Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Blogging Stops

I'm a bad blogger, but for all the right reasons.  These days, I'm so busy living my life that my time to write about it is short...and I would have it no other way. 

We are all well.  Outstanding, in fact.  We have made a transition that a year ago I would have laughed at.  We have moved into a space as a family that has some breathing room, some routine and a purpose.  We are comfortable with each other and within our individual relationship in a way we have never been.  We have become insular in that we seek our comfort, joy and release from each other. 

Maybe that sounds weird - like, shouldn't we have been doing that before?  But I gotta tell you, we were not.  Before I left work, we were too strung out to find joy in each other.  We ran at a dead sprint and when we finally got a few minutes to be together without running, we had no clue how to be together.  None at all.  Every moment was frenzied.  Blogging was my outlet - my way of vocalizing my gut fear about what I saw happening and had no way of fixing.  Kelly and I couldn't see the solution to the conundrum of our lives because we were so deep into it.  And as a result, we lost touch with why we are a family.  I think this happens a lot...but in many cases, the outcome is to leave not stay.  I'm glad I we chose to stay and make a change that seemed impossible. 

That's a convoluted paragraph, loaded with thoughts that seem disjointed.  But in reality, it's the summary of what the last five months of my life have been about.  This has been a time for our family of reconnection.  Reconnection to each other as individuals and as a family.  Reconnection in my marriage as my wife and I find each other in the madness and embrace the chaos as our own.  Reconnection to ourselves as people.  It's also a time of redefinition.  We have redifined ourselves as a family and the definition of what we thought we were was erased and rewritten.  I have redefined myself as a mother, changing what I thought I would always be (harried, frustrated, pulled apart by competing demands) into the mother I wanted to be (focused and committed).  I have redefined my idea of success, my ideas of what being a strong woman means and my role as wife. 

And in all of this change, which has always been hard for me, I have found an absolute peace.  I know myself better than I ever have.  I am not afraid of my weaknesses any more.  I can see how I balance them with incredible strength.  I trust my gut as a parent and I follow my heart as a wife.  I am able to compromise because I can see that doing something differently and letting go of perfect control is not going to derail everything.  When you spend all your time trying to maintain basic control of a train out of control, as we did for 2 1/2 years, it's hard to allow any change...because that might derail the whole thing.  But inflexibility kills a marriage and destroys the good you might bring to your children.  I can see that now. 

Space.  This is all about space.  My mind has space to do what it needs to do.  My heart has space to grow where it needs to go.  My children have space to be children and find comfort in two parents who are not so distracted by life that they can't parent.  Our marriage has space for good days, bad days, glorious moments and terrible moments.  All of this has room on the plate. 

And we are so much stronger because of it. 

Bailey has turned 3 since I last blogged.  Three!  I didn't blog and for a few days, I felt guilty about it.  Except that, for the first time ever, I did not celebrate her birth externally.  I celebrated it internally.  We celebrated as a family.  We had a very small party with her two best friends.  We made cupcakes together.  We let her be the queen for a day.  It was wonderful.  Moving. 

It was perfect. 

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Sometimes I look at my kids and I wonder about all of the things they know that we don't realize.  I wonder what they see when they see me.  I know what I see when I look in the mirror.  I have all my little judgements that I make, my own ways of seeing my beauty and my flaws.  I see a person I have known for 31 years and I know her. 

But what do my children see?  They have known me for such a short time.  They missed the majority of the life that I have lived and they will only know those years through stories and history that they choose to retain.  To them, I am flawless...except for what they know that I don't know.  And they know things that I never think about, except in moments like this.  My mother's hands were the most important thing to me.  Next, was that comfy spot on her chest, just above her breasts, where I laid my head countless times.  Her smell.  Her voice.  The way her eyes crinkle.  The "look" that I got when she was disappointed in my behavior.  The gentle touch of her hands and the way that her whole body hugged me. 

I give these things to my children, without any comprehension of how they are recieved.  And honestly, I probably will never know.  I mean, I have shared with my mom, but she can never really get it.  How do you put into words that which is only a feeling?  A subtle knowing that doesn't have a word that can define it? 

When I am feeling down or when I feel like a stranger in this body, I think of myself through my children.  I imagine myself as their mother, I imagine how my hugs feel.  I open my arms and let them pile in, getting as close as they want.  I let them touch me - play with my face or hold my hands or tickle my feet.  I open myself up to them and learn who I am through them. 

