Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Diary of a Middle Aged Mom Day 3

March 2, 2017

Rocketman:  Long before Hub’s alarm went off, I had been tossing and turning. This was the day I had been dreading since this time last year. I have officially left my life-changing thirties behind and have somehow found myself middle-aged. I drifted back to sleep around 6:30- the time that Hubs and Rocketman usually walk out the door for school. I was awakened by the light screaming on and was about to fret to Hubs, but he stopped me. Someone wanted to give me something.

Sweet Rocketman with his fair freckled face and teeth growing in in every direction snuggled up to me and handed me a handmade card with a picture of a birthday cake on the front along with”Ha..Day Mom.” On the inside it said, “Have a marvlis meltpot birday Love Ben.” And there was a picture of me with my arms outstretched and him running to me smiling. There were also four quarters that I believe he earned from the tooth fairy inside.

But it was not over yet! He gave me a little bubble wrapped parcel in which I found a little toy sea horse- my favorite sea animal. It was a little worse for wear, as he had found it one Saturday morning in the parking lot of the hockey rink, but he had kept it secret once he identified it as the perfect gift for Mom. And it was.

Rocketman knew that I was having trouble with the idea of turning forty and continuously stated throughout the day: “I really want this to be a good day for you. I really want to make this the best birthday ever.” Sweet, compassionate, sincere Rocketman.

Bubba: I picked up Bubba from Pre-K and we drove to a home close by that had a sweet little lending library in the form of a bookshelf with doors (to protect from the elements) shaped like a house. An “Awesome House of Books” with a take a book- leave a book policy. I had followed the owner of the house on Facebook and she had posted a few times about a (stuffed) puppy that was so lonely and waiting for someone to come and take him home and be his reading buddy. Sure enough, the soft little Valentine puppy was still there. I told Bubba that he could pick just one book, and that we needed to be sure to bring one of the books we no longer used by the next time. I took one for Rocketman and one for myself. Bubba selected a Good Night Elmo book, which made me secretly rejoice because I feel like: as long as he still likes Elmo, he is still such a little boy. I pointed out the little stuffed friend and told Bubba he was lonely and needed a reading buddy. Bubba stared, bringing his arms straight down in front of him, fists clenched and opened his eyes wide. “Can I take him?!” After he promised to read to him and share him with his brother, Bubba went skipping to the car, snuggly little dog in hand, squeezing him up against his chest and declaring, “I love him, Mama, I love him so much! He’s just so cute! I’m going to read to him right now.” Nine hours later, between Bubba and Rocketman, Little Dog (named “Bubby” by Bubba and “Spot” by Rocketman…we decided that it’s fine for him to have two names) has been read to at least a dozen times. It’s the little things that make a big impression.

Zen moment: That was tough today. I tried so hard to stay present. I went for a facial this morning with a gift card I had actually received on my last birthday from my sister. Although the esthetician may have been a robot, the facial itself was very calming and relaxing. My linens were spritzed with lavender and there was quiet New Age music playing in the background. In addition to the actual facial, the robot esthetician rubbed my arms and hands and neck and I tried so very hard to focus on just relaxing and enjoying the moment, because pampering like this comes around once a year at best. But my mind would not SHUT UP. Instead, it traveled to every chore at home that needed to be done, the schedule for the week, next year’s school schedule for the kids, my rapidly aging dog…everywhere but the beautiful relaxing room with the scented sheets and music. Zen moments are not easy to come by for a person with anxiety. But I plan to continue my search day by day.

Something that made me laugh/smile: Snickers. He’s our new little kitten that I almost didn’t get- if Hubs had had the final say. We were in a terrible car accident in September and dealing with all the repercussions of that (including Rocketman not sleeping for four months), my sweet old cat, Pete, died in December. Snickers was a 6 month old shelter rescued kitten that I brought home in a wrapped gift box on December 23. And after spending the last 3 years with elderly pets, he has brought some fresh, new excitement to the home. And aside from the fact that he attacks my feet at 4 am no fail each morning, he is the sweetest and funniest little guy. But, my word, is he persistent. While I attempted to dismantle a rotisserie chicken, Snickers would hop up onto the table to help himself. I would scoop him up, say, “No!” and put him on the floor. At which point he would jump right up like a ping-pong ball and attempt to eat the chicken. This act repeated at least a half dozen times before I finally had enough sense to lock him in the kitchen as long as the chicken was out. Persistent little buggar made me laugh and laugh.

