Drive, Laugh, Love

As I make the drive from my house to my son’s school, I listen to the radio, or drive in silence, and savor those last moments of Woman before turning back into Mommy.

I anticipate what he did during his three hours away from me and hope that he had a wonderful time and has stories to share. But since he is, indeed, two, I never know if I will encounter a happy toddler or a defiant one. It is always a surprise.

Yesterday, when I picked him up, I was pleased to find that he was in good spirits. I was so elated to be in the presence of this sweet and happy boy, that my heart nearly burst with my love for him.

After strapping him into his car seat, pulling out of the parking lot, and asking about his day, I could no longer contain my emotion and I exclaimed, “I love you so much. I love you more than ice cream!”

With a smile, he replied, ” I love you more than coke!”

We both laughed. “Coke” is his joke word. He has never been allowed to have Coke, but we do have it at home very occasionally. He thinks it’s a funny word and knows it is a forbidden treat and a “grown up drink” and so he throws that word out at random.

I decided to counter with, “I love you more than birthday cupcake!”

He responded with a laugh, “I love you more than a hippopotamus!”

We were both hysterically laughing now. I was filled to the brim with joy at this simple game of love with my two-year old.

I decided to keep going with a silly, “I love you more than……potatoes!”

The car filled with the melody of hysterical laughter from a mommy and a little boy, and then lulled as we caught our breaths.

I heard my little boy’s enthusiastic pitch die down to a summarizing tone as he replied, ” I love you more than coke or coffee…or something,” he added as I saw him shrug his shoulders in my rearview mirror.

I knew that the game was over, but I was so thrilled at its existence and felt like I was walking on clouds after our game of love and laughter.

I was still so in awe of how much I love that little boy in my back seat, that I said, “Awww, I love you so much sweet boy,” in a soothing mommy voice and with a big smile.

After a brief pause, I heard the reply, “I love you Mommy. Now be quiet.”

I quietly shook my head, refocused my hands on the steering wheel, and suppressed my smile. I just never know what version of this child I will get. Even in the wake of his constant personality shifting two-ness, he continues to surprise me with his displays of love.

And that’s what makes this Mommy thing so great isn’t it? That even though there are days when you want to give up, there are also days when you play love games and make music with your laughter and I am just all together overwhelmed at the love I feel for that little person who calls me “Mommy.”

Words

Words

We’ve been told that sticks and stones may break our bones but words can never hurt us.

But that’s not true is it?

For my bones remain untouched by stones but these words continue to haunt me.

I’ve been told it’s because I’m a woman and I’m too sensitive

But I think it’s just because I’m a person

Who has a memory and a heart

And whose past bleeds into my future.

I think I’ve never seen you throw a stone or wave a stick maliciously,

But I’ve heard your voice behind the words that left me standing vulnerably;

Exposed into the darkness of the daylight and the brightness of the night.

And I see those words encircle me and invade my very self.

I have to remind myself to say “excuse me” and find my way out,

For these days are long and these years are short and your voice still finds ways to follow me.

Even after the sticks have been picked and the stones have been gathered

I find myself here, choosing to break the words back down into letters and cast them away into the alphabet

That I sing to my son every day

So that he may learn words.

But not yours.

Reflection and an Anniversary

Today, I am thrilled to link up with two fabulous bloggers, Alison of Mama Wants This and Ado from The Momalog as they both celebrate their one year blogging anniversaries. Not only is this an important milestone for them, but they are also celebrating by giving fabulous prizes away to…you! I had no idea that blog anniversaries were such fancy occasions, but I am so excited to be a part of it!

Anyone can participate; the idea is to link up your favorite post. It’s a great way to meet other bloggers, read eloquent writing, and maybe win some fantastic prizes.

The post I am including can be found in its original form here.

(I also copy and pasted below, if you want to skip the click-through step.)

This post is not the most uplifting or lyrical that I have ever written, but it is one of my favorites. I wrote it late at night on a memo on my phone, when the words came pouring out of me and had to escape somewhere. It was the first time I was brave enough to write about my intimate thoughts after having my baby. It was the first time that I realized my words had power. And it was this memo, that sat in my phone for months, that nagged at me to start a blog in the first place.

