Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Sweet Life

Sitting in my apartment years ago, I would wonder, day dream really about starting a family. I didn't even have a boyfriend at that time, but I hoped I would one day meet someone that would share my enthusiasm for starting a family. When I met my husband, the very night of our first date he was honest about his hopes for starting a family. He didn't know then it would be with me, but the fact that he came out and said what he wanted made him that much more appealing to me. We spent a few years together before getting married and having kids. Not necessarily in that order, but three or so years after that first date we welcomed our very wanted daughter.

Those first few months, I was in heaven. A new reservoir in my heart opened that I didn't know existed before having a child. I was so proud of my new role. For the years prior to holding my own baby, I'd witnessed that club of mothers, a club I was desperate to be in. Though my husband and I went through some infertility issues, pregnancy illness, miscarriage and even some postpartum depression, we persevered together as a family. Three of us became four, when we welcomed our son into the mix.

"Living the dream" is an overused mantra, and even though my friend has this tattooed on his arm, it seems more like a commercial tag line than fitting for real life. However, I have moments where no other words seem to work as well. My days are so full lately. I'm dizzy trying to keep track of the balls I am juggling, but I had more than a moment this weekend where my feelings were full. I felt almost intoxicated with how happy I am to be in the life I have. Packing lunches, wiping bums, or doing fifth grade math with a frustrated ten year old were not what I was daydreaming about in my apartment years ago, but still I couldn't have imagined how much my children would mean to me. I get so busy driving them to activities, or remembering teacher breakfasts, that sometimes I need to stop and realize what my life has become and how meaningful it is. I am reminded each time I walk with my children holding each of my hands on either side of me, just how grateful I am. I am not sure how people do it with more than two kids, but having my hands literally full with their palms against mine gives me the most joyful wave of love.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Just Keep Breathing

When I had my son, my second child, I wished I could have been a second time parent, first time around. I was so much more relaxed about everything second time around. With my first, everything was so precious, there seem to be a jarring difference between right and wrong, and everything was so important. The organic mattresses, BPA-free bottles,  Egyptian Cotton onesies, video monitors, the softest changing table covers, and of course the Orbit stroller I just had to have. I read way too much, listened to advice way to much, purchased way too much. My head was so full by the time I had the baby that I lost feeling of any confidence or instincts that I had left of my own.

When I brought her home from the hospital, my husband thought I was nuts. I wanted to give her a tour of her home and then read her a book. He played along, but in reality both of us in that moment were making it up as we went along. When we went to sleep that night we put her in the bassinet, co-sleeper basket between us. She slept more than both of us put together. We were both so aware she was next to us, and we were afraid we were going to disturb her, so we just didn't dare move. The next night we moved her to a bassinet beside my bed, and we all slept a bit better. That night though, I got up a few times just to confirm that she was still breathing.

We all hear or worse know stories of babies who die of SIDS, so there was really no rest for the weary new mom. Then you hear of the random stories of children who make it past infancy and something happens to them. I have now made it to 10 and 6 years as a parent and I still check to see if they are both breathing before I go to bed for the night. I don't do it every night anymore, but if it pops into my head, I run into their rooms to check. I know it is magical thinking, but I worry that if I don't do it, something could happen. Rational or not, whenever I get into their rooms, I am always glad I peeked on them. I absolutely love watching them sleep. I don't stay long, and I always give them a gentle kiss on their foreheads, and then I just look. I watch their chests rise and fall, I watch their peaceful facial expressions, and I just admire who they are in the silence of the night.

When I look at a pregnant woman who is about to have her first baby, I know she too might hear a lot of noise about the wrong or right way to parent. I know that she will probably worry that whole first year about this and that, as well. She might even buy an alarm to go in the crib, or a onesie that has a heart monitor. I don't judge. If it makes her feel better, she should buy it. If given the opportunity to speak to a new mother, I would tell her to so whatever makes her rest easy, even if it is just marveling at the sound of her baby breathing in the middle of the night. Our kids get older, but watching them breath doesn't. If it gives you some peace, then by all means.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

So Long, Six!

Tomorrow my baby turns seven! As I tucked him in tonight, we said goodbye to six. That moment next to his bedside wasn't nearly enough time for me to properly say goodbye to six. When I asked him what he would miss most about being six he said "not really anything, because it is just a number." I am grateful my kids are not as sentimental as I am, or else we would have a real weep fest for every milestone around here. I kissed him goodnight, and thought about what I would miss most about him being six.

