Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Best

I had the best morning last week.

After a vicious slash in his lacrosse game, my oldest son was experiencing a lot of pain and swelling in his hand across his knuckles. Fearing a break, we headed to the Orthopedist’s office. They know us now. Seriously, it's like old home week every time we go in there. We may have single handedly paid one of the doctors' medical school bills.

Let me tell you, it was awesome. And yes, I'm aware that sounds crazy, and it most certainly IS crazy, but let me explain.

Awesomeness #1: Nothing was broken. Some Advil, rest and ice and we are good to go. Although he told the doctor his pain level was a 5 or 6 when he had told me it was a 8 and I could've killed him in that moment.

Awesomeness #2: Time alone with him. Even if he’s not saying anything, as his mother I just love being in his presence. As he won’t let me hug him, proximity is my savior. I'll take what I can get.

Awesomeness #3: He was in a good mood. Probably because he was missing math, but still, I’ll take it. 14 year old boys are tricky and more and more often lately, I find myself dealing with a know-it-all twerp who thinks he’s smarter than everyone. Can I get an amen from other moms of 14 year old boys?!

Awesomeness #4: He TALKED. He actually spoke words that weren’t mostly grunts and I could hear him instead of it being all under his breath. And he talked A LOT. We had actual conversations, serious back-and-forth exchanges that weren’t me just asking him questions and him grunting. Oh, the grunting. Do you know how rare that is? Well it is, and that’s why it’s awesome.

Awesomeness #5: No phone emerged. Not even once.

Awesomeness #6: As I watched him head off with the very cute X-Ray tech (I think I even caught a little sheepish grin) I realized that he was taller than she was. He’s not taller than anyone. Seriously, he’s known among the JV lax parents as “Little 27.” And it took my breath away because for the very first time, I saw a man-child in place of my baby-child.

Awesomeness #7: As he left with her and just as I was getting a little verklempt about my man-child, he did a little jump to touch the top of the door frame, and suddenly things were back to normal.

Awesomeness #8: He asked me questions – about our old house, where he would go to school, if we ever thought about having 4 kids. He told me some of his memories of our old house (we moved when he was 3), he asked me why I worked, he asked if he could get a real job next summer instead of watching his siblings. He asked me if I liked my job and if I could do anything, what would it be? He actually ASKED me questions about ME.

Awesomeness #9: When we ran by our house to get Advil, he decided he wanted to pack lunch and so he did. Of course, it was probably another stall tactic not to have to go to math, but whatever. I didn’t have to do it.

Awesomeness #10: When he exited the car at the school, he said “love you mom” without me having to say it first and him grunting in return. Y'all!!!!  My heart was full. I was a copay cheaper and I had to miss lunch so my stomach and wallet were empty, but my heart was full to bursting.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living a Beautiful Life

The other day, as we were driving home from my youngest son’s lacrosse practice at 7:45, my daughter remembered she had a social studies project due the next day.

That was a Wednesday.  Wednesdays are hard.  My husband is typically out of town, and the kids have activities that are back to back on opposite sides of town.  Wednesday is one of those days were everyone has to make sacrifices – my sons, because they have to go to my daughter’s track meets, where they stand around for an hour or more to watch her run for 15 seconds (not getting homework done); my daughter, because she gets dragged to lacrosse practice for both brothers.  One has practice from 5-6:30, the other from 6-7:30.  Both practices are at the same sports complex, but it’s a good 20-25 minutes from our house, especially with traffic.  So, our choices are either take one kid to practice, come back, get the other’s stuff and turn right around and head back to drop him off, wait for the first to finish, bring him home, turn around and head back down there and then come back home again – or we stay there and make the best of it. 

We stayed and made the best of it.  On this particular day, she wasn’t running, so she had completed her homework, and it was a beautiful day.  I took my running stuff and I felt like I was winning, for a change.  We hadn’t eaten dinner and were discussing where to stop and pick some up and then she dropped the bombshell.

My initial thought was DAMMMMMMMIIIIIIITTTTTTT.  It was late, I was tired, she was tired.  She had forgotten, and after some back and forth and deep, exasperated sighs (from both of us), she apologized for forgetting. 

