The Second Annual Birthday Eve Letter to My Youngest Son

Dear son:

Last year, I wrote you a letter on the eve of your birthday, and if I am doing it again now, it must be tradition. In fact, besides one other post since your last birthday, I have completely neglected this blog. Never did I imagine what life would throw at our family after those posts, and that I would not make time to write again until now. Do some moms really blog every day? Who ARE these people?

This year of your life shall henceforth be referred to as the Year We Moved AGAIN. That’s right. Just after the start of the new year, we moved from Colorado to Tennessee. Your dad tried very hard to find another job in Denver so he would not have to accept the transfer with his company, but we simply ran out of time. Thank goodness the transfer was to a place we both call our hometown and is filled with people we care about.

One day, when you are older, remind me and we will have a deeper conversation about how sometimes the toughest decisions can be both heartbreaking and provide joy all at the same time.

We moved into a home that is only 2 minutes by car from your Mimi and Papa. You have aunts, an uncle, and cousins nearby. Aunt Tammy and Uncle Bill are now only a short day’s drive away. These facts are the uplifting part.

The heartbreaking part is that we left behind our home that was just starting to feel like our own after only 2 years. We all LOVED the winter, and yes, the snow. We loved the other seasons, too. Your dad and I felt like we had won the climate lottery. It was perfect. We had one of the country’s best trail systems just down the street. I ran past bighorn sheep and deer and probably some mountain lions (they are everywhere in Colorado, but it’s rare to see them). Your dad discovered a love for hiking. I had great colleagues. We yearned to be in the mountains every weekend, and tried to be there as often as possible. People came to visit us all the time. Life was good. And then we moved.

Life has proven to be good here too, but we are still working on getting into the new normal. We had found a new routine, but will break it once again when I start a new job tomorrow on your birthday. Because that’s how we roll. We must make everything complicated and have stacked milestones at every corner.

If I have learned anything about you from this year of transitions, it’s that you are flexible. The year included three cross-country road trips and a couple of months living with your aunt and uncle in Illinois along with me and your brother while your dad found us a home in TN. As long as you have your thumb and your blankie (a new attachment in the past month or so), you are happy. Really happy. Even though you have become a fierce defender of your own independence recently, you remain a sweet and happy child most of the time.

You love to say “Doo,” and you say it a million times a day, because that is how you say your brother’s name, and it is adorable. You follow your brother around and make him SO frustrated by always wanting whatever he has. You are winning at being a little brother.

You shower your loved ones with hugs and kisses. You blow goodbye kisses every day to all the teachers at your day care, each of whom would probably give their kidneys to you if you asked. And I don’t mean just one per teacher. They would all just hand over both kidneys, no questions asked. That’s how much they love you.

There is a pure joy about you that everyone feels when they are with you. You are kind. You try to kiss boo-boos on other people. You pat friends when they cry. Even your big brother who is supposed to be jealous of you just melts when you do something sweet. I don’t tell you this as a way to say that we spoil you, or to give you the false impression that WE would give you our kidneys. We won’t. Your dad and I love our kidneys, and we don’t want you to be spoiled. But we do want to note for the future that your disposition is one of a caring, empathetic person who should go into a profession where those traits are valued and rewarded. Like politics.

You are fearless on the playground, and have the balance of a mountain goat. If you could spend 24 hours a day outdoors, you would. I imagine our lifestyle in Colorado is partly responsible for that. I am sure that you have forgotten everything about Colorado by now, and it makes me a little sad.

What we have learned as a family this year is that wherever we are, we will always have time for snuggles, books, and exploring. I hope that this somewhat unstable year in our family life has been a year of fun and learning for you, and has also demonstrated that it is possible to hold on to some traditions and routines no matter where you are.

Next year, on your birthday eve, I can’t wait to report all the new things you are doing and saying. May it be a year of discovery and love for your new state, and I hope you are still willing to slow down in order to snuggle up to me and read book after book after book.

Love,

Mom

>>>Lest you think that I only write these types of things for my youngest, I should add that I have a journal I have been writing in for the eldest since before he was born. It’s something a first-born child gets. The last born just gets some lousy blog posts. That’s birth order realities, my friends.

