Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Baby steps...it's the small things...

My big three year old

As a working mom, one has to acknowledge early on that their children may reach certain milestones while not in the presence of their parents. We take this burden with us as we move along in the working world, and try to cast this thought from our minds and only accept said milestones when they occur and we are there to witness them. Things like first steps, first teeth breaking through, first words spoken are all things that won't ever officially happen until Mommy and Daddy actually see it happen. When we, the parents, witness such an event, it's like a new beginning, a new path to explore, and a new story to share at the office.

There have been days when it bothers me to know that another person might hear my child's first word, except when I learn that it's a swear word, then I'm glad they didn't say that to me. When the first tooth breaks, I'm glad I wasn't the first person they bit with that tooth. And when they take their first steps, I'm glad I wasn't there when they walked right into a wall (although I likely would have laughed at that). I like to see the bright side of these events and remind myself of the mantra I adopted when I first placed Ethel in the swing that first day in day care - "It doesn't happen until I see it happen". Come on, as parents, we all know that phrase, don't try to tell me you don't!

So, this is why I hope you'll understand what I'm about to write below. The last few months, it's all been hearsay and rumour, and I don't believe this has ever happened before. I mean, for as little as my efforts have afforded me at home this summer, it's likely they may very well have been lying to me at day care, who knows. So, guess what happened this morning!


I danced, I yelled, I cheered, I hugged him, I clapped, I celebrated! Ethel laid there on Fred's bed, tired and cold, playing her role as Ms. Crabby Pants in the morning.  She wasn't quite as excited as I was.  Hm.

I just had to share this victory.  Thanks for reading, if you did.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kindergarten Chronicles, Part 1

OK, I need to chronicle our school year.  It's the night before her first day.  Please excuse this brain dump.

Didn't get the Kleenex, resealable bags, or Lysol wipes from the supply list (but have everything else).  Will have to talk to the teacher about the latter two items b/c I don't want to buy them, and think the school could be more environmentally responsible, and will ask the teacher about that tomorrow.  I'd rather send a bottle of Green Works and rolls of paper towels (compostable, at least), but we'll see what happens.

I tried to talk up tomorrow without upsetting her.  Often when she's tired, even the most fun events can be upsetting to her the night before.  So I stayed excited but not over the top. 

This afternoon I had that vision.  That vision of my tiny daughter with her huge (on her) backpack walking up the sidewalk to her classroom.  The vision of my tiny daughter making friends outside those she has at the day care and in our circle of friends.  The vision of my daughter flourishing, on her own, outside the little world she knows today.  The vision of my little girl growing up.  The vision of myself sobbing as I head back home after dropping her off because this is a new world for both of us, and she will have the upper hand, and an intimate knowledge of that world, moreso than I.  She will master this new world long before I will. 

This is now her world.  This is her chance to explore, enjoy, and thrive.  She will blossom like the delicate flowers we planted this spring from seed, which are vibrant and full of life today, just as she.  I know many can relate to the power of what I'm feeling, I just can't effectively put it into words.  Nor can I believe that this ton of bricks is coming down on me like it is.  I've clearly been in denial for quite a while.

I'm not the weepy type, and I don't like to admit that I will probably cry tomorrow.  I'm not sure why I'm trying to convince myself not to cry tomorrow.  Parents send their kids off to school all the time, this is not the first time it's ever happened.  She'll live.  I'll live.  We'll go through this at different school year milestones.  I feel kind of silly to those who have gone before me and sent their kids off, I feel like I shouldn't cry or be emotional, because those before me have already shed those tears.  I should just suck it up.  Afterall, I know we'll all be fine, and I know everyone gets through it.  So why the tears?

But that's the thing.  The tears are coming.  They just are.  The calendar didn't speed up on the 26th of November 2004, or the 3rd of March 2007.  Time has always passed at the same rate.  So why does it seem like these last nearly six years are such a blur?  Why does it feel like we just brought her home?  Why does it feel like kindergarten just snuck up on me?

I am foreshadowing, anticipating that school will be stressful for her as it was for me.  I don't have my own shit together, how can I be an effective parent and guide for her on this journey through school? 

