Just a friendly reminder

Today we were at MyGym (which I seriously need to post at because Patrick and I are mega obsessed) and towards the end a mom had a full on breakdown. She was on the phone and heard something terrible and just collapsed in tears and was inconsolable for the 10 minutes it took for us to leave. And you know what everyone (other than the fabulous MyGym workers who grabbed her daughter and changed her diaper and were awesome) did? They shuttled their kids away and left as quickly as they could.

 

And I get it. I really do. I mean you don’t want to ask because that’s way too nosey and she doesn’t even know you so what the hell are you going to be able? And you don’t want your kid seeing that. Patrick got super agitated and wanted to leave (until he wanted his stamp because he’s two and didn’t realize how inappropriate his need for a stamp was at that moment). I get it. We’re in a world where we can’t trust anyone with our children, where we’re tapped leaving our kids in the car for a minute. Where we’re arrested for letting our kids walk to the park. We’re taught every person around could potentially harm us and our children. So let’s just do the right thing and pretend she’s not crying. Really, it’s the humane thing to do. It’s clearly a private moment so we’re giving her that moment. It’s polite and we’ve got places to go and children to attend to. Maybe if we didn’t have our kid, but….

 

But I couldn’t – because I’ve been there. Not that dramatically in public before I suppose. But I was alone and had nobody and was really sad. I would collapse into tears many days a week just like her. Although it was in the privacy of my own home, that pain must have shown to some degree. And maybe she wasn’t like me. Maybe she’s not alone. Maybe she’s gotten an incredible close-by support system. But maybe not.

When I was alone two amazing moms reached out to me and welcomed me into their group and helped me in practical and emotional ways. They saw my wall-flowered depression and reached out and it made the whole Chincoteague chapter a lot more bearable.

 

So I put my distraught kid in the car with a book, rolled down the windows, got a piece of paper and pen and wrote down my name, son’s name, and phone number. I ran in for one minute (the windows were down I could see him – chill out) and told her that I had been alone and she sounded like she may need some support practical or otherwise and here was my information. She didn’t know me so if she didn’t want to, I totally understood but I would be happy to help with childcare or any other way. She was still weeping but thanked me.
I hope she calls or texts. I really do. Because being a mom is so hard and the when other things like death or crime or illness or job loss or anything railroad us we need help in a special way. We’re all human but when you’re a mom you need help being strong in front of your kid – something I’ve failed at many times. But when those moms welcomed me into their arms I was able to mother a little bit better.

 

But it’s beyond being a mom. We’re all human. We’re all in pain to some degree and we’ve all felt intense loss and pain. And while it’s easier to avoid the awkward situation and “give them their privacy” the truth is reaching out can’t hurt. If you’re rejected, then that’s totally fine. They’re in the same place, you’re in the same place. But you never know how much help somebody needs and we’ve all needed help before. So reach out everyone. Please. Because you never know if you can help.

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Reasoning with a toddler

People always laugh at me when I say that Patrick is really reasonable or when they see trying to explain things to him logically. The fact of the matter, however, is that I have solved a lot of disagreements by explaining to him why he can’t do something or why I need him to do something. I’ll ask him if he understands and he’ll answer honestly either way. It’s like my favorite things about him. I mean you explain to a toddler that they can’t pet the giraffe because they are wild animals and don’t like to be pet and your toddler thinks about it and then stops whining – that’s a winner.

 

However, I overheard a much more toddler-like conversation between Patrick and Peter. Let’s set the scene. Peter’s just gotten home and goes to the other room to change Patrick’s diaper.

 

Me calling from the other room: Patrick took a nap for three hours today! I was shocked since he hasn’t napped at all for the past week.

Daddy: You napped three hours!

Patrick: No. 2.

Daddy: Mommy said it was 3.

Patrick. No 2 minutes.

Daddy: You only napped two minutes?

Patrick: No. 18 minutes.

Daddy: 18?

Patrick NO! NO NUMBERS. LETTERS!

Daddy: ….

 

 

Toddlers, man. Sometimes they just don’t make sense.

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After the Storm

The storm has finally passed. It’s been storming here (and there and wherever we’ve been) for the past few years. I’ve thought the storm has passed before, but this time I think it really has. I think we’re finally settled somewhere for a few years, we have friends and resources, my health is mostly under control, we have a reasonable toddler who of course has his moments but is relatively easy, and Peter’s job is going well. So here we are, and the shock of the gravity of the storm has mostly passed at this point and now I’m looking around.

 

And I see debris. Debris everywhere. The houses are destroyed, the trees are ripped from their roots, there’s random pieces of random things all over the fields and now that the shock of it all has passed, it’s time to start picking everything up and rebuild. And as depressing as it is to spend days and weeks working only to realize you’ve only piled together a tiny portion of the debris, it’s all we can do. Piece by piece.

