motherhood is seriously the only profession where the job description is constantly in flux. it's any number of tasks that involve teaching, wiping, comforting, protecting, holding, remembering, listening, and multitasking to within an inch of your life. the latest addition to the list?
arting and crafting.
now, for some moms this stuff comes naturally. to me? not so much. in fact, ac moore is my own brand of personal hell. so how did i get stuck with an arts and crafts project for my 6-year-old's school holiday party you ask? i volunteered. like to make pin-the-nose-on-rudolph game for 27 6-year-olds. 'cause that's what you do when you're a mom. you find yourself raising your hand and saying "oooooh, me!" to shit that you really don't want to do at all.
that is some mutha-effin' love right there.
happy holidays everyone!
p.s. yes, those are glue smears on rudolph's face. mama's not so handy with elmer's.
over the last month, i've been slowing down. and by slowing down, i don't mean i'm getting more rest or life is ay less hectic. by slowing down, i mean, i'm purposely enjoying life as the mother of three young children. instead of looking to the next thing we need to do to get through our day together or what works best for our schedule or rushing through my to-do list (that never ends, by the way), i'm letting the day take us where it wants to go.
for me that means walking home from school with my 3-year-old and letting him throw rocks in the creek for as long as he wants. who cares if the baby falls asleep in the stroller instead of his crib? (incidentally it was about 45 minutes of rock throwing, leaf-boat making, etc.). it means listening to my 6-year-old daughter complain about the scratch on her knee instead being distracted by dinner preparations. then, giving her a long hug to let her know i am there. hey, if they get hungry, i'll give them a couple slices of apple to tide them over. and, it means sitting with my baby after he wakes up at 11 p.m. for no apparent reason. and instead of putting him right back to bed, giggling with him in the dark as he makes kissing noises while grabbing the glasses away from my tired eyes.
now, before you up and think i'm going to start sitting around singing "kumbaya" while my kids running amuck wearing nothing but fig leaves...i am still me. i am still going to make sure the toy room is straight before my head hits the pillow at night no matter how tired i am. i'm still going to make sure the kids fix their beds before heading down for breakfast. and my daughter's hair? well, that is a battle i've recently let go, but man, that half-brushed stringy hair touches on every nerve in my anal-retentive body. with that being said, it's nice to relinquish a little of that control and just say, "fuck it."
recently, a close friend told me she is expecting her third child. i literally jumped up and down, screaming with excitement. "it is the best!" i squealed. and, honestly, if you let yourself ride the wave from time to time....it truly is.
hi. underneath this costume, i'm wearing a onesie that has no crotch.
yup, after my mommy wrestled to get this humiliating, um, i mean, adorable, costume on me, i decided to go ahead and let loose in my diaper. oh, and not just any old turd, mind you. i decided to do one of those explosive things that not only fill up my diaper, but then soil my clothing. yup, soiled it all up.
little did i know that mommy was in no mood. no way in hell was she going to take me out of that god-awful, i mean adorable, baby monster costume.
so, she got a pair of scissors and just cut the poop right out. yup. the bottom of the onesie -- the part with the snaps that keep my shirt from riding up? cut it right on out. snip, snip. she then tucked my new "shirt" into the bottom part of my costume and happily declared "there!"
and off to the parade we went.
so in answer to the above question? yes, yes, yes, and yes.
i'm writing you this letter because i'm feeling...icky...and sad. i feel like i haven't set the example i want to set for you and, in fact, i've done the opposite. i want you to know when you're older, life can often be complicated. sometimes we succeed at doing the good, positive thing and other times, well...
so here goes: i'm not perfect. and i have been particularly un-perfect the last five months.
being your mother is a mish-mosh of naps, spilled drinks, trips to the park, bike-riding lessons and bedtime stories. i pack your lunches at night so we don't have to rush in the morning. i lay out socks, shoes, jackets in easy-to-reach spots so you can get yourselves ready with ease. i brush your teeth. i help you make your beds. i fix zippers and snaps you can't yet reach. i make sure homework (mar) and extra clothing for accidents (jack) are in your backpacks. i hug. i kiss. i tell you i love you.
that's the easy stuff.
but, then there's the harder stuff. and when that harder stuff comes along -- as it most definitely will -- it's up to us as your parents to show you, with our actions, to open your hearts.
