Fifteen Things that Sum Up the Ridiculousness that is Parenting

Fifteen Things that Sum Up the Ridiculousness that is Parenting

I’ve learned quite a lot over the past six years as a parent. I’ve learned what to do and infinitely more what not to do.  Kids are often times the best teachers to have; from our kids, we learn how to live and how to love; how to be humble and how to be proud; how to keep it together when we ultimately just need to lose our shit.  You get the idea.  As a mom of two mad-crazy little guys, ages 2 and 6, I have begun to really lose my shit lately.  I’m not as cool and calm as I always thought I’d have been; my 12 year old self figured I’d be a hip, laid-back mom. BAHAHAHAHA.  These days, I’m so high-strung that a Stradivarius would be envious.  Thankfully, I have realized this and I am trying to find the humor in things that would normally set me off like a Roman Candle.  Because of my new-found work-in-progress, I have begun writing down little snippets of what parenting is to me.  Now, you may find yourself jumping on my bandwagon, and you may leave here today thinking I’m a total fruitcake (and… you’d be right).  Nevertheless, parenting is, like I said before, a life lesson for us all.  And so, for those of us who live in the real world of make-believe and near parenting-induced alcoholism, who also do not have the benefit of expensive live-in nannies, I present to you my list of “parenting is…”.  I hope it at the very least brings you a chuckle if not a Katniss-esque salute of sympathy.  I’ll be starting my list with one point that ventures towards the macabre — but I know y’all will feel me on this…

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  1. Parenting is: plotting out for weeks on end the murder of America’s favorite fictitious character, Mickey freaking Mouse.  Call it hateful, throw around the term “kill-joy”…. but that mouse is a parent’s nightmare on crack.  Now, did I personally always feel so violently towards the peppy, over-the-top excited little dude?  Nope.  There was a time I, too, was rather fond of Ears.  But Mickey Mouse Clubhouse has rendered me irritated, at best, with it’s unrealistic expectations of childhood behavior.  Not to mention, he’s Connor’s idol and a small mutiny occurs in our home every time that damn mouse is refused.  My mind is leaning towards a Saw like end to the Mouse.  I’m thinking a backwards mousetrap.  Too much?  Oh, well.
  2. Parenting is: wanting to get housework done, but the toddler is sleeping on the couch, and if parenting has taught you ANYTHING its, “Don’t wake the bear.”  Hello, Netflix marathon.
  3. Parenting is: stress eating cheap pizza because “For the love of God and my waistline, quit stalling and do your math facts!”  Move over, skinny jeans; the muumuu is strong with this one.
  4. Parenting is: hovering around the fridge, spoon in hand, avoiding hard stares and denying any knowledge about the banana pudding on the second shelf (behind the Country Crock, adjacent to the Dijon) and arguing that, “No! I’m not going to eat anything, promise! DON’T JUDGE ME, TODDLER!”
  5. Parenting is: a conundrum.  On the one hand, parents love to their kiddos sing pretty much anything.  On the other hand, hearing the chorus of any song over and over on continuous loop because that’s literally the only part of the song they know makes people want to pull their hair out and throw darts at the walls.  See also: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse freaking theme song.  Scooby Doo’s theme is equally annoyingly endearing.