 

 

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My First 5K as a Mom

Training:

Up until last weekend, I had been training for my first 5K as a mom for 8 weeks using the Couch to 5K app. This required getting up at the crack of dawn in sometimes freezing temperatures to run with my neighbor before work. Other times, when it snowed or rained, I ran on a treadmill and fought boredom. Either way, just finding the regular time to run meant good planning with my husband, and the willingness to run whenever I had the chance. **I have since added the exception of running an hour after Taco Tuesday dinner. That was not a good run. But I did it. Barely.

IMG_8466.JPGWhenever I get back from a run, I am mauled by my entourage (this photo includes a neighbor’s dog who was visiting this particular day).

I remember training back before kids over a decade ago. I had such nice, relaxing evenings of stretching under the ceiling fan while watching Sex in the City and enjoying a cold adult beverage.

My strength training didn’t include an infant lying on my stomach as I did pelvic lifts, or a preschooler crawling repeatedly through the “bridge” of downward-facing dog pose as I tried to inhale and release my stressed muscles. Ah, those were the days.

The Night Before:

Despite going to bed before 10:00 p.m., my mind was nervous about the race. Could I do it? How hilly would the course be? Would my weakened bladder (thanks kids) make it? Would I forget to nurse the baby before going to the race so I wouldn’t have that kind of leaking? Hey-I keep it real here. These are legitimate concerns. Count yourself lucky if you don’t have to worry about these things before a race!

Just as I drifted off, the crying began. My one-year old is teething again (we assume). He cried off and on until about 3:00 a.m., when he decided to just stay awake and thrash himself around in our bed until 5:00 a.m. We had to get up at 5:45. That was a short night.

Race Day- Before the Race:

Our eldest son woke up on the wrong side of the bed. He melted down because he couldn’t find his little American flag that he wanted to wave at the soldiers and veterans competing in the Memorial Day Run and March. It was nowhere to be found. Once our team of diplomats resolved this issue, we were out of pears and also didn’t have the right kind of cereal. Realizing that negotiations were futile, the diplomats gave up and went to a more reasonable preschooler’s home.

Meanwhile, I was trying to fuel up and also feed the baby who was throwing his food on the floor in his first physics experiment and crying because his breakfast didn’t bounce.

We made it to the car, most of us crying, and all of us apologizing. We were solidly in a festive mood by the end of the 15 minutes it took to get there.

Ten seconds after leaving the registration area, a kind woman asked my son if he wanted a little flag. Where the heck was SHE an hour earlier?

During the Race:

I went out too fast at the start because I was all excited to be running in a pack-a rookie mistake that I should have avoided. This meant that I ended up taking four walk breaks near the end because I pushed too hard at the start.

At one point in my first walk break, I let that mean girl voice take over and tell me I can’t do this. What am I thinking? I am starting over 12 years after a marathon. I should give up after this race. If I can’t do 3.1 without walking, how will I EVER do 13.1?

Then I thought of my boys, and how they were waiting to see their mom cross the line, and by golly, they were going to see me finish strong. So I ran when I could and walked when I needed to, and I rounded the corner with a smile on my bright red face.

After the Race:

I finished in a time that was great for me-I really only wanted to cross the line on my own feet and not by stretcher.

The best part was that my boys were all lined up, waving that tiny flag, when I crossed the line. My eldest son, who had sacrificed and eaten second-choice cereal before the race, beamed at me and told me he was proud of me for “winning the race.”

I don’t know what other people went through in the 8 weeks leading up to their race, but I definitely think I am winning.

Letter to My Second (and Last) Child on the Eve of His 1st Birthday

Dear son,

You are about to turn a year old in two days, and I am a mess. I look as if everything is under control most of the time, and I am making positive progress toward some major physical/personal milestones; however, I am also crying several times a day right now and your father is forcing me out for my runs so that I will feel better.

You see, when we learned that we were having you, we also knew you would be our last child. I am 41, and although it is theoretically possible to continue adding children to our family biologically or through adoption, it is not personally recommended physically for the prior and not financially feasible for the latter. We are done. The magnitude of this is great. I am not saying that you and your brother aren’t enough, it’s just that there is no choice in the matter. I explain this more in an earlier blog post. I am quite aware that the fear of choices being taken away is why I am planning to run this half marathon and climb a fourteener. I want to do it all while I can. It’s my mid-life crisis.

