Thursday, January 29, 2015

Relief and Remose Redux

From 2011, though the feelings are quite the same in my heart...

I had a pregnancy scare.


I'm not. No baby.

Whew!

And I realized, "Whew? I am relieved? I am relieved! When did thathappen?"

When did I cross over to this side of parenting? I am... content. I am content to be a family of 5 with no future children on the horizon.

No more babies?

No more babies.

No more sleepy nursing nuzzles at 2 am while the family sleeps in my bed all jumbled in tangles of limbs and blankets.

Strollers and car seats and pacifiers and slings are all packed. I have even given some away. When a woman walked off with my exersaucer at last year's garage sale, I reasoned that I could always buy another one, if the need should arise.

The need won't arise.

I've known this. I've KNOWN this, for many, many years. Patrick has made it crystal clear that our family is FIVE and that is all that we can afford: financially and emotionally. I agree. I DO. I always have.

But.

I held that thought. That dream. That vision that surprises happen and life doesn't usually follow our plans. "We'll see...." I thought in my mind. Many, many times...

This year has allowed me freedom from the physical needs that little ones require. Freedom to sit and read. Freedom to visit with friends in the evening without worry about schedules and naps and the encumbering requirements that encompass parenting an infant. Freedom to think of a future for myself without including "and baby/child" after every scenario.

It's kind of.... nice.

Sort of.

It's nice like the day after Christmas is nice. Bittersweet, full of fresh memories that you desperately attempt to cling to, knowing that the pictures and words won't EVER fully capture the magic of the moment.

It's nice like coming home after a much-anticipated and extremely enjoyed vacation; You're exhausted and sunburnt, with overflowing luggage and tons of laundry to wash. You're wistful that it was over so very, very quickly but glad to be home to start living everyday life again, with hopes of another adventure on the horizon. Yet, you wonder if anytrip will ever be as magical as that special vacation most definitely was.

There's an ache in my heart at letting go of this period in our lives. There will always be tears that can be shed in a moment of silence... Because raising our babies and toddlers was so incredibly special for me that I can't fathom what my life will be like with 10, 15, 20 years of space between It and where I live and breathe right now. Will I be able to remember the sweetness of their small hands in mine? The way his hair smelled after the sprinklers and grass and sunshine were stirred up into those golden curls? Will I truly remember the feel of a sleeping baby on my chest? Warm and trusting, with no desires besides my love?

Sigh... I think I need some chocolate for breakfast. Chocolate, coffee and a good cry...

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Snowy Day

There is something so incredibly soothing about watching the snow fall.

I really needed that today... We watched the snow and managed some issues and the day wasn't as bad when I allowed myself to focus on each snowflake... just drifting down. No pain or confusion in their path. Just falling without purpose and completely at the mercy of the direction of the wind.

Being online for so much of what I "do," I am honored to be friends with more people than I could ever visit in one year. I love being connected to so many people; I don't feel worthy, but my circle is large. However, it goes without saying that the greater the circle of love, the greater the opportunity for those I care about to be in situations outside of their control. So many people are in so much pain right now... It hurts to know that there isn't a thing I can do other than "send my love" and give "hugs" online.

It truly was a beautiful snowfall, today. It brought me much peace in my heart. I thought about each person I know who is in the middle of their own blizzard and sent many thoughts for peace and healing their ways...

I hope they felt it, even if only for a moment.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Pre-Dawn Weeping Session

I'm lying beside her this morning, and I can't help but notice how very, very long my daughter has grown. She's nearly as tall as I am, though she's only 9 years old. She still loves to sleep in our bed, and with Patrick gone for the week, there is plenty of room to share.

This doesn't last, you know. You think you will never get a moment's peace and privacy and then, you do. You get so much privacy, that you are lonely. They leave your bed and never come back. Inevitably, it always happens. I mean, it's supposed to happen, and I don't particularly want 3 grown adult offspring needing to cuddle in Mom and Dad's bed, so I'm not upset that our boys no longer sleep in our bed, but knowing that my daughter, my last baby, is close to making that transition... it slices right through my heart.

I think I know why parents and kids fight. When you have a baby, the connection is so deep, so complete, and you cannot imagine ever needing anything else in life other than knowing that you can love and protect this small, perfect person. It is a sort of betrayal to that love when you realize that, as they grow up, they do not reciprocate this intense devotion. True, children love their parents, but they desire the one thing that destroys this primal need of your own. To move on and into their own lifes, always stretching and pulling away. When you love someone so completely, it is physically painful to not have it reciprocated in full.

She's only 9...she's ALREADY 9. Moments ago, I held her sleeping body beside mine and the premonition of what is to come thrust its way into my consciousness until I grudgingly acknowledged it. It rests there, in my mind, this vision of my 3 children, my sons and my daughter; this glimpse of a future where a business trip for my husband means that I will sleep alone, dream alone, and have no one to shake awake and share the day with. Knowing the future can complicate the present. How do you live in the moment when the future has been foretold?