 

I think that sometimes it would be easy for me to just pretend that everthing is okay. Now that the wind isn’t howling and the hail isn’t beating against the windows and I can’t hear the sound of the trees being uprooted over my screaming I can just close my eyes and pretend that nothing has happened the past three years. That we’re normal and undamaged and everything worked out. But, I had to open my eyes because it’s not all about me. I have to rebuild and create a safe place for my family.

 

I spend most of the time just being so freaking grateful that the storm is gone. I salvage for useable goods from the wreckage of the house just grateful that we’re all alive and have anything left to salvage. I thank God that my ears have finally stopped ringing and that so far the gashes on my body haven’t gotten infected and that somehow my son seems to have gotten through it all unscathed.

 

But sometimes it’s overwhelming. Because even though it’s done we’ve got so much to do before we can get back to how it was before. So much. And that comes in a lot of forms. It comes by us settling into a new financial reality. It comes through reaching out to family and friends. It comes though marriage counseling which we started yesterday. It comes through a program called retrouvaille that we’ve been doing the past month. It comes through personal growth and uncomfortableness. It comes through learning how to fight clean. It comes through being the best us when our child is around. It comes through personal healing methods that hurts the other. It comes in all these forms that feel like we’re never ever going to be able to clear all the damage, let alone rebuild someday. So many things have been broken and lost.

 

And I haven’t wanted to face it. I’ve been closing my eyes and envisioning whatever the hell situation I wanted at the time. Pretending I didn’t care about the damage or that I didn’t care about the person who caused it or that I didn’t have anything to do with it myself.

But now it’s time. Now it’s time to start picking up the pieces and trying to figure out how we’re going to rebuild and what it’s going to look like. And it’s shake-in-my-boots scary and intimidating, but it’s time. It’s time to do the work no matter how exhausted I am and how many excuses I have.

 

So we are. We really are putting in the work. And holy crap does that take a lot of maturity! I mean, I now I’m an adult and I’ve gone through a lot of situations good and bad that have matured me but sometimes I just want to scream at the world and remind it that I’m only 23. But the world doesn’t care so I have to be super mature and stop my impulses to tear down or sit in the middle of the pile and just cry, refusing to get up. I have to put on my adult game-face on and make this better. So I am and I’m learning a lot about myself and what I want in the process.

And now I get to write about that. I get to share what his 23 year-old has learned in 4 very long years of marriage and parenting and just being. But here’s the thing I’ve learned in this post – it doesn’t fucking matter if it’s your fault. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t start the storm or you didn’t ask for the storm or (if you’re better than me) you didn’t get swept up in the storm and become part of it. It doesn’t fucking matter. You’ve gotta just let go of the pain and resentment of the storm. Keep the knowledge. Learn from it. Grow from it. And you don’t necessarily have to rebuild how it used to be. But stop letting it own you. Stop letting it define you. Stop getting caught up in the blame. Because it’s over. Figuring out how to grow from it is one thing, but figuring out who did a worse job in the storm doesn’t rebuild any faster and at the end of the day, when you’re an adult, that’s what you gotta do.

 

So that’s what I’m gonna do. Wish me luck.

 

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Throwing a Little Love to Modern Parenting

You know what is wildly popular among mommy blogs these days? Hating how over involved we’ve become in ours kids lives. If I’ve read one article I’ve read fifty about how we keep track of them too much, do way too much for their birthday parties, try to reason with a kid instead of spanking them, and overall hating of this helicopter, pinterest, million-studies-of-how-to-raise-a-good-kid-and-theories age that we’re now parenting in. They call it parenting hell. But here it is, I’m coming out of the closet.

I love it.

I don’t know – maybe it’s a personality problem – but I eat up every single article telling me how to help my 1 year-old sleep, how to help my 2 year-old be more compassionate, and cool crafts I can do with him. I subscribe to multiple parenting magazines and read cover to cover on the latest issues parents are facing them and what professionals are saying about it. I love living in this age of parenting because I’ve got a million amazing ideas on my fingertips, along with some pretty shitty ones, and I get to make my own conclusions from them.

Because here’s the thing that is both frustrating and wonderful – you will most likely find multiple articles opposing each other on the same issue. Take sleep training for instance. When at over 1 year-old Patrick was still waking up 5 times a night, I gorged myself in research that both insisted ferberizing your kid is the equivalent of torture and takes away a foundation of trust and that we’re the only sadistic culture that does this along with articles on how crucial ferbizing is healthy couple relationships and happier children. I read articles about the dangers of cosleeping along with ones that directly proved those things wrong. And while you may find that overwhelming and terrible, I felt almost on a high. I was able to take multiple points of views that would allow to me to not judge other mothers for doing it the only way I was taught, along with deciding what worked best for me in my life and feel good about that choice. For something that is so much about feeling things out (for me, so far, parenting has been the equivalent of walking through a maze I’ve never seen in pitch black and fumbling around like a fool) having resources and being able to look up “what to do when your 2 year old starts biting” keeps me that much saner in the insane thing that is parenting.

