Forced iPhone boycott 

Yesterday a modern day, stay at home mom’s (okay maybe just this mom) top ten fear happened, my iPhone broke. I’m not above admitting I cried. Look, it was 6:30 in the morning, the kids were crying and clawing at me, and my only connection to the outside world just went and broke on me. It wasn’t a nice clean break either, it was screen smashed to bits, cut yourself when you try to swipe, broken. I immediately judged myself and in that moment was forced to admit I am an iPhone addict. 

It’s not that I have loads of people I talk to during the day. If I’m lucky a friend, a cousin, even my husband will throw me a bone and send me a text. They’ve probably never gotten a response so fast because when I hear that familiar vibrate of a text come through I’m running (waddling quickly) to that phone. Really my addiction plays more into checking how many people have read my blog (hi to the three of you!), social media updates  (note nothing happens on social media during the day people have lives and jobs), and checking my email a bajillion times not sure what I think I’ll be seeing in there. Lately, I’m also big into googling every symptom I have in hopes it means labor is near. My search history would include: ‘increase in grumpiness impending labor,’ ‘increase in pee impending labor,’ ‘sore left pinky toe impending labor,’ ‘two year old extra clingy impending labor?’ Who am I kidding every baby in our large lot of nieces and nephews haven’t come any earlier than a week past their due date. My husband’s family are known by their tendency to be late to everything, including their own births apparently. 

So anyways yesterday I faced a long day of going without my trusty friend Google. I made it about an hour before enough was enough and I was headed to the Apple Store. My addiction had gotten so bad I realized, that dragging my pregnant self and my two kids through the mall didn’t even stop me. An hour later and 3, yes 3 bathroom stops later, my phone was dropped off and we had an hour to kill. Luckily, the mall has a free play area so we headed there. 

I quickly assessed the situation and found  a spot where I could watch the kids and not make small talk. I prayed we would make it through the hour without either of my kids escaping or pulling a random girls hair. After settling in I gave a quick look around I realized I was the only mom not on my phone. And it wasn’t for lack of trying, I reached into my purse no less than a dozen times during that hour absentmindly reaching for my phone.  During that hour I learned a lot about my kids that I tend to miss. How the youngest while yes a daredevil tends to operate with enough caution where he’s able to escape without too many injuries, that my oldest tends to observe other kids doing an activity he wants to try before partaking himself leading to a much higher success rate. I also learned they love to lead a gang of toddlers in a revolt of the play area and climb over walls in order to get to the alluring carrousel. Mom points for me for actually stopping said revolt. 

I don’t judge the other moms for being on their phones no more than I judge myself. But in that hour I saw how much I was missing and how entertaining and rewarding and relaxing it can be just watching your kids play. So for now I’ll attempt a healthy balance between putting the phone down and knowing when to pick it up, like now, because I desperately need to know if washing a sink full of dishes is enough to be considered ‘nesting.’ 

Mom connections 

It’s the Monday morning after my husband’s week long vacation. Being married to a teacher has some perks since he has vacations every few months and a couple of weeks in the summer. We aren’t particularly productive during these weeks but it’s nice to have someone to talk to besides myself for those few days. 

Monday’s after vacation arealways tough   because I’m facing a good five days of doing a lot of self talk and even I don’t find myself that interesting. Today though I had plans! Okay so not plans so much as picking up a car seat I had bought from a mom on Facebook (aren’t those Facebook yard sale sites the BEST!) and having a fire alarm detector inspection at our house. So not plans exactly but adult interaction was ensured. As a friend said to me today ‘you make me weep for my future’… I can’t imagine why. 