OK, I need to stop there.  I'm driving myself mad. I will keep my kindergarten chronicle here and document our progress throughout the year.  I really hope to have my shit together enough to keep an accurate journal of our time in kindergarten, and throughout grade school.

Until tomorrow...

The identity of MOM

A friend of mine was sharing her feelings on becoming a mom of a school age kid, as her oldest begins kindergarten this week.  I think we all go through a myriad of emotions as our children reach different milestones, but for some reason the start of kindergarten seems to hit most of us the hardest.  Whether we work outside the home or at home (let's face it, every mom WORKS), seeing our little ones enter the realm of school is a tough pill to swallow. 

Our little babies are swallowed by backpacks (well mine is, she's tiny), meeting new kids, they have a new teacher, they're exposed to all kinds of new things.  Will they make friends?  Will they find the bathroom?  Will they ask questions if they need help?  Will they be able to open their lunch box?  Will they know where to go when they get off the bus, and where to go to get back on at the end of the day? 

Unlike the comfort of the day care, where we walk them to a room, give them hugs and kisses and leave them with a teacher who will give them a hug or rest them in their lap, now we're shoving them out of the car (minivan, perhaps?) at the sidewalk hoping they get to their classroom.  It's almost like airport security for some of us.  You can only go so far before you hit the "no parents zone", defined by an imaginary line, and the kids are effectively on their own.  That's if you're lucky enough that your kid will let you go as far as the imaginary line, and they're not already embarassed to be getting dropped off by their parents and getting a hug and kiss in front of the whole school.  I'm sorry, I digress.

Oh, there are so many worries we have as parents as we send our kids off to school.  My day is coming tomorrow, and I am only hoping I can sleep tonight.  And that I remember to pack her lunch.  But that's another story altogether.

On the flip side of the coin, for me (and many moms) this means that I'm an adult.  I'm one of those people they call 'parents'.  What the hell?  When did that happen?  Seriously?  Only adults do that.  I'm not an adult.  Wait, what?  That's *my* kid going to school?  Come on, you're nuts.  I'm.......wait.....um.....sigh.....

I almost can't finish the sentence.  I'm an adult.  OK, so my first sign might have come when I signed my first apartment lease, or when I started my first job, surpassed 10 years at my second job, or even when I bought my first place.  But.it.didn't.  I have been in denial for many years now.  Reality is slowly coming at me from behind, striking me in the back of the head as if to say, "Hey, Lady!".  And we all know what it means when they start to call you Lady.  Craptastic.

I pull up to a softball game (intercompany beer league) with two huge car seats in my back seat and remember when I used to pull up with beer in the back seat. I look around at all the 20-somethings going out for happy hour after work like I used to, and I'm going to pick up the kids. I see all the skinny girls walking around in cute clothes, and can't remember the last time I bought anything tighter than a garbage bag, let alone the last time I bought something for myself at all.

But then I get home. Home is my world. My family and kids are the focus at home. Nothing else matters. I don't have the same crisis when I'm at home. It's when I'm out, usually without them, that I feel like I'm not the same me that I was 10 years ago. And I went through the Chuck Taylors yesterday when I was at Target, remembering my first pair back in college, hoping that I might get myself another pair really soon. I also recently donated my beloved Doc Marten Mary Janes. And last night at Meijer, when I took Ethel to the "back to school" section, I felt like I should run for the hills. I seriously felt conflicted.

I feel like a huge dork so often, and can't believe that I have become who/what I am right now. I'm conformist in ways I never imagined I could ever be. I work in an office, a corporate office. I own a home, a Saturn, and live in the 'burbs. It doesn't get much worse than that.

But it doesn't get much better, either. I'm really hoping that I can resolve my identity conflict soon because I often feel like I spend more time on that than I do enjoying where I am today, and thriving as the mom my kids should have, and the wife my husband married. Still, I have to say, I wouldn't trade where I'm at today for anything.
I think that after dropping my daughter off at school tomorrow, I'll return home and put in my best cassette copy of Upstairs at Eric's {note to self - find cassette player} and dance with Fred.  While I cry.  Then I'll drink more coffee.
Updates to follow.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Life on the edge of the mattress

Before you go thinking that this post is something family unfriendly, I tell you now it's not.  I'm not discussing casting couches or date nights, I'm actually talking about slumber, snoozing, getting some zzz's.  Or not getting them.