we didn't do that this time. and, i'm more disappointed in myself than you will ever know.
we always tell you to be the bigger person. to be nice even if others aren't. but, we got caught up in our own crap this time. we showed you anger and judgement. all those things i want to shield you from have been present in our home. and you've seen, heard, and taken it all in, which breaks my heart.
i want you to know that life is messy. people do shitty things. friends, family, coworkers, etc. -- no one is perfect. i'm not, you're not, and they're not. what you think is the absolute right way to do things or to treat people? others may not see it the same way. and to try and change their minds will only fuel your own anger.
so sure...be angry. be hurt. be fucking pissed off if the situation warrants it. but, then -- if for no one else, but yourself -- open your heart.
focus on the good that is in your lives because the richness is there. write down the positive things -- over and over again if you have to. spend time doing stuff you love. talk with people who will love and encourage you in a positive way. keep being generous because it's in your heart to do so -- not because you expect people to do the same for you. forgive even if you don't feel it. i promise...it will come.
staying angry is not about hurting the people who wronged you although it may seem that way. by staying angry, you actually hurt yourself.
and, so, as your mother, i am going to take some of this great advice myself and try to let go of some of that anger -- for me. and you.
just getting over a stomach bug that had paid a relatively short visit to our home this past week. yes, probably the worst type of average, we-all-get-it illness that kids get.
so, finally don't have anybody retching up her insides while i clean vomit shrapnel, rub her back, and promise that it will be all better soon. but don't really have energy to write now so...pictures!
with seven months under my belt as the mother of three, i'm finally getting somewhat used to the fact that someone is a. always whining and/or crying b. always calling me and... c. always touching me it's kind of a bizarre slice of heaven. masochist am i?
note: yes, that is my baby BOY in a pink bundler passed down from his older sister by way of his older brother. after #1 that pink, blue thing? for the birds. keeps 'em warm just the same doesn't it?
i just love this picture. it pretty much says it all...someone always holding, touching, hanging on me. often all at the same time.
we're done having kids. we knew if we had a third, that would be our "push" kid (fine with one, comfortable with two, pushing the envelope with three) and there would be no more after that. but now it's official. measures have been taken. permanent ones. i won't go into the gory details, but let's just say that for once, when it comes to anything having to do with birth control, i am not the heavy.
so, how has all of this made me feel? well...weird. not sad, not happy...just weird.
it's like part of me is like "woohoo! it's a free-for-all!" and then part of me is like, oh. never again will i have those little excited-scared "i'm pregnant!" butterflies in my stomach.
a mixed bag is a good way to describe it.
our family feels utterly complete the way it is. i can't imagine parenting -- the way i want to parent, that is -- any more children. but still, to finally shut the door completely is a little strange. i've been at some stage of having and caring for babies for the last seven years.
then i saw a pregnant woman in the grocery store yesterday and it hit me...boooyah! am i glad i don't have to do that ever again! yup. that's all it took. dunzo. no more big belly, no more peeing my pants because my bladder is squished into oblivion. no more nausea. no more 'rhoid-ridden ass.
i smiled to myself.
being pregnant is an experience that i know has changed me forever. carrying a little bugger inside you for 9-plus months and then delivering him/her will really give you perspective. you can laugh at a whole lot more petty-ass shit after you've done the whole childbirth thing.
plus, i got a whole mess of other shit to think about now. and, if i ever do get nostalgic, i'll just put on some tight jeans, wiggle my happy 'rhoid-free ass, and look at these pictures.
when you have three kids at the ages our kids are at (5 months, 3 years, 6 years), you don't go anywhere without a kid on your person. grocery store? take a kid. get your hair cut? take a kid. get the oil changed? take a kid. pick up drycleaning? take a kid.
you get my drift.
so, i knew when i decided to take this cross-country trek to visit my grad school roommate in colorado, i'd be -- you guessed it -- taking a kid.
make that two.
this is how it all started...my friend, you see, is having her first baby. initially thought to myself, "things are busy. i have a 5-month-old baby. i'll send a gift." but come on. she's seen me get drunk and moon people. that type of bond only comes along once in a lifetime. so, i decided i wanted to see her. and in the meantime, wouldn't it be fun to show my oldest child where mommy used to live before she was a mommy (leaving out the drunk, ass-showing parts of course).
