Even Moms Need Forgiveness

So…This morning as I was struggling to get all four kids in their various stages of car seats, I ended up dropping my car keys….on the ground….whilst holding one week old Juli’s blankies, two year old Caleb’s night night blankie, a water bottle, a small diaper bag, and my phone stuffed haphazardly in my shirt. Absentmindedly, I asked six year old Jack to grab them as I tossed all the things in the van where they belonged and finished buckling Juli.

Then Jack got in and sat down in his booster….and the keys were no where to be found.

ME: “…BUT WHERE are the KEYS!”

JACK: “Ummm I…don’t know”

I questioned again.

He got back up, looked in four year old Maggie’s seat 50 feet away (exaggeration for emphasis.) He hadn’t even been near there! He looked in Caleb’s seat. He hadn’t been near there either.

…and I got angry. I felt annoyed. I was tired.
I felt he was just dawdling. I questioned him more and more. Yet he was still unable to tell me where they were. The more I asked, the less he spoke.

His bottom lip quivered.

The keys were gone.

The phone said 7:30.

I had wasted too much time.

Now we would be late getting Maggie to preschool.

I dug around for the spare house key, stormed into the house, searched aimlessly for the other set hidden in the living room couch (thanks, Caleb), slammed the door and hopped back into the van to pull off, still steaming at Jack for losing the keys.

Moreover, I was steaming from all of the mama-guilt and frustration from trying to help him find his voice over the years and overcome his severe speech impediment. He has never been able to communicate under pressure… and a set of lost keys took his verbal skills down to a few sniffles and a bare minimum of one syllable words.

Yet I still found myself venting at him angrily from the front seat.

The keys were IN HIS HAND!

I NEEDED them!

It was a SIMPLE REQUEST!

They were RIGHT THERE!

Why couldn’t he REMEMBER!

They would cost $125 to replace!

I probably ran over them as I pulled out!

What kinda mother am I to snap at my six year old!

BEFORE SCHOOL!

I was so frustrated that I didn’t even have our usual morning pep chat with him. We just rode in near silence after we dropped off Samantha.

And then…. I let him out in carline.

ME: ::::gritting my teeth::::: “Have a good day. I love you.”

JACK: “I love you, Mama.”

He said it clear. Those three magical words I waited for over four years to hear for the first time – I love you.

And he said his “Y” sound the best I had ever heard him. He said the “yuh” initial consonant sound with blatant clarity for the first time in his entire six years of life.

I noticed he had put on his favorite shirt today – Agent Stache, with the Platypus guy on it. A deep grey one. I have no idea what cartoon it’s from…just that he had another one that he loved and grew out of so I bought him more in this year’s size. His thick hair was kinda shabby, shuffled around in front by his hair twirling habit. His bean pole legs and knobby knees shot out from under his tan cargo shorts (a side effect from a recent growth spurt I assumed).

Then he pulled his lime green Avenger bookbag out of the car, smiled at me, and walked alone into the cafeteria. With his back to me. Then he disappeared into the school, chin up, bravely.

And my heart broke.

I wanted to race after him and grab him up. But I couldn’t.

Later as I was getting Juli out of the car, I found the keys cuddled in her little hand.

Her car seat is in the second row beside Jack so I assume he had just set them down on the edge of her seat when he stepped in the van to sit in his booster….and they slipped down unnoticed.

Something I myself have done a million times over the years! 😞

I was anxious all day to pick him up.

And then I pulled back into carline…

He smiled at me.

JACK: “Hey mama! Hey my sweet sweet Juli! Where is Sam and Marshall?”

ME: “They are back at the house with Aunt Ann. How was your day, bud?”

JACK: “It was good. We had science in Ms D’s classroom. And we had art today!”

We discussed a few more tidbits about school. And my heart was still breaking.

ME: “Hey…” ::::turning off the radio:::: “Mommy is so so sorry for snapping at you this morning. I was tired and felt angry…It was very wrong of me to take it out on you like that. My heart has been sad all day from being mean to you like that when you didn’t deserve it. Will you please forgive mommy?”

Jack smiled at me as I glanced at him in the rear view.

JACK: “Yesss…It’s ok, mama.”

ME: “Mommy is just so so sorry. I wanted to run into Ms H’s room earlier and scoop you up and squeeze you. But that probably would have embarrassed you, huh?”

JACK: ::::grinning, tucks head down:::: “Um…Yeah.”

ME: “Do you know where I found the keys? In Juli’s fingers! She was keeping them safe!”

Jack’s eyes met mine thru the rear view and we both giggled.