An act of kindness: Hub’s amazing decorating. I walked into the family room this morning to balloons flying everywhere, a happy birthday sign and table cloth, and two cards on the table. Hubs’ card was sweet and warm and just what I needed to hear as I realize that, yes, I am going through a bit of a rough patch. But at least I have him by my side cheering me on.

A moment to be thankful for: My three boys overjoyed to sing Happy Birthday to me, surrounded by balloons and carrying ice cream cake.

Today I’m feeling: Relief. Exhaustion. Satisfaction. Love.

Diary of a Middle Aged Mom Day 2

February 28, 2017

Rocketman:  Cried and cried in my arms before walking out the door to go to school. But by the end of the day said, “You were right! I was so busy and having so much fun that I forgot all about missing you.” A good thing, I guess. But wiping his tears off my pajamas is never a good way to begin a day.

Bubba: Bubba’s Pre-K teacher, who mentioned about a month ago that he may not actually be ready for kindergarten when it is time, commented at how mature he seems after the break. How verbal and excited to learn new things. How instead of thinking it’s playtime all the time at school, he is coming up to her while she works with kids and asking when it’s his turn to write. He’s interested in letters coming together to make words. Using great words in sentences….just becoming such a mature little boy. AND, she mentioned that he held up the line as the kids walked into the building from outdoors. While his peers began to protest, he held up his hand and stated: Just a minute. I wanted to thank PJ for holding the door for me. Thank you PJ! He was the only child who said thank you and his teacher was blown away by his good manners. Proud Mommy Moment.

Zen moment: Sitting in the car at pickup for Rocketman and choosing to stop poking at my phone and instead enjoy the conversation with the polite, maturing little boy in the back seat. Who talked about whether or not there was “pulp” in his pink lemonade. He wouldn’t mind if there was because while Ben can’t stand it, he actually loves pulp. Who talked about maybe not liking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that much because in the movie Raphael says the S word…which is “stupid.” And we talk about how that word isn’t as much a bad word as a mean one. Sweet quiet little banter that I will miss next year if and when he does go to kindergarten.

Something that made me laugh/smile: Witnessing a fourth grade student who has moped through the year with his hood on and head down glaring at people, smiling for the first time. A radiant smile. When later I rejoiced in his smile to him, he told me that he knows he used to be cranky and miserable, but he woke up one day and made the decision to be happy, because it’s just a better way to be. And then he found that once he shared his happiness with others, others were actually kinder to him than they ever had been before. And so happy is his new way to be.

An act of kindness: When that same fourth grader, who has spent the year asking me to leave when I came in to work with him, thanked me for all the help I have given him in writing this year.

A moment to be thankful for: The beautiful faces of my students from: Pakistan, India, Puerto Rico, Portugal, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the Netherlands all wishing me an early happy birthday.

Today I’m feeling: Anxious. Depressed. Overwhelmed. Pensive.

Diary of a Middle Aged Mom

February 27, 2017

I’m turning forty in two days and I’m not handling it well. I am sad. Depressed. Wondering where my thirties went. Upset that my child bearing years are over. Not ready to shift from being the mom of a grade schooler and preschooler to the mom of two grade schoolers. I’m not ready. At the same time, I’m watching friends having new babies and rejoicing in their warm cuddly skin and fuzzy soft hair until they cry. And then I gladly hand them back to their rightful owner. Because I loved having babies and miss The Baby Years like crazy. But there is something to be said for a child that can feed, bathe and dress himself. And besides, I’m not sure how well I could manage attending to the needs of my 2 boys, elderly dog and the household I try very hard to run if there was a widdle crying baby demanding all of my time. But I’m still sad that my child bearing years are over.


I have made a resolution of sorts. I am going to work very hard on a daily basis to……write! I started this blog 8 years ago when I first became a rookie mom and have written in it on and off since then. But NOT ENOUGH. And it’s ok. I’ve been documenting our adventures through pictures and facebook posts and things like that. But starting today….two days before my birthday….I would like to do more.

So I’ve created an outline. One that I can refer to at the end of a long day and jot ideas quickly down on. Some days I may write more. Some days I may just jot words. But the idea is to highlight this truly delightful life that I have been blessed with day by day.

It’s unnerving for a person who possesses so much anxiety to reach middle age. Because it stirs all of the fears and worries that lay dormant in the back of the brain and reminds me of mortality. And I worry more. For my very elderly dog who the vet keeps reminding me is “well beyond her life expectancy.” For my aging parents. For my boys as they grow up and become awakened and exposed to aspects of life that we were able to shelter them from when they were little.

