Friday, December 19, 2014

One of Those Times

Sometimes, I so rock life.  I mean seriously...I kill it.  I workout 3-4 times a week, homework gets done, the house is relatively clean, Clif and I get a night out, we eat our veggies, laundry is put away, everyone is happy and healthy and we are totally winning.

Then...

Well then there are the other 51 weeks in the year.

Kidding...but seriously, then there are those times...well, I completely and utterly fail at all aspects of this little life we have.  I'm in one of those times right now.

I ate fast food this week.  I haven't eaten fast food in a very long time.  I did go to the gym on Wednesday, but that was definitely negated by the fast food.

One of the dogs pooped all over the hall last night.  That was fun to clean up, while also yelling at Ainsley to do her homework at 8:30 at night.  Did I mention that she hasn't done it all week and bedtime is 8:00?  And I'm not a crazy homework nazi, but she did miss a week of school while we were in Disney.  Then she got sick, and missed 4 out of 5 days of the following week.  So I feel like she's a bit behind.

My house...oh boy.  It is baaaaaad.  Like, really bad.  Like, I can't even bear to be awake and in it, bad.  Good thing I've been so busy that I haven't spent any time there.  Probably also the reason one of the dogs defecated in the house.  They were left there from 7:30ish yesterday morning until 7:30ish last night.  That's not normal, but it has been kind of par for this past week.

Other than the actual Wendy's fast food this week, we've also eaten out every night...or ordered in.  There's so much to do that I just can't even seem to get home before 6:30 or 7 and then it's just too late to do anything but order a pizza or send Clif on a dinner mission.

Last night, he called to ask if he should pick up food and I said yes.  He asked what I wanted and I said "I don't care, can you please just make this decision?"  He said okay, but what did I specifically want from a certain place.  My response..."Just make sure it doesn't have mushrooms.  I'll eat anything else."

And when I'm in one of these times, I just want to curl up in my bed and cry and sleep.  I don't want to finish Christmas shopping, or clean my house, or wrap presents, or make dinner, or even be present in the evening. Every night, at bedtime.  I go upstairs and tell Freddie to put his PJs on 734 times.  Then I change into my own PJs, lay on my bed and say "Can the kids put themselves to bed and I just stay here?  And while people and things are doing their own stuff...can Ainsley's lunch pack itself, and the kitchen floor mop itself, and the stupid elf move itself?  All while I sleep?"  Then I go to Freddie's room and find him half naked and give him the same lecture I give him every night about doing what I ask when I ask it.

I know it will pass...but it sure sucks while it's happening and there just seems no end in sight.  No end until the big ole Christmas Day deadline when shopping and wrapping and cooking and baking and cleaning and everything else in the world must be done.  Is it any wonder that this is not my favorite holiday?  I will take a nice cold beer on a warm 4th of July day over December 1st-23rd EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!

Now December 24th and 25th are pretty freaking awesome...it's just the lead up that gets me.

So until then, I will be over here all zombie and bah-humbug-ish.

Monday, December 15, 2014

To the Woman in the Booth Over There

Dear...Woman/Lady/Patron,

You'll have to forgive me, I didn't catch your name.  Honestly, if I passed you on the street, I probably wouldn't recognize you.  I'm not sure what color hair you have or how tall  you are.  I don't know your age or where you're from.

All I know is that you sat near us at Outback on Friday night, so I could make certain assumptions about your life, but I'm not going to do that.  I'm going to do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt.

So for a moment, let me tell you about us.  We don't eat out very often.  When we do it's normally at one of those counter service places.  You know the ones that are just a step above fast food.  We go to places like Chipotle, or Chick-Fil-A, or Firehouse Subs.  Oh and pizza...we do pizza quite often.

We work.  My husband and I both work full time.  And we have young children...as I'm sure you noticed.  So on nights that involve errands or dropping off cars for oil changes, well, it's very hard to get home and get dinner on the table before bedtime.  So on those nights, we do eat out.

