I started writing this week about my youngest and how hard she has been lately, mostly to remind myself this is a phase and we will get through it. It’s hard to recognize that sometimes. By the third kid you would think that I would know this. But when you’re in it and every second is a battle and every night is longer than the day, it’s hard to see the big picture. I was resenting Mother’s Day because really what is a Day. Moms deserve so much more and a day where we are supposed to be told we are loved and cherished seems silly. Then something happened. I thought about a friend of mine who lost her daughter at the very same age Vera is now. I thought of my aunt who lost my cousin when she was 22. I thought of my own mom and aunt and how they didn’t have their mom, I think of my friends who would give anything to be rocking a baby to sleep all night.
I’m a big believer in that everyone has their own battles. I don’t believe in the my life is harder than you’re life because I work, because I don’t work, because I breastfeed, because I’m poor, because my kids don’t sleep, because mine are older or younger, or there’s more of mine. Motherhood is hard, it’s busy, it’s never ending. But how lucky are we to have this love. To have our kids, healthy, and busy, and whole, and here.
Being a mom is probably the most exhausting job. It’s all day, all night, forever. Even when we aren’t physically taking care of them, they are on our mind as we are always planning, worrying, deciding. As I struggled with my little ones sleep a few nights ago, I felt angry and mad that sleeping is so hard for her. These moms and moms who want to be came into my mind and I was finally able to feel her little body in my arms, hear her breaths slow as she drifted back to sleep, and appreciate the moment for all that it was.
In the morning, not sure I’d be able to open my eyes never mind start the day, my little almost 2 year old wrapped her chubby little fingers and arms around me leaned into me and said ‘ I love you mommy,’ and suddenly it was all okay.
A couple months ago I shared of video of will, my oldest. It was cerebral palsy awareness month and it was a compilation of all his physical accomplishments. It was hard to share. I often times don’t like to complain, or lament, or share with people because I know there’s so many other people who have it so much worse. It’s tough thinking that way though. What happens is you hold all the little things inside not wanting to upset anyone and overtime it fills you up until there isn’t anywhere left for all those feelings to go.
Yesterday I received an email from his teacher saying that they needed to take Will’s brace off at school because he was almost to the point of tears of it bothering him. I quickly did what I always do and chalked it up to him needing a new brace and pushed any other thoughts away. Later I couldn’t shake the feelings or tuck them away. Of course he’s bothered by his brace it’s a hunk of plastic that twists his leg and foot into a position that’s not natural to him. It was hot and humid yesterday so that can only make things worse. Unfortunately, without it,his strong leg is left to compensate for his left and he starts to get pains in his hip and ankle. So for him it’s a lose, lose.
The thing with Will is, he’s smart. I know I’m his mom and I’m supposed to think that. He’s smart in an old soul kind of way. Just yesterday he told me how the 1950s must have been a nice time with kids playing outside all day. Where does he get this stuff? Then he casually subtracted 80 from 130 faster than my husband could. He understands and is so compassionate for people it shocks me every time. He does things he’s not supposed to be able to do and he’s done that his whole life.
So ya I know a piece of plastic isn’t the end of the world. I know he’s more than that brace. I know you’re thinking it could be worse. It could. But today I’m going to let myself be a little sad and mad for him, for me. Because that stupid brace represents so much of our journey. It’s a necessary, inconvenience, something we need to embrace. But I can still be mad at a hunk of plastic for today.
It’s 9:58 on a Saturday and I’m spent, done for the day. Emotionally exhausted after bartering all day for every. little. thing. Physically exhausted from having an extra 24 lbs attached to me in the form of the scariest 21 month old I’ve ever met. Mentally exhausted from all the questions, I think there were around a million. Oh I forgot to mention it’s 9:58 a.m.
