Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mama. Me? Wow . . .

I've been wound up in my thoughts. Seems the only way to break free is to unravel with words.

J is going to be 16 months in December. For nearly 16 months I've been a mom. Mother. Mommy. Mama. Ma. Me . . . crazy.

It isn't that it hasn't hit me. Like a Boppy filled with a ton of Legos . . . it hits me. Every day. I guess today was different, yet it was just like every other day.

Everyday I wake up and have this whole other person relying on me. I have to go and get him from his crib. I have to change his diaper . . . or else. I have to carry him down a flight of stairs.

I make his breakfast. I get him dressed. I brush his teeth, which you'd believe by his reaction is the removal of a limb with butter knife. I blow on his round little belly. I tickle his tiny feet (and even pull the lint out from between his toes). I wipe his nose and even dig a little if there's a horrid booger making it a little cumbersome to breath.

I save him from danger (which usually means saving him from himself) as he balances on three precariously stacked toys. I fish his Little People out of the vents (along with all sorts of things--apparently veggie cheese molds in a very odd way), reach for toys that are out of grasp while he pounds his hands and grunts for attention, not yet finding the words, "Mama, help."

I wipe away his tears when he cries and cradle him in my arms all the while whispering, "It's alright baby. Mama's right here."

I grab all sorts of off things from him, always wondering how he found them and why he finds them so fascinating--socks, twist ties, banana peel, gum wrapper, coffee filter (and yes, much of this will make its way to the vent if I'm not quick enough).

I watch as learns a little more every day. How the tentative steps of yesterday are now the confident strides of today. He's running. Jumping. "Talking" more and more each day. I love watching the little light go on in his head, the glimmer in his eyes with each new discovery, and the wide grin that spreads across his face when he realizes, "Wow. I did it! I don't know exactly what I did or how, but I know that it must be pretty cool since my mom has tears in her eyes and is clapping and jumping up and down like a dork!" Yeah. That look.

That brings me to today. What was so different? We did the same things. We played. We ate. We, or I, changed diapers. We got dressed.

Today it was just J and me. Daddy is off rolling balls down alleys. Just a few moments ago J was sitting at the table eagerly eating the rice and veggies I had set before him. We are practicing using a spoon. He was trying out all three of his spoons and clearly showed a preference for the deep spoon with the fat blue handle with raised dark blue stars.

As he slowly guided the spoon to his mouth, I got lost in watching the little grains of rice fall to the table.

What did I do before this? The question banged around in my head like pins after a strike (yeah, a bowling metaphor, and ode to J's daddy).

Seriously. What did I do? I came home from work. I threw my bag on the kitchen table. I ate a snack. Plopped in front of the TV, grabbing a stack of papers to grade.

T and I said our hellos like roomies still hungover from last Friday's party. During the work week he knew to stay clear. If I wasn't grading until the early hours of the morning I was planning. Overplanning, to be honest. Damn overachieving perfectionist with a slightly unhealthy dose of OCD. How could he stand her?

I couldn't.

I was wrapped up in my job as a teacher of other people's children. I carved out time to read, but only on rare occasions (like a holiday or three-day weekend). I chatted with family and friends. Hung out with my husband. Save for the occasional trips, parties and visits to MI to see family, we were pretty much homebodies. I watched movies, seldom TV shows. I tried to sleep.

To be honest. I squeezed my life in between the grading and planning. And it was a tight fit.

But. I was happy. Even if no matter what I did the grading, the planning, the teaching always loomed heavy on me. I lived my job. I thrived on it. It was my oxygen. I was always thinking of what papers I had to grade. What activities I had to plan. How would I get it all done? When would I get it all done?

In the end. I always DID get it all done. Yet, there were always sacrifices.

Always . . .

That life is over.

It has been for nearly 16 months.

I sing songs now. "Head, shoulders, knees and toes . . . " I color (read: try to prevent J from EATING crayons--it's a learning process). I change diapers while singing my Barry White version of Old MacDonald (anything to keep him from squirming). I make tiny little waffles in the morning and then sit with my son while we giggle all through breakfast at the tiny waffle squares. We dance to the "kidz only" music station, spinning around until we are both dizzy.

I don't grade advanced placement essays anymore. I watch a toddler carefully balance rice on his spoon.

I don't plan grammar or literature lessons anymore. Instead, I pull out the crayons, stack blocks and play hide 'n seek.

I talk to my husband, sharing stories of our son while we laugh at the craziness that is now our life. We stay up late at night, reading. Talking. And, just being together without the heavy burden of my job creating distance between us.

I guess it all hit me today. This new life. I think when this new baby enters your life that you still believe in the back of your mind that your old life will return. That it is merely filed away while you live someone else's existence.

Today I realized that this is my life. And, I'm pretty sure I'm better for it. I've slowed down. Way down. I cherish my son. My family. I totally dig the simple things in ways I never did before (Did you know that if you listen really carefully you can hear snow hit the ground?) . I don't freak out (and boy could I freak out!). I'm patient. I listen. I take time to think instead of rushing to speak (most of the time). I am empathetic to a fault. I'm still and dork who does her share of very lame things. And, my life is far from perfect.