Humans have spent their entire existence perfecting the art of sleep.  We've developed a myriad of tools to aid us in finding that perfect night's sleep, some of which are fleeting fads, some of which are simply part of the mainstream.  Probably the most common, non-medicinal, tool for sleep is the bed.  Usually a box spring and mattress atop a frame, beds come in different sizes to accommodate the user(s).  Regardless, the bed is supposed to help us get comfortable and keep us contained so that we can enjoy a restful night in peaceful slumber.

Once the right bed has been chosen, we have to figure out whether we should sleep on our back, on our side, on our tummy, the possibilities are endless.  As are the possible outcomes, since many of us move around in our sleep.  If you have a spouse or partner, you then have to decide whether you should be all this generation and sleep in the same bed, or go the Rob and Laura Petrie route and have your own beds.  Once children arrive, parents are faced with whether to drag themselves out of bed to tend to their newborns, or sleep their babies in their rooms or beds with them.

This brings me to the idea of the family bed.  We don't subscribe to this sleeping arrangement, but some families do.  I am much too selfish to share my bed, except with my husband.  Sometimes, even that's a bit much for me.  That's just how it is.  Interestingly, humans are the only species on Earth who don't sleep with their young.  It's true!  Many, like myself, put their babies in another room to sleep, and some sleep them in the same room but in a separate sleeping station such as a crib or other suitable baby sleeper.  Each has its pros and cons based on the needs and wants of the family.  I need, and want, a good night sleep, and prefer not to have sniffly, snoring, sleeping sideways little creatures in my bed with me.  Well, except my husband.

Back to the point.  So, I have come to conclude that families who subscribe to the family bed have developed their own unique tools to help them get that perfect night sleep.  I firmly believe that they must have a good chiropractor, and great meds.  Meds to drug everyone to sleep, and the chiropractor to realign them after being kicked, shoved, contorted, and otherwise mangled during the night while everyone rolls, thrashes, and moves around the bed during the night.

Now, I have a king sized bed.  I have a husband.  I have two small children.  Periodically, they (the children) will be scared by a thunder storm, a noise in their room, or they'll have a bad dream and want to come snuggle with Mommy.  Yes, Mommy, not Daddy.  Other times, they're not feeling well and they wake often in the night and they need comfort to return to sleep. Last night, we experienced all of the above.

Fred was feeling a little under the weather.  He's had a slightly runny nose for a couple of days, but nothing more than a cold.  Last night, after a full weekend of playing inside and outside, and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, he was tuckered out long before he went to bed.  He fell asleep as soon as his (not so) little head hit the pillow.  Mommy's only worry last night was that he might get another nose bleed.  Silly Mommy.

Ethel was the epitome of exhausted.  There is no word strong enough to explain how tired she was yesterday.  She doesn't nap any longer so her fatigue level builds up until she simply collapses.  Long story short, we're still waiting for the collapse (an afternoon nap one day).  She, too, fell asleep in just about the blink of an eye last night.

I, myself, had to hit the sack early last night after a day of swimming lessons, picking up around the house, and doing some shopping for necessities around the house.  It wasn't a terribly busy day, but, for a Saturday, we had a lot to do.  Regardless, I fell asleep and didn't hear the three times Fred was up before 11PM.  At that hour, I went into his room to find Daddy rocking him as he cried looking for Mommy.  Poor thing was warm, probably still asleep, and making no sense.  I knew in an instant that we (I) would get little sleep if this continued, so I opted to bring him into our bed.  Seriously, I had not had a single drink and yet I still chose to sleep with this child.

Have you ever slept with a hurricane?  With the spin cycle on the washing machine?  With a boxer?  No?  Well, you're missing a night with Fred {sorry to his future significant other(s), but, here's some foreshadowing to think about}.

