I've been nutso busy this week. Ok, that's not true. I've been playing with my kids in the back yard. Sorry I lied to you. It's just that it's so fun back there now. I'll post more on that in a week or two because the "Backyard of Awesome" project is not yet complete. With Mr. Pants turning three, other family birthdays, Memorial Day and playing in the yard, I haven't had much alone time at the computer and I've been a little behind on the writing. But it really is because I can't stop playing with these kids. I am currently engaged in an all day everyday attempt to re-program both of them into giving high fives instead of pushing each other and laughing maniacally. I thought my strategy was brilliant until yesterday when they had "Pushfest 2012". Fuzzbuckets. I must break this kid from pushing. I am guessing kids at the park will not love it like Plum does.
After pushing her down and returning to the playhouse, Plum laughs and laughs and returns for more. My weaksauce, "No pushing! Only high fives!" strategy is failing miserably...
So while I've been playing with these two and wracking my brain for a successful "no pushing" strategy, I did write something for the blog I Am Not The Babysitter
. Remember that Time magazine cover a few weeks ago? You know the one
. Well, Jamie Lynne Grumet was the mama on that cover and she's been working hard to change the topic of conversation from the cover photo "controversy" into the reason she agreed to do it in the first place. To normalize breast feeding past infancy. She asked some other mamas to contribute to her most recent post and I am so happy that I could help. I answer to the myth that breast milk loses its nutritional value at one year and also talk about people's judgment of mamas nursing toddlers. Because you know I'm all about spreading the breastfeeding love. So if you are so inclined, head on over there and check it out! You'll find some great answers to common myths about nursing. Straight from mamas that are nursing toddlers.
And while you're there, check out her story
. It's pretty amazing.
There is never a bad time for cake. Especially when it's your birthday weekend. Especially when things were so crazy at your party that you never stopped to eat any. Or your dinner. Hell, it was a miracle your amazing parents kept you hydrated. So waking up the next day and requesting a piece of cake for breakfast is totally within reason. And your parents would be losers if they said no. So eat your cake for breakfast! Go on ahead. A little cake is good for the soul.
Hey there baby boy,
The sun just set tonight on your third year. Tomorrow when you get up you will be three. I can't believe it. Tonight, Daddy and I sang Twinkle Twinkle to you as you fell asleep. You love that song. And I love that you still want us to sing it to you. Is it any surprise that I am crying as I write to you? Probably not. By the time you can read this, I'm sure you will be used to your mama crying about all the love I have in my heart for you. You are an amazing kid, Mr. Pants. You need to really know that. Every single thing about you is extraordinary. You are kind. And thoughtful. And totally wild. You are smart and loving and silly. And right before our eyes you are becoming a big kid.
In this last year you have broken down so many of your walls. Engaging with people and showing love. You gave us a scare for a bit there. But you broke out of your shell. You kept your quirks though and I gotta say, I'm so glad. And you are talking! You have worked so hard to do that and we are so so SO crazy proud of you. It is music to my ears to hear your voice. I will never forget when you finally called out to me and said my name. "Mama! Mammmmaaaa!!!". My heart jumped right out of my chest. Your little voice. It was perfect.
Your most favorite thing in the whole world right now is Curious George. You call him "Monkey!". You love trains, planes, tractors, lawn movers, bulldozers, garbage trucks, rocket ships and motorcycles. But you aren't only in to heavy machinery though. I see you carting around mama's old Care Bear and pink puppy dog and caring for them. You change their diapers and nurse them. You tuck them in to sleep, kiss them on their heads and say, "Ny-Ny, baby". You are starting to play with Plum too! At first when she would try to play with you, you thought it wasn't cool. But you are warming up to her again now. Even though it's hard that she wants to play with your toys. Your favorite game to play with your baby sister, is to run back and forth between the living room furniture and jump on it and giggle. Then Plum runs to the next one and looks back to see if you are coming. You always do. And she laughs and laughs. You have really blossomed in your role as her big brother. You say, "No no baby!" if you see her doing something that is dangerous. Oh! And you are so polite! You say, "Oooh tank yoo!" with such happiness everytime someone gives you something. I love that. Let's see, your favorite colors are red and purple. You still love to dance and um, dude...you are still a nudist. Let's work on that this year, ok? You are really starting to use your imagination too. You pretend to be Curious George all the time and you sound just like him.