And I would die without having pinterst and a bunch of other websites and magazine telling me how the hell to fill up these endless pre-school days. I need you to tell me how to make volcanos and car ramps and how to use masking tape to make roads around the apartment. I need that. I am, like, the least creative person in the world. People sometimes tell me I am such an awesome and creative mom, but they don’t understand that everything we do to fill up our days, all those crafts and experiments, they come from a lot of research and a big part of the reason I do them is for my own sanity. Of course part of me does these things to teach my little one about the world and work on his small motor skills, but a big part of me just needs something to keep my mind going. Like when we made non-Newtonian liquid. I think I vaguely remember making this two decades ago, but this fun activity was a result of a nice “activities to do with a two year old” google search.

 

And I don’t know where all the haters comes from having awesome birthdays. I love looking online and find great ideas for Mickey Mouse birthday parties complete with awesome themed snacks, party favors, and activities. I live for that stuff! Does it turn out as well as I see online? Hell no! But my kids going to look back on that party and think I was a pretty kick ass mom. All without a creative bone in my body. Win! Is it a lot of energy for one hour? Totally. But that’s kind of what I want to do. That’s kind of the mom I want to be and I don’t get why I should be hated for that. I’m a totally lazeball a lot of the time too, but its nice to know that I have these options for the big events. Like these boogers. Never in a million years could I think these things up, but I make them every Thanksgiving!

And maybe there was something to parents not coming to every event ever for their kids and not having their kids in so many activities and just doing the “because I said so thing” and maybe its just because I am such a young parent and I’m product of my generation, but I have 100% bought into all these things. I love having the ability to have Patrick try a bunch of different things while he was young and be more likely to be exposed to whatever his passion is. And I love being able to be part of them and go to every event he’s part of. I totally plan on being involved because I truly believe that a lot of times that how you find out where their problems and I don’t think that means I won’t be able to walk the line and become overbearing and not teach him to fight his own battles. At the same time, people with other philosophies will probably feel I fight his battles too much, but that’s the mom I’m going to be. I’m going to try to let him do it, but I am also going to be a very present mother that helps my kid not go past his limits for his emotional health. I’m going to relish in these years and I really hope someday Patrick will look back and be glad that I was at a distance where he knew he I could catch him if I need to, but far enough that he got to grow up into his own person.

I don’t know. All I’m saying is that with all the hate parenting in this day in age is getting, I’de like to throw it a little love.

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I had to Leave a Mall Playground

Patrick and I didn’t have any plans today. That’s pretty much ever day other than Thursday because we’re still working on establishing a routine and finding things to do.

Anyway, so it was kind of chilly and we were both bored so I was like “Hey! Let’s go check out the indoor play area at the mall. Mall play areas suck nine times out of ten, but it’s something to do, right?”

 

So we left. Stopped to return something at Target and ended up leaving with three more things because – you know, Target – and then we were off to the mall. We went the play area, and I sat and he asked me to walk around with him because there were a bunch of bigger boys and that made him nervous. He got bored mildly quickly and we walked around, grabbed lunch, got some m and m’s at the candy store, you know small mall-y things to do. Then he asked to go back to the play area and I just saw three girls there, his size or smaller. I knew he would feel more at ease and we went back in.

 

So I don’t know, I had this rare surge of energy and I was that mom. I was crawling through the tunnels and pushing him out/ being pushed out. I was helping him climb up the slides and I was pretending to be a burrowing owl under a structure. This very adorable girl – let’s call her Mindy – started playing with us too. You know what’s super awkward about that? Nothing having to do with the two of you, but you kind of have to feel out how the other parent feels about you playing with their kid. For instance, I was helping Mindy up the slide when she asked the same way I had just helped my son up the slide – pushing him up the by the butt (you know those mall structures that are incredibly slippery and that’s really the only way to help). The moment after I did that I had a panic attack that I had just gotten too close someone’s kid on accident. Anyway, I felt out the mom and she seemed pretty cool with how I was playing with her so I settled down.

 

Okay, so then Sophie and Patrick started following me and saying “I got you.” So I started to hide behind things and next thing you know, we’re all running around. Then, the other two girls in the area started playing. One of these girls had a super protective mom as I had already noticed because every time she slipped or tried to climb up anything the mom would freak out. But, really I was still focused on my core two kids we were playing who were chasing me around and catching me. Next thing I know, over protective mom’s girl falls. If it had been Patrick, I wouldn’t have even stopped. It was barely a trip and she didn’t even cry she got right back up.

