Monthly Archives: January 2010

Finding the Good

3:15 am.  I hear a familiar cry.  Familiar in its cry, yet unfamiliar in its urgency.  I don’t even flip on the baby monitor to decide whether to make the trek down the hall or wait patiently for him to put himself back to sleep.  I know.  He needs me.  I enter his quiet room, the faint glow from his nightlight forces my eyes to squint and I make out his small body with arms reaching toward me.  I feel the heat radiating from him before my hands even touch him.  And when I do gather him in my arms, the heat warms my chilled body immediately.

Luke points to the door, wanting out, wanting something.  Something to make his aching body feel better from the fever that has flushed his body from head to toe.  I lay him on his changing table and peel the way too hot feetie pajamas from his body.  I feel some heat escape into the air and I put my cool hand on his hot belly.  I take his temperature not surprised to read 102.7.  I pour a dose of Tylenol to relieve the aches and he gulps it as I hope it works its magic quickly.

And then we sit.  I raise his shade slightly so we can both see the blackness out his window with the stars shining in the peaceful sky from his comfy gliding chair.  I hear his soft breath in my ear.  I smell his baby scent as his head rests on mine.  His little fingers cling to my wrist as we rock back and forth, back and forth.  A perfect, quiet rhythm.  I hate that he’s sick.  I am sad that he aches.  But I’m loving the moment.  I’m loving him with all of me.  So few moments of the day is he quiet.  Is he not moving.  Is he almost one with me.  So I’ll take it.  Fever, chills, aches and all, I’ll hold onto this moment and enjoy the good in the not so good.

I promised myself to enjoy more moments.  To realize these moments and appreciate them.  And so I did.  And tonight, after only 4 hours of sleep last night and a day spent with two fever-y little kids who stayed in their pajamas right through until bedtime tonight, I’m still appreciating the hour I spent last night with Luke.  And I have to say, as much as I need a good night sleep tonight, I would be ok if he needed me again at 3:00 tonight.

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He Thinks He’s Superman

My day started out sad today.  No, I take that back, it started out with Hannah running into my room with a very serious look on her face, climbing onto my bed and saying, “Mommy.  I have a cough.  I think I must have bronchitis.”  My five year old is a hypochondriac.  But AFTER the sickness shenanigans, it was sad.  While Luke and Hannah sat in the family room watching their normal morning shows, I packed Luke’s lunchbox for the first time.  He has a Cars lunchbox.  I packed his lunchbox full of things he normally eats happily at home but I had no idea if he’d eat them at school.  Sitting at a little table with other not quite two year old kids, in a chair.  I couldn’t picture him removing the turkey slices from the container himself.  I tried to picture him eating his yogurt with a spoon without someone there to guide it to his mouth.  I heard him laughing in the family room at Wow Wow Wubbzy and I just hoped and hoped that his laugh would remain.

School.  It was Luke’s first half day at school.  I walked in and greeted the same teachers that Hannah had at that age, and  I watched Luke roam around, pulling things off of shelves, looking in all of the bins, checking out his classmates, but always looking back at me to make sure I was still there.  Where he expected me to be.  His teacher said, “So, tell me, what’s he like?”  I hesitated for a minute and then I said, “He thinks he’s Super Man.  Watch out.”  The teacher started laughing and asked what I meant and at that moment we turned to look at him.  He was standing on the center of the lunch table, both arms in the air, and saying, “Ta Da!”.

“There you go.” I said shaking my head. “He’s a climber, a jumper, a runner.  Really, just give him a cape and some tights and he’ll think he’s off  to save the world.”

We went through the motions to get him to understand what was ok in the classroom and what was not (climbing up the slide and RUNNING down it, for instance).  I smiled watching him becoming a little comfortable with the space.  And saddened as he ran to the door, wanting to leave.  It was time.  I had to let go… let him go.  The teacher took out an enormous jar of bubbles that took Luke’s breath away and I decided that was my chance.  He loves bubbles, hopefully more than me at that moment.  I went over to him, put my arms around him and said, “Bye Bye Lukey.  Have so much fun.”

