Surrounded

Grady graduated to his green belt in karate last week. His school does graduations once per month, and he still had his last stripe to earn, so I didn’t think he’d be graduating until February. But at the last minute, two days before graduation, he tested and passed. 

He has worked so hard and grown so much since starting karate. I know I’m biased but I promise, he’s actually really good. And he loves it. I don’t think I’ve had a cooler parenting moment than seeing my kid excel at something he enjoys.  

Graduation was a bit of a last minute scramble and I didn’t expect anyone to reschedule their lives around Grady’s karate event, but I put the invitation out to all the grandparents. And they all showed up. They watched him move up to the next belt level, they cheered and clapped and took pictures. Afterwards we all went out for dinner and I can’t articulate how much it meant to me to see how my kids are surrounded by love and support. Intellectually I know my kids are loved but to witness the sacrifice (traffic! Other plans! Work stuff!) people made to come stand in a sweaty gym for an hour when Grady’s portion of the ceremony was approximately three minutes, was humbling. My kids, my family, I am so lucky. 

I got you

When Poppy is upset or sad or hurt or tired, she clings to me and mutters "I got you, I got you, I got you" in my ear. It's one of those things that makes me feel like I'm doing some of this parenting stuff sort of okay. I've done my best to not shush my babies when they're upset. I don't say "you're okay" or "you're fine," I say "I'm here" and "I've got you." And now Poppy knows when she needs someone or something, she's got me. She's got all of us. It's so good for my mama heart to hear Grady comfort her in the same way. "I've got you, Poppy Doodle," he says as he pats her back. "I got you, Grady Bug," she replies.

If you asked me to, I could list a hundred things I do wrong off the top of my head. Like, without taking a breath. I can describe Mount Laundry in great detail. I can list the number of times I've lost my cool and used my snippy snappy voice when my kids / husband / dog / life didn't do what I wanted exactly how I wanted. I can tell you about the pink slime growing in my bathroom sink, the processed crap I ate for lunch instead of green vegetables, the shameful state of my inbox, the weird buzzing noise my fridge is making that I'm choosing to ignore rather than investigate / fix, and on and on and on. 

But what will that accomplish? Will telling you how terrible I am make you feel better? Probably not. Will telling you how terrible I am make me feel better? Definitely not. I'm not saying we have to be all positive all the time. I'm not saying we should tamp down our struggles and grit our teeth and smile. I'm saying instead of choosing to be self-deprecating, instead of highlighting the many ways I get it wrong on a daily basis, I want to tell you what I'm doing right. Not because I think it makes me better than anybody else. Not because I think this one win means I'm doing it all right all the time. I want to tell you what I'm doing right -- right now -- because it makes me feel good, and because I hope it encourages you to tell me what you're doing right. I got you. 

Screw up

At any given time, I am entirely confident that I'm screwing up my kids in one of a thousand different ways.

It's not even of a question of how I'm screwing them up. The how doesn't really matter. What matters is that I care deeply about raising them to be good humans and sometimes it feels impossible. 

Some days we eat three square meals supplemented with nutritious snacks. Some days we wake up with the sun and play outside all day and read books together and tidy the house and have a bath (including washing our hair and cutting our fingernails and toenails) and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Some days I throw a vegetable in their general direction and I huff and puff as I trip over the mountain of dirty socks piled in the middle of the floor. There are too many screens and not enough protein and my voice gets progressively higher and higher until I'm squeaking like a furious mouse to "brush your teeth or go straight to bed and let the sugar-bugs eat them!" 

I hope they appreciate how much work it is raising them to not be tiny psychopaths. I hope they remember the in-between times. The nights where we all pile in the big bed and take turns giving each other back tickles before bedtime. The movie nights and pancake breakfasts and kitchen dance parties. 

Mainly I hope they grow up knowing how badly I wanted to do it right for them. And how many times I screwed up, fell down, and made a mess of it all, but kept going because they're worth it.

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Brain Fog

I'm not a doctor or the least bit science-y so I can't speak to the facts of general anesthesia but I can speak to my own experience which is this: general anesthesia is hard on the brain. This was the sixth time I've been put under in the last five years and while the general anesthesia during the surgery and immediately afterwards was the smoothest experience I've had so far, the post-surgery recovery has been tough. My attention span is laughable. My energy is low, my thinking is muddled and slow, and it takes herculean effort to form a complete thought. 

It's one thing to tell you my brain feels foggy but I think I can best describe it by telling you what I did a few nights after my surgery. Before I tell you my shame, though, it's important you know a couple things. One: Poppy is not my first child. Two: Poppy is not an infant. 

Ready? Okay!

It's a few nights after my surgery. I am struggling to function in the critical thinking department. I am existing in a fog. Shawn and I realize Poppy has a bit of a fever but she's acting normally so we go about our day. Fast forward to 3 o'clock in the morning and Poppy is burning up. She's fast asleep but breathing loudly and quickly enough to wake both me and Shawn up.

We have an ear thermometer but it gives different readings literally seconds apart. Every time I use it I decide we need to buy a new thermometer and then I forget about it again until we go to use it the next time someone has a fever. (NOTE TO SELF: buy a new thermometer.) So I do the ear thermometer thing on Poppy and get a reading of 104.6F. 

I decide to call the nurses line. We go through a series of questions and I begin to feel more and more stupid for calling about my peacefully sleeping baby who has a bit of a fever (see above: not my first baby! Not an infant!) And then the nurse asks me if Poppy is lethargic. It is now 3:30 a.m. and Poppy is fast asleep (and has been asleep since about 7:30 p.m.)

Y'all, I woke up the sleeping baby at 3:30 a.m. to see if she was lethargic. (Spoiler alert: after I woke her up she was NOT SO MUCH LETHARGIC as she was pissed right off.) 

Anyway, Poppy is fine, she's just got a nasty cold, and I will be fine once my brain starts firing normally (hopefully sometime soon). 

PS: I wrote about the less hilarious aspect of my surgery over on VancouverMom.ca go check it out and give some love to the other VM Voices.