9.21.2014

another sun soaked season fades away


A portrait of mommy

It's officially the season of chaos for my family. It's one of (far, far too) many "busy times" for my husband at work which results in him working nearly around the clock six days a week without much time for sleep or, more importantly, Ethan time. I always wondered how these busy times would affect Ethan once he was old enough to understand that his daddy wasn't around very much and now instead of wondering it, I am living it. "But it's dark outside so daddy needs to come home now." "I miss my daddy." "I don't want to do it without my daddy." I'm never sure what to say because in all my wondering, I never perfected the perfect speech. I stick with the truth, which is that daddy has so much work to do at work right now and it's not because he doesn't want to be home, but because he has to do all of his work. This gets me nowhere. "But I don't want him to."

As a result, I've been dealing with a little more sulking, a little more moodiness and, my least favorite, the occasional try-not-to-cry pout from the backseat. This is one of times I also feel the burden that a small family is. As he makes his way down the already small list of relatives he wants to play with, I have to explain to him that he's been turned down (again and again). As far as being Ethan's mom is concerned, this is all proving to be the hardest part of parenting him for me, so far. I miss the cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents who are ready and willing to play that he doesn't have, that I don't have. It's always just the two of us and while we make an awesome team ("we are so good at teamwork, mommy"), I can't help but feel sad when he points out the other children at the park or My Gym who have aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents with them. I feel too guilty to even be sad that my novelty is wearing off.

In addition to my husband's busy schedule, now begins the holiday season for us. I mean, I'm already making Halloween costumes for the myriad of Halloween parties and events I'm sure Ethan and I will be attending. And after we spend all of October celebrating Halloween, it's time for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas. This year, Hanukkah ends on Christmas Eve so it's sort of perfect.

Anyway, yes, the chaos. Our dining room table has once again turned into a crafting station. There is glitter everywhere and hot glue webs and felt and duct tape -- oh, my beloved duct tape -- and then the Blogathon prizes have begun arriving, so there are boxes stacked on the chairs. Everyone sort of goes into Survival Mode around here this time of year and, unfortunately, this house and it's order are the least of my priorities. It only makes sense that I would take on more commitments in a time of chaos -- which, of course, is my special way of saying there is a new side project in the works. Because that's what my life is lacking, right? Is this where I put some quotes around the words "spare time" because it's so obviously laughable?

I thrive in chaos.

I guess that's a good thing.

9.19.2014

talk like a pirate day!

Last night, I told myself I'd refresh Facebook one more time and then go to sleep. Of course on that last refresh, I learned that today was Talk Like A Pirate Day and that you could get free donuts for going into Krispy Kreme dressed as a pirate. I don't recall seeing a Krispy Kreme since I was a kid, but a quick Google search showed me that there was still one fifteen minutes away. That was really all the motivation I needed to put off bedtime in exchange for creating a pirate costume for Ethan. It was pretty late at night, so running out for supplies was out of the question. I'm not very crafty, but I stood inside our tot school classroom, stared down our supply drawer and improvised a little.

This morning, Ethan woke up and I filled him in on it being Talk Like A Pirate Day and in typical threenager fashion he made me swear I wouldn't speak like a pirate in public. (Luckily for him, "ahoy, matey" is the extent of my pirate speak.) We made a couple of adjustments to his costume and then hopped in the car. Ethan had big ideas about this excursion. He didn't want any real pirates to think he was a real pirate and take him back on a ship with them, but he also wanted to definitely see real pirates. He also specifically wanted to Jake, but he didn't want Jake to think he was Captain Hook. I tried to prepare him for the fact that none of these things may happen without being a total dream crusher, but he was pumped.

We got to Krispy Kreme and no one else was there. He excitedly ordered a pirate donut and even got a dozen free glazed donuts for his awesome (you know, if I don't say so myself) costume! In between bites, he began excitedly making plans for sharing his big box of donuts. On the way out, after sighing that he didn't get to see any real pirates, a group of middle school aged kids walked in dress in their pirate gear. Ethan hid behind my legs, gasped, pointed and said, "look, mommy! Real pirates!" Give or take a Jake sighting, everything went as planned -- and maybe even a little better.

We spent all morning sharing donuts: one for the guy at my parent's guardhouse, a few for his friends at My Gym and their mommies, one for Aunt Megan and so on. Once we got home, there was one left. He peeked into the box and said "I think I'll share this one with me. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll share it with myself." Sounds good, matey.