The smile that covered his face seconds before, quickly fell away.  He started to cry.  Big elephant size tears began streaming down his face.  He reached for me as one of the teachers scooped him up into her arms.  I walked out and stood outside the door looking in as he continued wailing and I could read his little mouth crying, “Ma Ma”.  Ouch.  I inhaled a huge breath and tried not to cry.  And I didn’t.  I talked to myself the whole drive home, convincing myself that I’m doing this For Him.  He needs this.  He needs to make some little friends.  School will encourage his speech development.  School will help him understand some boundaries that I haven’t had luck setting.  He needs this.  I wouldn’t even let myself go to, “I need this.”

I wanted to call the school and see if he was still crying.  I decided against it.  I wasn’t going to go and rescue him if he was.  I needed him to come to grips with this new part of his life.  On his own.

But I felt mean. And I felt a little bit like a failure.  Most moms, I thought to myself, don’t send their kids to school this young unless they are working and have no choice.  I have a choice.  I could have him home with me and hope that his speech improves on its own, and I can continue reprimanding him for his risky behavior myself and hope he calms down or learns before he hurts himself terribly.  I could enroll him in more Mommy and Me classes (that I think we both hate) so he can meet other kids his age and I could help him learn social skills myself.  Or I could send him to school.  And have some help teaching him these parts of life that I didn’t seem to be doing a very good job with.  And let him explore new, exciting things and make some of his own friends.  And so I chose school.  I chose to send my not even two year old son, who has never spent a day away from family into a new, confusing, unfamiliar place.  And so yes, I felt mean.

I got home after dropping him off and tweeted that I was so sad.  And arms reached out from my iPhone and hugged me, told me I’m not alone and that we’d be ok.  Which I knew, but I needed to hear.  And I walked into my quiet kitchen and saw his Cars sippy cup… and I started to cry.  I missed my Super Man.  It was so CALM in my kitchen.  There were still pieces of waffle and splatters of milk scattered around on my floor.  Lines of crayon were still drawn on the highchair and kitchen table.  But the noise, was silent.

How many times have I begged for silence?  For quiet, calm, peace?  A moment to breathe?  And here it was, and I was crying.  How ironic is that?

I passed the next couple of  (what seemed like endless) hours visiting Hannah’s future Kindergarten.  I only heard a portion of what was discussed as my mind kept drifting to Luke.  Wondering if he was sad still or involved in the fun.  Wondering how long he cried.  Wondering if his little mind was thinking of me.  Wondering if he was trying to say something that the teachers couldn’t understand.

11:30.  Finally.  I raced to the school and peaked into the window to get a glance of what was going on before entering.  And I saw him.  Sitting at the lunch table.  Focused on bringing the spoon of yogurt to his mouth while most of the yogurt spilled from the spoon to his lap.  Taking another scoop and having the same thing happen.  But he wasn’t crying.  No, and he may have even been smiling. I walked in and approached his side and he looked up at me, raised his spoon above his head and said, “Ba BA!”  I had no idea what the hell he was trying to say at that moment and I didn’t care because he was smiling.  No tears. No red eyes.  Just a smile.  And I was relieved.

The teacher told me he was sad about as much as he was happy throughout the morning but was a “trooper”.  She said he would sit by the door with his blankie and look out the window waiting for me.  But he kept coming back to the group as if he wanted to pull himself together and join the fun.  She told me he was outgoing, friendly and interested.  He loved playing with the trucks and the sand table.  He danced during circle time. And not even once, did he try to climb on the tables after I left.

I guess I’ll save buying him a cape for another day.

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Meet My Neighbor- Making the Moments Count

Welcome!  Today is my third week with a neighbor guest posting at my place for “Won’t You Be My Neighbor“.  This week I am honored to host Amber from Making the Moments Count.  I’ve so enjoyed reading Amber’s blog for the past few months for her stunning writing, introspective topics, and absolute honesty in all she puts forth.  She comes from a background very different than mine, yet, I feel we have so much in common.  I’m not sure how she does it with 2 babies under 2 and a husband in school, but she does.  And she does it beautifully.  I promise you’ll love her as much as I do!