I had words to say, and intimate thoughts that needed to be shared. This piece of writing allowed me to start to use my voice to once again find pieces of myself I thought I lost after having the baby. It is written from a dark place in my life, when I felt overwhelmed by motherhood and baby and not at all at peace with the dramatic changes pregnancy and breastfeeding had imposed upon my body. But these words made me feel for the first time in a long time, that my story had significance.

So in honor of these wonderful blog anniversaries, please enjoy a glimpse into one of my most intimate moments of discovering myself in my reflection.

Reflection 

My bathroom mirror was a thick fog of steam created by the shower I like to run almost scalding, so that it nearly burns as I stand under the flowing current that strips my skin of the days’ events. As I pulled back my shower curtain to reach for my white towel, a reflection of someone caught my eye in the mirror. It was someone I recognized mostly, but things had changed without my noticing. As I stared now, I watched water droplets drip from my breasts, which sit much lower than they used to. My nipples have darkened and there are stretch marks dirtying the cool white porcelain of skin that covers what used to be one of my favorite body features. Now they have become nothing more than a food source for the baby. While I pride myself on breastfeeding, I also grieve my breasts that I now no longer admire unless they are kept in an expensive bra that gives them the illusion of elasticity.

My eyes traveled down to my stomach, which used to be flat and jeweled with a belly button piercing, but is now like a map of squiggly lines leading to nowhere and a scar of a decoration of youth. I lifted my “baby pouch” with both hands and tried to remember my pre-baby body. Maybe I’ll get a tummy tuck one day, I thought. But a quick glance at my c-section scar reminds me of all the pain, and I winced at the thought of undergoing surgery ever again, for any reason.

As the steam lifted, I noticed circles under my eyes that I’m quite sure weren’t there a few years ago, and some stray eyebrow hairs. I’ve given up pedicures and waxes, and now resort to plucking when I get the time, but I’m surprised at how out of control my brows look. I guess I need to check the mirror more often, I think as I lift the tweezers for the first time in weeks.

At least I’m saving money this way. Not looking in mirrors allows you to forget that you have run out of concealer for the dark circles or chapstick for the chapped lips. It allows you the freedom to not care what you look like and not spend money on make up.

But I can not help but to feel trapped into a surprise when I can’t stop this mirror from reflecting.

Lost Pieces

It’s funny how it’s two and a half years later and I’m still trying to pick up pieces of myself.

I lost so many of the pieces of who I thought I was over these years. So many pieces that I thought completed the puzzle of who I am. But life is nothing if not a constant exercise in change. And so I change. I adapt. I loose pieces. I find others. I try to string together a complete image of this woman who stares at me in the mirror.

Today I found some old pieces. Pieces I thought were lost long ago like old toys hidden under the couch or receded into cracks in floor boards. Pieces that brought tears to my eyes because I remember them. It was like reuniting with an old friend.

Today I dropped my little boy off at school. When he first started school this fall, I didn’t know how to be apart from him. I waited in the parking lot for him to come home.

Since then, I have progressed. I have used my time to run errands, and tackle the grocery store and mopping. I have sat and people watched while sipping a latte. I have talked on the phone to my best friend. I have worked out. I have blogged.

But this morning, I found some parts of what used to make me. I listened to the soundtrack of Wicked The Broadway Musical. And I sang along and smiled and remembered why that used to be such a big passion of mine. I felt inspired. I found myself at the mall. I entered a grown up store with grown up clothes that would fit my now grown up figure and did not have a trace of children’s paraphernalia. I tried on shirt from the clearance rack and let my hands drape over the luxurious fabric of items that have no place in my daily life of dirt and ketchup. I tried on two shirts that actually flattered me and I smiled because I remembered that I used to look beautiful and turn heads. My now go-to outfit of yoga pants and t-shirts doesn’t do that. I splurged on a shirt that made me feel beautiful. And I cringed at the register, because I don’t remember the last time I spent so much money on myself.

And as I blared the Wicked soundtrack again on my way home, I let tears fall and thoughts form and rushed inside to find a home for them here.

My life is so different than it used to be. My reflection always surprises me when a mirror suddenly appears in my view. But there are pieces of me that are still the same. It was so nice to find some of them this morning and reawaken beauty and inspiration and indulgence within my world that has become devoted to my child’s innocence.