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  6. Parenting is: telling the kids to shake it off after pretty much any injury, knowing full well that if it were YOU, you’d either A) swear at the air until the “ouchie” goes away, B) cry like your two year old who has been refused Micka Mouf, or C) stress eat anything that doesn’t move.
  7. Parenting is: repeating yourself calmly a thousand times over, in the most serene of voices, until something in you snaps and suddenly your neighbors all think you’re a metal-band groupie and, “Oh my gawsh, she ate a bat’s ear off, I swear!”
  8. Parenting is: hearing yourself say things — things that should never be said — and not knowing which direction the day will go afterward.  Case in point: I always say weird, off-the-wall things to my kids.  They do weird, off-the-wall things, after-all, and well… shit happens.  But the other day, I said within a five minute span, “QUIT LICKING THE DOG!”, “No, we cannot sell your brother.  No, I do not care that you need more Legos.”, “Santa does not bring presents to little boys who pull on their private area.”, “Please quit putting your butt on the window and put on some pants.”, “No, wiping your ass is not one of my favorite things to do.”  “No, I do not think I look like Velma.”, “We do not point guns at the mail lady.”, “No, I do not think she looks like Velma.”, “No, I will not smell your finger.”  Five minutes.  No lie.  I’ve thought about bringing my kids in for testing, but I’m afraid I’ll never get them back from testing.
  9. Parenting is: s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g  e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g… until your six year old breaks down that impenetrable code (damnit, ELA).  Then, parenting becomes speaking in movie references to anyone who will understand because said six year old is all, “I ain’t droppin’ no eaves.”
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  10. Parenting is: attempting to reason with a screaming, tantrum-throwing toddler, only to realize that it would be easier to do and sing the Hokey Pokey backwards and in Pig Latin.  It would also be more enjoyable.
  11. Parenting is: looking feverishly at that untouched bottle of wine in your fridge and managing, somehow, to save it for the weekend even when it’s been a Monday of a Wednesday.
  12. Parenting is: ending most days with someone in tears, someone else covered in Nesquick, and you on the verge of nervous breakdown… but, one way or another, finding the humor in it all, odds be damned.
  13. Parenting is: guidance, chauffeuring, chaperoning, disciplining, kissing booboo’s, and scaring away the monsters.
  14. Parenting is: being loved and getting to love.  It is special.  It’s a gift.  It’s humbling.  It’s pride-bearing.
  15. Parenting is: an experience.  Several experiences, really.  Ones that should be spent with your kids, not at your wit’s end.  It’s hard, it’s tiring, it can be a nightmare; but it’s worth it. They’re worth it.  And so are you, momma and/or poppa bear.

This Thanksgiving, I’m especially thankful for my kids.  I am proud of who they are — even if they drive me positively berserk.  They are my reasons to be thankful for anything; I am blessed beyond measure.  And tired.  I am so, so tired.  Time for the daily battle with Mickey Mouse.  I’ll give you a hint who wins: it’s not me.

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

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5 Reasons My Two-Year Old is Stripping

5 Reasons My Two-Year Old is Stripping

Ah, exhibitionism: it ain’t for all of us. My two-year old, however, has certainly taken a shine to it lately.  Usually for no rhyme or reason at all, at any time of day, I can find Connor butt-naked, riding some kind of toy or, like the other day, attacking his completely grossed out older brother, with nary a care in the world.  Take the other day, for example:  he had been playing in his room when the doorbell rang.  It didn’t occur to me then (though, perhaps, it should have) to check him out before he came bounding into the living room STARK FREAKING NAKED while I signed for a package from UPS.  I don’t know who was more mortified — me, or the UPS guy.  But Connor was delighted to show off his current lifestyle choice and showed zero signs of self-consciousness.

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This is a relatively new thing to Con.  Not too long ago, he hated being naked.  HATED. IT.  Like, “I will put on every ounce of anyone else’s clothing if I am not supplied with my own” hatred.  I’m not sure when the change occurred, but this new thing… I’m not feeling it.  Thankfully, he’s a little fella; I can still fit him in 24 month onesies without them looking all kinds of ridiculous.  I’ve thought and thought about what could possibly have triggered the new-found love for streaking; here’s what I’ve come up with.

