An Old Conversation Worth Telling

Oh my gosh, I have been looking for this for two years. TWO YEARS!

Two years ago, my son and I had this sweet conversation.

And I wrote it down specifically so I could blog about it.

Today, I am doing some Spring Cleaning (because it’s officially SPRING…squee!) Even the weather is cooperating. And it’s supposed to snow again next week. I don’t want to talk about how upset I’m going to be.

Anyway, under the filing cabinet and covered in dust I found the piece of paper I scribbled this conversation down on, and now I have to blog about it.

September 15, 2012 (My son was 3 years old at this time.)

Noah: “Oh, it looks like I have a baby in my belly because I ate so much food!”

“I’m gonna grow a baby in my belly for me to kiss and love and sleep with in my very own bed.”

Me: “Aw, that’s what Mommy did! I grew a baby in my belly for me to kiss and love and sleep with in my very own bed and it was you!”

Noah: “Yeah, and then I will eat lots of food and grow a baby in my belly and then the doctors will make a big cut in my tummy and then the baby will come out of my bottom and I will cuddle it and sleep with it in my very own bed and hold it all the day.”

Me: “That’s so sweet, Noah. How are you a little person now?”

Noah: “Because I AM a little person. Mommy, you are so funny. You know lots of little persons.”

Me: “You are my favorite little person.”

Gah, three year olds. So cute. Also, this kid has been talking about wanting a baby since he was three.

Happy weekend and Happy SPRING!

Julia's Phone Pictures 021

 

Taken on September 15, 2012. Noah, the baby-wanter, 3 years old.

 

About Marriage

“When I was younger, I wanted to be married so badly. I wanted the companionship, the family, the love. I wanted lazy Sundays in bed and long walks. I wanted gazing into each other’s eyes and secret smiles and laughter.

I wanted a movie scene.

The problem is that movie scene portrayals of relationships are NOT REAL. Who knew?

My husband and I got married when we were both 23, a retrospectively young age to commit to be with another person for the rest of your life. We had an amazing dream wedding, an equally magnificent honeymoon, and then we returned home for real life.

We were terrible at it…..”

Today, I am sharing some tough stuff about my marriage and letting you in on a little secret….marriage is HARD WORK.

I am honored to have a guest post on Kludgy Mom sharing a post: My Marriage Is Not My Masterpiece…And Why That’s OK. 

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. Click here to read the rest of the post. I can’t wait to read your comments with your own marriage experiences.

See you there! xo

Potato IceCream

A recipe for potato ice cream as concocted and relayed to me by my four year old:

Him: “You need cheese, and onion and garlic. And probably a little sugar but not too much sugar.

And then you mix it up.

And then you have to cook it for eighty-one-hundred days!”

Me: “Wow, buddy, that’s a long time! And then when it’s done cooking what did you make?”

Him: “Potato ice cream, Mommy.”

Me: “I don’t think I’ve ever had potato ice cream before.”

Him: “Yeah, but it’s probably good but not healthy.”

Just a bit of an insight into my world with a four year old. Also? He’s going to be an amazing chef when he grows up.

100 Mommies

“I think we need 100 Mommies,” I heard a little voice pipe up from the back seat.

This is my favorite time with him, when we are driving from one place to the next and his body, finally still from the requirements of a car seat, allow his mind to imagine, create, and share.

“100 Mommies!” I reply. “Why do you think you need 100 Mommies?”

“If I had 100 Mommies, then one Mommy could do every thing.”

“Oh I see. So every Mommy would do one thing? What things would the 100 Mommies do?”

“Well, one Mommy would clean, and one Mommy would drive and one Mommy would play with me. And, well, I don’t know what the other Mommies would do.”

“Hmm, would one Mommy cook?”

“No, the Daddy will cook.”

This is an accurate portrayal of our family roles.

“I really like this idea! Everything would get done if there were 100 Mommies!” I enthusiastically replied, genuinely on board with the idea.

There was a pondering silence coming from the back seat.

“I’m so lucky I get to be your Mommy,” I added to the silence. Because I am, and I want him to know that.

“Yes,” he agreed in his swaggering three year old confidence. “Maybe there should only be one Mommy.”

I smiled at his conclusion and focused on the road ahead of me.

And I thought, even though I love this idea of 100 mommies and the fantasy of actually having a crossed off to-do list, I’m glad there’s only one Mommy too.