These are the gifts of parenting that I cannot define.  They are the things that I give them because they are my children and for no other reason.  But in giving it, I gain knowledge.  I have known a love like no other every time my children fold themselves onto my lap and find comfort in my hugs.  I hope, with every piece of my heart, that they know they will always have a place there, on my laps with their heads on my chest.  I give them all of me, unintentionally, and I hope they learn what unconditional love feels like. 

And then, perhaps I will be lucky enough to see them use that knowledge in their lives.  Because I learned what unconditional love felt like from my mother.  I learned it from my gut.  There was no definition, just a phrase that described what I could only feel.  Yet, when I met Kelly, I knew I had found it in another woman and I gave her my heart without question. 

There are so many things about parenting that are like that.  I wish I had words to describe it so that someday, when the kids read this, they know what I'm talking about.  But, just like me, they are likely to never "get it" until they have have their own children.  There are some things that you just can't describe.  How I love them....that's one of those things I have no words for.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I'm going to be 31 tomorrow.  When I was in my early 20's I told myself that if I hadn't gotten around to having children by the time I was 33, I would do it - regardless of if I was alone or not.  I was going to be a Momma and that was my time limit on waiting for the "perfect" time. 

Now, I'm 31 and I have a 3 year old and a 13 month old.  It feels strange to me.  This birthday is the first time in my life - my entire life - that I've actually contemplated the fact that I am getting older.  Older.  It's weird.  It feels wierd to me.  I thought the other day about wrinkles.  Do I have them?  When will I get them?  I use this Mary Kay Timewise facial system that is supposed to help keep wrinkles away.  I've never actually thought about that - it was just something that I used.  Not for any reason.  But are wrinkles really coming? 

I haven't spent any time in front of the mirror looking for them.  Yet.  And I won't care if I do have some wrinkles starting.  I am not afraid or weird about getting older - just having a wierd perspective thing this year.

Most days, I don't feel like somebody's mother.  I mean, I feel like Bailey and Connor's Momma...but in the three-steps removed sense of being "someone's Mom"...I don't feel that.  I am still a party-girl at heart.  I am still young and I still "dream" about when I get older.  I have plans much like I did when I was 21.  I don't feel like I've changed much since then.  Kelly might give you a totally different story.  She's known me since I was 18...she's probably got a better perspective.

At what age do you start to feel your age?  I mean, does that ever happen or are we perpetually about 10-15 years behind the curve?  Is that why so many people die without really feeling like they are ready for life to be over?  Does it take being 100 to finally feel 85 (which is the age that I feel like you are "old")? 

Weird.  I feel wierd. 

My children are a marker for me.  My marriage is a marker for me.  My possessions and the things we have accumulated are a marker for me.  Time is passing, and yet my head and my heart tell me that time is moving much slower than it actually is.  Does that make any sense at all?  I don't feel like I'm making sense. 

Sometimes I look in the mirror and I'm like "who the fuck are you???"  Not in a regret-I-haven't-lived-my-life kind of way.  It's more like WAIT...when did you grow up?  Where was I????  How is it that you are a suburban house-wife with a home and two kids and two cars and cats and bills and responsibility and a college degree and a checking account and a weekly grocery list and a must-have cup of coffee in the morning?  When did that happen?

I guess it's just a matter of reconciling.  And a lot of the time, I just have no time to reconcile.  I don't get a lot of time to sit and ponder where I'm going, who I've become or what I'm doing next.  The needs of my life are much less intellectual and much more immediate.  And that is all good.  No problems with that.  Honestly, I'm happy.  But it leaves me in moments like this where I look around my life and wonder if I am an imposter in somebody else's world because I can't remember how this dream took shape and when it got created.  It's a snowball and I am wrapped up most of the time at the dead center of it...not outside of it, seeing how much snow has been collected while it was barrelling down the hill. 

So this is me.  31.  At some point I'm gonna need to sit down with a cup of coffee and just think about that.  But not now.  There are diapers to change, meals to cook, dolls to fish out of the fridge where my son has left them, and a play date to get to.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Well hello!  Not sure if I have any readers's been a very long time since I blogged last.  The thing of it is that my life doesn't seem all that blog-worthy right now.  For all the right reasons.