He is not a little boy anymore. He is a kid, kid.
He lost his two bottom teeth.
He doesn't know how to not do cartwheels everywhere.
He learned how to go down the biggest ramp at the skate park.
The way he crawls on my lap facing me, and then nuzzles his face in my neck.
The puppy dog smell of his downy hair.
First grade.
His friends and how much he loves being with them.
How carefree he is about being naked.
The way he adds an extra ed to words that end in d. "Stoppeded"
The way he still needs a hug and a kiss at the door of his classroom each morning.
That he still loves being read to.
Monster trucks and Matchbox cars.
The way he wears two different shoes -- just because.
His sense of style.
Discovering handball, hip hop and "Dog Man" books.
Reading menus, and ordering food on his own at restaurants.
He still likes to be held, and when he is picked up he tucks his arms in.
He still pulls my hair out of my ponytail, because he prefers it down.
Unsolicited kisses, and"I love yous"
His cheeks.
Pizza and candy.
Riding bikes, especially to school.
The beginning of his sleeping in my bed whenever daddy is out of town.
The way he snuggles and wants my arms around him when he sleeps. Heaven!
Discovering pop radio, then making up his own words to songs, when he can't get the real lyrics.
Daddy dates.
Growing a sense of humor.
His giggle, and his laugh.
How soft his skin is.
When he wants a hug to make him feel better, and it actually works.

Most of these things are still present in our lives, but some are fading away faster than others. I love this boy so very much, and I am happy to be celebrating him. He was born on a Saturday and then the next day was mother's day. He was the best gift, but that day we were both so exhausted, I don't think we opened our eyes much the whole day. This year, we will celebrate mother's day and his birthday together. This time with eyes wide open. I don't want to miss anything, since eight will be here before I can blink.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


Last night, my husband and I were watching American Idol. One of the contestants was being interviewed, and she told her story, and how her life changed in one second. She started to tell the story of how she and her husband were in a car accident and he didn't survive. She spoke about the lovely night out they had, and that on their drive home, they were hit head on by someone running a red light. I grabbed my husband's arm and started to cry. The two of us have the same story as her, but without the tragic ending. We both held each other as we listened, knowing full well how close our story was to hers and how very lucky we are that we are both still here.

Having been hit head on twice now by someone who ran a red light, I feel ultra aware to how sometimes the decisions we make have everything to do with what happens to us, and how sometimes it has nothing to do with our choices at all. We could just be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and accidents happen. The first time I was in a car accident, I did not think I would survive. I felt the car spinning, and was almost certain that when it stopped I would be unconscious. I saw the items in my care flying around me, like the tornado scene in "The Wizard of Oz". I had a rush of gratitude for my life up until that point, and I surrendered into what I thought was my last little bit of time alive, and closed my eyes.  I never blanked out though, the car stopped moving, and everything seemed a lot less peaceful from that moment on. Smoke came through the car while I was strapped into my seat belt hanging upside down. With the help of strangers getting me out of the car, I eventually ended up in an ambulance. I didn't have kids then. I wasn't married. My closest family member was 3000 miles away.

The accident we had in June was similar enough to shake me to my core again, but also so very different. At no point when our car had been struck, and was spinning around a major intersection hitting other cars, did I ever surrender. My husband was awake and aware through the whole thing, and was even able to scream out to ask if I was okay. We were both terrified, but we were both together, and so very grateful our children were not with us. That night we were also coming from a lovely evening out together when a car ran a red light and into us. Just like the couple we heard about on TV, we didn't know what hit us, when it happened. We did know that had we had been going just a bit slower, the car that hit us would have T-boned us, instead of us T-boning him. The driver who hit us, was not drunk or texting, just distracted from finishing work, and made a costly mistake. We know he was badly injured, but fortunately he is still alive. Had he hit our car, ten seconds after, my husband would not have likely survived.

Our lives are full of heartache, and pain. That night took a toll on us, but after a few months we were feeling like ourselves again. It is easy to move on, and to be honest, I like not thinking about how close that call was that night. I love my life, and I don't want to get that close to losing it again. It was quite awful. I am aware though that reliving pain is a part of healing though. Research has been done that states that about eight months after trauma, the pain resurfaces again. I thought about that today, and realized that is exactly how long it has been since our accident. As we continue to heal, physically and emotionally, I will never forget the miracle of what we survived. As we spent the night at the hospital, all I wanted to do was get home and kiss my babies. When we finally did, I wept. I was so happy to be healthy enough to get home to them.