 

But over-protective mom called over to me (not even getting up) and told me that we were not allowed to run. Maybe I missed the sign, but the one I saw said no food or drink or shoes but nothing about running. Isn’t the whole point for these areas to let kids let out their energy after their parents drag them around shopping? Anyway this mom, just sitting down on her phone freaking out every time her kid did anything, had already given me death stares for helping Patrick climb up a one foot slide. So I stopped running and on cue three pairs of hopeful eyes told me to get up and run. Needless to say, they were very unpleased to be told I was not allowed to run and Patrick had a bit of a melt down as he was overjoyed by how much energy I had to play with him.

 

We subsequently had to leave and I of course made a super annoyed facebook status about the whole thing because I was a little bit embarrassed and wondered if I was in the wrong. As I drove home, however, I was thinking about it and kind of felt like I wasn’t in the wrong. We weren’t doing anything dangerous, the structures were all foam so even if someone had slipped they couldn’t have gotten that hurt and all four kids were choosing to play with me because their moms were tired (and there’s nothing wrong that! I’ve totally been that mom sitting in the sidelines. It’s impossible to always be on. I’m usually the mom sitting on the sideline). You know – these structures (except ours was like doctor themed and had a random thermometer and bandaids and was a super weird theme)

 

 

 

So I don’t know, what do you guys think? Was I just playing with my kid or did a cross a line by getting other kids to run around and possible knock into each other? Was I misplacing my balance of safety and fun too close to the fun side? Is this where our generation is headed? Are Patrick’s kids going to be wearing helmets and being told never to run (okay that last one was a little over dramatic)?

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Home

I’ve taken a step back from blogging for a bit for a few reasons. A big one was that I didn’t have the means (I was without internet off and on for the last few months) and we’ve been busy. Without airing too much dirty laundry the past few months have been in crisis in many ways and I’ll feel my way around entering back into this blog and decide how much of that to share and how much to keep to myself.

 

I think before it was easy to hide behind the blog because I pretty much didn’t know anyone who lived within half an hour. I think that physical distance gave me a false sense of isolation in this blog and it was easier to talk about things because it felt like my own world I could turn to to talk things out without hurting other people or having to be responsible for the feelings I expressed. However, after the last two blog posts I deleted because some people tried to talk me out of my feelings, I realized that any feelings I express, I have to be ready to talk about and at the time, I was not ready to talk about those feelings. I’m still not. Maybe I will be when I get to look back on it, but for now, I’m going to have to hold this blog a little further away from me so I don’t hurt people with what I’m feeling.

 

So we’ll start with the basics. I moved back home! Yay! When I first moved to Indiana never in a million years did I think I would be so freaking thrilled to move back home, but here I am. In a lot of ways, things are a lot better. I’m better resourced and I have family near by. I have opportunities to work on my marriage and Patrick is being raised around more diverse people, ideas, and educational backgrounds. It’s incredibly exciting. We’ve settled into a two-bedroom apartments fifteen minutes from what I consider home.

 

I think living in a rural area, it was easy to blame everything on the place. And in many ways, things are so much better. With outside happiness from my family, experience academia,  going back to my uniquely open and loving church, having access to amazing places like the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and having amazing friends again I feel more … stable. I feel like I’ve got ground underneath my feet again and after so long it’s nice to know that I can thrive again. There’s glimpses of the old me all over and it feels comforting.

 

As we were getting to move back, a move clouded in a lot of pain, I made sure to remind myself that moving back home wasn’t going to fix everything. That some things were still going to have to be worked on a there would be wounds that would hopefully scar over but I wasn’t sure would heal. I repeated it to myself over and over again.

 

This isn’t a quick fix. Not everything is going to be perfect again. Things are different. It’s still going to take work.

 

But I don’t know, some part of me must not have really gotten it because I’m still constantly confused by the fact that some key aspects of my life aren’t any better at all and I don’t know how to fix them.

 

Ugh this is so cryptic and weird, so how about I just move on the positive stuff happening in my life I can talk about freely.

 

I am so happy to be around so many people that love me and Patrick is thriving. Thriving! He’s adjusting like a champ, better here than ever. I would like to take full credit for that and making him travel so much (over 20 plane rides in the first two years of his life). I’m just kidding. That kid is happy to be wherever he is loved and boy do I love him for that. He’s the constant reminder I need that in the end the only thing you need are people who love you around. Another thing I repeat out loud but struggle to internalize.