JACK: “Did you think she was going to drive away? Maybe she was going to make the car FLY away. Into the sky. Like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

We were both laughing by then as we started talking about other silly things in life for the rest of the drive home.

And then he reminded me that he wanted a hair cut. And asked me if I needed help with Juli as we got out of the van. Then he spied Maggie’s shoes in the back seat and grabbed them for her because she was in the house with Aunt Ann and she might want them to go play outside now that he was home.

And then he hugged me.

I was never ever more happy to get forgiveness from someone than I was at that one particular moment!

Nice memory to visit, don’t  want to live there


How do you neat mamas do it? 

I’m a slob. Or rather, a recovering one. I try really hard but my skills and motivations are lacking in many areas. Around our house I am responsible for all house maintenance, yard work and car cleaning. It’s like a devil’s triangle…when I find myself happily taking care of one, the other two slip past my immediate attention and suddenly look like a landfill opened up and puked from above. I can’t seem to grasp a happy medium on a simple tidy scale for all three. It gets frustrating.   

Today, I spent a few hours spring cleaning my totally trashed Honda Odyssey minivan filled with sand, eleven coats (11?!), fifteen pairs of shoes (only two of which were mine, thanks), random toys, papers, hair bows, and enough candy and food to feed a third world country. I may or may not have crunched a plastic bottle up against the tree and cursed at a falling leaf that accidentally slipped through the door and landed on a spot inside the van I had just cleaned. 

As I was wiping down the dash board and scrubbing the leather, I found myself day dreaming about my first brand new car I purchased at age 21 – a cute Suzuki Grand Vitari mini SUV. I treated her like a baby…kept her immaculate, immediately spit polished any tiny smudges, vacuumed weekly, swept daily and allowed no food whatsoever in it. 

But then, as I tossed Maggie (who was digging sandcastles ten feet away) a small Cinderella figurine I found stuck upside down in the console, I remembered how alone I was at that point in my life.

Completely and utterly alone. 

Today I’m 31 years old, have beautiful three children, and am expecting a fourth. I have a husband who loves me and a great circle of friends. 

That first car stayed spotless because I had no one to mess it up. I had no tiny hands grasping at French fries, no Barbie princesses to get stuck in the seat cracks, no tiny feet kicking off shoes and yanking off socks, no sounds of a toddler singing Fraggle Rock from behind me and more often than not, only one single body ever rode in it. 

And I realized, as I finished the final scrubbing and shut the sliding door, that while daydreams of our past are nice to momentarily visit… I wouldn’t want to live there.

Goodbye, 2013! Life is Still Beautiful

With all the 2013 status reflecting going on, I tried to do a bit of reflecting of my own today…and I kept falling short. I could only think of how much this year sucked monkey butt. Everyone’s lives always seem so much more adventurous, financially stable, trouble free and happier than ours via the social media rise-colored lens. 

So in my sour convalescing mood, it was very hard for me to find any redeemable credit in this particular year…a year filled with painful memories of watching one young uncle lose his life to cancer (merely three months between diagnosis and death) and another uncle who passed suddenly just before Thanksgiving, more grey hair popped out on my own head and my hands showed their very first signs of aging, our front yard, porch, van, and arbor was ripped to shreds when a pine tree toppled in a storm (demolishing five years hardwork of emotionally irreplaceable hand built carpentry, painting and flower plantings), our second child started her own speech therapy (mama guilt overload!), other random emotional turmoil….and my purse (along with my kindle and fully loaded wallet) was even stolen right out of my car. 

Nothing good came of this year, right?

And then I looked at Facebook again. 

My own. 

And I was met with a huge snapshot diary of not merely all of the downs this year brought, but some fantastic UPS as well:

A full two week trip to visit Kevin’s family in upstate NY in January…in the snow!

Funfilled playdates all around the midlands area with the kids, holiday parties galore all year long, bike rides, walks, zoo visits, Monkey Joe’s, parks, swimming, BBQ’s with good friends at Pine Island, leisurely days watching the kids play in the lake!

A full week at Myrtle beach (with Kevin’s family again! Love them!), followed immediately by a wonderful combined birthday bash for Jack, Jojo and Caleb at the lake celebrated with 100 friends and family…who helped in raising over $1,000 in donations for charity. 

Ran in three really fun 5K’s, learned how to work all the weight machines at Gold’s (and actually enjoyed it), took zumba classes and spent so much time in yoga that I could pass as a pretzel on my good days.  