So I sit down to nurse the toddler who seems to prefer nursing roughly 20 more times a day then when she was an infant. I click on my Facebook app. Warning: do not click on Facebook when you are mom tired. Definition of mom tired: eyes glassed over, bracing yourself for the next cry of mom by clutching your cup of coffee (cold) while standing in the kitchen motionless. Anyways, back to my story. I click on Facebook scrolling through posts and I see a post from another mom with little ones about how early her kids got up today. I feel ya mom I think to myself. Then I do what you should never ever do. I click to read the comments. Never ever read comments. There are many showing solidarity. Some stating how their kids got up even earlier than the original posters. Big eye roll there. No one cares your kid got up five minutes earlier Janice. Then there it is. The ‘you’ll miss these days so much, I wish my kids were little that they were waking up early to spend time with me.’ Uh oh. Here comes my rage. So wait, you’re telling me you wish you were getting up at 5:30 to pick yogurt off of every surface imaginable while the kids scream and whine for everything, all to the background music of your husbands snores? She even dared to throw in the ‘you’ll miss being followed into the bathroom.’ You know what. I actually won’t. Call me crazy but pooping in peace sounds like a dream. I will not miss kids sit on the floor watching me while one pulls down my shirt trying to get to my boob. I just won’t.
I’m not saying this stage of motherhood is the hardest, how could I? It’s the only one I know. What I’m saying is it is hard. As moms we constantly have people, strangers telling us how we’ll miss these days as the kids crawl into the check out conveyer belt. Relatives saying how much they wish they were still in this stage of life. And you know I get it. There is something to be said for having your kids right with you at all times, knowing their safe. But as moms we need to stand together and remind each other it is all hard! Getting up at 5:30 after little sleep is hard. Sending your child to college is hard. Taking care of a newborn is hard. Instead of competing with each other we need to listen and reflect and support each other. Because we’re all we have us moms. The only ones who can really ever understand. And the only ones who know the shear joy of pooping in front of an audience.
I wrote this last week in the sunshine. It’s New England so we are now in the middle of our second nor’easter in 5 days. I guess that’s life, sunny warm days mixed in with storms.
It’s been a long winter and it’s only February. It hasn’t been particularly snowy, or particularly cold. But it has been long. The last few months I’ve done a lot of doubting myself as a mom. Am I kind enough? Am I patient enough? Do I yell too much? Why can’t I keep my house clean for more than an hour? Do my kids watch too much tv? Why won’t they eat more vegetables? Who will they become? Are they happy? Self-doubt is the common theme of mothers everywhere.
Man, winter is long. All that darkness, and cold gives you too much time to think, to worry.
The last two days have been unseasonably warm for February in New England. Close to 70 degrees and sunny. Oh sunshine how we’ve missed you. It’s those first few days of warm days, where everyone blinks their eyes as they peek outside, pale and and tired from the dark days of winter. We all emerge to take in every second before it inevitably goes away, because this is New England and a chance of snow is no where further than a night away. We gather at parks, playgrounds, beaches to soak in every inch and moment of goodness and happiness that these warm days can bring. For a minute, maybe an hour, we forget it’s February. And this is the thing I love about New England. The stages of motherhood are a phase, a season. Some long and dark. We’re tired, alone, questioning when we’ll see the light again. And then when we don’t think we can take anymore there’s the sun. The warmth we wished for, that we almost forgot was there. Such is life as a mom. Days are long, nights are longer. But a quick check on from a friend or family and you begin to feel the sun again. I’m not sure I’m doing motherhood right. Heck, I’m not sure I’m doing it right even half the time. But there are good days and bad days. Dark days and light. All I need to know is that somewhere maybe not too long from now there will be light.
Last year I wrote a resolutions blog about being more present with my family in 2017. I hope I achieved that it’s hard to measure ‘being present’ in any subjective way. It got me thinking though, where did the year go. With three little ones who rely on me for almost all of their needs the year flew by in a whirlwind of ‘mommy I want!!’ ‘Mommy I need!!’ Or just plain ‘MOMMMMMMMMYYYYY!’ It’s overwhelming at times, suffocating. Because it doesn’t end. As moms we always are the worriers, the fixers, the planners. We anticipate our kids needs and wants in a way (sorry dads) no one else can. That’s pressure.