 

But here the thing – the really big thing – that got better. Since Peter and I first met, in 2009, we have moved every single year. Seriously. Granted, some of that was obvious because during college you move in and out of dorms and apartment situations, but still. It’s been 6 years of keep things in boxes, not doing much to the walls other than a few pictures at one of the places, and just never feeling home. Never feeling settled. I felt like we have spent the last 6 years with one foot out of the door. I’ve looked out the window and never felt like I was home, I was just passing through. I always felt out of place, like a tourist wearing a fanny pack and sticking out as the sucker in the crowd.

 

I don’t feel that anymore at all. I feel good here. When I look around, I’m looking around at my home. My apartment feels like home. My parents house that I did not grow up in feels like home. My church feels like home. Campus feels like home. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for so long and I’m finally letting it all out. And you know what? There’s a hell of a lot better chance of me fixing those other pesky aspects of my life if there’s oxygen flowing through me.

 

Mine has been a surprisingly painful journey these past few years. I keep it in context and thank god for my blessings in love and people, but the fact I’ve experienced unplanned pregnancy, post partum depression, regular ‘ole depression, feeling incredibly unhappy with where I lived, severe chronic illness, massive marriage troubles, and no unemployment in the family and I’m only 23, well it really blows me away. But I am lucky. I mean, there are so many things worse and I have been blessed with great people in my life who love me in a different ways. But, as you probably know, I just can’t be one of those people that stays positive because other things are worse or because God has a plan or whatever because I’m on this path and there are a lot of outcomes that I don’t think anyone would plan on as possibilities and I can’t look positively to.

 

But at least I’m on a path again. I’ve got air in my lungs and ground beneath my feet and I wake up wanting to face the day instead of hiding from it and I know as long as I have my kid and my family it’s all going to be okay. Dude, I really hope this is the hardest few years of my life. Sometimes I think I’m over dramatic but I keep being reassured that no this has been a surprisingly difficult few years and I shouldn’t judge life based on these past few years.

So now instead of a blog about tearing down and falling apart, I hope that this will be a blog about slow rebuilding. I’ll fall a few times I’m sure, I’ll be as honest as I can be without having to discuss things I’m not ready to discuss. I will try my best to love fully and I will fail at it many times. But I will be a person on a path instead of wandering aimlessly through darkness and I will be the mother I’ve always wanted to be. I have been. I am proud of the mother I have been the past month. Turns out there is patience inside me once I defeated the worst bouts of unhappiness.  As I rebuild, this is what I wake up on the wall (yes we put things on the wall and finally made this a home)

 

 

And I’m going to be totally honest with you. I got this and it inspired me today, but yesterday I literally stuck my middle finger at it. Very juvenile for sure, but strangely satisfying. So please don’t think I’m on this glorious redemption path. I am incredibly un-heroic and unnecessarily hopeless at times. But it’s there and it means I’m home and it means that maybe I’ll be better than before.

 

Who knows? It could happen.

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Happy Birthday to my Dad

It’s my dad’s birthday. And all I want to do for his birthday is write some perfect, heartfelt post to explain to him how much I love him without it turning into an apology, which I know isn’t what he wants. But the thing that keeps running through my head over and over again is that I hope that he can forgive me for all the times I didn’t want to come out and visit him, instead staying with my friends. I didn’t get it. I was young and self-centered and didn’t have enough people in life explaining to me how little time my dad got with me. That the summer was the only time he got to be more than a week blip in my life. And somehow I just didn’t get it because I was in love with some boy who never should have been more important than him or I was part of some school program that I need time to settle back in. I hope he knows that now, I would trade 100 days with any friends for 1 day with him. I hope he knows how much I love him and wish I had the ability to realize that divorce made me be a reluctant loser not wanting to spend time with my dad a million times more complicated and painful and not okay.

 

I know its super weird starting a post with such a crazy apology, but no matter how many times I tried, that’s all that would come up. Now on to the good stuff.

 

My dad is an amazing guy. I think he may be the only person in the world that really gets me because, well, he kind of is me. The good and bad things you see shine through me naturally, most of those are my dad. From my emotional nature to my deep love of people to my gastrointestinal issues, that’s all my dad. Even my lovely husband kind of looks at me like I’m some weird alien with green gunk spewing out of my mouth instead of the emotional, depressive words. But my dad, I don’t know if it’s his psychology training or the fact that he too emotionally responds to situations similar to me, but he gets it and accepts it and doesn’t let me get stuck in it.

 

My dad taught me a lot of things, but the thing I will always be most thankful to my dad is that he single-handedly taught me how to be happy with who I was.