Tons of moms nights with some of the most fantastic moms on the planet. Good times, great laughs! Dinners, drinks, pool, white elephant games, craft nights, book clubs, Pinterest parties, football, chili, haunted houses, movies, and even the hugest sun/bonfire ever.  
Our oldest “baby” earned his brown belt/black stripe in karate, graduated preschool, started Chinese immersion school (in which he is doing very well!) and whipped out a semester of violin lessons. 
We watched with pride as both of our oldest kids played Tball together on the same team and conquered yet another small bit of social fear. 
And our youngest learned to stand….walk…run…climb…bounce on the trampoline…and say I love you. (Plus we didn’t forget him for Christmas this year). 
I’ve also formed some terrific new friendships with some extremely wonderful people and strengthened ties with older ones. Women who I can call up and say “Hey, my uncle died, I need you”…women who deliver surprise flowers on my door step on my birthday…or who sit on the floor helping me make stupid fluffy clouds out of yarn for hours as birthday favors…or who stay up late at night chatting with me about the deep empirical, all consuming things in life… or who stay at my house til midnight after movie night teaching me how to dance (although my moves still aren’t quite like Jagger). 
And I adopted my very own little brother – a fellow Fred Rogers fan who I consider a writing genius (and who I often bug way too much for writing tips).    
And all that…that only covers the main events. 
Happy statuses, fun conversations, tagged photos of fun times, monthly albums…they’re all here to remind me that life’s moments are not lived on isolated islands. 
 The events that cause trauma to my heart and soul aren’t to be put on a pedestal, magnified to such an extent that they overshadow the happier moments that soothe and make living worthwhile. The bad AND the good surround us all. It’s merely the memories we feed that determine our future outlook. 

I must remember this. 
Must etch it on my forehead somehow. 

So here’s to 2013! And to 2014!

The good and the bad. 

The happy and the sad.  

Here’s to being able to look back and remind ourselves that 

Life, on the whole, is Beautiful.

Awakened by a Motorcycle

Startled awake by Kevin’s 5:15 am alarm, I lay there, with my head buried under the quilt and my back to him, praying that the 16 month old in the crib over by the far wall didn’t awaken. After all, I had just been up with him 2 hours ago.
The man of the house’s wake up routine begins nearly an hour before he actually gets up. Fearful of oversleeping, he insists on having a number of alarms staggered to go off at random times. Occasionally I will snooze right through them but usually I end up elbowing him (or toe’ing him, depending on how far apart we drifted on the king-sized bed that night). Hard.
Right now, the motorcycle alarm is going off. It’s crazy, the cacophony of sounds that echo in the darkness of our room thanks to the wonders of technology. Did you know that besides the motorcycle, iPhone also offers a piano, car horn, and alien invasion even?! Pretty sure the alien invasion terrifies my sleeping conscious the most. Consequently, those mornings that he sleeps through that one, he may awaken with a bruise already forming.

Today it was the motorcycle that got to me though. Something about that blaring engine, so full of life right there beside me in the darkness, taunting, screaming for me to get up and prepare for a new day annoyed me. I despise getting up early. A night owl by nature, I was always promised as a child that when I became an adult, that would change. Mornings would suddenly become relishly delightful, with fluffy squirrels and bluebirds singing broadway with me as I sat with coffee and a banana on the front porch awaiting the rising sun. Apparently, I’m not an adult yet.

I felt the anger rise. How can he just lay there, sleeping so calmly?! Couldn’t he respect my desire to sleep for 2 measly more hours and find it within himself to toss out his arm and pop that screen?! Now! Didn’t he understand that if the baby awoke, somehow our 3 year old would know this? And then she would bring her bright eyed morning cheerfulness into our cozy dark dungeon and shine it upon my wretched tiredness? And then..then….our 5 year old would somehow become aware of the party in our dungeon and bring his smart aleck 4 foot frame in there to bounce on the bed. And me. Like.a.trampoline. And they would talk. Incessantly! (Who talks before 7 am anyway?! Children, thats who.) All of this because of daggum Steve Jobs had this dumb idea to offer sleepers a ridiculous amount of freakishly annoying alarms.

I cocked my leg in readiness, about to sling shot my foot into his thigh when I felt him wiggle. I heard a sigh, felt a weight shift, and the alarm fell silent. The room stilled. A hand snaked under the covers and softly stroked my back. More weight shift. I felt a soft kiss on my hair. He assumed I was still sleeping. The bed emptied.

A couple stumbles later, a soft light flipped on in the master bath. Our room darkened once more as the door closed. Muted sounds of morning routine drifted past me. He emerged, minutes later, dressed in uniform for a job that requires him to work with high voltage electrical currents in all manner of weather and temperatures. He is on call 24/7. He’s never missed a day of work, and his only allusion to complaint would be his rare utterance of “I’m tired today, babe.”