So in keeping with tradition, I made you a slideshow of your third year. I picked one of your favorite songs. I hadn't noticed how perfect the words were before now. No wonder you love this song. It would seem it was written just for you.
You bring so much sunshine. I am so excited to watch you grow this year. Never forget that your mama loves you. Seriously, do not ever forget that. Every moment of everyday, I love you. Happy Birthday, baby.
The Friendship Song ~ Carbon Leaf
I want to be the smile
I want to see the change
I want to be your friend
from the start and once it starts it never ends
I want to be your paI
I want to be around
I want to be a friend when you are down
I want to be the sunshine on your smiling face
I want to be the moon
No, I want to be the ocean
Where all we do is float under the sun on the rolling sea
Whoa, I want to be the sunshine, No I want to be the moonshine
I want to be the nighttime lullaby when you are so afraid
And I think I found a way to put a smile on your lonely face
I think I found a way, a way to break down all the walls
I think I found a way to say,
I think I found a way to say hello
I think I found a way
Without saying anything at all
Today is the last day that Mr. Pants will ever be two years old. So it's as good a day as any to finally master the number two on his hands. On his way to school this morning, he finally got it. And of coarse, this achievment made me misty. Because I am the sap from the sappiest sugary-est tree. Tomorrow we will begin to work on three fingers. I bet he gets that super fast. But for today, he is two. And what kind of sap would I be if I didn't start thinking about his whole little life as he walked down the driveway with Daddy to get on the bus? I mean, you know I did. I went all the way back to the very beginning. Before he was even here. Yep, I'm a marshmallow. I went through his entire life in my head. Has it really only been three years? Because I feel like I've known him forever. As I sat down to write about him, I got stuck on something that my brother told me when I was pregnant.
When you're pregnant for the first time people tell you all sorts of things. Mostly about how you will never sleep again (TRUE!) and how you should soak up every bit of them as babies because it goes by too fast (True times infinity).
When we found out that I was growing a boy inside my body (What what! Superhero powers!), I got a lot of additional material. Like, "Boys are hard". Or, "Boys are easier than girls". And, "I hope you like the emergency room" (Who likes the emergency room?). But there was something that my brother said to me that rang in my ears and stayed in my heart. It's the only comment I remember vividly. I remember we were standing on his porch. I was wearing a black t-shirt. He was wearing my husband's shoes. What he said, hit me like a ton of bricks and I haven't forgotton it. Not for a second. We were joking about how wild he had been as a kid and about how I was in for it with a boy, when he paused. He looked up and said, "It's good you are having a boy. It's a really good thing. Because you will teach him how to treat a woman. And how to be sensitive and all that. You are going to be good at that". I was at once touched and scared. See both of my brothers have a set of girls. Two girls each. There were no boys on my side of the family until Mr. Pants came along. The idea that we would have to parent him into being a good person, had suddenly occured to me. Oh shit. What if I screw up my kid and then he goes on to screw up his kids in a vicious cycle that started with me not letting him eat ice cream for dinner? What if he's a total jerk as an adult because I don't know how to raise a boy? It would be all my fault!
