • You say “please” (peesh), “thank you” (tay-too), and “bless you” (bess ooo) without prompt and with much gusto.  And if thanks are not reciprocated?  Well, it’s no skin off your back to simply repeat it a million times.  We’ve learned to belt out a quick, “Thanks Con”.  But one day, when I’m grilling you for, “Yes ma’am” or, “thanks”, I’ll miss it.
  • You still love being tickled and you LOVE playing in homemade tents or peek-a-boo with Gabe.  You should know that he loves it — even if he is five going on sixteen.
  • Speaking of,  your bubba adored you from the moment we found out about you.  He was three, then.  You are his buddy and he is your hero.  Most days the two of you are inseparable.  Hearing you both cackle makes my heart beat harder than I ever dreamed possible.  Until I hear a crash… or nothing at all.  Then my heart beats with the fear of a thousand lost souls.  Time moves like icebergs as I’m rushing to see who is dangling who by who’s toes… or who has climbed the bookshelf… you get the idea.
  • You mourn (literally, mourn) for Gabe every weekend that he is gone until he comes back.  Then, in an instant, those little eyes turn from gloom to euphoria.
  • Your dad comes home on Fridays more often than not.  The moment you hear the door, you run to him as though you hadn’t seen him for years.  I love that.
  • You wait for me at the door every day before I pick you guys up from daycare.  I love that, too.
  • You call blueberries, grapes, and strawberries “bapples”.  You call apples “berries”.  And you call bananas, “nuh-nana’s”.

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You are a mess, my love.  A wonderful, loud, chaotic little mess in size four tennis shoes.  But you are MY mess.  OUR mess.  And we love you as big as the sky.  Happy birthday, my little bear.

Love,
Momma

Can I Get a Sleep Stunt Double?

Can I Get a Sleep Stunt Double?

Lemme tell you guys a little something about myself (if you don’t already know):  I hate co-sleeping.  Hate. It.

I’m not talking about my husband, so much.  That is, until he puts his big, cold man feet on me or steals the covers.  Then, maybe.  But, no — I’m talking about the children.  The Hobbitses.  The little people that siphon energy and live off of sleep-hungry parents, such as ourselves.  The boys can sleep anywhere: vehicles, Target, high chairs… but when we need them to sleep?  When we announce last call for bedtime?  When we’re begging and pleading and reading the millionth story and getting the thousandth cup of freaking water??  No dice.  “Sleep?  What is this sleep you speak of, crazy woman?!”

C. sleeping in his highchair.  Because it's not his bed, that's why.
C. sleeping in his highchair. Because it’s not his bed, that’s why.

See that picture?  That’s Con sleeping in his high chair.  Because it’s not his bed, that’s why.  Also, please pardon the mess; he’d just eaten dinner.  By eating dinner, I mean painting with it and the passing the hell out because why not.  Anyway… back to the horrors of co-sleeping.  Last night, after we’d eaten dinner, completed homework and chores, and had our “stalling in the bathtub because I don’t want to go to bed” bath-time, I attempted to put both guys down to bed.  It was 8:30, right on time, and God bless it, they simply weren’t having it.  Gabe was all, “MO-OM!  We’ve only read four stories!  I wanted five!  SEE?? I’m THIS many, so we need one more story!  Mo-om!  MOM!”  And Connor, of course, caught his second wind after having fallen asleep in his oatmeal and was just… everywhere.  Does it make me a bad mom for having considered just leaving him in the chair, covered in oatmeal, just so he’d stay asleep?  ‘Cause I’d be straight-up lying if I said the thought had never occurred to me.  In fact, it “occurred” to me while I washed the dishes (while he was still in the high chair), helped Gabe with homework (see: high chair), and completed some back-to-school paperwork (..ditto).  It even occurred to me when I went to go start the bath.  In fact, on the way to the bathroom I distinctly remember thinking, “He’s safe and buckled in.  Not like he’s stirring, or anything.  Gah-dangit, I have to wake it up.”