For Christmas my aunt (I.e. One of the two that reads this) wrote in my card ‘keep blogging’ and she is right. Blogging is my thing. Not my kids, not my husbands, mine. I need something that is solely mine. For 2018 I vow to do things that are for me. Whether it be finally finishing the book I started in august, giving myself 5 minutes of silence, or taking the time to work on my little blog. I try to be the perfect mom and all that leads to is a stressed mom.
Last night as I flip flopped between my bed with one kid, the boys bed with another, and up with the baby a handful of times I wondered how I would make it through another day after another long night. I wasn’t the perfect mom I can’t even get my kids to sleep, I thought and worried. As i woke up after a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep with the three year old on top of me he woke up, rubbed his eyes and said ‘mommy I love sleeping with you because you’re so comfy and I love you so much.’ There is no perfect, but there are perfect moments. So 2018 I promise to be kinder to myself, accept the perfect moments…oh and to get more sleep.
I’ve been formulating this blog for I think about 3 christmas seasons now, as long as I’ve had kids that have been truly ‘into’ Christmas. It’s been in my mind for so long that I actually had to go back and check that I didn’t write it already.
Every year since I’ve had kids I have looked forward to Christmas, actually make that the Christmas season, almost all year. I start compiling their lists of perfect gifts months before in hopes to make them happy. Of course for the past three Christmases we’ve dealt with random and let’s face it disgusting illnesses, a random bout of hives, hand foot and mouth, pink eye and a severe allergic reaction to shellfish all decided to grace us during Christmas. Every year it spins me into anxiety that my kids will miss out on the magic of Christmas Eve and day. You see my parents gave us the best Christmases. To tell you the truth I only remember clearly one or two presents they gave us. I specifically remember a Fischer price basketball hoop but other than that the memories are blurry. But I remember Christmas Eve at my grams, the cabbage patch puzzle that was hidden upstairs in a closet that we only did on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve at my aunts with all the shrimp my little stomach could take. The ride home with my mom and dad having us look for Rudolph (I still do this with my kids.) On Christmas morning waiting in my bed eager to wake my parents, and my dad having to ‘check’ if santa came. I still don’t know what he was actually doing. Dancing cheek to cheek all season long with my dad by the Christmas tree as our favorite Christmas songs played on the record player (damn I’m getting old.) These are the things that stick with me and make me hope I can give my own kids such wonderful, comforting memories.
Will I spoil my kids with too many presents this year? You bet, because as I said I love to see them happy. But more than that I hope they remember and cherish the memories we create with them each Christmas and they have the same warm feelings and memories to look back on as I do.
My best friend turned sister in law tagged me in a post today about forever friends. The gist of it was about a woman and her friend from the time they were young and carefree to weddings to babies and everything in between. It got me thinking about this picture that was recently discovered. We were about 9 and 10 on our favorite beach in our favorite place proudly displaying a sand castle we made. 20-something years later we still sit on that beach now watching our kids (cousins!) play and build sand castles.
I got to thinking about all that beach has seen. It saw us through our awkward Pre-teen years looking for shells and discussing the sheer horrors of middle school. It saw us when we were young teens seeing who could get the tannest as we digested our latest crushes and if they actually knew our names. It saw us the summer before we left for college scared as to what we were leaving behind and if our roommate’s name could actually really be Marta (she’s a whole other story…). It saw us when we thought we were in love singing Dixie chicks at the top of our lungs drunk off cheap vodka. It saw us when we started dating our future spouses as we navigated our way through our relationships. It saw us become married women all within a couple years of each other. It saw us become moms. It saw the bad too. Sick parents, loss of other friends, losing grandparents, the really hard times.
