And close your fingertips and fly where I can't hold you. Let the sun-rain fall and let the dewy clouds enfold you. And maybe you can sing to me the words I just told you. If all the things you feel ain't what they seem. Then don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream.
Every time I try to sing this song to them, I have to stop. I can't get more than a few lines in before the lump forms in my throat, I feel the salt water hot in my eyes and my voice begins to shake.
I cannot look into their eyes or I don't even get that far. I've come a long way from singing about the paint colors in the house when Mr. Pants was new. But I still can't sing this one.
Sometimes we cannot speak or write words that actually mean what we want them to. Sometimes music can take those words and string them raw and real into the world. Sometimes a song gets inside of you. It's those songs that I cannot sing to my babies just yet. Because those songs lay bare my soul and it would seem I am not yet strong enough for that.
That's usually when I close my eyes and listen. I pull them in. I let the music play. Sometimes I hum and I get the courage to try a few lines. I stop when the tears come and listen. I watch them and dance with them. Hoping that they know how magnificently they are loved.
Music can bring me to my knees. It can make me feel everything at once. It can bring my heart to the outside of my body and move my emotions like waves. It brings me to such an important place when I let it. This place of pure love. A place of freedom. A place of stillness. A place of knowing how fast these days are leaving us. How fleeting these years are while they are young.
And I hold them tighter when I am in this place. I hold them longer. I soak them in. I feel the love I have for them in my bones. And I never want to let them go. It's knowing that I will have to un-knot my fingers from around them someday that brings the swell of my heart and my tears.
I'm sure there will come a day when they think that's weird. But there will also come a day when they understand. When they know this place I am taken to. Because they will be taken there too. And they will know in their bones how fiercely they are loved.
If I had the chance to write a song for my children it would sound an awful lot like this one...
Let the river rock you like a cradle. Climb to the treetops, child, if you're able. Let your hands tie a knot across the table. Come and touch the things you cannot feel. And close your fingertips and fly where I can't hold you. Let the sun-rain fall and let the dewy clouds enfold you. And maybe you can sing to me the words I just told you, If all the things you feel ain't what they seem. And don't mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream.
Is there a song that speaks to your heart? Is there a place that the music takes you?
I don't do New Year's resolutions. Because I never keep them. So why set myself up for failure, right? But it seems I already made two and it's not even 10 am yet. I'm not in trouble though. I'm not wishing for the moon. I just whispered a few small promises into the air this morning. No life altering stuff. Just life stuff.
New Year's Eve didn't start out well. In fact it started out downright sucky sucktastic. Double ear infection was the word on the street and Mr. Pants wasn't feeling a celebration. On the way to the doctor he asked me, "Mama? I go a doctor? I go asleep? I scared, Mama" My heart broke into a million pieces as he began to cry a very throat punching cry. You know the one. Silent. Wide eyes. Fearful. "Mama, I scared." he said again. All my wishing for him to forget his surgery
didn't seem to do the trick. He remembers. And the memory is scary. So as I drove my boy to the doctor on New Year's Eve, I began to quietly cry for him. "No one is going to hurt you today, bud. You don't have to go to sleep at the doctor today, baby. Mama will stay with you and it won't hurt. I promise." "Ok, mama. I go to sleep?" "No bud, no sleep at the doctor today. She is gonna look at your ouchies in your ears so we can get medicine to make them feel better. Just like we looked in Buzz's ears at home, remember?" "Ok, Mama. I scared" as his lip and chin began to quiver again.
Being a mom is just heart ripping sometimes, isn't it?
It didn't go well at the doctor. Mr. Pants began to panic almost immediately. It was brutal and I won't describe it because he and I don't need a play by play. Instead I have made my first New Year's Resolution in years and years. Resolution number one is for you, Mr. Pants. I promise that starting right now, I will work with you in safe and stress-free ways to help you become less afraid of the doctor. I promise. You and me, buddy. Let's do this.