Anyway, I succeeded in getting Gabe to sleep only by threat of removing Mario Kart from his very existence until he’s forty.  Connor… I wasn’t so lucky.  My shadow isn’t as glued to my ass as Connor is, guys.  So, I stayed up with him.  I thought, “Maybe if I watch enough Murder, She Wrote, he’ll pass out.”  As if!  I watched half a season of Murder, She Wrote before turning it off.  I’m not going to say I was getting ideas, because I wasn’t… but if I had.  Oh, if I had.  So off to my bed we went.  I did the usual “prepare the bed for the acrobatic toddler” routine and laid pillows everywhere (knowing that they’re only there for peace of mind), and attempted to wrangle the bull that is Connor.  Around midnight, he finally dozed off.  I must have done likewise shortly after, because before I knew it is was 3 o’clock in the morning and Gabe was there.  In the middle of the bed.  Leaving a good two feet of bed UNUSED.  I’ve drawn a primitive diagram for your enjoyment of my misery:

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Yes, Legos.  I’m telling you — they turn up when you least expect them.  They were NOT there when I laid down.  At least, I don’t think so.  Anyway, this was at 3 A.M.  It gets better (…worse??):

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My kids are contortionists, I tell you.  In a past life, I’m sure both were members of the Russian circus… flying off the trapeze and managing to move their bodies through tiny hoops of fire.  Apologies for the roughness of my drawings — much like there is a reason for my not being a dancer, there is also good reason why I am not a cartoonist.  The bottom two images are between 4 AM and no sleep o’clock when I decided to say, “Screw it,” and removed myself from the clutches of drool-covered toddler hands.  Oddly enough, I was still running later than I would have liked to have been for work.  Hell, at least I can stare blankly through the windshield while I’m driving to work.  That’s pretty much as close to sleep as I’m going to get to for the next, oh… rest of my days.  What is that in dog years, I wonder?  Gah, I’m tired.

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an actual cartoon from an actual, and one of my favorite, cartoonists.
Back to School Bank Robbery

Back to School Bank Robbery

I was reading over the remaining school supply items for Gabe in my memos yesterday.  On that list?  Copy paper and three large glue sticks.  I keep forgetting about the paper — ironic, since I work for a copier distributor.  But the glue sticks?  I always remember those.  Two things stand out in my mind about glue sticks, y’all: sticky mess that my children will inevitably try to lick off their hands and WHO THE HELL PAYS FIVE FREAKING DOLLARS FOR GLUE STICKS?

How my wallet feels about back to school shopping.
How my wallet feels about back to school shopping.

Have I ever told you guys that I’m notoriously cheap?  No?  Well, I’m cheap.  About things like glue sticks, anyway.  So excuse the hell out of me for thinking that $4.75 (practically $5) is a bit steep for glue.  Glue that, knowing my five year old son, won’t make it even two weeks in to the school year.  Also, it is abundantly clear that Mr. Elmer has monopolized the glue market on the back-to-school frontier since there are literally no generic (but equally good!) brands to be had around August 1st.  It’s a phenomenon, really.  Every year on August 1st, hundreds of generic (but equally good!) glue brands go amiss until school resumes and then BAM!.  Those crafty little suckers are back on the shelf like they took a month long staycation.  Anyway, I eventually bought the blasted things after a heated discussion with myself at Target.  After a few side-eyes and uncomfortable throat clearings from fellow shoppers, I finally got over myself and tossed them (and a pair of scissors, for good measure) into my cart.  The only other thing I find completely overpriced and ridiculous are backpacks.

backpack, (bak-pak) n.: a forty-five dollar zippered piece of fabric that will inevitably tear mid-year; a forty-five dollar zippered piece of fabric that children carry everything else in except what they are meant to carry; a “sound investment” that will get left at home “on accident” on the most inconvenient of days.

...that happened.
…that happened.