(At this point, I usually need someone to shake me by the shoulders or smack me back into reality. Not for real smacking, more like a verbal smack across the cheek. Thankfully, I always have my friends and family for that. )
So, I thought about this a lot before lil dude was born. A lot. It really did worry me that I might not have the nuts to raise a boy. Pun totally intended. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to relate to him. Understand him. But eventually I snapped out of it and realized I was not giving birth to an alien. I was having a human boy. And I would just figure him out. It helps that Daddy is also a boy, so my plan was to defer to him on boy related issues. Like when Mr. Pants became a nudist and slammed his junk onto things as he hurdled furniture ("I mean, doesn't that hurt him? Wouldn't that hurt you?"). Or when he got a sunburn On. His. Penis. Daddy nearly passed out at the thought. Because, you know, OW. I just didn't think to put sunblock there. But Daddy sure did. Lesson learned. Protect the goods. Got it. Beyond that, I didn't have to worry. I didn't have to do anything different just because he was boy. I just had to be his mom. It's a simple idea. But sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to get to.
Then Ms. Plum came along. A girl. How would this change him? How would she be different? She's more emotional. More dramatic. More relaxed. More affectionate. I think it would be easy to suggest that it's because she is a girl. But that's really not it. It's not gender that is determining these things. She just came that way. And he came his way. We parent them the same. I'm sure sometimes that doesn't happen but it's what we strive for. Boys get the same amount of kisses as girls and girls are allowed to climb and fall just like the boys are. As I type this, Plum is playing with a semi truck. And just last night, Mr. Pants nursed his Care Bear and changed his diaper. Comforting Wish Bear, "Don Ky! Iz OK baby!" and giving him kisses.
So here we are. Today is the last day that Mr. Pants will be two. Three years out from what my brother said to me. I would probably bet money that when it comes down to it, Mr. Pants has taught me more than I have taught him. And we obviously have a ways to go before he's learned how to treat a partner. But I have no doubt that he will get there. Because honestly? He has no choice. I refuse to raise a jerk face. So we plant the seeds now. And the best way to do that, in this stage of his development, is by showing him. By being the people we hope that he and Plum will also be. That, my friends, is not always easy. We give hugs and kisses all day, everyday (easy part!) and we speak to them gently (most of the time) and with respect. And when I find that I am not parenting the way I believe I should, I stop, breathe and start again. Right in front of them. We apologize to them when we miss the mark. And we don't demand things of them that they are not yet capable of. We are not perfect. Not by a long shot. The longest of shots. I mean, I've got stories. But the foundation of our parenting style is that we have four equal voices living under this roof. They are not the second class. Neither are we. Their feelings and ideas count. They are as important as our own. And by enforcing that. By not always getting my way, we are teaching them to be considerate and thoughtful. At least I think that's what we are doing. And maybe my brother knew that's how I would parent? Or maybe he just assumed I'd be "good at it" because I am the greatest sister of all time?
So as I sit here thinking of all the ways we have succeeded and failed in the last three years, I am so happy. So so happy. We are bumbling through this parenting adventure with an idea of how to do it. Not a map or a fool proof plan, but some ideas. Be kind. Show love. Show respect. Use honesty and laughter liberally. Temper our human tendancy for frustration and anger with reason and understanding. It's ok to be mad. Take naps. Accept mistakes and don't dwell. Ask for help (the hardest one for me). Eat ice cream (note to self: buy coconut milk ice cream, stat!). Get dirty. Eat your vegetables. Never withhold affection as discipline. Always consider you might be wrong. And don't be a jerk when you are right.
That's our way. That's how we do it. It's not the only way or even the right way. But it's what suits us.
So, I agree, Uncle Pants. I think it's a good thing too.
This week belongs to Mr. Pants. Our big guy turns three on Friday. Our Memorial Day baby. I am equal parts stoked that he is growing into such an awesome little firecracker and sad that my baby boy just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Sometimes I daydream about him getting a deep voice and facial hair and it freaks me out. He really is going to be a man someday. Dang.
It was this time last year that I began considering a blog. I watched as the days flew by and I wanted to keep a record of our life so that someday, these kids could read about the times when they were tiny. The times they could not remember. I am so glad that I did. I had no idea what we were in for this last year when I wrote him this...
