1. Baby makes three…

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I will start at the beginning.  Seems appropriate.

Seven years into a happy marriage, I found myself changing my mind about children.  My Mom says it was the ticking clock, but I will always say it was me changing my mind.  It startled me so much, that I didn’t tell a single soul for months.  I wanted to make sure it was real, and be completely happy with all potential outcomes before sharing this breaking news with my husband. It was very real, so I told my husband. He was thrilled, shocked, and happy.

Then came the first of many hard decisions, discussions, and deadlines.

I was not even pregnant, but I knew I wanted to stay home full time. We jointly decided that we would try to have a baby for 12 months, and if we were not successful, pursue adoption.  We were going to be parents!  We discussed where we would move to, as our current home was great for two, ok for two and a peanut, but downright cramped with three.

11 months later, I was pregnant, and 8 months after that, I was unable to work due to being the size of a planet, and having tree trunks for legs.  I felt ok, I just looked REALLY bad.  I had one pair of shoes that “fit” and they are still on the bottom tier of my shoe rack, stretched into an inhuman shape.

The day came to meet our daughter, turn our parents into grandparents, siblings into aunts and uncles, and become parents ourselves.

I was terrified of labor and delivery.  I checked in, went to my room, and had a good hard cry in the bathroom.  That would be the only time I cried in L&D.  After a good hard try at a surgery-free delivery, I had a very pleasant cesarean section, and there, in that bright, white, shiny operating room – I heard her cry, and sang Happy Birthday to my brand new daughter. I have enjoyed some strange things in my life, but very little compares to the weirdness of singing to a baby while your having surgery.

Everyone was so so so happy that day!  It was a truly joyful time.

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21. Help Me

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It’s only the start of what I have been dramatically referring to as “our last summer ever”. I am having a hard time with the thought of sending my first child to full day Kindergarten this fall. She’s ready, and will have a really great time. Believe me, I tried to get more than a few early childhood professionals to say something resembling a reason to keep her home for just one more year… no dice. She is registered. Promise.

I am not ready for Kindergarten. I am fine with leaving my children with family for a day/night here and there, but FIVE full days a week? Veterans of daycare, parents of school aged children – please chime in and tell me how you navigated the emotions! Share your tools, PLEASE!

I had great big plans for the girls and I this summer. We haven’t had an opportunity to do much due to the horrible weather. It is either boiling hot or cold and pouring rain. Our house now has a three inch high stack of some fabulous artwork by my 5 year old, so, silver lining. Another wrench in the summer plans: the girls are not getting along very well, and the little one is still napping in the afternoons. I am not very worried about it, as the age gap and stark differences in their personalities are big contributing factors. Or, they aren’t, and we are all doomed. Time will tell. Yet another fly in the ointment is the home repair. I respect the labor, and the cost there, but can’t someone invent 100 year shingles that are about ten cents a square foot? Elon Musk! Anyone have his number? While we’re at it, please share your favorite fancy recipes for ramen, Kraft, and other >$1 per meal ideas.

In order to attend Kindergarten, the child must have an eye exam, dental exam, and yearly physical exam. I called and secured the appointments, to beat the end of summer rush. First up: Eyes. Her perfect blue eyes. Turns out – far from functionally perfect. Glasses far. Rush order glasses, rush of emotions. I cried, just a little. Thankfully, the woman helping us choose frames was really, really kind and helpful. I may bring her a little treat to our pickup appointment. She understood my tears, and explained that it was not my fault, not unusual, and again, not my fault. I am still dumbfounded, but no longer upset. This kid has never squinted, strained to see, bumped into walls, or misjudged a distance. Her penmanship is good, as is her artwork. I am following medical advice, with reservation. The appointment took 2 hours. Her eyes were dilated – something I was not told ahead of time. I prefer to brief my children on what happens in an exam room, and I was not able to prepare her – or myself for that surprise. It is not outside the realm of possibility that she was bored, tired, and just kind of messing around during the doctor’s exam.

Despite my emotional struggles with Kindergarten, I am developing a plan to get my girl ready. I would like to send a prepared, kind, smart, open minded, bilingual child to class. Yes – bilingual. She will be participating in the dual language program, learning in both English, and Spanish! There is just one small problem. I don’t speak Spanish. I can’t teach her anything beyond the typical first 100ish words of a baby en Español. If anyone has any suggestions for early learning in Spanish, I am all orejas. My current plan is to spend a few minutes a day learning a new word via the fabulous, free, app: DuoLingo. Early childhood professionals: please comment with your pet peeves and things you wish first time families knew about school!

 

 

20. Never

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746I swear to you, this was not planned. The Always/Never posts back to back like that. Sometimes, life just takes us to that perfect place. Then, as life does, crushes us. Or sends a perfect breeze through the cracked windows, to send your neatly stacked papers flying. Right now, I am between a gentle breeze and a tsunami. Closer to tsunami at the moment.

