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.

 

Life Around The Internet

Elated Exhaustion has been missing some love lately, but I’ve been busy all over the internet.

For Valentine’s Day, a friend and I saw The Richmond Ballet’s production of Cinderella, and it was beautiful! I wrote about it here. 

I was also incredibly honored to be featured as a guest poster on Dancing in The Rain with this post: The Lens of Motherhood. 

Have you read Dancing In The Rain? Jennifer writes an amazing blog you must read.

Jennifer and I were both pleased to be featured today on What To Expect.com! My guest post on her site was featured in this post: 5 Things To Do on February 18th. I would be so honored if you went to read (or comment!) And find out the other 4 things. :) Photo credit goes to the amazing Amy Robinson of Amy Robinson Photography. 

A huge thank you to everyone who entered Elated Exhaustion’s two year blogiversary contest! The winner was Kimberly of All Work And No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something, and I’m telling you, if you read even one of her posts you will fall in love.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

 

Four and a Half

“Mommy, can you come check the temperature? It says 8 6. Well, I know I’m right about the 8,” he poses as he wiggles and tugs for my attention.

I leave my school snack making for a minute to walk with him to our thermostat, which does, in fact display an 8 and a 6.

“You’re right!” I say to a beaming four year old. “The temperature says 6-8. It is 68 degrees in our house. That’s pretty warm. And this part says 2-1. It’s only 21 degrees outside, that’s cold!”

“Aw, man, so I have to wear a jacket?” he bemoans as he stomps away.

“Yes, you have to wear a jacket when it’s cold outside,” I reply as I make my way back to school snack duty.

He grumbles as he slowly lays his jacket out on the floor and does the cool flip it over his head trick his teachers taught him at school.

“Will you zip me, Mommy?”

We fall into our usual routine of packing and zipping and shoe Velcro-ing as we make our way to the door and out into the cold.

These mornings have gotten easier, now that he’s old enough to do part of the getting ready.

As we drive to school he points out the letters on the license plates he sees in front of us.

He asks how fast I’m driving and says “Mommy, I saw the speed limit sign that said 5-4. So don’t drive any faster than 5-4.”

I assure him I won’t, knowing that this must be a translation of 45.

He discovers an 8 and a 0 and a 6 and reads the word STOP to me.

And then he tells me that he sees “many more deciduous trees than evergreen trees but Christmas trees are evergreen trees.”

When did he grow up?

This little one is so big and observant. He likes to make plans and study pictures. He seems to remember everything I say except for the parts about “please clean your room” and “stop chasing the cats.”

We are still working on letters and numbers but he sees and notices them all around him and is beginning to pick out words in our bedtime stories. It won’t be long before he is reading in the slow, focused, and melodic way all children start.

He has a strong sense of humor and loves to feel authoritative. (Sorry, cats.) He is compiling himself and his experiences into his very own version of life.

It’s a conclusion I come to over and over at various stages in his life; my sweet little boy is not so little anymore.

My sweet boy at 4 and 1/2.

My sweet boy at 4 and 1/2. (And part of my husband’s eye.) 

 

 

 

Feeling Alive

After an entire week off school last week due to snow, I eagerly laid out all of my son’s clothes for school this week. An outfit for every day, show and tell, snacks, right down to socks and underwear ready to go. This week, we would get back into our routine.

And Monday and Tuesday were glorious. I was not productive, because I chose to take the time for myself instead of work.

This, incidentally, turned out to be a wonderful decision, because snow, ice, and cold temperatures struck again and school was cancelled for two more days.

My son has gone to school 6 days this entire month. There are 31 days in January. He has gone to school for 6 of them.

This exhausting trend has led me back into old patterns reminiscent of my stay at home mom days when he was a baby.

Days of exhaustion and pajamas, days when accomplishing one load of laundry was my highlight of achievement. Days when I would go days (weeks) without any makeup and I did not wear jewelry for years to avoid the tiny tugs of baby hands.

I have these wonderful ideas of getting the house clean and enjoying the indoor time while at home, but everyone knows those kind of fantasies are futile when you’re trapped at home with a little one.