A couple of years ago at a New Years Eve party, guests were encouraged to write their New Year’s resolution on a wall-mural. I took a big fat marker and wrote: Be Present. And really tried to live that that year. The year when my big one was 5 and my little one was 2 and I was home with them a lot and we had adventures every day. And also sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out and got grand headaches. Nevertheless, I worked everyday to do just that: Be Present.

So here I am. Forty and ready to do it again. Daily writing template resolution. Focusing on the good. Because, really, there is so much good to report in my life. My parents are both living and loving life. My family lives close by and I can rely on them for anything. I have a beautiful little niece. I am happily married. I have two healthy and wonderful boys. My dog has lived beyond her life expectancy. I have a house that I like and a bed that is comfortable and keeps me warm at night. I have food on the table. I love my job….and I really could go on and on. But I won’t. I will focus only on today. And complete DAY 1 of my daily template. So here it is:

Rocketman:  The amazing Rocketman attended his friend Anthony’s birthday party today. It was a rockclimbing/pool party at the YMCA. The Amazing Rocketman strapped on his rock climbing gear and climbed all the way to the very TOP of the rockwall as the parents and kids cheered like crazy and the bell was rung to celebrate. My little developmentally delayed boy has come so far.

Bubba: My tantrum throwing, anger management needing preschooler acted like such a chivalrous little man today. While Hubs and Rocketman were at the birthday party, I worked hard to get things done around the house on the last day before going back to school after February Vacation. Bubba worked right alongside me to clean up every inch of the playroom, organizing each toy into their labeled bin. When he was ready for
“inspecktion,” My overdramatic rejoicing was met with his tiny-toothed grin stretching ear to ear as he stood as high as he could reach with pride. He’s working hard to be such a little big boy.

Zen moment: Sadie is struggling with arthritis and having trouble getting up. She lays on the floor barking at me, but I don’t know exactly what she is asking. But, though it is crisp, it is a beautiful sunny day and the vet recommended getting The Big Girl up and moving to keep her joints going. While I have to bribe her to get up with a pepperoni, she does indeed get up and off we walk. Bubba rides his little blue balance bike like a champ and Sadie leads the way, much further than I expect. She slowly hobbles through the neighborhood, stopping at any remaining patch of snow she can find. We reach the dead end, where I take off her leash and let her wander through the muddy leaves and into remnants of snow leftover from a plow two weeks ago. She climbs the small mountain and snuffles through the dirty snow. Bubba marches up a mound of dirt to find a long lost “crystal rock.” Although he can’t find it, he doesn’t throw a fit…as he would have 6 months ago, but says, “I know! I’ll just look for another crystal rock!” He finds a “baby” one 2 minutes later and proudly places in the pocket of his jacket after my suggestion to do so. By now, Sadie is laying in the snow, her snout digging through to find the fresh stuff underneath the dirty top layer. She rolls onto her back and smiles at me for the first time in a long time. Bubba picks up a stick and plants it in the snow next to Sadie, claiming that it is a flag. Sadie rolls around a little bit more, disrupting the “flag.” Bubba almost gets mad, but instead says, “Aww, Sadie loves my flag too.” After a good roll, Sadie gets herself up with the support of the snow underneath her and wanders over to me. I click on her leash and Bubba boards his bike. And slowly we begin our journey home.

Something that made me laugh/smile: Sadie in the snow.

An act of kindness: I was frustrated. Joe was cranky. Ben was off and anxious about going back to school tomorrow. I was anxious and cranky too, but trying not to show it. Bubba walks over to me as I try to fit the finicky bottom sheet around the corner of me bed and simply states: I love you Mommy.

A moment to be thankful for: Sadie walking two blocks by choice.

Today I’m feeling: Sad. Tired. Depressed. Anxious.




What Do We tell the Children?

January 23, 2017

November 9, 2016, 4am.

I wake up having to go to the bathroom. My head is hazy. I feel anxious, but I don’t know why. I wake a bit more. I remember falling asleep around 12 midnight after watching in disbelief as Chuck Todd’s electoral map of the U.S. grew redder and redder. I take a deep breath, lean over the side of my bed, and look at my phone. And the image I see is burned into my brain forever: “Donald Trump has won the U.S. election.” With a circular picture of a smug orange face smiling back at me. I am overcome with more anxiety.

I walk to the bathroom, now wide awake. I stand quietly for a moment, listening to the rare quietude in my home. For once, everyone is asleep. And they don’t know. And as long as they don’t know, then perhaps it isn’t true?