Dear Mr. Pants,
On this day 2 years ago I went into labor with you at 2:30 in the morning. I remember sitting at the computer with a red pen and writing down every contraction. As they grew stronger and stronger I knew that today was the day I would finally meet you. I was so excited and also a little bit scared. You were my first baby and I was worried that I wouldn't know how to be your mama. After 15 hours of labor my body was ready to push but you had other plans. You were so cozy and happy in there that you tried to stay. The doctor thought it was best to deliver you via c-section and you were born just a bit later. I will never forget hearing your cry. You were so mad! But when they wrapped you up and gave you to your daddy, you felt safe. When I saw your beautiful face, there was this wave of love that changed me. You turned me into a mama in that instant and I haven't wanted to be anything else since. The last 2 years have been filled with so much. There were times that my heart filled with so much love that I was sure there was no way to love you more but then we'd wake up the next day and sure enough, I did. I loved you more. Thank you for choosing me to be your mama. I promise you that for your whole life you will be loved and you will be safe
with me. Not just your body, but also your heart. You have become such an amazing and adventurous spirit. I think about all the things that you could do in your life and I can not wait to find out what it holds for you, but please don't grow up too fast ok? As I type this, you are about to wake up to start the 3rd year of your life. I wonder if you will look bigger or learn a new word today? I am so excited to watch you grow this year. I know there will be plenty of surprises in store for us because you are one creative and curious little boy. I hope you never unlearn that Silas. You have taught me how to be curious again and to wonder. Thank you my baby boy for loving me. Your love is amazing. I love you. I love you. I love you.
Plenty of surprises? Yeeeeeah, I hit the nail on the head with that one. It's been a wild ride since I wrote him that letter. But more on that later. What I'm caught up in this morning is this picture. Taken exactly one year ago. It's not a spectacular photo or even a great one. But it made me pause. The way he's smiling at the mud in his hands. The chub in his cheeks. The spring of the curl in his hair. And he's sitting in his signature pose. I probably have a hundred pictures of him sitting exactly like this. And I can't stop staring at this one. In one year's time, he went from my chubster baby to my lil bird boy. I already miss that little two year old rascal. Damn, man. It just goes way too fast. I suspect that I will have these moments before every birthday. And I'm pretty sure that no matter how far down the birthday road we get, every year he will still look like my little baby. And I will stare at pictures of him and have a good cry. Sigh. This mom gig is crazy on the heart.
May 23, 2011
Summer is here! So it's time to brush up on your pool etiquette.
Nothing says, "WELCOME SUMMER!!!!" like a little naked swimming at your favorite swimming hole in Uncle Matt's front yard ("Un Mathhd" ).
Mr. Pants and his BFC (best friend cousin)
Nothing says, "No! No! No! But actually Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Then being splashed with the hose.
And nothings says, "Oh. Holy. Hell." more,
than when your kid is the one peeing in the pool.
Oh holy hell
I have no pictures to post of us at the library. Because I was too busy wrangling and making sure my kid didn't murder the other kids in the five and under room. Ok, murder is a strong word. More accurate would be that I was ensuring he didn't strip his clothes off, bash a nine month old baby with a bucket, rip the skirt off a little girl, and log roll other people's kids. I was busy. And yes, I was sweating bullets. But I'm glad we went.
I've written before
about taking these two tiny humans out into public alone
. I always have a plan. And I have a line that when it is crossed, we cut and run. Heading to the safe haven that is home. If that means a TCA (total cart abandon), well, then that's what it means. Basically the line is, "Does Mommy want to lose her shit?". If I answer yes, then it is time to go. I'm not into proving anything. I know I'm "mom enough" (thanks for asking though, Time magazine
!). If they lose control over themselves, we go home. If I want to lose control of me, we go home. But we will try again another day. And then again another day, until we have a good day out and that
experience will fuel my courage, like a good whiskey, for the next time when things fall into the shizzer. We keep trying. Because I am no longer afraid of them, err I mean, it.