I looked in the mirror this morning and saw that part of myself again. My face that had not put on make up in two day, my hair in an un-styled ponytail. I was wearing pajamas and was back in a cycle where putting on black work out pants would actually be more dressed up than my current state.

The house is a wreck because my son and I had not left it in two days. Honestly, I am feeling like I am at the end of my rope.

And I remembered those early baby days when sometimes I felt the same thing. I felt so isolated and so “not me” without a sense of busyness; a reason to leave the house, a reason to put on real clothes and make up.

I’ve discovered that a schedule and looking put together make a world of difference in my mood.

Right now, we are curled up watching the new “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” and blogging. But in just a minute, my son and I will venture out of the house for the first time in two days. Clothes, make up, and all.

And I’m so very much hoping it will make me feel more alive.

For some reason, sparkly things make me feel more put together and bright. I am hosting an online trunk show with Stella and Dot. There are some amazing pieces and come just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Shop here: http://www.stelladot.com/ts/kkyv5

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ponderings

This post is inspired by the prompt: 2.) Coffee Talk! Share your first pumpkin spice latte of the season with us.

I ordered my pumpkin spice latte (non fat, no whip), thanked the barista, and stood to the side in anticipation. It’s my favorite part of fall, my morning stop at Starbucks for a foamy pumpkin drink to compliment the brisk chill in the air.

I notice a mom sitting down with her son. Her hair is unwashed and her t-shirt is stained. She is wearing black yoga pants and sneakers and I don’t see any make up on her face. She is tired and happy and enamored with her little boy that coos and drools as they wait.

I see you, Mom at Starbucks. I see you rub your eyes as you try to capture some bit of sleep that eluded you the night before. I see you fidget in your clothes when the well dressed woman comes in to order. (I do it, too.) I see you smile adoringly at your son.

I see you because I’ve been you. I’ve been out, looking at the world through tired Mommy eyes. I used to wear the uniform of black yoga pants and stained t-shirts, unwashed ponytails and a make up free face.

And I wonder, if you know, that soon, very soon, you will be out of this baby phase? That black yoga pants and stained t-shirts will turn into jeans and “nice” t-shirts? That your hair will be clean and styled and make up will one day again become a part of your routine?

I only know, because I was there. I was in the baby phase and then, it seemed suddenly, I wasn’t.

The day I stood waiting for my Starbucks was a day that my four year old was in preschool. I was wearing jeans and a long sleeved shirt and makeup. My hair was washed and down and I had a morning of time to myself. And I wondered if it was even evident that I had a son at all? Strange to think it wouldn’t be when he’s such a large part of myself, but it’s unsettling when parts of yourself aren’t’ always with you.

Those early years seem so very long and exhausting and constant. And then, they are gone. Your days may still be long and exhausting but it’s a very different kind, and there’s a freedom in having an older child that allows you to welcome things back into your life that you had to let go of. And one morning you may find yourself alone in a Starbucks actually looking at the new mom with a little bit of envy, because the phase of life she is in is so very beautiful and so very fleeting.

But no matter what stage of Mommyhood you find yourself in, I think the morning coffee part? Is essential.

Mama’s Losin’ It

That Mom

I am not that mom.
The mom who makes homemade outfits and always has cookies in the cake plate.
The mom that has organic healthy meals prepared for dinner every night.
The mom that has crafts and busy bags and art projects in mind for each day.
I’m not a Pinterest worthy mom or a working out of the home mom or even a really put together mom.

I am his mom.
I am the mom who worries too much but tries not to show it.
That mom who is sometimes so overwhelmed by the love I feel for my son that it moves me to tears.
That mom that sometimes loses my temper.
That mom that keeps a clean looking house,  but you probably shouldn’t touch anything because toddlers are sticky.
That mom that will read a million bedtime stories and spends hours cuddling because there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
That mom who is aware, every day, that these moments, the good and the bad, will not last forever.

I am not a perfect mom.
But I am his mom.
And for getting to be that mom, I am thankful.

My little guy very proudly showing me a train.

My little guy very proudly showing me a train, and me very proudly capturing a picture.