Rarely do we go to a sit-down restaurant.  It's not very affordable for a family of 5 and really the kids are much more happy with chicken nuggets or pizza.  But on occasion, when we're feeling financially optimistic, we will go to a place like Outback.  Before Friday night, I'm pretty sure I hadn't been to an Outback in over a year.  The food is okay, and it is very pricey.

I won't take my kids to a nice restaurant.  If I'm not sure what kind of place it is, I always call and ask about the noise level and if they have a kids menu.  I am always very conscience of my children in public and how they're acting.  I never want them to be perceived in a bad way.  I know they aren't bad children, I know they're just children.  But some tend to jump to conclusions based on a momentary meeting or impression.

So Friday night we decided on Outback, and so did you.  I didn't even notice you.  I was very busy cutting up grapes for the baby, finding ketchup for the preschooler, and walking my 2nd grader to the bathroom.  There were definitely some tears from the baby at the beginning, and maybe towards the middle when the grapes ran out and he had to wait for more.  You see, we're in this crazy kid phase.  He doesn't want to be in the highchair but he's really too young for a booster seat.  He loves the booster, but he doesn't like to stay put, you know?  Maybe you don't.  Again, I don't know you at all, so I don't even know if you have children.  But trust me, 18 month-olds are terrible listeners.  Asking them to sit and quiet down simply does not work.

It was as we were finishing our dinner that you made  your presence known.  You walked over and very politely said "Excuse me, I have a request for you."  I looked up and don't think I didn't notice that you were directing this at me.  You didn't even glance at my husband.

You continued..."The next time your son is screaming at the top of his lungs, please take him outside as to not disturb the other guests in the restaurant."

Or something like that.  To be honest, no one has ever said anything like that to me before.  And at this point my husband was talking back.  Like usual, I can never defend myself the moment I need to.  I'm much better at taking the time to write it down.  Plus, while all this is going on and you and my husband are exchanging words (and again, don't think I didn't notice how you kept looking at me, even though he was doing all the talking, like "A mother should control her children.")  I'm very aware of the fact that we have 3 sets of little eyes watching us.  Three sets of little ears hanging on every word.  Three little minds and personalities being shaped and impressed by everything we do.

There was an exchange, a heated one.  I think the only thing I did was thank you for informing us of how to be good parents.  Some smart ass comment, that probably didn't even come out the way I intended it to because I really suck at that kind of thing.  Then you left.  I can't remember what you said after your initial "request" and I can't really remember any of my husband's words...just the look on his face.

So here's the thing...I get it.  At least I'm trying to get it.  I'm trying to not be all judgy and rude, like some people.  So I'm saying to myself...maybe this was her and her husband's only night out all month.  Maybe she's never had children, or maybe she does have children, and she just doesn't know or remember.  Maybe this is the highest quality restaurant they go to.  Maybe my baby did ruin their meal.

If any of that is true...I'm sorry.  Really, I'm sorry if my child caused you grief and annoyance.  I'm not being condescending or sarcastic.  I'm really sorry.

But I think, maybe, you owe me an apology too.  Because what were you hoping to accomplish?  How does informing me after the fact that my child has ruined your night, do anything but make me feel terrible?  How does approaching people about the way they handle their children fix anything?

That night I went from being embarrassed to upset to angry to confused.  But here's the thing, if you were sitting in front of me right now, and I had the time to think about what to say to you so that I didn't cry or scream.  I would say this.  You have every right to a have a nice dinner.  But I have every right to take my family to dinner at a family restaurant.  You have every right to be annoyed with my kids.  But they have every right to act like kids.  Newsflash...we all live on this planet TOGETHER and we all have to figure out how to work it out and get along.  

So next time you're sitting near us in a restaurant that's meant for families, please feel free to ask for another table.  If I notice, I may be a bit self conscious but I will understand.  Please feel free to roll your eyes and cover your ears.  Again, it may bother me a bit, but I get it.  But please, do not stroll over in all of your high and mightiness and tell me how to sooth my baby or raise my children.  I've got that covered.

