As it turns out, it is not my full-time job to be their entertainment. Even mommies need a sick day!
We all have those days when we suck at being moms. When we’re tired or sick or hurting or just otherwise checked out a little for whatever reason. At least, I hope we do, and I’m not the only one who’s spent a day saying “no” to playing with my kids. Who’s asked them to entertain each other while Daddy’s at work because I can’t think of one more activity to do together, and even if I could I don’t have the energy for it.
A few days ago I woke up with an anvil in my sinuses and fire in my throat, aching all over. Were my job not such a workaholic’s dream, I would’ve called in sick. But of course I didn’t have that option…read more at Rocky Parenting
My Rocky Parenting post this week is really an issue I reflect on constantly. How can I teach my kids to love themselves in a world that definitely isn’t going to always love them?
As I get ready to send my 5-yr-old to kindergarten in the fall, I worry a lot about bullying. While it’s the job of the adults around to help prevent or stop the acts of bullying once they’ve begun, I also know that it’s inevitable my sweet N will encounter at least teasing and hurt feelings. Not every child is going to come from a home teaching them compassionate tolerance, and the messages society sends to little boys who like pink and purple are not exactly encouraging…read more at Rocky Parenting
Ten year married, and we’re still sane 😉
My husband and I were planning an anniversary trip the other day, and we mentioned that we’ll have been married 10 years in March. 5-yr-old N overheard the conversation and said, “Wow, you guys have been married ten years? It feels like twenty!” We just laughed and agreed – it does feel like twenty most of the time.
Caiti Mondragon had a great post last week about accomplishing a decade of marriage, and the ten-year mark does really feel like a big one. When it comes up in conversation, people have been congratulating me, and I keep seeing articles and blog posts about the admirable things couples have done to make it to the big ten. Which leads me to believe in this age of staggering divorce rates, going strong at ten years must be more impressive than I thought….read more at Rocky Parenting
It’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m helping my mom package some dolls she’s sold on eBay while the boys try to coax their aunt’s pet snake out of the woodchips carpeting the bottom of his terrarium. I see a large skeleton still hanging on my parents’ kitchen curtain rod (I come by my taking-holiday-decorations-down procrastination honestly), and I tell the kids to go check it out because they have a weird love affair with skeletons.
The next thing I know, my mom is excitedly producing not just one, but two skeletons with clacking jaws and wiggling bony limbs. My mom starts teaching her grandsons how to dance the skeletons so their jaws go clackity-clack and their feet tapdance on the wooden floor, and N chimes in with “the skellies on the bus go jingle jangle jingle…”. The boys are elated at the fun interaction with their grandma, and soon I am volunteering at my mom’s suggestion to knit Christmas hats and scarves for the skeletons (because *that* would make them appropriately-themed holiday decor).
My mom is not the typical grandma, if there even is such a thing anymore. With three adopted, teenaged daughters at home and a full-time career supplemented by a zillion hobbies, she isn’t home babysitting my boys or taking them to the park. Although we live only a mile from them, we definitely don’t see one another enough in a way just dedicated to hanging out or enjoying the grandma/grandson relationship. There’s no one to blame and no use doing so – it’s just the way our lives have evolved, and despite the atypical life we all have, my boys are incredibly close to Grandma and Papa.
Which makes interactions like singing and dancing with
creepy jolly skeletons in a living room full of packing supplies all the more special. Seeing my mom be with my boys like that reminds me why we will always live close to her and how much she has to offer my kids. Not every child needs a grandma who knits them sweaters and walks them to the park – some would rather sing a goofy song with bony toes tapping out the rhythm of their grandma’s laughter. And I would rather have a mom who appreciates the joy little boys get from these authentic interactions, even if it means I’m left sitting on the couch knitting hats and scarves for her pair of Christmas skeletons.
The label special needs really makes me cringe. Special needs children have cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, things that change the way their worlds work and the way everyone around them reacts. Special needs children have lifelong problems accompanied by sadness and stress for the people who love them.
It took me a long time to admit that I have a special needs child. And it changed my perspective, my definition of what special needs really means. It doesn’t have to be dramatic, but it is a different path from the one we imagine. Of course all children have unique needs, and we mold our lives to meet the different needs of our individual children. But it usually follows at least a kind of predictable pattern with typical children. With children who have special needs, we have to redefine the pattern. And we have to remake the mold we’ve been using with our other children.
When Little K was diagnosed with developmental apraxia last year, I was a little…destroyed. And then when I did accept the reality of his speech needs, I closed the door there. I assumed his obvious speech differences were the extent of his disorder, of his tricky neurological development. But as he grows into a complete little person and we sort through his frustrations, his sensitivities and additional needs are impossible to ignore.