First up was my car seat pick up, as I pulled up to a big, beautiful house on a country road I felt a little intimidated. I mentally applauded myself for putting on jeans and a sweater so what if I couldn’t find the only bra that currently fit, at this point in my pregnancy my boobs and stomach are basically one anyways. I rang the door bell and a mother a mirror image of me answered the door, guess I didn’t need to worry. Yoga pants, t-shirt, glasses, hair thrown up, one baby on her hip and one following closely behind. I’ll meet you in the garage she quickly said and shut the door before one of the kids could escape, I got it. As I grabbed the car seat from her garage she quickly talked and asked questions in rapid succession. A mom can recognize this type of chatter as a desperate attempt for adult interaction. As I made my way to the car I felt guilty for leaving her but I had my next exciting adventure the day. 

As we are in the process of buying the house we live in one of the last steps is the fire departments inspection of the smoke detectors. As I waited for the appointment I pictured a middle aged, seasoned, male fire fighter. The kids would get a kick out of it I thought, someone else to entertain them for a few minutes. I was pleasantly surprised when a woman firefighter showed up at my door (shame on me for my sexism). Expecting her to want to get right down to her job I let the kids oo and ahh over her for a few minutes before trying to usher them away. But she  continued to chat with me and ask me questions about their ages and whether I knew what I was having. She soon told me she had four girls all 1 year apart from then next and one boy a couple of years later. I then realized why she had been so chatty. She was a mom. Not just any mom, but a fellow mom who thinks that having multiple children in rapid succession sounds like a good idea. We were soul sisters brought together by our determination to see just how many years the human body can survive without sleep. 

As I said goodbye to her I couldn’t help but think of the two very different women I had met that day. One a stay at home mom much like myself looking to make a connection with another adult if not for a few minutes and one a bad ass firefighter looking to commiserate in the joys of having children so close together. What struck me the most was that the three of us woman were so different in location, job situations, how many children we have or hope for, but we brought together by the bond of motherhood. Mothers no matter their past or present find great comfort in other moms stories they make us feel a tiny bit more sane and a little less alone at least for the moment. 

A day in the life: 9 month pregnant

5:23 am: shrieking heard over the baby monitor. ‘Mooooooommmmmmmyyyyyy’ crap, I fumble for my phone. Yup it’s early and still dark. I look for my glasses and start swinging my legs and grabbing onto my husband to gain enough momentum to get my gigantic pregnant body up. The grabbing doesn’t wake him as I had hoped, guess I better get up. I run to my boys’ bedroom hoping I can grab the little one before he wakes his brother. 

5:25 am: it’s too late. ‘Mommy did I sleep all through the night?’ Technically yes, but it’s still dark. I mumble something that resembles ‘sure honey’ and we all trek downstairs. 

5:29 am: I search the entire downstairs for the tv remote. Yes! Found it only took 5 minutes. I turn on something that will (I hope) appease them both. And settle onto the couch to try and rest my eyes for 5 more minutes. 

5:31 am: ‘mommy I want a cereal bar and an orange and milk’ the oldest demands. I get up to get it thinking that feeding my kids is probably a priority. I ask the two year old if he wants something and he immediately throws his body to the floor in a full out tantrum. I guess he doesn’t like being asked questions today. I make a mental note of that. 

5:36 am: I’m back on the couch it’s, too early for any sense of motivation. I sit down and mentally start to ponder at what age it’s appropriate to allow them to come downstairs themselves and get food and I won’t be reported to the authorities. 5? 6? Hmmm not soon enough. 

5:37 am: I’m awaken from my daydream of sleeping until 6 am by the two year old screaming for milk, no not milk, no juice. I grab whatever I think will keep him happy and some food. I pat myself on the back, both kids are fed. 

5:37-7:15 am: The next couple of hours or so are a blur of tantrums (mine) and a few seconds of peace.

7:15 am: ohmygodits7:15!!!!!!! ‘Marrrkkkk’ I call upstairs to wake my husband. I grab some school clothes for my oldest fight with him for ten minutes about why he needs to change for school. ‘Marrrrrkkkk you’re going to be late!!’ Throw together a school snack for the 3 year old, some coffee and a half decent lunch for the husband, practically a bonafide housewife I think. 