Chocolate milk helps at the end of a stressful doctor visit
So by the time we got home, Mr. Pants was whooped
. I tried to coax some dinner of frozen pizzas and chips into him. I mean it's New Year's Eve! Junk food is the rule for sickies on a holiday, right? But he wasn't into it and was in bed for the night at five. FIVE. You know a 3 year old is sick when he puts himself to bed at five
That left Plum and I to celebrate alone since Daddy was at work making fancy food for the masses. Here at home we had our own fancy feast. Side note: when your allergies
are milk, eggs and peanuts, good desserts can be hard to come by. But I was prepared. There isn't a lot of junk food that passes the "safe for Plum" test but there is one we can always count on. The classic Oreo. Throw in some So Delicious chocolate ice cream and we had a straight up party. Just the two of us.
We played dress-up and danced to our favorite tunes. We ate our junk food and sang some songs. Basically we partied pretty hard by toddler standards. So hard that we needed to make some costume changes half way through. By the time seven-thirty rolled around, Plum was plum tuckered. She told me it was time to go to bed and have some nucks (milks). She was out cold by 7:40 pm on New Year's Eve.Resolution number two is for you, Plum. I promise to play dress-up with you more often than not. We are gonna get super crazy fancy up in this house this year, baby girl. Oh, yes. Yes we are.
The house was quiet. Too quiet for New Year's Eve. I mean there was a day when this night brought all kinds of mayhem and tomfoolery. Even hijinks. Lots and lots of shenanigans and, well, you get the point. Drunk and stumble-y, I kissed many many strangers and not strangers at midnight, you guys. I wore sparkling sequins and danced for hours in shoes that tortured my feet at parties where the liquor flowed like water. Sparklers and fireworks. Sweaty glittery skin. Foil covered walls. Velvet pants. Wigs and tiaras. People passed out in the yard. All very glamorous, really. And I had so much fun. Too much fun, maybe. But SO much fun. For years.
But it doesn't hold a candle to coconut milk ice cream and old dance costumes. It doesn't touch the awesomeness of digging into a bag of Oreos and watching YouTube videos of Yo Gabba Gabba tunes and miscelleneous other bits of awesome (What what, Whitney Houston! I knew you would blow Plum's mind. OOOOH! I wanna dance with some-bod-ay!!) while your baby dances and sings along. It doesn't compare to getting the medicine your sick kid needs to get better finally and knowing that he is sleeping peacefully in the next room.
Because my dream all along was to have a family. And sometimes that means sick kids and husbands working on a holiday. I'll take it anyway. So this year I rang in the New Year with this. It happens to be Pants and Plum's favorite song right now. And I think it's pretty rad.
And then I rang it in proper with this. Like I always do. And a grin sat knowingly on my face in my quiet quiet house of sleeping kids and I remembered (or had foggy ideas of blurry possabilities of) my younger days. Because they were great, too. They were really freaking great. And I danced by myself. And I laughed. I just cracked up. Remembering. Damn, we had some fun.
Mommy's alright. Daddy's alright. They just seem a little weird.... Surrender...Surrender...
Happy New Year ! Here's to a fan-freaking-tastic year loving your families be they biological or chosen.
Spread the love around and Surrender to 2013!
It's gonna be great.
Every night before bed, I lay with my baby boy and tuck him in. We say a simple blessing that I wrote for us. It's a modified version of the prayer that my mom said with us as children before bed. And just a few weeks ago, Mr. Pants began saying it with me.
"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the world will soon know peace. If my dreams should bring me fright, take me safe to morning light."
We ask for blessings for the people that we love and wish goodnight to the ones we can no longer hold or see. He tells me he loves me and I kiss his forehead. It's all very precious until he starts his list again. Goodnight cookies! Goodnight Hulk! I love you, apple juice! So on Friday evening as I tucked him in, I spent a whole lot longer than normal just staring at him and telling him that I love him. He eventually looked up at me and said, "Its ok, mama. You go out. I go night-night now"
He kicked me out. He didn't know that the day was a horrible day. To him it was any other night and I was lingering. I was breaking the routine. He goes to bed by himself now. So I left knowing that I'd return once he was asleep to kiss him again and watch him breathe. His adorable belly rising and falling. I knew I'd come back to soak up my living breathing loving baby boy as he slept. Just like countless parents across the world did that night.
