Fall 2013

Once, in a fit of new-mom exasperation, I posted what I thought was a decent list of reasons having a kid wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. The list consisted of items like diaper blowouts, household clutter, how I needed to brush up on my organic produce know-how, and my frustration over not being able to remember the right lyrics to lullabies.

I’d like to go back two or so years in time and laugh at myself. “Oh. Just you wait,” I’d say, while tossing back a shot of whiskey and laughing maniacally.

Ok, maybe without the whiskey.

I belong to the exclusive purgatory reserved for moms of two-year old boys. My sanity, it ebbs and flows. Today was not a good day. He peed all over me this afternoon. Then he threw a tantrum or seven. Then he busted his lip open during one of the aforementioned tantrums. Then he called me “annoying” (he has quite the vocabulary for 36 inches). The countdown to bedtime started around 3pm.

I’m writing this out because 99% of me believes that my temporary inability to cope is normal/relatable, and I’m also writing this down because these thoughts make me feel incredibly guilty. Ineffective. Inadequate. Insufficient.

I know “mom guilt” is a thing. But I’ve always been a sucker for making myself feel guilty for what is way out of my control, and that, my friends, is what is annoying. Not sure I can change it. There’s no way to experience everything I want to experience and accomplish everything I want to accomplish without accepting the constant state of being stretched too thin. But I’m not going to lie to myself and pretend that this constant state of being — the boat that all of us simultaneously chose and were forced into – is always smooth sailing.

That off my chest, life is overwhelming and wonderful, as per the norm. Carter’s a super neat kid — precocious, funny, lovey, and mine. He’s always doing something to remind me how cool he is. Like driving his Lego motorcycle across the floor humming and muttering about how he’s “goin’ to tha bookstore”. Real danger seeker. Or trying to convince me he has a fever in his belly. Or telling me, “Oh, Mom! You look soooo handsome.” Or getting his boogie on to my new Carole King vinyl. The earth? He feels it move. Under his feet. 

It’s fall. I love fall.

Carter dressed up like a duck commander for Halloween, and it was a hit. I bought him the ugliest boots for his costume, and now he wants to wear them everywhere. Figures. He loved trick-or-treating, so much. He really got the gig down this year. I was so proud of his “trick-or-treat” volume and the frequency of his “thank you’s”. It’s the small things, guys.

November means my birthday, and it was stellar. I know the best people, the kind that wake you up with awesome cards and coffee, deliver presents and flowers and baked goods to school, throw you lunch-time parties, cook and eat favorite dinners with you, replace your college pots-and-pans, surprise you with pretty girly gifts, and point out the new record player in your house before you fall asleep. Don’t know how I deserve to have as many fabulous people in my life, but I’ve got them, and I definitely felt special, so I’ll take it.

These kids, they’re getting big. Pumpkin patches and birthday parties and zoos. Big and busy. There’s an established chain-of-command. Mi bosses Carter. Carter dictates LuLu. LuLu tells Seany what’s up. Emery watches sometimes, but mostly sleeps.

Last year, this year. Different hair, same shirt.

School (the one I work at) is great. Lots of changes on campus make it a bit hectic, but I work with awesome people, my students are phenomenal, and my early drive to work includes mountains, the sunrise, and hot air balloons. All 9th graders (Core and Honors) this year, some NHS co-sponsoring with a best friend, AIMS tutoring, library tutoring, Adopt-a-Kid project — it’s full.

School (the master’s program) is online and occasionally brutal. I’m thankful to be learning new skills. Lucky that I’m rather resourceful. Desperate for more hours in the night. A bit intimidated by the road ahead of me there. Excited to be back in school (you know what I mean).

No matter the age, I’m still an old lady by choice. It’s 10pm on a Saturday night, and I’m in my pjs, torn between watching Lifetime and listening to Elton John in between laundry cycles, grading papers, and snacking on toast with peach jam. Most nights, it’s a similar scene. The highlights of this weekend included trying out my mom’s new juicer, hanging out at the farmer’s market, and getting some early Christmas shopping done.

Awake and Around (One for when you’re older, Carter Patrick)

Dear Carter,

There’s time to spare, little one.

I’ve spent a lot of time (understatement of the century) during your early years plagued by worry and fear and anxiety. But anticipating life’s interruptions is no way to live, Bird. I hope, if you’re reading this as an adult, I’ve at least taught you that by now.

Anxiety isn’t viscous; it’s runny. It dries sticky and leaves a stain. It leaked in slowly near the end of 2011, then came in frequent floods in 2012, and has finally tapered off. You saved my life, Carter. You are my constant joy. That’s not to be taken lightly, by the way, considering that at the moment, you are two-and-three-quarter-years old and a full time, exhausting job.

Just after you had turned one and we were living with Uncle Patrick and a soon-to-be pregnant Aunt Meg, you decided that sleeping wasn’t your thing. You were a howler, and it took me a few jabs in the darkness of new-and-single-motherhood to figure out what would calm you down. But we nailed it: walking down the street, back and forth, with you in my arms. Mind you, it was winter, and we surely looked ridiculous pacing up and down Quail Track in our pajamas and bare feet (we’ve never been the type for shoes). We stared up at the moon. It was one of the first words you knew back then. I’d sing to you every song your Great Grandma Pat had sang to me growing up. I can’t sing very well, but you’ve never minded, and I’m thankful for that. I thought life was rough then, but you were weight in my arms, real and full, and those nights were our nights. We shoveled a lot of stars back then, but I’d never trade.

Tonight, I started hanging pictures on our wall here. You helped pick out the frames. We’re starting the overhaul on your room this week: a robot chair, models of the solar system and the lunar phases, bunk beds (raddest three-year old ever, you are). Matter of fact, we’ve both got new beds now. We put up Halloween decorations. Me and you, we’re a home, Bird.

I fought harder than I’d ever fought the day you were born, and I’ve fought ever since. I still dream about your last ultrasound — the one that showed you, eyes big and open and wide, blinking into the camera, in juxtaposition to shots of my failing kidneys and liver. I was calm because you were fine, until the nurse told me that if I didn’t make it, you wouldn’t. So the choice was made: I was going to have to stick around. And then there was the bit about having no pain medication, no numbing the six hours of active pushing. So I was going to be awake. And that’s sort of how our story has gone so far.

I’m not anxious anymore. You never were. You knew we had this in the bag. But you’re an old soul, and I’m not, so I’ll keep taking my tips from you, if that’s ok. I don’t know what changed this past week, but the weather cooled down, I took a deep breath, and strength filled up every bit of my lungs, and I knew that I’m a force to be reckoned with. The catalyst is obvious. I’ve got you, and you made sure I stuck around and stayed awake.

You and me, we never apologize for keeping our eyes big with wonder. You’re curious, and I’m naive, and we can’t help but trust the world, no matter how many times we end up barefoot and singing.