7:29 am: Husband emerges looking refreshed and put together, I look down at my booger stained leggings and maternity t-shirt that stopped fitting over my belly months ago. My pregnancy rage builds and I decide to take it out on him and his snoring. We bicker until we notice the bus is in front of our house waiting, crap hope they didn’t hear us. We sprint out of those house smiling in case they heard my tirade against my husband about his ‘purposeful’ snoring designed to keep me from sleeping. 

8:00 am: Husband is gone, oldest is gone, youngest is entertained for now. I attempt to pick up which is mostly pushing things around with my feet since bending over has been out of the question for weeks now. I do enough laundry for us to make it through another day. Bam, domestic goddess. 

9:00 am: To shower or not to shower. If I shower that means putting on clean clothes, which equals more laundry. Looking at my booger-leggings I think they’ll last another day at least. Deodorant and new shirt it is, this is as good as it gets. 

9:21 am-1:30pm: A whole lot of diaper changing, nose wiping, and breaking up fights occurs during these pre-nap hours. My oldest is home. I throw something together for lunch really missing the whole nutrition aspect, thank god for vitamins. 

1:31 pm: Glorious nap time for the youngest. The oldest gave up naps months ago so we’ve resorted to quiet time aka ‘here take this iPad and watch something so mommy can binge eat and watch real housewives.’ 

2:43 pm: Youngest is up and I’m now in a food coma. 

2:55 pm: Seeking adult interaction, I bring the kids outside for the possibility a neighbor will take pity on me and small talk about the spring weather. 

3:30 pm: Husband should be home soon! I’ve forgiven him for attempting to drive me insane through snoring. Oh crap it’s Wednesday he has class looks like it’s me and the boys for the night. 

3:30-5:30 pm: We play outside which mostly consists over fighting over a half deflated ball. Makes sense we only have 8 other perfectly inflated balls. 

5:30 pm: Forgot to plan dinner again hmmm… ‘Breakfast for dinner guys, special treat!!!’ The special treat routine works perfectly, despite the special treat happening on a bi-weekly basis.

6:45 pm: I decide the kids need a bath it’s been errrrr…3 days? Maybe 4…it can’t be 5? Crap it’s been 5 days. ‘Bath time boys!!’ 

6:54 pm: Boys are ready for their bath but I’ve forgotten my gigantic belly isn’t conducive for bending over a tub washing them, extra soap into the water it is! 

7:33 pm: Boys are bathed, changed, and read too. My youngest requests ‘sunshine’ to sing in the sweetest voice. I smile as they both cuddle into me to sing and suddenly I can’t wait for our third to be here. 
  

Gigantic belly equipped with random stains. 

Where there’s a Will. 

My oldest son has cerebral palsy. It took me a long time for me to say those words outloud. Not because I was I was embarrassed or ashamed. It was because most of me couldn’t believe he had cerebral palsy. As a special education teacher married to a special education teacher we felt so lucky when our son was born a healthy, average in every way, baby. Fast-forward 18 months and the week after I delivered my second son, and we received the news that our perfect first born had left side hemipeligia, also known as Cerebal Palsy (CP). I look back to those first couple of weeks post diagnosis and don’t know how I emotionally survived. I had a newborn baby who was born with his own (thankfully fixable) physical anomaly, and an 18 month old facing a life changing diagnosis for us all, I struggle to think about it now without tears. 

Over the past two years it has been very easy at times to forget he has cerebral palsy. He walks, runs, writes, colors, talks, and is one of the most observant people I have ever met. There are days, weeks even where the every day tasks of putting his braces on or going to his appointments or collaborating with his therapists feel like the norm. Most recently his right arm was put into a cast through his occupational therapist from Boston children’s, in what is called constraint therapy. Research shows that this actually changes the wiring in the brain. He did so well with it, I’m talking not one complaint over the three week, that it too fell into our new ‘normal.’ 