But. I wouldn't have it any other way. Maybe one day I'll return to teaching with a whole new perspective. Maybe by then I'll just get IT.

Until then . . . Mama. Me? Wow.

I have to go now. J just walked by with the actual VENT COVER in his hands. Here we go . . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

PSF: Distractions

I haven't been around. This I know . . . a week since my last post. Has it already been that long? Yes. The date tells me this is true.

So, where have I been?

Not lounging. Not eating the proverbial bon bons (who does that, anyway?). Not even indulging in lackluster sitcoms with forced funnies. Nope.

Yes. I've been answering to my wee tow-headed dictator. Apparently, the more mobile a toddler becomes, the more bone-weary you become.

He's climbing. Jumping. Running. Putting things where they do not belong (only to have me searching feverishly for whatever is his new obsession: my keys, the telephone, my cellphone --which I found in the vent when I called it and heard the distinctive ring . . . the vent. Not the toilet. Score one for mom!).

Stuff found in vents year-to-date: socks, banana peel (what?), multitude of toys, a vent cover (from another vent), crackers, a Cheeto (OMG, how did that get there?!? I only feed my child healthy and nutritious foods made from the highest quality ingredients! You believe me, right?)

I thought all this activity would be good for something. Say, for earning a decent age score on the Wii we just purchased (because going on an actual date in the foreseeable future is . . .well, unforeseeable and we need some after 8 pm entertainment). I'm 83.


At least I have something to shoot for . . . like, 80.

Quite honestly, my mii having no arms or legs is disturbing.

It so happens that being 83 coincides with me wearing my elastic only-pair-that-will-fit-and-not-show-off-my-plumpy-parts-mom-jeans for three days in a row.(This in turn coincides with my increased consumption of chocolate biscotti, chocolate milk, and really tiny chocolate cheesecakes--I'm in training for the holidays.). The jeans are in the washer, don't worry. But, don't ask what I'm wearing now . . . this is a family-friendly blog.

Mom's ever-expanding waistline: 1 point
Mom's self-esteem: 0 points
Mom's solution: cut chocolate in smaller pieces

Yesterday my bumper had a little run in with an old Chevy being driven by a kid who was very busy dipping his fries in his ketchup. Yup. Dipping fries in ketchup.

Survivors: Two teenagers, a mom (wearing trusty mom-jeans) and blissfully unaware baby boy.
Casualties: old Chevy (totaled), my bumper, a few fries and two chicken sandwiches (RIP).
Him: No insurance.
Me: $1000 deductible

What this means for Christmas: Homemade Sock Puppets!

Alright. Enough distractions . . . I'm sure I have a mess that awaits clean up somewhere in this house. Chances are, it'll be something like this . . .

Mommy loves when J rearranges the office. He's so helpful . . . I'd better check the vents.

* * *

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Friday, November 14, 2008

PSF: In Awe . . .

I am in awe of my son.


He is brilliant. Of that I am certain.

Not because he can recite the alphabet or do complex mathematical equations.

Which he can't do . . . yet.

I didn’t say he was a genius or a prodigy.

He’s just brilliant.

He is not a slave to the ticking clock or the cycle of the sun and moon . . .

He simply lives each day to its fullest.

Leaves do not merely clutter the lawn and clog the gutters . . .

They are amazing creations of texture and color. In his hands they are an example of nature’s delicate balance of life and death.

Obstacles are not obstacles . . .

They are adventures waiting to happen. They are undiscovered places that invite exploration.

He has no idea what calories are . . .

He just embraces the blissful swirl of sweetness that wraps around his tongue.

To him, falling is not failure . . .

It is an opportunity to succeed. A step today, a mountain tomorrow.

With determined steps he sets out on the path set before him . . .

But he dares not ignore the opportunity on the roads less traveled.

Sadness and tears may be unavoidable . . .

But their visit only makes joy that much sweeter.

Only 15 months and you have taught me so much.
I'm in awe . . .

* * *

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No Ma'am!

Tousling my hair. Puckering my lips. Admiring my make up. Checking out how great my round little bottom looked in my Guess jeans.

Yeah, I had moments.

Guys would wink (they may have had something in their eyes, but go with me on this one, k?). Their hellos disguised suggestions of something more. Their eyes loosely hid lustful thoughts as their gaze traced the curves of my body.

I would smile, clearly pleased with myself (trust me, this was a rarity, but a rarity I embraced wholeheartedly).

How could I not?

A twenty-something hot chick.

Like I said. I had my moments.

And then there was yesterday.

A little mascara (I still remember how to wield a wand) and smidgen of lip gloss. A spritz or two through my very sensible mom do (I begged my stylist for a non-mom mom do . . . I guess that meant to give me a style that wavers between 80s talk show host and CSPAN economist). I slipped on my jeans (grateful for the extra elastic around the waste). Pulled on a body hugging long-sleeved top and sweater. Slipped on my comfy, yet very trendy, shoes. I packed J in the car and off we went. No former Guess-jeans hotty, but good enough.