Welcome Amber!

Hello, I’m Amber and I’m a Stay-At-Home Mom

When my husband and I were first married, I was set on waiting to have children. Oh, yes I was. I waited a whole month before I finally realized I was fighting a losing battle. I knew a baby was waiting for me.

Our decision, my decision, to bring a baby into this world at such a precarious time did not sit well for some members of our family. They inevitably asked me if I was going to finish school. This irritated me. If they knew me–knew my determination–they would not have asked such a ridiculous question. Of course I was going to finish school.

I worked hard. I was sicker than a dog. I had an emergency appendectomy. But, I continued my education.

Even when the Queen graced us with her presence, I was unfazed. I knew I would finish.

I went part-time for that first semester, than switched to full-time the next. I took the Queen to almost all my classes (my school was very accommodating).

It was tough. I had to get up even when the Queen was up all night. I had to write papers, attend class, take exams, write more papers, work on group assignments, all while taking care of the Queen. (Yes, my husband helped as much as he could between his own full load of pre-med classes and working.)

Amazingly, I did very well. I am proud to admit that I kicked trash in my classes. I will also confess that I was enthralled by it all. The stress. The deadlines. Studying. Preparing. The learning. Yes, the learning. I delighted in expanding my limited knowledge. I basked in the academic setting. I relished being a top student.

At the same time, I was engrossed in “the grass looks greener” syndrome. I envied my friends that were finished with school and at home with their children. I wanted that.

The time came for me to graduate (when I was 7 months pregnant with Manly, mind you). I was thrilled. I looked forward to my new occupation, that of being a stay-at-home mom.

It was great, for the first few weeks. Soon my job seemed insignificant. I missed the academic world, the contact with professors, the exchange of ideas.  I yearned for something more. My job as a stay-at-home mom did not–does not–satisfy my desire to learn. My writing is not given the accolades I once received in school. What I do at home surely is not as significant as what I could have done had I continued my educational career.

These new, bitter thoughts have consumed my pleasant life. Why can I not be satiated with the role I am in at the moment?

Cue the light bulb moment.

Being satisfied is my choice. For instance, when I am in the throes of pregnancy hell I often choose to be happy. It can be sickening how gleeful I become. I know that it will eventually end with a beautiful new baby boy or girl. Why, then, can I not bring this positive aspect into my new mothering career?

Because I feel that mothering is not fulfilling. Let me correct that. I think that mothering cannot be fulfilling.

The problem, you see, is that I choose to not let mothering be fulfilling. Why do I do this? Because I have allowed myself to listen and believe criminal thoughts.

Until now.

I am making a resolution. I will stop moaning and groaning about being a stay-at-home mom.** I will embrace the glory of teaching my children, of wiping runny noses, of kissing away tears. I am raising the leaders of the next generation and, by golly, I will rear them in the best possible way (within my own limitations). This may be a “thankless” job at the moment (okay, my husband thanks me like every day so that isn’t entirely true), but the rewards are endless.

Care to join me?

**This does not apply to sleepless nights, colicky babies, or other day-to-day motherhood activities. It applies to comparing this job to other jobs with all its accompanying emotional backlash. Because, let’s be real, I like to complain. What the heck would I talk about otherwise?

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Big Words. Big Feelings.

Hannah loves to learn new words.  She’ll catch a piece of a conversation I’m having and will grab onto a word and start using it.  Usually wrong.  And since I’m a mean mom, I tend to not correct her because using the word wrong is so damn cute and keeps her young.  I let her call the thing that changes the channel on the TV a “morote” for years.  I think she realized on her own she was saying it wrong because just last week I came to the sad realization that she was all of a sudden saying Remote.  She still says Hermendous though, which is my all time favorite.  But now, as her vocabulary grows, she’s less saying words incorrectly and more using them incorrectly.  This week she’s been describing things as Determined.  I asked her today if she ate her lunch and she said, “well, you know mommy, it wasn’t my favorite lunch, it was determined, so I only ate some of it.”