It was nice to find some lost pieces.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I am normally not a huge St. Patty’s Day fan. This goes back to the fact that I’m not a huge drinker or party girl, and even if I was, having a two-year-old kind of throws a wrench into all night party plans. But this year, I got excited about it. Really, really excited about it. It fell on a Saturday when the hubs was off work and the weather was perfect. And, it just so happens, that my kid looks adorable in green and has red hair. He totally pulls off the whole Irish look. So, this year quickly became my favorite St. Patty’s Day. I got to spend it with my two favorite boys. We celebrated with green….everything. And a lot of family fun.

What better way to kick off your St. Patty’s Day than by blowing bubbles? And I mean LOTS of them! Of course, while wearing green.

This bubble catching is hard work!!

Inside, we painted green toenails and played with all of the green letter magnets.

Then, we got to work making cupcakes! Yum!

While the cupcakes cooked, we had a wardrobe change. But of course, it was still green!

As the hubs points out, even his beer was green. Good call.

Yay sprinkles!

Now for the best part: eating the cupcakes! They are chocolate cupcakes with peppermint green frosting.

Think thin mint girl scout cookies in cupcake form. Amazing.

I think it’s safe to say that the cupcakes were a great success.

We couldn’t waste the lovely day, so we headed outside for even more outdoor play.

After his big hit and a few rounds of ball, we watered our flowers.

Even the cat helped. 

As the day ended, so did all of our fun family activities. We enjoyed some amazing dinner grilled out by the hubs and I enjoyed some leisure time reading a magazine while the toddler swayed in his swing. It could not have been more perfect. And then, in good old-fashioned St. Patty’s day style, the boys ended the night with shots. (Of tea. Don’t worry; no alcohol was involved.)

I felt so blessed on Saturday. Partially because it was a really good holiday, and I love a good holiday celebration. But mostly because we spent all day as a family, doing fun activities and enjoying the beautiful weather.

And who can resist this cute little Irish guy?

Happy St. Patty’s Day from our family to yours.

UETju: Love in Letters

UETju he spelled with multicolored refrigerator magnets, and exclaimed excitedly, “I made a word!”

I smiled and showed my excitement and then he read it to me. “It says ‘love Mommy,’” he explained while pointing his fingers over the letters, left to right, just as if he were really reading.

I scooped him up in a hug and told him it was beautiful and I was so proud of him. Because it was, and because I AM.

He was thrilled at his accomplishment and thrilled at my approval and I was honored to be his word.

I could have held him there forever but there were more brightly colored letters to be arranged. There, in the middle of the refrigerator, UETju turned into XmEO. And so began another story, arranged by little fingers, told by a little voice, and adored by a nearby Mommy.

Memories Captured: Two and a Half

Today, I am honored to link up with two of my favorite bloggers; Galit Breen of These Little Waves and Alison of Mama Wants This. I have been so inspired by both of these talented writers and am thrilled that they are holding a link up for Memories Captured. This genius idea encourages you to capture a moment with words and photos. I love this project, and found the task of finding a beautiful picture of my son and reflecting on it to be fun and challenging. I was so enthralled with this idea, that I could not decide between two of my most favorite recent pictures. I decided to include both. I’m not sure if I was able to capture his essence with these photos and words, but it allowed me to reflect on him and who he is right now, at this precious age of two-and-a-half.

How To Spell Pizza

Hubs: “Ok, what else do we need at the store?” (while making a grocery list)

Me: “Umm, milk, bread…….oh, get some stuff to make homemade pizza! That would be fun!”

Hubs: “Ok.” (Writes P-I-Z-Z-) “Does “pizza” have an “i” in it?”

Me: “What? No. P-I-Z-Z-A.”

Hubs: (Writes A) “What else?”

Me: “Bananas. And maybe grapes.”

Hubs: “B-AN-AN-AS” (sings and dances out loud to the tune of Gwen Stefani’s song while he writes it down)

Me: “I know you’re making fun of that song, but it totally taught you how to spell.”

Hubs: “What? I am great at spelling.”

Me: “You just asked me how to spell pizza!”

Hubs: ……. “I don’t like you. I’m going to the store now.”

Twenty minutes, a full grocery list, and a finally-ready-to-go-toddler later, the hubs and the toddler went to the store.

