Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It Takes a Village

It’s happened a few times recently. I belabored a topic having to do with my children. Something serious like missing their daycare’s open house. I mean that’s the stuff that lands adults in therapy, right? And, a coworker looked at me knowingly and said, “You gotta let that stuff go!”

And, you know what? I believe her! I believe her because she has two grown, successful daughters. I believe her because her marriage has weathered the years it took to parent those women while simultaneously developing a successful career. She’s been where I am. She can tell me to let it go and I believe I should.

I fired off a text to a good friend recently. Something about my exhaustion and tears and worry about my little guy suffering through yet another cold. She sent love. And listened. And said, “If I were closer, I’d hold him while you slept!”

And, you know what? I believe her! She has littles too. She gets it! And years of friendship between the two of us have built-up loyalty. The thing is, she was there. With her words and time and love.

I stood at daycare and shed a few tears as I dropped my son off in his new room. My tears surprised me. This wasn’t a new daycare. It’s the place he’s always gone. The place we love that loves our littles. All the same, the tears came as I ran into one of his former teachers. Her reply? “My son is drinking out of a real cup! Not a sippy cup! I get it!”

And, you know what? I believe her! She has all but held my hand through tough days. More importantly, she has held my baby when he’s been happy, sad, confused and everything in between. She has shared stories about being in the trenches with her own son as I’ve crawled my way out of the trenches with mine. I believe her when she says she gets it because she does!

They say it takes a village to raise a family. And, you know what? I believe them! I believe them because I don’t know where’d I’d be without these people! These are just some of the important people who I share the joy and tears of parenting with. The people I turn to when I don’t think I can make it through the hour or day or week. Some of these people have been in my life for years and others got plopped into my life just recently thanks to fate. Regardless of their duration, they are my village!

A version of this post previously appeared at St. Luke's Birth Care Center and Today Parents.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dear Weston

How are you one? The day you were born seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago. As we prepare to celebrate you, there are a few things I want you to know...

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
  • Your smile melts hearts! I see the way the ladies at daycare look at you when you smile and nuzzle into them. It’s the same way I look at you! Your smile is powerful, little man, and as they say… “With great power, comes great responsibility!”
  •  You give me a minor heart attack multiple times a day. When I hear your mischievous giggle, I know I need to find you before you tumble off something head first. But, the truth is, I adore and admire your fearless spirit.
  • When you go to kindergarten, your immunity is going to be strong as steel. You, poor child, have been sick more days than healthy since you’ve been born. And, while it’s been hard, I’m so thankful for the extra time to hold, cuddle and love you that this experience has awarded us.
  • You crawl fastest after your sister. When she’s upset, you’re not far behind. When she laughs, so do you! You steal the toys she’s playing with and desperately try to wrestle her. You watch her so closely. Please always do this! She is your first friend and will be your lifetime partner-in-crime.
  • You’re the second child, man, and it shows! We’ve bonked your head more often, given in more quickly, been more tired and less worried. You know something? I’m the second child too. There are lots of cons to this role in the family at first glance but something tells me your fearless energy combined with slightly less oversight, will serve you well!
Photo by Heart Shot Photo
Most of all, you are so loved!! We couldn’t imagine our family without you in it. You are the perfect balance to my uptight nature, your sister’s skepticism and your dad’s logic. You are funny and happy and the most fun person to be around. Keep being you, Wes!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The First Year

Grab a coffee and sit down. This one’s going to take a while. I’m going to get real honest. So, if you’re not into that type of thing, dump the coffee and keep on trucking.

Photo by Heart Shot Photo
My son turns one in a few weeks. I have a history of writing letters to my children to document the moment. And, I will do that because this little surprise we call Weston is a gift. He is endless energy and sunshine in a perfect little baby body. But first I must write this… this last year, it’s been hard. Like, really hard. Harder than running a marathon or moving across the country or even trying to get pregnant in the first place. 

I’ve wondered to myself, Andy, my mom, co-workers, sisters, friends and the lady at the co-op… what am I doing wrong? Why does this seem so hard for me? Why does he keep getting sick? Why does he hate sleep? Why do boys jump off things and give me minor heart attacks twelve times a day?

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in a year. Almost 365 days of less-than-desired amounts of sleep. I think I slept three hours last night. I don’t know. I can’t remember.

I’ve thought about throwing my career away. I’m not sure how it would be financially possible for our family. But, at the worst of times, I’ve thought it was all too much. I love what I do and believe I’m a better parent because of it. But, admittedly, I’ve considered making a poster with the corporate jargon of “work / life balance” and throwing darts at it.

I’ve worked hard to perfect a scone recipe. Because, if I can’t get sleep and am at a loss for all else, at least we can all enjoy scones with our coffee!

I’ve said mean things to my husband at three o’clock in the morning. And, woke up the next morning grateful to draw upon all the years we spent together before these massive bags under our eyes. Those times help in the moments when we curse each other to keep ourselves from cursing the littles.

I barely remember my maternity leave. I remember a day when I quietly cuddled Weston on the couch and another one in our bed. I was off work for 13 weeks. I don’t do math well but I think 13 weeks amounts to much more than two days. Nora didn't adjust well and I felt insurmountable guilt. So, in essence the first three months of my son’s life are captured by an endless abyss of nursing while simultaneously holding a crying toddler, walking with an infant strapped to my chest and a toddler running away from me, coffee and scone taste-testing.

So, yes, it’s been hard. I remember reading about having children and people saying things like little baby, you’ve taught me more about myself than I ever knew. And, with only one child I didn’t know what they meant. But, this Weston guy is a professor! He has yelled lectured from a crib podium and taught me profound lessons about how uptight I am. He has closed the book on who I thought I was and opened a new one that helped me look directly in the mirror at who I am.

It’s been a long year. A tired year. A funny year. A year full of lessons and love and wine and hugs. And, it’s taken me a full year to say this… I wouldn’t trade it.

Today, it’s still hard. I might have less answers than when I started this quest called “two under two,” but the questions have been valuable. And, I think I have that scone recipe perfected. So, grab your coffee and stop on over at three in the morning. The professor will be in his crib partying and I’ll be researching the best concealer to cover under eye bags.

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