Back in bed I’m wide awake. I tune into Facebook where I find others who are awake like me trying to grapple with the news. I reach out, trying to grasp at some sort of reality. “Are you serious? Am I suppose to go back to sleep now?” Several of my blurry eyed friends like my status immediately.

A friend has posted an article from the Huffington Post on her page. “What Do We Tell the Children?” I read it voraciously. I repost it on my page. “This is what I’ve been trying to figure out for the last 8 hours…what do we tell the children?”

I put my phone down and look over at the coinhabitants of my bed. My husband of 12 years, and my sweet sensitive 7 year old little boy who has been struggling with such severe anxiety that he cannot get through a night without climbing into our bed for “protection” despite countless efforts on all of our parts to remedy the situation. He doesn’t realize that there is only so much protection I can offer. And now less than ever.

What do we tell the children? My husband stirs. It has to happen. I need to shatter the peaceful quietude with a dose of reality. I can no longer shoulder this alone. For the first time I say the words aloud. “Trump won.”

What do we tell the children? Because in my house there is a 1:1 ratio of adults to children, we spilt forces in the morning and my husband is in charge of getting the sweet sensitive 7 year old to the bus stop. Early. Will he share the news? He decides, no, mornings are hard enough. Give him some time to live in the ignorant bliss we experienced just minutes prior. We can talk about it later. I know there will be plenty of talk at school.

The haze in my brain of early morning does not lift throughout the day, despite multiple cups of coffee. In that haze I drive my 4 year old to preschool. What do we tell the children? I go with my husband’s tact and tell him nothing. I forget to change the radio station away from NPR. He asks. “Did Donald Frump win?” Yes, he won. “Yay! I ruv Donald Frump!” Ok… that was easy.

I muddle through my haze into the preschool and kiss my preschooler goodbye. I walk back to my car and sigh a big sigh. And turn NPR back on. I need to hear it. I need to grasp this reality. I feel tired, depleted, hopeless. I cry.

Back home I go into a cleaning frenzy, clearing out the kids’ playroom. Organizing toys, eliminating clutter. I think about the “back school” I attended at physical therapy last week teaching me the correct way to bend to take care of my healing back after a bad car accident. It dawns on me: Physical Therapy! Don’t I have an appointment today?! I grab my google calendar. Sure enough. 10:30 appointment. It’s 10:20. I jump in the car and fly across town.

I’m still cloudy. Still confused. I walk into the now so familiar physical therapy building expecting something different. Something darker, more foreboding. But everything is the same. The same office manager smiling at me. The same kind physical therapist asking me about my weekend. And for a little while I forget what the reality is beyond their cheery door.

Back home I continue my cleaning frenzy and then leave to pick up my preschooler. What do we tell the children? He tells me that the kids were talking about Donald Frump at school. He’s the new president! Well, I say, not until January.

At home he watches Paw Patrol as I attempt to sew patches onto  my older child’s new cub scout uniform. My phone rings. I check the number but don’t recognize it. I ignore the call. Let them leave a message. And back to trying to sew.

Time goes by and I get curious about the missed call. I pick up the phone and check my messages. It’s the YMCA telling me that my older son has, for some reason, been dropped off to them by the bus and wondering if I am going to pick him up.

I PANIC. I look at the clock. It’s 3:50. The bus drops him off at 4:20….four days a week. But on Wednesdays he has a half day. And has for the past two years. And gets out of school at 1:30. And, again, it’s 3:50. What do we tell the children, indeed?

I’ve finally shaken the fog from my brain. In borderline hysteria I shout at my younger child. I abandoned his brother! Put your shoes on quickly!! I jump in the car and, again, fly across town, cursing myself as I do. How could I have done this? What is wrong with me? The results of this election have left me in such a state that my greatest responsibility was shirked.

I pull into the parking lot and breathe a sigh of great relief when I see the familiar puffy jacket and blonde hair bee bopping around the playground with dozens of other children. I walk the walk of shame toward the young African American man in charge of the group. Though I’ve never met him, he guesses who I am. I thank him for calling me and tell him that only every single Wednesday for the past two years has been a half day, yet somehow today I forgot. He is laid back  and forgiving and says not to worry, many parents had the same problem, that having the previous day off had thrown everyone and that my son was fine! I think him profusely and mutter that the election results didn’t help anything. He gives me a non-committal half smile and sends my abandoned child my way. What do we tell the children?