Now that we know you, we can’t imagine life before you. You are an absolute ray of sunshine in our lives. Your disposition is contagious and we are all happier because you are here. I look at your sweet face with your four-toothed smile, and I melt. Every time. You are getting more brave every day, standing on your own for almost 15 seconds, although no steps yet. I can tell that you are going to be tenacious, but also kind. You give more kisses than your older brother, and I thought he was the snuggliest kid in the world. You can fight over that distinction every day if you wish.

But when I look at you, I also see how much time I have to spend away from you while working at a job I need to keep our family going. I look at a year that whizzed past as you spent hours every day in the arms of Miss Nicole or Miss Jacey at day care. I know they love you dearly too, and I am thankful you have loving arms to hold you when I can’t. But I wish it had been my arms all day. I wish I could have gone full Dr. Sears and had you attached to me 24-7. But I couldn’t. Again, the lack of choice breaks my heart.

Every cliché holds so much truth: You can’t get that time back. The first year goes by so fast. Don’t blink-you will miss their childhood. But for those of us who must work, we miss a lot. We don’t get a fraction of the time we need with our babies. We trust that they will turn out well-adjusted even though they had to spend so much time away from the one person they need most during the first year. We try to make every weekend count with our kids. Every nighttime snuggle is that much more cherished. We negotiate our time and manage somehow.

But I don’t know about you. How do you manage it? Do you miss me? Do you feel abandoned? You sure don’t look like you are sad or depressed, but then, is this not-ideal situation all you know, so you don’t hope for 24-7 mommy time? That is sad, too. You and your brother will never know what it would be like to have me to yourselves most of the day. For that I am sorry. You might be thankful. The jury is out on that one.

It’s just important that you know that if I could, I would be with you all day, every day. Maybe before you are in school one day, I can spend time away from work and stay home, but there are no promises. Daddy and I are doing the best we can for you and your brother. It will never ever be enough for me, but I hope it is enough for you.

I love watching you grow and see your sweet personality develop before our eyes. I would never ask to go backwards on this journey together, but I will pause on photos like this one today and cry for the baby that I wish I could have held just a little bit longer every day. You might as well get used to this crying now. It’s part of who I am. Just ask your Aunt Tammy who is probably crying as she reads this too. It’s genetic.

Now here is a choice I can make. I can cry it out, run it out, or climb it out, but I will also focus on the moments that we do share together and be thankful. I can’t wait to see what the coming year has in store for us. The ugly cries are under control now. Let’s celebrate!

Love,

Mommy

 

Mother’s Day: Why do we do this?

I am not a curmudgeon who believes that we shouldn’t recognize moms for their hard work. But the older I get, the more I wonder why we continue to celebrate this holiday when so many people have a difficult time with it.

There are the people like me who have lost their mother, and the day always brings that familiar lump in the throat as we quickly scroll past images of peers celebrating with their mothers on Facebook.

There are those who do not have mothers to celebrate at all, because their mothers were the source of pain and/or neglect in their lives.

There are those single moms who might not be recognized at all if there is no other family member to prompt the kiddos to make her breakfast in bed, paint a picture, or dig up some dandelions to present to her on that day.

There are also those who desperately want to be a mother, and haven’t been able to conceive and/or adopt. This day can bring sadness for these mothers-to-be.

Finally, we have those who were mothers, but lost a child. I can’t imagine the grief that this day must bring for them.

Allow my idealist side to offer a proposal: Is it so revolutionary to consider sharing your thanks with your mother, should it be an option and appropriate for you, on many days of the year without Hallmark reminding you to do so? We all have these handy devices that allow us to set reminders for ourselves.

Why don’t we look around us and give moms a hand on a regular basis? Arrange to look after her children so that a mom can go shopping or sit in a quiet room for a few hours if needed. Tell a mother she is doing a great job on a random day. That probably means more anyway. Encourage kids to be kind to their mothers every day. Let’s toss out the one day a year model.