I used to think back to our early twenties as the height of our days on our beach. Endless days with nothing to worry about but getting burnt and who was refilling the drinks. But not I see that this is the best times. Happy with our husbands and wife, watching our kids play and have our beach become theirs too. But through everything, the good, the bad, the hard, and the ugly (middle school) that beach has been there. The rocks we could walk on with our eyes closed we know them so well, the feeling of content during low tide at sunset, the sound of the chatter and waves, our beach is our home we go back to every year.
Today we unexpectedly and not purposely spent one of these kind of days…
There’s something about hot days that gives me a sense of nostalgia. I can’t quite always place my finger on what it is but when it happens I know it. Naturally living in my grandparents old house where I spent a lot of my childhood these moments pop up frequently. Today me and the two youngest sat on our front porch steps where we discovered loads of the little helicopter leaves had fallen from our front tree. These are what I mean…
I had to look up what they were called because I couldn’t remember what they were I just had memories of them. We sat there for close to a half an hour picking these little leaves up peeling them and sticking them on our noses. No other distractions. Something in the feel and smell of them made me stop and look at the tree. I remember parking in front of that same tree with my parents running in to see my gram and pop. Greeted with firm hugs from my pop and a deep throated hi from my gram seated behind her trusty card table as she sorted through something. She was always sorting through things, cards or pictures. I remembered taking the fallen helicopter leaves with my pop and him teaching me how to peel and stick them.
These days I worry my kids won’t have those same memories of those small moments. Because as I sat and spent time today thinking about what I remember most from being little it was seemingly little moments. Chocolate chip cookies that my mom baked when we watched a Winnie the Pooh movie. That one sticks for reasons I’m unsure why but perhaps I hold onto that feeling of comfort. My head on my moms lap as she rubbed my head during a headache. Cookouts at my aunt roses on hot days. And sitting under her big beech tree in the front, the ultimate tree. Big and strong with knotty, long roots. I remember feeling the coarse bark as my hand followed the lines and curves of it. Little moments, little things.
Nowadays raising kids there are so many distractions, so many have to dos, want to dos, keeping up with the Facebook parents. This summer I want it to be the summer of in the moment. Walks as the sun goes down and you can just feel the air start to change a bit to a cool breeze. Hot days with homemade popscicles that drip down your hand. Days with no plans but the kiddie pool in your yard and the iced tea that’s waiting for you. The years are going quick and before I know it those helicopter leaves will be left to lay untouched on the sidewalk only to remain etched in my memory.
If you remember my post from last year you know my feelings on mother’ day…basically it’s a load of B.S. But I would be remiss to not acknowledge the moms who have brought me here today. Because aren’t we looking for a little recognition for this heart wrenching, wonderful, crazy, hard journey we call motherhood?
I’m beyond blessed to have the mother I do. The mom who grew up without her own mother. Just writing that I cannot fathom what it would be like to not have a mom. Lucky for her she was born into a family of the strongest, most loving, beautiful group of women that took her and my aunt Patti as their own and raised them to be the best example of mothers I have ever and will ever know. My mom, the hard working, honest to sometimes a fault!, loving, compassionate woman. Who doesn’t judge me, understands me, and who manages to love me and my sisters equally and fully without question. Being a mom has realized how hard this is and she does it with ease and grace.
Then there’s my god-mom. Without question the most compassionate person on this earth. I am thankful every day that I know and love her and am loved by her. She has faced more trials than one person should ever face and she still has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met.
The two of the exemplify sister goals. There for each other 100%. I am in awe daily of the strength of their bond and love. Through them my sisters and my cousins find strength and support in each other and have the ultimate example. People lean in them, rely on them, love them.
These two wonderful, beautiful women make me a better person, wife, friend, and mom by the way they live every day. I love you both more than any words I can type on a page, or say in a card. Know you are both so loved and appreciated and your mother is so proud of who you have become and who you continue to be…