Last Minute Pirate Gear:

- The beaded necklaces were leftover from Ethan's pirate birthday party. He refused to wear them -- just like the eye patch I made him. "I can't see with the eye patch on my eye, mommy." Good point.
- The pirate hat, I cut out of construction paper and glued on a skeleton from a pack of Halloween decorations I got from the Target dollar spot the other day. You could always draw a skull and crossbones but I'm not an artist, so I was lucky to have one on hand. Using duct tape (I'm so high tech, right?), I attached the hat to a black headband.
- The parrot was made from an empty toilet paper roll wrapped in red construction paper. We glued on some eyes, a construction paper beak and googley eyes. Again with the help of duct tape, I attached it to Ethan's shoulder. This was his favorite part of his costume.
- The hook was some aluminum foil duct taped onto a black cup.
- His shirt, of course, is from Target.

9.18.2014

because any fool can post a facebook meme.

I'll spare you my conspiracy theories about the world trying to drive me completely insane, but, dude, there is this thing going around Facebook that makes me want to hurl myself out of a window. By thing, I mean this meme that is constantly being posted in one of it's evolutionary forms. It typically starts with "any fool can make a baby" and contains some variation of the lines "real moms are the ones who raise their kids," "real dads are the ones who raise their kids," "just having a baby doesn't make you a mom/dad, raising a child makes you a mom/dad," "you're only a mom/dad if you raise your children." There are seemingly infinite versions of this meme in all sorts of fonts and colors with different variations of the wording but the same message. And each poster is all "yes! This!" as they share. They're all "exactly! You're not a mom just because you gave birth! I raise my kids!" Each time I see it pop up I gulp a little harder and scroll through a little faster. After the seemingly 59th time said meme was shared in an eight hour span, I put my phone down and began this evening's bedtime routine. The teeth were brushed, the stories were read, the songs were sung and then I laid next to Ethan as he fell asleep for the night. And, after having read that meme for the seemingly 59th time in an eight hour span, I thought about it in the dark and felt the tears sting at my eyes.

So for every "yes, this!" I just want to shout "No! Not this!"

I am a mother to two children. I'm sorry that you, meme sharer, never got to see my second child. That probably makes it less real to you. I get it. I typically need to see things to believe them, too. But I saw my second child. In fact, I held her in my arms and breathed in that new baby smell and saw her darkened fingernails and kissed her little rosebud mouth that fell open just slightly. She looked like her daddy, nothing like her brother who looks just like me. Maybe when you think about my kids, you think about Ethan, who looks just like me. She didn't. She had her daddy's curly hair, the "Corey Matthews hair," as I always called it. She would have hated it when she was a teenager, I can promise you that. She would have cringed each time a stranger said, "oh, I wish I had your hair." Anyway, I held her in my arms and cherished every moment with that stiff body and ran my hands across her fingers that didn't close around mine. Like her brother, she was bigger than most babies her age and I was grateful for that because she looked perfect in the outfit her brother wore on his first night home from the hospital. You see, "ride to the funeral home" was my daughter's "first night home from the hospital." It doesn't really have the same ring to it. I'm sorry that you didn't get to see how beautiful she looked in it, though, because of the fact she never got to come home and thus be the subject of my 500 Instagram photo posts her day. "Have you started trying again?" My neighbor asked me this as I stood at the mailbox and felt like my knees would give out from under me if I even attempted to answer this. Try again? I shook my head and all but ran with my stack of mail into the house. Maybe that's what most people think, because they never saw her. They thought she was there on ultrasound and then she wasn't. That she disappeared into the universe. That I am mourning something that I wanted in my head but didn't physically have. Maybe that's normal human assumption but, I assure you, I had her. I had her in a drug-free, vaginal delivery -- this pro-c-sectioners worst nightmare to begin with -- and felt every inch of her leave my body. I held her like I did Ethan, but she didn't cry. She wasn't warm. But she was real and, I assure you, I am her mother.

I am her mother even though I don't get to raise her. Maybe all I did was give birth and push out a body that never got to take a breath, but you, meme-sharer, cannot trivialize that. My husband was the other "fool" that made her and he doesn't get to raise her, either. Neither of us do. But I promise you, we are her parents. We will always be her parents.