 

Up until a few years ago, man was there a ton of self loathing. I was obsessed with my weight, sure that I was stupid, and just couldn’t deal with my life. I would nit-pick at all my problems and I struggled to figure out who I was because I rejected a lot of things that make me who I am. I hated how emotional I was. I hated how angry I could get. And my dad wouldn’t entertain that. It used to feel like it was because he didn’t care, but now I get that he wasn’t letting me fixate on the things that I thought were wrong with me.  My dad wasn’t interested in how much I despised myself. He just loved me.

 

Now, he’s teaching me how to be happy as an imperfect parent. At the beginning I was so obsessed with never letting him eat anything sweet and making sure he was involved in everything and not screwing up. I thought it was horrifying when he said we all screw up our kids somehow, all we can do is our best. Now, it’s the only thing that keeps me sane. It’s not something encouraging me to slack, but it allows me to be human and give my kid some fruit snacks with out berating myself for being a terrible mother. He’s taught me to enjoy moderation and honestly, I love how I parent even if I do give my kid juice. I’m happy and proud of myself.

 

When I went to college, after years of not calling him nearly enough or visiting him enough, I finally got to figure out who I was, and man does that person love her daddy. I would call him between class all the time. Since Patrick has been born, he’s been the person I most consistently communicate with other than my husband, Skyping with him a bunch of times during the week. And those half hours a day, those mean the world to me. They keep me sane and feeling happy. He listened everyday to the same depressing crap when I was sick every day and now he never gets sick of Patrick’s piece of art of the day.

 

I try to visit my dad as possible, but it’s still not enough. I hope and pray there is a day when I finally get to see my dad as much as I want and not in some weird segments of life that have a clear beginning and end.

 

I love you daddy! Happy birthday.

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Searching for Treasures

It’s been eyeopening to be a parent, as the slow realization has come to me that people are naturally something. They can be naturally happy, naturally bold, naturally excitable, naturally fearful. Of course, these things grow and mature on their own, but I think our big responsibility as parents is to keep the things naturally growing in an appropriate amount of sun and fertilize the shit (see what I did there?) out of the blossoms we want to grow but are struggling on their own. It makes for some weird crazy dance where we step forward and help our children be a little braver and bend backwards as we let our children settle into their own people.

 

I like to think I was relatively easy for my mother. Maybe she’ll read this and correct me. I mean sure, I totally went through the blasting-3-days-grace-crying-the-world-was-over-after-a-breakup phase, but I never was super rebellious, I was never ashamed for the world to know I adored my mother, and I think I was a pretty receptive kid to where my mom put fertilizer.

 

One place that needed the fertilizer (and often still does) was my ability to live in the moment. To stop and look around. I can’t say I remember my thoughts at 4, but since I can remember, the natural me lives for the future. I’m constantly planning. The good is only setup for the future and the bad is never going to end. In this, sometimes I forget to stop and soak in a moment. The only reason I don’t is because my mom taught me how to with little moments like our search for treasures.

 

I went to a preschool in Palo Alto amidst my parents divorce and my mother’s work on her dissertation and eventual PhD. Even after I went to school, I still went to the preschool everyday to drop off and pick up my little brother.

 

Everyday, from when I started going there to the last day my brother was there, we would collect treasures along the way. You know how for crafts, there’s those shiney, metallic confettis that come in a bunch of shapes and colors? Those were treasures. Being by a preschool, there was guaranteed to be at least one on the way home and it was always so special. And instead of me focusing on getting home, my mom taught me to look around closely and enjoy the journey. It wasn’t about what and who would or wouldn’t be wait there. It was about a mother and her children on a quest for treasure.

 

We would collect them and put them in a little fish dish where we kept the keys and coins. We never fretted or counted. They fluidly came into and out of our life. We never seemed to have too many. I’m not really sure what happened to them. But that was part of the lesson to. It wasn’t about having a bunch of treasures. It wasn’t about how many I would have in the future in what colors. It was just about loving it in that moment. That’s all. It wasn’t a contest to see who found how many. It was just … happy.

 

I don’t think I can really explain it well. But those treasures were a little slice of life that promised magic. And even now, two decades later, they’re still just that. To you it may be litter or something you don’t even notice, but to me it will always be a treasure.

 

I remember I found one once on a walk to a class at Purdue. I picked up and stashed it in my pocket. I later gave it to my then-boyfriend now-husband and tried to explain that I was giving him more than a little silver birthday-cake-shaped piece of confetti. I don’t think he fully understood that I felt like I was giving him a piece of simple happiness, but I did and that’s enough.

 

I hadn’t thought about it in a while until today, Patrick found one. A little yellow butterfly on the ground. He picked up and said yellow butterfly. I told him it was a treasure. He repeated the word happily. And in that moment I could feel the moment. The breeze circled around Pocahontas-style and world seemed a little brighter than I noticed before. That little yellow butterfly was a piece of magic my mom had passed to me, and now I could pass to Patrick. That little thing, once in a bag of a thousand for a buck, was a priceless treasure we had found. It was just me, Patrick, and a treasure for a little perfect moment.