We visited the hubs at a very hip and happening place.

The bowling alley.

As I followed my little adventurer through the maze of racks, chairs, tables and bowling bags, my eyes firmly fixed on his little legs, I nearly stumbled into a young boy.

"Sorry, ma'am," he said. I cringed as I laughed at our near collision. No worries. Though, that ma'am thing . . . whatever. He's barely a teen. His parents have taught him well.

J, my slightly bruised ego and I were off again.

My throat parched, I was in desperate need of some fluids. As I saw those golden arches, the one place with the perfect mix of Coke syrup and carbonation, I knew I had to stop.

As I pulled up to pay for my drink (YES, I said NO to "would you like anything else with that" I swear), the young man at window 1 replied, "Thank you, ma'am" as he handed me my change. Ugh. Really?

Young man at window 2 handed me my food and a "Have a good evening, ma'am." Seriously. Why can't they just leave off the last part? I mean, "thank you" and "have a good evening," is plenty. My mood deflating, I knew it was desperate that I go for some therapy.

So, J and I headed to Kohl's where I proceeded to scour the clearance racks. I headed to the checkout with my finds.

I saw a man at the first check-out. There was only one person in his line.

I saw an older woman at the next check-out. There were about four in her line.

What a dilemma.

I checked with my ego.

It whimpered.

I headed to the line being manned by one of my own kind. I wasn't taking any chances.

She greeted J with a barrage of compliments as we moved up to the counter.

I grinned. I sighed. Much, much better.

I looked into her knowing eyes.

She gets it, I thought to myself.

I swiped my debit card, signed my name and grabbed my bag . . .

She bid farewell to J and to me she said in her sweet sing-song voice, "Have a good night, ma'am."

Kill. Me. Now.

*I clearly know I live in denial of the fact that I am a ma'am. But I like denial. It is warm, pretty and they serve really, really good food and free Bellinis. Oh, and all the mirrors make me look like a supermodel. And that's pretty cool . . .

Friday, November 7, 2008

Little Corners

His little whimpers nudged me from my sleep. Although in another room, I swear I could hear his soft breaths as they hit his sheets.

Silence. He found sleep . . .

My meager attempts at finding comfort were fruitless. Those little cries were unlike his usual pleas. There was pain in those cries. The soft edges of the sing-song requests for mommy were not to be found.

As I slowly made my way to his room, avoiding the grunts and moans of the floorboards, I peered in. He was still. Peaceful. Silent.

But I was not. Dark and crushing images suddenly flooded my mind. Images I dare not share with you for fear that giving them voice will make them real.

Teething. Overtired. A nightmare. Just not himself. Perfectly normal, acceptable reasons why J is not my happy, smiley, good-natured boy. Makes perfect sense.

But yet my mind won't stop.

He awoke this morning in a fit of tears. His face did not light up upon seeing me enter his room. The tears only came at a faster pace. I reached for him and he grabbed at me. Pulling my face to his, he wrapped his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist. His little fingers grasping at the collar of my shirt as his rigid body shook in my arms.

He was afraid.

I was afraid.

He calmed after a moment and his head slumped against my shoulder. We lay on the sofa in the living room. His body relaxed against mine. I moved my hands up and down his back as I felt the comforting rhythm of his heart beat against my chest.

As I watched the soft fluffs of his hair move with each exhale of my measured breaths, my eyes filled with tears. And I'm not sure I know why.

J was scared. His fear surged like bullets through my body, piercing my heart and ripping through my brain.

I don't scare easily. My past has taught me to expect the worst. To embrace it. I have little doubt that my brief encounter with fear will be fleeting. But I am never ill-prepared for its return.

Joy is fickle, indiscriminate as to where it stakes its claim. When joy claims a little corner of my life, I watch it with a raised eyebrow and knowing smirk on my face, waiting for it to take off and laugh as it leaves me . . . alone. Joy and fear. Fear and joy. Constant conflict. Regular bedfellows.



But, I refuse to take anything or anyone for granted. I refuse to not say I love you . . . I care about you . . . I celebrate this moment . . . simple moments . . . peaceful moments . . . the not-so-perfect moments. Why? Because you are here. With me.

Because in an instant, life can change. Joy can rush in leaving you breathless and a moment later rush out leaving you with nothing.

J is sleeping. I hear his sighs, his deep breaths, the little hum of peaceful slumber.

For now, peace.

Joy. Stuck in that little corner. Not going anywhere.

I won't let it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Only time will tell . . .

Heads will bow. Tears will fall. Shouts will be heard.

Speeches will be made. Hearts will swell. Hearts will break.

But eventually . . .

The lights will dim.

The music will fade.

Everyone will go home.

They will go about their lives. Wondering. Wishing. Praying. Hoping.

Will lessons be learned? Will the venom of the past be replaced by the elixir of hope?

Will promises made become inspirational reality or will they become squandered fiction?

Only time will tell . . .

Regardless of where your loyalties lie, November 4, 2008 is a day that will be forever etched in America's history.

"We will get there," he says.

I hope we will. I pray we will.

Only time will tell . . .

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