For a long time I would carefully determine whether or not the chances were high enough for success before I ventured out into the world alone with these two. A point system of how things were going that day based on eating and napping and general moodiness. If the stars aligned, I might try and take them out. But the stars rarely aligned. And my fear of a spectacle kept the car keys hanging on the wall. I started to feel trapped under our roof. I'm sure they did too. I mean, we have a lot of fun here and I am kind of the best singing and dancing monkey impersonator in the continental U.S. But things got stale and I realized recently that, in words from my childhood, spoken in the ever loving voices of my big brothers, I was being a total wuss.
So, now it's official. I've stopped being a wuss. At least where this is concerned, I mean I'm still sweating bee season
but I have been regularly taking these kids out in public by myself. And yeah, over half the time, we return to the house looking like we just survived the apocalypse, but the key word is "survived". Yes, we did. And so did those children at the library because I pulled up the anchor and shipped out of their before things got bloody. But here's where I double win, we didn't immediately retreat to home. Instead we picked up dinner and went to the park to eat it. And yeah, Mr. Pants hulked out and tried to return to the wild by breaking for the woods several times. But for a few short minutes while he was distracted by the fact that we were at the park, Plum and I got to eat some dinner before we had to head home. And it is true that Mr. Pants screamed and kicked at the back of my seat the whole way and lost his ever loving mind. I miscalculated. He didn't need more sensory input, he was on overload. I missed that mark. But we were all alive and a few hours more ready for bedtime and heading home.
I knew how to help him regulate when we got home. Bubble bath with a gazillion bubbles? Yes please! All the while when we have these times out in public I remind myself of a quote I came across a while back that reminds me that he not giving me
a hard time but that instead, he is having
a hard time. And that very true statement keeps my head from spinning around until I can kiss his head goodnight, pour myself a cocktail and watch Smash on Hulu. Which is how Mama
I didn't get any pictures of our outing to the library. But I did get this. My sweet angel all asleep, holding his wubby's, on Daddy's pillow after a long day of terrorizing mama, err I mean, playing hard. And remembering the day this way will give me the cojones to try again tomorrow.
[image credit: posterous.com]
On Plum's first birthday, her Godparents handed us a piece of paper. It read:
"Plum, Our gift to you this, your first year, is to plant a tree in our yard just for you! The tree is called a Newport Plum (because that's part of your name too). The tree blooms in the spring (because so did you), and everytime we look at it in our yard, we will think of our sweet Goddaughter!
Each year on your birthday, we would like for you to come to our house and take a picture under your tree so that we can see how much you and the tree have grown! We love you so much. Happy 1st Birthday!"
"Though a tree grows so high, the falling leaves return to the root'"
This week her Godmommies planted that tree and invited us over for her first picture under it. I dressed Plum in her birthday party dress and before we left, I asked Mr. Pants to stand next to her for a picture. He wasn't into that. But he did show her some love before he ran away.
"Ah wuff yoo, Wo-Wa"
When I saw the tree. I smiled. It was perfect. Young, a little fragile, planted and beautiful. A living, breathing, growing tree. Blooming and perfect but not yet everything that it will become. Just like our sweet girl.
So when I sat down today to write about this. I began thinking of all the pictures that will one day be taken with her tree. Maybe next year's will be blurry as the two year old version of her runs in and out of the shot. Refusing to sit still. The potential for t-ball uniforms or a missing tooth. Prom dresses and musical instruments. Dance costumes. I laughed at the idea in my head of her in a goth phase and annoyed that we are making her take this picture when all she wants to do is write sullen poems and be left alone. Or maybe she'll go through a phase of silly posing and over the top smiles. Perhaps one year she will wrap her legs around the tree and give it a hug. And then through my laughter, I start to cry. I begin to imagine her wearing her cap and gown. A wedding dress. And maybe someday bringing her own little baby to set gently under her tree. And it's official. I'm a mess. This tree will grow with our girl. Such a perfect gift for a first birthday. Just perfect.
Why is everybody staring at me?