  1. Luke Bryan.  No, I’m not saying Connor is stripping for Luke Bryan.  Keep your imagination in check, partner.  But the other day Mr. Bryan’s song Strip it Down came on, and while LB usually makes my kid cry (not even kidding — I always have to change the station in the car his songs come on), this time Connor stripped it down.  Subliminal message?  God, I hope not.
  2. Potty training.  Rather, the ongoing joke in this house that we call “potty training”.  For Connor, this simply means he sheds every piece of fabric and discards his diaper or PullUp accordingly.  But instead of running to the potty, he goes Marathon Man on me and runs, loose as a goose, through the house.  Kid’s pretty fast when he’s not suited up.
  3. He’s Tarzan incarnate.  He’s always had an affinity for the outdoors; perhaps he’s just trying to live out a past life?  We live in rural Louisiana; I can’t have little nude dudes running around my house.  They have laws for that around here, for crying out loud.
  4. He really enjoys grossing out our semi-modest six year old.  I really think I’ve hit on something here.  Connor comes bolting around a corner like a skinned squirrel and Gabe just dies.  Con thinks Gabe’s revolted cries for help is hilarious and climbs all over him like a spider monkey.  I’ll admit — it’s pretty funny.  Kind of contradicts my “keep to your personal space” rule, though.
  5. He’s a two-year old boy who has recently found every guy’s favorite body part and is innocently living the dream.  This is probably the real reason, although not as fun to think about like my Tarzan theory.  Gabe and Connor are night and day about EVERYTHING, and it oddly didn’t occur to me that they could be polar opposites on the subject of “modesty” (whatever “modesty” means in the light of little boys, anyway).  Gabe likes to be COVERED — even when he sleeps.  Connor, on the other hand, would be happy if I’d let him roam Target in the buff.  Obviously, that ain’t gonna happen.  I may as well let well-enough alone, though, and take solace in the fact that, for now, his little tush is still cute and said tush can fit into snap-able onesies.  Praise Jesus!  Hopefully this little phase of his won’t last too much longer… our UPS guy still can’t look me in the eye and with Christmas around the corner this could pose a problem.
Changing Leaves

Changing Leaves

It’s my favorite time of year again, y’all: fall.  Autumn.  Harvest…  whatever you like to call it.  I love the word “autumn”, myself, but living in a small-ish town in Louisiana, I get looked at funny when I toss that word around.  So I simply leave it at “fall” and go on with my days loving the cool(er) weather and, per the stereotype, pumpkin spice everything.  I loved pumpkin spice before it was trendy, so I make no apologies for the warmth and goodness of a good pumpkin-y, nutmeg-y latte.

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Anyway, I’ve always found that fall brings more changes than just crisp, cool air and falling, beautifully colored leaves; it always brings life changes — at least for me it does.  As if on pattern or cue, fall delivers to me different, sometimes intimidating, but always good change.  I seldom know what I or my family is facing, but I can usually rest-assured life will find its way of sorting itself out.  Fall has been closely followed by the birth of my children and brought with it the marriage of me and my husband.  It has been with me when I’ve faced new jobs and their challenges; it has even carried with it new friendships that I am blessed to still have today.  This year, it has given us the loss of my job.  As of last Wednesday, I am officially at SAHM status.  Things came up and it was made plainly evident that I needed to be home.  I. Am. TERRIFIED.

I have never not worked.  I have held at least one job (sometimes two or three!) since I could legally work and drive.  I had three jobs during my pregnancy with Gabe (talk about exhausting — working three jobs pregnant [two of which I stayed on my feet and even climbed ladders, etc.]), and stayed with my office job when I went back to school for my marketing degree (for which I still have not obtained).  I have always liked to stay busy and am not averse to working my tail off.  So this new stay-at-home-mom thing… it’s flooring me.  I love my boys, but I’ve never felt like I’m “stay at home” material.  I am gruff and grumpy… total momma bear.  I’ve never, ever been super good with kids and it’s always seemed easier for me to go to work and let them go to school or daycare for our “space”.  Admittedly, I hated only being with them from 5-7 every morning and 5-bedtime during our evenings and it really was vital at the time that both my husband and myself work; in today’s economy, it really does take two incomes unless you’re a Kardashian.  Well, I don’t know about you, but my hidden talent ain’t balancing a cup on my behind, so there goes that idea.