Now, my realistic side will offer a perhaps more achievable proposal: Since American society is not likely to let go of this holiday, why not do the above, AND also be mindful of the people in our lives for whom Mother’s Day really sucks. Reach out and tell them that you are thinking of them on what must be a difficult day (not on Facebook, but in real life, or by a phone call or card). Take care when you address a group at work, church, or other gatherings that your blanket wishes of “Happy Mother’s Day,” might hit some people right in the gut. Celebrate, yes, but be mindful of the fact that not everyone has a reason to celebrate with you, and assuming so can unintentionally hurt people close to you.

Myself, I made it through another Mother’s Day with only a few tears while talking to my sister, and otherwise tried to have a “normal” day with my kids. I appreciated them, they appreciated me, and that did not diminish today, the day afterwards. I imagine tomorrow will be much the same.

 

7 Ways to Get the Most out of Fertility/Pregnancy Forums

 

I pulled an emotional all-nighter on the fertility forums a few years ago. I discovered that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach these sprawling archives of hypochondria and obsession.

Close-up of a positive pregnancy test.  Shallow depth of field.
photo credit: everydayfamily.com

 

Timing is everything

The subject of your worry undoubtedly occurs to you in the middle of the night, but don’t lose sleep waiting for someone in Europe to answer your anxious forum post at 3 a.m. Their advice usually involves the metric system and a 24-hour time stamp. It’s best to post, rest, and start refreshing your browser once people are waking up in Maine.

Let grammar be your guide

If someone is telling you, “trust me i c u having pain in adomen at 4 mo don’t worry it not ur baby u have gas,” followed by 15 emoticons that include fireworks and a soccer ball (?), then keep reading before you grab the Beano. This person is not an OBGYN.

Use the friend test

Is your concern something that you would share with a friend? If not, post on the forum and feel the exhilaration of anonymity. There are, after all, only a few people whom we can call to ask what the difference is between a hemorrhoid and anal prolapse.

If your concern is something you would ask a friend, start there and then use the forum as a second opinion if you think she is wrong. Be sure to follow up with that friend if you discover that 83 people on the internet disagree with her. She needs to know that you really can be 9 months pregnant without knowing it.

Don’t use your real name

The last thing you want is for your post about how many times per month you obsessively pee on a stick to go viral.  Unless, of course, you are prepared to explain to future employers that this behavior demonstrates your determination, your willingness to challenge the assertions of others (“Reliable up to 6 days before your expected period,” my butt!), and your ability to continue making an investment when the return is not immediate. Otherwise, stick to using the name of that former boss you don’t like or your mother-in-law.

Learn the lingo

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to decipher posts that read, “My DH and I are ttc after our DD. I have POS 2x PO, but BFN. Pixie dust, please.” I initially thought this person’s designated driver made a purchase order for something from Tinkerbell. Once you learn the shorthand, you can scan posts efficiently and feel like an insider. There are glossaries. Learn the shorthand and feel like one of the cool kids.

Avoid the snowball effect

If you search for a forum post about “feet swelling during pregnancy,” but land on one so worrisome that it prompts you to start googling “foot cancer” or “gangrene,” back up a minute, go to your bookmarks, and look it up on the Mayo Clinic website. There are always people out there who share their oddball scenario on a forum that just doesn’t apply to 99.99999% of the world.

Just call the #*^& doctor

As my sister would tell me repeatedly during my pregnancies, your OBGYN chose this profession. They signed up for something that requires on-call hours and anxious women. Make them feel useful. There is no way you can possibly have a question they haven’t heard before, and you won’t see them answering questions on forums. This is your one way to know for sure if you are a hypochondriac or not.

Seriously. You can fret and rephrase your forum question over and over about whether your extreme nausea is a sure sign you are carrying quadruplets, or you can make one phone call and get some help with the nausea as a bonus.

I am a fan of forums, and I use them for comfort, as long as they remain comforting. I use forums as a place to gather more questions, but I don’t use them as a place for answers. I can share my pain, my joy, and my hopes without a filter, and the community (usually) responds with support and love.

 

Not everyone has that kind of support in her life, so by all means- lean on each other, anonymous moms. Then go call your doctor.

How to Climb a Mountain in 5 Easy Steps

Please note: the steps I follow below will work for anything you wish to accomplish. Just substitute “climb a mountain” with “do taxes,” or “learn to knit.”