When I returned to his room, I was overwhelmed with my love for him. My tears were hot on my cheeks as I tried not to wake him but was not ready to stop seeing him just yet. I silently said the blessing in my head. "I pray the world will soon know peace" and I added blessings and love to those suffering the unimaginable horror of losing their babies be they 6 years old or 56.
I prayed hard. For peace. Mostly for peace to come to hearts of those whose lives are now irrevocably changed but also for peace for all of us. Peace in our hearts to send our kids to school this week. Peace to calm our fears.
I prayed for answers. Please help them come before he is old enough to understand that gunmen sometime step into schools and carry out nightmares and bring despair. He has no understanding of such heart tearing things. He is unscarred. Beautifully unaware.
I want to freeze time and never allow that to change. Never allow the darkness to touch them. I want to change the world. I want to fix all of this. And I want to cry. Because my babies are becoming more aware of the world around them with each passing day. There is so much to do. So so much to do that it feels impossible.
But I can do things. I can use my life to help. To try. And the only way I know how to do that is to simply start. To begin. To build community and to love other people. To be that for my kids so that they learn it from me. To go beyond my yard and help. There was a quote circulating on Friday as news broke of the sheer horror inside Sandy Hook School. It was from Mr. Rogers on talking to children about tragedy.
"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." ~ Fred Rogers
He is so right.
If we look around the helpers are everywhere. I found one recently in the website HopeMob
. I will write more about them this week and I hope to bring their message to this blog regularly. I am joining up. Not just for now but for the long haul. HopeMob gives every single penny
that you donate to exact person or persons you donate them to. They raise money to feed the hungry or to pay people's medical bills. They raise money to help families grieve without worrying about funeral costs. Right now they are raising money for the first responders
to Sandy Hook Elementary school. They are providing meals to them as they navigate this painful time processing the things they've witnessed. They are helpers. They are changing the world. Check them out. And if you are able to help, please consider sending a few dollars to one of their campaigns if it speaks to you. They take no overhead and they are verified and audited. They are the real deal.
Real people helping real people.
Well it's late and I need to go slip into bed next to my baby girl and whisper our blessing to her. I'm sure that I will spend more time than usual staring at the beauty of her breathing and the twitch of her pinky finger as she dreams. I will say a prayer for her and for everyone that the world will soon know peace. I will say a prayer for all of us.
Goodnight, my friends.
I never respond to chain mail. Mostly because I'm lazy. And I never share those Facebook posts that tell you that you suck if you don't share them. You know the ones that say that only one percent of people will share them because they are the only decent human beings in existance? Well except for this one. I totally did share this one...
"PLEASE put this on your status if you know someone or are related to someone who has been eaten by dragons. Dragons are nearly unstoppable, and in case you didn’t know, they can breathe fire. 93% of people won’t copy and paste this, because they have already been eaten by dragons. 6% of people are sitting in the shower, armed with fire extinguishers. The remaining 1% are awesome, and will re-post this.
Anyhoo, it would seem I have been caught.
See, Lillian over at It's A Dome Life
tagged me in a chain blog. Dun dun duuuun.
I love her. She's an amazing painter and a mama and an all-around awesome person. We've become bloggy friends. So when she tagged me in her recent post listing her five wishes for Christmas, I knew I'd do it. It's kind of right up my alley. My sappy, dreamy spread-the-love alley. I cannot help who I am, friends. It is what it is. So I'm "it" and Lillian wants to know what my five wishes are for this holiday season.
Truth be told I have more than five but for the sake of time I will pare it down.
But instead of tagging five other blogs, if you are so moved to do a five wishes blog of your own, consider yourself tagged. I would love to know what your wishes are too. I really would. Because I believe that when you speak your heart aloud, you create the possability.
So with that, here are my wishes...
[Image Source: My Messy House. Pants. Com]
I wish for a maid. Just a maid, you guys. Someone who will come once a week and clean the ever loving hell out of my house. What good are wishes if you can't shoot for the moon, right? And speaking of shooting for the moon...
I wish for health. I want Daddy and I to live long long lives. I want to be with my family for as long as I can see straight and think coherently. I never want to leave these these crazy people but when I do, I wish for it to be when we are all old old old and peeing ourselves and ready to clock out. Until then, I wish for our health. All of us.