 

I am linking up with my very favorite link up today, Memories Captured with Galit Breen of These Little Waves and Alison of Writing Wishing. Head over to see the other wonderful writers who have captured memories lately, and think about linking up with one of your own!

Burnt Out…Somewhere Else

Today, I am honored to be guest posting at the lovely Just Jennifer blog.

When Jennifer called for submissions for a guest post, I knew I wanted to be involved. Jennifer has been such a supportive blogging friend to me and I adore her words and perspectives.

Although I am very open on this blog, there are some things that I still have a hard time writing about.

Today, my guest post asks a tough question and begins to address a fear I am tossing around in my head; is it possible to be burnt from motherhood before you really get started?

I would love to hear your thoughts and advice. While you are there, check out some of the other recent guests posts and the lovely words from Jennifer.

See you there!

 guestpostforme

Long Days and Short Years

*I wrote this post sometime this summer. I am so terribly behind on blogging, but I wanted to share it with you today.*

These days are long.

These days like today, where this boy sent me on a roller coaster of emotions ranging from elated to exhausted to angry to proud to exasperated to in awe.

This boy who just today threw 3 temper tantrums, drank my Starbucks, opened and ate a watermelon in the middle of the grocery store, stuck modeling clay to his bedroom wall, stuck his penis through the hole of a CD, tracked poo throughout the house, dumped out an entire jumbo bag of cat food in the laundry room and then tried to put the cat in the bath.

Just today, I found myself apologizing to the grocery store cashier for the half eaten dripping watermelon he had to ring up so we could exit the store, and saying the phrases, “Please take your penis out of the CD.” “Why is there poo on your foot?” “How did this entire bag of cat food wind up on the floor?” “We do not put cats in baths.”

But on this same day, this boy said, “You are the beu-ti-est Mommy I eber seen.” And my heart smiled. Just today, this boy was thoughtful enough to pack a snack in his Daddy’s work bag and say, “Daddy, you can take this snack to work to share with your friends.” Just today, this boy and I shared a lovely evening walk.

Yes, these days are long.

But these years are short.

This boy will be three years old in September. In just three years he has changed dramatically from a helpless infant to a thoughtful, smart, challenging, adorable, child. He has formed complex thoughts and a personality all his own.

This boy has entered my life and it has been a whirlwind ever since. He has changed me completely, and my love for him at times is so intense that it feels overpowering. This boy has taught me more about life and love in the three years I have known him than I ever could have put together on my own. And I am so aware that my time with him is limited. It will not be long before his world expands beyond this one we have created together. It will not be long before he is old enough to make his own grocery store trips and buy his own Starbucks and take care of his own pets. It will not be long before Mommy and Daddy are no longer the center of his world and he is no longer my sweet little boy.

Yes, these years are short.

“The days are long but the years are short.” – unknown, but my favorite quote since becoming a mommy

What Do You Do All Day?

This afternoon, one of the neighborhood kids stopped by. She does that occasionally, and she is very nice and good with my son. Although her visits are always unplanned, I never mind them.

Today, as she was telling me about how her year is going so far in 5th grade, I mentioned that my little guy just started school, too. She said, “Oh no! Aren’t you lonely?”

I politely said, “No, it gives me time to get things done.” To which my son added, “Yeah, when I go to school Mommy eats and drinks and cleans.”

And then she said, “What do you do all day?”

I told her a brief overview of our schedule, saying, “Well, after we wake up I drop him off at school and then come home to do some cleaning. After I pick him up we eat lunch and have quiet time and then play outside for most of the afternoon. Then it’s time for dinner, bath, and bed.”

She just nodded but I kind of felt like I was being judged for not doing enough. By a 5th grader.

So, here’s the breakdown of what I actually did today. It’s probably going to be really long and boring, so you can stop reading now if you like. I guess I need to write it down as much for my own sense of accomplishment as for needing to tell the story.

8:00 AM: Wake up Noah. Brush his teeth, get him dressed, get him downstairs and set up with a cereal breakfast. Note that getting a toddler dressed is not as simple as “getting dressed.” It involves a lot of coaxing, hands on work, and sometimes bribery.

