Friday, June 16, 2017

All the Feels

Yesterday, my baby "graduated" from 5th grade.

It's the end of an era for us.  10 years of elementary school -- POOF!

I thought I was totally OK about it.  Truthfully, I was more relieved to be done with elementary school than I was sad that my wee one was moving on.  He's ready.  I am too.

Or so I thought.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was watching some movie that was on with him, relaxing after the culmination of a crazy week, I burst into tears completely out of the blue.  This wasn't your everyday nostalgic weepiness.  Oh no, it was full on, ugly, "oh no mom's lost her s*&^" crying.

Ok, truth.  It wasn't completely out of the blue and for no apparent reason.  It was because I looked over and saw my little T loving on the dog.  Which, clearly, caused every feeling I have ever had EVER to come pouring out of me like the bathtub overflowing into the family room below.

That's how horrifying it was.

Two kids stared at me with alarm, followed by concern and confusion.

My compassionate one yelled "what is WRONG with you?" in her panic.  So she's not good under pressure.  Maybe nursing isn't her calling after all.  We'll work on that.  T just stood there, not knowing what to do.

"Is it because T graduated from school today?  I know, our little baby is growing up," she said with a knowing nod, met with a scowl and an exasperated sigh from her little brother.

baby belly on the beach

I explained, through my sobs and mascara streams, that it was because of how much Tate loves the dog.   You should have seen the looks on their faces.  Marching on, I explained that that unconditional love he feels for her and she feels for him is how parents feel about their children.  How they want to just hold their children forever.  How a mom's arms feel so empty sometimes and that we hold our children because we love hugging them, but also because for just a few fleeting moments, the children we hold so dear to our hearts are actually thisclose physically to them.  I acknowledged it sounded crazy and assured them they would understand one day.

I told them it's hard to watch your babies grow up and grow away.  That suddenly, nothing will ever be the same because he walked across that stage and that's it - the end of that chapter.

Add this to my growing list of lasts

i might cry again

Then I recovered, and everyone went on their way.

I went to the grocery store and bought three bottles of wine.  And then I sat on my porch by myself and drank a nice glass of rose and quietly settled into my new reality.

You know what?  My new reality makes me feel really old.  So, there's that.  But it's OK.  I'm ready for new adventures and this next phase.

But I may need another glass of wine first.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Stupid Valentine's Day, II

You would think I am asking him to stick toothpicks in his nail beds.

You would think he is being forced to eat bugs. 

I think he'd rather eat bugs. 

You might wonder if I'm making him hug his sister and tell her how special and wonderful she is. 

It's Valentine's Day. So, pretty much almost as bad.  

They're Valentines. All he has to do is fold them and address them. I bought them. Sports for boys, glitter for girls. 

But here he is, sitting in the floor, actually doing them.  And he's not complaining!  Although when I told him to get the class list so he could address them, he leveled his best "yeah right" look at me. Whatever. Truthfully I feel like I'm dying so I can't even bring myself to care. 

I used to be Pinterest mom. I used to be more invested than this. And then I tried to Pinterest Valentines for 3 kids and found myself waaaay more invested than I ever planned. As in having your husband yell at you for having spent what?!?! 

This is my last year for class valentines. I am not sad. At all. 

Neither is a certain 11 year old boy. 

Happy (stupid) Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 6, 2017


Because sometimes it feels good to come clean...even if my house isn't and probably never will be.

1.  There is a stack of thank you notes I just discovered on my kitchen counter from Christmas.  It's February.  At this point, I am embarrassed to send them, but also embarrassed not to.  Ugh.  Why does this always happen?

2.  Speaking of Christmas, there is a decorated tree on my screened porch and garland wrapping around the deck railing.  It's February.  Every time I see it I make a mental note to take it down, then I look at it.  And it's all the tinsel and lights and dismantling the fake tree and thinking about it zaps my energy and so I just walk back inside and promptly forget about it.  I'm too lazy to take it down.  Think I can find a space large enough to store it completely assembled?  Oh, and I also misplaced the cream and sugar bowls while holiday-ing up the joint and now I can't find them, so we are still using the Christmas dishes.  Oops.

3.  I just rewashed a load of clothes that I forgot was in the machine.  It may or may not be the third time it's been washed because I keep forgetting about them.  Anyone else? (and as I'm reading this over before hitting "publish" I realize they are STILL there and I better go do something about it.)

4.  I'm so ready for spring sports to begin.  I know, I know, that's crazy talk (especially after fall when we have something every day) but with it getting dark so early and everyone stuck inside because it's cold, it feels like we're all just floating around the house from 6:00-9:00 every night, not knowing really what to do with ourselves.  We are a family that requires structure.  I am a mom who (apparently, who knew?) requires structure. We are a family that requires outside and activity.  It will make me crazy and stressed, but I love it when the kids are active and I get to watch them do their thing.  Plus the TV won't be on as much. 