Anyone that knows me, knows I love to ride horses. I was born horse crazy, and took a very interesting and winding road to the barn where I have been for 10 years. Let’s start from there, 10 years ago….

I had not ridden in two years, due to two bad “unplanned dismounts”. A friend convinced me to try riding again, and gave me the information on a horse. I tried him twice, just to make sure I was able to get on a second time (because truth be told, I was scared the first time). He was a gentleman, and tended toward lazy, which was absolutely perfect. He did anything I asked of him, unless it was move forward, back up, or turn right.

Honestly, it was a dream partnership. He was happy to let me figure out how not to be scared, then he let me trick him into moving forward, and the relationship progressed on, taking us around and around the arenas, down the trails, twirling in the round pen a few times, and happy trips to the wash rack on 90 degree days. Most of our time together is enjoyable.

I got some news a few weeks back. Some not great, but totally not surprising news. He’s old for a horse. Twenty-seven. A stately, solidly built paint with all the expected signs of time. He has some new, more severe muscle paralysis in his throat, that prevents him from getting a good breath when he exerts himself. The workload needs to be reduced. I took my last ride on him, without knowing it. I am so grateful that I didn’t know it was my last ride on him, or I would have ruined it with emotions. I already knew he needed to slow down – he had already slowed down on his own, and I let him; because that’s what we did for each other. He let me be afraid all those years ago, and now I let him be old.

It hit me now, at 11pm on a Saturday night. The gravity of his aging, and how incredibly lucky I am to have found him in the first place. He is still loved, very much, and has a home till the end of his days. I just cannot believe that I will never ride him again. It’s so hard to process. He has absolutely earned his retirement, so it is not totally devastating.

I am taking my girls to see him tomorrow. He is so so gentle with them, and they are very happy to be around him. I hope they bring him joy, but I am sure it’s the candy and neck scratches.

19. Always

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Today is my first baby’s 5th Birthday.

She’s 5.

Her spirit is joyful, brain firing on all cylinders, fine motor of a plastic surgeon, gross motor of a 1989 Chevy Celebrity, and the purest heart, as long as you follow the directions. There are so many directions.

Tonight, when we laid down for a book before bed, I cried.

“Are those happy tears, Mama?”

“Yes, baby. But, I am also a little scared. You don’t need me as much now, and it will just keep on this way. It’s a good thing, but, I am still feeling a lot of things right now. I love you so very much and I think you are fabulous.”

“I will ALWAYS need you.”

“I will ALWAYS be here when you need me.”

Immediately after leaving her room, I try to figure out where the tears came from. Watching a child grow is the goal, right?

The tears come from looking back.

A friend is just beginning her journey as a Mom. It has been about a month since her delivery. Let’s just say that my experience as a new Mom was about a 4 of 10 (once things leveled out) on the difficult scale. Her’s was a 26 of 10 for a while there.

The house was clean, pets fed, babies happy, she was dressed, hair was clean or clean looking, she smelled like nothing, and her confidence was clear. Not in a cocky way, but a smooth and thoughtful way. There is a schedule. Tasks other than baby related care are being handled. I was seriously impressed. More impressive than that, was her very honest, direct request for visitors. I admired the simple request that so many new parents find too difficult to make. New babies are wonderful to meet. They have tiny everything, and they all think I am super tall.

This visit was a big deal to me. A new Mom is going to let me hold her brand new baby. A new Mom thinks I can help her feel more like herself. One of the highest honors in my book.

The flash flood came with no warning. I was overcome with all of the new Mom feelings I experienced – the loneliness, the failures, the total isolation, the second thoughts, paralyzing fear, loss of friendships, lack of direction, assumptions, but wait, there’s MORE! I swear to everyone reading that those are typically moments in time*. One day, you’ll be reading a great book, or jogging, or cooking your first major dinner since bringing a baby home, and it will just feel really good. More things will start to feel easier. One very special day, you will look around at your family, and it will be like they were always there. You will be able to see beyond the infant stage, and start making plans, and dreaming of what will be. I used to look at my first baby, and say “One day, you’ll be FIVE. Just like that.”

And just like that, she is five, and I am not a lonely failure.

 

*If things get and stay overwhelming please reach out!

CRISIS TEXT LINE:
Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline and Website
1-800-273-8255
www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org Call for yourself or someone you care about; free and confidential; network of more than 140 crisis centers nationwide; available 24/7

18. Pandas and Fairies

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That panda. Go search “Panda Potty Song.” That poor rendition of a panda bear (that looks high on mushrooms to the left, and appears to be having his mugshot taken – still on mushrooms – on the right) lays down a smooth, motivating vocal over some sick xylophone.