This is the moment I’ve been dreading all day. This conversation. The last brick in the wall of reality that I had been trying to come to terms with all day. And now, on top of it, I need to explain why the person that is supposed to care for and protect him simply forgot to pick him up for the last 3 hours.

Sweet, sensitive and forgiving he tells me it was no big deal. He figured I’d gotten confused because of the previous day off and it was like getting a third recess, playing outside on a different playground with all those kids. But, he hated to tell me. He has some bad news. “Mommy. Donald Trump won.” HE told ME. And the wall of reality collapsed on my head.

I ask how he’d found out. He says all of the kids at school were talking about it and everyone was upset…except Owen. (For some reason Owen voted for Trump.) I apologize for not telling him myself and explain that I had found out very early while he was still sleeping and wanted to let him sleep peacefully. Again, he is quick to forgive. I ask whether they had discussed the election at school. He tells me that the kids talked a lot about it, but the teachers didn’t say much. They just told the kids, upon coming in, that many kids might be feeling many things because of recent events and gave everyone a piece of paper to write or draw their feelings upon. He, my sweet sensitive 7 year old drew a picture of Donald Trump walking into the White House surrounded by two guards. Next to the White House was a picture of himself with tears pouring from his eyes.

What do we tell the children?

So that was it. The chunk of my day on November 9, 2016. Four days ago. And I still don’t know what to say. In three days everything has changed. The country is divided. Blue friends have invited me to join “Pantsuit Nation” where I read daily about personal accounts of workplace sexual harassment being ignored and the empowerment of its members feeling brave enough to “go high when they go low” and doing things such as paying for the meal of the family laughing at their Hillary bumper sticker in the drive thru and walking a woman being verbally abused on the sidewalk away from the abuser, instead of looking away. There is a picture trending on the internet of a swastika painted onto a Little League dugout adorned with the words, “Make America White Again.” There is story after story of middle school students chanting, “Build a Wall” to their Latin schoolmates or not allowing African American students to pass through the human wall made in the hallway of their school. There is a personal account from a white woman about her Muslim friend from New York who, on more than one occasion has been confronted by groups of white men who have yelled racial slurs at her and then grabbed her hijab and held a lighter to it, threatening to burn her in it. Red friends are shouting about cry-baby liberals and posting memes saying, “Donald Trump, making Christmas great again” surrounding a picture of Ralphie from A Christmas Story opening his Red Rider Air Rifle with glee.

And, what do we tell the children. My own children are small white Christian males. And, sadly, because of that they may face less discrimination or incrimination. But what about my other children? The children who are my livelihood? The 5- 10 year olds that I teach every week? The ones whose parents come from Portugal and India? From Egypt and Columbia? From Vietnam and the Netherlands? And what do I tell my children whose parents are from Saudi Arabia and Morocco? My sweet little girl who told her classmate that if she won the class raffle, she would give the prize to her friend who was having a bad day. And the adorable boy who asks me each day how my day has been and who does everything possible to help his classmates and teachers before anyone else. The one that came out of this classroom the other day in tears while the class held a mock election telling me that he didn’t want Trump to win because he, his mother, father, and two brothers wouldn’t be able to live in their home anymore and would have to leave the country. Even though his mother had grown up in France and dad Morocco and this had been their home for the past 10 years.

What do I tell the children? And why do I feel like I’m alone in this concern? Like I’m some weirdo that cares for my fellow man? Why are some of my “friends” calling me a “pussy” because I do care? And how on Earth can we look toward a positive future for our children when half of the country seems so empowered to engage in race wars, religious warfare and sexual harassment because they’ve been given the green light to do so? How will we explain this decision to our children when they are no longer children and want to know how this happened? What do we tell the children?




What’s Disney got on that Pile of Leaves

November 11, 2014

I grew up in the 80s and 90s. The economy was good. And we were spoiled.

By “we,” I mean me, my sister, my cousins, my neighbors, friends, schoolmates…. Looking back, it seemed that white middle class kids of the 80s had little wants. We had records and walkmans and pogoballs. We had purple and pink Huffys and LA Gear high tops. We had little plastic charm bracelets. At Christmas, the present opening went on for hours. Nintendos. Game Boys.

My mother loved to travel. My dad was dragged along. They were both teachers, so we all had summers off and every summer we would travel somewhere. Deep into the North Maine Woods to camp. Rented beach houses. A road trip to the Sesame Place amusement park.

My parents were not rich by any means. But, the economy was good, they lived modestly, and they both worked, so we lived a pretty nice life.