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Since I’ve been “home”, Connor and I have not been “home” for entire day… at all.  It may sound silly, but I get the housework done quickly and we bolt.  I’m too antsy to be hemmed in all day, so off we go.  What have we gotten done?  A little grocery shopping, a few errands here and there, and a lot of mall walking.  I’m pathetic.  I’m going to have to give it up eventually, I know.  But Ev can tell you — I don’t even do good staying home on the weekends.  I don’t have to spend a dime, but I absolutely do not want to be locked in a house all day.

But I have decided to make the best of it.  Starting Monday, Connor and I are going to do things at home.  He’s two, so potty training needs to take priority.  I forgot how hard that is to do in town (been four years since I’ve had a two year old, y’all) and he’s showing signs of being ready.  So I suppose we’re going to batten down the hatches and poop-proof the house until he gets the hang of it.  Tonight, we’re making homemade pizza and painting pumpkins (Gabe wants to paint his like Luigi from Super Mario®) after homework makes its painstaking existence known.  I have decided that just because I’m not used to being a SAHM, that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I will make the most of it even if it means I pull my hair out and look like Britney version 2007.  Afterall, fall has always brought with it changes for me — and how often has this season given me bad luck?  Fingers crossed for me, y’all.  Can you add SAHM to a résumé?  I already feel like a poorly informed, unpaid intern.  Sigh.

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Ten Things I’ve Learned Living With Little Boys

Ten Things I’ve Learned Living With Little Boys

I have been “mothering” for a little over six years, now.  Actually, if you want to be real about it, I’ve been “momma bearin’ it” for a little over six years.  I’ve done a lot of things I had previously said I’d never do.  I’ve said a lot of things I never thought I’d say — or have to say (one of my favorites: “Please stop trying to lick your brother’s eyeball”).  I’ve slept more than I thought I would have, and I’ve also slept much less than is probably necessary to function.  I’ve figured out that I’ll cover pretty much anything in ketchup if it’ll get my kids to eat and that I may be an enabler to my two-year old’s fruit snack addiction.  That said, I have learned quite a lot living with little boys.  I’ve Google’d, Bing’d, Wikipedia’d, and WebMd’d pretty much everything there is to Google, Bing, Wikipedia, and WebMd regarding kids (and on how to maintain my sanity sans booze).

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I posted a status the other day on my page about needing to learn to check the inside of my shoes before putting them on thanks to having Things 1 & 2 running around.  That got me to thinking, “What all have I learned since I’ve been a boy mom?”, which inspired this post.  This is the kind place my brain goes to around 10 o’clock every night instead of closing up shop for the day.  But it’s to your benefit this morning that my poor old brain is overactive, because here are my top ten things I’ve learned while living with my little monsters boys:

  1. It is absolutely vital that one check one’s shoes before putting them on.  It is in my house, anyway.  I’ve killed many a toe thanks to Lego blocks and even small action figures finding their way to the deep, dark recesses of my footwear.  I check those bad boys with a flash light and, some days, even something pointy so I don’t have to sacrifice my fingers.  My kids think they have jokes these days and I’m just waiting to “find” a frog or something in there.
  2. No matter how long and hard you preach, socks and underwear will likely never make it to the washer.  Shirts, pants, and even a stray tennis shoe will at least get to the floor in front of the washer.  I’ve washed plenty of change and even a wallet or two (oops…).  But I have to check under beds and other pieces of furniture for undergarments.  Connor, the two-year old, has taken to throwing his socks away these days, so I also raid the trash.  It’s pretty fantastic.
  3. Your kids will never need you for anything of dire importance once your buttocks are firmly planted on the toilet.  They will, however, need you to open a jar of pickles (why are you even in the kitchen?!), to ask about the theory of relativity (relatively speaking), and “why is brother wearing a blue shirt, because wasn’t he in green earlier?” (<— that happened).9b7ac1fff5f9305ce0181d24821e1202
  4. Sleep is a distant memory that I’ve grown to resent.  A night without the kids?  Sleep!  Not. even. close.  Housework?  Yep.  Binge Netflixing?  Naturally.  Simply sitting in the quiet?  Sure.  But sleep?  Not I.  I don’t sleep when my kids are home, and I physically cannot sleep if they’re gone for the night.  I’ve learned that I’m an utter weirdo, in that respect.
  5. “Batman and Mario are most certainly real and how dare you question their existence?!”  That conversation not only took place, but I felt sure that Gabe was looking at resumes for other mothers on the slick afterward.  I’ve learned that Mario, Batman, and even the Ninja Freaking Turtles are very real to little boys and damnit, do not question it until they’re at least in high school.  And even then… sore subject.
  6. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse will buy you a good five minutes worth of a shower.  That’s probably it, though, unless your kids zombie out to TV.  My oldest is guilty of that, but the little one will notice five minutes in that he’s not glued to my ass.6e9e5ca87735e1e5d80de6503442e8cc
  7. Little boys are rough and sturdy, but only if you let them be that way.  When Gabe was very little (about Con’s age), I watched his every move like a hawk.  Someone called me out on it and I backed off slightly.  Now that we have Connor?  Psh.  Unless there is a tremendous amount of blood or bones jutting out, our motto is, “Shake it off.”  Insurance premiums are expensive enough without tacking on minor cut and bobo costs.
  8. Little guys will always need cuddles even if they’re embarrassed to admit it.  Gabe has turned a page in his cuddle bear life; he no longer appreciates it when I give him a kiss (or a hug!) goodbye at daycare.  I’m lucky to get a fist bump.  But, if I play my cards right and no one is looking, he hugs me tight just as I’m walking out the door.  Only for a second, though — “the guys are looking, mom.”  Connor is only cuddly on his terms… he’s catlike, in that sense.  A grouchy little turd who wants cuddles one minute and will claw your eyes out the next if he thinks you’re enjoying getting loves.  I’ve learned to be as nonchalant as possible with that kid in regards to “love time”.
  9. There is nothing little dudes won’t take apart and try to put back together.  As is the case, my house looks like a replica set of “Sanford and Sons” on the regular.  We’re working on it, but some days it doesn’t even pay to act like I care.
  10. And finally, I’ve learned that little boys are tough and rowdy and put up a great “he-man” face, but they are pretty insecure little creatures, too.  Most days I tire quickly of being constantly called upon and tugged at… but I know one day it’ll all be long gone and I’ll miss it.  Funny thing, missing what you had once it’s gone.  So this evening I think we’ll curl up on the couch once homework, bath time, and supper is done.  We’ll have popcorn and watch Hocus Pocus and I’ll live in the moment while it’s here.  And I’ll probably wonder, most likely around 10 o’clock, what else they’ll teach me.  And I’ll wish I knew where the time goes and why, when it does, does it go so quickly.

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Postpartum Depression and Turning Corners

Postpartum Depression and Turning Corners

Every year, I try my best to write about my personal struggle with postpartum depression.  It was such a huge part in the turning of chapters in my life, and I feel obligated to share with other mommas who may be experiencing, or could experience, the same hell I lived in for several months of my life.  PPD is left largely undiscussed.  No one really talks about the post-natal depression because it still widely viewed as “taboo” or a “non-issue”.  Hell, the “baby blues” are barely mentioned.  That fact has left me gobsmacked ever since Gabe’s arrival six years ago.  In fact, the longer I think about, the more ludicrous it’s absence in every-day talk seems to me.

Even knowing my family’s history of varied mental illnesses and depression, my OB/GYN at the time didn’t even warn me of the possibility that I might develop the problem.  I was very young — twenty at the time — and might have heard of PPD in passing, but never at length, and never from the one person who could have filled me in.  I don’t blame him in particular — I blame society, mostly.  A society that is in no way, shape, or form idyllic has these contorted views of what the “ideal” mother should be.  I’m telling you right now — the society that runs the world today should have no say in what an “ideal” mother is.  Plain and simple.