Someday, they may have children of their own. It will occur to them that maybe, perhaps, their own mother looked upon their faces and physically craved their skin the way they do their own babies. It will feel impossible, as it felt for me, when I envisioned my own mother as a young mom, staring upon my infant face, touching her cheek to mine. I hope they take a moment to really see me and acknowledge the primal bonds that connect us. I hope my own mom knows how deeply I love her, and that I acknowledge her loss of that connection we once had.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Resurrected

Do you ever wander through your draft folder and find a gem? Well, this may not be a "gem" but it made me smile today and so, I shall post it, exactly as I found it, even though I know I had intentions to "do" something else to it, hence the prior draft status.

Motherhood has taught me many things:

Never ignore a silent 3 year old. And always acknowledge them when they quietly smile at you and say "Mommy, it's raining in da living woom."

Always smell that damp towel before you bury your dripping wet face in it. AL.WAYS. Just trust me on this one.

Tampons can be launched a distance of more than 3 feet.

No matter how painful a break up was for you as a teenager, it is far more agonizing to witness heartbreak happening to your own child.

Adaptation is the key to survival.

I didn't realize when I became a mother in 1999 that I would be learning as much as I would be teaching. 

Just because tampons fly through the air really well does NOT give you the right to make them into rocket launchers!"

"I can swear as much as I want! When you pay the bills, you can swear, too. Until then; you are NOT allowed to chase your brother singing about the 'crapload of laundry' Mommy has left to finish, comprende?"

"I do NOT like your brother better than I like you, but today, you sure do make that difficult to say with an honest heart!"

"No playing with maxi pads, either!"

"Why is there glitter in my freshly washed bra? No, seriously. There's glitter in my bra. Who did this?"

"Put down the cat, Corinne! That yowling and thrashing he's doing? That means he doesn't like it!"

"I know, 'Tom Sawyer' sucks. You've told me. Repeatedly. Now read it."

"If you're going to sing the song, sing it correctly. It's not 'I'll teach your mama to crack eggs.' Trust me on this one."

"Hey, 5 year old: bring your momma her wine glass..."

"PUT DOWN THE CAT!"

"Is it Friday yet?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Only Slightly Crazy

There were moments in the beginning of this gig that I would pause and survey my surroundings. A baby on my breast, greasy ponytail in my hair, and dirty clothes shoving its way out of the top of the laundry chute. I'd sway my firstborn and try to remember that this was temporary. This moment, this stage, this insanity, ALL of it, was so temporary. I knew that the chores would always need tending to but that my baby would cease to fit into my arms, so I chose to rock and sway and sing the lullabies. Occasionally, I'd lose my mind, but that, like the baby in my arms, was also temporary.

As I'd projected, it came true. The baby grew up a bit, and another took his place in my arms and at my breast and the laundry still piled and the ponytail still required washing, but now there were two little souls who needed my care. Holding this second infant in my arms (always, always in my arms, that second one!), I surveyed my situation. More toys, more laundry, less time to accomplish any chores, and even less of a desire to worry about them. There were pictures to color and letters to sing and books about dinosaurs and 'lectricity to recite until memorized. I would lose my mind more frequently, but that was mostly due to a lack of sleep*. Again, so temporary.

A few houses and life events later found me with another infant in my arms. Knowing that this one, my 3rd child, would most likely be my last, filled me with a sense of nostalgia for every moment and milestone she zipped through. With 3 times the laundry and chores, having a baby who was happy and content allowed for me to lose my mind a little less in her early years, and for that, I'm grateful. For it seems that these past years have found me in moments of insanity more often than all 3 infancies combined. It isn't the lack of sleep but the change of needs that has caused my head to spin.

I just did a little math; on an average week, I currently spend 21 hours of my life either driving or attending activities with my kids. This does not include the 15+ hours of homeschooling or "extra" activities such as birthday parties and going to friends' houses. That means that I spend over 36 hours of my weekly awake time doing for my kids, but not necessarily doing "fun" or interacting on a deeper level. This is just the minimum requirement for me to get them all where they need to be. It's no wonder I'm going slightly crazy.


*See: 2nd baby who only slept in Mama's arms till 12 months of age.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Falling is easier than staying, but staying is way more fun

I recently read an article about how to fall in love with anyone. Reading that one article led me to reading a few others on the same topic and I found it quite interesting, and somewhat true. I don't believe that we all have one True Soul Mate on Earth. I do believe that a series of choices and circumstances will often lead us to be in the right place at the right time in order to meet souls who are connected to our own, but that's mostly because I have reincarnation tendencies (and that's a whole other blog post that I won't touch upon here).