brave? insane? both?
at any rate, i got all my shit and their shit together, which is a lot of shit (including a car seat and car seat base, thank you very much), had hubby and #2 drop us at the airport, and we were on our way.
there are many tips and tricks i have learned over the years when it comes to traveling with small children (i.e., wrap some new toys and have them open on the plane. it'll buy you at least half-an-hour). still, no matter how many things you pull out of your mary poppins carpet bag, when you travel with kids under five you either emerge irreparably scarred and damaged from the experience, vowing never ever to do it again. or, you learn from it and hope for better next time.
i fall somewhere in between. sort of like a hopeful crazy person.
still...traveling alone with kids? this was new terrain for me. and yes, i knew there would be moments that would shake me to the core. and there would be lessons. many, many lessons.
first, expect to get your bag searched by tsa. there is just no way when you have a fussy baby on your hip while simultaneously shoving four of those grey, bacteria-laden trays through the x-ray machine, folding a stroller and making sure your older child has stripped off all apropriate clothing to get through security that the airline gods won't add one more thing to your plate just for shits and giggles. it's just the way it goes. oh, and the guy will condescendingly remind you to take out your computer next time as your baby screams in your ear and your older kid whines that she's thirsty.
second, expect ryan gosling to sit next to you and your kids on the plane (and, yes, i am happily married to the father of my children, but that doesn't mean i'm blind). or someone that looks exactly like him. and, no, i'm not talking some notebook-ass shit here. i'm talking about having a hot guy bearing witness to your hot mess.
expect to humiliate yourself in front of ryan gosling in some utterly inconceivable way. like you'd never imagine farting in front of a hot guy right? in my case, i fell asleep with the baby strapped to my chest in a baby bjorn and proceeded to drool on his head. let me repeat that. i drooled on my sleeping child. to make matters worse, when you are seated next to a 6-year-old you can't expect to just wipe away said drool and pretend the whole thing didn't happen.
"eeeeeeeew! mommy you droooled on nate's head! eeeeeew!"
"oh honey, i did not. i just spit on him. by accident."
because spitting on your infant is much more attractive to ryan gosling than drooling.
expect to accidentally expose your tits or something that has to do with your tits. best case scenario is that some accoutrement linked to breastfeeding will find its way out of your bag and into the unlikeliest of hands. worst case is that you end up flashing some poor unsuspecting fool as you attempt to wrestle, um breastfeed, your baby. for me, this meant dropping the cone part of my breast pump out of my carryon onto the floor and having it tumble several rows up only to be discovered by a grumpy businessman who proceeded to stand up, turn around, and hold it up while hollering out to the entire plane "did someone lose a funnel?"
crickets. and then...
"that's my mommy's breast pump!"
i raised my hand sheepishly and the guy, who looked like he'd just touched shit, quickly tossed the funnel to me.
expect to trip. probably over a kid. and definitely in front of other people. happened to me no less than three times.
expect that how you think things will go most definitely will not be how things actually go. oh yeah -- and get used to laughing at yourself.
and, finally, if all else fails, remember that this too shall pass. and room service will make it all better.
there is something about age six that is...magical. it's this intoxicating mix of your kid growing and becoming more independent while still remaining your baby.
our oldest turned six in march and since then it has been a whirlwind of "growth" moments. there's all the things that used to invoke a "come with me, mama" or "do it with me, mama" whine --ice skating, swimming, going to the bathroom at a restaurant -- that she now does without hesitation on her own.
there's the fact that her opinions are actually logical now and not just the mad ramblings of a toddler/preschooler. there's that she actually has this wicked, biting sense of humor that has me doubled over on a daily basis. there's that we laugh at the same stuff. and not just poops and farts either, although that stuff is still way funny.
there's that she buckles her little brother (the older one) up in the car when it's time to run errands. there's that she comforts the baby when he's crying by making funny faces. there's that she tells her brother to hold hands when it's time to cross the street. there's that she can read and we don't have much longer where we can spell things we don't want her to understand.
there's that she simply gets it more than not these days. she sort of understands a lot of how things work in our little world and her place in it.
