Category Archives: Motherhood

Buttons come and Buttons go

He didn’t notice I couldn’t play.

He didn’t see the effort it took to be there, with him, to be awake and present.

He simply said “I’m sorry you hurt” then went to his bed and brought over the little lap desk he uses for his computer.  He set it up on the bed, grabbed his backpack and favorite books and settled in, saying “Let’s do my homework mommy”.

We read first, because he likes to tackle the hard part first. He read Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons and we giggled. He made up a song for the chorus, and we sang it together. At the end he read, Buttons come and buttons go, but Pete just kept singing his song. Then he turned to me and said “Pete the cat is right mom.  Sometime stuff comes and sometimes it goes, but we should keep singing our song.”

After homework we put away the desk and backpack, pencils and books, and he got ready for bed.

He didn’t know how much of my day I spent feeling as though I was letting him down.  He doesn’t know how easily he showed me how not to.  His desire was to do his homework with me, and he built a way to do it, regardless of what limitations I had.

At bedtime he held my hand in his and I sat with him while he shifted from side to side, his poor little head still uncomfortable from his ear infection.  So I took an ultra soft pillow, laid his head on it in my arms and held him until he fell asleep. I held him while he settled in, began to breathe deeply, and drifted off.  His hand never let go of mine.

Buttons come and buttons go but my little guy just keeps singing his song.

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Now I am invisible.

My family went to Yellowstone for Christmas two years ago.  My son, then four, went with me to get long underwear.  It can fall well below zero at Yellowstone in the winter and though we had down coats and solid shoes, I wanted long underwear for my little ones.

When we arrived at the store the only pair they had in his size were bright pink.  I turned to him.

Look at this happy color! Won’t these be nice?

I half expected there to be a problem or some scoffing comment about girl colors.  He had never been really particular about colors before, but like all children, he could be particular when it was the most inconvenient for you.  However, this time he was thrilled.

I love pink!! I can’t wait to wear these! He clutched the package to his chest and ran toward the register. Bemused, I followed.

That night he wanted to wear them. I told him he had to wait until we got to Yellowstone.  He kept peeking into the luggage to stroke the bright pink long johns.

We arrived in Jackson, WY and found our way to a hotel.  When we got to the room the very first question out of his mouth was Can I wear them yet?

Yes.  Giving in I unpacked them and handed them to a young man who was literally bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement.  He ran into the bathroom to change.

A few minutes later he came out covered neck to ankle in bright pink.

I am all over pink! Now I am invisible! You cannot see me!! He chortled mightily as he ran around being invisible, greatly enjoying the laughter his enjoyment caused the family.

Pink, apparently, is the color of invisibility and pink long johns are the equivalent to an invisibility cloak.  He wore the heck out of those things, thoroughly convinced that he was invisible each and every time.

An open letter to my daughter.

My beautiful amazing young woman.  You are perfect, just as you are.  You are brave, smart, loving, fun, spontaneous, beautiful, and kind.  I am proud of you.  I love you.

I am terrified for you.

You are turning into a woman.  You will soon have more and more freedom in your life, and while I know you are smart and thoughtful and will do your best to make good choices, I also know you are kind and generous, and may be mislead by the people in your life.

I know that the world holds opportunities and pitfalls, heroes and villians, teddy bears and monsters.

I can no longer protect you from life.  I cannot wrap you in my arms and make it go away with a kiss and a chocolate.  Now you begin to face the real world.  You will begin to see the harshness in addition to the beauty, the pain in addition to the joy.

Now the growing pains begin in earnest.

There is no way for me to stop you from embracing life and all the bruises that follow.  All I can do is promise you this:

I will speak openly and honestly with you about topics that embarrass us both so I may better fit you with appropriate weapons for your future battles.  I will not let discomfort prevent me from sharing with you the knowledge I gained from my own encounters.  I will hand down my armor in the clearest way possible.

I will keep the lines of communication open.  I will let you know that nothing you share with me will ever make me stop loving you, and I will reinforce the fact that there is nothing you can’t tell me.  Tell me anything, tell me everything.  I would rather know it all and be in a position to help you through it, than blindly fumble in the dark while you suffer.

I will not judge you.  I will worry about you.  I will work hard to make you understand the difference.  I will listen to your troubles and talk with you to help you make the decision that is best for who you are, not who I am.  If I get angry or sad about what you tell me, I will let you know the source of that anger or sorrow, and I will not let it get in the way of helping you. I will continue to love you and to listen.

The world is full of sharp and dangerous places.  I can’t stop you from wandering into them.  My parents couldn’t stop me.  All they could do was listen.  All anyone can do is provide you with a soft place to land when the sharpness cuts too deeply.

Let me be your soft landing place.  Let me be the place you run to heal.

I love you.

The last baby.

It’s a distinction he bears with pride.  It started when he told me he wanted a younger brother, so he could have a boy to play with.  My heart constricted in my chest and tears welled up in my eyes.

“I can’t have anymore babies my love, you are my last baby.”

“Your last baby? Why am I your last baby?” He asked, eyes widening as he tried to wrap his six year old mind around a very adult concept.