The first time we went to a Disney Park, I was nine and my sister was four. It was the first time I’d ever been on a plane and it was, indeed, the trip of a lifetime. But I didn’t, at the time, understand why my parents would have waited until I was almost a decade old to embrace that experience. Many of my friends and classmates had already been a couple of times by the time I went. What took our family so long?

Flash forward to 2014. The economy is trying to pull itself out of the rubble of the Great Recession. Families are stressed and Mommy Wars are front and center. Most middle class families need a dual income in order to more or less scrape by. Nevertheless, the whispered conversation on the sidelines of soccer games, Frozen birthday parties and Moms’ Nights Out is… DISNEY: who’s going, where are they staying and what parks are they doing when they get there? Cruise? Resort? Time Share??? It seems the dream of every child of the 80s is to provide their own children with the trip of a lifetime: to DISNEY.

Why wouldn’t they? Disney is the place where dreams come true! It’s a happy, magical place that transports you to childhood, despite your age. Really. It’s awesome.

But I haven’t had that Disney conversation yet. At times I’ve been tempted. When Rocketman was 2 and I was pregnant with Bubba a family friend invited us to Florida and we briefly considered for one moment going and squeezing in a Disney trip, but I was quickly talked down by my colleagues who had recently gone and couldn’t imagine the experience pregnant and with a toddler.

And, really, that’s the main reason why I’m in no rush. Rocketman is 5, but Bubba is only 2. And, frankly, we brought them to a small nearby theme park a couple of weeks ago that is geared for young children and while Rocketman was in awe of each and every ride and feature, Bubba cry/whined the entire. Time. We. Were. There. For no apparent reason…

So, no, I am not willing to spend money I don’t actually have to listen to THAT again.

But, really, what I think I am holding out for is this:

To my kids, 5 and 2, childhood is magical. With Rocketman in the lead, they embrace every seemingly mundane event with enthusiasm, awe and wonder. Throwing rocks in the water. ( “Look Mom! i found a stone! Can we bring it back to the brook and throw it in???”) Seeing a rainbow appear after a storm. (“Mom, someday can we try to find the end of the rainbow? I think there is supposed to be gold there.”) Storm drains. (“Can we stop and look in the drain?! Look! There’s water!!!) These are the things that greatly amuse my children. And I, in turn, am greatly amused.

Halloween was a biggie. The biggest it has ever been, hands down. So big, that the day Hubs got a new car (for the first time in TWELVE years), Rocketman’s announcement to his pre-K teacher the next day was, “Guess what we got yesterday?? My Halloween costume!!! Oh, and Daddy got a new car, too.” We decorated everything that could be decorated, visited every pumpkin patch in the area, and went trick or treating countless times for countless events. And Rocketman (and in turn Bubba) was more excited about every single piece of it than I’ve ever seen him before. And that is saying A LOT!

So, I was a bit concerned when November 1st rolled around and all the “spooky stuff” needed to be taken down. Resilient Rocketman didn’t blink an eye. He woke up, ran to my room and announced, “Mom! Do you know what today is?? It’s the day after Halloween! That means the leaves have fallen off the trees! And THAT means Dad is going to rake them all up into a HUGE pile and let us JUMP IN THEM!!!!”

So, this weekend, Rockman’s dreams came true. One huge leaf pile, two excited boys and hours upon hours of hooting, hollering, jumping, rolling, and diving. They had more fun than I have seen them have with the giant blow up waterslide we station in the backyard in the summer, the jumpy houses at friends’ birthday parties and the damn amusement park that Bubba screamed through.

I love that they are still embracing all of those “little things” that adults are too jaded to embrace. Kids become jaded too, at some point. Maybe they will too. There is no more “stop and smell the flowers” anymore. Despite the economy, despite the lessons that might have been learned, it’s still, “bigger is better” and “more is more” and let me post it on every form of social media so that you can want one too. And I know that, eventually, they will not be immune.

But in the meantime, I treasure these moments. “Mommy, it has always been my dream to go underneath a leaf pile. And now my dream has finally come true.”

That dream cost us a $10 rake and some very minor man power.

But, if we were to jump in with the Disney thing right now, would the leaf pile still hold such value? Dining with Mickey might make the backyard picnic my kids cheered about today seem a little lame. Dancing with Cinderella may outshine dancing to the Wiggles DVD and ending up in peels of laughter. Dropping a rock into a storm drain may not seem like so much fun once they’ve ridden in a log down a mountain of water.