5.  I am learning the importance of taking care of yourself.  Not just your health, but your heart and mind and needs.  The one benefit of our more loosely structured days is that I have time to work out, so I guess I should be careful what I wish for (see #4) since this is something I'm loving.  I admit it sometimes feels wrong to jet off to the gym when the kids are home doing homework (am I the only mom who feels guilty for leaving them when I "feel" like I should be home?  Two of them are teenagers, after all, but still) but it makes me a better mother.  Working out saves my sanity and makes me feel like I have accomplished something...ANYTHING...productive and good (see #s 1 and 2 above).  And if I need alone time, I seek it.  As an introvert, I have learned this is necessary for me to be a good wife and mother.  At this point, I must say it's nice to not have to have a constant ear out for the kids to make sure they are safe/out of trouble.  Which leads me to...

6.  As much as it pains me that my children aren't babies anymore, it's also kinda wonderful.  Not having to have my finger on what they are doing at all times...well, it's amazing.  There once was a time when if I didn't know where Little Meems was or hear her playing, it meant paint on the carpet or sharpie on the car seats or her giving herself a mullet.  It meant W trying to jump off the top of the swing set (but Mom, I'm wearing a rope) or T climbing to the top of the holly tree in the front yard (which is as tall as our house and prickly).  Don't get me wrong, there is the occasional "OMG!" moment because that is my life and those are my kids, but mostly I can relax. 

7.  I have a hard time relaxing.  When I have down time, I feel guilty because there are always a million things I could/should be doing.  Like maybe taking down that tree.  This takes us back to #5.  Down time is OK.  Repeat: DOWN TIME IS OK.

8.  I used to think once the kids were older and didn't need babysitters that my husband and I would be free to have some sort of social life again, or at least date nights.  The reality is I love nothing more than being home with them.  Last night I made a ton of food for the Super Bowl and we stayed in, made a fire and ate and ate and ate.  Everyone watched the game and, although W wasn't there, it was awesome, just to have that family time.  Funny how priorities shift.

9.  I only ate a bowl of cereal yesterday so that I could eat all the snacks for the game.  When I admitted this to my family, my sweet T chimed in "Me too!  I didn't eat anything all day!" and my husband admitted he'd eaten only some carrots and hummus.  These are my people and I adore them. #getinmahbelly

10.  Today an email update came from the elementary school that really bothered me.  The author used an 's to pluralize the word Thursday.  Not only is this a pet peeve of mine (why do so many people do this?) but am I wrong to expect better from school? 

for real

Off to do some laundry and I think I'll tackle the garland on the deck.  The tree will have to wait. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Growing List of Lasts

Tuesday my sweet T turned 11.

How is this possible?!?!

Watching your children grow is all at once excruciating and exhilarating.  It's especially excruciating when you are experiencing all your last child's lasts.

I tried to explain this to him the other night, when I was hugging him a little too tightly, explaining it would be the last 10-year-old hug I would ever receive from my children.  I explained to him that while all of his firsts, and his sister's firsts, and his brother's firsts are significant, so are their lasts.  Especially his, because that means they're my lasts too.

The last time I gave him a bath was the last bath I gave anyone.

The last time I kissed a booboo was the last time I kissed a booboo.

The last time I rocked him to sleep was the last time I rocked a baby.

The last time I wiped his nose was the last time I wiped a nose. (not gonna lie, not gonna miss that)

The time I taught him to tie his shoe or ride a bike or how to burp super loud (c'mon, you've got to teach them some fun stuff) is the last time I'll teach anyone to do those things.

The last time he walks out of the elementary school will be the last time I do too.

The last time he asked me to carry him up the stairs was the last time I'll carry him.  Any of them.  Ever.


I'm having a hard time letting him grow up.  He's my last baby and MY LAST BABY.

My oldest son came home from a trip recently, bent over to hug me, and spoke to me in a voice I didn't recognize.  Where did this man-child come from?  I have three and a half years left with him before he leaves for college.  Just three.  I don't know where all the years in between his birth and now went.

So, it's especially bittersweet to watch T grow up and grow...away, like his brother and even his sister.  Until he does, I know I will treasure every day with this kid who I love so immensely.  And I will enjoy every little milestone, first or last.

Because sometimes it's hard to know just which is which.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow Days

I would love to be one of those moms who gets super excited about snow days.

I don't.

Let me start by saying that we have been back to school for only a week after a full two weeks at Christmas.  Those two weeks were honestly lovely and I enjoyed every minute.  But, now we are facing a week (potentially -- we're in Richmond, after all) of no school AGAIN and my kids seem to think it's some sort of awesome vacation opportunity.  And it's up to me to make the magic happen.  

Um, no.  I don't do snow.  I know my last post was about magic, but I'm only human and I have my limits.  Snow days are not in my repertoire.  Besides, everything can't be magic all the time.  