But backing off blame, I’m here to urge anyone who might have this problem or knows someone who might have this problem to seek help — NOW.  Asking for help is not embarrassing.  It does not make you a bad mother.  It does not take away from your parenting abilities.  IGNORING the problem, however, will absolutely emphasize the problem not only for the mother, but also for the people that surround her — including her child(ren).

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I have found that opening up a bit about my own conflict with PPD has helped a few women seek help and counsel regarding their own struggles.  It is still somewhat difficult for me to come forward with my own story, but it is something I am more than willing to do to spare anyone of the terror that went on inside of my own head.  So, here goes:

My Gabe was born on August 20th, 2009.  As luck would have it, my heart truly began beating on that day.  I, however, wouldn’t have that feeling of pride and warmth for several months after the fact.  All my life I’ve been told of these miraculous stories of “adoration at first sight” upon a mother holding her baby for the very first time.  That this feeling of pure bliss just soaks down into very fiber of their being without question and without exception.  A love that, as I’ve said before, is nearly nauseating.  I didn’t have those feelings.  In fact, I was very nearly numb to everything — except terror and the unknown.  The unknown of what I was experiencing; the surprising terror of being petrified — of an infant.  I couldn’t wrap my head around it and I was certain no one else would be able to, either.  So I kept quiet.  I kept quiet for nearly a year.

I’ll go to grave believing that a plethora of factors contributed to my depression; family mental illness, being overweight and in an unhappy relationship, working three jobs from sun-up to sun-down… I believe all these things contributed to my issues.  Add to that a rash of unstable post-natal hormones?  I was just waiting for someone to put me in a padded cell.  My attitude towards everyone, not just myself, was deplorable.  I couldn’t not cry — any and everything made me bawl.  I was living with my parents at the time and refused to be left alone with my own child — I was out of control on a downward spiral.  I needed help and I knew it.  But, due to my fear and hardheadedness, I decided to wait.  I waited almost too long.

For months, I would climb into my grandpa’s old leather chair when my parents would settle down for the night.  So every night from 10:30 to 4:30 the next morning, I would sit there, in my “safe place” — forcing myself to stay awake.  I feared that if I slept, I would hurt Gabe.  He slept soundly every night in my arms — never suspecting; trusting me fully.  He didn’t know that the person he trusted the most had no faith whatsoever in herself.  One day after a long night, I couldn’t tell if I was awake or dreaming.  Awful thoughts and fears poured into my mind as though someone had removed the top portion of my head only to fill it with fright.  Horrified and feeling monstrous, I finally sought help.  Adding to the fear of losing my mind, was the new thought that I could feasibly lose my child.  That the possibility of having my son taken from me could lie in whomever I sought counsel.  Sitting in the counselor’s office didn’t help any — waiting alone, wondering what would be said… what would be thought.  Finally, after what seemed like hours, my name was called.  I was led to another smaller office where I waited once more.  I considered running — I considered calling the appointment off under the guise of a “reschedule”.  What little common sense I felt I had at the time finally took course and I stayed, anxious and alone.  And then someone with the kindest eyes came in.  She held my hand.  She listened.  She let me express every fear I had, no matter how silly or unreal.  I talked until I was out of words and cried until my face was sore.  And after all was said and done, she hugged me the tightest hug I’d ever been given.  She assured me that I was not crazy and that everything would be fine; no one was going to take Gabe and no one wanted to.  To this day, I have not experienced the kind of relief that I did in that room.

We continued to meet for quite some time.  I was prescribed a strong antidepressant that gradually became less and less.  The last day of that prescription, I enrolled in a local college — I had been given two new reasons to live my life fully.  I finally had my little boy, even though I was never physically absent… and I’d been given my life back ten-fold.  It became my wish from that point to today to educate and spread the word regarding postpartum depression in its every form.  I hope you will do the same if you took anything away from this post.

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Postpartum depression is real and horrifying.  But there is help and hope.  For more information on PPD, follow this link.  If you or anyone you know is suffering from or could suffer from this problem, please seek help and encouragement.

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

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.