[Image Source: http://www.ecouterre.com/]
I wish for slippers, underwear and bras. Because if my feet are cold, and my parts are all willy-nilly freestyle, the day is a loss before it begins. Also I just need undergarments with a badness and Daddy Pants reads this blog (Hi baby!) and might need ideas for me for Christmas. So there's that.
[Image Source: wallpapers.com]
I wish for snow. A white Christmas. Because I am a romantic and it is supposed to snow for Christmas Day. Lights are supposed to reflect off the snow and the night moon is supposed to make the ground sparkle like a million diamonds. And I am supposed to stay warmly inside making my new vegan hot chocolate recipe (safe for Plum) while watching Daddy play with our babies in the powder. Then, when they all come in, we will wrap ourselves in blankets and I will kiss their chilled cheeks and wipe their drippy pink noses as they sip the their hot chocolate and we watch a Christmas movie.
Ok, maybe I have planned this out a bit too much...
And finally, I wish for healing. Not for me but for you. So many of those that I love are hurting right now. And if only one of my wishes could come true, it would be this one. I wish that all the pain in the hearts of those I love would disappear and be replaced by calm, strength, laughter and joy. I wish for you to find solace. I wish for peace for you. I wish for your heart to be healed of its wounds. I wish above all else that you are ok. That you will find rest. That life will treat you kindly and that love will shine up through you and keep you well.
Those are mine. What about you? What are your wishes?
Daddy and I practice attachment parenting; Breastfeeding (well that's all me), co-sleeping, babywearing and we don't use the cry-it-out method or sleep training. Why we do these things is simple. It's not because it's the right way to parent. It's because it's how we would have parented anyway. It makes sense to us. It works. For us. Those pictures up there are the physical extensions of the style. The rest of it revolves around building trust with your child. Like believing that when a baby cries they are communicating with you and should be responded to no matter the time of day or night and that biology and instinct should not be ignored. But here's the thing, those things aren't exclusive to AP. It's just when you put all of those things together it is called Attachment Parenting. Because someone named it that. To me, it is just parenting.
AP is an approach, rather than a strict set of rules. It's actually the style that many parents use instinctively. Parenting is too individual and baby too complex for there to be only one way. The important point is to get connected to your baby, and the baby B's of attachment parenting help. Once connected, stick with what is working and modify what is not. You will ultimately develop your own parenting style that helps parent and baby find a way to fit – the little word that so economically describes the relationship between parent and baby.
Quoted from the site http://askdrsears.com/topics/attachment-parenting. You can also find all the "baby B's" there.
I am not a rule follower. Actually I often say things like, "the rules are there ain't no rules" or "I know I'm not supposed to cuss around the children but I won't be tamed!" Ok, the latter one was more of a confession so just never mind that and let's keep going.
I never actively looked for a parenting style. I didn't comb through a bunch of books as my belly grew to gargantuan sizes hoping to find rules for bringing up our kids. I never took a breastfeeding class (totally should have). I never even considered
co-sleeping let alone bed sharing. We had a nursery set up and back-up formula in the cupboard just in case my boobs didn't make the milky-milks. My friend had given me a Moby
and I thought it was a smidgey bizarre (so, wait I'm supposed to wrap the tiny human to my body? Weird.) I thought I would probably do some sleep training too. My thought was that at around four months old, we would move the babies out of the room with us and into their own cribs in their own rooms. I figured that the transition would be a bit tough on everybody but that it would be important.
But then slowly things began to unfold differently than I thought they would. Mr. Pants didn't latch for the first eleven days of his life but my milk was enough to feed not just him but also all of the neighbor children. At four months old we had learned some things about him and sleep. Moving him into another room would have resulted in no one
sleeping. Wearing him helped his gas and sensory processing. Etcetera etcetera etcetera.....we evolved, we adapted and we experimented. And then one day it occurred to me that we were following the AP style. Not because we made a conscious choice to, but because it's what came naturally to us once crossed into parenthood and met our kid.
But I didn't answer my own question, right? What I asked you
was, "When I hear the term Attachment Parenting, I think .
So having said all that up there, here is my answer.