Go outside and play.  School is cancelled because THE ROADS ARE TERRIBLE, so no, I won't be driving you to a park 10 miles a way so you can sled.  I'm sorry there's no good hill in our neighborhood but we live in Richmond -- there are few good hills anywhere.  Yes, I grew up in the mountains and everything was a hill so I can imagine it's a bummer but I'm not interested in risking life and limb (mostly life) to make sure you have a magical sledding experience at a hill where everyone else in the metropolitan area is also going to be.  That is, if we don't all die first.  


When you say, "you know what we should do?" it makes me crazy because did I mention the roads?  Did you happen to see that snow plow trying to scrape up something...anything...and coming up empty because the road is a solid sheet of ice and it's 17 degrees?  If I survive the road trip over ice to the teeming sled hill across town, I don't want to then lose my fingers and toes to frostbite while you have a magical experience and also try to dodge all the toddlers who are also trying to have a magical experience and crying because they're cold and the big kids keep running over them because there are THOUSANDS of people there.    

My kids were promised sledding today in a nearby neighborhood -- one with a hill.  They got out of bed at 9:00 and began asking when we were going.  It was 7 degrees outside.  And also only 9:00.  But they had been told it MIGHT happen and you know how that goes.  So we ventured out with a friend who was nice enough to offer to drive because she has four-wheel drive, only to realize that every road everywhere is a solid sheet of ice.  Guess what?  Four-wheel drive doesn't matter on ice.  We skidded sideways down a hill covered in ice toward a bunch of middle school kids, and I think I may have screamed MOVE OUT OF THE WAY in a panic while frantically gesturing and trying not to panic my friend who was doing the driving and skidding and was, well, panicked.   We didn't even make it to our destination because it was so dangerous.  So we parked and then panicked some more because if we slid down, would the same thing happen when we tried to go back up?  As we stood on the corner contemplating, we had to jump out of the way of a Cadillac Escalade that was skidding down the hill sideways trying to make the turn and headed straight for us.  One kid lasted a total of one run on the ice covered hill before calling it a day and sitting in the car to warm up.  The others slipped and slid up and down the road exclaiming "AWESOME" while we watched car after car also slip and slide and skid around the corner and up the hill.  When we left, we made it up the hill (whew), only to see 4 cars stuck on the hill in the opposite direction of where we were going.  There were people in the street with kitty litter trying to find enough traction on the ice covered hill to just get out.  

Kitty litter. 

Making magic is stressful y'all.  My heart is not cut out for this.  I am not a risk taker.  As my friend was driving up the hill I was praying hard.  I was trying to be optimistic and encouraging to my friend but secretly I was thinking "HOLY POOP WE'RE GONNA DIE." 

We missed our friends who lived in that neighborhood who we were supposed to meet.  We sledded for less than an hour and I hope to goodness it was magical enough.  Because my magic making days of this nonsense are over.  For real.  At least until it thaws out a bit.

I'm working on a thankfulness journal for this year, writing down something good that happens each day.  Tonight, I'm thankful that I have to work tomorrow and it'll be my husband's turn to make the magic.  He's much better at this kind of magic than I am anyway.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Living a Beautiful Life, Volume 3

The holiday is over.  It makes me sad.

The tree is dead, the greenery is browning and turning crunchy and the nativity scene sits on a pile of dust because I'm too lazy to move all the figures around.

I mentioned de-Christmasing today and MC gasped "NO!"  Then she added, "Well, you can take some of it down but leave up the mantle and the tree and the garland in the kitchen.  And the manger scene and the glass balls.  Oh, and the little trees and the Christmas pillows.  And that star (pointing to a huge paper star hanging in window)."

So basically all of it.

Later, as we watched the Hallmark channel holiday movie marathon (and our 1,392nd Hallmark movie of the season), a character mentioned how magical her mother always made Christmas feel.

Meems looked over at me and drew a heart in the air around my head and said, "like you."

I felt all the feels.  It was the best Christmas present anyone has ever given to me.

My family has a tendency to make a big production out of every event.  Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, graduations, concerts, plays, games....  It used to drive my husband crazy.  But what's better than making someone feel special?  What's better than creating magic for your family?  What's better than finding every reason to celebrate?  What's wrong with traditions?

My mom made holidays and birthdays magical.  My husband even loves them -- he says they feel like more than just a holiday, they're an event.

I was sick last week and as I lay dying on my bed I panicked that, should I really have to go to the hospital or, God forbid I should die, no one would know where I stashed all the presents and none of them were wrapped!  It was 2 days before Christmas and my kids had been looking forward to the day when all the presents appeared under the tree (per tradition) and how was that going to happen if I was incapacitated?  Or dead?  So I pulled myself out of bed, downed some antacid and several ibuprofen, and set to work.  By the time they got home, the presents were wrapped and under the tree, and each child had a gift of Christmas pjs waiting for them up in their rooms.  And even though I was still uncertain I wasn't dying, I felt pretty fantastic.

Because the looks on their faces when they saw it all -- Christmas magic right there.

And it was the most beautiful thing.  And for a few minutes I forgot I was dying.

I created magic and warmth for the people I love.  And they, apparently feel it too.  Well, at least one of them does.  To me, that's living a beautiful life.