Monday, April 21, 2008

On Being Mom

"On Being Mom" by Anna Quindlen

If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they
ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the
black-button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the
yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the
lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in
disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two
taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of
them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry,
who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors
closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food
from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the
bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within
each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now.
Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and
sleeping through the night and early childhood education, all grown obsolete.
Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are
battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust
would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the
playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations -- what they taught me was
that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is
presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice,
until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one
knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another
can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet
trained at 3, his brother at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to
put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research
on sudden infant death syndrome.

To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then
soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research
will follow.

I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful
books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of
infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for
an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat
little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he
developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last
year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can
walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes
were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not
theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for
preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp.
The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted
I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I
include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two
seasons...What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while
doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now
that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of
the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing
set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate,
and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next
thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little
more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and
what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday
they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they
simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact
and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up
with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone
to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was
bound and determined to learn from the experts.

It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2 months to go...

It's officially panic time.

Nursery...what's that? Um, I have a pack-n-play, still in the box. Crib and changing table are in the the old apartment down the street! The room that will someday be Ian's is filled with boxes, computer crap and random video game junk.

Where on earth are we going to put all the baby stuff?? pack n play, swing, bouncy seat, toys...babies have a lot of crap and so does my 5 year old. Where on earth is it all going to go? My house is going to look like a baby resale shop!

I'm convinced I'm going early this, not just wishful thinking. Okay, maybe a little. But seriously, I just feel like I'm not going to make it until June 12th. Unless this one is as stubborn as his brother.

How on earth am I going to handle TWO boys? I can barely handle Aiden right now. What have I gotten myself in to? I seriously sit and stare at my every growing belly and wonder what the hell I have done. Did I think about this? I know we talked about it...over and over and over again...but really? Did we REALLY think about it? I'm not so sure.

I am pretty sure he is running out of room in previously mentioned belly. Not kidding, I don't think there is anywhere else left to go. I officially can no longer tie my least not without a whole lot of discomfort and it's really not worth it. Showering and getting dressed feels like I ran a freaking marathon. It's ridiculous! I feel like I'm a little old lady...and I have 2 months left!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

I hate you

This is what I want to say every time Jared turns over in his sleep without so much as blinking. Then there is me. My night goes something like this:

Drink milk, chocolate only (or something juice/water)
take vitamin
check locks on the door and car
go pee
adjust blankets on bed
crawl in to bed
adjust head pillows
adjust back pillow
lay on right side with blanket under belly and wrapped around legs
try to sleep...
sit up, baby is cutting off air flow
'roll' over...stick a basketball under your shirt and then try to roll over in bed, there really is no rolling involved.
adjust pillow under belly
adjust blanket at back
try to stretch legs without getting a leg cramp

3 hours later...

get up to pee
start over

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Me: Love you, good night

Aiden: Love you good night is so hot it's on FIRE! It's GOOD NIGHT LOVE YOU! That is just my favorite word!

Me: laughing Okay, Good night love you


Jared swears our kid has some form of OCD, I say he's just a kid who likes things the same way. Probably comes from having parents that aren't big on change :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I need to rest my body

Aiden: Mommy, I just want to sit on my couch and play with my play dough

Me: No, you need to leave it on the table

Aiden: I won't get it all over the place!

Me: No, you need to leave it on the table

Aiden: But mommy! I just need to rest my body!

Me: What?? Okay, well put the play dough away and then you can rest your body

Aiden: puts play dough down on the table and proceeds to 'rest his body' by watching Tom and Jerry

Seriously, where does he come up with this??

16 Years

It's April Fools Day, while most are playing jokes on coworkers or family members and others are just going about their daily lives without a second glance...I am left to my own thoughts and memories.

It's been 16 years today since my Grandma passed away. It was pretty appropriate that it was April Fools Day b/c that is just the kind of woman she was. We laughed at her funeral saying she would send us a sign and it would probably be a random puff of smoke in the air.

I was 11, I was in the 5th grade and even though she battled cancer and we knew it was coming, I can't say it was much easier. I was with her nearly every day of my childhood up until that point. Even when she was sick our whole family would stay at her house to help take care of her. She made me lunch everyday until she got sick and I would walk across the street instead of eating in the lunch room and going out for recess. This would have bothered some kids but for me, I loved it. She made me waffles or grilled cheese or egg salad...served with milk shakes and rootbeer floats or small bowls of pudding. I watched game shows, we talked, we played cards, she taught me to play solitaire, showed me how to make candy and let me help bake cookies.

She was possibly the most wonderful woman I've met in my life. She was strong and had this amazing way of giving you unconditional love. She was the one that we all listened to, she was the one we all went to...she was always there.
Even years later I have very real, very vivid memories of her and I am grateful for the fact that I had her in my life for those 11 years...but on days like today, I miss her dearly. I wish she would have been here when her great grandsons were/are born, I wish she could have kissed my cheek on my wedding day...I wish my boys and my husband could have met her and loved her the way I did...the way everyone did and still does.
She was the glue that held our family together...she's the kind of woman I can only hope to be...I can only hope to be 1/10th of the mother and grandmother that she was.

However, she wouldn't want me to be sad...she wouldn't want to see the tears in my eyes. She would want me to be enjoying every minute of every day. I'm sure she's watching me from somewhere, a cigarette in one hand, looking for her teeth or her glasses, which she always managed to lose, telling me to stop being silly and get out there and live life.

RIP Grandma Jane, I miss you and love you.