He's never been one that's easy to sleep with.  He'll smack you in the face before you can enjoy his gentle breath on your face as he rolls over toward you.  He'll swing his leg into your belly while you saw logs.  He'll breathe on you, snore in your face, and wrap his arm around your neck before you realize he's even close enough to you to make contact.  It's a real treat.  Last night he added a shout out to the neighbor's dog, including a request to go pet that dog.  At 3AM.  At 3AM I heard, "I want to go see, Cody"; "Is Cody awake?"; "Can we go pet Cody?".  I wouldn't joke about something like this.  I wouldn't.  Really.

The talking wasn't really what got to me.  Fred is a large child, and is not easy to move, let alone when he's asleep.  He's not that cute, tiny, sleeping infant in the picture at the top of the page.  He's 37 lbs of dead weight.  Seriously.

So, somewhere about 2AM was when Ethel decided she was scared in her room and that she needed to charge to my side of the bed and whine, whimper, whatever that was at that hour, to get into bed next to me.  Well, honey, SURPRISE, your little brother is already in here!  Woo hoo, par-tay!  Not.

Got her settled, rolled over, and realized, that was the edge of the bed I was staring at.  No, really.  I'd seen it several times already, but now I was a little more awake, and it was a little (a lot) more real.  Craptastic.  I had already given up my body pillow, and now was having to deal with sleeping at the edge of my KING SIZE BED!  These two kids are a collective 68 lbs, it's not like I couldn't take 'em, but, when they're sleeping and snoring and their little noses flare in and out, and you hear that little "sigh" after they roll over every once in a while, you realize that it's best to let sleeping does lie.  It really is.

So, figuring I wouldn't be able to fall asleep again, I gazed out the windows at what few stars I could see and before I knew it, it was 20 minutes later.  Fred stirred, and I took advantage of that moment to slide him a little farther toward Daddy's side of the bed.  That's when I heard, "Why do you keep moving me?".  Who has a good answer to anything at around 2AM?  I didn't think so.

It took most of the night to find a comfortable spot, between Fred's arm swinging over into my face when he rolled onto his back, and Ethel's bad dreams causing whining and rolling over and reaching for Mommy.  At one point, I thought it might be best, if I had a Leatherman handy, (where are those when you need 'em?) to sever my arm at the then painful shoulder, because I wasn't sure the shoulder would ever work again with all the pain it was in from sleeping funny on it.  Funny, not ha, ha funny, mind you.

Then there's the story of my neck.  Fred's pillow boundaries are non-existent.  I can't blame him, he never has had to share a pillow, so he doesn't know that when you sleep next to someone else, they are then "sharing" the pillow with you.  Ethel is lacking the same understanding when she's sleeping.

Before I knew it, I had the top of both their heads head in my face.  Fred's from next to me where he was laying, and Ethel's from laying across the pillows when she fell asleep.  The rest of me was seemingly forced to the very outer edges of the bed.  I.kid.you.not.  I woke at one time and found myself with my body getting ready to fall out of the bed!  The KING sized bed!  What the hell is this about?

Despite my best efforts (pre-dawn, pre-coffee) to move Fred, and/or Ethel, thorughout the night proved fruitless against the wills of a five and three year old.  I have now learned my lesson.

Today, I somehow still managed a good run of just under 4 miles, a nice visit with the neighbors, and two kids who were much more rested than I.  I honestly have no idea how they can wake up in the morning well rested (or seemingly so) after a night of kicking, snoring, talking, and rolling over every three minutes.  Regardless, Fred rose from this sleeping dead and I popped out of bed with him, and I think he was very excited to be in Mommy's room, which is a total treat for both our kids when it comes to overnights.  :)

I only had one night sleeping at the edge of my mattress at the hands of my children.  I don't know how anyone does it night after night after night.

That's all for now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sometimes, life gets in the way

What a summer this has been.  Unfortunately, that's about all I can get out for now.  So much I want to write about, so little time and energy!  Summer can be so draining when we're on the go-go-go!

Hopefully this bottlneck in my mind will clear up soon and I can get my brain emptied of all the things I've been storing inside it.