But it’s the little moments that tend to jerk me awake and hurt the most. It’s when I pull up to his school early, see him on the playground, and watch as it takes twice as long for him to situate himself on the slide. Or when he tries so hard to climb up on a play structure only to have his friends be done with it by the time he makes his way up. It’s when he’s running in the back yard and his left toe keeps catching making him trip. Every time I suck in my breath and turn my head away so he doesn’t see the tears that can’t help but form. 

When I first decided to seriously pursue writing a blog I have a lot of thought to centering it around my experience with mild cerebral palsy. Until my son I did not know a mild form of CP existed and thought I could try and spread awareness. The more I thought about it I realized that so little of our life is actually affected by CP and that my son is so much more than his diagnosis and I want to share the holistic story of our days rather than focus on one aspect. His life is more than CP, he is more than CP. Where there has been a way, he has found the will. 

My husband is my third child and other truths…

Saturday morning all I wanted was a quick solo trip to the grocery store to grab a few necessitys (the word necessitys is foreshadowing…) My husband upon hearing this had the great idea that we all go, he must be concerned about all the alone time I’ve been getting (roughly 5 minutes a week). So stupidly, naively, I agree. An hour later we were in the car and I’m already thinking how I would have already been home a half an hour ago had I stuck with my original plan. 
As we pull up to the store I realize it’s going to be a shitshow. Both kids are clamoring for daddy to take them in, I’m immediately suspicious. After I waddle my pregnant self in a good two minutes behind them I see why. The boys have already convinced him there’s no need for them to sit in a shopping cart, they’ve rented a red box movie, and they’ve put sugary sports drinks in the cart. Damn my waddle.
We set forth ‘just need to grab some milk and butter first!’ I waddle as fast as my swollen feet can take me, meaning 90 year old women are passing me by like they’re training for the marathon, all the while silently praying there will be no extra purchases along the way. ‘Come on guys almost there.’ Silence ‘crap’I turn around to see my three kids the 3 year old, the 2 year old, and the 34 year old have stopped to look at superhero cups. ‘They’re only a dollar!’ the 34 year old tells me excitedly. 10 minutes later and too many arguments to count about which super hero cups they needed were off again. 
We grab the milk and butter and before I can put them in the cart the grocery store terrors have taken off. As they terrorize everyone they pass while I frantically waddle behind, all the while calling ‘honey, grab their hands’ trying to disguise my utter annoyance at the 34 year old lest the other shoppers have a front row seat to a full out argument. I now see my actual children have grabbed fly swatters and are hitting each other as well as threatening innocent bystanders. ‘Hooooooonnnneyyyy!!! Grab those from them’ my voice begins to raise a few octaves and I’m realizing there’s going to be no saving this situation. 
  2 year old threatening bystanders, 3 year old going in for the kill. 34 year old LAUGHING, horrified bystanders judging. Pregnant mom waddling behind. 

We make it through the rest of the trip relatively without incident. My husband/child chooses self checkout as the kids clamor to see who can climb up on it first. There’s no hiding my anger now ‘get them down!’ No one listens… ‘Please get them down.’ Silence.

  The youngest ‘helping.’

My 3 year old starts using the credit card reader as his own personal fisher price toy and when I start to envision him breaking it and me paying for it I swoop him up and put him in the cart I grab the second and do the same. 
The woman bagging our groceries says to my youngest ‘what’s that on your face, did you have doughnuts?!’ No lady it’s smeared, dried, boogers I silently respond. She asks him for a high five with the hand that smeared those boogers. Outwardly I smile and nod, it’s all I have left. Next week I’m going alone. 

Tired and the ‘spirited’ child

It’s official. I’m tired. The tired that sleep cannot fix. Between an active 3 year who seems to thrive on little sleep, a two year old who has become one of those ‘spirited’ kids I’ve heard so much about, and my 9 month pregnant body, I’ve just about lost all hope of functioning. It’s gotten so bad that I’m praying for an early delivery because at least after the momentous task of delivering a baby into this world I can lay in bed and people will bring me food (big dreams people!)