And have y’all seen some of the designs on said backpacks?  They’re nuts!  I was walking through Target the other day (another, other day.. I’m there too much), and saw a bag covered in donuts.  DONUTS.  I pity the girl walking around with a donut bag this year.  I saw one that was shaped like Sponge Bob (..I can’t even) and another was a modified fanny-pack type thing that a newborn wouldn’t fit in.  Yeah, that’s real efficient.  Here, why don’t you make that thing useful and carry this torn-in-half tissue in there?  Careful, now… don’t strain yourself.

Gabe’s only in first grade, so I still understand the whole school supply thing.  And the list we had this year was, by comparison, not so bad.  His pre-k list was outrageous.  “Ms. Rose, I see here we need to fill out a form and send a check for one hundred dollars for NASA training?  Th-that’s correct?  Alllrighty then.”  I had to buy glitter glue that year, y’all.  GLITTER FREAKING GLUE.  Ask me how many times Gabe came home looking like he’d tried to catch Tinkerbell.  Go ahead.  Ask me.  I’m over it.. really, I am.  But don’t ask me how long it took me to buy the glitter glue and please, for the love of Jesus and pronged folders, don’t ask me how hard I cried over the price tag.

Boys of Summer

Boys of Summer

It’s the end of July, and you know what that means:  BABY GOT CLASS!  Thank Jesus.  Y’all, I can’t take much more of this summer “vacation” bologna.  Daycare drama is infinitely more “Days of Our Lives” than grade school could ever be.  You know Gabe came home a few days ago saying how most of his friends have girlfriends?  THEY’RE FIVE.  Six, tops.  Thanks a lot, MTV.  When I was six, all my parents had to worry about was whether or not I’d come home with gum in my hair… again.  They never worried about me and my siblings coming home all, “Yeah, so I met this guy at recess today.  We totally took a nap together after he shot Cheerios out of his nose.  I think he’s The One.”

Gag me with a spoon.  Kids that young don’t even KNOW the struggle and its realness.  But, I digress.

Anyway, school’s coming up soon.  I’m excited enough to go school shopping on the second craziest weekend of the year (tax free weekend) yet still dreading the unavoidable emptying of my pockets.  The kids’ birthdays are also in August, so we’re already tapped out.  But it’s alright, because school!  Do the thing, make the grades!

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I took the boys’ “annual day of birth” pictures early this year because this month is already jam-packed full of open house meetings, doctor’s appointments, and other various activities.  They were not completely thrilled with my decision because A) it was hot and B) they’re kids and don’t like to cooperate.  Such is life.

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their excitement is overwhelming.
their excitement is overwhelming.

We made it out alive, but barely.  I don’t understand the headache of birthday pictures… or just good pictures, in general.  If I tell the kids to say cheese at 7 A.M. on a weekend, fresh out of bed, in just their underwear and superhero capes, it’s not problem.  “What’s that, you say?  You need a bad millionth picture of us?  Absolutely!”  But good pictures?  “What, mom?  You need us to cooperate?  These pictures are going to family, you say?  Hang on… let me bang my head through a wall.”  Drinks may or may not have been had after the fiasco that from here on out should be called, “annual day of mom forgetting what a pain in the ass this is” picture day.  At any rate, we’re at the weekend.  Praise Jesus!  I’ll probably be begging Monday to carry its ass in t-minus twenty-four hours.

Happy Friday, y’all.

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On Letting My Heart Take the Hit

There are things that the heart will never learn to accept.  Somehow, it is easier to have one’s mind accept certain facts of life.  The human brain is (mostly) logical, after all.  No one ever said the heart beats on logic — and if anyone did, it was a cruel lie.

Gabe is gone for another long weekend.  I hate it.  I hate that he’s gone.  I hate where he’s at.  I hate that I’m not with him.  I hate not knowing how he is.  I hate it all.  He’s gone for another weekend with his “dad”; another round of things that have made my old heart bitter and full of hate — something I’m trying to drill into my kids as something, “we don’t do”.  If they only knew that momma was the biggest hypocrite on that ugly, four letter word.