How did you start your Saturday?

A Bumped Head and A Heavy Heart

I feel like a terrible Mommy. My little guy had two trips to the emergency room last week. Once last Tuesday, when he fell backwards and hit his head. There was so much blood I panicked, but by the time we made it up to the hospital it had stopped and revealed that it was really just a small cut, nothing major. We weren’t even admitted.  I felt so silly, but everyone was very nice and reassured me that it’s ok, scalp wounds are usually not major they just bleed a lot, which makes them scary.

Then Saturday, after taking a shower, my little guy was wrapped in a towel. He slipped on the bath mat and fell face first on the edge of the step into the walk in shower. He got a huge gash in his chin, and once again, a lot of blood. This time, the hubs was home. We tried to treat it at home, but quickly realized that a band-aid was not going to solve this problem. With the fear that he needed stitches, we went to the ER. They decided it wasn’t quite deep enough for stitches, but it did need Dermabond and steristrips, which are basically just stronger adhesives to hold the wound together until it can form a scab itself.

Then, on Monday, he was being a little rambunctious during the weekly music class we go to. He was trying to climb on me but he pulled too hard or I didn’t hold tight enough, and somehow he fell, bumping the back of his head so hard on the floor that it made an audible bump, causing all of the other mothers and the teacher to look at us and gasp. I took him outside and comforted him.

But I also needed some comfort myself. The hubs says it’s ok, he’s just a boy, boys get bumps and bruises. But three head injuries in one week? I feel terrible. It’s been ok, and he’s fine. But today, I had to send him to school with a note explaining the band-aid over his steristrips to make sure he doesn’t pull them off. And that’s when I felt like a terrible mom. Because it’s humiliating to have to send your little guy to school with a big band-aid and a note that basically confesses: I’m not a good mom. I didn’t protect my child from falling, and he is hurt.

I know he’s a boy. And he’s fine. And accidents happen. But I still wish that I could somehow be a better protector of this sweet little boy that I love so much.

We Have a Babysitter. His Name is Clifford.

I am a stay-at-home mom who used to be a kindergarten teacher and a nanny. I have spent a lot of time taking care of children. I know a lot of activities and crafts and songs and games that I can play with my toddler. So, ideally, my son would spend all day, every day, in an enriched learning environment filled with activities and songs and age appropriate stimulation.

However, I am also married to an anesthesia resident. That means that I do not get regular help. That means that my husband is routinely gone anywhere from 12 to 16 to 24 hours at a time. So the whole husband-comes-home-at-five-and-helps-with-the-evening-routine thing just isn’t a consistent part of my life. We also don’t live near family, and don’t have the resources for a scheduled babysitter, so I take on a majority of childcare and household responsibilities by myself.

As much as I would love to say that my child is always engaged in developmental play and on a good schedule and everyday is wonderful, that’s just not true.

Sometimes, I have phone calls to make that require no toddler screams in the background. Sometimes, the dishes and laundry need my attention more than Thomas and the train table. Sometimes, I need a break more than once every 24 hours.

So sometimes, TV is my babysitter. I monitor the content. Clifford, Thomas, Curious George, Caillou, and Peep and the Big Wide World are some rotating favorites. My child is aware of the Sesame Street gang and can recognize the Barney theme song. These are all facts that I’m not particularly proud of, but I’m not really ashamed either.

Spending every single moment engaging my son just isn’t realistic. There are bills to pay and business calls to make and a house to clean and dinners to cook; often without the help of a spouse. And then there are those moments when I have just lost my patience or my ability to deal with the constant needs of a two-year old in the prime of his terrible twos, and it might be better for him to watch TV than deal with a strung out Mommy.

TV is my helper. It helps me do the dishes and the laundry and the phone calls. It helps me get a break from my other wise never-ending care of a demanding toddler. It helps me balance parenting, household maintenance, life administration, and every so often; my sanity.

My son isn’t being raised in front of a TV, but it is a fixture in our lives. He will grow up with a lot of different activities and experiences, and I guess TV is just going to be one of them. As much as I hate to admit it, I really do depend on that little bit of animated entertainment every day. So thank you, Clifford and the gang, for your contribution to my child’s life. I’m not sure I could do it without you.