Have you shared a sweet conversation with your little one lately?

Lifted

I have been feeling heavy for months, feeling like big decisions are looming over us and not knowing what to do.

Since January, we have been uncertain of where my son would go to school next year, whether or not my husband would do a fellowship (which decides when we will move) and maybe kinda sorta starting to TALK about having another kid. (How’s that for noncommittal?) As my son told me, “that’s only three things.”

I am a planner, and though my life has been nothing if not a constant exercise in change, I hate change. Hate it. I’m good at it, I do it a lot, but I can not stand it.

I like plans, and ideas of what will happen next and clear decisions.

And then today, we got some news.

My husband did not get his fellowship.

He told me with a huge grin on his face.

I think he really only wanted a fellowship because he felt like it is something he should do, not because it was something he was passionate about. And he is so ready to be done with residency and get a “real job.” Because our families still live in Georgia, our “real job” search will be in GA. We only have one year left in Richmond.

I have had mixed emotions all day. I have fallen in love with Richmond, and have established some amazing friends here. Richmond, VA is where we bought our first home, our son took his first steps, and where I finally found myself again after feeling lost from becoming a Mommy.

Secretly, I am also kind of relieved. I have to admit that living this far away from family is hard, and driving down to GA three times a year is extremely draining. At some point, we would need to just stop seeing family so much or just move closer to them because GA trips stress me out. A lot.

It also makes my preschool decision so much easier. As soon as I got the news I paid the deposit and turned in the contract for my son to stay at his current private school for pre-K next year. There is no point in changing schools for just one year right before moving and changing EVERYTHING. I am actually so thankful to be at peace about that. The preschool decision has been weighing heavily on me.

There is still a lot we don’t know. The job searching process will be a whole new adventure and we don’t know exactly WHERE in GA we would like to be. (Except definitely not the area we grew up in. That’s a story for a different day.)

But we do know that we will be moving away from Richmond, VA in the summer of 2014 and we know where our little guy will go to preschool next year. I feel like a huge weight has lifted.

As for the maybe kinda sorta baby thing? I can only handle so much in one day.

 

 

The Preschool Decision

Ever since my son’s preschool conference in January, I have been plagued with making a preschool decision.

 

For some reason, this decision seems monumentally hard.

 

I have finally succeeded in figuring out why…this is the first parenting decision I’ve had to think about.

 

Weird, right? From the time we find out we are pregnant we have to make parenting decisions. Doctors, birth plans, breast or bottle, crib or in your bed, stay at home or work, decisions, decisions, decisions.

 

The thing for me is, I already knew all of that stuff. I knew I wanted a natural birth (which didn’t happen…I wound up with a c-section.) I knew I wanted to breastfeed and have the baby in the bed with me and do baby wearing instead of car seat carrying. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I knew with 100 percent certainty that those were the RIGHT decisions FOR US. And they absolutely were.

 

When my son turned two I wanted him to start preschool a couple days a week. We found a preschool we loved and even though I had separation anxiety in the beginning, I knew it was a good choice. My son had an excellent year and I adore his first two teachers so much.

 

Then this year he is having kind of an off year in preschool, which made me wonder if his current preschool is still the right choice. He will also be old enough to start the Virginia Preschool Initiative Program this fall, so I wonder if we should take advantage of that resource. After a speech screening we also discovered that he needs speech for slight articulation issues which we have been paying $55 per half hour for once a week. He is not eligible for free services through the school system because his articulation is not severe enough to affect his development. So then enters a financial issue that we can not afford to continue private speech therapy AND next year’s preschool tuition. I am also the Parent Council Chair at my son’s school this year which has turned out to be a huge job.

 

Enter stressed out indecisive Mommy.