 

 

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Patrick Finally “Turned” Two

I don’t want to write just another post summing up 2014 and talking about how blessed I am and what I hope for 2015. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not me and if you’ve read any of my past posts you know that 2014 was super hard and you don’t need to hear me bitch about it again. And as for 2015, I’m skeptically optimistic about it, but not with enough skepticism or optimism to make for a worthwhile post. So instead I’m just going to do a perfectly normal post not acknowledging the new year at all (except for the fact this whole first paragraph was dedicated to how I’m not going to talk about it which completely negates it, but I write in stream of consciousness so tough cookies).

 

So Patrick turned two last week. And I don’t mean that literally. His birthday is at the end of August so that happened four months ago. What I mean is we finally have a kid that has the good and bad traits associated with being in the lovingly named “terrible twos.” But honestly, I don’t think it’s all terrible. Some are annoying and even scary, but a lot of it is a relief, a sign of much-need maturity and independence. Even with all the difficult and funny anecdotes I am about to share, I must first impart the fact that I am 100% for this change. Patrick seemed to have stalled at 18 months and wasn’t at all maturing socially and emotionally like his peers. He seemed almost stunted. While everyone around him, older AND younger, at his various activities had some semblance of independence, Patrick needed me to constantly hold his hand and follow him. He wasn’t adventurous at all and was overly quiet. I was worried that this might be more a personality thing that had him heavy on fear and anxiety (something that I’ve strongly developed in adulthood, but didn’t have to deal with as a child and wasn’t sure how to help my own child with it). And while Peter and I would smile smugly when we saw other kids dart “knowing we would never have to deal with that” (scoff), I wanted him to feel more comfortable in his own skin without his mama or dada at arms-length more so than he ever displayed.

 

Back to the humorous anecdotes of my newfound 2 year old boy.

 

Every Wednesday, Patrick and I meet Peter for lunch at a restaurant close to Peter’s work on our way back from Mommy and Me at the museum. Now, Patrick had been darting for a couple days at this point and we were hyper aware of this change. With this, I had discussed with Patrick twice the difference between running away in Walmart, or in the grass, or at home. While this wasn’t fun for us when we were trying to shop or get his clothes on or get him back in the car, daddy and I understood this was part of the mischievous fun of being two and it was okay. What was never, ever okay was running in the street or a parking lot. EVER.

 

So, when Patrick darted in the parking lot after lunch, he only get a foot away before I grabbed him. I got in his level and in a low, serious voice repeated my lesson. I told him how he could get a lot of boo-boos if he did this and mama didn’t want him to get hurt.

 

He then slinked back to his dad, looked him in the eyes and informed him, “Mama Scary.” While Patrick has used the word scared before, the first thing that he ever described as scary is me. Fabulous.

 

I think if that had happened a year ago, I would have been second-guessing myself. Back then, I would get a lot more frustrated and angry at Patrick and sometimes my tone was more a reflection of myself than a the situation.

 

But honestly, I was perfectly calm. He hadn’t gotten more than a foot away so there wasn’t panic coursing through me. Also, since I’ve gotten healthier I’ve been able to mother pretty well. So it wasn’t anger, it was just me teaching him the importance of the situation. So, I kind of needed to be scary. I needed to get it through his head so that he won’t get hurt or worse. Honestly, he’s still darting in parking lots and we’re still trying to get the severity of the situation through his head, but we’re staying very close and aware so he’s not in danger.

 

The other day we were playing with some faux snow. It was wet and shiny and really awesome. He did well playing with it on the table with his bowls and measuring cups for a good half an hour, but then he started throwing it all over my house. After throwing it around (making for clear eye contact with me with an impish grin) and me  warning three times, it was taken away. Later that day, glitter ended up being spilled. I was doing the dishes and turned around to see that not only had he spilled it all over the place, but he had eaten some because they were “sprinkles.” I was hoping it would make for a fabulous poop at least, but it did not. As we all know, glitter is the herpes of the craft world so days and baths later I am still finding glitter around the house, in Patrick’s diaper, and in my hair. Between those two poorly coordinated crafts of the day, I had a very sparkly house.

 

 

Another darting problem. I lost him for the first time. Granted it was 5 seconds since I had seen his shadow but it still got my blood pumping. We were shopping at Walmart and when we were passing the clothes area he starting sprinting and weaving around the racks. I tried to follow him, but for some reason I didn’t ditch the cart which made navigating through the area much more difficult. Luckily a mother heard me calling “Patrick. Patrick Leon” over and over again and slowed him down by blocking him, but it was still quite scary.