Maybe you, meme-sharer, know someone who had a baby and was an epic failure at parenting. Maybe they changed their minds and didn't want to be a mother or father anymore. Maybe they thought they had no choice but to be a mother but were too selfish, too addicted, too something to devote themselves to the role. Maybe they were a reluctant father who was too young, too broke, too selfish to be a father and so they just decided to pretend they weren't physically one. In that case, I'm sorry. I'm sorry you know someone who sucks so hard at being a parent that you had to share a meme about them because somehow the fact they aren't living up to your parenting standards is an insult to the Throne of Parenting Win that you sit yourself on top of. I'm sorry that pointing out that other people suck at being a parent somehow affects you so much that you feel the need to take to social media to point out how much better you are, because you raise your kids. But take a step back from all the applause you're giving yourself because, meme sharer, I think you don't think. I think you don't know the power of your words (or your JPEG). I think my own heart hurts a little for the man or woman reading your post who is struggling with infertility -- you know, since "any fool can make a baby." I think of that person sitting there feeling worse about themselves than they unfairly already do. Or the people who have lost their children (I'm raising my hand and giving you the side-eye, meme sharer) and don't get the chance to raise them. The people who have lost a child either during pregnancy, at birth or beyond; the people who are still parents even if the only claim to parenting they have is the birth that you claim doesn't count. It counts. Spare me your "that's not what I meant" because -- it counts.

So, enjoy your social media time. Goodness knows I do, more than I should. Share your parenting articles. Splatter your timeline with your opinions about breastfeeding and diapers and car seats and electronics. Have a go at it all. But, please, don't try to define what makes someone a parent. Don't pat yourself on the back for seeing your kids through from birth to their high school graduation because not every parent gets that chance and, I promise, it doesn't make you more of a parent. Not everyone can make a baby and not everyone can raise their kids. And maybe some people royally suck at parenting, fine, I get it -- but there's no reason to punish the people who wouldn't, if only they got the chance to prove it.

9.17.2014

the halloween craft-a-thon has begun!

The Halloween craft-a-thon has begun around here! Halloween is my favorite holiday and I think I passed that down to Ethan. We like to go a little overboard with crafting and decorating -- but let's be real, are there any cuter decorations than the ones your little one makes?! Didn't think so. Regardless, once my sister's birthday (September 12th) passes, all of Ethan's focus goes from birthdays to Halloween. And as a result, everything around our house looks a little bit like this:

When Ethan gets into a crafty mood, he likes to Make All The Things. We have a good time together making things for our house (and everyone we know) so I'm pretty excited that our Halloween craft-a-thon seems to have started.

It all began with one toilet paper roll pumpkin. Isn't that how it always works?! To make this pumpkin, Ethan painted two and 3/4 toilet paper rolls orange. We painted that extra 1/4 toilet paper roll green. The whole point was to wait until it was dry to slice the pieces and string them together, but he was too excited. Your toddler simply strings that sliced orange rolls together and you assist by tying the string together once you've perfected your desired pumpkin shape. Ethan helped glue the green stem to the top.

Ethan is really into the "I'll do it all myself" crafts this year and I love watching him do his thing. I'll usually set the materials on his table for him and sit back and watch as he goes to work. These cotton ball ghosts are perfect for an independent craft activity for toddlers. Ethan was a little concerned that making a spooky ghost might scare him so I cut out a smiley face for him to glue on. He named this ghost White Ghost (I know, he's creative, huh?) and was really proud of his work.

While we were crafting, my aunt in Pennsylvania texted me and asked if Ethan could make her a candy corn. He had no idea what a candy corn was but he was happy to oblige. For this one, we glued on some cotton balls for white part and then I gave him an empty water bottle to stamp on the orange and yellow.

Even though Ethan has moved on to independent crafts, I can't let a holiday slide without at least one handprint craft. The older he gets, the more intricate the crafts get and the less "just stamp your hand here" they are. But, I mean, one day he won't have chubby little fingers anymore and I have to document them as best as I can at any opportunity I get. We decided to make a handprint witch that was equal parts handprint and equal parts independent toddler craft. Once I was cutting out Ethan's traced handprints, he got to work gluing black scraps of paper to a witch's hat. When he was finished with that, he glued on some googley eyes, a mouth and a nose.

9.16.2014

making the dentist fun

Ethan loves the dentist. I mean, that's not to say he didn't scream bloody murder until his cleaning was over, but after that he decided he loved the dentist. Lately he's been trying to decide if he wants to be a dentist or a chef when he grows up -- or both! I try to watch what I say in front of him because ultimately my reactions to things will become his. That's a lot of pressure. I had an appointment today to have three fillings done. Well, two old fillings re-filled and one new filling. I was pretty terrified. I didn't have a good experience with the dentist my family had been using for the last few years and it sort of ruined any shreds of hope I had towards a positive experience at the dentist but I trudged on with a smile. I dropped Ethan off at my parent's house before my appointment and on the way there, we talked about how much fun the dentist was and how excited I was to be going. "The dentist is so much fun," he declared as we rang my mom's doorbell.