Things a word...normal.  I have adjusted fully to doing this stay at home mom thing.  It's reached the point where I'm slightly bored with it, but I can't imagine doing anything else.  It feels like my days as a working mother are a distant, and not pleasant, memory and I'm glad they are over.  I have the utmost respect for people who are able to find a balance that works - I wasn't.  I needed this in a way that I was unable to articulate while I was trying to balance it.  My heart is with my children and my sense of responsibility to them outweigh everything else.  Everything.  They are the beginning and the end of what I feel like is important right now.  My family, and all the work of taking care of them, is the only thing I care about so it just feels natural that it is what I do.  The newness has worn off, but the happiness has not.  I am not riding a cloud of shock and surprise (that this has worked), but I when the kids start to wake up every morning, it makes me smile from the center of my soul.  I have not lost the sense that I am doing the only thing that would make sense right now - I am still 100% certain that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.  And I am infinately grateful that this opportunity exists for me.  Many people who would make the choice we have made are not able - a fact that doesn't escape me and one that I am truly grateful for every day. 

Kelly is working her ass off trying to juggle everything.  I know that she struggles when she comes home, if the kids have had a bad day.  I am always a bit more anxious to have the "break" on those days and she is equally anxious for a "break" from her long day.  That part hasn't changed.  Evenings are still a bit rough on both of us - but I think that is universal when you have kids the ages of ours.  Work for her is busy right now and she is working hard to catch up after spending a couple of years focused on being pregnant and then having a young, breast-feeding infant at home.  This is really the first time since she got pregnant that she has been able to really start putting her energy back into work full-time and she is feeling it.  I try to make life easier at home, but I can't escape the fact that I am human and my day job is difficult.  We are working together in a way that we never have, though...making this work because we both believe in what we are doing strongly.  There is a new respect between us that really hasn't existed before.  Maybe this is the way that marriage evolve - it's been a bit of a rocky road getting to the place where we are, but much of the old stuff from our before-kids life has stripped away and we are building something from what is left.  The process, while painful for us both in different ways, has been good and will be the marriage that carries us through this part of our lives.  It's funny how, in a long-term relationship, you forget that things will need to be rebuilt and built again every time your life goes through massive change.  I had gotten very comfortable in our pre-kids life.  I just sort of imagined that we would never be different than that and so the shock of finding that we changed with kids consuming our time was difficult.  And, of course, I hate change and almost always respond negatively to it.  But change we have, and the foundation of love and friendship that has sustained us since we began has worked its magic once again.  We are building the life that we will share for the next 10-15 years.  When the kids are teenagers and start to truly pull away as they make their own way in the world, I suspect this will happen in a major way again.  I feel more committeed and prepared to deal with that, and for all the little ways we'll change in the next few years, than I ever have.  There is nobody else that I would take this journey with.

Bailey is growing up so fast.  She will be 3 in just a few weeks.  I can't believe we've made it to 3...and so friggin quickly!  She has mastered potty training.  She wears a pullup while she is sleeping, and still goes to the bathroom in it, but during her waking hours, she is a potty-trained girl.  I'm cool with the pullup at night.  When she's ready, we'll work on getting rid of it.  Potty training was easy...we didn't do anything and she did it on her own.  I'm cool with that.  It happened later than I thought - closer to 3 than to 2, but whatever. 

She adore her brother.  Adores him.  Between her and Kelly, I'm not sure that Connor will ever want for anything or be properly disaplinced.  I seem to be the only woman in this house who can deal with his tears and, for his part, he has figured that out.  He knows that I am the one he's got to watch out for when he's doing something "bad".  He looks for me when he's about to committ an infraction - and when I catch him, he knows he's in trouble.  As soon as the tears start, Bailey is right there, hugging and singing to him.  She seems to count it as a personal victory when she is able to stop his tears (which is most of the time).  She tells him to "calm down" and "it'll be alright" and pats his back.  I try to hold the tough-girl line and make his punishment stick, but even I get a bit weak when they both turn their eyes on me.  They team up in many situations, making me laugh and sigh at the same time.  I am so glad that they like each other.  It seems that their relationship will be the best kind of sibling relationship - loving, caring, friendly and mildly competative. 