8:30 AM: Return back upstairs to get myself dressed. Which means throw on something somewhat presentable and put hair in a ponytail.

8:45 AM: Gather up all needed supplies and go out to car to put child in car seat. I had packed his snack and school bag the night before.

9:00 AM: Drop Noah off at school. Drive to Starbucks.

9:15 AM: Go to grocery store.

10:00 AM: Get gas.

10:30:AM: Return home, unload groceries. Do dishes, start a load of laundry, scoop the cat litter, straighten living room. Notice that the china cabinet is leaning a funny way and rearrange its contents.

10:55 AM: Head upstairs to do some cleaning. Which involved: putting away all toys, dusting all surfaces of Noah’s room, making up Noah’s bed (which takes forever), vacuuming his entire room including baseboards.

Then I moved on to the bathroom and since I was in an organizing mood I re-organized all of the upstairs bathroom cabinets including wiping them down, designating things to other places, and throwing things away. Then I dusted all bathroom surfaces and the upstairs hallway.

Moving on to our bedroom, I put all of the clothes in the closet, made up our bed, dusted, and vacuumed.

12:20 PM: Quickly run downstairs, grab keys, and go pick up my child.

12:35 PM: Arrive at school to an excited toddler and listen to his stories about school and soccer. Drive us home for lunch and to let him watch one episode of “Peep and Duck” while I also try to cram in lunch in between switching the laundry load, making Noah’s lunch, and sorting through his school bag.

1:20 PM: Read Corduroy to Noah. He requests, “Again, Mommy!” We read it 3 times.

2:00 PM: After 3 stories and much arguing from the toddler I finally get him to lay down for quiet time. (We are past napping.)

2:20 PM: Noah decides he is done with quiet time and jumps up to play. I reluctantly get up.

I’m not sure of the rest of the time-table for the afternoon, but at some point the mailman comes and we read the mail. We play with leftover yellow birthday balloons. (Yellow birthday party pics coming soon!) We line up magnets. We pretend to fix computers. We have a chasing session. We also go upstairs briefly to get a book (I thought) but instead the toddler sees what I have done to his room and promptly unmakes the bed and arranges his blankets into some kind of fort on the floor. Sigh. We cuddle. We laugh. We marvel at the size of my son’s poot and I wipe his bottom. We vacuum the living room and I switch laundry again.

Around 4:00 we have a snack and then decide to go outside. That is when we run into our neighbor and she comes over to play. She plays with us while we ride tricycles, take a neighborhood walk, swing, slide, and ride scooters.

5:30 PM: Neighbor leaves and we come inside for dinner. Except that transition results in a MAJOR tantrum screaming fit and we do not actually make it inside until 6:00. Ridiculous.

6:00PM: Toddler has a personality change and says, “I will be nice now, Mommy.” What the….?

6:30 PM: I serve a lovingly prepared meal of hotdogs and grapes (for Noah) and a Healthy Choice microwaveable meal (for me.) Cooking is not my thing. I also prepare my son’s snack for school tomorrow.

7:00 PM: I put the toddler in a bubble bath. We make “party decorations” with wash cloths and play with a toy shark and lizard. I wash his hair and we sing silly bath time songs.

After drying off and putting on pajamas we brush teeth and cuddle up in my bed to read Corduroy one more time. There is no trying to get him in his own bed on nights when Daddy isn’t home. We also read Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See and an Elmo book. We then get all snuggled up, I turn off the light, and my little guy drifts off to sleep.

8:00 PM: I leave the toddler and come to my computer to catch up on email, which involves a lot of correspondence I need to deal with for my new role of Parent Council Chair at my son’s preschool. I alternate between working on that, checking Facebook and Twitter, and trying to catch up on blogging (which I am terribly behind on.)

8:55 PM: The toddler wakes up. I comfort him and am able to return to the computer work after about 15 minutes.

9:30 PM: The toddler wakes up again and this time does not settle easily. After rocking, singing, and getting him water he finally drifts off into a deep sleep right before 10:oo.

Before I can settle at my computer again I go to let the cats in that have been left outside in the rain that just started. Oops. They are ok. Just a bit wet and mad.