 

I think I’m having a hard time separating my frustration with Parent Council duties and my son’s experience at the school. Taking a step back, I realize that I do need to make the separation. I really do not like working with some of the Board members at the school, but if I was just a “regular parent” I would no longer have those responsibilities.
Our first year with his two year old teachers was so amazing, and unfortunately for whatever reason this year  has not felt that way. Part of it is that my guy is more of a “terrible threes than terrible twos” and part of it is that their teaching style seems to be much more supervisory rather than hands on. I also think the class size is too large and other parents have had a difficult time this year too, which is unfortunate. Also each year the tuition rises but unfortunately our budget does not.
BUT, my son still loves his peer group at his current school. He has been with the same kids since he was two years old. Taking a step back, I realize that part of what is making my Parent Council job so difficult is that I’m working so hard because I really do believe in this school and think it’s great. It’s felt right since the first time I toured it and I hate to take him and I away from an environment we’ve both become invested in. I believe his school experience would be teacher and peer dependent no matter what school he went to and know more about the teachers for next year at his current school than I do about ones in a new environment. If he goes back to his current school next year his hours would be Monday-Thursday 9-12, a schedule I feel good about.
The publicly funded (and FREE) Virginia Preschool Initiative program was developed for lower income schools and “at risk” kids, but is still an opportunity for a free preschool program at our local elementary school. The school down the street from us is really working hard to recruit new students and make it a true neighborhood school rather than all of the “privileged families” sending kids to private schools. My concerns are that the school day would be Monday-Friday 8-2 and what he would be exposed to in a lower socio-economic peer group. My son is the youngest in his class, and I worry that a full time schedule like that might be too much for him. Selfishly, I’m not sure I’m ready for him to be gone all day every day. Financially, it’s a great option. Our neighborhood school has this whole parent movement going on right now which is great, but I am nervous about my guy being in the guinea pig class for the new movement of changing the demographics of this school.
I also toured the Preschool Learning center, an entire elementary school devoted to the VPI program. It’s a great concept to have an entire elementary school of 4 and 5 year olds, but I did not feel at home during the tour. I think it was just too big, and it’s hours were Monday-Friday 9-3. With a 15-20 minute drive to get over there, I feel like I would just never get time with my little guy.
I have also looked at other private schools that would be less expensive for us next year, and even one that offers 5 day fours for less than what our current school offers 4 day fours. An extra day for less money sounds great, but I find myself still drawn to our current school because I do believe that in the midst of all of the drama it’s a good school.  And I do wonder about the consequences of changing my son’s  environment for pre-k, then again for Kindergarten, and then again when we most likely will move after my husband completes his residency.
Another factor to consider is our impending move. My husband will complete his residency in the summer of 2014, so we will definitely be in Richmond for one more year. He has applied to a fellowship that would allow us to be here through the summer of 2015, but we do not know if he’s been accepted yet. In Georgia, where we grew up and will most likely be moving back to, the cut off for school is September 1st. In Virginia, the school cut off is September 30th. So here, our son is the very youngest in his class. In Georgia time, he would not be old enough to start pre-K yet, and he will be the very oldest when he does start school there. This is another reason why I’m not sure that going forward with full time school is a good choice at this point.
The other component is speech. After a speech assessment with a private company, they said he needed private speech which we have been doing on Fridays for 30 minutes at $55 per half hour (!) I took him for a screening through the Richmond school system where he could get services for free, but he does not qualify for school services because his articulation issue is not affecting his development, communication, or comprehension. We can definitely not afford the cost of weekly speech and private preschool tuition. I wonder how much he really needs this private speech since the school system doesn’t think it’s a very severe problem.
We are not an older established family like a lot of the families at our current private preschool. We are still at the working our way up point and though tuition increases each year, our budget does not. So between finances, the option for a free state funded pre-k program, and a frustrating year, I’m just not sure what to do.
So that’s where I am now. In between choices and just feeling like this decision is so big because I don’t KNOW the right choice like I did with all of the other parenting decisions.
So many people have talked to me about this from my family to sweet blogging friends on Facebook and Twitter, my friends, and even my son’s sweet first teacher.
My husband is on board with the VPI program because it’s free and he thinks our son might do well with a longer school day and more structure. I genuinely don’t know what would be the best for our son.
I guess I’m writing this post not so much for advice, but for my own processing and to let you all in on the craziness that goes on in my mind.
And now I am going to lay it to rest for a week, because it’s Easter and next week is Spring Break! It couldn’t come at a better time. Happy Easter!

Blended Pieces on Moonfrye

“The sun was peeking through the clouds giving slight highlights to our morning as we traced the familiar steps to the car.

My son climbed into his almost too small car seat. I remember when he seemed so small in it and though he will always be my little, he sees himself as big.

I like these morning rides, these insights into his toddler mind as he asks me questions or tells me stories.

The engine reluctantly warmed itself to start in the cold as I adjusted the heat and put on the silly songs CD my son likes to listen to during our drives to school.