 

He’s started making this super angry yell when he’s mad (both annoying and adorable) and has started hahahaing at himself a lot. His sense of humor is developing as he calls Uncle Paul Uncle Nate and thinks he’s the funniest thing in the world. We went to a trampoline park today and he was running all over the place without a care as to where we were – something that even 2 weeks ago would have been unfathomable.  He’s playing more imaginatively, tickles himself, counts by saying “Number one, number two, number three.” He’s become openly defiant (both aggravating, but also a good sign for his maturation and independence) and also way more cuddly, especially loving to give nose kisses. His speech is incredible. 5 word sentences all the time, great pronoun usage, knows all his colors. He’s thrown a tantrum because we wouldn’t let him put more butter on his apple (yes you read that correctly. There was already some).  This switch finally went off and I’m finally have the same struggles as every other parent of a two year old seems to be having.

 

And let me tell you, it feels great. This person who is now less an extension of me a more his own guy, he’s one  funny, smart, quick, awesome little dude.

 

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Staring

Recently I’ve taken to staring at Patrick. Sometimes my eyes get dry because I just don’t want to blink. It feels like the fog of my inferiority complex or fear or pain or depression or whatever it was that surrounded my love for Patrick has finally dissipated and I’m just now getting to the staring part that all of you got out of your system the first week of their lives. I’ve loved this boy fiercely for years now, but I’m just now entering the shock and awe stage of it all.

 

When Patrick was born, he was born into a lot of fear, confusion, anger, and sadness on my part. His dad, always my rock, proved to be his rock during these times, but my mourning of a loss possibilities hadn’t yet turned to sheer gratitude for the reality presented by this child. Postpartum depression hit me, both hormonally and because frankly I wasn’t ready. It seamlessly transitioned into depression due to isolation after the move and then fiercely increased when I got sick.

 

That year of being intensely sick, screaming in pain on the floor at least 5 days a week, well it broke me, truly. The beauty of life was completely masked by pain and after a long time of fighting, I stopped and just let myself break. Part of me wishes I hadn’t, that could be one of those people with impossible, non-ending strength, but when I think back to that time – not being able to leave the house, not being able to be a decent mother, and the blinding pain – well, I can’t really expect anything else from myself. I lasted a few months of trying to stay positive, but it wore.

 

And I’m still broken to be honest. But being mostly healthy for four months now has given me the time and strength to put together enough pieces that you can at least guess what the figure used to be – and hopefully will be again.

 

And now I stare at him in awe. I stare at him as he scoots around on his strider or little tikes car and I can’t shake the most intense happiness I’ve ever felt in my life. I stare at him as he watched Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and can feel the magic in his eyes sweep around me and leave me with tears in my eyes. I listen to him say m and ms by flicking his tongue to make some strange garbled word and I’ve never though anything was so pleasingly funny in my entire life. I stare at him as I rock him to nap after he asks to play “baby” to which I readily agree, swaddling him and rocking him. I stare at him as he plays with the turtle at the museum. I delight in the way he eats and points and laughs and jumps and talks. It’s all some weird magic that I’ve never felt before and leaves me stunned for moments that I just want to soak in and keep in my pocket forever.

 

 

Being a parent had a steep learning curve, and with everything else that life through our way, we were dealt a hard hand. But in these moments, those awful moments of physical and emotional pain, of feeling I was failing at motherhood and marriage, of being consumed by an anger I didn’t know how to defeat, well, they finally don’t seem to be there anymore. That fog that always encompassed me is gone and for the first time ever, I can finally see the blindly bright star that is my son.

 

And all of a sudden him wanting to be held while he naps seems like a blessing instead of a curse. His intense clinginess, well I can focus on how much I’m going to miss it someday. Each whine for me, while I don’t love the whine, I can’t believe how lucky I am that my son loves me so intensely. Every time he holds my hand, which is a lot, I can feel my ears heat with love like I’m falling in love for the first time. Every. Damn. Time. And it doesn’t get old. It seriously is like the first time I fell in love. Everything stayed so new a magical for so long and so intensely. And it feels so impossibly perfect. Except this one is going to stick because, well, I’m his mom and he’s stuck with me and all my kisses (which I remind him whenever he playfully evades them).

 

It took my far too long, but right now I’m just going to revel in how breathless a simple smile can leave me. So if you catch me staring at him know I haven’t zoned out – I’m just trying to soak it in. Because every person that stops to tell me that it passes too fast – well they’re right. And I missed the first two years in the fog, so I’m going to soak it all in now as often and as crazy as possible. I’m going to make those hugs last a few seconds more and I’m going to find the energy to run around with him a few more minutes.  And everyday, I’ll ask myself, both in my head and aloud, How in the world was I lucky enough to have been chosen to be his mama?

 

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