  1. Decide you are going to climb a mountain– This is obviously the game changer. No waffling. Tell everyone you know. Ask them to hold you accountable and to ask you about it later. You should no longer question, “Can I climb a mountain?”
  2. Name the mountain– There is something about naming the goal to make it part of  your destiny. Feel the word roll around on your tongue. Mount Bierstadt is more of a series of hops than a roll in my case, but you get the picture. Because I like to write, I imagine the way it will feel to write the word in a future blog post that shares the news that I made it.
  3. Start exercising-Whatever your goal, this is the messy part. The doing part. This is all the preparation you need to do to reach the goal. It’s usually physically and/or mentally painful, and this is where most people don’t pay attention. You have to be your own motivator. Keep doing it for yourself even when others aren’t watching.

    Backpack
    Happy Mother’s Day to me!
  4. Buy some gear- Invest in the goal. Then you know that you have to do it. I don’t want to be staring at an unused day pack in the corner of my room for the next year. It will just be a reminder of what I didn’t do.

    If you have substituted “do taxes” or “learn to knit,” in this post, it may be helpful to imagine an IRS auditor or an unshorn sheep in your bedroom corner. See how uncomfortable that feels?

  5. Tell a preschooler near you that you plan to climb said mountain.- I guarantee that within a month you will just climb the dang mountain to get them to stop asking you when you are going to do it. I’m thiiiis close to just doing it this weekend to get my eldest son to focus on something else.

 

Best Books for a Preschooler’s Big Emotions

There is nothing like my 4-year-old son’s big emotions to make me feel completely unprepared to be a parent. I feel insecure. I try to be compassionate. I try to be still and near. I demonstrate strategies for managing anger and disappointment. I buy books (some of my favorites to follow). I make sure he gets exercise and fresh air. I try to be on the same page with my husband who has a shorter threshold for patience during meltdowns. I’ve tried a chart. I worry. I analyze. I lose sleep.

These are the formative years, they say. Now is when kids start to build patterns of behavior and self-regulation. No pressure.

hiking
Not all parks have playgrounds, sweetheart.

I have been partnering with his very patient and caring teacher to try to understand what is causing a recent uptick in incidents of shoving, name calling, etc., but yesterday was much like the days before. A little improvement followed by a brawl at the end of the day. I ended my day crying before bedtime. It was too late to call a fellow mom. I felt alone, although my husband was reassuring. There is just something different hearing the same words from a fellow mom. My son is not a bully. Is he?

This morning after our jog at the crack of dawn, my neighbor and fellow mom kindly lent me the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Happiness for Kids. I had managed to both cry and laugh during a two-minute sprint.

Shortly after returning from my run, my kiddo stumbled downstairs from his room to say, “I don’t want to go to school today. I hate my school.” He saw the book in my hands and asked me to read it to him.

The theme of the book is that everyone in the world has an invisible bucket. When we are happy, our bucket is full. When our buckets are empty, we are sad or angry. We can be a bucket filler (doing nice things for others, or saying nice things, even small stuff), which fills our own bucket as well as that person’s bucket; or we can be a bucket dipper, which is when our words or actions take away from the other person’s bucket. As you can guess, that also makes our own bucket less full.

Something about this book really struck a chord with him. He immediately started telling me that snuggling with him filled his bucket. His baby brother waving at him filled his bucket. He asked if using his manners filled my bucket. He got it! My husband asked my son’s teacher if she was familiar with the book, and she was. She is going to try to use that language with him today to see if it helps. I hold my breath and hope for a breakthrough.

Will I ever know what is going on with my son’s emotions right now? How long will this last? Is this a sign of a larger problem? These are things that are going through my head for now. Because I run to books for answers for both of us, below are a few that I/we have read recently and enjoyed.

For him:

  1. Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story introducing active progressive muscular relaxation and deep breathing – by Lori Lite and Max Stasuyk: I did not have to tell my kiddo to try these techniques as I read the story. He did it automatically. I have tried this type of relaxation myself, and while it is effective, I am not sure that he will try these techniques oIn his own in the midst of a meltdown, but perhaps if we keep this in rotation, it will be on his mind.
  2. The Best Behavior Series:  Words Are Not For Hurting –  I like that this book balances the message that words are not for hurting, but our words can be used for positive reasons. Hands Are Not For Hitting – Same series, same idea. We bought this board book when he was much younger before he could express himself at all. I never imagined we would have to bring it back out again. Even though this is more simple, the message is clear about what we use our hands for, such as helping, staying safe (crossing the street holding hands), staying healthy (washing hands), playing (making mud pies), and what we don’t use our hands for (hitting).
  3. How do Dinosaurs Stay Friends – by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague: Because dinosaurs.
  4. A Sick Day for Amos McGee – This is quite possibly one of the sweetest books I have ever encountered about caring for other people. The illustrations are precious and the message of the zookeeper being cared for by all the animals he normally looks after is a great way to talk about reciprocity.
  5. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – A classic, I did enjoy reading this with my son because he loves the long sentences that make the reader speed up and gasp for air to finish. My only complaint is that it covers the What? (Alexander is having a bad day), the So What? (Nothing is going as planned, and he wants to move to Australia), but there is a lacking Now What? I filled in my own discussion afterward, but it falls a little flat at the end.
  6. Kids Yoga Stories: This series by Giselle Shardlow is phenomenal, and is helping my son with calm down time during transitions. A new favorite in this series is Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Bedtime Story.

For me:

  1. Positive Discipline for Preschoolers: For Their Early Years- Raising Children Who are Responsible, Respectful, and Resourceful – I love this book. I don’t think I am doing it right, because many of the approaches have not worked, although in general terms, it has helped me have the courage to remain calm and create a safe space for him to have his feelings.
  2. Strong Moms, Strong Sonsby Meg Meeker: This is a book I will probably return to over and over, as the advice covers childhood, adolescence, and beyond.
  3. How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk – by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish: This is a book I read and recommended to a dear friend. We both agreed that there are some great pieces of advice for how to listen to and respond to anyone you love-not just kids.

I would love to hear about books that have helped you, your children, or your mom friends work through the preschool phase of giant emotions in small packages. Share your favorites in the comments section!

 

 

Call a mom and set a goal!

Last week I had the good fortune to attend several workshops at the University of Denver during the DU Women’s Conference.

One of those workshops was designed for working moms, led by three working mothers at DU. Let’s just say that the circulating boxes of tissues were vital to this conversation. I sat there with my own tears of guilt and sadness and listened to the stories of so many women who are hurting in the process of finding their balance. Just like me.

The common feelings included fatigue, guilt, loss of self, feelings of alienation, regret that hobbies, housework or self-care fall behind in the priorities of daily life. These feelings are also common among my friends who are stay-at-home moms.

As moms, we often put others first, sometimes at the cost of our own well-being. I know that I do the same, moving through the daily routines until I crash, exhausted and with nothing else to give, night after night, only to go through it all again the next day.

I decided this weekend to interrupt that cycle by inserting a goal (or two) into my life. Although I don’t consider myself an athlete anymore, in another decade before children I ran a marathon. Since the kiddos have been around, I rarely exercise. In my earlier post At 20 or 40, tired is tired, I let you in on the secret that I am going to climb a Colorado fourteener (a mountain of at least 14,000 ft).

I would never do such a thing alone, so I proposed this goal to a neighbor a while back, and she accepted the challenge. This weekend after a 6-mile walk in beautiful Cherry Creek State Park (pictured below), we made the plan. We named our mountain. We will hike Mt. Bierstadt in late summer. Naming the goal has made it more concrete, and I plan to go stare it down in the near future.

FullSizeRender-5

My neighbor, unlike me, is a stay-at-home mom, but in our few weeks of training we have realized the impact of working with another mom for a goal that is outside of our family’s needs. To some, that may sound selfish. To me, I think it has everything to do with helping my family. Because it is healing me.

Not only is our regular walking routine improving my mental health through physical exercise, but the return of my confidence and sense of accomplishment is a nice bonus. My family will hopefully be able to see the journey to the summit as proof of what we as individuals can accomplish. I hope that my sons will carry with them the knowledge that women are strong, and that they will treat the women in their lives with respect and maybe a little awe.

Not a person to set just one ridiculous goal, I have been tempted by another friend who threw out an even more outlandish idea last week- what if we trained (in our respective states) for the 2016 Rock and Roll half marathon in Las Vegas in November?

Stay tuned to see if I accept. For now, I am working on hiking and cardio at altitude.

