You're Beautiful

"You're the most beautiful mommy," he said and my breath caught in my throat because I wanted to say no, I'm not beautiful, I'm exhausted and smelly and wobbly where I used to be firm and my hair is falling out and I haven't had my eyebrow waxed into two distinct eyebrows in months and none of my clothes fit and my boobs leak breastmilk and my eyes leak tears on a daily if not hourly basis and did I mention I'm tired? I'm so tired. 

But I didn't say any of those things. I swallowed my words and smiled at him.  

"You're the most beautiful mommy because your love shines like Iron Man's unibeam."  

And he's right.  

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Cherish the Moment

I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook on my phone with one hand and holding Poppy to my breast with the other arm. She ate and growled simultaneously, as she tends to do first thing in the morning. There was dried spit-up on my neck, chest, and pillow. I hadn't had a chance to do laundry the day before so I was wearing a nursing bra that smelled of sweat and cheese. Hot weather, or her current developmental stage, or the alignment of the planets had caused Poppy to cluster feed off and on all night. The longest stretch of sleep I'd managed was just shy of two hours. My nerves were raw from lack of sleep and too much touch.

And then a meme caught my eye. You know the one. The generic cute baby and frilly font ordering the reader to pay attention and cherish every moment (actually, this particular one told me to "relish the charms of the present," which, really? Really. Barf.).

Last night I half-sprinted the length of a baseball diamond, pushing Poppy in the stroller over roots, through sand and grass, and then pulled a muscle holding the heavy, metal door open with my back while I wrestled the stroller over the stoop and into the dirty, public park bathroom. I coached Grady through a particularly difficult poop while sweating in the sweltering, malodorous stall, and then wiped his bum while swatting flies and screeching "don't touch the floor! Don't touch anything! Hold onto your ankles!" at top volume.

There were no charms to relish. I did not cherish every moment.

Why do we do this? Why do we place such high expectations on parents (this situation isn't unique to mothers, though I do think we bear the brunt of this particular scenario)? Admitting that this season of life is challenging, not loving every moment with my five-week-old and my almost-five-year-old, not relishing the charms of the present, doesn't mean I love my kids any less or I'm not endlessly grateful I get to be their mom. I know it's okay to grit my teeth and just get through one more two-hour bedtime routine, one more poop doula session, one more load of laundry laden with spit-up. But I feel like an ingrate whenever I'm told I should be cherishing my blessings. It kicks off a spiral of "do I love my kids enough? Am I loving them right? Do they feel loved and secure?" Which sounds ridiculous, I know. A stupid internet meme should not make me question my abilities as a parent or as a person. But guess what? Hormones? Make me ridiculous sometimes. And I'm guessing they make someone you love ridiculous sometimes too. So instead of telling parents to cherish every moment, why not ask them if the good times are outweighing the bad times? Ask them how you can make life easier. Ask what you can do, specifically, to help them enjoy this difficult / beautiful / demanding / ecstatic /seemingly unending / too short period of their life. And then do it.  

Kid Craft: Pet Rock

I am a reluctant kid crafter. Kids are so messy! They fling stuff about in a festive manner! Glitter is the devil! But I try. I try to find quick and easy crafts with a limited number of materials involved to try to minimize the potential destruction. Sometimes I am more successful than others.

Today's craft came about because Grady insisted on bringing home a pocketful of rocks on our walk this morning. We brought the rocks home and he spent some time happily splashing away in the sink, "washing" them. From there we got into a discussion about keeping the rocks (we couldn't put them back outside because they're his friends) and instead of fighting it I decided to just roll with it. We have pet rocks now. They're part of our family and we'll love them forever.

What you'll need:

Rocks! Preferably rocks with relatively flat "faces"
Paint (we used tempera paint because that's what we had)
Googly eyes
Yarn
Glue gun
Permanent marker
Assorted bits and bobs
Infinite patience

What you'll do:

Go on a rock hunt! We found lime-sized rocks with relatively flat "faces" so our googly eyes would attach easily. We then brought the rocks home and gave them a good wash.

Paint the rocks and let them dry.

Decide where your rock's "face" is and glue on googly eyes and yarn for hair. Draw on mouth with permanent marker and attach other bits and bobs (we added pompoms for ponytail holders).