I watched him through slitted eyes in the dim filtered light from the bathroom as he slid his leather belt into place, then gathered up his phone and hat. Tiptoeing to the side of the bed, he reached out to softly pet my hair, bending to lightly kiss my forehead.

And then he walked out of the room, out of the house, into the dark night air with nothing but the twinkling stars overhead for company.

Where Baby Jack Meets Mother Goose

Our local library offers a weekly Mother Goose Storytime for children under 12 months of age and their mommies. I’ve been saying since before Jack was even born that I was going to take him to reading circles and play groups, but wouldn’t you know it – here he is 8 months old and I hadn’t even been once.
So, this week I decided it was high time I got over my mundane shyness of all things social and force myself to sign him up.

You see, I’ve always been a pretty shy person in intimate settings. When it comes to larger functions (such as giving speeches) or performing in the business world, I do quite well. But when it’s time to show the “real me” and socialize, I get as tonguetied as a turnip in winter. I just don’t do the “talking to random people” thing very well.

But now I have a son who will depend on me for his social life for the better part of the next decade (especially since we plan on homeschooling).

So I need to start somewhere, right?

If I don’t start now, I may end up in a rut of hiding ourselves away from the world and Jack-Evan will be grey headed before he learns that there are “others” out there.

Ok, maybe I wouldn’t be that detrimental to my son’s future social life, but I did really want to take part in the Mother Goose Storytime this spring. All thoughts of “but he’s only 8 months old, Lisa” aside, I swallowed the huge gulp in my throat and called the children’s department at the library to sign up.

Our first class was this past Thursday morning at 10:30 am.

Upon entering the children’s section (which, BTW, is wonderfully decorated with life size “Where the Wild Things Are” illustrations by Maurice Sendak), I was greeted by Ms. Heather, a bubbly little lady who asked me if we were there for Mother Goose Storytime, and then wrote Jack-Evan’s name on a little mitten name tag. She even hyphenated his name and said it correctly – which is a big plus in my books. Most people upon hearing Jack-Evan’s name let their faces gloss over with a “I-didn’t-understand-what-you-said-so-I’ll-just-smile” look. The fact that she even knew to hyphenate eased my social anxieties tenfold. Her 60 foot wide smile helped a lot too.

I then took a seat at the tables in the back for a few minutes to await the start of the class. Soon, Ms. Heather (the resident Mother Goose, sans the outfit) gathered up all of us little ducklings and we waddled..uh..followed her into the story room. It was a comfy cozy room with nice, soft lighting and 4 huge quilts spread on the floor. In all there were 11 babies, 1 grandmother, and 9 mothers (one mother had twins). Plus Ms. Heather.

It was the first time Jack-Evan (and even I for that matter) had been in a room with so many babies his age. He’s been around smaller groups of toddlers and bigger children, but he’s only see one other “baby” in his life. Talk about being fascinated! For the first 7 minutes he sat almost motionless on my lap, letting his eyes roam around the room at all of the other babies who were goo’ing and crawling and (some) running amuk.

We started out storytime with a little “hello” song in which each child was welcomed using their name in the verse. Then we did a couple short finger play rhymes, another little song, and then a sweet book about daddy’s going to work was read. We repeated the pattern and read another book. By the end of the 2nd book, the kiddies were getting restless so we finished up with the most active poems (such as “Ackabacka Sodacracka” where we lift the babies in the air at the end) and they all seemed to love the motions. Ms. Heather then passed out the same colorful board book to all of us and we read the story outloud in unison, pointing out the words to the babies. Then it was time for the “free for all”. A few large tubs of books were passed around on the quilts, and we were encouraged to take them out and spend some time reading / looking through them with our babies (or just letting them crawl on them, as some did).

All in all, the whole thing lasted about 30 minutes. Jack-Evan seemed to enjoy it very much, and was very alert the whole time. He even tried to do hand motions along with Ms. Heather during a few rhymes. Now that he’s a “big boy” and knows how to wave bye bye and hello, he tries to do anything that has a “lifting the arm” motion to it! When he got ahold of the board book, he sat with it trying to turn pages and vocalizing. It was his way of reading to me, I assumed. Then he promptly tried to eat it. I’m so proud of my little reader! (Minus the eating the book thing though.)