After reading these How To articles, my mind wandered a bit. I agreed that Falling in Love was the easy part. People are SO amazing! Most of the world is intrinsically good; I believe this with my entire heart, despite the violence and cruelty that so many people are capable of. If you allow yourself to listen to the heart of another person, stripping away that which blocks your view of their honest and true souls, you would find that love is not so difficult, after all. Each of us is worthy of being loved. Each of us is simply searching for someone who sees through the layers we cloak ourselves with. Yes, falling in love is fairly simple, but staying in love is where the mystery seems to lie.

I didn't choose to fall in love in January of 1995, but when it happened, I knew I wanted it to last. After our first date, I committed to making him my priority and to STAY in love.

I've been in love with Patrick for 20 years.

Someone recently asked me how we've "done it." How we've made it this far and are still so very much in love with each other. First of all, choose someone you can sit quietly beside without needing to fill the silence, who is kind to animals and the elderly, and who smells good to you. These are more important than you may realize. Like much in life, there isn't a magical formula, but there are some moments and "tricks" that stand out in my mind. Here is what has worked for us:

20 years of choosing, every day, to stay together. Neither of us is hard on the eyes or socially awkward. At any time, we could have chosen other people. Instead, we choose to each other and our life together.

20 years of him deciding that my pms and anxiety are prices that are not too high to be paid to be with me. I don't know that I could deal with myself for those 24 days a year. I give the man mad props.

20 years of memorizing his profile in his sleep, and marveling at how the small laughter lines become more and more invisible, the longer I stare. How can he look 22 when he is, in fact, 42?

20 years of love notes written on steamy bathroom mirrors, hidden in wallets, and tucked into coffee grounds... and sometimes, on blog posts.

20 years of forgiving each other's many faults, and working on improving our own.

20 years of saying "I'm Sorry," because quite often, we are both wrong.

20 years of slow dancing in the living room. And the kitchen. And every single wedding we ever attend.

20 years of never slinging a single insult at each other, ever. No name calling, people. NO. Words have power and can never be taken back. When we are angry, we talk about why and solve the problem. Sometimes with words that are a little louder than others, but never, EVER EVER do we insult the other person.

20 years of putting each other above all others. As I regularly say, "The only person in this family that I chose to be with is Patrick. The others were all given to me by fate or chance." I choose HIM to grow older with, to have adventures with, to be share secrets with.

20 years of actively loving each other. And by actively loving, I mean we hold hands when we walk, we cuddle under blankets beside the firepit, and we lock the door to our bedroom and seize the moment whenever we can. Physical love is not something for only the newly wed. If I start to feel disconnected from my husband, I actively search him out and hold onto him for dear life. Humans are physical creatures and have a real need to be touched.

20 years of knowing that he will never be a handyman and I will never be a good housekeeper. He will always love to window shop and I will always hate it. We know our quirks and accept them without trying to change them.

We don't have a secret formula. There isn't a guarantee that what we're doing today will work for us when we've been together another 20 years, but this is what has worked for us so far. Maybe it will help you?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Return of the First

I used to get SO ANGRY at how absorbed my boys would become with playing video games. They would spend hours and hours killing zombies and forcing Spongebob to jump for a golden spatula, while the sun would shine and toys would gather dust. I would eventually lose my mind, threaten to take away the damn Xbox, and force them to get off and go outside and PLAY SOMETHING ELSE. ANYthing, just get off the video games!! And they would, because they were littler and that's what littler kids do. They play. They play on swings and build Legos and chase each other with light sabers and build forts.

And then, one day, Justin stopped playing. He stopped playing with his brother because, well, he wasn't little anymore. And he REALLY stopped playing. He stopped playing board games, card games, and any video game that was a cooperative one. He didn't even want to watch the same movies that the rest of us did! He went solo. Completely and utterly solo. Like a hermit crab, he retreated into his own corner of the house; the office, just beside the kitchen, where his computer was located. Close enough for us to SEE him, and know that he was alive, but far enough that hours would pass without any conversation with the rest of the family. His absence was profound and, no matter how much we tried, we couldn't seem to truly draw him back into the family core. The remaining 4 of us continued to play. We played toys and board games and card games and cooperative video games. We always, ALWAYS, invited Justin to join us, but the answer was, invariably, "no thanks."

Recently, something has changed.

Be it the influential presence of his girlfriend or other friends who visit more regularly, or the natural course of simply maturing; either way, he has ~knocks on wood, whispers and looks around furtively~ returned to us. I never thought I'd be so thrilled to hear that "rat-tat-tat" of automatic weapons from our television speakers as I currently am at this very moment. Because that sound means that my boys, Evan AND JUSTIN, are playing together again. Yes, they're killing virtual people together, but the operative word here is TOGETHER. They are PLAYING TOGETHER and laughing and shouting and having a grand old time TOGETHER. I am willing to overlook my pacifist tendencies a bit for the return of a physical and emotional presence by my firstborn. I am ecstatic to learn that the two of them hung out together last night, eating pizza, and watching a movie.

Seriously, I need to wipe a tear at that line.

My boys are friends again.


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