She’s human. She’s 12.  She’s imperfect.  I’m human.  I’m 45.  I’m imperfect.

Denying myself the indulgence of my frustration and anger, I assured her we’d figure it out.  That's what she needed from me.  A few deep breaths and a sandwich later, we sat down and got started. 

It took her 3 hours.  I sat with her, I helped her figure out where to find the information she needed, I helped her toss around ideas for how to illustrate things like the Townshend Acts and the first Continental Congress, all while getting two other children fed and one tucked in.  Together, we rolled up our sleeves and she got the project done. 

At one point, she looked at me and squeezed my hand and said, “I think you’re the most beautiful Mom in the world.”

This comment had nothing to do with my overall physical appearance.  I had been running, so my hair was sweaty and my makeup long gone.  Mayonnaise had leaked from my sub and stained my shirt and my ponytail was a frazzled, tangled mess.  My face was still beet red and the little patch of gray baby hair on my forehead was sticking straight up.

For her, it was about my heart and the fact that I hadn’t yelled at her and that she felt safe and supported and connected.  I was kind and patient with her in her hour of need and panic. And to her, that was beautiful -- me on the inside.

And it made me realize, I haven’t been very beautiful lately. 

I yelled about laundry this morning and I nag about chores, and I do a lot of exasperated sighing over the messes they leave everywhere and the fact that she asks for my help with homework then fights me tooth and nail every minute of it.  I am quick to lose my patience.  Too quick.  I have been feeling the burden of being a single parent more than I want to be and trying to do it all and be there for everyone and feeling resentful that I am losing sight of who I am and sacrificing my needs for everyone else’s.  I have a teen and a preteen and, while they’re amazing kids, they’re a teen and a preteen and they are fully entrenched in their oblivion for anyone and everything else besides themselves.  I’m at my wit’s end more than I want to be and in addition to work and being everything to everyone, I’ve coached and volunteered and I am stretched thin.

And I am yelling. And frazzled.  And just getting through.

I don’t want to yell.

I don’t want to be frustrated.  I don’t want to be overwhelmed.  I don’t want to be impatient.  I don’t want to let stress take the fun and beauty out of my life.

It took my daughter, who has the uncanny ability to recognize beauty in the smallest of gestures, in the most unlovable of people, to remind me that I’m doing it all wrong. 

I can either choose to be the happy, patient mom or I can choose to let the frazzle take over.  I can wallow in my exhaustedness and let my mantra be “just get through it” or I can stop, take a deep breath and really experience it.  When I feel frazzled, I turn to my efficient mom-bot mode, which is great for making things happen and making people think you're all together, but overtakes joy.

I choose the former.  I choose to be the beautiful mother my daughter wants to see, that my sons and husband want to see. 

The next night, my son’s practice ended early.  I made dinner and we actually ate at the table, instead of on the fly.  Just me and three kids.  We talked and I asked them questions and we laughed, which is something I feel has been missing lately.  I felt connected to them, and relaxed, and I felt like the mom I wanted to be instead of the mom I fear I have become.

My life is beautiful – so full, so busy, so blessed, so fun. 

Leave it to my Little Meems for reminding me to live it that way.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Stupid Valentine's Day

This year, for the first time in 9 years, I only have to buy valentines for one child.

Can I get a hallelujah?!

I almost bought no valentines, because I almost forgot entirely.  Poor neglected third child.  

After apologizing profusely, I told him that I'd take him after school to pick some out.  OR, I could grab some while I was out running errands.

"You just get some.  I don't care what they look like."


At Target, my choices were weird Pizza valentines, Frozen, Superheroes, Ninja Turtles or Mustaches.  I chose the mustaches.  He's in 4th grade after all.  And although he doesn't care about Valentines, a certain amount of street cred would be sacrificed if I came home with Superheroes or even the weird pizza ones.  Certainly, considering his lack of enthusiasm (which was really more like throwing his head back and groaning "uggggghhhhhhh" when I told him he needed valentines), I was not about to buy anything that said "Be Mine!" or "You're the cheese to my pepperoni!" So mustache tattoos it is.

"You need to do these.  Tonight.  And you need to decorate a box."

"Whaaaaaaaaat?  Why do I need to do them tonight?  Ugh.  This is so STUPID.  And what's the box for?"