When I hear the term Attachment Parenting I think , "Ughhhhhhhh" (complete with dramatic facial expressions and over blown sigh). Sometimes
when I hear the term it makes me roll my eyes so hard. It's true. Not because I don't jive with the style (obvs), but because the term itself suuuuuucks. It's a craptastic name. Because it stops people from even knowing what it is before judging it to be ridiculous. It makes people think things like, "cut the cord, already!" or smothering parenting or creates defensiveness because well, the opposite of attached is detatched. There's no getting around that. And add in a few sancti-mommies making people feel less than enough by condemning other parenting styles and you've got the makings of an "I'm better than you" powder keg. Result? Mommy wars.
Like so very many things, Attachment Parenting has an image problem. And it's because the internet is a silly little place where misinformation spreads like herpes and people get wild hairs and rant (GUILTY!).
The loudest people are always the fanatical ones, right? That's true for e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Ya know, the squeaky wheels and how they get the grease? That. Attachment Parenting has some really squeaky wheels, dudes. And squeaky wheels are experts at condescension and superior thinking. And they get noticed and put on TV in shows like Wife Swap and Extreme Parenting! They get interviewed on news shows and talk shows making us look like a bunch of douchecanoes. But I know
that "The Situation" Sorrentino does not represent the entire male population of New Jersey and I am POSITIVE that the vast majority of Christian parents are not like the self-proclaimed God Warrior
. So, my hope with this post is that most people will be able to see that the squeaky wheels do not represent all parents that use attachment parenting in their tool box. You know, people like me. Because I promise you that I'm not crazy and I don't think that you are either. The floor is now open for questions and comments. Just be nice or I will wrap you in a Moby and breastfeed you. ;)
She let's me put pigtails in her hair. She giggles when she sees herself in the mirror.
She wants me to build blocks with her and color.
She brings me back.
He sees that I'm a bit distant and wrapped up in my thoughts so he starts drumming.
He asks me to sing. We sing the whole song. Five times.
He brings me back.
Especially when he smiles at me like he has gas.
He turns off his video game and asks me to watch 30 Rock. He pops me some popcorn and pours an ice cold drink. Kisses me and says that it will be ok.
They don't let me stay down for long. These three. They smile at me and meow like a cat. They say "Come on, Mama! Pway wif me" or "Bid-digga ba-digga wet's go!" and "I love you, babe."
We take terrible family photos and that makes me giggle.
They make me breakfast and play the harmonica. They hug me all day long. They are mine and I am theirs. They remind me that life is good. That I have love all around me. They remind me to get out of my head. To be who I am. A wife, a mother and an insanely fancy Laydee.
So I do. Because that is the revelation. I really am just who I am.
And as I let go of things that are painful, I step out of my head and back into my life.
Linking up with Great and Julie this week for #iPPP
Click that button up there for more great posts!
Eating my feelings. One Tootsie Roll at a time.
I read an article once about the discovery of people whose senses were different than what they are supposed to be. They didn't know they were different because no one had talked about it with them. It just never came up in conversation that when they listened to music they tasted sweetness on their tongue. Or that when they ate a strawberry it tasted like an onion. They just assumed that everyone who didn't like onions just didn't enjoy the sweetly acidic summery taste of a plump juicy onion.
Stream of consciousness, anyone?
I've been searching my soul lately. The topics of teaching kids morality and decision making have been coming to mind a lot. And also support. How do I support my kids if what they come to own as their own beliefs differ from mine? I've been thinking about family and what that means beyond the obvious sharing of DNA. I am lucky to have a big family if you count the bloodlines and then add the chosen. I am surrounded by differing belief systems. Christians, atheists, Catholics, Jews, Humanists, Buddhists and on and on and on.
These differences could serve to divide us. But, with very few exceptions, they don't. Somehow we have found a way to love each other without judgment. Without condescension. Without a wedge. 99% of the time. But it's that 1% that has me thinking today. The one or two relationships that cannot withstand that conflict of ideas that has me up at night this week.
You've probably asked yourself, what the hell is she talking about? Yeah, me too. I don't know. I may never get to a point on this post. And I am well aware that I am vague-ing it up big time. So I am sorry for that.