“It was determined?” I asked her.

“Mmmmm Hmmmm” she said, looking nervous that I had caught her doing something wrong.

I wasn’t sure if she was trying to say that she determined that her lunch wasn’t her favorite, so she only ate part of it, or whether she really had NO IDEA what the word meant but wanted to squeeze it in there somehow and this is where it landed.  So, instead of making a big deal of it, I just said, “oh, you determined that you didn’t really like turkey?  I thought it was one of your favorites.” And I let it go.

She also came home from school today explaining that she had to write a story about a color and she chose purple because it’s the most distinguished color.

“Distinguished?” I repeated.

“Yes, mommy, I used that word to describe purple.” she said as if she knew it was an impressive word and she was patting herself on the back. “I learned it from Curious George on TV.”  My turn to pat myself on the back for letting her watch so much TV.

“I think you’re right, purple is a distinguished color.” I told her and then asked her why she thought it was.

“Well, it’s friendly, polite, doesn’t tease and is pretty.” she explained.

I wondered after her explanation which colors are the mean, teasing, and impolite colors.  I wondered, but I didn’t ask because those are the kinds of questions that I’ve determined frustrate her and cause Hermendous tantrums.

Today’s word was “anxious”.  I taught it to her so I could explain how I was feeling. I came right out and said, “Hannah, mommy is anxious.  Do you know what that word means?”

“Nope.”

“It means mommy is excited and nervous all at the same time.”

“Oh.  Why are you excited and nervous all at once?”

“Because Luke is starting school tomorrow and even though I’m excited for him to make new friends and learn new things, I’m nervous he’ll be sad.  I’m nervous that he’ll miss me.”

“Oh. So you’re anxious?’

“Yes.  I am.” I told her.

“But he’ll be ok.  I’ll be there and I can check on him in his classroom.”

“I know, and that makes me feel better Hannah.  But he’s never been anywhere without me or without the other people he loves, so I’m still nervous.” I confessed to my five year old.

I then realized I was probably overwhelming my little girl with all this deep talk about my feelings so I turned the conversation around and asked her if she was anxious about anything.

“Yes.  I’m anxious bout Kindergarten.” she (too) quickly responded.

“You are?  Why?”

Kindergarten isn’t for another 9 months.  I had no idea it was even on her mind.

“Well, I’m excited to take the bus and play on the big playground.  But I’m nervous that the kids that I’ll want to play with, won’t want to play with me.”

I had to turn my head away so she didn’t see the tears well up in my eyes.  Tears for the fact that at such a young age she’s already experienced this sadness of friends turning their back on her.  Tears for the fact that at such a young age she’s already experiencing anxiety.  Tears for the fact that I’m so worried about Luke and this new adventure he and I are embarking on, that I didn’t even take the time to see that Hannah is worrying about a future adventure.  Tears for the fact that I’ve always taken for granted that she’s FINE with all newness.  She jumps right in.  She makes friends easily.  But really, she’s not always fine.  She’s anxious.

But some of the tears that were welling up in my eyes, were happy tears.  Because I gave her a word that she can use to let me know this feeling she has.   A word to say she’s excited and nervous all wrapped up in one.

So tonight, I’ve “determined” I’m anxious.  My baby is spending his first 4 hours away from me and anything that is familiar to him.  He’ll be off on his own without any words to let people know how he’s feeling.  Just him, his blankie and his new Cars lunchbox.

Wish us all luck.

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And so it goes

Today is one of those days that I just need to get it all down.  Write down the snippets.  The details. The little things.  So that I can look back years from now and have proof of the drama.  So that I remember why in fact I named this blog Drama for Mama.

My day started at 7:15 in the morning.  This is over an hour later than normal (yay us).  So I would have been getting off to a fantastic start had I not woken up with a terrible stomach ache.  The kind where you only feel better if you’re curled in a ball on your side moaning.  Moaning helps.  Believe me. I tried to shake off the pain and enjoy the fact that both kids were still sleeping and hobbled into the bathroom to try to wash off the night and welcome the morning.  While I was in there I heard some chaotic scampering through the hall and then some shouts shrieks followed by some howling. I made my way back out of my bathroom and saw Hannah standing there in tears.