I’m an admitted hypocrite on a lot of things regarding my kids; we all are, aren’t we?  Like it or not, hypocrisy is one of many driving forces of this great big world, and it has not been lost on me.  Not on everything, mind you.  I don’t tell my kids, “No, you can’t watch Game of Thrones,” and then turn around and watch it myself because, 1) I may be the only person in America who doesn’t care for the drama, and, 2) my kids have this tendency, it’s a gift, really, to walk into the living room well after bedtime and during the worst scenes of movies.  So, yeah.  Anyway.  I’m a typical motherhood hypocrite.  “No, you can’t have ice cream for dinner.”  I’ll admit that I’ve hidden in the pantry with a Skinny Cow bar for “dinner”.  You know how it is; don’t point fingers.

I’m a hypocrite to my kids for my kids.  Y’know?  So when I tell Gabe to love his dad, I’m preaching hypocrisy.  Because there are days, more often than not, that I’d just like to open a can of whoop-ass on that man.  When I tell Gabe not to hate…. I know, with a guilt-riddled heart, that I have no right to tell him so.  But I’m lying to him, and to myself, for him.  It’s crazier sounding typing it than it does reading it, I promise.  I want him to love his dad because he is his dad.  And, no, I don’t want him to hate the man — no matter my feelings.  I don’t want Gabe to ever know just how little his own father cares for him; that the only reason he’s over there is to fulfill a “parental right,” whatever the hell that means.  I’m all about being honest with my kids, no matter how much it hurts.  But this… it seems to great a revelation for my five-year old’s head to fathom.  So I let it go.  And I’ll continue to let it go — even when he ultimately realizes what we all have already, one day.

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Gabe will never, from my lips, know just how much effort I’ve put in.  How much fight I’ve fought and how many tears I’ve cried.  It’s not his fault that his father and I didn’t work out, after all.  He didn’t ask to be here, split amongst two entirely different families as though he were furniture.  Who would?  He can never know the resentment I’ve felt… knowing that I will never be the fun-carefree parent and will always be the steadfast, stick-to-my-guns parent.  I won’t be his greatest confidant for a long time, if ever, because I’m rough and tough on him.  Not to be ugly; not to be unfair… but because I live and breathe for that child.  Because I know he’ll make his own mistakes and I don’t want him to make those of my own, too.

I have hated for almost six years now sending him into an environment that I wouldn’t willingly walk back into.  I hate that I’ve allowed this to happen.  I hate that I didn’t put a stop to it when I could have because of my own juvenile fear.  I hate that I send him in blindly and I hate waiting for him to come back home.

To say that I wish I could take it all back… that I wish to reverse time… I can’t.  My life would be significantly less meaningful without my Gabe.  He’s here no matter how he got here, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.  And I hope he never understands my heartache; I hope he never has to send his children back and forth blindly.  I hope he doesn’t do what his momma did.  I hope I’ll never have to console him for this.  I hope he’ll never understand this particular brand of lies and hypocrisy.

I watched my own dad’s experience with this — the apple doesn’t fall far, you know?  I never in a million years imagined I’d have to deal with this.  But here we are, some twenty something years later, and my heart’s taking a hit that I could never wish on anyone else.  The pit in my stomach is roughly the size of Rhode Island, and there it will remain until he walks back through our front door.  Six years should be enough time to be accustomed to something; almost numb to it.  The way my heart tells it though, this is no different than day one.  For all it knows, that’s exactly what it is.

Do not tell me, “He needs to see his dad, too.”  Clearly, he sees the man.  I’m not withholding, no matter how much I’d like to.  Every situation is different; this is not my swipe at a grown man because we didn’t work out.  This is a confession of mine, plain and simple.  At the end of all of this… I just want Gabe to know that my heart is full with love and pride for him.  I fear that will never even cross his mind; irony’s cruel reality.