I think about history. Mostly people's history. Relationships. I put a lot of value in the history of a relationship. I think about what they mean to people and if I feel them the same way others do. Or does an onion taste like a strawberry to me? I tend to feel things, you know. My mom will call me an empath. I call myself a Feelings McFeeler (it has a really creepy ring to it, right? So, that's fun.) But it serves me well in this life. My feelings help me understand other people. They connect me to this life in a way that makes the good even better. But there are times when they serve me not so well, too. They can take me out of my rational brain and force me to eat a bag of cookies (Not my fault!). They can overcome me and turn me into a zombie mom and wife. It's those times that I search for a switch to turn them off (yeah, you know, with frosting). But I can't turn them off. They are persistent little effers.
I have a tendency to romanticize things. I love this about me. Most of the time. Things like how I cry at the first snow every year and when Santa Claus comes at the end of The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade just like my grandma does. Or how I sometimes get lost watching my babies sleep. I stare at them and try to never forget the beauty right in front of me.
And with relationships I do the same. I look back on my relationship with Jessica, my original Laydee, and I see 20 years of love sprinkled with awesome dust. Sure we had some hard times in there where we argued, like sisters do, and needed to take a breather from each other. But I know that we will ever be undone. I mean unless she murders me or something, I know we are solid until the end. I have visions of us in our Jazzies singing show tunes to passersby at the mall. It's gonna happen. But I digress. I could relay a similar sentiment about all of my people but we'd be here all day and night.
This romantic way of thinking can sometimes bite me in the ass, though. Because of what happens when things do fall apart. When I begin to wonder if what I believed was true, just wasn't. This has happened to me a few times in my life. And when I am far enough removed and through the stages of grief (because we do grieve the living), I usually come to the understanding that I had been blind to something that was obvious because of romantic thinking. Even if it was staring me right in the face. I come to realize that while I have been thinking that my onion tastes like a strawberry, the other person knew that the onion tasted like an onion. And I wonder if our drastic sensory differences can ever come together and make a delicious salad. I mean throw a little vinaigrette in there and onions and strawberries suddenly taste really good together, right? Sprinkle some slivered almonds and...
Somebody stop me with this ridiculous food analogy! I'm tired.
So that's where I am at. And you know what? Sometimes relationships come back together. Sometimes they don't. But my romantic self, my heart, always believes it's possible and dukes it out with my brain who is trying to be all logical and shit. Thankfully, for me, my heart almost always wins.
And that right there is how you barf out a stream of conciousness onto your blog.
There is something changing. Times are different. Unfamiliar.
And I don't know how to write about it. I have been thinking about this change for some time now. Lying awake at night trying to put into words what it is I am feeling. But there is no one feeling that pins it down. There is sadness and anticipation. Excitement and longing. A little fear mixed with a calming freedom. None of it makes sense. It's exhilarating and terrifying.
My babies are not babies anymore.
Of course they are my babies. Even when I'm squeezing in one last kiss before they drive away or walk the aisle. They will always be my babies. But that's not where I am at today. Today I am coming to a place of knowing that mothering an infant is now a part of my past. There is independence in this house and it's growing greater by the day.
I catch a glimpse of her looking like a big kid. Lounging and climbing and telling me "No". She doesn't need me in the same way that she used to. Wanting to be where he is. Thinking he created the Universe. Loving being his sister. Determined to earn his favor. Taking small steps away from me, the one who used to hold that spot in her world.
I hear him communicating with her. Using sentences. He's getting taller. Not letting me do anything for him because, as he would say, "I got it, Mama". He even does his part to protect her. In his own way. He loves her. I can see it.
He's going to pre-school in a few weeks. And I just know he will walk tall onto that bus and be just fine. He is sure that he will come back. He trusts that. And that will encourage him to go on the adventure, unafraid. He will not know about the tears I will cry that day. Tears of joy and sadness for my lost baby and my found big kid. Or that she will miss him. Ah, this post is getting harder and harder to write through my tears.
But then I'm finding myself with a little breathing room. A few minutes of space each day as they play together in the big kid room. It's awesome and it squeezes my heart at the same time.