“What’s the matter Han?  You slept GREAT!  It’s Seven Two Zero!” (we’re working on the time thing)

“I didn’t know where you went!  I thought you left me alone here!  You weren’t in your bed like you’re supposed to be”. (I hadn’t read that in the manual I guess)

“I wouldn’t have left you here Hannah.”

“Maybe next time you could make more noise in the bathroom so that I hear you in there, ok?” she suggested.

Now Luke was crying desperate howls from his crib.  The day was off with a bang.  At least my stomach ache had taken a back seat to the morning woes.  My coffee pot was shouting my name.

Fast forward an hour.  Bath time.  Hannah had her 5 year old check up at the doctor and I thought having the doctor think that being clean was part of our daily routine would give us a nice mark in the folder.  Hannah got herself undressed and managed to yank all of Luke’s pajamas off too.  He looked down at his diaper and ripped that off like a 20 month old Chippendale.  Literally.  He had to shimmy himself out of the diaper since he wasn’t coordinated enough to peel off the stickies on the sides, and when he finally got it off, he swung it over his shoulder to the floor.  (Cue hoots from the audience).   And then he was off… running down the hall as  Hannah (also naked) chased after him, screaming joyfully, “Look at his little wagging peepee!  Look at his squishy tushie!”  It was a site.  One I won’t easily forget.   When I finally got them into the tub, the bath only lasted 7 minutes tops.  Luke hates bubbles in the bath.  Screams like they are eating the skin off his little body.  I usually bathe him while his legs straddle the side of the tub.  Lucky for me Hannah is pretty self sufficient and I believe hits most of the important parts with the washcloth.  I’m not sure how it would work if I had to actually bathe both of them.  Two clean kids would be a rarity.

Fifteen minutes before we were to leave the house  for the doctor I see the blur of Luke racing from the kitchen into the bathroom.  And a plop.  And the sound of porcelain slamming shut.  I flew myself into the bathroom, heard Luke innocently squeak, “hi!” while standing even more innocently by the toilet, lifted the toilet seat and saw my beloved iPhone submerged in the (thank god clean) toilet water.  I grabbed it and threw a towel around it.  I think I might have even begun performing CPR on it.  But nothing.  No life.  No pulse.  Just black screen.  I pumped the power button on and off.  Nothing.  I turned to Luke, got down on his level and shouted, “NO!  You do NOT throw the things that keep me feeling human and connected to the world things in the toilet!”  He put both hands over his mouth as in, “big oops”.

I was miserable.  I tweeted an SOS tweet from my computer and was guided to bury my phone in rice for a couple of days with the thought that the rice would pull the moisture from the phone.  So I meekly pulled the Tupperware filled with rice from the cupboard and opened it ready to give the suggestion a shot.  I looked in only to find MILLIONS, no really, MILLIONS of teeny tiny little black bugs squirming around the bottom of the container.  They were so small that from a distance it looked like dust.  But when I went to examine WHY there was a half an inch of dust on the bottom of a closed container of rice, I saw them.  I screamed.  Luke screamed (thinking this was a fun Simon Says type game) and Hannah ran from the room thinking I saw a mouse.  And then, like a mature mommy should, I shook off my “willies” and pulled myself together.  “Everything is fine.” I calmly announced to the room.  I opened a new bag of instant rice, buried my comatose phone and left for the doctor.

Hannah sat on the doctor’s table wearing her made-for-a-teenager size paper gown.  This was the first year she was asked to wear a gown which choked me up.  Is she so old that she should feel uncomfortable in front of the doctor without clothes on?  She loved the gown.  She kept twirling around in it, caressing it with her hands.  At one point she said, “I think I should make a big rip in it, right down the middle!”

“Why would you want to do that Hannah?” I asked her, confused.

“It’s my image mommy!” she said, giggling.

I started laughing, “Where on earth did you hear that Hannah?  And what does that even mean?”