I had found a new dentist last week and though I don't know him very well yet, I quickly realized I hit the dentist jackpot. I mean, as he numbed my mouth he talked about minivans and Zach Braff and our shared love for Garden State so I sort of relaxed and realized my teeth were in good hands now. Anyone who cherishes the Garden State soundtrack as much as I do is okay in my book. (Sidenote: South Floridians, I highly recommend Dr. Adam Barbag - 954-345-2264. He will undo any built-up dental trauma in ten minutes. My teeth felt better in an hour than they have in years!)

Anyway, I came home from the dentist, still a little numb but actually having had a good experience. "Was the dentist fun, mommy?" Well, fun may be pushing it -- but it was nice to be able to tell Ethan how much better the dentist made my teeth feel.

To encourage the association of positivity with the dentist and help quench Ethan's love for all things dentistry, I set up some dental activities for him upon my return to get him.

Playdough Flossing - stick some playdough in between the wedges of a block and let your little one floss it out. Ethan is really into flossing these days, so he had fun with this.

Teeth Whitening - Anyone else remember this one from elementary school? You submerge an egg into some soda for at least a half hour and then pull it out. It turns yellowish brown. I gave Ethan a toothbrush and let him go to work brushing the egg. Next time I'll hardboil it, because most of this activity was making sure the egg didn't squish all over Grandma's table.

Teeth Sorting - We did this one in tot school back when Ethan was a baby! Using some tweezers for fine motor practice, he got to put the teeth in the mouth. He was way more interested in flossing the teeth, however.

Who knows, maybe Ethan will be a Dentist Chef when he grows up, after all.

9.15.2014

you'll never sink when you're with me

My sweet little boy, I spent so many days during your infancy pleading with you to please not grow up, like most parents do. Please stay this little and sweet forever. Please stay this small and snuggly and innocent. The older you get, the sadder I assumed I would be. At your first birthday, I pleaded with time to slow down because I wasn't ready for you to be a toddler yet. Toddler. The word seemed synonymous with "college-bound" at the time and I pictured you packing up a suitcase and leaving me for a life of your own.

Yet, the reality is, the older you get, the happier I am. The prouder I am. The more excited I am to see each new day unfold, each new phase of who you are develop in front of my eyes.

I am loving watching you grow. I am taking advantage of every moment of every milestone you hit, every new phase you enter, everything you do and say and love. I am soaking it all in because I know it won't last. I know the weeks will pass like seconds, the months like minutes and soon you will be entering a new age. A new phase. A new stage. A new layer of you. I don't want to stop you. I simply want to take it all in right here next to you, admiring the person you are already and, of course, the you you continue to uncover as you grow.

May you grow up. May you grow up and get older, taller, bigger, wiser. May I always be fortunate enough to be by your side as I am now in these days, these days where you both need me and want me around. These days where the whole world is you and me and us. I cherish these days. I cherish every second of these days.

You see, there is no greater honor than being by your side. There is nowhere I would rather be than next to you, on those days where there aren't enough hours to pack in all of the adventures that our hearts dreamed up and even on those days where we both long for bedtime because everything feels wrong and unfixable.

There is simply nothing better than watching you grow.

introducing the 2014 blogathon: blogging to remember

Each year I participate in a 24-hour Blogathon. This means I blog once every half hour for 24 hours straight while people pledge donations to my charity -- much like a walkathon or marathon. I was initially going to take a year off from the Blogathon this year due to having a newborn but, of course, that isn't the way things are going to work this year. Instead, I am taking Wylie's name and memory and working towards something beautiful during the 2014 Blogathon.

Blogging To Remember

The 2014 Blogathon will kick off on November 22nd, 2014 beginning at 8:00 am EST. I will be blogging around the clock to raise funds for The Compassionate Friends, an organization that provides free bereavement resources to parents suffering the loss of a child at any stage. No matter how long ago, no matter the stage of life of your loss, The Compassionate Friends is there to provide support and ensure that you're not alone. Anyone who has lost a child knows how absolutely isolating such a loss can be. The Compassionate Friends also have over 660 chapters in the United States alone. Each chapter provides a free bereavement support group for parents (or grandparents or siblings) suffering from such a loss.

For every $5 you donate to The Compassionate Friends to sponsor me during the Blogathon, you're eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes that have been generously donated by sponsors. There are more prizes being added weekly and a complete list of them can also be found at Blogging To Remember.

For more information on the Blogathon, on Wylie, on this charity and how to donate, just visit:

http://www.bloggingtoremember.com

Thank you for your support (and patience!) as I throw together this Blogathon in a "last minute" manner.

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