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


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


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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Popped Balloons

As a parent, I believe it's a natural instinct to want to fix problems.  At least it is for me.  Even after three kids, I jump up when one of them falls down.  I hate to hear them cry.  It actually feels like someone is squeezing my heart.  Like it will just shrivel and dissolve in my chest.  It doesn't even matter if they're crying because they're bratty.  And believe me, I can recognize bratty.  The problem is that they are genuinely hurting, no matter the reason - even a bratty one, and that hurts me.

I have to make a conscious effort to not fix things for my kids.  To not do everything for my kids.  Ideally, my kids stay where they are forever and ever, never grow up, and never leave home.  Ideally.

Realistically, they grow up and need to be functioning, independent, reliant, adults.  They leave us and start their own lives.  That's the way of the world, right?  As much as we'd like to shelter and protect and fix...eventually, we won't be here.  It is natural that a child leaves his/her parent to start his/her own family.  It is natural that I will leave this world before my children.  So as much as I want to take care of them now, I need to know that at that time, they will be okay.

I am not a stranger to disappointment.  This is not an "oh poor me" statement.  It is a fact.  I was shown how to be independent and self reliant.  My parents didn't do everything, they didn't fix everything.  I actually think these things go hand in hand.  If you're never disappointed, you never learn to fix/adjust, you are forever dependent on someone.  I think it's just the way my generation was raised.  And the generation before that and before that and before that...

Until now.

The other day, Ainsley went to a birthday party.  She was particularly tired.  It's been a crazy summer.  Different activities every week.  Late nights.  Full weekends.  She got a balloon as she left.  It popped the moment we walked outside and she dropped it to the ground.  She burst into tears.  I literally took two steps towards the door to get another.  I stopped.  I knelt down and said "Ainsley, balloons pop.  It's a fact of life.  I'm sorry you're sad, but it's the way it is.  Let's go."

She nodded and cried a bit more, but was over it by the time we were driving away.  So is it natural that my immediate response was to fix the problem?  A very silly problem.  A problem that wasn't actually a problem at all.  The less balloons in my house, the better.  Was it natural because I'm a mother and I don't like to see my child upset?  Or was it natural because every where we look these days a parent, a school, a teacher, a government, a leveling the playing field.  Telling everyone that you're all the same, and everything's fair, and everyone deserves anything they want.

You're not good at math?  Well of course you are, here let's make it easier.
Your closet's too small?  Okay, let me bust down this wall and make it bigger.
The other team won?  Oh no, that's not more scoring.
You're offended by the word bossy?  Well, that word no longer exists.
Someone teased you?  BULLY!!!!!!! SUSPEND HIM! LOCK HIM UP!

As much as it hurts me to see them hurt, I want my kids to lose.  I want someone to pick on them.  I want someone to break their hearts.  I want them to flunk tests.  I want them to get rejected from a school/job/team/audition.  Because if none of that ever happens, and they go through life with everything being easy and handed to them, then aren't those good things lessened?  Why is winning awesome?  Because you know what it feels like to lose.  Why can friends be lifesavers?  Because you know what it feels like to be lonely.  Why is falling in love and getting married and having babies the best thing that can happen to a person?  Because a broken heart sucks.

You can't have joy without sorrow.  Happiness can not exist without sadness.  That feeling you get when you laugh so hard you can't breath, the one where the rumble of laughter consumes your whole chest and belly.  You can't have that if you haven't also been overtaken with breathless tears.

I want my kids to love what they earn.  To be proud of themselves for an accomplishment.  And I want it to be their accomplishment.  Not mine.  If it's me handing them the toys and cars and clothes, if it's me working the math problems and writing the papers, if it's me picking up their dirty clothes and putting away toys - without any effort on their part - they'll never understand that feeling.  You know the one.  That feeling that makes you beam.  That feeling that you, just you, actually did something that was hard and challenging.  Sure it might suck in the now.  It might be the hardest thing to get through.  But that feeling when you get the reward, nothing beats that.  And to deprive my children of that?  That would make me a really bad parent.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweet Girl

Dear Ainsley,

Long before I ever had children, or even considered being a mom, I figured I'd have girls.  Three or four sweet little girls.  Sisters...all close in age so they could grow up the best of friends.

Well, the universe has a way of throwing your grand plans in your face and saying "NO WAY!"  Somehow, the universe always seems to know what is best.

So instead of three little girls in matching bows and dresses, I got you and two little boys.

If you would have told me this 10 years ago, before I had a chance to experience any of you, I probably would have cried.

I couldn't have known that the first baby the universe sent me would be the perfect little girl for me and there would just never be a way to top her.  Now when I think about having another little girl, it seems so strange.  You really are so perfect, how could any other girl compare?

All the things I like about myself are in you tenfold.  I try to be sweet and kind and caring.  I try to be brave and creative.  I try to be strong and confident.

You are all of those things on steroids.

This year you went to first grade.  You lost your first tooth.  You learned to read, to write.  You've learned some Spanish.  You can add and subtract.  You know about tree parts and bird species.  You've made best friends.  You joined Daisy scouts and became a Brownie.  You cut your hair off because you wanted it that way, and now you've decided to grow it out.  You learned to tie your shoes.  You learned to whistle.  You played soccer and loved it.  You gave up dance.  You know every word to every Frozen song, but really...this year it wasn't Frozen that you fell in love with, but Star Wars and Princess Leia and Queen Amidala.  You started calling us Mom and Dad...but most of the time it's still Mommy and Daddy. 

My favorite thing about you is the excitement in your eyes over everything.  You just love life and all that comes with it.  I hope you never loose that.

Six was an awesome year, but I think seven will be even better.

Happy Birthday Ainsley Bug, we love you!

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