She was hysterical at that point, fueled by my laughter.  “I don’t know… what DOES it mean?  I heard it on Project Runway.”  Great.  Here I thought PR was an innocent enough show to enjoy some mommy/hannah time and she was now off thinking ripped clothing was her image.  Nice.

The Eye exam.  Why they do the “Small E” test with kids is beyond me.  “Which way is the E facing?” is not an easy question for a 5 year old.  An E is only an E if all of the lines are pointing right.  A line with three lines facing up is NOT an E.  A line with three lines facing left is also not an E. And Hannah repeatedly told the nurse administering the test just that.  She not only passed the eye exam, she also got into law school.

Fast forward to the shots.  My brave girl.  Was getting 3 shots and a “TV” test.  No matter how many times I told her it was a TB test she still couldn’t understand why it was called a TV test.  So i finally just stopped correcting her.  She was petrified.  She sat on my lap squeezing the life out of me as the needles were brought into the room.  She started screaming immediately, before any needle even touched her skin and didn’t stop screaming through all four shots.  Screaming like she had 27 broken bones in her body.  Screaming like a Mac truck drove over her foot.  And then, when the box of toys was placed in front of her to choose from, she stopped.  Stopped.  Completely, like nothing had ever happened.  One moment, the pain was excruciating, the next, when she was offered a rubber toy boat, she was fine.

Back home.  The Success Rice had no success on my phone so I decided to take it to the Apple Geniuses.  I quickly knew I was not going to get the answer I hoped for.  My phone was dead.  End of story.  No yelling, bitching, negotiating was going to get me a new phone for less than $200.  Sick.  I was sick.  I thought for a very short second about getting a plain old phone instead of a new iPhone but then the devil on my shoulder told me I was nuts.  And he was right.  New phone and water/spill/crash/Luke proof case in hand, I returned home.  Defeated.

OK, this post is already far too long.  I’m tired.  I haven’t even told you about the grocery store outing and Hannah’s stuffed animal having an allergic reaction in the middle of the store and needing a bathroom to throw up in.  Or how she tested the snaps on the tushie of her onesie feeting pajamas, to see if she could pee without taking them totally off.  She couldn’t.  No, I’m tired of thinking about my day.  Tired from my day.  You get it. You’ve been there.  It’s a typical day.  But sometimes, I think if I don’t write the specifics down… I will forget what was so hard.  What was so funny.  What was the big deal.

It’s 9:49 pm.  My little girl just poked her head in my room after “going to bed” at 8.  She told me she can’t sleep.  “I have too much going on in my head.” she said.

“Like what?” I asked her as I escorted her back to her room.

“Like, I’m wondering what Luke’s voice is going to sound like when he’s a big boy.”

Look at that.  My little girl wonders.  What a surprise.

“Let’s just focus on getting Luke to talk… and not wonder so much what his voice will sound like, ok?”

And there it is.  A little drama from my day.

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I’m not equipped

There are exactly 5 times during the day when my heart is not pounding out of my chest and I am not in a state of complete and utter panic.  These times are breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time, nap time and bedtime.  Why? Because these are the parts of my day when Luke is securely buckled in or behind (crib) bars.  I guess I can add the times when we’re driving in the car as well, as long as he isn’t eating something or finding something he thinks he can eat in his car seat.

I clearly recall not understanding my mom-of-boy friends when I had just Hannah.  I couldn’t relate to the always running, never sitting, constantly throwing, prone to climbing, no fear of falling, thrilled to be jumping, unable to be restrained boys.  I had that girl who sat with a book for an hour.  Who I could leave happily sitting in the middle of my bed at 18 months old while I showered and not worry she’d attempt a Superman type feat by flying onto the floor.  She wasn’t interested in jumping down the stairs.  Climbing onto the kitchen table for kicks wasn’t her idea of a good time.  Picking small beads off the floor and popping them into her mouth, opening drawers and grabbing forks, standing on the rocking horse, and teetering on tricycle seats, also, never floated her boat.  She started walking at 15 months and didn’t run until 22 mo.  She knew to put her hands down first when she fell face down.  She was cautious, wary, slow and patient.

