Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Confessions of a Camp Mom

Sunday, I dropped off my sweet T at sleepaway camp. He's never been, and after 2 years of wanting it, it finally happened.

And it's about to kill me.

He hadn't even been gone 12 hours and already I felt like I might not survive.

This is new to me.  Not because I don't miss my kids when they're away, I do, but it's hitting me hard this time.

I mean, I didn't see my oldest for two weeks last summer because of camp and visits to his cousins' house, and I didn't feel like this.

My daughter went to her grandparents' for a week last year and I didn't miss her at all (but that was because she didn't give me a chance -- girlfriend sent me 176 texts over the course of 5 days, not to mention 2-3 phone calls a day).   

T went to his gradparents' for a week earlier this summer, and I was fine.  So what's up?

I can't talk to him.  And he surprised me when he got homesick at his grandparents' house.  And he hasn't been away really at all since he was tiny and now this is twice in one summer. 

And he hugged me so hard and for so long on Sunday that I thought he might have cracked my phone.  And said "I love you Mom...sooooo much."  And then hugged me some more.

And I don't know what that means.  Was he feeling nervous?  Was it just a love gush?  Was he trying to keep it together?  Did he think I was trying to?  Was he so, so happy?  Was he thanking me for sending him?  Or was he just being a love bug?

To be honest, he's been pulling away from me lately.  Totally normal, he is 10 after all.  But he's my baby and I'm not ready.  Little Meems has always been immensely, securely, in the fold.  Seriously, she may never leave.  She still says that when she grows up she wants to get married, have babies and move back home.  Lord help us.  And W, well, he's been been walking away from me since he could walk at all.  Those two are total opposites.  T is to gray what the other two are to black and white.

He's going to have so much fun.  He told me he was looking forward to a sense of freedom the most.  I want him to experience that too. I'm so excited for him.

Maybe it was I love you and I'll miss you and I'm excited and I'm nervous and I'm feeling a little insecure and also secure right here and goodbye and thank you.  All the feels, all at once.

Maybe it was just a mirror of my own feelings.  All the complex, confusing, overwhelming, make-you-crazy mom feels. 

All at once.

I'm counting down the days until I pick him up, but I am enjoying my time with the other two.  My biggies.  Life with them is so different when there's no little around.

And I have a new crack in my phone to prove it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

What Does 13 Look Like?

If you saw the number 13 today, would you recognize it?

I would. 

Today, 13 has curls. Giant dimples. Twinkly blue/green eyes.  Today, 13 is small in stature but big in heart. 13 is spunky and will challenge you. It will downright make you want to pull your hair out sometimes. 13 likes to hold hands with the people she loves. Even though she's 13.  13 loves BIG. When 13 loves you it's with everything she's got.  Today, 13 is wearing her favorite glitter Jack Rogers and pearl earrings.  She's excited to wear a little mascara. She's thinking she needs to wear more. She doesn't. 

Today 13 has her whole life ahead of her. 13 is going to do great things. I just know it. 

Today, 13 looks like this. 

Happiest of birthdays to my sweet Little Meems. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Don't Let This End

Today, I officially have a high school freshman, a 7th grader and 5th grader.

Gulp, high school.

I'm still kind of shocked. 

Today, to celebrate the last day of school, the freshman and 3 friends took off on their bikes for a fishing trip they planned. My son and his friends finished packing up their tackle and a bag of snacks, then hit the road and as I watched them ride away I thought, please God, don't let this end.

My daughter is celebrating her 13th birthday with her friends today. It is a sweet group of girls and I sit watching them laugh and play in the pool the way girls do, complimenting each other on their swimsuits and hair and lamenting about braces and just building each other up with love and I see how far we've come from last year - a tough year that shook her confidence - and I think please God, don't let this end. 

In my youngest son's pocket today, I discovered a note entitled "for emergencys [sic]".  Inside is spy information, along with his code name and status.  He told me the other day that when he grows up he wants to be a CIA operative and a music producer/DJ.  Not "or"..."AND."  So the note makes total sense, really.  The rest of it, well, if you know him you know that makes sense too.  He dreams BIG.  His imagination is too vast to see - these little snippets are but a glimpse into his world.  He's so big lately, but this reminds me he's still so little and I think, please God, don't let this end.

Time stand still.  Please??

Pleasepleasepleaseplease, God, I'm begging.

Don't let this end.

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.