A rushed pulling out of the driveway left us headed to school just a few minutes late, because try as we might we can never make it out of the house exactly on time.

As I turned on to the next street I slowed as a kitten ran across the road.

“Oh, no, get out of the road little kitty!” I exclaimed.

“Why, Mommy?”

“I just saw a kitty run across the road but I don’t want to hurt it.”

“No, because then it would be squished and have to fly up to God.”

I paused at his certainty but responded with “Yes, then the kitty would go up to heaven with God.”

I then gave pause to my uncertainty as I added, “Mommy’s Daddy lives in heaven.”….”

Join me at Moonfrye to read the rest of this post as I take on the tender subject of talking about my Dad to my son. I would love to see you there. xo

Only Three Things

I feel like there’s a lot on my plate lately. Partially because there is, the juggling of the every day, the balance of the activities that take up the space on my calendar and the time in my day.

But there are also big decisions on the horizon that seem to loom over me as I ponder potential paths.

My husband is a medical resident and we are only 18 months away from the end of his four year residency. 18 months away from our next chapter in life, and I am not at all ready, for I am quite pleased with where we are now. After 4 years of college, medical school, and residency, we will be in a position to either do one more year of training in a fellowship year or go ahead and job search. The tricky part of this, is that we can not agree on where we would like to be.

Since moving to Richmond, VA in 2010, I have fallen in love with it. I love our home, the city and the sweet friends that we have made here. My husband wants to move back to GA, where we both grew up and where most of our family still lives. Though I see where he’s coming from, I am so tired of starting over in a new city with no support systems every four years. I wish we could just stay here.

So the current compromise is that my husband will apply for a fellowship year here in Richmond, and then we will do a job search in Georgia to move in the summer of 2015. It at least gives us one more year in Richmond.

The next big decision looming over me is next year’s preschool for my son. Next year we could stay at the private preschool he’s been going to since he was 2, or we could move him to VPI, Virginia’s free public preschool program. Financially, we would love to save the tuition, but I just don’t know if it would be the right choice to move schools.

And finally, there’s this dialogue beginning to open about potential family planning. My husband and I have had this conversation before, and decided that we would have an only child. Though I have been a “one and done” advocate since my son was born, part of me feels like maybe I should at least consider giving my son a sibling. I feel this huge time crunch on this decision, too, because I just feel like our window for potential siblings is shrinking. I guess I feel like if they are too far apart it would not be worth having another one because the age gap would be so large. And I’m also finally, FINALLY not completely traumatized by my birth experience  I am owing it partially to my New Year’s Resolution to “let go” and partially to the fact that after 3 and half years, my mind and body are beginning to be at peace.

So I have all of these rough drafts of ideas floating around in my head and my husband and I were passionately discussing them this weekend while he cooked dinner. Our son was making play dough pancakes nearby and asked, “What are you guys talking about?”

I answered, “Oh, Mommy and Daddy are just talking about some important things coming up. We have a lot of big decisions to make, like where you will go to school next year and where Daddy is going to work and family planning.”

After some quiet pondering my sweet son replied with the perfect perspective, “But, Mommy, that’s only three things.”

My husband and I laughed and agreed with his evaluation. “Yes, I guess that is only three things.”

And three things isn’t really all that much, is it?

I Didn’t Tell Him

I spent Friday morning getting my three-year old son ready to go take pictures with Santa.

We drank hot chocolate and changed chocolate stained shirts and only argued a little bit about the daily task of putting on shoes.

We headed to a local children’s museum where we waited in line for our turn. My son stepped up to see Santa and told him his Christmas wishes and smiled for a picture.

We returned home and continued our day, which that day included getting ready for Christmas and a trip out-of-town for the weekend.

A few states away in Connecticut, I imagine that families went through the same daily routine of getting ready in the morning, and maybe even went through a struggle to put on shoes.

Then the parents dropped their children off at school and went on with their days, which may have involved crossing off a to do list for Christmas or getting ready for a busy weekend.

And then their lives were changed forever when the unspeakable tragedy of an elementary school shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Our world is full of tragedy. Of news stories that break our hearts and make us want to lock our doors tighter. Of devastation.

But this wasn’t a story about “bad guys” shooting each other or a natural disaster that no one could control.

This is a story of people living every day lives, and children being in an environment where they should be safe, and a gunman shooting innocent children.