Reliving the Terrible Twos

Reliving the Terrible Twos

Before Connor, I thought I had learned a lot about parenting in general.  Gabe was almost four when Connor made his grand entrance, and in nearly four years I considered myself a “parenting pro”.  These days, I consider myself a parenting buffoon.  Bill Cosby said it best when he said this in one of his routines:

“[Two children] qualifies, because a person with one child, I don’t really call them a parent… because there are too many things left out.  For instance, if something’s broken in the house, you have one child, you know who did it! See, you don’t have to go through “I… I… I…”. You know the child did it! Also, people with one child do not have to go through “Willyoustoptouchingme?” I mean, if you got one child and the child is doing that, then you gotta take it away.”

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And he was right, y’all.  The older I get, the funnier that man becomes to me.  I don’t care if everyone is butt-hurt over whatever happened forty years ago.  The man was a parenting genius, and it’s funny because it all rings true.

Like I said, before I had Connor I thought I had this whole parenting gig figured out.  Gabe was such a good baby and not that bad of a toddler.  I knew what he needed and what he wanted, and unless I was at school or work, he had my undivided attention.  When I was pregnant with Con, Evan & I included him on everything throughout my pregnancy and I can say with certainty that he never felt left-out or unwanted.  He loved Connor from the moment he knew about him (adores him to this day) and was over the moon when he finally got to meet “liddle brudder”.  I was positive that having two would be no different except for the obvious addition.  I was WRONG.

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Two years and a few figurative heart-attacks later, I realize just how retarded I must have sounded to anyone who already had multiple children.  My house is a wreck.  My nerves… they’re a wreck.  I have forgotten the meaning of sleep and sanity, and I’m still trying to figure out how it’s even humanly possible to be SO PISSED OFF at my kids and at the same time LOVE THEM EVEN MORE than I did prior to pissed off-dom.  It’s a crazy thing, parenting two children (or maybe just boys…?  dunno).  Don’t get me wrong — single-kid parenting had its challenges.  Like… ah, hell.  I can’t think of anything.  Because everything that I used to think was hard or a pain in the ass… it really wasn’t, in hindsight.  There was a point when Gabe was challenging and I remember thinking, “How… the hell do people do this?!”  And now all I can do is laugh at my former self.

Connor has surpassed, “challenging”.  If I’d given birth to Connor first, the likelihood of there having been a second child would have been… not at all likely.  Connor is night to Gabe’s day.  I’ve never met such a strong-willed kid.  At least, I’ve never met such a strong-willed child that I didn’t want to throat punch on occastion*.  Forget the terrible two’s; Connor knows no prejudice to any age.  After six months, the jig was up, and he went from sweet, tiny little thing, to HOLY HELL, DON’T GIVE IT FOOD AFTER MIDNIGHT.

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I love both of my boys, don’t get me wrong.  I only joke about all of this because I make horrible, ugly faces when I’m crying, and I’m not trying to do that to you guys.  That said, isn’t adding levity to some situations the best way to get over them or to keep one’s sanity?  Gabe has his faults, that’s for sure.  Connor isn’t alone in antics and shenanigans.  But Gabe isn’t as good at hiding his shenanigans; craftiness isn’t his strong suit.  That’s probably for the best since the (almost) two year old seems to think he’s Billy the Kid incarnate.  I am officially taking a backseat to parents who have more than two kids and who have not lost their minds.  Hats off to you guys — I really have no idea how you do it.  And SAHM’s?  Know that I’m sending you a mental Nobel Prize.  Staying home with 2+ ankle biters under the age of 18, and without visions of straitjackets in your head… that’s both admirable and terrifying.  Meanwhile, I’m over here trying my best to not spill my beer while I’m rocking in a corner come  two o’clock every afternoon.  All kids are different.  Maybe not wildly different as is the case with my boys, but they’re different nonetheless.  What discipline or praise may work on one child will probably not work on the next.. or the next, or the next, etc.

For example, Gabe came home the other day with a report on unusually bad behavior.  I took away Legos and anything with a screen.  His chore list increased, as well.  I told him that he could earn stuff back over the course of a few days if I received reports of good behavior.  Over the week, he steadily earned back his freedom.  I haven’t gotten a bad report on that kid since.