For the stats - Bailey is very advanced in her development still, but it is starting to slow down a bit.  She has mastered the alphabet through letter G - which is to say that she can identify A-G in a bunch of random letters.  The other letters are still sketchy, but we are working on it.  Same for numbers 1-10.  She knows her numbers through 20, but always misses 15.  Not sure why.  We have started working on tracing numbers and letters.  My goal for her is to send her off to pre-school next September (2011) knowing how to write her name and being able to identify all her numbers and letters.  She knows all her shapes, all the colors, she can compare opposites, she can pick out the "what picture is different" in a series.  She can put together complicated puzzles without a picture to work from.  She reads a lot, making up stories using the pictures.  Her memory is fantastic - read a book to her one time and she remembers the story.  This is good - rote memorization is so much of public education.  She can count - give her a group of things and she can tell you how many, using her fingers to point to each object.  We have not yet started on basic math skills, but the foundation is there. 

She is big for her age - she's wearing size 5 pants (not 5T...just 5) and 4T shirts.  It's weird - the reason she is wearing size 5 pants is because the girl has ASS!  Seriously - she's got a full, juicy bottom.  It must have come from the donor, because mine is...well...not that.  So, we end up cinching the waist of her pants so they don't fall down and rolling them up twice, just so the pants will fit her bottom and her hips.  She is skinny - but not in that tiny-girl way.  She's got a pretty muscular body and she is tall.  Of course, we'll get her official stats at her 3 year old well-baby check up, but we think she weighs right around 36-37 pounds. 

Connor is a different beast all together.  Where Bailey was always easily distracted, Connor is as focused as a laser when he wants something.  He fixates on what he wants, trying method after method to get it.  He's sharp - smart - hard to distract.  Often, the only thing that will break his determination to get something or do something is outright scolding and physical prevention.  Which leads to complete meltdown.  It must be very frustrating for him.  A good example are the chairs.  Connor loves to sit in chairs.  We have two kid-sized tables.  One downstairs where I often feed them breakfast and lunch and a second princess table up in Bailey's room.  Both have two chairs.  And both command his fascination and attention.  But it's not just that he wants to sit in the chairs - he wants to stand.  And once he determined that this is what he wanted to do, there was no stopping the child.  He figured out how to do it quickly and then came the process of trying 100 times to make it happen.  Of course, it's not safe for him to be standing on  little chairs.  Not only is it just bad practice, but those little chairs are not balanced and he'll fall over (which would suck).  So, in comes Mommy and Momma to stop him from doing it.  Over and over and over and over and over again.  He never gives up.  Every time he tries.  Every time we stop him.  Every time we stop him, he throws a fit, only stopping the fit when he gets back to the chair and starts to stand up again.  It's maddening!!!!!  He is so persistant it's ridiculous.  And he gets so, unbelievably angry when he is prevented from getting his way.  Seriously - he's miserable.  He throws fits the same way.  He does everything the same way.  He's persistant.  He finds something and just keeps at it, over and over again,  until he's mastered it or accomplished it or whatever.  No amount of distraction will work.  He's focused.  Laser-focused.

His stats - he's right on track.  In almost every way, Connor is "average".  LOL - it feels like saying that is almost an insult, but honestly, it's actually a bit of a relief.  With Bailey, the task has always been providing her with ways to use her skills safely - when she's only 3, but smart enough to be 4, it's hard to find activities that are suitable.  Connor is exactly opposite that.  He's developing just as expected of his age.  He's just over 13 months and he's saying a few words (Momma, Mommy, Bailey, Pitter, Ball, No) but communicating in other ways as well.  He points, he grunts, he "shows".  He has 7 teeth - three of which just came in last week.  He's physically the size that should be expected - wearing 18 month clothes with some 24 months thrown in for good measure.  He's sleeping through the night, but still waking around 4-5 AM for a bottle, then back to bed for a few hours.  He's still drinking breast milk - about 10-15 ounces a day.  He's a particularly finicky eater - if it's not "firm", he won't eat it.  He is a carb-boy - he prefers bread to just about anything.  He refuses all forms of fruit and veggies.  Just flat out won't touch them.  He'll eat pasta, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, waffles, pancakes, mac and cheese (are you seeing the trend??).  It tough because I feel like he's not getting what he needs, but our doctor has reminded me what I already knew - you can't force a child his age to eat anything.  He's begun  using a fork and/or spoon at every meal.  He knows how to use it, but most of the time just holds it and eats with his fingers.  But we provide it to get the habit started.  He sits for one book at a time, not really paying attention yet.  But, when he wants to pay attention to something, nothing can break his concentration.  He plays indepependantly in a way that Bailey never did (and still doesn't).  He will go off for a half hour at a time and amuse himself in the playroom.  He is comfortable being alone - and other than the occassional "check-in", he is a pretty independant child.  He loses his shit completely when he's hungry or tired, though.  Late afternoons, right before dinner, are particularly rough with him.  He doesn't deal well with the combination of hunger and starting to get tired.  Dinner around here is at between 5 and 5:30 and starting at around 4, he's hard to take.  He's clingy and whiny, but gets angry when you interact with him.  Poor kid.  He's a drama-boy, just like I've always wanted.  Nothing with him is light - he's pretty hardcore about everything.  But, he's so sweet that it's easy to overlook. 

