Friday, January 27, 2012

Playing God

Today, I took the life of my oldest son into my own hands.

I feel strong, though.  I'm certain I have made the proper decision, despite what my critics might think.  Sometimes, we moms simply need to trust our instincts.  I would do anything for that kid...

...except let him wear shorts to school today.

Granted, it's 64 degrees right now.  It, however, is January and therefore it is not shorts weather.

He is certain he is going to die today of sweat.  He told me so.  Of course, he is wearing a double layer Under Armor sweatshirt, and he has no plans of removing it, I'm sure.  "Coat" my hiney.  That's his way of getting to wear it every a jacket.  Clever.  Especially since this is the kid who never wants to wear one.

He told me he doesn't appreciate me taking chances with his life.  I told him I was willing to take that risk.  If he needed me to pick him up from school today in a bucket, we would cross that bridge when we came to it.  If he dies, it's on my head.

I waved him goodbye, he shot  me a dirty look.  I got the silent treatment all morning.  I didn't mind.  Ah, the sacrifices we moms make.

Pray for us.  Pray that he won't perish in a tragic melting accident.  Pray that, if he does, I have the strength to go on.  Pray that I can be a solace to other mothers whose children have also melted...melted because they wore pants.

Meems has claimed his room.  I told her she's jumping the gun.

He's a good kid.  I sure will miss him.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Girl in the Big Wide World

When my Little Meems was born, we used to lay her between us on the bed and just look at her preciousness, and say "baby girl in the big wide world."

I don't know.  It's just one of those things you do and say.  You see, she was such a little thing, with (already) a big personality and a disarming charm.  She wasn't the cutest baby.  I can say that now that she's older, but it was true.  Cat eyes, huge fat baby cheeks, her nose somehow swollen from her time in the womb, and baby acne, all on a little pea head.  As much as I adore her and to me she's precious in every way and always has been, some of  her baby pictures will make you shudder.  Let's be honest, we don't all have beautiful children.  Or, rather, we do, but sometimes they're more beautiful to us than they are to others.

Of course, now I think she's the prettiest little girl ever.  Even at the advent of her awkward phase, which I was worried about, because I was an awkward looking child.  Just ask my dad.  Her big sparkly eyes, bouncy curls and dimples, and the disarming charm -- she turned out OK, grew into everything and now gets compliments on her complexion.

Today, for the first time ever, she rode her bike ALL BY HERSELF, down to her friend's house.  She's done it before, with her older brother, but never alone.  I asked her if she wanted to, or if she'd rather I drive her and of course she exploded into a dimpled frenzy.

I gave her explicit instructions about cycling safety and stranger safety.  The truth is, she wasn't going to be out of sight of a grownup watching her, as when I couldn't see her any more, her friend's mom could.  But there's a street which is an entrance into our neighborhood, and as such it gets more traffic.  Usually teenagers going too fast.  Her dad came outside to ask me if I thought this was a good idea.  Despite my misgivings and an overwhelming desire to scoop her up and never put her down, I assured him I thought it was.  Even though I wasn't so sure myself.

I watched her bundle up in her leggings, new fleece hoodie and her pink helmet.  Her braids hanging to her shoulders, she pedaled away as fast she could on her big purple bike.  I watched her all the way down the street, becoming a little breathless as she reached the intersection...and was so very amazed by and proud of her for following my safety rules.

And I started to cry.

Because there goes my "baby girl...out into the big wide world."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pajama Jeans

My son told me I needed to get a pair of these.

For the bus stop in the morning -- just add shoes!  And because when I get home from work at 4:00, I change into my pajamas (hey, there's no sense in changing twice).  And because at age almost-6, he already has a wicked sense of humor.

Although...he might be onto something.

Friday, January 13, 2012

What Just Happened?

A second ago, my sleepy little daughter smiled at me and curled up next to me on the chair.  Suddenly, out of thin air, this sweet little angel was replaced by a demon with red eyes and sharp teeth, lips curled in a snarl.  I think she might have actually growled at me while she was viciously rolling her eyes. 

All because I asked her (gasp!) what she wanted for breakfast. 

This has been going on for a couple weeks now.  She’s 8.  She can’t be hormonal yet, can she?  Does she even HAVE hormones? 

I have been struggling.  What don't I know?  What am I not seeing?  Is she lashing out because she’s hurting?  Is she acting out because there’s something upsetting her and she doesn’t have the words for it?  Does she feel wronged?  Is she struggling?  Is it me?

Or is it just a girl thing? 

It’s not been pleasant.  She is always in trouble these days.  I don’t know what to do.  She is an emotional wreck.  An emotional wreck who hates me one minute and is clinging to me for dear life the next, sobs wracking her little body.  There have been many, many tears…from both of us. 

I’m at a loss.  What’s worse than trying to guess what’s wrong with your child?  Than fretting over an internal struggle – real or imagined?  Than not knowing how to help your child…or knowing if she even needs your help?