like I said...magical.
and along with this magical age comes a new emotion for this mother: pride. i see her grow and discover and become. and I'm proud. to think...she actually came out of me. i actually gave birth to this chatty little creature. a short six years ago, i was nursing her tiny, wrinkled, red little self. and look at her now. i was excited when she rolled over for the first time as an infant, took her first steps, said her first word...but, man, seeing her read, swim, ask the waitress for more ketchup on her own? it's those first teeny tiny steps she's taking to not needing me anymore...and, just like every mom before me, i'll miss it when she's grown up, but i'll know it's right when she's not clinging to me anymore. and good.
watching her do all these things, i can also picture her leaving home for college, but just for a split second. then I push the thought away. she may be doing all these crazy, wonderful new things by herself, but she's also still holding tightly onto my arm as we walk to the park.
"so, what are you guys going to do to mitigate weird middle kid syndrome?"
it was said in jest, of course, but still...can't deny the place of the middle kid in the family dynamic. our second, jack, doesn't have the drama and volume of his older sister or the mushy sweetness of his baby brother. so, where does that leave him? right in the middle. pretty agreeable and mellow. plays well on his own. waits patiently. smiles easily. always ready for a hug.
he's got his moments like any of them, but by all counts an easy kid. so easy in fact that this mommy often feels guilty tending to the other two more demanding children and leaving him to his own devices.
so, I'm bookmarking this page as a reminder. a reminder that just 'cause he's sweet, prefers making car noises in the quiet of his room, and gives hugs whenever you ask, you still gotta try with him, momma. he deserves it...and maybe even just a weeeee bit more since he doesn't demand it.
i can't believe how long it's been since i've sat down to write. so much has happened and it's hard to know where to start. so, i'll start with the obvious. three months ago today, i became a mama...again. the three-kid thing has kept me busy, to say the least. and starting work again a month ago adds a whole new layer of hectic to an already hectic life.
so, for the sake of just getting back into the blogging groove, i'm going to simply describe what is happening right now as i peck away with one hand on the computer: i am breastfeeding my youngest, putting my oldest's hair in a ponytail for soccer practice, and looking for a snack for the middle one. how am i doing all this you ask? i mean humans only come with two hands and two feet, right? (i say feet because, yes, yes, yes you have to use your feet when you have three. bedtime story with two and a fussy baby means you gotta bust out the bouncy chair and get to work...with your feet.)
i do stop typing (although now that i think about it, the feet really could have come into play right here). as the baby is attached to my boob, my oldest holds his head in place while i use both hands to tie her hair back as she faces me. done. cradling the nursing baby with my left arm, i reach for a banana with my right. dig my nails in the top (a little squishy banana never killed anyone), hold it with my one free right hand, and peel the sides down with my mouth. done. baby continues to nurse for 10 more minutes. burp him, he pukes. done.
and that, my friends, in a nutshell is my life with three. it's all about figuring out ways to fully utilize parts of my body that, beforehand, i didn't fully consider to be essential in the grand scheme of raising children (knees, feet and hips, for instance).
i often find at the end of a day, when i've been taking care of all three on my own, it feels much like the culmination of an extremely challenging sporting event. i walk down the quiet stairs of my house, hope they all stay the eff asleep, and then, finally, yes finally, hear the applause. i smile and take a bow. No one is there, but you better believe the gold is mine...all mine.
So, I have a small group of friends who are either pregnant for the first time or just had their first baby, which has put me in a position that I never expected to be in when it comes to wee ones -- knowledgeable.
You do it once and other pregnant women want to commiserate. You do it a couple of times and they start asking for kernels of wisdom. You do it three times and, shit, you might as well be sitting on Mount Olympus speaking in tongues...baby tongues.
So, one of my friends recently told me she was pregnant for the first time. She had her first obgyn appointment and the Mister wanted to come along. She quickly texted me to ask what the protocol is for having the father of your unborn child in the room with you while another man, although licensed to do so, checks out your, um, girl.
I immediately started laughing, but then soon realized my dear friend was serious. So I got serious. It's a hard pill to swallow ladies...realizing your privates are not so private anymore. I had to break it to my compadre that her life was about to become a Larry David episode of awkward moments involving her vagina.