Sincerely,
The Woman with the Screaming Kid at Outback

Monday, November 17, 2014

Officially Retired

I thought that maybe I'd nurse Cohen for 2 years.  Ainsley went 14 months, Freddie went 19.  So I thought I could take Cohen a bit further.  However, I've known for awhile that I may not be able to get the night weaning to really work if I didn't just stop all together.

Then last week I went to Oregon for work.  I was gone 4 full days.  I pumped and got next to nothing.  So I knew I was done.

Even before I left, I thought that this trip might do it.  Might get him over the hump.  Might be enough time apart for him to realize he doesn't need it.  So on Monday night, before I left, I nursed him and I knew that it might be the end.  I'm glad I thought about that and took the time to sit and rub his cheek and hair.  I'm glad I focused on just that for 10 minutes so I can remember his little face like that.  I can distinctly remember the last time I nursed each of my kids.  I've been lucky that I've always known when the end was near.  I've always been able to plan it out.

This time it's a bit different.  I am done nursing...forever.  And the weight of that makes me sad, because it means that I have passed another stage, checked off another box, moved forward a bit more.  My baby days are over.

But overall, I'm okay with it.  I didn't collapse into tears in my hotel room when I realized I wasn't making any more milk.  And I didn't cry and give in when he asked for it a few times this weekend.  I will miss his little fist on my shirt, big blue eyes staring up at me, repeating "NiNi?  NiNi?"  I will miss nights rocking him to sleep in the quiet of his room.  I will miss the power to soothe him instantly.  But I forgot the wonderfulness that comes when nursing ends.

Up to this point, a nursing mother provides nourishment for the child and the child comes to rely on that as a way to soothe and comfort.  But this weekend, without the nursing, Cohen actually cuddled up on my lap and just sat there with his head resting on my shoulder or nuzzled in my belly.  He's never done that with me.  With Clif, yes.  He hugs his siblings willingly.  But not really with me, because I'm the boobs.  He is comforted by nursing.  So now he can snuggle me without that getting in the way.

So now the girls are officially retired.  Maybe I can finally buy a bra and wear it for longer than 6 months.  Maybe I'll finally know my actual size.  I'll  never again have sore nipples or engorged breasts.  I have completely enjoyed the 4+ years I've nursed my babies and I will always look back at those times as some of my most precious.  I will forever remember the sound a nursing baby makes, the feeling of let down, and the smell of milk breath.  But everything has to end, and I'm glad I was able to do it on my terms.  I am thankful for that and ready to take the next step.

Friday, October 3, 2014

One More Time

There are things I'll miss about having a baby.  I will miss the clink of onsie snaps in the dryer and sleepy heads on my chest.  I'll miss that aroma of warm milk and baby soap.  I'll miss bald heads and little toes.  I'll miss wearing a tiny person in my Lovey Duds wrap and little fingers grasping mine as I nurse in the rocker.  I'll miss the sight of a baby swaddled like a burrito and pictures of blank stares and cooing mouths.  I'll miss the firsts.  The first step, the first word, the first smile. 

And as I restrain a screaming, 24 lb, toddler that seems to have superhuman strength at 1:30am for over an hour I realize, I will even miss weaning.

I won't miss the lost sleep.  I won't miss the helplessness.  I won't miss the ear-splitting, headache-inducing, screaming.  But I will miss this.  I will miss this time that he chooses me, that he needs me, that with one simple act I can bring comfort and relaxation and sleep.

We have come to the time.  I never know exactly when it will be.  But I know it's time that I begin the process.  Right now, I'm just trying to get him back to sleep without nursing.  I'm not ready to give it up completely.  Ainsley went 13 months, Freddie 19 months...Cohen will most likely go longer.  But what I can't do anymore is have him nurse consistently through the night.  It's become a problem for him and me.  Neither of us get the sleep we need.  So it's time to at least start this journey.