Mr. Pants gives the double finger approval
So now a tree grows for Plum. I am searching for an idea for Mr. Pants. Something just for him. Got any ideas? What do you do to chart the growth of your kids?
Yesterday, all over the internet people were sharing memes, video gags and funny blog posts about Mother's Day and what a mom really wants. The consensus being that we want to poop by ourselves (TRUE!), eat at a normal pace (YES!) and be left the eff alone (GUILTY!). It's funny because it's true. Well maybe not for everyone. But I am not ashamed to say, that it was true for me. All that I wanted in the entire world was some actual, true blue, no grabby hands or poop diapers. Just for one day. Or even just a few hours. I wanted to not be distracted and eying running kids and making sure no one got hit by a car. I wanted to just be free of responsibility. Just for a little bit. To have a conversation with another adult sans toddler attempting to rip my dress off in search of boobs.
Don't get me wrong. I love my responsibilities. I love them so much that I poop with them sitting on my lap. I eat so fast because someone will try to get hurt at dinner time and I will need to save them. I love them to beyond the stars because I happily wake each night to pull Plum in closer and nurse her back to sleep and she often repays my love by waking at the ass crack of dawn. And I kiss her sweet face and get up. Even though I want so desperately to stay asleep. I love them so endlessly that my heart literally aches when they are sick and it leaps out of chest when I hear them say my name. But if I am being completely honest, there are times when I need a break. I need to let someone else wipe their snot and play with them so that I can have a little me time. So when one of my dearest friends chose Mother's Day for her wedding day, I paused. Did I really want to spend Mother's Day away from my kids? I'm gonna admit right here in the privacy afforded me by the internet that, yes. Yes, I did. An afternoon and evening away? Yes, please! So that's what I did. Babysitters are scarce for The Pants Family, so Daddy stayed home to care for the littles and I got dressed up, put my pearl earrings on and sparkly shoes, ate beef brisket comically slow and had several glasses of wine and danced. I watched a lovely Laydee marry her love and in those five hours, I peed alone four times! And I talked and laughed with my friends and there was even a Journey sing along. It was awesome. It was perfect. And when I came home there was a card filled with scribbles from Daddy, Pants and Plum and a brand new set of computer speakers so that I could finally get back to watching Smash on Hulu. Our busted speakers finally replaced! He's got a knack for getting the gift that is perfect and I wouldn't ever think to ask for. And Plum was waitingfor me. I had to pee, so well, she came too. Happy to see her mama and having learned that mama will always come back. Always.
Today it's back to being a mom. Back to grabby hands and diapers. Falls and spills. Snuggles and toddler nursing. And I am happy to be back. Refreshed and reminded that taking time to be away from your kids isn't something to feel guilty about. It's something many of us need. And that's ok. It doesn't make you a bad mom. Quite the opposite really. I believe that our kids are so much better off seeing their parents care for themselves. They are the recipients of the benefits that come when Mama and Daddy return refreshed from a much needed tag out. And last night I was reminded with the bluntness that only great sister friends can provide that Daddy and I need to do that more often than we do. Because when I came home last night, I was filled up and ready. Happy to be home but glad that I gone. Because I needed it. And so did my kids. Up next? It's Daddy's turn....
8 of 13 Laydeez. My sisters.
Repeat after me...
"I do the single most important job in the world. Yes, I do. I do it with grace even though there are times I want to poke my eyes out with a fork. I carry on. Because my job matters. I am a superhero. Not by Marvel's standards. But to the preschool and under set, I am an unstoppable force of awesome. I can do anything because I am a mother. Nothing can keep me from them when I am needed. I am powerful. I may not be able to get a picture of my kids looking at the camara together but that does not define me. Because I can get them to sit next to eachother for fourteen seconds, and that's something. There is nothing I cannot face because mothering has made me stronger, smarter, faster and twitchy with caffeine. I've got this. Today and everyday. Because I am more than qualified to be trusted with the most important job in the world. Just ask my kids. I am mom. And I kick ass."
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mamas out there!