Name your rocks. LOVE your rocks. Give your rocks to unsuspecting family members as "gifts."

Super bonus crafter extraordinaire pro tip: Goo Gone removes permanent marker from quartz countertops, just in case you're wondering. You're welcome.

Our happy rock family.  

Our happy rock family.  

Thump

Grady got a "big boy" bed last year. He and Shawn went to the store and picked out a bunk bed with a desk underneath and tons of storage. He rarely sleeps in it, choosing instead to sleep in his toddler bed. He likes to climb up and hang out in the bunk bed, though, which is fine with us because we thought the more time he spent up there, the more comfortable he would become.

Yesterday he climbed up into the bunk to look for a toy he had misplaced. I was down the hall when I heard a terrible thump. Annoyance flashed through my mind as my first thought was that Grady had thrown a toy off the top bunk. It had been a challenging morning, full of repeated questions and defiance and a total lack of "listening ears." But then I heard a tiny, strangled "mommy" and my heart dropped to my toes and I ran. Truth be told I waddled, quickly, but it felt like an Olympic sprint.

Grady was sprawled on his back in front of the bunk bed amid a mess of toys and an overturned chair. My brain (and my mom) told me not to move him but he was making the horrible gasping noise one makes when the wind has been knocked out of them and he was terrified (as was I). I picked him up and his body shuddered as he took a deep breath and started to cry.

I thought the overturned chair indicated he'd been trying to reach something (he has certain Lego structures that he's only allowed to play with "with his eyes" per Shawn) but through tears the story came out. He had been on the top bunk (the 6-feet-off-the-ground top bunk) and tried to throw a quilt over the edge because he was looking for a toy. He somehow got tangled up in the quilt and as it fell over the edge, so did he. He fell headfirst over the side of the bunk bed, did a flip, and landed on his back on the toys and chair below.

"Horrified" does not come even close to describing how I felt when I realized what had happened. I called Grady's doctor's office and they told me to take him to the emergency room. Roughly ten minutes had passed and Grady was calming down and talking clearly and moving all of his appendages without difficulty, but they said this was a "better safe than sorry" situation and I agreed. Fortunately my parents were over visiting so they drove us to the emergency room to meet Shawn (there was no way I could drive - I tried to be calm for Grady but inside I was panicked and would have been a hazard behind the wheel).

Grady was a trooper. He was patient and cooperative and charmed everyone in the emergency room. One of the doctors asked if he could stay all day because he was brightening up the place. It was a good lesson for me. Initially I'd been reluctant to take Grady to the emergency room because he was acting like his normal self - I figured we could rule out a serious head injury and not waste the doctors' time / take away from true emergent cases. But because of how Grady fell, and the fact that he landed awkwardly on the assorted bits and bobs that littered his carpet, the doctors had to rule out kidney trauma (something I hadn't even considered, because, you know, I'm not a doctor. LESSON LEARNED, UNIVERSE.).

We were sprung from the hospital late afternoon with an orange popsicle and multiple sheets of information on head trauma and warning signs to watch for. The lump on Grady's head is slowly starting to shrink and apart from a bit of muscle stiffness, he's almost back to normal. He's doing a bit of emotional processing today (he has informed me multiple times that he's never peeing in a cup again - because clearly peeing in a cup to test for blood was traumatizing for him and not at all for the person who had to catch the four-year-old's pee while a million weeks pregnant and hunched over a filthy toilet in a tiny hospital bathroom). But when all is said and done, we got incredibly lucky. The accident could have been so much worse and I shudder at the different outcomes I've imagined since yesterday (I thought Grady might have some trouble sleeping last night but nope, that was just me).

I'm doing a little bit of emotional processing myself. Logically I know that I can't hover over Grady and observe his actions 24/7 but the mama guilt is strong. I have been impatient and snippy snappy with Grady lately as my belly and my pain levels have grown. I've felt relief when he's played quietly by himself in his room because it's given me silence and space to think. And then while I enjoyed that silence and space, my heart flipped headfirst off the top bunk and could have been seriously hurt.

This parenting gig is not for the faint of heart or the weak-stomached.