“Remember when mommy had the last surgery?”

“Yes. You couldn’t pick me up forever, and you cried.”

“Yes” I managed to whisper over the lump in my throat. “When I had that surgery, they took out the parts that let me have another baby. So that is why you are my last.”

He was silent as he absorbed this.  Maybe it was something in my tone of voice or the look on my face but he sat with my statement for a long time, treating it with more seriousness than I thought he could.

“That’s really sad mommy, that you can’t have another baby.” He threw his arm around my neck and snuggled into me, giving me a chance to breathe in the unique smell of his sweat and shampoo. “But I am a little glad I got to be your last  baby.” He kissed me on the cheek and snuggled in close, pulling me towards him with both of his little boy arms.

“I am glad too sweetheart” I murmured as I rested my chin upon his head and closed my eyes.

“And Mommy? Don’t worry, I will always be your baby.”

Type A Personality, meet motherhood.

I try very hard not to go overboard on the whole motherhood thing.  Most of the time I do an excellent job.  I let the children watch too much t.v., play too many video games, eat too much candy, send them off to do their own thing without playing with them all the time. I do my own stuff, yell at them, make them do chores for their allowance.  I don’t always make them bathe before it becomes perfectly clear they really need to.

There are a few areas where I have a tendency to take things too far.  Lunches would be one of those areas.

It started simply enough.  Back in the day when Marlena started school she hated crusts on her sandwich.  I hated cutting the crusts off.  I discovered large cookie cutters are fabulous for cutting bread slices uniformly.  So I began sending her to school with sandwiches shaped like the largest cookie cutter I had, a turtle.

Then things spiraled quickly downhill.  I began to get more cookie cutters.  Holiday themed, heart shaped, dinosaur shaped, you name it.  Then I had to cut the fruit with smaller matching shapes.  Then I turned into that crazy mom who sent her kids to school with incredibly detailed shaped lunches.

In order to regain my sanity I stopped sending lunches all together.  The kid got a school lunch account and that was that.  Until Oliver began going to school, this year.

He struggles with school and with mornings. He would much rather be doing his own independent little thing at home than being in a big noisy building with too many kids.  He needs a soft personal touch.  I started sending him to school with notes.  Just cute little love notes on plain paper.

Then when he had come home complaining of a particularly bad day of bullying and teasing I thought perhaps he would make it through the next day more easily if his lunch contained a note from his favorite video game character, Luigi.  So I printed a color picture of Luigi and stuck it in his lunch with a little blurb about being an amazing kid.

He loved it.

He loved it so much that he wanted another the next day, and the next, and the next.

Soon I was printing the notes on two sides of the paper using a template I designed on my mac in order to turn the notes into top folding cards.  I had coloring pages on the inside and a full color picture and message on the outside.  I began sending crayons tucked into his napkin.  I looked up coloring printables for Sonic, Mario, TMNT, and anything else he liked.  I began rotating the subject of the notes.

Tonight, I spent an hour creating a maze for Sonic the Hedgehog to go through.

Now I am officially that crazy mother who sends her kid to school with hand designed activity packets and crayons in his lunch.

Oh and best of all, he hates having crusts on his sandwiches too.

Morning has broken.

The alarm intrudes on my nightly peace and as I drift into consciousness the ever present pulsing in my brain increases in intensity until the only desire I have is to stay in bed. Forever.

Must sit up.

Standing and facing the morning has become the hardest part of my day.  For some as-of-yet-undiscovered reason my migraines are at their worst in the morning.  Once I get up and moving, they begin to ease a little, leaving some room for thought, emotion, and even a laugh or two.  I remind myself of this as my temples experience another stab from an invisible ice pick.

Must put feet on floor.

The sound of the birds chirping outside is just this side of unpleasant, the musical notes sharp enough to set off my phonophobia.  Breathe, drink water, find the ibuprofen next to the bed. I often wonder how long it will be before my liver is the one to protest.

Must stand and dress.

Okay. I’m up and dressed. Now it’s time to turn on the hideous and invasive light and wake up the children.  There will be whining. The whining will penetrate my skull and rattle around inside my head. Don’t snap, don’t yell, just breathe.

It’s time to wake up dearest.  It’s time to get on with our day.

The fuss and fretting associated with a school day morning distracts me from my throbby companion.  I find socks, make lunches, sign forgotten forms, and answer the repeated incredulous questions about having to go to school today.  I bundle them in the car, we leave.  The bank of dark clouds on the horizon bodes ill for saying goodbye to the headache today.  It seeks refuge from storms like these. Perhaps it is afraid of thunder.

At school there is hugging and snuggling and kisses goodbye.  There are reminders about handing in forms and well wishes for a lovely day.  As always they both hope I feel better soon.  As always, I tell them I am sure I will and I smile.

By the time I return home the ibuprofen will have eased the headache some, the movement and motion will have done more.  I have the chance to work, to chat with my parents and to live my life.  I will work out for several hours today, intermittently.  The only medication that seems to send the headache packing is my own exertion.  By the time I go to sleep tonight, my legs will ache from the amount of time I have spent on the exercise bike.

Tomorrow I will do it all again.