Well, this has gotten very long and the kids are going to wake up.  I'm off for now!  More later...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Prior to being a stay at home Momma, our life was scheduled completely. Down to the minute. I mean, literally. Everything we did had a time and a length and we were good at sticking with it. The kids did well in the schedule - they knew what to expect and when to expect it.

For the most part, our life is still highly organized, but it is much less scheduled. I am working on flexibility - with the kids, but mostly with myself.

See, I love a good schedule. I really am a very organized person. When I was a childless person. I was more spontaneous...but I still thrived in a sense of normalcy. When Bailey came along, I had so much to learn and juggle. We just trended toward our most comfortable way of life - that scheduled, predictable one. Trying to make 40 hours of work fit into 24 hours required it.

I am trying things differently (a bit) these days. I let the kids dictate ouir schedule and I don't shy away from events that will throw off the schedule. I will take them into the city or drive an hour for an event without batting an eye. I come prepared and just let the day develop as it wants to.

It's not easy for me...but I hope that I am teaching my kids how to be more resilient and less reliant on complete predictability.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Weakness

I can deal with most of the crap of parenting. I have philosophies and tools to deal with temper tantrums, aggression, yelling, etc. It isn't always easy to deal with, but at least there is a corrective course of action. What I can't deal with is not sleeping.

With Bailey, I tolerated it until she was 7 months old and then I pushed cry it out hard and she was sleeping through the night within a week. Very shortly after that, life was so improved we got pregnant again. What Connor taught me is that sleep isn't subject to a "method". He did not respond at all to cry it out, no matter how hard I pushed it. Connor required something that was extremely hard for me to give - time and patience. He started sleeping through the night about 3 weeks ago, right around his first birthday. It really wasn't a gradual process...just one day he stopped waking up and started sleeping a solid 12 hours before waking.

I was elated!!! The improvement in my life is without compare.

So you can imagine my horror when he stopped for 3 nights and started waking up 3, 4 and 5 times a night.

Let me just tell you - I don't need much sleep. 5 hours is enough, provided those 5 hours are uninterrupted. But if I am woken up during those 5 hours, it's as if I got no sleep at all. So, for days it was as if I hadn't slept. I took him to the doctor's yesterday just to check. Make sure nothing was wrong. They told me he is fine.

We put him to bed last night around 7:30. So far, he's not woken up.

And I got my solid 5 hours. Thank god.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Our Marriage

A while back, Kelly asked me not to discuss our marriage in public spaces. Out of respect for her, I have tried not to mention anything - good or bad - about us. In my post this morning, I said that my marriage was still a source of struggle and she commented that people must think we are close to divorce.

Which couldn't be further from the truth.

Kelly and I have traveled a long, bumpy road together. The relationship that has emerged is from years of loving each other despite all odds to the contrary is remarkably strong and resilient.

Parenting has been easy for us. Learning to love each other as parents has been a struggle. We give 100% to parenting, and there is little left over. We work on putting it together, but it is such a far departure from the couple we were before children, when for years our entire life together was about being together.

But, our vow to each other is strong and I have no doubt that we will come through and see the other side of this. We are best friends. We have a foundation built like a nuclear bunker. We might have rough patches...and sometimes we may feel like we are in a never-ending patch...but we are ALwAYS in it together.