There are no more tiny babies here. They have been replaced by little kids excited to figure out this big world. And now it seems they are both big enough to actually give it a go. Less fragile. Walking their own stairs. Dressing themselves, or at least trying to.
And now we must change to. Daddy and I. We are becoming different parents. Learning how to do this. How to parent these independent and awesome kids who are determined to grow. Just when we were getting rock solid in parenting little babies. It's time to change. It's time to evolve. This life is moving forward. I'm not ready but I don't get a say. So I am working on it. Writing about it. Shedding some tears while missing my squishy wriggly babes. And smiling from ear to ear watching them talk to each other. I imagine Mr. Pants will let Plum know that it's ok when Mama cries. I imagine that someday he might say, "Don't worry, Plum. Mama's ok. She cries all the time because she loves us. It's weird." and maybe he will take her hand and they will run off to play while I put myself back together.
[Image Credit:http://dlbhook.zenfolio.com/ ]
I used to be a professional know it all about kids. A lot of what I knew, I lost the second I became a mom. Poof! It's was gone. I struggled and treaded water for a while before I found my confidence again. But one thing never left me. One bit of knowledge always stayed. Knowing what is a reasonable expectation and what isn't. For example it is not within reason to think that your three year old will make it through dinner without spilling something. Or that your one year old is safe to navigate climbing the furniture without a spotter. I am constantly evaluating my expectations of my kids. So it's coming as a bit of a kick to the nuts that I have no idea what to expect from Mr. Pants a week from today. Surgery day. I mean, there are the obvious emotions and recovery expectations but it's the severity of these that I won't know about until he is in it. I won't know until we do it. I hate that. My compulsion to plan out very possibility is sometimes consuming. The lists of comfort items, things for the freezer to soothe his pain, what activities will keep him happy, how to get him to take his pain medication, will he be angry, sad, scared (yes, yes and yes. But in what order and when!?).
When I sat down to write today, this is what came out, "I hate this". I stared at that for about twenty minutes. Hoping to find inspiration to write about anything other than this. But I got nothing. Because this is what's on my mind. I "know" that this is considered common. I "know" he will eventually be fine. I "know" that as far as surgery goes, there are kids and parents dealing with much much much bigger fish. So why am I stuck here? Why can't I write about anything else? Because no matter what other people's reality is, this is ours. This is our big fish for now. So my parenting in this situation is uncharted territory. And I am not a fan of the unexpected. I'm a thinker. Sometimes to a fault. Just ask Daddy Pants. I've been known to throw out probable outcomes like some people consider their lunch order. But instead of vacillating between the turkey club or the rueben, I move between scenarios and prepare for them. Before our recent vacation, I voiced perhaps a million times to Daddy that there "will be meltdowns" and that we needed to go with the flow and not expect too much. Not force things. Just go with the flow. Sometimes when I really get going I can almost hear him thinking, "DUDE, I know." It would seem it's time to take my own advice. Because there is no way to fully prepare. So I have to just parent on the fly.
I know he will be ok. At some point. It would thrill me to know exactly when, but I can't know that. So today I am focusing my plan on comforting him. Bringing comfort. Being comfort. Because that is something I know how to do. It's funny how we know our kids, isn't it? There will be looks that I understand. Words he will say to me that only Daddy or I can interpret. Gut feelings that will tell us how he is doing. An understanding of him that no nurse or doctor can tap into. Instinct that will guide us to help him recover. That is where I am putting my focus now. And as I came to that place this morning, it occurred to me that it's where I start in all of my parenting. I know my boy. I know this is going to be very hard on him. And because of that, it will be very hard on me. It's the price of parenting, isn't it? We feel our kids' pain. We'd trade places with them in a heartbeat. But because we cannot, we are given the blessing of that punch to the gut. It's in taking that and using it to know how to bring comfort that I am counting on. One week from today. One week from today, we tackle this. And I'm going in with no concrete plan. Realizing that concrete plans are never as concrete as we think they are anyway. And that revelation as I typed it just now, has helped me be ready. Daddy and I will be as ready as we can be. Armed with the best tools we have in our tool box. Knowing our son. Understanding him. Loving him. And also popcicles.
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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.