I leveled my "are you kidding me" gaze at him and ignored his last question.  Or all the questions. "Because the party is tomorrow."

"Uggggggggggghhhhhh.  This is so STUPID."

"Yep, you said that.  Now get busy."  And I left him to his own devices.  Poor neglected third child.

To his credit, he did what I asked.  The box was decorated with red foil wrapping paper slapped together with some camouflage duct tape.  Sweet.  Apparently, perforated paper is a puzzle, because the mustache tattoos were, well, rustic looking.  The protective film kept falling off and some of the valentines were torn. But hey, they were done and I didn't have to get involved.  #canigetahallelujah

Poor neglected third child.

This morning, I opened the box to inspect the state of his valentines.  They were all signed with his name, but none of them was addressed.

"T, you have to write your classmates' names on them!"

"Why?  This will make the whole process faster.  Just drop it in and not have to sort all the names out."

Although he has a point, I am a mom and I am a girl who remembers valentines and the consideration that went into who got each one.  "But people like to see their names.  They like to feel like you took the time to personalize each and every one."

He leveled his "are you kidding me" look at me and announced that no, he wasn't going to do that.  "Besides, this is all so STUPID."  Yes, you made that clear, son.

4th grade mom friends, if you are reading this, then chances are you have seen the sorry excuse for a valentine your child received from my son.  My apologies.  He is a poor neglected third child and I am a tired mother who chose not to fight this particular battle.  I hope you understand and know that, in the future, should you find this happening to you, I will not judge.  I've got your back.

Happy "ugggggghhhh, this is so STUPID" Valentine's day.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree

It's January 3rd.

Tomorrow, my children return to school.  No more sleeping in.  No more lounging around.  No more letting them eat whatever they want for lunch as long as they make it and it's not candy or involves syrup.  No more curling up in the big chair with my laptop and a steaming cup of coffee, taking my time to wake up and get moving.

In other words, back to normal.  Sigh.

It's January 3rd.  It's time to begin dismantling the holidays.  I looked around tonight and my heart sank.  My home always feels so warm during the holidays...I'm not ready to give that up just yet.  I love the greenery and the lights and the festive twinkle everywhere (and I am not afraid of the festive twinkle, my friends).  At Christmas time, I pull out all my favorite things -- my ancient, falling-apart cellulose Santas and their reindeer, my mercury glass collection, fresh greens in every bowl and vase, my Christmas ornament collection cultivated lovingly over my entire life (and that now includes ornaments for each of my children cultivated over their entire lives), my glass icicles and antique five-and-dime store glass balls that have become cloudy with age but were my grandparents', my strange assortment of folk art angels that my mom decided she didn't want any more -- everything has a memory or just makes me happy.  But it can't stay up forever.

Or can it?

I mentioned that I need to start dismantling the tree tonight to Little Meems.

"Oh no, mommy, not just yet!" At the age of 12, if she's calling me mommy she's really in need of me understanding her.  "It makes me so happy to come downstairs and see the tree.  I know Christmas is over, but there's just something about the way it makes me feel when I see it, like hopeful or something."

We have spent the better part of our holiday vacation visiting with family.  She has soaked up every moment of it, for no one loves family more than she does.  It is not unusual for her to cry pulling out of a cousin's driveway, or watching her grandparents drive away.  Nothing makes her happier than being surrounded by the people she loves most in the world and who love her just as much.  As we are coming off of 2 weeks of nonstop family and fun and travel and laughter and holiday magic, I can see that to take the tree down would destroy her right now.

It's a beautiful tree.  It's still fragrant, still green, still very much healthy and going strong.  Which is unusual for us.

So it's staying up, for a little longer anyway.  While she feels all the feels and until the empty hole that family left heals a little bit.  Like a bandaid for her soul.  To take down the tree right now would be to rip off that bad boy off mercilessly.  It's not the tree itself, it's the feeling it evokes.  The feeling all of the sparkle evokes.

It'll be dead within a week, which should be perfect timing.  That'll give me time to do some other dismantling, although as I write this, I've been looking around in a quest for what can stay.  It IS winter after all.

Why not enjoy it, ALL of it, just a wee bit longer?