Now, after 10:00 PM, I am finally hoping to get caught up on Parent Council emails, some blogging, and some social media. I hope to be asleep by midnight.

Of course, this isn’t the way it is everyday. There are some days when I clean other parts of the house or run other errands or go shopping. There are some days I pay bills or make house administrative phone calls or deal with some pressing paperwork issue. There are some days when I choose to actually take some me time while Noah is at school. After today, I am hoping tomorrow might be one of them! There are some days when my husband is around. There are some days Noah does not have school and we do play dates or go to parks or the children’s museum. There are also some days I actually get adult interaction.

But most days, this is a good description of my life. This is currently day 11 of no husband home to help. He is a medical resident and his current schedule is a stretch where his shortest shift is 12 hours, but most days it has been 16. Either way, it means he’s gone before we wake up and home after we are asleep.

I don’t mean this to be list of complaints. I love getting to spend so much time with my son. I love that I am able to have such a clean house. I love that I can go get Pumpkin Spice lattes. I love evening walks and cuddles with my little guy. But days like today are the perfect descriptor as to why my life is both elating and exhausting.

And that, my friends, is what I did all day.

How did you spend your day?

The Difference A Year Makes

Last year, at this time, I was a nervous wreck.

I barely slept the night before. I tossed and turned and hugged my little boy tight throughout the night as he slept beside me in bed. I woke up early and dressed myself and my son and slowly carefully drove the 12 minutes it takes to get from our house to our destination.

It was my son’s first day of school.

He was only going to a two-day-a-week preschool program from 9-12, but it was the first time he had ever been away from me. He had never had a babysitter and I rarely even let family watch him. To be honest, he had never even been with my husband alone for more than 4 hours. The school separation was going to be a huge deal, for both of us.

When I dropped my son off in 2011, he screamed and cried and I finally had to leave him crying there while I walked out under the teacher’s advisement that he would stop crying and settle more quickly if I was gone. This, I knew was true. I used to be a teacher, after all. But it didn’t make it any easier for me to be the mommy that had to leave my crying baby nearly in tears myself.

With mixed emotions of apprehension and excitement, I drove away from the school and went to Starbucks. I ordered a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and made myself comfortable in one of the bar seats facing the window. I watched as people scurried to work or shopped at the outdoor mall. I felt pangs of quilt and frivolity for the luxury of being able to people-watch on a Thursday morning when most people were working or in school. I felt unencumbered and oddly uneasy with my new-found alone time.

After trying to enjoy my latte and spending a little too much time in my own head, I decided it was time to leave Starbucks. Except it was only 10:15. And so I drove to my son’s school and sat in the parking lot until noon, anxiously awaiting pick up time. I just did not know what to do without him for that long. I felt like a piece of me was missing.

This year, at this time, I was ready.

As it turns out, I got pretty used to my two mornings off a week last year. I spent most of last year re-discovering my identity outside of motherhood and I felt pretty exhausted after a long summer with very few breaks from constant toddler care.

The night before, my son slept in his bed while I slept in mine, (for the first half of the night anyway).

This year, my son is going into the three-year-old class three days a week from 9-12, but with extra curricular activities of soccer, art and gymnastics after school each day, so I will be picking him up at times ranging from 12:30 to 1:00pm. His school is no longer a new environment, but a trusted and nurturing one.

We were both excited for school and I may have driven a little over the speed limit to get us there.

I walked my son in and dropped him off in his new classroom. Though he was a little hesitant and a bit nervous when we arrived, he became distracted with washing his hands in the new (to him) big boy bathroom in the three-year-old class. I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, said, “Mommy loves you,” and slipped away with no tears from either of us.

This year, I went straight to Starbucks, ordered my Pumpkin Spice Latte, and drove home to my house where I set up my laptop, lit a candle, and spent some time enjoying the fall weather, listening to music, blogging, and soaking up every second of my blissful alone time.

This year, I may or may not have been a few minutes late to pick him up.

What a difference a year makes.

First Day of School Pics

Noah’s first days of school. Left: 2011, 2 years old, apprehensive. Right: 2012, 3 years old, attitude.

Noah playing with play dough at school Left: 2011 Right: 2012