We had a terrible night 3 weeks ago, but then it got better, and I thought we were on the right track.  Then we went out of town.  And we all slept in the same space, and I couldn't have him screaming in the middle of the night when he was all out of sorts and waking up the whole place.  So I gave in.  And I knew it would be a set back...I just didn't realize how much. 

This week has been horrific.  I'm exhausted.  I know it will pass...but this time while I'm standing hip deep in the muck its hard to think about what's next.



BUT...while the screaming crashes through my skull and the kicking and punches make my tired limbs ache and I can't help but just cry with him...I try to remember that when we come out on the other side of this, I'll be one step farther from my baby days.  That soon after that, I won't sense his little body cuddled up to mine in the night.  I won't feel his little fingers pinch my skin.  I won't smell his soft wisps of hair that tickle my face.  I won't see those deep blue eyes fight to stay open and eventually, slowly, close.  And when I remember all of that, I know I can do this one more time.  I can breath in every moment, the good and the bad, and get over this hill one more time.  Just make sure there's plenty of coffee for me in the morning.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I See You

You throw fits at the bus stop.  You desperately want to ride the bus.  You hate that your sister is doing something you can't.  Your 50 pounds of muscle and energy pull me off balance.  Other parents say things like "Poor guy," or "Isn't that cute."  But I see them back away and look at me sideways.  They can't see you.

You scream at soccer practice.  You expected a game.  You refuse to play and walk off the field in a huff.  The coaches smile uncomfortably at me.  They say things like "When he's ready," or "He can join us when he wants."  But the awkwardness persists.  They can't see you.

You cry and pout after being punished.  You can't understand what you did to deserve this.  You feel wronged.  You feel like every one's picking on you.  Like no one likes you.  Everyone laughs at the silliness of it all.  They remind you what happened, and they're annoyed when you don't agree.  They can't see you.

No one can see the real you.  No one says it, but a lot of grown ups think I'm too easy on you.  Think you are a bit too wild.  But I see you, Freddie.

You are difficult.  You have strong opinions.  You are stubborn.  You march to the beat of your own drum.

But behind those thick blond bangs, I see who you really are.  I see who you will be with a heart big enough to love the whole world.  A heart that I know will get crushed so many times but will always come back for more.  And I'm going to make sure of it, because of all the people who will break your heart, I will never be one of them.  I'll always protect it.

In those deep blue eyes I see a will strong enough to support the universe.  A will that people will try and beat down.  A will that people won't always understand.  But I will support it, I'll never question it.

I hear that gruff little boy voice and I hear ideas that could change people.  Thoughts bouncing around in that little brain.  Stories spilling out of your soul.  They won't always believe in you, they won't always listen to you...but I promise, I will.

I'll always hear your side, even if it's a lie.  I'll always hug you back, even when you're maddening.  I'll always take your side, even when you're wrong.



Because I see you and I love who I see.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pretending

I'm back at work today after an awesome, super-fabulous, week off with my minis.  So I'm feeling all sad and weepy and searching for any way to cover my salary so I never have to leave them again.  Probably should be going through the hundreds of emails I have, but get rich quick schemes are way more productive and fun.

Next week Ainsley will be back in school, I'll be back in full swing at work, and the hectic crazy schedule of fall will settle on us and I won't necessarily feel this way.  But last night, I was almost crying as I went to bed.  Knowing that I would close my eyes, and when I opened them it would all be over.  I stayed up way past my bedtime, just prolonging the inevitable.

Last week was great.  We packed a summer full of fun into one week.  So it was busy, but worth it.  Last summer, we had the luxury of being lazy.  With a newborn around sometimes we needed to be lazy and spend the whole day in our PJs.

But not this time.  This time I wanted the week to be filled with smiles and giggles and fun.  Cohen barely napped...we were always on the go.  We hit the zoo, the water park, a concert, a farm, the fountains, Chick-fil-A, the pool, bike riding...and we even found a rainy day to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie with popcorn and candy.