I need to find armor for Luke.  He’s had 2 trips to the ER for falling down the stairs and bloody lips, scraped eyes and bruises and welts on his forehead are daily occurences.  I really think one more visit to the ER will have us under investigation for child abuse.  And it’s not like I’m not vigilant.  I try to keep up with his climbing and running but unless I was Elastaman, I’m afraid I just can’t get to him fast enough to catch his falls.  And half the time, it’s while I’m chasing him, trying to prevent a fall from happening, that he falls face first in an attempt to get away from my protective arms.  Shouting “Go Slow!” isn’t registering.  And grabbing his arm (if I can get there fast enough) or trying to hold his hand results in a complete meltdown from lack of independence.

I’ve had bad dreams the past three nights.  Not bad dreams, but really terrifying dreams.  The kind that I wake up sweating and even crying for fear that they are reality.  The past three nights I’ve awakened in a cold sweat, and immediately turned on the monitor to look at my sweet boy as he sleeps.  I even have hugged the monitor to feel closer to the boy who my dreams have made me believe is… gone.  My dreams are telling me that I’m feeling inadequate in caring for him.  I’m feeling like I can’t protect him from these daily accidents and fearing much worse.  I’m afraid of being the mom to the kid who doesn’t fear the busy street.  The one who thinks he’s invincible from falling into the swimming pool.  The one who will unbuckle his car seat mid-ride (because he’s already trying).  I’m worried.  I’m the mom who is prone to worrying to begin with and now, I actually have something to worry about.

And I wonder (look at me, wondering again…), are the kids (I won’t limit this to boys since I have many friends with”crazy” daughters too) who are fearless risk takers at 18 months the ones who are more apt to jump from airplanes, hurl themselves off of cliffs, veer off the cleared ski slope into the woods, and skateboard off of sidewalk railings?  Even worse, are they the ones who will climb into the car with someone who shouldn’t be driving?  Drive recklessly for thrills?

Part of me loves that Luke has no fear.  He jumps into any situation with anticipation and joy.  But I’m scared that if I’m not able to protect him from minor spills, how can I teach him to protect himself?  Will it take a few bigger injuries for him to learn?  Will caution come with maturity?  He doesn’t listen and isn’t threatened by my shouts of “NO!” when he does something I don’t approve of.  He smiles coyly and goes back to repeat what I’ve just scolded him for.  The more I sternly wag my finger at him, the more he giggles and wants more.  Walking away to not call attention to it, puts him in harms way but continuing to do what he is craving (“Mommy looks angry, that’s funny!”) is fruitless.

I know I’m not the first mom to a boy with these INSANE tendencies.  My son is no worse than the others.  He’s otherwise happy All The Time.  He doesn’t complain. He sleeps like a champ. He dances to the tune of anything (even the dial tone and busy signal on the phone) and tries his hardest to sing along to the radio.  Hide and Seek is his favorite new game and I want to bottle up his laugh when he jumps from behind the door in his attempt to be “found”.  But I want to hide.  Hide from my fear that I’m not equipped to handle his kind.

When he’s found his caution, he can come find me.

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Spoiled

I went to Target yesterday.  I needed milk.  It just seemed like a more entertaining outing for Luke to go to Target than the grocery store.  I should have spent $1.99 but instead, I spent $189.00.  And no, I didn’t buy big colorful bins to hold the abundance of toys in the basement, a new iron to replace the one with the huge crack down the side, a vacuum so that if someone tracked dirt into my house I wouldn’t have to wait two weeks for the next cleaning lady visit, or much needed new towels for the guest bathroom.  No, I didn’t buy any of those things that I could have written off as necessities.  I bought 5 new matchbox cars for Luke’s ridiculously growing collection, 2 new kid’s CD’s for Luke to listen to in the car, a new tennis skirt for Hannah in pink since the blue one she has is, well, blue, a Princess and the Frog t-shirt because it was the first movie Hannah and I saw together, a flowery tunic in size 5T because if they had had it in my size I would have bought it for myself, a pair of jeans for Hannah because, you know, you can never have enough jeans, a pair of mini girl yoga pants because you never know when a 5 year old will want to take up yoga and Toy Story figurines because Hannah and I were seeing Toy Story at her school last night and I thought she’d like to have them to play with after seeing the movie.  We needed none of it.  Hannah wasn’t even with me begging me for it.  I just wanted to buy it all.  I knew it would make the kids happy, so it made me happy to spend the money (that I really don’t have to be spending on these unnecessary things).