Connor doesn’t learn that way.  Let’s just say that we have a local exorcist on speed dial.  We’re still trying to figure out what gets his attention.  Granted, he is two.  But I’d already figured out Gabe’s kryptonite at this age, so I’m hopeful that Connor’s will turn up soon.

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Connor is not all bad, obviously.  He can be so sweet and he is smart and wildly independent.  I know his independence can eventually be great thing.  Gabe has to work for things; not that he’s stupid or slow, because he’s not.  But if you’ve kept up with my posts you know what little road blocks Gabe has had to learn around.  Connor comes by things naturally and with ease; he clearly does not have all the disadvantages Gabe does.  And I’m thinking that’s a big part of his current problem.  He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it; he just can’t quite figure out how to communicate that.  It will come, in time… and with that time his attitude will smooth out.  Until then, I’ll be over here hugging myself, with or without the help of a jacket.  The Terrible Twos are here… and I’m still not ready for them.
*No children were harmed in the writing before, during, or after this post.
**Day drinking was also not a factor.

Legos: The Ultimate Deathtrap

Legos: The Ultimate Deathtrap

“You don’t know what kind of person you really are until you’ve stepped on a Lego.”

I said that to a friend on Facebook the other day, half-joking.  But it’s true!  The obstacles of parenthood are many, but there are few that can stand toe-to-toe with the dreaded Lego block.  And don’t be fooled; those tiny little pieces are the devil.  I stepped on a Lego man’s helmet the other day, ends pointed up, and I thought I was going to lose my left foot.  A plethora of swear words came pouring out of my mouth and Connor, our one year old, just stood there gawking at me.  He then shook his head as if to say, “Mom, you cray” and sauntered back down the hall.

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I don’t want to believe that my boys are leaving these random pieces around for my feet to find, but I’m starting to believe that my boys are leaving these random pieces around for my feet to find.  Catch my drift?  ‘Cause Lego blocks don’t place themselves (or, at least, I hope not), and yet they’re always around.  The kids are only allowed to play with said devil-blocks in their room, so how they’re ending up in the pantry, etc. is beyond me.  I even straight-up jacked all the clear ones because those little turds genuinely piss me off.  “Oh, you hurt me AND you’re trying to be stealthy?  AW HELL NO!”

The other night, in fact, I was walking towards my room when, suddenly, three Legos and a couple of Lincoln Logs came from out of nowhere.  A block took me by surprise, first.  I jumped, pained, and landed smartly on a Lincoln Log.  I repeated that ungraceful Merengue until finally I escaped the mine field of toy death traps.  I’d been down the hallway a million times that evening getting the kids bathed, putting Connor down, making several trips with folded laundry… and not once had I committed foot suicide.  But there, at midnight, my feet fell victim to toy tyranny.  And once more, an overflow of four letter words erupted, waking up Connor, causing another slew of curses – this time silent.  There’s a game being played here, I just know it.  Is someone filming the sequel to The Lego Movie in my house without telling me?  A heads up would be groovy.

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I’ve stepped on, kicked, and been pelted with many a toy, but Legos are by far my arch-frenemy.  Frenemy, because it’s all fun and games until someone steps on a tiny red brick that has it out for a pinky toe.  Plus, Gabe loves them, so they can’t be all bad, right?  ….I’ll get back to you on that about midnight when I’m hopping up and down, writhing in pain.

Childbirth?  No problem.  Broken arm?  Cake walk.  Lego lodged in foot?  I don’t want pink at my funeral.

Dramatic, much?  I’ll let you be the judge of that.  The only worse pain I’ve ever felt, and it was more out of embarrassment than anything, was the time I was walking down a sidewalk in DC and somehow managed to plant both feet in the middle of a newspaper bundle ring, which sent me flying a good five feet until I belly-flopped on the scalding, hard pavement.  That was more humbling to me than even my latest OBGYN visit.  But in comparison to Lego stomping…?  That’s a tough one to call.