I look forward to the day when my kids are old enough to appreciate all that Disney has to offer (and also the day where I’m not working half time and can afford all that), but I cherish the fact that my kids are, today at 5 and 2, leading the life that every adult dreams of. One where every day is filled with magic and wonder and adventures await each season in your own backyard.

Stickers and Candy

November 5, 2014

For the second time in two months, we traveled as a family to the local polling place to vote the state election.

Rocketman and Bubba tailed me as I hurried to my small cubicle, trying to read through the candidates and watch the kids at the same time. Rocketman began his inquiry as I reread question 2 for the fourth time:

R: What’s the candy?

Me: What?

R: Who’s the candy for?

Me: It’s for anyone that wants it.

R: Can I have some?

Me: I don’t know. Go ask the nice lady and maybe she’ll let you pick one.

R: I’m too shy to go alone. Can you go with me?

Me: No. I’m busy…

Bubba: I wan candy too!

Me: Well, Rocketman, go over there and ask and bring your brother with you.

Both boys retreated as I continued to exercise my civic duty and peek at them simultaneously. Rocketman tried to work up the nerve to approach the table as Bubba (the “shy” one ) marched right up to the middle aged volunteer.

B: Cannndeee?

Woman: What’s that?

B: Um, Er, Candeee?

Woman: Oh, you want a candy? Well, I’m not sure. Your mother would have to say that it is all right.

Rocketman: She says it’s ok! She’s right over there. She said it’s fine.

Woman: Well, ok then boys. Here you go.

This was blogworthy because:

1) Bubba isn’t so shy when the stakes are high enough now is he?

and 2) What phenomenal partners in crime these two goobers make.

Love these little things.

Sage advice from Mom

January 15, 2014

One of the greatest gifts I have received as a mom is to have my own mom travel this journey alongside me. My mother-in-law passed before Hubs and I were even engaged and there is a hole in our lives where she should have been. My best friend’s mom is alive and well and completely estranged from her daughters and grandchildren. But my mom has been there from the beginning. She babysits my children two days a week while I work and has for the past four years. She buys important items for the boys like same-color-socks so that their mother (me) doesn’t have such a hard time when it comes to matching. And she always has the best, most down to earth, honest perspectives of motherhood. And that may be what I value the most.

I love being a mother. I have embraced the gift of more time with my kids since I have opted to work part-time this year. I love going on playdates and to music classes and playgroups. I love cuddling up in the middle of the day and reading books to Bubba before a nap and then watching Calliou with Rocketman. These are moments that are fleeting. Ones that I will not get back.

And everyone tells me so: Enjoy them while they are young! It goes by so fast! Remember these moments. In a minute they will be packing for college.

These comments breed panic within me. I have a grumpy moment or feel overwhelmed, and these voices will ring in my ear as I picture a teenaged Rocketman rolling his eyes at me while I lament the beautiful little boy that once believed that all guns shoot only water.

And then I have a conversation with my mom. And that grounds me.

Today is Monday. In every way. It was a difficult morning. It was a challenge getting both kids and myself ready and out the door. We finally got into the car at 10:45 to go to an OT screening and speech class for Rocketman. I had waited all morning to eat a cardboard-tasting Atkins bar, but had not had time, as my focus was on getting the boys well fed, dressed, and out the door. I rejoiced, now, that I had time during this seven minute drive to put something on my stomach and elevate my blood sugar. I had not quite gotten it to my mouth when Bubba spotted it and started to whine. Then scream. You see, it does not matter how well fed this child may be. If a person is eating something that he is not, he feels the need to also eat that something. Immediately. And if he doesn’t get it, he screams and screams.

And so, with half of an Atkins bar hanging out of my mouth, and one hand on the steering wheel, I manuvered my other hand through the diaper bag and then thrusted it into the backseat awkwardly to reveal a handful of animal crackers. While the serving method wasn’t ideal, I felt pride in the fact that I had been able to present anything at all. And then Rocketman said, “I don’t want animal crackers. Don’t you have a juicebox I could have?”

We arrived at our destination. I dragged both kids into the school, signed in, dropped R off and walked back out with Bubba. We drove to the McDonald’s drive thru, and then to a picnic area close by. Here Bubba and I enjoyed a 10 minute winter picnic before we had to jump back in the car again to go pick up Rocketman. Again, I dragged Bubba into the school.

As we sat waiting for Rocketman to complete his class, Bubba immediately discovered a large rubber exercise ball that had been left in the hallway. We spent about ten minutes pushing the oversized ball back and forth to each other in a calm, quiet manner until Rocketman came out. At which point all hell broke loose.