A main factor into this level of tired is my ‘spirited’ child. I put the word spirited in quotes because I’m pretty sure someone came up with that term because life-draining asshole sounded too harsh. Let’s call a spade a spade. I have witnessed many a ‘spirited’ child in my day, in fact many of the second born children in my family fit this term. (What IS it about those second borns.) However, until the last couple of weeks I was blessed not to know it first hand. Here is a list I have compiled of factors that may make your kid a life-draining assh…’Spirited’:

– They are on the go from sun up to sun down. Most likely before sun up and most likely they wake up demanding something in a high pitched scream while climbing out of their crib. 

– They resemble a girl going through puberty. ‘I want this noooow.’ You give them demanded object which is then accompanied by another high-pitched scream ‘no I wanted this!!!’ This can go on from several minutes to an hour. You never will find out what it is they wanted. 

– Everything is an issue. From getting into the car seat to picking out a yogurt they want. Do not expect this to be a ten second task. This will be at least a 10 minute ordeal that ends in tears…for both of you. 

– They insist on doing everything on their own and when they can’t do it scream at you to help and then scream when you do help. I haven’t figured out the best way to approach this besides close my eyes and dream of the day this pregnant mama can have a big glass of vodka. Wine does not suffice for the spirited child. 

– They’re adorable. There can not be an honest to goodness ‘spirited’ ugly child. God doesn’t allow it because we’d have moms everywhere running off to the nearest dive bar every night to drown their sorrows in that vodka they’ve been dreaming about. 

So like I said I’m tired. I’ve offered nothing in the way of advice for dealing with your so-called ‘spirited’ child because, well, I have none. The best we can do is take deep breaths in the midst of the chaos, convince ourselves it’s just a phase, and know we’re not alone. 
  
The spirited child wears underwear his own way. Who has the energy left to argue? 

The beginning 

When we look at a trip or a journey we tend to look at the beginning and where it started. When I look at this motherhood journey it is tough for me to pinpoint when I first felt worthy of the ‘mama’ title. To be honest with you most days I could easily be convinced I am still 16 years old, but maybe that’s because my parents are still my go-to-gurus for well, just about everything. But I digress, with my first pregnancy I had a hard time getting a good grasp that there was indeed life growing inside me. I felt his kicks, saw my belly swell, saw his button nose on the ultrasound, but fully understand that this baby was growing inside me seemed so foreign. 

So for me for so long I viewed the elusive ‘beginning’ as the moment they put him on my chest and I heard my husband say ‘it’s a boy!’ I’m pretty sure my first question was ‘can I nurse him?’ And that moment, I thought, was the beginning.

The next few weeks was quite honestly the hardest, challenging, emotional time of my life. I wish I could say how overcome with love and peace I was (I think that’s how new moms are supposed to feel?) But in reality I was overcome with fear, pain, and sadness. My support system consisted of aunts, cousins, my mom who got it. ‘Cry’ they would tell me, we did! There is such comfort in someone telling you they’ve been there and you’re not crazy. A lot of my sadness centered around breastfeeding, it seemed so natural for everyone around me. For me I felt clumsy and awkward and god did it hurt. Every time it was time to have the baby latch to nurse, I’d squeeze my eyes shut, curl my toes, tense my whole body up and swear for a good 5 minutes (perhaps this is where he learned his colorful language…) So naturally fed up with this routine, I did what any 20-something mom would do. I googled. I googled every type of latch position known to man (well woman) every thing that was ever written about tongue ties, and I googled if my nipples would ever stop feeling like someone was slicing them open. Slowly, the tips and tactics I found actually worked! And so this was actually the beginning. The beginning of ‘mama hood,’ when I was finally able to take my first breath as a new mom and relish every bit of him. For a while the guilt I felt thinking back to those first few weeks was unbearable. My sweet boy deserved better than that. But what I’ve learned over time is that our journeys as moms all look different, heck they even look different within our own pregnancies. So what I say to all new moms is, yes it may be hard, you might cry, but don’t forget someone has been there. I’ve been there. So send me a note I’d love to listen and tell you, yes you are officially a mama.