Lackluster Potty Training 101

Lackluster Potty Training 101

Potty training.  It’s a bitch.  I hate it, y’all.  I know it’s a necessary evil, but gah.  It’s awful.  I started potty training Gabe around 18 months.  He didn’t care for it then, and, if I’m being honest, he still doesn’t like taking the time to go do the doo.  He does it anyway, obviously.  But he was a tough one to teach.  His SPD didn’t help matters and by the time the four year mark rolled around we were both a crying mess.  Finally he caved and I never figured out why he did.  I chose not to question the potty-training gods, though, and let well enough alone.

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Nearly two years later and Connor is actually showing signs of wanting to train.  So long as all he has to do is pull off all his clothes and run around bare assed.  The moment his little cheeks touch the plastic kiddy toilet, he’s up and done.  Running through the house in a flash.  Gabe liked books and small toys, so getting him to sit on the toilet was never an issue.  It was getting him to go while sitting on the toilet.  But Connor doesn’t like to sit still; he’d rather be climbing and streaking.  I figure he’ll be 40 by the time he’s finally trained to not drop trou and to use the toilet efficiently.

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Anywho.  A few years ago, Huggies had this PullUps commercial that I loathed.  I was a little bitter (okay, a lot bitter) about Gabe’s lack of progress and the Huggies mom was all put together and had built this sort of kinetic speedway for her kid’s first flushed BM or whatever.  Who the hell has the time for that?!  I mean, let’s be real here.  I’m not even going to lie; the whole premise behind it was genius.  And mad props to whoever put that bad boy together.  But I am not about to put together a kinetic freaking speedway the span of my entire house just because of a movement.  I’m not.  Because who’s gonna have to pick up that mess?  Mom.  Not to mention, that kind of thing gets to be expected and I am most definitely not constructing a different kind of celebratory racetrack every time one of the kids decide to save their underwear.  Not until I get a volunteer to do the dishes.  Which, with my luck, will never happen.

I’m kind of aggravated with all the hype of speed-training and over-rewarding-training.  Whatever happened to simple potty training?  Why make everybody feel like a parental failure and a potty training flop because we’re not throwing confetti and showing off engineering skills for something is natural?  It’s just ridiculous.  I mean, I’m not offended.  Really, I’m not even bitter (regardless of how the post sounds).  I’m just irritated.  Who the hell does that?  I’m the ultimate shortcut taking mom.  It’s not that I don’t care and it’s not that I can’t be enthusiastic.  But I keep it real.  And, real talk?  I’m up every freaking morning at five.  I get us all dressed and ready, fed, and chauffeured to various locations.  I work from 8-5 and in-between random doctor visits and occupational/speech therapies.  I maneuver around this errand and that errand and come home to clean my atom-bomb survivor house, cook dinner, and hose off the kids who appear to have trekked through a mud-pit at some point earlier in the day.  The fact that I’m not bribing my kids with candy and junk food is a friggin miracle and they’re doing good to get there chore list tackled.

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I guess bottom-line what really chaps me is this constant pressure to be a perfect parent.  I hung that dream up years ago.  And I’m alright with that.  Because making mistakes is part of the learning process.  And at the end of the day, I’m entitled to screw my kids up at least a little bit.  I love my boys and if I haven’t made that clear enough then I guess I’m not the mom I hoped to be.  But I make my kids learn by trial and error.  They have their own duties (even the one year old) and they answer for their mistakes (even the one year old).  They’re smart little guys and I put probably too much faith in their abilities.  So if my one-year old can load clothes into the dryer, wash his own hands, and bring me a diaper when he’s dirty, then he can potty train a la old school.  If constructing expressways in my bathroom is the only standing between me and good parenting, then so be it.  I’m too busy wiping butts and cleaning pee off the walls to care.