So anyways, that’s what we’ll be doing at 10:30 am on Thursdays from now on. I know that according to experts, kids really don’t need a “interactive social life” until after 2-3 years of age, but it’s pretty cool joining in with other moms and doing (FREE!) activities alongside my son. I kind of think of it as “social life in training” (for me!). Perhaps after a few years of learning to socialize with stranger-moms at storytime, I’ll be ready to hit the big leagues and enroll Jack-Evan in Teeball without wanting to hide under the bleachers.

Originally posted in Little Jack’s Corner ©2009

12 Things My Baby Taught Me

  1. Life goes on
  2. Changes in life happen very quickly
  3. Slow down and admire the world
  4. Green trees are amazing
  5. Fun can be found in turning a lamp on and off
  6. If you’re not hungry, not wet, and not sleepy then life=contentment
  7. Eat with gusto, but stop when you’re full
  8. Greet each morning with a huge smile
  9. Who cares what clothes you wear?
  10. It’s alright to cry (it might make you feel better)
  11. Each day is full of new adventures
  12. Never lose your zest for discovery and learning

Originally Published on Little Jack’s Corner
©2008

Day in the Life of Baby Jack

(Voiced by 3 week old Jack, but typed by Mommy…of course)

INTRO: Psst…this is Little Jack. I am so glad to be down here in this new world. I miss living in heaven, but God sure did put me with a fun family. I’ve been having a blast the past few weeks! Since this is my blog, I asked mommy if I could describe what a typical week day looks like for me. She said yes! So here is my version of what goes on in my world. Weekends look quite different, (o perhaps I’ll talk about those later.)——

5:00 AM : Gee, what is up with my parents thinking they should get up so…*yawn*…early! Why can’t they stay here in bed with me? Dad kisses me bye, and says something about this place called work that he must go to. He goes there for a long time when it’s light outside. I miss him.  

5:30 – 7:30 AM : Time to eat! But first mommy changes me out of my diaper. It’s chilly in here so I cry to let mommy know how unhappy I am to be naked. The sheet also feels a little squishy. I think my diaper leaked. As much as I hate my diaper being changed, it feels so much better once she’s done… and I snuggle back up close to her.

7:30 AM : Time to eat again! (I get hungry very often)

10:00 AM : I wake up and discover Mommy is gone! Fearing that someone has stolen my mommy from me, I start to cry. Plus, it’s very scary in here by myself! Thankfully, mommy magically reappears as soon as I cry. It seems that she was only in the other room doing some laundry. Good, because I’m hungry again.

11:45 AM : It’s time to wake up for good, and get out of bed. Mommy calls me her little sleepyhead. What she doesn’t realize is that if I could walk, I would have been out of bed hours ago! With my new diaper and playtime clothes on, I’m ready to tackle the world.

12:00 – 5 PM : Playtime! I’m always wide awake for 4-5 hours strait each day, so there is a lot to do and see. Mommy and I do lots of fun things together. Some days she reads books to me, sings special songs, and makes funny faces. Sometimes I lay in her lap while she checks email on the laptop or plays musical CD’s for me (today we’re listening to children’s opera). And other days we pack up and head to Grammy & Papa’s house! Yesterday me and mommy took our first trip alone – we went to the library! Or, at least thats what she told me. I was in my sling on mommy’s chest and had fallen asleep. Oh…let’s not forget breaks to eat and refresh my diaper! At least I don’t cry quite as much any more when my diaper is removed.

5:30 – 7 PM : There is so much excitement in the air!! My daddy is arriving home!! I sure did miss him. As soon as he comes in I yell for his attention. I love it when daddy finally picks my up and cuddles – although I don’t see why he always insists on changing my diaper first. Usually I fall asleep on daddy’s chest as he wacthes TV. On other days, me, dad, mom, grammy and papa go out to eat. Mom always feeds me before we leave. For some reason she refuses to let me eat food at the restaraunt. I wonder why?

( love it when I have my mommy and daddy all to myself!)

7:30 – 10:00 PM : Night time is relaxing, so I usually just nap, eat, get changed, and eat some more. Often, you’ll find me curled up on dad’s chest while mommy takes a bubble bath. If we’re still over at gammy & papa’s house, I get to spend time snoozing on papa’s big belly. Life is great!

10:30 PM : It’s bedtime! While mommy brushes her teeth, daddy changes my diaper… then they switch and mommy washes me off, puts on my comfy pajamas, and messages my legs and feet with baby lotion. It sure is relaxing! Mommy always giggles when I stretch my legs and toes out for more. Then it’s time for one last meal and a story book before drifting off to sleep.

ZZZZZzzzzzz….
Originally posted on Little Jack’s Corner
©2008