Spoiled.  I looked in the dictionary.  It clearly states, “to impair the value or quality of”, “To damage irreparably”.  That. Sounds. Bad.  I know when I have a container of milk in my fridge that’s spoiled, I toss it out.  A loaf of bread with blue growths sprouting out of it?  In the trash.  I do whatever I can to keep my perishables from spoiling.  I spent at least a hundred dollars on containers for my cupboards to keep things from spoiling.

So, why is it so hard to NOT spoil my kids?  Am I really doing irreparable damage to them?  Am I diminishing their value just like the bananas that have more brown than yellow sitting on my counter?  Why do I do it?

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into this as I judge other people for spoiling their kids and I look at why I never seem to have enough money to get me through the end of the month.  I realize that I’m doing it for ME.  To make myself feel good.  I feel guilty spending money on myself.  If I’m spending on them, I feel like I’m doing a good thing.  Being a good mom.  Hannah is an amazing gift receiver.  The smile she gives me when I show her what I got for her, her way of THROWING her arms around me and telling me how much she LOVES it and me, melts me.  I love that smile.  I love that feeling.  But I know, she wouldn’t have known the difference if I hadn’t bought it for her.  She would have loved me just the same.

I also realized that I buy all of this “stuff” to help me.  A few new cars will keep Luke amused while holding them at the grocery store.  A new dump truck will busy him for the thirty minutes it takes me to cook dinner.  The new music for the car keeps his head bobbing up and down and his face smiling in his car seat (and gives me one more way to drive dangerously as I try to focus on the road AND and watch him giggling to the new tunes).  The figurines for Hannah allow me an hour of quiet time while she recreates the movie on the family room floor.  The new shirt means one less argument in the morning in an effort to get her dressed.  New books=excitement for bedtime.  All this stuff… is really for me.

If you could SEE my kids dresser drawers.  If you could SEE my basement, the playroom, the family room.  You’d know, just like I do, that there Is No More Room for this stuff.  It’s almost like an addiction.  Some people eat to make themselves feel better.  Drinking takes the edge off.  Drugs bring people to another, happier place.  I buy.  Little things from inexpensive places, but I still buy.  Because buying brings me some sort of satisfaction.  No, my credit cards are nowhere near maxed out.  No, I don’t buy things and hide them from my husband.  I am (generally) careful with our money.  But when I can, I buy for the kids.  I’m lucky I can do that.  I’m lucky that we do have some disposable income that I can spend but I should be spending it on meaningful things.  Things that in two weeks won’t be forgotten about, tossed aside, grown out of.  Things that won’t “spoil” my children.

I don’t want my kids to expect the world to be handed to them.  I want them to feel like they have to EARN their keep.  I want holidays to feel special when they get gifts from us.  I want to always see that glimmer in their eye when they are handed a wrapped box.  I am so careful to be raising polite, healthy, friendly, kind kids.  I also want to be raising grateful kids.  Thankful, appreciative kids.  And it scares me that in my generosity (and at the same time selfishness) I may be doing “irreparable” damage.

I need to realize (as I tell the grandparents in my kids life) that the TIME I spend with my kids is what matters.  Not the tangible things I give them.  Baking cupcakes, making a paper mache head, finger painting, making a house out of a cardboard box, creating a volcano, building a snowman… THESE are the things they’ll remember.  That I’LL remember and treasure as a wonderful memory.

And with that, I’m heading out to Target and returning what I bought yesterday.  Except the cars because they’ve already been pushed through the mud.  And the Toy Story figurines because they are the reason I had time to write this blog post. And the milk.  Because we really did need that.

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