I planned on potty training after the baby was born, because I knew we’d be staying in more often than not.

I had absolutely no method, style, guru, book, website, or experience.

I learned an awful lot. Here are the big ones. If you don’t have patience and alertness during the first few weeks of potty training, put them in a diaper/pull up/whatever. It will be fine. Eventually, you’ll get sick of it and be ready to go to bed early and be rested and calm enough to tackle toilet time.  Stay home a lot, until you can identify their “tells”. Relax, and inspire your trainee to do the same. Do not pay any attention to anyone other than your child and pediatrician when it comes to timelines/averages/expectations.

I did not want to use food as a reward, but I knew some kind of prize would motivate my bright big girl. I stocked up on clearance, resale, and other inexpensive prizes. The “potty fairy” would visit and leave them for her after a few days of consistent success.

Some days were difficult to get her on to the toilet, but this glorious panda potty song always kept her there. In the event of an accident, the song delivers a great line about accidents being okay, but try again every day.

I won’t tell you how many days it took, or if there were accidents or not. The road to the potty is different for everyone. Just be patient with yourself, and your trainee.

 

 

17. Long time coming

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It has been so long, that I had another child. No, really. Another beautiful sweet healthy baby. A tiny sister for my big girl. The tiny one is about to be 8 months old, and I absolutely cannot believe it.

There is so much to discuss. Let me know what you actually want me to talk about, and I will. Within reason.

For now, I will do my best to catch you up on the T with me.

The second pregnancy was awful. I was very sick, then sick and huge, then sicker and gargantuan. Guilty for the changes coming our way, and the impact on my first born. Thankfully, the 10lb baby arrived with no troubles. Surgery, again. I thought it would be easier the second time around. The scheduled c-section was everything the emergency c-section was, with more weirdness and scary parts. You walk in to the surgery room on your own two feet, alone. You get a spinal block, and it works FAST. Faster than you think, minus one second. I remember the sensation of nothing hurting coming over me like a warm blanket. I took a sigh of relief, and before I could finish; the anesthesiologist and nurse quickly helped me move my legs up on the surgery table seconds before becoming an actual puddle.

I kept my eyes closed. I was so scared that I just couldn’t look. At anything. You are not allowed to comment on this part unless you have had surgery with your head awake.

Then, between the sounds of my husband’s hyper and irregular breathing pattern, the steady beat of the monitors, and some generic OR sounds, was the sound of our baby. There she was! I opened my eyes to see her….SHE LOOKED LIKE ME!!!! The first baby was a miniature version of my husband, so I was overjoyed that it appeared I actually participated. She was huge. Angry. Fuzzy. Beautiful. Sweet. Ours.

Breastfeeding came up right away again, as it should. This time, I was prepared with a backbone, for myself and my brand new baby. She ate right away. We bonded, and it was magic. Lactation was not supposed to enter my room unless specifically requested, but they did anyway. Just once. I answered all of the questions quickly and completely and the interaction was pleasant and over in under 2 minutes.

I had a very difficult recovery. I was in a lot of pain, and it took 12 hours before someone cared enough to get my doctor on the phone and get me some relief.

Four days in, and I was ready to get the hell away from the hospital, with hopes to never ever return, EVER.

On the way home, my big girl, in all her two and half year old glory said, “I GOT MY WHOLE FAMILY! MOM, DAD, BABY SISTER, AN’ ME!” That was the moment I knew this was going to work out, and that we’d find our new way together. The first lasting relief I had felt in nearly a year.

It was so hard at first. I was in pain, and had some complications that added some Dr. visits to our already busy schedule of baby check ups, and normal post-delivery checkups – all in a foot of snow. My older daughter was leery of me, as I was not myself, and the entire hospital experience freaked her out. The new baby was loud and delicate and weird for her.

I was grateful to start feeling better a few weeks later. There was some semblance of a family routine, and I had officially left the house with both children on a long outing, alone. Everyone lived.

 

 

 

 

 

16. I don’t like you, but I love you.

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I promised a few people that I’d break the internet today. I hope they understood that the break will be directly proportionate to my online presence, which is rather small. This blog was created for something to do, as a part of my new job. I am still doing the same Mom thing, the girl is alive and thriving, and every minute of two and a half.

But, enough of that for now. This is a rant of mine. I feel like it belongs here, on my parenting blog because it will expose who I am, and what sort of parent I am trying to be. I hope it starts a dialog among readers, be it internal, in print, or out loud.

For me, the absolute worst thing about being a parent, is other parents. Period. Unfortunately, I have recently been through a few experiences that have altered my thought patterns. I am not as generous as I once was, and as a general rule, I don’t like people. Fortunately for you, due to some hard wired parts of the personality I was born with, even though I [probably] don’t like you; I love you.