I have found myself following the news closely, searching for information. What I realized was that I was searching for understanding, searching for a way to turn back time and make it go away. Searching for the impossible.

I found myself in tears as I watched the story unfold and I also found myself trying to hide it from my son.

Not because I don’t want him to see me cry and not because I don’t want to share my emotions with him. But because I still wanted to protect him from this; from everything.

I have experienced the devastation of losing someone I love when I lost my father when I was 18. I have lived the moment when time stands still and your world is changed forever.

I have attended the funeral of a little girl I baby sat for when she passed away in an unexplained accident when she was only 9.

I have taught, loved, and cared for classes of students when I taught Kindergarten.

And I have experienced the indescribable, all-consuming love of being a parent with the blessing of my son. I am the mother of a little boy named Noah, the same name of one of the children killed. His funeral will be held today.

This tragedy isn’t about me. It happened to people I don’t know, in a state I’ve never visited.  But oh how my heart aches for these families that have senselessly lost loved ones.

My husband says to turn off the media. Knowing what happened does not changed what happened.

My son lives in an innocent world not yet tainted by such tragedy.

And so I sneak news articles on my phone, and I pray silently in the darkness of the night. I let my tears fall into the stillness and the fabric of my pillow. And I pray fiercely, stealing moments at stop lights and in the quiet moments before drifting to sleep.

I didn’t tell my son and I have been hiding my tears, though it seems to be consuming my almost every thought.

I didn’t tell him, because I want to protect his three-ness.

I want him to still be able to live in a world where monsters are just imaginary things hiding under the bed and not real things taking the lives of children in an elementary school.

I want him to live in a world where school is a safe place, not a place to be scared of.

I want him to live in a world of pretend and cuddles and kisses.

I could not look in my son’s eyes without tearing up through the weekend, because this tragedy awakens the darkest of scenarios in our minds, the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.

I have read many articles about how to talk to your children about this tragedy and about how we should hug our children tighter.

The truth for me is, I couldn’t hug my child any tighter than I normally do. I couldn’t love him any more than I do every day, with the all-consuming ferocity type of love I have only experienced since becoming a mother.

And I am choosing not to talk to my son about what happened. I am choosing to let him continue to live in the world of a three-year old, where he is still discovering his world and our greatest struggle is putting on shoes.

My prayers are with the families in CT, as their worlds and lives will be forever changed.

My heart will be overflowing with love for my son, as it does everyday. And for now, I will continue to let him live in his three-year old world not yet tainted with broken hearts and dreams.

I didn’t tell him. Because there will be life to live that will jade him and take away the pieces of his innocence and this world will disappoint him and scare him.

I didn’t tell him, but I am telling myself, and I am mourning with the families in CT as they begin the life long journey of grief.

I am choosing not to tell him. But I am not choosing to ignore this, or stop my prayers, or allow myself to remember those moments of pain or touch on those parts of my life that can faintly relate to the devastation the families in CT are experiencing.  Because in these moments, I think it is important for Newtown, CT to know that they are not alone.

 

 

 

 

The Purpose of Prayer

I heard it once before, when my son was playing with another boy at a train table. My son, then two, grabbed a train from the other boy, who must have been about four. I immediately rushed over and talked to my son about how we don’t grab, the importance of sharing, and my son handed the train back. The older boy was so mad that he took the train and said, “I will pray for you.” After a quick glance to his mother I realized that this was ok with her…he had been taught to respond this way.

I have seen it more than I can bear on this day after the election, streaming in Facebook feeds and Twitter accounts. I have read so many posts about prayers for this country because now it’s in trouble, how we need to pray harder now than ever before, how now it’s all in God’s hands.

I am a huge believer in prayer. In faith. In believing in something bigger than ourselves.

But I am also a huge believer in kindness.

If prayer is an outreach of ourselves to something greater, than shouldn’t it be kind?

When we find those quiet moments to pray, or meditate, or practice our individual faiths, I believe it should be done in the name of love.

I don’t think it’s loving to use prayer as a consequence or as a condescending remark.

“I will pray for you” holds entirely different meanings when said in the name of love or in the name of hatred.

This election, as are so many other things in our lives, was emotional. It is my greatest hope that as we all reflect and process, whether we are in a state of joy or sadness, that we include prayers of kindness and tolerance for ourselves and others.

Because I believe in the power of prayer. But I also believe in its purpose of kindness.