I wish there was a guide book for children.  Is this normal?  You know, I've been prying so hard, trying so desperately to find out what's wrong...what if this is all completely normal?  She's always been a bit emotional and dramatic (oh, who'm I kidding, yes that's an understatement).  What if it's just pre-tween-ness?  GIRL pre-tween-ness.  What if this is just the beginning of years of eye rolls and snarky comments.      
She’s always kept me guessing.  I guess this confirms she always will.  And just when I was finally feeling like I have her figured out a little.  I guess it's time to pick my battles.  Honestly, if it means that this is just hormones and not some sort of unspoken trauma, I'll take it. 

I can do this.  WE can do this.  Me and a case or two of wine, that is.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy 14th Birthday

In November, we had to put our beloved family dog, Churchill, to sleep.  I still can't write about it without crying.  His bowls reside where they have for the last 6.5 years.  I can't bear to get rid of them.  I actually decorated the wall above them for Christmas, hanging the letters to spell "JOY."  It was only afterward that I realized I had decorated completely around them, centering the letters on the wall above his bowls.  When I decided it might be time to take the bowls away, I couldn't because JOY now looked ridiculous and off-balance.  So I had to put them back.  And there they have stayed.

Tomorrow would be his 14th birthday.  

I miss him so much.

We're getting used to the difference not having a dog makes.  It's quiet.  Less vacuuming.  More vacuuming (crumbs abound under our kitchen table now).  The freedom to come and go as we please.  It would be easy to get used to it.  

Too easy.

But I look around the house at all his photos and, quite like my arms ache for my children sometimes, my arms ache for something warm and furry and wiggly.  Christmas is over and a long winter stretches in front of us.  T is turning 6.  There are no babies in our house anymore.  And we all love babies.

Especially the kids.

I'm ready for the next chapter.  I will always miss my baby Church, but I look forward to a true "family" pet, one for which we all can be responsible and with whom we each can form our own unique bonds.  I'm eager for the kids to know what it's like to hold a sleepy puppy, to play with a dog that has the energy to match theirs, to experience the first time that lab puppy perks his ears and cocks his head at them.  I want them to teach her tricks and to take her for walks.  That's right, her.  This is the closest Meems will get to having a sister.  It's our main requirement.

The kids are ready, too.

Now we just have to work on their dad...    

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

That Time of Year Again

My new year's resolutions.  My list to remind me of who I am and who I want to be.  My reminder to myself that I'm only human, and that sometimes good enough is good enough.  My checklist of the ways I want to be a better person, mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter.  So here goes:

  1. Get organized.  I know, you've heard it before, but if it's not on my list, I cannot be accountable.  Although, I have made great progress in this area.  You can't have three children, a job, a business, freelance clients, guitar lessons, lacrosse practice, gymnastics, karate, homework, projects, tutors and a husband who travels constantly and not be.  You just can't,
  2. Go to the doctor.  Really, I shouldn't have to resolve to do this, but alas.  Two weeks into a sinus infection I finally made myself go, and now I'm begging someone to bash me in the head.  So. Much. Pain.  I need a complete physical, a trip to the dentist, a trip to the dermatologist.  It's shameful to think of how long it's been since I've had to any of these.  Time to swallow my pride.  My family needs me.
  3. Carve out time with my husband.  He too often gets overlooked in my crazy life.  
  4. Find new family fun.  My kids are at great ages for exploring and doing.  Explore and do, before they are over exploring and doing.  
  5. Relax.  Yesterday was a free day for me.  I was sick and needed to rest, but couldn't relax because of my mental to-do list.  
  6. Exercise.  My family needs me.  And bathing suit season will be here before you know it.
  7. Take time for myself.  Moms tend to put ourselves last on our "to do" lists.  I need a night out, a weekend away, a day where I don't have to worry about anyone else.  I need clothes too, sometimes, cute clothes and not just from Target.  I need to treat myself occasionally.
  8. Hug my children less.  Crazy, right?  But because they're growing up and wanting less snuggle time with me, I have gone into overtime with my grabbing them and hugging them and kissing them...and it's making them crazy and me seem like a lunatic.  As T would say "Mom, back off a little."  I need to back off a little.  It's going to kill me, but I need to respect their space.
  9. Be thoughtful in my answers and directives to my children.  Their questions are getting harder to answer as their awareness of the world gets broader.  So far, the hard questions have me babbling like an idiot in response as I try to think and answer simultaneously.  It's not working.  I need to learn to pause and process, then answer with something they can understand and relate to.  Babble loses them every time.  I'm losing them frequently these days.
  10. Be kind.  Be gentle.  Be patient.  Be gracious.  Be forgiving.  If I can do one of these, the others will fall in line.  If I can do all of these, I'll be the example to my children that I want to be.