This meltdown started a few months ago, when I became aware of a transgender high school student in a district near our home. This student filed a federal complaint as human rights were being violated. The board meetings began. The intolerance began to flood the local newspapers, bulletins, and eventually, a Facebook group full of parents; where I became very aware of the rampant ignorance and selfishness.

I have no idea what it feels like to be born in a body that does not match my soul. Sure, I would love to be taller, have bigger eyes, smaller thighs, skin that was less translucent – all things of vanity – not of substance. I think everyone can identify on some level with me, and if you can, a lot of those physical complaints can be solved with diet, exercise, self tanner, and duct tape. Being born into the GLBTQ community is not a choice, nor is it vain, it is a faultless feature. Too many humans have lived an entire life void of joy, or prematurely perished at their own hands, or the hands of others in the absence of love.

Here is the article: http://wgntv.com/2016/01/15/transgender-student-who-fought-district-211-gets-access-to-girls-locker-room-today/

This student filed a federal complaint (or had one filed on their behalf by someone) the school was found in violation, and the student will now have access to a locker room they feel comfortable using. One that aligns with their true self.

The uproar is embarrassing and has a regressive feel to it. Parents have said horrible things to the tune of “I don’t care how this student feels” and “The majority should rule” and even going so far as to suggest that High School aged students in the public school system have never seen genitalia of any kind before. 

“Majority rules” tends to favor a rather small group of people that look the same, and out earn people like us. Lots of people have been extinguished under majority rules. We have missed some real brilliance, I know it – and you should be able to at least entertain that thought. It is that absence of love that is to our own detriment. Eventually.

I am afraid for this student, and the students’ advocates.

I have sat on my hands, and kept all of my comments on this matter free of profanity, accusatory tones, and name calling. You can believe I have been roasted by a slew of people that have no appreciation for opinions outside their own. That is my way of showing love to that set.

For the people that I both like and love (all six of you): I will never accept you treating someone in a sub-standard way for any reason (this includes yourself AND others). Let people earn their spot on your “list”- don’t assume they belong there. Speak up for the meek when appropriate. Say your piece once, and move on. If they won’t hear you, go use your breath on something you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

15. Workin’ it

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I got a job.

I didn’t go looking, either. It just found me.

I can bring the kiddo, and there is another kiddo for her to play with.

Yes, you read that correctly: Someone leaves me with their child! The trust required for this to happen is immense, and has brought me a lot of joy, and a feeling of validation.

The energy was nervous the night before my first day. Nervous about being on time, being an effective and enriching caregiver, and continuing to be a good parent to my own child. We had a spectacular disaster of a commute the first two days (surprise snow storm, and a collision with an orange construction barrel on a huge expressway) , but those were the only real hiccups. Things have gone very smoothly, and I am grateful for all of it.

Spending a lot of time with two children of a similar age has really opened my eyes, and increased my own awareness of individuality. They are very different, yet they always find a way to play together.  I have re-learned that assumptions are really dangerous.

*I have been writing this post since April 6th.  No kidding.  I am just now coming back to finish, nearly a month later!*

Now that some time has passed, it can be officially said that this job is pretty great. My manners in the morning have improved (I used to be extremely crabby and worthless before 8am), the children play and learn all day, and while there is fighting, it doesn’t take much to resolve it. For two only children, this situation could not be better.

The struggles I have pertain mostly to my house. It is not as clean as I would like it to be, and the laundry pile gets pretty serious these days. When I feel stressed about that, I remind myself that we are all happy, and healthy. The corners may be a little crumb-y, and the laundry can be mountain-y, but we are just fine. I am fairly certain that I am the only one in the house who really cares about that stuff anyway.

Time to shift gears:

Can I give a shout out to the parents of multiples for a moment? I have two children of similar age in my care, full time. They could not be more different if they tried. Yet, I hear “OMG are they TWINS?” all the time! That question doesn’t bother me, because twins don’t have to be identical, but what really makes me nuts is the eye rolls, advice, and rude question! A stranger went out of his way to explain to me that an “in line” stroller is a much better choice than the side by side we were using, and he should know, because he went through that with his grandchildren. I wanted to ask him if he wanted to sell me a nice in line stroller for $20, or tell him that I was doing the best I could, but I just smiled, and nodded. People have asked who the evil twin is, and why they have different color hair. They say “OMG you have your hands full!” when they are quietly sitting in the stroller, or playing nicely at the park. PARENTS OF MULTIPLES: YOU HAVE MY SUPPORT. People are ridiculous.

Now, for the next five weeks, we have birthdays to celebrate! I would love to make false promises of more writing, and regular days of the week to publish it, but I won’t.

I’ll see ya when I see ya.