Them Hospital Blues

Them Hospital Blues

Two weeks ago, Gabe came up with strep throat.  No big deal, antibiotics, yadda yadda.  He seemed to improve over the next few days and then, BAM!, sick again.  It was pretty weird; of the two boys, I’d more expect Connor to be sick with something-or-other.  But this time, it was the big one.  And it blew me away.  His symptoms weren’t scary or anything — just peculiar.  I took him in Monday for what seemed like a hardcore cold or maybe a weird strain of the flu.  Anyway, long story short, they ran his pulse-ox and it was leveling out at 90 (it should be about 100).  He was also super wheezy and congested.  Diagnosis: Mycoplasma pneumonie, also known as “walking pneumonia”.  There’s no telling how long he’d been walking around with it and I had just been chalking it up to him feeling generally crappy.  So, while we were at the pedi’s office, they ran some breathing treatments to try and get his oxygen level to a good enough standing.  After two or three treatments, it still hadn’t budged.  His pedi admitted us to one of our local hospitals that afternoon and there we stayed until Thursday evening.

For all you parents out there who are constantly back-and-forth from doctor’s appointments and hospital stays, my hat’s off to you.  Especially those of you with multiple kids.  Lawd have mercy.  As luck would have it, Evan was out of town the same week for work and I was alone with the kids.  This is nothing new, in and of itself.  But I’ve never had to rush one kid to the hospital and leave the other one hanging without a way to get to them… ever.  Not knowing how I was going to get to Connor freaked me out just about as much as admitting Gabe into the hospital even for something that is, admittedly, not a big deal.  Thankfully, my parents stepped up that evening and kept Connor while I stayed with Gabe.  Ev’s mom kept him the night after and Evan was able to make it home by Wednesday.  And thank God for that, because Wednesday was a whole other craptastic chain of events.  The daycare called me not even thirty minutes after I’d dropped Con off to tell me he had fever and wouldn’t stop crying.  Cue Sarah ripping out chunks of hair.  I thought I was going to lose it right there in room 315.  Gabe still hadn’t shown any improvement and had, in fact, worsened slightly.  Adding Connor’s supposed sickness and leaving him stranded again was beyond agitating.  But, again, my dad stepped up and I was able to go get Con — only to find that he did not have a fever and was not sick (thank GOD).  I have a few theories on that, but that’s another post for another time.  My brother’s girlfriend also saved the day and was able to relieve my dad at the hospital until the hubs could get home.  Even for such a frustrating turn of events, I cannot, and could not, help but feel utterly grateful for the amount of help we received.  It is good to know that I have so many people who I can rely on and who are willing to reach out to me when things feel hopeless.

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I was able to stay with Gabe for the most part and he was a trooper.  The staff was helpful and patient and our stay was not bad, considering.  I slept on a pleather, rock-hard loveseat for three days and I am certain that I shrank two inches much to my waistline’s dismay.  However, hospital food has a way of keep a person “on the regular” and there’s a good chance that it wasn’t just a fluke that my pants seemed to fit better (if it was a fluke, please don’t tell me).  Come Wednesday, Gabe and I were both pretty much over being room-bound and we had to invent ways to entertain ourselves.  Thank Jesus for smart phones and Instagram, y’all.  And also for army men & hungry t-rex’s:

toys will be toys, after all.

toys will be toys, after all.

At one point, a respiratory therapist came in and saw my dancing man and laughed out loud.  I’m still not sure if he thought I was creative or just crazy.  I’d be lying if I said I cared at that point in my life.  Miraculously, Thursday morning, Gabe’s pulse-ox improved greatly and his wheezing was almost gone.  One last x-ray showed that the cloudiness that had been pretty evident was disappearing and we were later discharged — HAPPY DANCE!

The past few days have been full of breathing treatments and getting back to (somewhat) normal.  We’re never completely normal, though.  Gabe’s getting back on his feet and Connor is ecstatic that his brother’s back home and his addiction to gummies can be a thing again.  I’m pretty sure he was Jonesin’ hardcore for some gummies during that four day stretch.  Now if we could just get Con’s sleep schedule back to a decent routine maybe I’ll stop feeling so zombiefied.