Normally, I am fine with work.  I don't hate it, I don't love it...but I do love getting paid.  I'm okay with my kids being away from me.  Some days I miss them like crazy, others I welcome the break.  I know they are off learning and doing things that I have no business teaching them.  I know they are loved where they are. My kids are well adjusted and independent and bright and a lot of that has to do with daycare and preschool and extra activities.

But I won't lie, coming back to work is always hard and I know that for a few days I'll have this knot in my stomach.  I know that today I'll blow off work and look at their pictures for most of the day.  I'll recall Freddie asking me every day "Mommy, what we gonna do fun today?" And after I told him, he'd say "What else we gonna do fun today?" If you could just hear the way he says "else" you would fall madly in love.  I will remember Cohen dancing at a Rocknocerous concert.  The grin spreading across his face, his bottom bouncing up and down and his hands waving back and forth.  I will think about how big Ainsley is getting.  How kind she is to her brothers.  How she watches out for them.  How she can't wait to be big and grown and all I want to do is stop her.

Most of all, I will look forward to the next time I pretend to be a stay at home mom and spend all my time with the most awesome people I know.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Falling

Time stops and speeds up all in the same moment.

The instant I feel the lift, I know it's coming.  The roar of traffic ends.  The music pumping through my headphones stops.  There is no sound.  The breeze freezes and all is still.  I am the only thing moving in this frozen universe.  I can feel all my weight sail towards the ground.  So many questions pass through my mind as the sidewalk slams into my body.  How is this happening?  How do I fix this?  I'm moving in slow motion, but it happens so fast I am powerless to stop it.

Then the collision and everything returns.  Cars whiz by.  Rihanna wails into my ears.  The wind whips at my shredded knees as I roll over and stare at the moving clouds.

I can't believe I just fell.  I take inventory of my limbs and know that I have skinned knees and burned hands.  And an elbow.  I touch it gingerly.  Ouch.  Yeah, the elbow is bad.

Then I'm shaking, and tears are pushing out of my eyes.  A moment ago I was running.  Halfway done, and now I'm lying here, kicked around by cement, crying and shaking.

I wipe my eyes and stand up, suddenly aware that people probably saw this happen and how stupid I must look.  But no one's around.  Just cars zooming by on their way to wherever.  Everyone too busy and focused on their own road to insert themselves into mine.  Someone was probably talking on the phone and stopped mid-sentence to say "Holy shit, some girl just ate it on the sidewalk."  But he's long gone, traveling 50 mph on his way to begin his day.

I stand there, figuring out what I'm supposed to do next.  My world just crashed and I'm only halfway done. I'm as far from home and a shower and bandages and a hug or kind word as possible.  So I run.  It burns, but I run.  Tears start and stop, but I run.  I'm staring at the ground, careful of every step, but I run.  Because sitting on the sidewalk and crying isn't an option and walking will just take too long.  I run.


That wasn't the first time I fell while running and it's happened since.  I'm sure it will happen again.  Always the same feelings and shock.  Different spots but always the same situation.  It never happens as I'm starting or finishing, always right there in the middle when I have no choice but to push through.  No choice but to keep running.

And after it happens, it always takes me time to trust myself again.  Those next few times out I'm less confident.  Sure that every bump in the sidewalk or break in the asphalt will reach up and pull me down.  My eyes stay glued to the spot in front of me.  I ignore the deer grazing in a yard, or the kids riding their bikes, or the fox eyeballing me from across the street.  I focus only on what I'm doing, one foot in front of the other.  And that sucks.  I might as well be running on a treadmill, going nowhere, staring at the stupid red numbers, waiting for the time to end.

It takes time for me to remember that we all fall down.  It's not always easy to get back up and keep going.  It would be much easier to sit on the corner, blowing on my skinned knees, crying into my red palms.  But we don't, we can't.  There's a lot more ground to cover.  So many more miles to run.  And if we spend those miles focused on not falling, we'll miss all the beauty and life that makes the run worthwhile.

We all fall down.  What matters is if we get back up.
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