As I attempted to speak with his speech teacher, Rocketman and Bubba reunited and their combined energy caused a grand explosion in the form of the two of them doing belly flops onto the exercise ball and laughing uproariously. I immediately stopped my “conversation” with the speech teacher and grabbed Bubba with the theory: minimize the stimuli and calmness will ensue. This lasted for about one minute as he shimmied in my arms until he was on the floor again, racing for the ball. In desperation, I attempted to gather the necessary information from the speech teacher while wildness clearly escalated behind me.

And then an unknown teacher yelled, “Ladies! THEY should NOT be playing on that BALL!” as she barreled down the hallway. Apparently, she had witnessed Bubba coming uncomfortably close to putting his head through a wall as he flew over and off the ball. I separated the boys again, made an uncomfortable comment about wall/ball injuries being the story of my life and slunk out of the school embarrassed.

Rocketman strolled behind me as I made a beeline toward my car. He stopped to smell a garden full of dead flowers. I kept going, furious about his behavior. I turned around at the end of the sidewalk as he strolled toward me. I yelled at him to hurry up and he started running toward me as a teacher arrived at the front door near him. He lost his footing and fell down on the sidewalk. The teacher glanced my way and made a disgusted face as she noted that I was much too far away to help my injured child, and also that I was not budging. She crouched down over him and asked if he needed help getting up and shot me another nasty look before she disappeared inside the building.

Once in the car, I expressed my displeasure about R’s behavior on the ball in the hallway. His only response was that he wanted to go to a restaurant. I told him that I had gotten him McDonald’s and that I had thought it would be nice to have a picnic in the backyard since it was such a beautiful day, but now I was unsure that he deserved it after his behavior in the school. We came to a decision that from now on, he would walk out of speech and sit down in a chair in the hallway until further notice. He apologized and we agreed to have a picnic.

I pulled into our driveway, unpacked the car, and set the lunch up on the picnic table. I waited until Rocketman was enjoying his nuggets and then went into the house to let the dog out and nuke my coffee. Rocketman showed up at the backdoor a minute later for no apparent reason. Before I had a moment to remind him to leave no food unattended with the dog around, he was screaming at the top of his lungs because the she had knocked his meal to the ground and was devouring his nuggets. Stuck behind him at the top of the stairs, I encouraged him to run at her and get her away from his lunch. He just stood there frozen and crying. By the time I had made my way around him, all that was left of the Happy Meal were apple slices.

This upset Rocketman immensely. He sobbed into my shirt as I tried to reassure him. We had spaghettios in the house. He could have some yummy chefboyrdee. He cried and cried stating that all he ever wanted today was to eat his Old McDonalds. I felt I had no choice. I dragged the naughty dog into the house, threw both kids in the car and drove back to Old McDonalds. Half way there I realized I’d forgotten my wallet. Back home, back to Old McD’s, and back home once again to set up my third picnic of apple slices and McNuggets and to get some sort of satisfaction out of watching Rocketman relish them.

By Bubba’s naptime, I had a migraine. I crawled into bed and pulled the covers over my head. And then my mom called.

I told her I had a migraine and she told me she’d let me go. And then I found myself going on and on about my terrible day. And this is what she said: No wonder you have a migraine.

She went on to say that as she travels with the boys and meets other grandmothers, she is often confronted with the idea that one needs to embrace every moment for it is all too fleeting and will soon be lost. And, while she knows it to be true: this time does go by fast. Little bodies grow big. Squeaky voices grow deep. Sometimes these moments are absolutely exhausting. Or monotonous. Or dirty. Frustrating. Worrisome. Because these precious little growing creatures demand so much. So much of the time. Your time, your patience, your body, your guidance.

And we take pictures of the cute, the sweet, the cuddly. But not the ugly, the ornery and the prickly. And so we forget those moments. And maybe that is a good thing. But maybe not. Because if we remember that moment- the one where we have a piercing migraine and are completely exhausted by midday because our kids are being brats and the dog ate their McDonalds- then maybe we can appreciate the future stages of childhood and adulthood even. Maybe we can look back at the photographs and embrace the cute, sweet and cuddly moments each snapshot holds and at the same time embrace the satisfaction that is received in each passing year as they become more independent.

And eventually, when the kids have established a career, married and have kids of their own, I could patiently listen to a young father banter about his hectic day with his children and, as my mom did today, shout out, “I love my quiet boring life!”