If you do not find running or hiking to be fun and rewarding, the point of this self-involved narrative is that goal-setting is important, but to achieve a goal with a fellow mom doubles the impact. You don’t have to start an organization or swim the English Channel to make a difference in the world or to feel accomplished. Make a difference for yourself and another mom by doing something together and celebrating it.

I’d love to hear what you and your mom friends achieve! Leave a comment if you wish to return later and share.

Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones, Your Words Will Always Hurt Me.

Dear Eldest son,

Tonight you scared your mommy and daddy by leaving our backyard where you were having an after-school snack, and went across the street to our neighbor’s front yard to play with their kids without asking us first.

When we saw you across the street, we had the now-famous mix of elation and anger that parents achieve in times like this. I calmly called you back home, but you had to have known you were in trouble. You fought me coming back in the house, and once inside, you had the meltdown of your life. Believe me, we thought we had already seen the worst.

Normally, we don’t do time out because that just doesn’t work with you. We often do calm down time together, working on breathing, etc. Tonight, I was so angry with you and I had been so scared that I put you in time out because I needed a time out. You sat there telling me how mean I am, that I am a bad mommy, that you think I am stupid. That you hate me.

I took away your story time, something that I would normally not take away, but I wanted you to notice. I wanted a punishment that you would feel. I was reacting to my own hurt.

I managed to sit nearby so you would not feel abandoned during your big emotions and I went to my happy place. I tried deep breathing. I tried focusing on the sound of your little brother’s whining that was starting in the next room, no doubt in sympathy of your pain.

I realized that nothing worked. It hurt me to see you furrow your brow and hurl insults my way, and there was no getting around it with intellectualizing where you are developmentally, and that you don’t really mean those things.

You hurt me. The one who loves you unconditionally. The one who carried you in her belly, and who thinks of you 1 million times a day. The one who will advocate for you and love you every day of her life. My heart was broken.

But I stayed with you. I outlasted the wall punches and floor kicks. I braved the storm, and was there when you collapsed on my legs in pitiful heaves and moans as you sought the comfort that you find in me. I rubbed your back, I pulled you close, and I made you laugh. You are four. I get it.

We got through this, kiddo. It may not be the last meltdown, but I hope that we both learned something today. Me, that I have the strength to have my heart broken and still give you my big love without yelling back. You, that I will always be here for you, and that the best thing you can do for people you love is to sit and listen, and do your best to understand what they really need. Even if it is to just be near and quiet.

I am sorry I took away your books, but I had to keep my word. You get your stubborn side from me.

It’s my job to keep you safe, both physically and emotionally. It’s also my job to do the same for myself. Together, we will grow. I promise.

Love,

Mommy

 

Shh! Don’t tell my husband because he wouldn’t understand.

My husband doesn’t read my blog. At least, I don’t think he does. To test my theory, I am going to throw this out there and wait: 

I wish we could have another child. 

There. I said it. 

My youngest is turning a year old in two months. He is crawling and walking and too busy to snuggle for hours. I am experiencing that particular mix of pride and sadness that the first year is almost over. I instinctively reach for my empty belly and wish I could do it all over again.

I loved being pregnant. Even this last time with twice-weekly monitoring sessions and pre-eclampsia that had me worried most of the time, I loved it. 

I also love babies. I love how they meld themselves on your chest as they sleep and clutch your clothes in their little fists to hang on. 

  

A few things prevent me from having another child. First, since I had pre-eclampsia last time, I’m likely to have a repeat case should I become pregnant. Possibly a more severe case that could threaten my life and/or the life of my child. 

Second, although biological children are out of the question, adoption is out as well. The high cost of living in Colorado is reflected in the cost of childcare. We are a two-income family in order to survive. Financially, a third baby would ruin us. 

Finally, I am thankful for my sweet family just as it is. I already feel guilty that I don’t have enough time to share with two kids. 

My desire to have another child is not coming from a position of lack. It’s something much more complicated. In my last post, I said I wouldn’t blame age for how I feel. Maybe I can get away with it here. 

Forget sports cars and bungee-jumping. My mid-life crisis is that I won’t hold a tiny baby that is mine ever again. There. It’s out. 

Time to lift my chin and go in to pick up my baby who just woke up and is raising his little arms up, elbows first, in his best little chicken impression. 

This too, shall pass.