There was a day when dads sat by, sat aside, sat in the waiting room. Giving birth wasn't this magical, beautiful event to be shared. But no more. Now we got A Baby Story, I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant and even an entire Discovery Health channel dedicated to pregnancy and childbirth. There is stuff out there that makes me want to stick my fingers in my ears, squeeze my eyes shut and yell "Lalalalalala!" at the top of my lungs to make it go away. And I've actually done the deed...a bunch of times.
At any rate, the question did bring me back. To the first time. A time when I was modest. Ok, more modest.
I remember being very clear with my husband that I wanted him holding my hand, stroking my hair, whispering comforting words...all the stuff you imagine a supportive husband would do while you are doing the unthinkable, the unimaginable. The point is, I wanted his attention above the waist. No way no how was my man going to see the storm a-brewin' below my waistline.
Operation Keep the Dream Alive was on.
And then my water broke. And I was in labor. And some medical students came in for observation while the doctor checked my cervix (which, by the way, is in your vagina). And the nurse threw one of my legs over to said husband to hold. And then I was pushing like I had to poop really bad. And then I heard "See the baby's head?" And then I saw my husband's eyes get really big. And then there was a baby. And then I couldn't give a flying fig what was happening below my waist.
With #3, there has been even more poking and prodding since I am officially of "advanced maternal age" and also have a history of preterm labor (oh snap!). Modesty, shmodesty. Plus, with a full six years of mothering under my belt, there's just things that make me shrug my shoulders that would have made me cringe in a previous life. I guess that's what happens. Not that I'm rockin' The Lindsay Lohan getting out of cars or anything, but when you get into this whole pregnancy-childbirth-mothering thing, you do have more of a hey-whatever-needs-to-get-done-and-whoever-needs-to-be-there-to-get-it-done attitude.
So I told her, let him come. Good practice. And you'll laugh one day. Soon.
Up next? The milk! The milk squirting uncontrollably out of your tits! Oooh, just wait until I spring that nugget on her...
Dear Grocery Cashier Lady, Guy on the Street, Old Lady In the Bathroom at the Mall, Starbucks Girl, Weird Irish Guy at Party and Other Countless Strangers I Encounter Daily:
Yes, I am pregnant. Mutha-fuckin' pregnant. Eight months. I'm due February 8 (well not technically, but nine months is as long as this kid's likely to get a free gut ride.)
No I do not know the sex of the baby. Weee! Aren't surprises fun?
Yes, I know my stomach is big. Very big. In fact, if you ask my asshole or vagina, they both know it too. Go ahead...ask. I'm warning you, though, they've both been in miserable spirits for months and aren't likely to respond kindly.
If I don't know you, please don't touch me. Or my stomach. That has my baby inside. Especially if you're a weird old man. Next time you do, I'm going to feel free to grab your ass. Or kick you in the balls.
When you make noises like "Oooooh" or "Whooaaaa" or "Mmmmmmm!" or "Woooooweeee!" or "Wowza!" that's simply not cool. Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I'm a free-admission circus act for your entertainment. Fuck off.
Don't stare. It's impolite. I'm not staring at the hair coming out of your nose.
Can we just keep our relationship all-business? I'm just trying to buy some shampoo and I'm in no mood to talk about whether this is my first, if I'm excited, my due date, if I think I'm going to go past my due date, how old my other kids are, or ooooh, wow, am I going to have my hands full. I'm just trying to make it through the day and into my bed where, hopefully, my husband won't breathe too loudly, I won't get a leg cramp, I'll get up to pee less than three times in one night, and I won't wrench my back trying to roll over after sleeping on my right arm to the point where I don't believe blood will ever flow to that part of my body again.
And above all, remember this, when a woman is eight months pregnant or more, she ain't feelin' the miracle. A watermelon sitting on your pelvis is not the easiest thing to haul around and it doesn't put you in the most charitable mood. We've answered your questions about due date, boy or girl, etc. a million times or more over the past five months, and we don't care anymore. I know these days, all I can think about is if I poop, will a baby come out?
Oh, and to the guy in the parking lot who leaned out his car window to get a better look and then proceeded to whisper "Whoa" when I walked by? Bet that was the first time a pregnant lady flipped you the bird, asshole.