Neuro pathways are so incredibly complex and intricate that it only makes sense that Little K’s neurological differences would not begin and end with speech sounds. His sensitivity to noise, his anxiety when faced with strangers and new situations, even his intensely terrified reaction to having band-aids on his skin – these have to be connected to his unique neurological structure. And they are one more doorway we need to walk through in order to embrace and understand his differences. His special needs.
I don’t want to define Little K by his needs, but I have to acknowledge them in order to understand his world. In order to help him understand it, and especially help him understand why it is so stressful sometimes. If that means skipping a visit to out-of-state family at Thanksgiving because an overwhelming month has caused him to regress in multiple areas, or if it means rejecting library story time – that absolute requirement of good mothering – because he freaks out when he is expected to keep up with actions and simultaneous singing in a group, then we’ll embrace that, too. Because this life of ours is his, too, and we absolutely have to make him a special space in it, unpredictable needs and all.
I cried over the loss of N’s only child status for months after Little K was born. I worried I had ruined his little life – that two and a half years was not enough time to be the center of my world, and that he would feel completely displaced forever. My intention was always to have a second because I grew up with a sister and think every child needs a sibling. But the reality of that second child was a little different from what I envisioned. It was much less the three of us snuggling on the couch and counting Little K’s baby toes or continuing our life as it was, only with the beautiful addition of a tiny playmate for N, and much more the three of us spending days in a little bit of hell while Daddy was at work.
N was displaced, jealous, and just plain sad. And I felt guilty for just about everything. But then a miraculous thing started to happen…
It turned out having a brother was one of the best sucky things that could have happened to N. Sure, I have to referee between 1300 and 12,000 arguments per day, and N is still jealous when he thinks his brother is getting too much of my attention, but they are truly best buddies. K has recently and endearingly started calling N “my brother,” and he is so proud to introduce N that way to people. And N, despite still openly wishing he didn’t have to share his toys, tells cute stories about his little brother and reminisces about the baby things Little K used to do.
They will always have each other. As I watched Little K stomp with determination across a swimming pool the other day, shouting “Dat my brover’s intertube!” at our friend’s daughter, I could see that closeness, that loyalty that seems a uniquely brotherly bond. They might kill each other over a single blue Lego in the living room, but in the next minute N will walk over to K and give him the most genuine hug a kid can give. That’s why I had two. Because they need to need each other. It’s good for them in so many ways, and it’s a gift to watch them grow into best friends.
And it’s also really nice because I missed my calling as a referee, so I get to do it as a mother instead.
In the little over a year that I’ve been keeping this blog – sometimes actively; sometimes poorly – so many, many things have changed in my life. My children have grown from infant and preschooler to toddler and big kid. And I have struggled with growing up with them. The constant pull and weight of wanting them to grow while wanting them always to be little – holding on to the fleeting stages with everything I have while knowing that in the next moment a new stage will begin with the same amazing grace of the last.
And in this last year, I’ve really found my niche in writing as a mother. I started like the fish love the sea as a blog about writing, baking, mothering, and crafting. I’m afraid those of you interested in baking, writing, and crafting have been terribly disappointed because, just as the rest of my life has gone, the blog has followed my mothering almost exclusively. Which is okay with me. I am fulfilled at most times in my writing by my blogging here, over at get born magazine, and for the Greeley Tribune’s Greeley Moms section. I’m certainly baking and crafting and even writing as much as I can; I have just focused my energy here on processing the mothering side of things.
As the year ends and 2013 begins despite the doomsday-ers’ best predictions, I’ve done my requisite reflecting on the last twelve months. This time last year, I was finally coming up for air following the postpartum depression that changed the way I think about motherhood. I was groping for ways to really understand Baby K’s little personality, and still navigating the strange new dynamics of my two-child household. Since then, I have done a lot of healing and forgiving – mostly of myself for the little things each day as I acknowledge that I truly am doing the best I can as N’s and K’s mother.
This new year will find me still seeking the right – or right-for-right-now – path for my family, and I suppose that will be my journey with each new year that comes. Helping N grow his beautiful, exuberant interest in life; helping Baby K succeed in telling us about the quiet little soul behind the mouth that works so hard to speak. Loving every moment with the perspective that it is all so vulnerable, so fleeting, and so perfect for the people that we are and the family we are meant to be. Because the last two weeks – in particular the shooting in Connecticut – has deeply reminded me of our human vulnerabilities, and hopefully given me a lasting renewal of my dedication to appreciate the now.
So with that, I wish you all a wonderful new year filled with love and peace and light. And I THANK YOU for reading, following, sharing like the fish love the sea. Cheers to 2013, and Cheers to You!